menu#1

Something New: Menu #1

So I thought we could try something new.  Every week Jason and I plan out a menu and shopping list.  Since I’ve got it on hand, why not share it.  If you like the idea, let me know and I will throw them up on a more regular basis.  I warn you, they may look very boring and repetitive, but who knows, if you are feeling brain dead and utterly unimaginative yourself, this might help!

This first menu reflects some of the things Jason and I have been thinking about lately, specifically cutting down the sugars in our diet.  I don’t mean cutting out fruit; I mean watching the number of calories we get from processed sugars, honey, syrup, etc.  We have been doing some research, and the new recommended limit for men is 150 calories per day, and 100 for women.  We are doing our best to stick to that on a day to day basis without being fanatical.  I’m also severely limiting my caffeine intake in light of some recent problems.  Have you been mulling over any diet changes lately?  I’d love to hear what you all are thinking about.  Again, if you like the idea of the menus, let me know.  Hope you are all having a great week.

Click on the image below to access the PDF and the links.  Later, alligators. menu#1

beaufortwater

Southern Snow and Beaufort, South Carolina

I thought I would drop in and let you know that I am, indeed, still alive.  Unfortunately, some new health concerns have arisen to put a damper on culinary enthusiasm (and life in general. . . boo, no more whining, I promise).  Here is a little of life lately. . .

If you live on the East Coast of the U.S., you may have heard that we have another winter storm on.  Right before the last one, J. and I made an impromptu trip to Georgia.  We got there just in time to enjoy a little “family bondage” (a cousin meant to say “family bonding”, but this alternate version now has a permanent place of honor in the Baird family lexicon!).

treedown A lot of ^this^ happened, which resulted in a lot of this. . .

Ispy It is amazing how long kids will play “I spy, with my little eye”!  Jason, his superhero dad, and a cousin spent the next three days keeping 4 houses afloat with two generators,  my mother-in-law kept twelve people fed three times a day despite a nasty cold, and I colored, “I spy-ed”, and hide-and-go-seeked my heart out!

After a visit further south with my folks, Jason surprised me with a mini vacation on the way back to D.C.  We spent a morning wandering around it the sunshine in Savannah, browsing Broughton St. and people watching in the park before heading just an hour upcoast to Beaufort, S.C.  We attended a festival on the waterfront there during college, and came away with the impression that it was a hidden treasure.  Twelve years later, and  a few days of down time: it is a really comfortable, relaxing, FRIENDLY place to pass some time.  The waterfront is lined with rows of porch swings,  truly amazing homes spread for ten blocks back from the water, the food is good, and the views are lovely.  There is nothing fancy happening: this is not a shopping mecca, nightlife seems fairly non-existant, the beach is not easily accessible, and away from the waterfront the town becomes a bit run down, shut down, fast-foodie.  So, if you are a mover and a shaker who doesn’t care for an extreme change of pace, you might want to keep going up I-95 until you hit the Charleston exit.  But if you are looking for a pleasant place to pass a weekend, keep Beaufort in mind.

Jason caught this little guy having a rock star moment in his own private fountain.  So sassy! cardinalfountain Then we spotted this beauty. . . streetcat which made this inevitable :) (cannot pass by furry fabulousness!). rubme

lighthouseslick The sheltered warmth of Beaufort made me long to see the ocean: inland warmth is deceptive, and sunshine is fleeting!  It was plum cold down at Hunting Beach State Park. scarethewolf Scare the wolf!  If this reference means nothing to you, disregard.  Otherwise, greetings from the lost boys in Neverland! shylighthouse Yep, did I mention. . .Plum. . .Cold.

Places we tried and enjoyed: Blackstone’s Cafe- great atmosphere, super friendly service, plain ol’ diner breakfast food, but with surprising gluten-free options (if you spend time traveling g.f. in the South, you will understand what a pleasant find this was!). Lowcountry Produce Market Cafe- really good food, lovely building, and fun browsing of local food and artisan goods.  Panini’s Cafe-  usually we skip places with enormous menus, but this one had the little “gf” symbol all over it (again, rare) so we had to give it a go.  It was great, and the waterfront side completely undersells what is waiting within.  Brick pizza oven and prep area out in the middle of the dining room, soaring ceiling, huge deck overlooking the waterfront, and solidly good food.  City Java and News- good hot chocolate and latte.

While in Beaufort I recommend: strolling through the neighborhoods, and don’t ignore the overgrown, dead end streets- they are the best!  A visit to Hunting Beach State Park- a bit of a drive, but well worth it on a warm day.  Grab yourself a waterside swing, or a bench, or a hummock of grass and just enjoy the view.   beaufortwater Have you ever been to Beaufort, South Carolina?  I’d love to hear about your time there; leave a note in the comments below.

 

And, We’re Back!

Holy Cow, that took so much longer than anticipated!  If you can remember that far back, in my last post I had just fallen down the stairs (dressed as a black cat. . .the irony did not escape anyone) and banged myself up pretty badly: two sprained wrists and a sprained ankle.  Naturally, I knew I would be out of commission for a time, but two and a half months?  This was my first time spraining anything, and I had no idea just how bad a sprain could be!  My husband did the most amazing job of taking care of. . .everything.  I discovered that he is a much better housewife than I am, and I’ve seriously questioned why I ever learned to cook when he can do it so well!

There have been a few complications that added to recovery time (awful Motrin-induced stomach ulcer, anyone?), but I am now in physical therapy and am once again a fully contributing member of our household.  Soon, I hope to be fully contributing content creator for O.i.H. as well.  In the mean time, I am happily getting back into my routines, and establishing some new ones.  All of that down time, and the diet reset (ulcer, remember) gave me ample opportunity to examine and evaluate my life: my daily habits, my goals, my eating.  I’ve got several ideas that I’m pretty excited about, and a few things I’m still pondering.  My local library is considering moving a branch into my home because I’ve been checking out so many books (joking. . .kind of); I hope to share some of what I’ve been mulling over as we move ahead.  I have no recipe to share today, but I do have some links.  I’ll be seeing you soon!

I’m reading: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and so far am really enjoying it

I’m making: Butternut Squash Risotto, Hot Wings, and the Winter Abundance Bowl this week

I’m dreaming of:  hot sunshine, and longing to be on a beach somewhere (this looks nice; this too)

P.S.  We did make it to the Marine Corps Commandant’s Ball; these are the only pictures we took!  What, we were living in the moment :).

mcbj P.P.S.  I just found this picture while making the above; had completely forgotten about it.  I call it “Fuzzy Kitty Before a Fall” :).

Photo on 2013-10-31 at 16.24

Patience Please

I am coming to you this morning with a request (typed one-handed) for your indulgence.  I took a tumble down the stairs on Halloween, and am likely to be out of the kitchen for awhile.  I hope you all had a lovely holiday weekend (here is what ours looked like before the fall, and after). oops   I’ll be back next week with a report on the Marine Corps birthday (no, I promise I did not throw myself down the stairs to get out of making the cake) and the Commandant’s Ball.  See you soon!

ready to freeze and enjoy all winter

Scenes from My Week or These Pies are not Gluten Free

Holy moly, I bit off very nearly more than I can chew.  On Saturday, Jason and I made our yearly pilgrimage to Hollabaugh Bros. for apple “picking” (can you be said to have picked them if you selected them from a bin?)  Despite some cold, wet, gloomy weather and some changes we found at the farm, it was a great day.  We came away with 101 apples and three handfuls of pears!  Good grief.  The plan was to make apple butter for canning, apple pies for freezing, baked apples for breakfast, and maybe cider if I got terribly ambitious.  Unfortunately, getting the apples coincided with the start of a very labor intensive project (more on that soon).  So for the last three days I have been up to my eyes in pies and the smell of slow simmering apple butter has filled our house. . .and I have been completely overwhelmed.  I’ve been brooding in black like some apple angst-ing, pie baking Hamlet: Alas, poor York!  I knew him. . .  (Wah, wah.  York,Yorick, get it?  Sorry, a little apple humor!) applescale applechunk appleevolution

However, this morning I rolled out my last pie top, and processed a dozen jars-o-jam. . .butter.  Cider is not going to happen.  I have learned my limits people.  For the last several months I feel like I have been taking on what seemed to be perfectly reasonable projects that turn out, for one reason or another (usually my own dreadful inefficiency), to be absolute monsters!

Speaking of monsters, let’s talk about these pies.  Pie making is actually therapeutic for me.  Despite the fact that I will not savor even a single bit of the finished product, I love every part of the process.  I make the dough, an all butter dough, by hand, because I like to control the final texture exactly.  I peel, core, slice and season the apples, and until this batch, I even layered in each slice in spirals to get the most densely packed, fall proof pies possible.  Control freak, right here!  Well, that hand layering didn’t happen this year. . .did I mention I was feeling overwhelmed–curse you, apple butter!  As we speak there are 18 cup pies and half a dozen mini pies residing in my freezer, right on top of my massive stockpile of tomato soup :).  I would love to be able to tell you that the pie recipe is original to me, but credit must be given where it is due.  The dough and the filling are Martha Stewart’s.  I have used these recipes for eight years now and for a stellar, let-your-apples-shine pie, I know none better. pie1 pie2 pie3 cuppieduo

My tips:

1. freeze/chill your butter, your bowls, your water. . .everything that will touch the dough that can possibly be frozen or chilled.

2.  Don’t try to do pie dough in a hot room; you will regret it.

3.  Kitchen scissors are your friend for cutting clean edges.

4.  It is almost impossible to flour your rolling pin too much.

5.  Save those dough scraps.  They roll out just as well the second (or third) time.

So now that the apples are down to a manageable quantity, I am going to focus on my one little (big) project, getting ready for the Marine Corps birthday and its accompanying cake, and on getting my home ready for holiday guests (yes, it is taking us a long time to transition from being a one bdrm household to a two bdrm, but we are getting there)!  I hope you all have had a marvelous weekend/week.  Any of you take on any crazy projects lately?  I’d love to hear about them! minipie