Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Birds

When I was about 8 or 9 I saw the Alford Hitchcock movie "The Birds". We lived in a split level home at the time that had a chimney. My sister and I used to dance on the hearth. We were adorable, I know. :) Once I saw the movie though that fireplace freaked me out. Of course this was around the time Gremlins came out and that freaked me out too. To this day every time I see giant flocks of birds there is a slight irrational fear that I am going to get my eyes pecked out...or at least get pooped on.
The area we live in has a couple of Bald Eagles that roost in the trees during the fall. To catch a glimpse of them is a special treat and I have only gotten one glimpse so far of these reclusive birds of prey. One day I was driving home from dropping my daughter off at school and saw one of the eagles soaring over the lake near my house, and of course I did not have my camera with me. This spurred me on to go eagle hunting...with my camera of course!
I spent several hours driving around my neighborhood trying to find the eagles. Instead of finding Eagles I found seagulls, ducks, American Coots, and this awesome black and white crested duck. I think he thought he was Elvis, with attitude. ;)
The day was bitterly cold and I could only be out of the car for a few minutes at a time. Even with that inconvenience it was fun to go on a little photo safari. Next time maybe I will catch a glimpse of the elusive eagles!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

{TWD: BWJ} French Apple Tart

This post was supposed to be posted way back on January 22nd. The same day I was putting together the Chicken Liver Gateau I was able to throw this together as well. Unfortunately for me I did not get to even taste this lovely tart. I chose the easy route and used jarred applesauce because I didn't have much time. It came together easily and I sent this off with my hubby and kiddos to a pot luck. My hubs said that it was delicious and that it disappeared quickly from the table.

Make sure to take a look at the LYL to see how other bakers around the world fared while baking this.

Also, make sure to check out Laws of the Kitchen as she hosted this recipe!


Monday, January 28, 2013

Spam and Anchovies Halloween Edition

October saw Spam and Anchovies at Anne's house with all of our spouses and kiddos.  The kids had so much fun being dressed up and getting to play outside in the backyard. We had BBQ, potatoes with bacon, sweet potatoes, mac and cheese, muffins, and pie. I think I took Johnny Appleseed pie but I can't really remember.  I just know we had a fun time hanging out with all of our hubs and kiddos. :0)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Spam and Anchovies Cajun Edition


In my last post I said I was a bad blogger. This post reinforces that fact exponentially.  Way, way, way back in the time known as August 2012 Spam and Anchovies got together for Cajun night at Leanne's house. Only 5 of us could make it but we ate like queens. :)  We had Jambalaya and Hurricanes provided by Leanne, BBQ Shrimp and Grits provided by Vanessa, Cornbread muffins and coffee provided by Anne, Beignets provided by Melissa D who couldn't be with us, and Sweet potatoes and and salad provided by Melissa R. I was supposed to bring a King Cake but didn't realize it is really bread and needed rise time. So, I brought New Orleans Praline Brownies instead.
Every bit of this food was delicious. One of our girls is allergic to shellfish so there was a version of the shrimp and grits that did not include shrimp. I was glad since I cannot eat shrimp either. Every time I try it makes me gag. Vanessa said her husband was glad that she was able to bring leftovers home. Somehow I didn't get in any of the photos. It could be the 1 hurricane I had that made me forget to take one. One of the favorite parts of the night was cooking the beignets. It was fun to see how they popped to the top of the oil! Thanks to Leanne for opening her home to us in August! :) We all enjoyed being there!
Melissa, Vanessa
Anne, Leanne

Gingerbread House Destruction via Remote Control Car

 Way back in December Bobby's brother was here with his girlfriend. They helped us decorate these adorable gingerbread houses. The girls clearly beat the boys with their decorating skills. Later on in December Bobby's other brother and wife came to visit and we had grand plans for destroying the houses. We didn't get around to it though. Fast forward to almost the end of January and the houses were still intact. They were up high so the dog couldn't even eat them.  It was time for destruction remote control car style. It was a fitting end to the houses and now the birds and squirrels have a special treat. :)

{FFwD} Chicken Liver Gateau and Spam and Anchovies

I always feel like I am apologizing for being a blog slacker...so sorry for being a blog slacker. 

This week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe was actually Shrimp but I am a week behind.  Last weeks recipe was Chicken Liver Gateau with Pickled Onions. Because I am kind of weird about textures and animal organs I was really tempted to skip this recipe and then jump in the next week. I was also worried about how much it was going to cost. But, I bit the proverbial bullet and decided to get over my revulsion and make the recipe. I mean livers are delicacies in some countries...right?


My cooking club, Spam and Anchovies, was meeting last Friday night. Our theme was pub food. After turning to my friend Google and perusing actual pub menus I found chicken liver on a couple of them. That was truly what made me decide to make this. My cooking club is pretty adventurous but I was still worried. 

Munchkin and I went to the grocery to get the liver. She kind of gagged when she saw the package and I was pleasantly surprised to see that chicken liver is not expensive. However, the packages were over a pound and I only needed half a pound. Publix (my favorite grocery store) will gladly break any package for you and they happily gave me half a pound of liver. Grand total? $.83. Yep! Under a dollar. That made me feel even better. If everyone hated this recipe I was out cents rather than dollars. The recipe came together really easily. Everything was thrown into the food processor and blended until smooth and then baked in custard cups in a water bath. It was easy. The pickled onions were also extremely easy and I had everything except the coriander seeds on hand. They made a really tasty addition to the recipe.

Before I tried the gateau out on my cooking club I had a few other tasters. My son and our friend that comes home with us from school both tried it. Little Man said he liked it. Our friend had kind of a funny look on his face. Both kids gave a thumbs up but then I asked our friend if he would like to spit his out. He politely nodded and then went to the garbage can. Of course, I did not tell either of the kids that there was chicken liver in the delicacy they were going to ingest.

Munchkin took more convincing since she was with me when I bought the liver. Trying to get her to put this in her mouth almost took me holding her down and forcing her to eat it. It did not take those extremes (and I wouldn't hold my kids down to make them try anything) but I am not sure she could actually taste the bite she took. It was pretty minuscule. She said it smelled gross.

My hubster voluntarily took a bite...with very little coercing needed. He said "It is not bad for what it is". For him to try it was a win! 

I even had 3 more testers before heading off to cooking club. My sweet neighbor has 2 adorable boys. I took the gateau over to her house with some pieces of Chicago Italian bread, it was kind of crusty and they went really well together. The littlest boy immediately dug in and said "Thank you Ms. Karen!" He just kept eating it. My sweet neighbor tasted it and said that it tasted good too. The next day when we went for a run she told me her older boy said "That brown bread Ms. Karen made was so good". From these responses I have to think as long as a kid doesn't know what is in it that they will think the gateau is good. Unless they are picky about everything...in that case they may spit it out. 

Once all of my neighborhood testing was done it was time for me to head off to cooking club. Sweet Sarah was hosting us. She has twin boys and blogs about them here. She is also a pretty adventurous cook and blogs about that here. She made Fish and Chips and Mustard-Cheddar-Pull apart bread as our main course for Pub Night.


The fish turned out perfectly. She fried cod in a beer batter and it was tasty. We all used malt vinegar on it so it was even more authentic pub food. One of my earliest memories is from when I lived in Scotland (ages 2-4) and having fish and chips in newspaper. It also may explain why I love malt vinegar on my fries, fish, chicken, sometimes tortilla chips....

Vanessa brought Pioneer Woman bacon wrapped jalapenos and a bunch of alcohol for Sunny Irishmen. The jalapenos were addictive and delicious. Sarah's husband stayed home to make sure the boys were in bed but he also took good care of us ladies. He makes coffee at a place called The Well and made delicious coffee for all of us that night.

Somehow I managed not to get a photo of Melissa's beautiful dessert. She brought Pioneer Woman Bread Pudding with Whiskey Cream sauce and it was delicious! The sauce made the dish! She did make sure to keep a few bites for her husband who loves bread pudding.




I took water crackers with me on which to serve the Chicken Liver Gateau. Everyone ventured out and tried it and a couple of people even said that it tasted good. Melissa and Sarah were both a little hesitant because it contained an organ. Leanne, who joined us later in the evening, said it looked like cat food. I agreed and even left some for our hosts to share with their cats. Hm, I should check back with them and see if the cats liked it. Sarah's husband really liked it and came back for more.  Vanessa suggested that it be served already on the crackers so it was more appetizing. I absolutely agreed because as I was plating it I though it looked like I could have opened a can of cat food.

Our evening was spent having fantastic, entertaining conversation and delicious food. These ladies are hilarious! We missed the rest of our group though and hope they will be able to join us next time. Of course they all had good excuses....Anne was coming home from the hospital after having a baby, Beth was in the throes of moving, our other Melissa is in the end stages of pregnancy, and Kenna had another conflict. One of these days we will all be there at the same time.

We found it funny that almost all of us were wearing Chuck's! :)

Sara's sweet husband, who has kind of a funny mustache right now, graciously took a photo for us.   This one does not include the biketard that Leanne brought with her because everyone was talking in that one. :)
Melissa, Leanne, Me, Sarah, Vanessa
Who knows what next month will bring but  not matter the fare it will be fun. Thanks ladies for another fun night!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Shoes and Customer Service

I am not a shoe aficionado.  I don't like to spend a lot of money on shoes and I wear my shoes until my toes are sticking out the sides. Well, I am committed to running the Country Music Half Marathon in April and my  3 year old Saucony running shoes were just not cutting it anymore. I ran 2 miles on Saturday and had the shin splints to prove it.

Today I had a couple of hours free so I decided to go look for some shoes. I had some Christmas money from my parents to spend and thought this would be a good way to burn a hole in my pocket. :)

I went into the first shoe store (Rack Room Shoes) where I was basically ignored until I asked where the running shoes were. The associate was helpful enough but really didn't seem to want to help me as they had to restock the store with sandals...in January... I found one pair of shoes that I liked well enough and put them on hold.

Off I went to store number 2 (Lady Foot Locker). The sales associate was trolling facebook or something on her phone that was clearly more important than me...until I was a foot away from her. She then tried to sell me the most expensive pair of shoes in the store. A little frustrated, I took off for store number 3.

When I walked into The Finish Line the associate behind the counter greeted me, asked what kind of shoes I was looking for (running shoes), and my price range ($50-$60). He said "let me go in the back and get you several pairs to try on". I was able to try on 3 pairs and find 1 that was a perfect fit! I managed to walk out of the store with a pair of Nike Dual Fusion Running shoes in my price range and satisfied with the customer service I received.

The moral of the story is provide good customer service you will get my business!

Friday, January 11, 2013

{FFWD} Long and Slow Baked Apples


It has been a little while since I participated in French Fridays with Dorie. I can't remember if there was a recipe that I didn't want to do and then I just kept missing or what. I am behind on Tuesdays with Dorie as well. That group just made Pizza with Onion Confit and Finnish Pulla. I did actually make the Pulla not long after I got the book but never took pictures. Trust me when I tell you the bread is delicious! I saw several people on Facebook post about these apples today. It looked easy and I had an apple and butter on hand so into the kitchen I ventured while taking a break from grading papers. I am not sure if I mentioned in a post or not but our dishwasher is broken. It makes it really tempting to leave the dishes to the next day and unfortunately happens often. It also makes me not want to cook knowing I will have to wash all of the dishes by hand. I know, I know! First world problems!

This recipe called for 4 apples but I just made 1 for me, for lunch of course. I cut the amount of sugar, butter, ginger, and coriander. I actually pulled out my mandolin for slicing the apples and didn't even slice off my finger! I managed to slice open my pinky the other day on the bottom of a bowl....ouch!

The technique used here was layer, brush with butter, sprinkle sugar mixture, repeat. Wrap with plastic wrap then aluminum foil* (borrowed from sweet next door neighbor because I still didn't buy any since Christmas),   place on silicon mat lined tray and bake undisturbed for 2 hours at 300 degrees. I am not sure why you were supposed to wrap with plastic wrap, I am pretty sure I ate the section that melted.....

Overall, this was easy, quick to put together, and tasty! It is definitely a treat I might make again for me and Little Man but I don't think my hubs or my girl would like it...the whole cooked fruit thing. :) Make sure to check out the LYL to see how other cooks around the country liked these. I may be out the rest of the month as next week is chicken liver and the week after is shrimp. I can't stand shrimp but my family loves it so I may make that one. :) It is good to be back!

*Did you know that foil and plastic wrap have tabs on the side of the box to punch in and keep the roll in place? I am far too excited about this piece of information that I picked up on a recipe site last night! Go check your boxes! You will be amazed!

Monday, January 07, 2013

Icon


Several years ago my friend Trevor started a quest to shoot in black and white. He started a challenge when some people decided to follow along. You can read more about his photographic journey here. I attempted to follow along at one point but have never really gotten the hang of flicker. This year for the photo challenge there is a community on google+, a group on facebook, and a group on flicker. It makes it almost impossible not to be a part of the challenge. This year the challenge is to shoot along with the theme and post your best image. This week, which ends on the 12th, the theme is Icon. Trevor posted a definition and I am going with the second definition which is: A person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something.

My icon for this week's challenge is the big coffee cup, an icon for coffee drinkers everywhere! :)

If you would like to join the challenge you can go here, here, or here. Happy shooting!

Friday, January 04, 2013

You might be a redneck if.....

you go to Monster Jam Live! Honestly we didn't feel too rednecky as we saw many, many families with kiddos at the arena. One of the first great things about this event was a free Party in the Pits! If you went to Jack in the Box with your tickets you could get free pit passes. We got to the arena about 5:20 and waited for 10 minutes to get in. I am glad we got there early though because we were able to zip through all of the lines except El Toro Loco and Grave Digger. Even the wait for those two trucks/drivers was only about 10 minutes. The line behind us though stretched halfway around the arena. The kids were excited to meet each of the drivers. Little Man more than Munchkin I think.
 Munchkin and I got airbrush tattoos. They are Jack in the Box tattoos so obviously they are quite classy. ;) It was really fun to be able to see the trucks up close and see how big they actually are. I said the tires were as tall as Bobby but I was wrong. They were just a little bit shorter than my 5'4"ness.

 Once the pit party was over we made our way to our seats. We did not purchase expensive tickets so we were up kind of high. If you are a Preds fan and know about cell block 303...we were in 308. It was nice to be up high so we could see everything. The course had several obstacles the drivers had to tackle. The crowd favorite, Grave Digger, landed on his roof on his first jump. That was kind of a bummer but the other trucks did not disappoint. The trucks had to do wheelies, donuts, faced off with another truck, and freestyle. Freestyle was a crowd favorite but I think my favorite was wheelies. :)
 As the track was being reset the motorcross drivers put on a stunt show. This was Little Man's favorite part of the show. It was really impressive to see these guys fly off the end of the ramp and do crazy stunts!

 If you get a chance to go see Monster Jam Live, go! It was entertaining..Bobby likened it to Professional Wrestling..more show that actual racing but fun nonetheless. Don't worry if you feel like a redneck. Avoid the skull souvenir mugs and you will be fine. ;) You will get to see an entertaining show and be impressed by the magnitude of the trucks!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Black Forest Cake

I am in the middle of baking a  birthday cake for my husbster. It is a Black Forest Cake that I saw here.  I had to go to the store and pick up cherries to go in the cake. The problem with that is I didn't want to go far. The Piggly Wiggly ( I always think about Sweet Home Alabama when I think of the Pig) had a bunch of cans of cherries in water that expired in Oct. We ran to dollar general but had no luck there either. Finally I decided we needed to make the trek to Kroger where we were rewarded with cans of cherries. I suppose I should have started there.

Short break was taken...as in 4 hours or so since I started this post. The cake is baked, decorated, candled, and eaten. Bobby said that it was really moist and that it was really tasty! I am glad. I liked it too. This was really a pretty easy cake to bake. The chocolate cake was adapted from the Hershey cookbook. This is the same chocolate cake I used for the storm trooper cake (a side note my stormtrooper cake was pinned on a nerdy board on pinterest!) last year.



I am so thankful for my husband and that he likes the treats that I make on a fairly regular basis. My pictures of the cake are horrible but you get the idea. If you want to make this check out brown eyed baker's blog at the link in the first paragraph.

Happy birthday my dear hubster! Here is to many more cake experiments in the future! :) I love you!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

2012 Books

I felt like I read a lot in 2012 but looking back over my library list I may not have read as much as I thought...we got cable this fall...
Here is my list from 2012 and I would love suggestions for 2013:


  1. What God said about Eternity and the Things we make up Francis Chan
  2. Diary of a mad housewife sue kaufman
  3. Sing you home Jodi piccoult
  4. Turning table heather and rose macdowell
  5. Fantastic Beasts and where to find them  jk rowling
  6. A Wrinkle in Time Madeline L’engle
  7. One Day David Nicolls
  8. Bossypants Tina Fey
  9. Sarah’s Key Tatiana De Rosnay
  10. The Chickens Guide to Talking Turkey about S** with your kids Kevin Lehman
  11. The Scottish Prisoner Diana Galbaldan
  12. In Her Shoes Jennifer Weiner
  13. Best Friends Forever Jennifer Weiner
  14. Top 10 Scotland Alastair Scott
  15. A gift for my sister Ann Pearlmann
  16. The Great Brain Book: an inside look at the inside of your head
  17. Destined PC Cast
  18. Keep in Touch: Letter from Sister of the Traveling Pants
  19. Bitter is the New Black: Jen Lancaster
  20. Four Sister, all queens Sherry Jones
  21. Tumbleweeds  Leila Meacham
  22. The Flight of Gemma Hardy Margot Livasay
  23. The Politics of Barbaque Blake Fontenay

Happy New Year 2013!

It took me three tries to actually write 2013 in the title. I wonder how long it will take to write it on paperwork!

Happy new year! I hope 2013 is a year of blessings on each and every one of you!
Did you set new year resolutions? Last year our family decided our resolution was to not go to McDonald's  The biggest reason for that was there is one very close to us and it was far too easy to drive through on a regular basis. Well, we made it! One entire year with no McDonald's! As for this year we didn't really make resolutions but I do have a few things I would like to accomplish:

1) Read my Bible more often and model that for my kiddos. We are going to an evening service with our kiddos on Sunday evenings but I would like to find a place for them where they can learn about God in a great environment and also about serving others in the morning.

2) Put down the smart phone and be more connected to my kiddos and my hubster. On that same note be a better friend! Not feel slighted or left out because no one calls me. I will pick up the phone and call them.

3) Run the Music City Half Marathon. I have already signed up and paid the money so now I just have to actually do the training. I have some neighbors that are going to be doing it as well so there is some accountability there.

4) Cut out soda at least for the month of January. Our old church did a 21 day fast in January and I did it 2 years in a row. This year I am cutting out soda.

5) Cook at home more often.

I don't think these are unreasonable things to strive for over the next year. If you see me blogging hopefully it will be about these goals. :)


Last night we rang in the new year with several friends and family members. Let's just say that Just Dance 3 is quite entertaining when the men are dancing to California Girls by Katy Perry. I have a sneaking suspicion that most people really want to play that game but need to see someone else look foolish first. :) Everyone at the party got a turn. Here is to dancing like no one is watching!