Thursday, January 24, 2013

And that was before they doped me up...

     You know what is awesome about having all of your sinuses filled with fluid at one time?  Absolutely nothing!  Except, you can say virtually anything you want and not be held accountable for it.  Which probably means I shouldn't be blogging right now, but my head's more than a little fuzzy, so I'm going with the impulse.

     This morning I woke up and went to school in a fog.  I can't tell you anything about my Human Growth and Development class other than babies are super cute when they're not yours, and when all you're expected to do is sit back and watch them in their natural habitat.  In my Computer concepts course I took my first test, and I kid you not, the man asked us what a zombie is.  Unfortunately, "an undead being who craves flesh" was not listed as a possible answer.  I really had hope that maybe my teacher had a sense of humor and was just messing with me, but no such luck.  Apparently the correct answer had something to do with hacking computers.  Who knew?

     In my Public Speaking class, I managed to perk up, but only because my instructor is the Jillian Michaels of speech, and there's no sleeping on her watch.  You can cry, vomit, or pass out, but you will deliver an excellent speech.  (We literally had one girl, it wasn't me.) I was rewarded for my attention, because when the class finally ended, she handed back the grades for our introductory speech, and I received a 97.

    After school I drove, in my fog-induced state, out to the orthodontist only to discover that not only are my wisdom teeth impacted, the bottom ones have grown over a few of the nerves in my jaw.  They have to come out soon.  The doctor must have noticed a bit of my hesitation, because he looked at me with a kind expression and asked, "So what's bothering you?"  I admitted that I've never had surgery before, or had anesthesia, and I'm a bit frightened by the prospect.  That was actually putting it mildly.  The night before I was crying to J that I was afraid of the anesthesia because people can be allergic to it and can die.  He laughed, but it's a real thing!  I know.  I've seen it on Grey's Anatomy.  Apparently he didn't think that was a valid point in this particular argument, but Wikipedia backed me up!  At any rate, the doctor told me I should be fine, and that it isn't even like sleeping.  One minute they'll put me out, and the next I'll be wondering why they're telling me to leave.  Maybe it was his kind face, or perhaps it was his LSU skull cap, but regardless, I felt like I was in good hands.  Then on the ride home, still fuzzy, I began to wonder where my mind would go.  He said it wasn't even like sleeping, so if my mind doesn't go to dreamland, where does it go?  I don't know why, but my mind pulled up the story of the little boy who was given anesthesia for surgery, and he went to Heaven.  I started thinking that would be nice, but then another thought hit me.  What if by some mistake I didn't go to Heaven?  What if I went to Hell, and no one knew because they were too busy taking my teeth out?  That's when I realized I was home and needed to go lie down for a bit.

     I thought I was going to make a good point with this when I started, but as it turns out, I don't have one at all.  Don't drive when loopy.  Also, if your husband tells you to go take a nap, you should probably listen before he changes his mind and makes you get behind the wheel of a vehicle again, even though he knows you're not to be trusted driving with all that mess in your head.

     OH, I remember my point!  I told J he has permission to video me after the surgery, but only because if I'm this crazy with a little sinus pressure, I'm sure I'll be a barrel full of monkeys while on pain meds.  He's not allowed to share it, though.  Unless of course it's awesome.  In which case, I'll post it for y'all.

     It hurts too much to think of a segue.  I'm on a horse.

1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3 cups flour (plus extra for dusting)

2 TBS butter, room temp.
2/3 cups brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 TBS milk

Preheat oven to 375.  Combine brown sugar, baking soda, salt, vanilla, and egg in a large mixing bowl.   Add the buttermilk, stirring to combine.  Add the flour, and stir just until thoroughly mixed, but don't over-mix.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or two.  Roll dough into a 12"x24" rectangle.  Spread butter over dough.  Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.  Roll the dough into a log and stretch slightly.  Cut into 2" pieces, and place the pieces into a greased muffin tin, or a muffin tin lined with cupcake liners.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.  Allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, mix together the powdered sugar and milk for the icing.  Remove muffins from tins, and drizzle with icing.   Enjoy!

Waiting patiently


Oh, and for those of you who didn't get the "I'm on a horse reference", here you go:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Light and Frolicsome

   Today, at least, I succeeded.  Too many times in life I find myself feeling like I'm going through the motions.  I try to force the joy and happiness that should just come so naturally.  It's understandable, especially when life gets in the way of living, but it's not acceptable.  I've been trying in all the wrong ways to find my joy again.  Today when I stopped trying, it found me.  It always seems to work out that way, doesn't it?  So why don't I ever think to try that first?

     This morning I hit the gym with my new workout buddy, and together we tackled the first day of a 12-week body building program and then some.  My arms now protest if I lift them over my head, but it just reminds me that I'm alive.  After taking care of some of my usual duties (schoolwork, the house, etc.) I began to get that feeling again, that I was just going through the motions, and that I needed to get out.  That, of course, required a little mood music.  So I went to Youtube and began blaring the 80s music as I got changed from my sweaty workout attire to something cute.  Just then J came home and laughed as he pointed out that my outfit seemed to match the background music.  He came along for the ride when I decided to pick Monkey up from daycare early.  They both were pleasantly surprised when I decided on a whim that instead of staying straight to head home, I would turn the car left and head to the beach.  We played in the sand for a while, chasing each other, writing our names in the sand, and going on a "Spider hunt" at Monkey's request.  The beach trip was followed up by a spontaneous trip to the mall for cookies and pretzels.  As we headed home we watched the sun set over the water.

     It may not sound like much, but it was good for the soul just to be happy and unexpected.  As the mommy, too often I feel like I have to do exactly as others wish.  It's like I have a role to fill, and if I don't fill it properly I'll let someone down.  Today I felt like an actor who threw out the script, and came up with something brilliant anyway.  Kinda like what Harrison Ford did the day he decided to whip out his gun and shoot that bad guy instead of going through that long, arduous fight scene the writers had planned for him.

     Keeping with the whimsical theme I seem to have going here, I'd like to share a recipe from the Harry Potter Cookbook:

 Molly Weasley's Meatballs with Onion Sauce
For the Meatballs:
1 lb extra-lean ground beef
1/2 cup fresh or dry bread crumbs
1 large egg
1 onion, finely chopped
2 TBS chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

For the Onion Sauce:
2 TBS vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 TBS all-purpose flour
1 (14 oz) can chicken broth

For the meatballs, combine the beef, bread crumbs, eggs, onion, parsley, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.  Heat the oil in a skillet.  Form the meat mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls, and working in batches, fry the balls on each side until well browned, about 4 minutes per side.  Transfer meatballs to a dinner plate.  For the Onion Sauce, add 2 TBS oil to the skillet and heat.  Add the chopped onion and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.  Add the flour, and stir to combine.  Pour in the chicken broth and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbling.  Return the meatballs to the skillet and simmer for 15 minutes.  Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, or wide egg noodles.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Learning to Laugh

     As most of you know through Facebook, my husband came home from deployment a little over a week ago.  That, plus the start of another school semester are my excuses for being absent from the blogging universe lately.  I knew it wouldn't be long, what with having my darling J back in the house, before I had a blog-worthy story to tell.  He didn't disappoint.
     Last night was our first official date night since he's been back.  We created a "Date Jar" about a day or two after his return.  It's an idea I found on Pinterest, although I didn't actually pin it, so I can't credit the original source.  (Sorry if you're the original source.)  Any-whoo, a Date Jar is a prettily decorated jar that you and your significant other fill with slips of paper.  On each piece of paper there is a short description of a date you'd like to go on.  For example, one of the slips I added says "Take a cooking class" and one of J's additions says, "Go to a shooting range".  We'll take turns pulling from the jar, and the goal is to do at least one "just us" date a month, but we threw in a few family dates as well so we can include Monkey.  I pulled first, and I breathed a sigh of relief as I read "Dinner (you pick) and a movie (I pick)".  No pressure!  Dinner and a movie is a cinch, especially since I've been dying to see The Hobbit since it came out.  I picked my part quite quickly, but J himmed and hawed for a few days.  I asked him Wednesday if he knew where we were going to eat yet.  He got this cute, mysterious grin on his face, and said, "Yeah, but I'm not telling."  Intrigued, I just said "Okay."  His face got a little brighter as he asked me if I wanted a hint.  Of course I did!  I love surprises, and I'm an expert and figuring them out before I get them, which is the fun part for me.  His hint was, "It's your favorite restaurant, but you don't get to eat there very often because it's a bit more expensive."  OMG!  He's taking me to Koi Sushi! I squealed on the inside.  Out loud I merely shrugged and said, "Oh, well then I know where we're going."  He just grinned, and we changed the subject.

      Yesterday we got home after looking at cars at about 3 pm.  I immediately locked myself in the bathroom and began the long, arduous task of curling my hair into those adorable 50s ringlets.  At 5:00, I was finally fully dressed and ready to go in my cute dress, high heels, curls and makeup.  I came downstairs and got that "Wow" moment from my husband every girl aims for when getting dolled up.  We loaded Monkey into the car to bring her to my friend's house for the evening.  As J backed the car out the driveway I asked in a knowing voice, "So baby, where are we going to eat?"  Without missing a beat, he turned and grinned at me and said, "Five Guys!" in a very self-satisfied voice.

     Over the years, being married to J has taught me a lot of things, but I think the biggest lesson I've learned from dealing with him is how to laugh.  I'm not perfect at it, but I've come to know that when moments like that happen I can either be angry and hurt and disappointed, or I can laugh it off, put on some blue jeans and enjoy a sloppy hamburger with my husband, the man who may not have a clue half the time, but sincerely tries to make me happy.  He's not perfect, but neither am I.  Together we make a mess out of thin air, but it's our mess, and it's a beautiful one.  He may not be some Casanova or Romeo, but the fact that he remembered me saying a few days before that I was craving a sloppy burger shows that he does think of me, and he is trying.  I love my husband, and more than anything, I'm thankful that he's home with me again so that I can learn to laugh again.

     Another thing I love having him around for is the food I get to cook!  Monkey is a great taste-tester, but she's got a tiny tummy, so I don't cook as much when it's just the two of us, but now I have no reason not to try out all the new recipes in my two new cookbooks.  The first one I tried was the Beef Casserole from the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, and it was excellent.

Beef Casserole
Makes 4 servings

3 TBS vegetable oil
1 1/2 lbs chuck steak, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
3 TBS all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
1 TBS tomato paste
10 oz mushrooms, sliced
Salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven 350*F.  Heat 1 TBS of oil in a large, oven-safe skillet over the stovetop.  Add half the meat in a single layer and cook over high heat until crusty brown, about 5 minutes.  Turn the meat over an brown the other side.  Transfer the meat to large plate.  Wipe out skillet and add the other TBS of oil.  Repeat with the remaining meat.  Wipe out the skillet and add the remaining TBS of oil.  Heat the oil and add the onion and celery.  Cook over medium heat until the onion turns light brown, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, 10-15 minutes.  Sprinkle the flour over the onion and celery and stir until it is dissolved.  Add the broth while stirring.  Add the tomato paste, mushrooms, salt, and pepper.  Mix thoroughly and bring casserole to a boil.  Turn off the heat.  Mix in reserved ground beef and any accumulated juices.  Cover the skillet and transfer it to the oven.  Bake the Casserole for 2 hours.  Stir the casserole every 30 minutes to make sure the bottom doesn't burn, and add water as necessary.  Serve over mashed potatoes, rice, or pasta.

     It was really good, but definitely not a weekday meal if you're a working mom.  It kinda reminded me of Beef Stroganoff without the sour cream.  J loved it, because as he put it, "It's manly food".  Goofball!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Trivia

     I have a friend who, bless her heart, is a Yankee.  Over the past couple of years we have found that there are several differences between the North and South.  We have laughed over the way she and I both said, "Pecan St" as if we we're naming two different roads entirely.  She was thrilled by the fact that parades here in the South entail beads and candy being thrown.  I was recently baffled by the fact that they don't do black-eyed peas and cabbage on New Year's Day.  When she asked me why we do that, I was able to tell her that, according to tradition, cabbage stands for wealth and black-eyed peas stand for luck, and if you don't eat these on New Year's Day, you won't have good luck or wealth in the ensuing year.  That's about all I knew, so, being the nerd that I am, I took to Google to figure out the rest.

    Apparently this tradition is attributed to Sherman's march through Georgia during the Civil War.  He went through the state, carving a path to Atlanta, burning and pillaging as he went.  One of the few things he left untouched were the rows of black-eye pea fields.  These were harvested by the surviving Confederates, and they quickly became a major food source for the starving south.  Of course, the tradition has evolved and varies from home to home.  Some believe that one must eat exactly 365 peas in order to have sufficient luck for the year.  Others place a (hopefully clean) penny or dime in the pot, and the one who has the coin in their bowl is said to have the best luck that year.  In our house, it was always stated that as long as you eat a little of each, you should have sufficient luck and wealth for the year, but the more you eat, the better your chances.  Today, I'd like to share my version of Black-Eyed Peas and my step-daddy's cabbage.

Slow Cooker Black-Eyed Peas
1 lb Black-eyed peas (I use Camellia brand)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 TBS minced garlic
2 TBS garlic powder
2 TBS onion powder
Tony's to taste
cooked rice

Soak beans over night (about 8 hours), drain and rinse.  Stir peas, onion, celery, garlic, and seasonings in crock pot.  Fill with water until about 3/4 full.  Cook on low 8-9 hours.  Adjust seasonings as desired.  Serve over cooked rice.

New Year's Cabbage 
1 stick butter (not margarine)
1 medium onion, halved and sliced
1 head cabbage, sliced and core pieces removed
6 slices bacon (I use maple bacon)

In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter.  Add onions and saute until translucent.  Meanwhile, fry bacon until it's cooked, but not crispy.  (It will finish cooking in the pot.)  Add cabbage and bacon to the pot, stir, cover and cook down until cabbage is tender, about an hour.  Season as desired with Tony's, salt and pepper.

Happy New Year y'all!