Thursday, July 15, 2010

test

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snowcapped.

There is 30 inches of snow on the ground. We got a snow BOMB dumped on us yesterday/today. Insanity.

Here are some highlights.

I went to the foodstore 2 days before the storm. The store was naked. It was like Thanksgiving and Christmas and all of the other major food holidays had happened in one week. There was no food. No bananas. No asparagus (which just makes me wonder...why no asparagus... who craves asparagus?) the only produce that I was able to snag was a bag of little apples. Machintoshes. I prefer Galas, but it was not the time to be picky.

Then. I went to the meat section. The shelves were empty. No chicken. No hamburger. So I bought a meatloaf that was already mixed up. I just need to bake it. This is fancy. I never buy these because they are expensive, but I got so caught up in the moment. I felt like I needed to leave the store with some sort of meat product since everyone else was. I got sucked in by the peer pressure.

I did buy all of the necessary ingredients for peanut-butter-oatmeal-chocolate-chip-cookies. Total highlight. As I walked to the chocolate chip aisle I noticed Wegmans were very low on toilet paper. Which made me wonder. Does snow have a direct correlation to bathroom usage?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thought of the day.

“If anonymity was the price you would have to pay for significance, would it be too great a price?”

(Erwin McManus)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Back to my roots.



When life gets scary sometimes the most comforting thing to do, is well... eat.

Over the holidays, I made Cinnamon Buns from scratch. I had a couple of weeks off of work and I wanted to spend time baking something totally new. So I found these and decided to make them for Christmas morning. One bonus about this recipe is that the dough requires quite a bit of resting....and to be honest, I do too. So when it needed to rest, I napped. It was lovely.

One, kinda scary thing about these is that you need active dry yeast. I am, well, was, afraid of yeast. The whole idea that is active and alive is just strange to me. But, it turns out not to be such a big deal. Really, you just snip open the envelope and dump it into the bowl. The other thing about these buns is that it makes like 200, so if you are expecting a crowd for brunch this IS your recipe. I only made one cake pan of them and threw the rest of the dough away, eek. I felt badly about that part....but I did it anyway. I am sure that I could have froze the dough or something. But I didn't.

Mike and I give these two sticky thumbs up.


DOUGH
2 cups 2% milk
½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup canola oil
1 package (2 1/4 Teaspoons) active dry yeast
4 cups + ½ cup flour, divided
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon (scant) baking soda
½ teaspoon (heaping) baking powder
Cooking spray

FILLING
1½ cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
raisins (optional)
nuts (optional)
long strand of unflavored waxed dental floss or a plastic knife

ICING
3 cups of powdered sugar
4 tablespoons butter, softened
8-10 teaspoons of milk
2 teaspoon of vanilla

Directions

Make ahead: Combine milk, 1/2 cup sugar and oil in a large pot over medium heat. Heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, until just before boiling. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for about an hour or until lukewarm. Sprinkle the yeast into the warm milk mixture and allow to sit for a few minutes. Add 4 cups of flour and stir together until a sticky dough forms. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise somewhere warm for about an hour.

In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ½ cup of flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to dough and combine thoroughly to form an elastic dough. Spray the inside of a large bowl with cooking spray. Put dough in the bowl, cover tightly, and store in the refrigerator overnight, or up to a day.

Assembly: Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Generously flour a clean, dry surface. Place half the dough on the floured surface and using a rolling pin, roll out into a large rectangle. Gently spread ¾ cup of softened butter over the dough with a butter knife. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of cinnamon and 1/2 cup of brown sugar over the buttered dough. Add any raisins, nuts or other fillings.

Starting on the longer side of the rectangle, roll dough in a tight spiral toward the other end and pinch the seam shut. Slide a strand of dental floss under the rolled dough 1-1½ inches from the end. Cross the ends of the floss over the top of the roll and pull in opposite directions, slicing off a section of dough. Repeat with the rest of the dough, placing buns in the prepared pan. You will have space between the buns.

Repeat with the second half of the dough.

Set aside to rise for 30-45 minutes. Bake in 350°F oven for 15-18 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.

To make the glaze, combine powdered sugar, butter, 6 teaspoons of milk and vanilla in a small bowl. Continue adding milk one teaspoon at a time until you get a thick frosting. (It will thin when spread on the warm buns.)

Top warm buns with glaze. Serve warm.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

White Knuckles

You know what is really weird, time. Time is weird. Really weird. I can't stop thinking about it. How much it affects us and how weird it is. I literally can't wrap my head around it. Time is everywhere. We wear it on our wrist. It is on our phone. We plan everything around it. The world runs on time. God created it when he said, "Let there be light." And there is either too much of it, or not enough, yet it is always the same.

Weird, right? I know.

10 short days ago. Mike and I were outside shoveling 18 inches of snow away from our heater vent, that is when I heard the screaming.

Then, time moved really really really fast
even at a frantic pace. Mr. Steve-my-sweet-friend-had-fallen-and-was-on-the-ground-he-wasn't-breathing. So many people. Flashing Lights. 9-1-1. CPR! He has to start breathing, right? Run! MIKE! Is he allergic to any medicines? Confusion! Let's go! No time to waste! Hurry!

Then.

Somehow.

Mollie, Jill and I are in a car following the ambulance. We are holding on tight to each other. Our hands are cold. Our cheeks are chapped with tears. Our knuckles are white because we are gripping each other so tightly. We will not let go. I have never been so scared. I am praying, no I am pleading to God, please change this reality. Please sweet Lord, please breathe life back into Steve, give us more time with him.


Time is now moving very, very slowly.


I think how Jill would give just about anything to have him back. And how their life together was so short. Time moving fast.

Then I think about our adoption. And how it is taking so long. And how sad I am and have been for missing another Christmas with our child(ren). And the time that I am missing in their lives that I will never get back. Time moving slow.

Time is weird.

I am still processing.


Mike (left) Mr. Steve (right)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Meet Liz.



There are so many special people that God has placed into my life. One that I am very grateful for is Liz. If you know her, count yourself among the wealthiest in the world.

Liz has the biggest, most beautiful brown eyes that you have ever seen. She is always smiling, always content, she always seems as if there is no where else in the whole world she would rather be. Always. She is never distracted. She lives in the moment. She is always calm, never too busy. When she asks questions, she really cares about the answer, she listens. She never interrupts. And Liz has an unshakable faith.

I, on the-other-hand, am always running around from thing to the next. I maintain a schedule that is busy, busy, busy (always doing something that seems very important at the time, but in hindsight my things are never as important as I think they are) I am constantly very distracted and always trying to squeeze people in to time slots. It is so very wrong. I have a lot to learn from Liz. I bet we all do. We all need Liz.

Liz has perfect timing. At that necessary moment, at the end of a long week, long day or even a looooong minute, Right before I tear out all of my hair, or scream at Mike for something silly but because I am at the end of my rope and I can't keep it together any longer.... I will run into Liz, or she will call, or I will receive a special note from her, it is like she has special powers or something.

Peace is restored.

Like. Last weekend. I was really tired after hosting the Gifts that Give Party and I came across a note from Liz. It was just laying on the counter...waiting for me to slow down and to find it.

Liz supported me and this cause that I care about, because that is the kind of friend that she is. And she wrote me a note to tell me. A thank you note. An eloquent, from-her-heart-brings-tears-to-your-eyes-and-fire-in-your-belly-thank-you-note. I treasure that it was a handwritten note. In our world of facebook and emails, a handwritten note is special. It is so very Liz.

And today. She came across something that she thought I would like to have, so she called and offered it to me. So thoughtful. So Liz.

Whenever I spend time with Liz I leave renewed and excited and compelled to be more like her. To be calm. To be quieted. To be purposed. To be the friend she is to me. She inspires me to seek out less in a world that is striving for more, because she knows the truth and sees through the facade with those huge brown eyes.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Gifts that Give

'Women hold up half the sky,' in the words of a Chinese saying, yet that’s mostly an aspiration: in a large slice of the world, girls are uneducated and women marginalized, and it’s not an accident that those same countries are disproportionately mired in poverty and riven by fundamentalism and chaos. There’s a growing recognition among everyone from the World Bank to the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to aid organizations like CARE that focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism. That’s why foreign aid is increasingly directed to women.

The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution." -NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF


Tomorrow, Saturday, December 5,
you are all invited to our house to celebrate these women who are empowered to make a difference. The idea is simple. It is a chance to shop for unique gifts in my home without the crowds or the busy-ness of the mall.

The products are exquisite, handmade, and are made by people who have been given a chance to rise above their circumstances and take back their humanity. I have partnered with organizations that distribute products made by really talented people who are hindered by their poverty, gender, location and so much more. See the links below for a sampling of the products that will be at the first annual Gifts that Give party! If you are in Northern Va, please email me for directions the party is an open house from 11-2 tomorrow and I would love to have you stop by.





Monday, November 30, 2009

A Fountain of Bubbly.

For Thanksgiving dinner we traveled to Richmond to visit family. There were lots of people there that I didn't know as well as several that I did. In those situations, I often find conversation with strangers a bit awkward, especially in settings that are supposed to be warm and comforting like Thanksgiving dinner. I find the drone of my public-self uncomfortable and weird--especially when I am with strangers and family at the same time. It is like half the room knows the answers to all of the of the questions that the other half of the room is asking. I tend to talk too much and be generally very uncomfortable, in short, I much prefer to stay quiet and helpful in the kitchen.

So that is what I did. I made myself helpful by being the drink girl. I mixed up delicious champagne concoctions--champagne with a splash of pomegranate juice. Very festive. And they helped take the edge off of the evening. Bottoms up.

As people drank, I continued to pop the cork, pour and serve. Pop. Pour. Serve.

When the time came for dinner, the deliciously smelling hot food was placed on the island and I pulled a magnum of brute out of the fridge to serve the last round of cocktails before we settled to our place settings. I placed the chilled bottle on the island between the turkey and the gravy. I then placed a towel over the cork and began to gently unscrew it.

Suddenly. A fountain of bubbles began to gush uncontrollably out of the bottle and all over the island, the turkey, the gravy, me, the ceiling, the floor, the potatoes, the pies, the green beans, the asparagus, and everything else within a 6-foot radius. My cover of being quiet in the kitchen was effectively blown.

Champagne had gotten in my eyes, but I was able to squint at the crowd of frightened onlookers who were clearly thinking, "OMW did she just ruin our dinner?!" Meanwhile, the poor woman who slaved in the kitchen making all of this food was thinking, "Is there a straw anywhere, I am going to need to slurp up some of this champagne, this crazy girl just ruined my dinner!" And Mike was slowly backing up as if he were trying to escape.

I am not really sure what happened next. Somehow it got cleaned up. Dinner was great, with a hint of bubbly.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What is in the Name. NutMeg.

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
Romeo and Juliet

Since I have chosen this week to abruptly reinvent myself as a blogger, I decided that it might it be good to start with the basics.

Before I continue, I must share the great battle that is happening between my head and the keyboard. On one side I feel that this is quite narcissistic and self centered and self indulgent to talk just about me. I mean who cares really? There are literally so many more important matters to be concerned with--like poverty, hunger, and finding the perfect pair of jeans (i have found the perfect pair--they are the boyfriend jean at American Eagle--LOVE THEM). But on the otherhand, everyone has a story. Everyone has a journey. And perhaps someone out there will relate or connect or find their voice by reading about mine. Or not.

NutMeg.
I respond equally to Meg or Megan. Husband always refers to me as Meg. He only calls me Megan when he adds on my former middle name and says, Megan Lou.

Nutmeg is a wonderful, spicy spice that is not often used in cooking. It is saved for those rare occasions when nothing else will do. It isn't like parsley or pepper that enhances almost every dish. It is one of a kind for which there are no other substitutes. Take the classic bechamel sauce, nutmeg is the key ingredient and you can't exchange cinnamon or clove for it. Nothing else will work.

Nutmeg smells like home. I love home.

A Bit Of... I don't really follow exact rules. I am a rule breaker. If you need the previous posts about cooking you will notice that I don't measure, even when baking. This is because I don't do numbers. I find them tedious and too exacting. I just throw a bit of this, a bunch of that, a splash of this into the pan or bowl and viola. That is how I roll.

So. That is what this will be. A spot of this. A splash of that. Each post will be one more addition to the story. A unique story for which there is no substitute.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A steadfast spirit.

This past weekend I ran the Richmond Half Marathon. I will save the story of how and why I entered the race for another time, because all who know me have heard me say more than once, the last race is "my last race, I swear!" but inevitably I always enter another.

At least this one was only 13 miles. And not 26.

Anyway. By mile 4 or 5, I can't really remember, my legs started to hurt and I began to do the math. How many miles do I have left? How long will that take me? When can I sit down? Since I can't add, much less subtract, this was quite the challenge. I often had to get math confirmation from my running gal pal, Karin. "So, if we just passed mile marker 6 then we only have 7 to go, right?"

And that is how it went. One foot in front of the other. Mile after mile. Sore toes and achy hamstrings the whole way.

There is a Distance Running Law that states, The pain will only get so bad, and then you get to a point where it can't get worse. The key to running long distance is getting used to the pain. It is weird. But true. The difference between running 10 miles and 20 miles is not a lot. Because running 10 miles hurts and running 20 miles hurts just a wee bit more. It is true. Don't believe me? Get in shape. Run 10 miles, then 12, then 15 then 20. You will see.

This is also true about our Ethiopian adoption.

Waiting 3 months hurt A. Whole. Lot.

Waiting 15.5 months now hurts more but not much more. The weight of the wait, is a lot to take. You just get to a point where it can't get worse. I am reminded of the pain with each step. Each day. Every holiday that passes is another holiday that passes.

But at least it doesn't get that much worse. I am thankful for that. It is something that you get conditioned to. It is just like passing mile marker 9 in the race. Despite the aching body I take a deep breath and put one foot in front of the other.

Psalm 51:10
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Don't have the stomach for it

I am no longer a food blogger. It isn't because I am too busy or because I haven't stumbled across recipes worthy of sharing. Neither of those are true. I am no longer able to write about food while the people of Ethiopia are going hungry. I simply can not stomach it. My child is hungry and I can't feed them.

Read about the famine.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Friends, food and a baby

Not sure if you remember or not, but last fall I ran a marathon. With marathons, the actual race is really the "easy" part. It is the months of training-- the early morning jogs, the long weekend runs, the blisters and the overall bodily soreness that is the kicker. However I had Emily and she made everything better. Emily was my running partner. We ran, and ran, and ran together. We spent literally hours together on the the WO&D trail. Running. Talking. Sweating. Laughing. And at times walking. I heart Emily.

Well today, I was so happy to be able to help throw Emily a Baby Shower. It was an afternoon of great, great friends, silly fun and good food.

Me and Emily

The shower was at 11am, so I kept with a brunch-y based menu-- Ham Biscuits, Cucumber toasts, fruit salad (Thanks Sonya!) Egg Casserole, Baked Brie and Punch. I didn't snap to many pics of the food I was too busy taking pics of us girls, so you will have to imagine what the dishes look like!




For one of the main dishes, I relied on an old standby--Cheesy, Sausage, Egg Casserole. I am not sure where this recipe originated, it was either with Wendy or Erin but it is easy, feeds a crowd, and good.

Cheese, Egg, Sausage Casserole

**This makes TWO 9x13 dishes
1-2 loaves French bread; cut into cubes
6 Tbsp unsalted butter (melted)
3/4 lb Swiss cheese (shredded)
1/2 lb Monterey jack cheese (shredded)
2 cups (or more if you would like) sausage
16 eggs
3 1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 large green onions, minced
1 Tbsp Grey Poupon mustard
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
1 1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Day Before:
Butter 2 9x13 dishes. Spread bread over bottom and drizzle with butter. Sprinkle with swiss cheese, monterey jack cheese and sausage.

Beat together eggs, milk, wine, green onions, mustard, black and red pepper until foamy. Pour over cheese. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

Serving Day:
Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake covered with foil for 1 hour. Uncover and spread with sour cream and parm cheese. Bake uncovered until crusty and lightly brown (about 10 min.)

On the buffet line was another baby shower standby,

Baked Brie en Crute

1 round of President Brie
1 sheet of puff pastry thawed
1/2 cup (approx) brown sugar
1/2 cup (approx) chopped walnuts
1 egg beaten

Slice the cheese in half so that you have two rounds of cheese, layer the brown sugar and nuts on one half of cheese and place the other half of the cheese on top. Next wrap the pastry around the cheese and brush on egg wash.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, or until brown.

Serve with crackers.

Brunch Punch

It isn't often that you have punch anymore. But punch is fun. I got this recipe from my sister Molly's good friend Linda. Most people love it!

You will need a big, beautiful punch bowl

2 liters of 7up, Sprite or Ginger Ale
Rainbow Sherbert
1 bag of frozen mixed berries

Combine the ingredients and serve, the punch foams and bubbles and is quite fun.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Never Before

I hadn't. Ever. Have you? Have you ever eaten quinoa? Pronounced KEE-no-uh. It is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its seeds. Interestingly, it is gluten-free and it is very high in protein, even though it looks and tastes very much like pasta.



Last week, I was visiting with my good friend and neighbor Karin. You remember her, her treats have made several appearances on the blog. Happily, I arrived at her house just in time for dinner. I was thrilled to be served this brand new dish, quinoa.

As I was "elegantly" stuffing my face with the lime scented grain that was mixed with beans, scallions, and fresh parsley Karin was explaining how easy the dish was to prepare. Ever since I had my first taste, I haven't stopped thinking about this round grain and all of the different ways that I could prepare it. I suppose that is what foodies do. Obsess over new ingredients. Apparently I wasn't the only one thinking of quinoa this week, I noticed it was a feature story on Gourmet.com.

I did lots of researching and found quite a few recipes that looked tempting. I didn't try any of them yet...I stuck with Karins recipe. I really, really loved the freshness of the lime flavor in her dish so I tried not to sway from her dish too far. If you have tried a quinoa dish that you love, please do share.



Ingredients
1.5 C quinoa (I bought it in the bulk aisle of the food store)
the rind and the juice of 2 limes
3 scallions chopped (both the white and the green parts)
3T of parsley chopped
1 can of black beans drained and rinced
1/2C olive oil
2T sugar
Mix all of the above together in a large bowl

In the meantime, make the quinoa.

Wash quinoa in 3 changes of cold water in a bowl, draining in a sieve each time
Cook quinoa in a medium pot of boiling salted water, uncovered for about 10 minutes. rain in sieve, then set sieve over same pot above 1 inch of simmering water (water should not touch bottom of sieve). Cover quinoa with a folded kitchen towel, then cover sieve with a lid (don’t worry if lid doesn’t fit tightly) and steam over simmering water until tender, fluffy, and dry, about 10 minutes. Stir into dressing.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hop Hop

I am having a difficult time believing that it is Sunday evening already. The weekend blew by in a blink. I am not sure I realized when Friday evening started, but I am quite sure that the weekend is nearly complete. The pile of clean laundry on the bed is the biggest tell.

Today, of course, is Easter Sunday a day marked by painted eggs, bunnies and a whole lot of food. Our family sat down to break bread around 3:30 this afternoon and I am still uncomfortably full nearly 6 hours later. I haven't eaten so much in quite a long time. Our Easter Dinner is mostly traditional, honey ham, turkey, and potatoes. However we do indulge in a few dishes that are rather special to our dinner table. One dish that my sister Molly always makes is kugel. I love it. It is creamy, and sweet, and delish. It made my top three favorite dishes of the day (which were kugel, orange rolls, and honey ham).

I have heard of kugel made several different ways, some on the sweet side others on the more savory side. This one is definitely on the sweeter side.



Ingredients
5 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat until thick

2 8oz cream cheese
1 lb. ricotta cheese
1 cup sour cream
Add to the first mixture and mix well.

8 oz thin egg noodles cooked, mix with 1 stick of butter
Add noodles to cheese mixture

Spray 9x13 in pan with non-stick spray

Sprinkle top with cinnamon and bake covered at 350 for 45 to 50 minutes

Kugel freezes well and can easily be made in advance. It is perfect for brunches too.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Life is like a bowlful of cherries...

Or perhaps a tart full of cherries.

This past Saturday we were invited to have dinner with friends. I was in charge of dessert. The challenge was that it was the first perfect Saturday of spring. Breezy, warm, sunny, it was too nice to be inside, so I spent it all, the entire day outside. Do you see where this is going? I had hardly an hour to pull together a dessert. The pressure was on.



Within 30 minutes I had dessert done. It was silly-easy and was extra delicious when served with vanilla ice cream. First I baked the pastry, 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Then in a large sauce pan combine thinly sliced pears, a bag of frozen cherries, and some brown sugar.
let it simmer until it gets gooey, sweet and delicious. Finally spread a thin layer of tapioca pudding on the pastry and top with the fruit.

Ingredients
One pear thinly sliced
1 bag of frozen cherries
1 tub of vanilla or tapioca pudding
1 sheet of puff pastry
1/2C Brown Sugar
dash of vanilla
dash of corn starch (I added this to the fruit so that it got thick)