Saturday, September 8, 2012

meet some of my friends

     I have had a handful of people ask me to keep blogging and I said "oh definitely yea sure I'll do that blah blah blah". I'm so sorry. I am going to apologize not just with words but with action by 1) actually posting a new blog 2) by making this a picture blog, because everybody likes a good picture book over a novel sometimes and 3) by never apologizing again but only promising to average about 3 posts a year because I have no idea how people blog so much. Do you have a job?

     I had this moment today where I broke down some of the reasons for my loving to not just eat but to make food as well. Chris and I are having dinner with some new friends tonight, they asked if we wanted to make homemade pasta so clearly we are going to be good friends in the near future because we have found kindred food spirits. I was doubly excited because having dinner with people gives me an excuse to bake. When Chris set off to be all theological in the library this morning, I slipped in to my apron and started feeling that familiar giddiness that arrives on cue when I begin a pie project.

    As I was pulling out all of my supplies I had this realization - part of the reason I love to bake is because I am obsessed with gadgets. If you ever think, hmm what should I get Bethany to surprise her because she is a cool person? I'll tell you now. Go to Crate and Barrel or a similarly heavenly place, go to the gadgets you think no one would ever use and buy some of those. I'd probably pass out.

    So allow me to expose you to some sweet stuff. Starting with the creation of the world's best pie crust.

1- Crank sifter. Just as a personal policy, I'm radically opposed to the sifters you have to squeeze. Hand cramp is written all over those beasts. I had to order this guy online because I could not for the life of me find a crank sifter. The silliest thing of all is that a couple of weeks ago Chris found one at the grocery store down the street from us, no joke this is literally after a solid year of looking at every specialty cooking store I know. Punk sifter. But I love this little guy.
2- Best baking mat in the world. No offense Momma, but the one I grew up with was as stiff as a laminated world map in your 3rd grade classroom. It was awkward to store and warped beyond belief. This beauty rolls up and tucks away like a good mat should.
3- Pastry blender. Now this is a little confusing because I don't necessarily have a strong attachment to the utensil itself, however, I looooove this step in making crust. Honestly. I blend more than I need to and I have this strange sense of sadness when I know it is way beyond an appropriate time for me to still be mushing that crisco. I'm exposing you to my weird.

4- World's most adorable measuring spoons. Is it practical to use ceramic? No. Is it so cute? Yes. (Another weird note. I love making this pie in particular because it requires corn starch, currently in the spoon. I spend a solid minute playing with the corn starch every time. Before you judge me go rub some corn starch in your fingers. Weirdest texture ever, I like to try and make it squeak.)
5- Capresso kettle. There's just not much to say, it's the best kettle there is. Heats water crazy fast and it's more awesome than heating my water up in a dumb microwave.
6- So this isn't about the tool again, it's about the process. There is something so strangely satisfying to me about beating egg whites until they become something totally other than what they began as. Therefore, making meringue is one of my favorite things ever. 

7- Zester/it's not really officially a zester we also use if for cheese :) Bottom line, if you don't have one, get one.
8- Cutco Spatula. This thing is ridiculous. I'm not kidding we use it for an unimaginable amount of things. In this case I used it to transfer the meringue on to the pie and make the perfect little peaks that you will see with the finished product. One side is serrated, so if I wanted to go ahead and cut that pie with this same utensil, I absolutely could. It's awesome.

 9- Pie Cutter/server. This and the adorable pan are credited to my sister loving me with gifts. The red one comes out and helps the big one. So when other people have to use fingers or a fork, I skip that tragedy and use my super cool pie utensil.
10- If I had premeditated this blog I would have used my Crate and Barrel Parker bowls for these pictures because they also make baking and cooking one of the happiest times of my life. That is also a must have on my list of necessary kitchen tools if you want to be adorable ;)

If you want the actual recipe for the pie and don't give a hoot about my creepy obsession with kitchen tools, that's cool I can e-mail it to you. For those of you who think like me, well I have many more where that came from. Perhaps in my 3 per year blog quota you will meet more of my kitchen friends.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Birthday Month Part 2

I have to get this post in TODAY because it is officially the last day of my birthday month. I would mourn a bit if the last month hadn't been so incredible. I feel fully satisfied, perhaps a bit overflowing.

I shall pick up at week 3, since this is where I left you in suspense. And week 3 was where the day of my birth fell...but again this matters little because I celebrate all month.

I was getting a little anxious about my birthday beeecause everytime I asked my sweet husband about the plans he would say each and every time "It's going to be legend, wait for it...." and trail off in to frustrating silence. If you are familiar with the sitcom How I Met Your Mother you will easily identify this as a regular line they use and we are obsessed with that show so we quote them constantly like we are bffs. Anywho - usually I would not have so many nerves anticipating my birthday but I was battling wanting to know what in the world this man had up his sleeve but also loooving being surprised.

Then things got suspicious...

Chris is a student and an employee and busy always always always. So while he is wonderful about so many things one thing that usually falls on me is most of the cleaning of the apartment. Well I came home and he had cleaned. What's going on here...says my brain. But I didn't say that out loud because I didn't want him to think I was sleuthing nor did I want him to feel bad for never cleaning the toilet :) My thoughts immediately went to - someone is coming. Someone is coming for my birthday! That would certainly be legendary. But I didn't say a word. Again no sleuthing.
Another point of suspicion, about a week or so earlier I informed Chris that since I had Thursday and Friday the week of my birthday off I was going to paint the office. Yea that's lame I know but I like to paint and our office, while it is beautiful needs a fresh coat so so bad. If I focus on the walls I think I'd lose it. As I was informing him his face got weird and I asked "is that ok?" and he just responded "nu uh" with toothbrush still in mouth.

So this is what I know. I can't work Thursday or Friday. And Chris cleaned. And Chris wasn't changing his Thursday plans, he still had work and a doc appt but stilllll insisted I not work. Weirdo.

I was starting to get a bit nervous because I felt as if I was figuring out the secret but I was trying to not get my hopes up at the same time. Plus if someone was visiting me I had no clue who it could be. Meanwhile, Wednesday and Thursday morning I had spiritual direction which always puts me in a pensive sort of sad-ish mood. I had this weirdly intense experience earlier in the week of missing the people who know me, all of me, and so I got all sentimental and looked at tons of pics and changed my facebook picture to one of all my girls. Ooooh timing.

Then bum ba du buuuum (how would you even spell that sound). I was being all sad and wondering why in the heck I was at home cleaning on Thursday like I always am when a veeeerrry loud knock freaked the mess out of me, not literally thank goodness. Then this surreal moment happened and my two blonde beauties, my loves from childhood, my most best friends on the planet were standing in front of me smiling super big and squirming all over because their excitement was about to explode out of their bodies. And I just stood there. And I said a lot of nonsense. And I just cried.

Yup I cried.

And I still can't even believe it happened. And they left and I cried a lot more, but that followed an incredible weekend. These ladies have never been to the great state of Cali so showing them around was a lot of fun but you can follow my instagram for that because I posted like crazy that weekend :)

Chris wasn't home when the girls got there, my sweet friend Joe brought them to me. However he called me and the first word out of his mouth was "DARY"! (If you're slow you can just reference what he kept saying to me when I asked him what he was up to, add the two together and hopefully that will make sense. If not...hmm well...) Sneaky sneaky people in my life. My surprise-loving heart was so full.

And it didn't stop there, I'm sure I'll blow up instagram in two nights when I'm looking Coldplay in the face! What what?! Yes that's right. My man made one of my dreams come true and in two days we will experience something extraordinary. COLDPLAY. I can't even wrap my mind around it.

Birthday month. Check.
Huge success. Duh.
Best one yet. I'm almost positive. 

They so pretty.
And baseball happened, my favorite. seriously - O V E R W H E L M E D happy.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Birthday month

I believe in the birthday month. Actually, my husband would tell you it's more like birthday year...simply because beginning in January I may or may not begin using my new age for that year about four months premature. Now that I'm a mid-twenties individual I'm sure my years of rounding up will soon come to an end. But for now I'm still an over the top birthday person.

The great news (and probably the reason I am the way I am) is that my mom loves birthdays too. I'm realizing as I get older that what I thought was and is normal for birthdays isn't always the case in other families. Birthdays are like having Christmas for the whole month. Case and point, my birthday is still a week away but I have already received two presents!

Pretty bomb right :)
Week one of birthday month I received these extremely beautiful Franco Sarto sandals. The fun part was doing online shoe shopping with my mom. Since we live basically a world away it was fun to still be able to shop together thanks to the genius invention of the Internet.

Week two present I am currently utilizing because even though I have a perfectly good laptop on which I could much more efficiently write this post, I'm choosing to use my pretty little iPhone :) because why the heck not? My super awesome family got together like the tricky, gracious, generous people they are and fulfilled one of my wildest dreams of having an iPhone. I married well :) not just the man but the family!

So we will see what is still to come on the actual week/day of my birth. I'd say this birthday month is coming together very nicely.
Yes - I did take a picture of the box, I can't take a picture of my iphone with my iphone.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Challenge ACCEPTED.

I'm especially siked out of my mind at this very moment. WHY?! Because Dr. DeRosset has put out her reading list. To 99% of you that means absolutely nothing. To anyone who had a class with her in college you understand why I am immediately making this announcement. Every day in class I wanted to ask her for a massive list of recommendations in the hopes that one day I could be even remotely as well-read as this incredible woman. And I never did. But now the situation is redeemed and I've got some reading to do.

There it is. It's beautiful. I've read some already, thanks to the woman herself. I just made Chris promise me we would read the entire list before we die. He's not as enthused about it as me but he'll get there. I just wish I could hear DeRosset lecture about each one too. Now I've just got to finish Hunger Games, I would be embarrassed if she knew that's what I was reading but whatever it's gripping :) I hope all my literature lovers appreciate that list because it's a friggin' gold mine.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I have a plant.

My husband can attest to my being a huuuuuge whiner about my sad, empty little pots, three of them to be exact, that have sat vacant for almost all of their existence. One of them we used for keys at our old apartment and one truly did have a plant in it for a brief moment in history, the other has had the loneliest job of never holding anything - not even our junk mail.

So when we made the move I was determined to use my lovely pots for plants and plants only. I sat them outside our door so they could make their home there and I resolved to put plants in them immediately. Well, it's been a while. I'm so ashamed when I come home and I see unidentifiable bugs and weird things growing inside their hollow shells. I KNOW this is dramatic, but I really do feel strongly about it.

This is the hang up, it's a fun fact about me if you don't know it already. I'm an all or nothing kind of girl. So if I'm going to have plants, I'm going to be the best plant keeper ever. I want to know about them and how to take care of them and know what they are called. That's a commitment, so every time I go somewhere with all these high hopes of purchasing three little plants, I back out. All the doubts flood in...I'm going to kill it, I have no clue what that even is or what kind of soil to put it in. I don't want to fail.

Chris and I did stumble upon this lovely little shop in Venice one day. We were there for the only reason we've ever gone to Venice and that of course is Intelligentsia coffee. (Side note: this was also the day that Barry Watson's kid ran in to me with a scooter, no lie, and Barry apologized to me and I was all "that's Matt from 7th heaven" in my head of course. I was way cooler out loud.) So back to the shop. There were beautiful succulents everywhere and a lady was in the back garden potting all of them and I all I wanted to do was talk with her and learn from her all day. She said I should come back with my pots next time and she'd fill them with me. Yes please. Well I can't excuse driving all the way to Venice just for that, so I'll have to get Chris all drool-y and talk about going to get a latte. Yes. That is precisely what I should do.

So even though I hesitate, I don't commit to being a plant person while I am a pot owner and have been for years (that sounds funny right?) I still whine to my husband allll the time about my empty pots and how I need to go get plants. I linger when we are at stores that have them and it rustles up all my emotions on the subject.  Chris is the strongest man alive, I'm a disaster most of the time and he just smiles, laughs, and loves me. Chris is also the most thoughtful person and he knows how to love me in my love language, which is gifts. Love giving them, love receiving them. Partially because I looooove surprises and a gift is almost always a surprise.

The day just so happened to be valentine's day but knowing my husband he would've done this for me any day. I got home from work not expecting much because we said no gifts and that we were just going to eat a nice dinner at home. Well, he already broke the gifts one because he bought me Hunger Games. Booooya. I was so happy. So I reeeeally wasn't expecting anything more. But I open the door and this sweet man had a potted plant sitting on the counter for me. Not just any plant but a beautiful orchid, my most favorite of favorites. I loved her instantly. Then I freaked out because I'm scared to kill her. BUT I've got a plant. And there's no turning back.

Note the card. This cutie patootie of a man sent me on a scavenger hunt around our apartment laying out the evenings menu which was all of my favorite things. This I will now brag about via a million pictures.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Welcome back Saturday.

If I'm being real, which I am, I will let you in on a fact about Chris and I's life since we have lived in California. Saturday sucks. Big time. This is partially due to the fact that Chris is a full-time seminary student and Saturday is a homework day. It always ended up that way because Chris works part-time, wish he didn't have to, but he does. While Chris was on break we could at least enjoy the morning/afternoon together but ever since we have moved here he has worked every Saturday from 4ish until almost 1 in the morning. And again, I'm being real, I don't really have a lot of friends so I've spent...oh probably two Saturdays actually doing something other than shuffling through crappy movies on Netflix.

Thus...Saturday suuucked.

A couple weeks ago we mourned as we realized we would go back to the Saturday schedule where Chris does homework all day and then works all night. While I stare at him for hours or clean every inch of our apartment. And then God was awesome. He gave Chris a new, perfect, wonderful job at Biola and YES he doesn't work Saturday anymore. So today we celebrated.

Let me introduce you to two of the best things about Orange County.
1. Bear Flag Fish Company
2. The OC Mart Mix

First things first, Bear Flag. You have all caught the picture that we are major foodies. But what I have yet to expose on this blog is my favorite of all favorites...and that is sushi. Sometimes people hesitate when asked "what's your favorite food". Not me. I will answer the question before you even finish because I am confident in my selection. Nothing makes me salivate more than a plate full of raw tuna. Bear Flag was a brief walk from the condo we lived in at Lido and let's just say it's good for the wallet that there is a bit of distance between us now. This place is so good I think every time I have been there has been a line out the door. It's also one of those places where I feel like I've walked on to the set of The Hills or one of those "reality" shows about Orange County. Every one looks famous and or like they spend every dime they have on their clothes. And if you aren't wearing Ray Ban you might as well just get out. I hope you're getting the picture here. Normally that might deter me but the Poke bowl at this place (what you see so magnificently to the left) is so life changing I actually am beginning to fear the day we move away from it. I know, that's big.

Let's move on to the second portion of our favorite things day. That would be the Mix, one of our most favorite places to hang out. And there are many reasons.
1. Amazing coffee...Portola Coffee Lab is there, contender with Intelligentsia but there's still a little more affection for Intelly at this point.
2. The best cookie YOU. WILL. EVER. EAT. I'm not joking. Christopher Garrens' Let them eat cake. All the pastries and cookies are half off an hour before they close. Yes we know too much.
3. Fooooood trucks. North Carolinians you have no clue what I'm talking about. If you think of the food trucks in NC, get that out of your mind because it's opposite.
4. Adorable baby clothes. Random I know. It's not just the baby stuff. There are some incredible shops all throughout the mix.
5. Grade A people watching. Again this is a place that is stereotypical California at it's best. Lots to giggle at.

Today we just focused on the coffee part since we already had our fill of Poke. And let me just rewind a second to tell you how much Poke means to us. I didn't finish mine. Which is alarming. But we still wanted to hang out at the Mix for a few hours. So we went to two different gas stations to find ice so we could keep my leftover poki but not have to miss out on the mix by taking it home. It's kind of silly but there were no regrets.

Bottom line. Saturday is redeemed. Even if I'm still mostly staring at him doing homework, which is what sort of happened today. And I was awesome and filled out his planner with his course work because I'm wife of the year.

Now I will leave you with some really cute pictures of my model husband. He's going to appreciate this. Perhaps even hack in to my blog and delete this part. I'll just change my password. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I hope you're not hungry.

Seriously, if you are hungry you need to take a moment to get a snack because I am about to throw down some stuff that's going to make you salivate if you even remotely appreciate pork.

Ok. If you are ready now we can proceed. Chris and I try and mix things up every now and again by throwing some completely new recipes in to our routine. Sometimes we fail, mostly we succeed. This week we had an especially successful discovery and we have the Pioneer Woman to thank yet again. We would be lost without you lady, I don't even know her real name which I'm just now realizing is a little sad. Chris purchased a pork shoulder and we threw around a couple options and landed on one we were both a little nervous about has freakin Dr. Pepper in it. Whaaat? Gross. I know. But it was so far from gross I can't even convince you enough without shoving a fork-full in your mouth (and we do have some leftover so if you live in Southern California and or would like to come visit us in the next day there may still be some left).

Chris and I especially love a meal that lasts us for many days and my goodness did it. After we ate it for the first time it honestly looked like we hadn't touched it. Pioneer Woman is a far superior blogger (clearly because it's how she made her career) so I'll just let her describe the recipe in all her witty ways. Mmmmm pork. Click on the word pork :) this is where you will need the snack to prevent the grumblings.

Now back to our humble kitchen. Check out what we did.

The credit really goes to Chris on the amazing tacos, but my big moment came the next night when I whipped out these bad boys. 

You're probably thinking, "what in the world are those, they don't look that exciting?" Well they are and true credit goes to my dearest roommate, Jamie. You wouldn't know it when you look at her long blonde hair, blue eyes, and white skin but this girl was born and raised and IS South American. And I am soooo thankful because she exposed me to some crazy good food. My favorite of which were arepas. And if Jamie is reading this blog she probably is laughing out loud as she recalls the way I say arepas, because I say it wrong and in a very white, non-hispanic way. Seriously though if Masa is not in your life, get it there, fry it up and shove some pork in it because it's incredible. 

I don't think I'll drag the pork thing out any further. Even though I could. I will leave you with this comfort food deliciousness that is our other most recent success. If you are a RealSimple subscriber all I have to say is that last months issue came when Chris and I were very, veerrry hungry. We had just flown across the US from Jen's wedding and we got our mail and the most beautiful picture of chicken pot pie was there on the cover torturing us at 11pm. 

Here's our version. 

Now it doesn't look like much but if only you could have some kind of tasting option via internet...that's kind of a weird suggestion but I just want everyone to understand how yummy it is! It's not your classic pot pie (which I still love) It's a little lighter, and then the bready goodness on the left is puff pastry in all it's flaky, warm heavenliness which was so great with the less creamy pot pie. Ok seriously, I could keep going but I'm going to stop. I don't have an accessible version of this recipe but it's in last month's RealSimple and it's worth tracking down. Or if you feel passionately about it, because I do, I can write out the recipe :) 

See I told you, snacks are necessary. I'm going to go eat a brownie.