Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Beautiful Bird.

Just wanted to share the beautiful bird we had for our Sunday Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fudgie Pie


My mother found this recipe this year and it reminded her of a fudge pie her grandfather used to make. It's not exact but for this chocoloholic it's good enough. ;)


Fudgie Pie

Ingredients:

1 refrigerated pie crust (I used Pillsbury)
1 C packed brown sugar
1/2  C unsweetened cocoa
1 T all-purpose flour
3/4 C milk
1/3 C light corn syrup
1 T butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1 C frozen whipped topping (Cool-Whip)
1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Flute edges. Place pie plate in freezer until ready to use.

3. Combine brown sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa and flour in a large bowl.

4. Combine milk and next five ingredients (milk through egg whites); stir with a whisk until well blended. Add milk mixture to brown sugar mixture; stir until combined.

5. Pour mixture into crust. Bake at 350* for 40 minutes or until just set.

6. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature. Cover; chill at least 4 hours.

7. Spread whipped topping evenly over filling; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon cocoa, if desired.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Mixed Berry Pie Bars

I found this recipe on Brown Eyed Baker and while I may have done something slightly wrong (I couldn't get the bottom cookie-like crust out of the pan easily) it got HUGE raves at tonight's family Thanksgiving!! It was super yummy it was the only dessert we brought back home and didn't leave for the host family. Haha





For the Crust and Topping:
Zest of 2 lemons (I'm not a fan of lemon zest so I used about 2T lemon juice)
1½ cups granulated sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

For the Blackberry Filling:
4 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
¾ cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
6 cups fresh blackberries (I used a combination blackberry, strawberry, raspberry mix)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan with butter; set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine the granulated sugar and the lemon zest. Using your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar until all of the sugar has been moistened. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the lemon sugar, all-purpose flour and salt. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and continue to pulse until the pieces of butter are no larger than the size of peas, about 10 to 12 pulses.

3. Measure out 1½ cups of the crumb mixture to use for the topping and put it in the refrigerator until needed. Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes while you prepare the filling.

4. To make the filling, whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in the sugar, sour cream, flour and salt until thoroughly combined. Gently fold in the blackberries. Spoon the mixture evenly over the crust and make sure all of the blackberries are in one layer and not sitting on top of one another.

5. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly over the filling. Bake until the top is lightly browned, about 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool for at least 1 hour before cutting.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Big Butt Blog

I love when things just fall into place sometimes. Not wrong place wrong time but instead right place right time. For me today the right place right time was reading an essay by Erin J Aubry, called "The Butt: it's politics, it's profanity, it's power" (part of the "Body Outlaws" anthology.

As I write this I'm sitting on a small plane headed from Portland to San Francisco (eventually making my way to San Diego). When I say small plane I mean put your carry on luggage below because the overheads are the size of a bread box, four seats across small.

The airline doesn't matter.

What does matter is today, this flight, was the first time I EVER in my nearly 10 years of flying as an adult, had to ask for a seat belt extension.

I was mortified.

Despite being size 26, and having good ol' fashioned birthing hips and a big butt I've always been able to wear a standard airline seat belt. 

Yes they've always fit snug over my hips but it's supposed to. Sometimes I've had to sit up straight, slip the belt under my belly to
have it sit across my lap.

But never have I had it not fit.
Not click into itself.

Thankfully I was one of the first on the plane and there were not that many people in the back of the plane when I slipped beside the flight attendant and had to ask for a "belt extension". The flight attendant smiled and politely asked what seat I was in as she handed me the balled up belt.

Did it have to be a different color?
Did she have to ask what seat I was in so everyone around knew the woman in 11D didn't fit in her seat?

Now to be fair to myself I fit in the seat. My hips and thighs don't spill over into my neighbors seat. It's just the combination of my hips, butt and stomach just were two or three inches too big to fit into the airlines expectation of "maximum size".

No matter how you look at it. No matter what spin you put to it. It was still the first time I had the thought "I'm too fat to fly".

Enter Erin Aubry's "The Butt".

Now while I cannot claim to know first hand the social stigmas and perceptions the country/world puts onto woman of color and their butts. A number of things that Aubry discusses in her essay spoke to me and I could relate my own personal experiences of being a big butt
woman.

"I have a big butt. Not wide hips, not a preening, weightlifting-enhanced butt thrust up like a chin, not an occasionally saucy rear that throws coqettish glances at strangers when it's in the mood and withdraw like a turtle when it's not. Every day, my butt wears me...."

I often feel this way. That no matter what I wear, how I try to camaflage it, there is no hiding that I have a BUTT! Although (perhaps) unlike Erin Aubry I also have wide hips. And there are days when I'm convinced my butt and hips are teaming up and flirting with strangers when I'm not looking. Winking and giving come hither looks to every man on the street.

I have no control over it and it gets me in trouble. My butt/hips are out there socializing away and then when the men come up to me and use such original come-ons like "Hey there Momma" and "Mmm. Damn girl"- I have to be the bitch that turns them down... It also doesn't help that
I think my breasts are in on the scam with my hips and butt.

There are days when I just cannot stand my butt/hip duo and want to vote them off the island.

Days when it doesn't matter how many pairs of pants I try on I just can't find a pair that fits. Either they fit around my waist but have too much fabric in the seat so it looks lime I've got a load back there. Or they fit fantastic over my butt, with curves in all the right places but I can't make the button up. Because I'm telling you now I don't do elastic waist bands unless we're talking pjs or lounge pants.

Days like today when something as insignificant as an airplane seat belt makes me hyperaware that I have a "larger than average" sized body and society isn't sure what to do with it.

"I'll admit: For all my hand wringing, I'm growing accustomed to my butt. It's a strange and wonderful development....as I've gotten heavier I've actually gotten more comfortable with how I look....So what if America, in it's infinite generosity, wants to hp me get rid of this bothersome behind....More and more, my response has been: I am going to eat cake. I will wear the things that fit-whatever ones I can find-with impunity. I will walk this way. I don't have an issue, I have a groove thing. Kiss my you know what."

This last piece of Aubry's essay is really what sang out to me. I am currently near the heaviest weight I have ever been (actually the heaviest was approximately three years ago but only by about fifteen or twenty pounds more) but I believe I'm also the most comfortable with my body...until days like today.

(End Note. I returned via this same airline on my way home from San Diego. This time on a standard 747 and my seat belt fit just fine)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ajiaco - Colombian One Pot Wonder

(Found this recipe on NY Times...going to try it out very soon)

Colombian-Style Chicken, Short Rib and Potato Stew
Adapted from Ana Jovancicevic
Time: 31/2 hours

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken (3 1/2 pounds), rinsed and patted dry
1 pound beef short ribs, rinsed and patted dry
2 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 bunches cilantro, with roots if possible
2 russet potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated (about 4 cups)
1 1/4 pounds small Yukon Gold or red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 large ears of corn, husked and cut into 1-inch rounds
3 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
3/4 cup finely chopped scallion
3/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1 habanero pepper, plus more to taste
5 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup capers with brine
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced, for serving
Sour cream, for serving.

Directions:

1. Season the chicken and beef all over with salt. Let stand 15 minutes. In a large pot, combine the chicken, beef, onion, dried oregano and 2 teaspoons salt. Rinse away any grit from the cilantro (do not trim), tie one bunch with kitchen twine and drop it into the pot. Pour in enough cold water to just cover the meat (about 12 cups). Simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, about 40 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a large platter and let cool.

2. Stir in the grated potato. Continue to simmer until the beef is meltingly tender and the potatoes have melted into the broth, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the meat to a platter. Once cool enough to handle, shred the beef and chicken, and discard the bones, skin, fat and gristle.

3. Stir the chopped potato and corn into the pot. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, scallions, shallots and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Chop 1/3 cup of cilantro leaves from the remaining bunch and stir into this salsa. Wearing gloves, remove and discard the habanero seeds; finely chop the habanero and add to the salsa.

5. Return the chicken and beef to the pot. Stir in the spinach, capers and black pepper. Cook until the meat is warmed through and spinach is wilted. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Ladle into bowls, topping with salsa, avocado and a dollop of sour cream.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

The Genius Behind Pok Pok

I was browsing the NY Times Travel section when I came across an article (excerpts below) about the NY Times traveling to Chiang Mai, Thailand with Portland creative genius, chef and restauranteur Andy Ricker.

"Mr. Ricker, a 47-year-old, six-foot-tall native Vermonter now based in Portland, Ore., has become an unlikely ambassador for Thai food in the United States. Your only visual clue that he is someone who knows his nahm phrik noom from his nahm phrik ong is a glimpse at his right arm, which is tattooed with a mortar and pestle, bird’s eye chiles, and the holy trinity of northern Thai herbs — cilantro, green onion and phak chi farang (the last often known in the West as sawtooth)."

I have been to 3 of the 4 restaurants Ricker has developed here in Portland (Ping, Pok Pok and the Whiskey Soda Lounge) and while being a lover of Thai food I can't help but agree with the author of this article that until I went to Ping I hadn't experienced the vast universe that can be (and is) authentic Thai.

"I was struck by his refusal to pander to Western tastes. Instead of pushing pad thai and peanut sauce, he serves hoy thawt, an egg-and-mussel crepe found at Thai night markets, and northern-Thai-style laap. Rather than the tart, spicy minced-meat “salad” from the northeast that most adventurous American eaters recognize, this version is spiked with blood and offal, and fragrant dried spices that give it a beguilingly bitter edge. Mr. Ricker now presides over a mini-empire in Portland with four restaurants (including Ping and Whiskey Soda Lounge) that serve food you rarely see outside of Southeast Asia."

The first time I went to Ping was with my coworkers in a celebration of the holidays and my boss's 5 year anniversary with the company. I blogged about it here. I feel so in love with the cuisine that when a friend came up from the Oakland area we went right from the train station to reservations at Ping. I've only been twice but it's always on my radar for possible dining options. 

During that same out-of-town visit, the friend and I went to Pok Pok for lunch (my first time there even though it's only a few minutes down the road from where I live). We sat at the counter and was helped by a knowledgeable bartender who helped me select the perfect drinking vinegar to compliment my Khao Muu Daeng. 

A few months later I figured I had to complete the Holy Trinity (this was before Pok Pok Noi opened) and when another friend came into town we headed to the Whiskey Soda Lounge for some drinks and bar snacks. (Warning: Beware the Miang Kham! I can do spicy but these little chilies scorched my mouth. Iron taste buds needed).

I've always had a desire to go to Thailand...and perhaps someday I'll make that dream come true...for now I'll settle for the flavors Andy Ricker offers.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ready to Turn 30?

I'm not sure why I'm suddenly obsessing with (almost) being 30....?

Yes, my birthday is 2 1/2 months away but I'll be turning 29 not 30.

Maybe it's because I'm a "planner". I like to be prepared...like to know what to expect before something (large) happens. Plan ahead for any possible unexpected twists and turns.

This way, starting to think about the "Big 3-0" before it happens, I have time to get my life (somewhat) to a place that I'm (more) happy with.

I came across these "Tips All 30-Year-Old Women Should Know Before 30" in Madame Noire. And I thought it might be useful to go through these tips and see how "ready" I am.

*                *               *

Tip #1 How to cook a complete gourmet meal: "You don’t have to be Betty Crocker to know how to cook at least one decent meal. Maybe you can only whip up one complete meal, but anything beats spaghetti as your ‘specialty’. Everyone should know how to cook a meal edible enough for not only yourself, but guests as well."

Haha! I've got this one nooooo problem! I'm known for my cooking. I pride myself in my cooking. I love throwing dinner parties for large groups and/or small intimate dinners for two. I definitely know how to cook more than "at least one decent meal." 

Consider this one "Checked"



Tip #2 How to manage your finances: "Shopping until you drop or broke, whichever comes first, is definitely something that should be left in your 20s. Before turning 30, women should have a savings account, an emergency fund, and a checking account complete with next month’s expenses. In addition, knowing how to manage your money and not let it manage you is another trait you should possess before you turn 30."

Okay so this one I still need work on. (See this is why I'm starting to think about being 30 over a year ahead of schedule). I do have a retirement fund with my company, I have a checking account, have recently paid off a credit card (that hadn't been paid off properly...eek) and haven't had a bounced check in a while. However, if I lost my job tomorrow I'd be f***ed. I don't have a savings account and I have (maybe) just over $100.00 in my bank account (hooray for payday coming soon). However, now that the credit card has been paid off and 1/2 my monthly paychecks aren't going to pay off furniture from 6-7 years ago....I'm planning on starting to tuck away money for a nest egg (and hopefully not allowing my shoe fetish to eat away at it).

For now, I'll mark this one as "In Progress"



Tip #3 How to live alone: "If you’re accustomed to city life where living accommodations can become quite costly, you either have or have had your fair share of roommates; but before turning 30, if your funds permit, you should have experienced living on your own sans a friend, roommate, boyfriend, or especially parents."

Holy smokes am I ready for this again. I lived alone for a number of years however, because of relocation and financial situations I've been living with roommates and/or family for the last four years (give or take). Now it's time to start saving the money and find my own place again... hopefully long before I turn 30!

Checked and In Progress



Tip #4 What you will or won’t do for love or money: "Maybe you’ll air out your business on a reality show for a little extra change, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll spend your 30s attempting to be a basketball wife or maybe you’d prefer to make your own money. Whatever your choice, you should know before turning 30 what you will or won’t do for love or money. Understanding yourself and your limits is very important."

I don't think I've ever really thought much about it. But I think I'm pretty secure in myself, my values and my choices that I know what I would or wouldn't do for money and/or love. But I don't have a list in my wallet or anything. 

Checked.


Tip #5 How to have a healthy relationship with the other sex: "You’ve dealt with the cheaters, or maybe you were the cheater. You’ve been lied to or done the lying. You’ve had your heart broken and possibly broke a few hearts in the process. But through the negative, you’ve experienced a somewhat stable relationship with a man (other than your father). You’ve realized that men and women are completely different and our thought processes are even more distinct. Still, you’ve learned to work around the differences and how to sustain a healthy relationship with a man."

I have to say I laughed at the "other than your father" piece... but my "daddy-issues" aside and the list of "unhealthy" relationships I may or may not have had. I think I have had "healthy relationship(s) with the other sex". There are, of course, some bumps in the road with any and all relationships. 

Checked and In Progress


Tip #6 How to have a healthy relationship with yourself: "Before 30 you should know that you are worth the investment, physically, mentally, and emotionally. You understand that beauty is only skin deep and that keeping yourself up physically is on half of the battle. Before 30 you should know how to have a healthy relationship with yourself or at least on the path to doing so."

I have the occasional moment of amnesia but for the most part yea...I got this covered.

Check.



Tip #7 How to dress according to your shape, size, and style: "By 30 you should know that everything doesn’t look good on everybody. With that in mind, you know what works for your body shape, what colors compliment you the best, and different looks to don on different occasions. Simply put, you know exactly how to look fabulous."

You mean that "Juicy" written across my butt and buying tees from the Junior section isn't a smart idea? Oh.... DUH!!! I love clothes. I love fine tuning my style. And I think I do it very well. So consider this:

Checked!



Tip #8 How to pick your battles wisely: "By now you should know that every argument doesn’t require a response. Learning to choose your battles wisely is a characteristic that comes with getting older."

Yea. So we're not ending on the best note. I still have a lot to learn about picking my battles. But then I'm a stubborn hot blooded Italian woman. Oh well. I knew I wouldn't be 100% ready (according to Madame Noir) to turn 30. 

*               *               *

Anyone out there 30+ with other tips or suggestions for preparing for the big ol' 3-0?


Foodie Holiday Gift Ideas

With the holidays approach quickly, if you're anything like me, it's time to brainstorm gifts for family and friends. As I am a self declared foodie I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite Foodie Gift ideas that I'm waiting to (someday) find under the tree. (Whether I put them there for myself or not. Haha).

Pasta maker
A fun non-traditional kitchen apron. 
A KitchenAid standup mixer
Bread machine
Cast Iron bacon press
Tortilla Press





 What are some food-themed gifts you are looking for this Christmas?

Almost 30

So I have 1 year, 2 months and 27 days until I turn 30 years old. 

Yes - I know I'm jumping the gun and haven't even had my 29th birthday yet. 
No - I'm not dreading turning "the big 3-0"

What I am wondering is what to do with my "Surviving 20-Something" blog once I'm no longer a 20-something. 

That's where you come in. 

Do I change the title of this blog to allow for my life adventures as a 30-something woman? Do I start a new blog and just link the last entry of this blog to the new one?

What are your thoughts?

Little Black Dress


So I'm on the Holiday Party Planning committee for this year's company party. And of course, being an organizer and party planner, I want everything to be perfect.


Aside from making sure the party doesn't resemble a frat boy's 21st birthday (no offense to fraternities or 21 year olds) I want to make sure I look perfect as well. haha

I found this dress on Torrid.com and while I loved it I just wasn't sure if I could pull it off....but after some "fashion consultation" with a few friends I went for it!

The party is happening at a local Wine Bar and Lounge - so nothing fancy (last year it was held at a ballroom) but I still thought I needed something special. After I don't get much chance to put a dress and get dolled up. 

Besides every woman needs a little black dress right?

So it finally arrived and I couldn't wait to try it on (despite not having the proper push-me-pull-you-panties) and here it is (just ignore the look on my face - the flash startled me). 


I'm happy with the purchase and can't wait to wear it to the Holiday Party.  

Now to just accessorize.  I figured a killer pair of shoes and some fantastic earrings should be enough. Although if I can find a new bling-ring I'll be set. 

The other day while Christmas shopping I stumbled on these earrings and of course had to buy them. They'll go great with the dress I think. 


$6.80 at Forever XXI! 
SOLD!


Okay. Shoes time. I haven't really settled on what I want them to look like. I had come across a pair of shoes like this a while back (these are not the exact ones because of course now I can't find them). 

While they are super fun and I'll probably buy them "just because" I don't think they fit with what I'm looking for to wear at the Holiday Party. 

Friday I went to a Payless Shoes and fell in love with these. 


Holy Smokes! I'm in love. They also had them in black....can't I buy both? The red is sooo sexy but the black would go better with the dress. 


Sadly I left without any of them but the woman did say that another shipment of shoes would be arriving Monday. I think I'll have to be going after work and see what they've got in. But my gut says to just get these while I can. 

Soooo cute!!

If you have thoughts, suggestions of links to some killer accessories send them my way!