Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Random

Lastnight as we were cleaning the kitchen after dinner, we had the most random discussion.  I’m not even sure how it came up. 

We discussed what our favorite words are.  Yep, favorite words.  People have favorite foods, favorite colors, favorite animals, etc.  Favorite words? 

Well, I was happy to read that the author of Eat Pray Love had a favorite Italian word when she was living in Italy.  Her word means “to cross the street”.  Commonly used by Italians I’m sure, but she liked the way it sounded to her foreign ears.  I read that part a while back, but it made me feel better to remember it after our conversation and know we weren’t the only word weirdos out there.

So what’s my favorite word? 

Pamplemousse – hear it here

It’s grapefruit in French.  I took French in college and I thought that word was so fun.  Now I always think pamplemousse when I see a grapefruit and just saying it makes me giggle a little.  Seriously, the small things 🙂  I can’t speak a lick of French now, but at least I’ll get chuckles for years from the one thing I retained.   Oh and since I just remembered that the discussion came up when I saw a PINEAPPLE on the counter and said PAMPLEMOUSSE, I guess my fancy French cover is blown.  I did know the word, but apparently any fruit will do 🙂 

I also like the word fleur (flower).  My whole family thinks that one is funny for some reason and my mom and dad have been known to say it a laugh on numerous occasions.  Clearly I did not fall far from the tree.

Jensen’s word was some medical term he learned in vet school.  I’m not even going to try to spell it or explain it, but after learning to say it I can see how its a fun one.  I see much less use for it in my day to day than pamplemousse (grapefruit are a little more mainstream), but if it ever comes up, I’ll smile and use it proudly.  Probably incorrectly, but proudly all the same 🙂 

 It’s nice to have a husband who doesn’t look at me weird when I ask him what his favorite word is as I randomly shout pamplemousse before erupting into laughter.  He joins right in.

What’s your favorite word, foreign or otherwise?

Seasonal Favorites

I LOVE PUMPKIN!

Really, it is a favorite food ingredient, flavor, smell, etc.  Pumpkin pie is my favorite dessert EVER! (close second and year round fave is carrot cake).  My mom’s is the best and it’s not Christmas or Thanksgiving without it.  Pumpkin spice candles are some of my favorite for making the house smell homey and cozy.  AND…pumpkin spice lattes are the BOMB!  They’re back and I’m about to head out to get my first one this morning.

As we move from Summer to Fall (in theory only until the temperature cooperates), I began to think of what I look forward to in the cooler weather and what I will miss from the hot summer.

Fall/Winter Favorites:

  • pumpkin spice anything (latte, pie, etc)
  • fires in the fireplace (me on the couch with a book)
  • uggs (or any boots) with skinnies and sweaters
  • skiing
  • crisp mornings
  • stews
  • Christmas!
  • University of Texas football

Summer Favorites:

  • fresh berries
  • laying by the pool
  • flowy skirts and flip flops
  • lots of daylight
  • peach cobbler
  • lake time

Despite my long life in and love of the Lonestar State and its natural heat, I’m a bigger fan of the cooler crisper weather.  I love fall and even winter works for me.  100 degrees is never my friend.  I need a break!  Come on with it!

Ok, I gotta go.  A pumpkin spice latte is calling to me and I’m already salivating. 

What are some of your seasonal faves?/What’s your favorite season?

I’m Ready

This is the month I turn 30.  At first I was a less than thrilled with the idea of 30.  I dreaded it a bit to be honest.  However, now I see it as sort of exciting.  It’s a new decade in my life with some serious potential.  My 20s brought me a college degree and many experiences to go along with it, true love and a beautiful marriage, settling into life in our own house in a city we LOVE.  Everyone says the 30s are even better.  BETTER?!  Bring it on!

It is fitting that this birthday (and clearly every birthday of mine 🙂 ) comes in September.  When I was in school (back when it actually started in September) it was the a new start to a new school year.  It’s the beginning of fall, even if it still close to 100 degrees outside.  I guess technically the weather has until the official first day of fall on September 21st to get its act together, but I’ve lived in Texas a long time and am not holding my breath.  Anyway, fall is my favorite season.

With the idea of a new decade and new beginnings, it is the perfect time to reflect.  I have joined Tina’s 30 days of Reflection.  It’s a time to learn to be quiet with yourself and appreciate all you have to give.  I can’t think of a better thing to do to start a new phase of my life.  Join in or check it out by clicking the 30 Days:Are you in?  link on the right.

I am also reading Eat Love Pray right now, which fits in with all of this really well.  The author has finished the first portion of her journey in Italy and is now in India.  She has traveled to India partly to learn the art of meditation and struggles with it a bit.  She has a hard time clearing her thoughts and just being or listening rather than talking or asking.  That is hard for me too.  I have a wandering mind and to just sit still and “clear the mechanism” (anyone know that movie?) is an actual challenge.  In the book she references what the “Buddhists call a monkey mind – the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit, and howl.”   I relate.  I think that learning to sit, be still, be quiet (even in the mind), and focus on one thought for self renewal and appreciation will be a very good practice to learn now and carry through life. 

My mom used to “hypnotize” herself.  Let me just clear up any thoughts that word may bring to mind.  My mom is in no way new-age or kooky.  She did have someone teach her once, though, to block out all that’s going on around her and just take a moment.  She calls it hypnotize, but I see it as meditation.  She would go in her closet where it is quiet and cozy and probably the only place us kids wouldn’t think to look 🙂 and just take a moment.  It centered her.  I remember her telling me this years ago.  I don’t know when she did it or how often.  I never witnessed it as it is something private.  I do now see how sometimes it is necessary.  We all just need a moment.  There is so much going on around us and in our own heads.  We need a break, even for five minutes. 

Tina’s idea is to take that break and use it to better yourself.  Think and reflect on something that will bring you to an appreciation of yourself and  peace.  I can’t think of a better way to set myself up for all the wonderful things to come in my 30s.  And beyond.  No more hesitation.

Southern Girl

I’m a Southern girl.  I was born in Texas and have lived here all my life.  Three different cities (born and raised in Tyler, college to now in Austin with one year held hostage in College Station while Jensen was in veterinary school) but Texas only. 

When you think of Southern cooking, what do you picture.  BBQ?  Fried food?  It’s no wonder Southern states top the obesity list every year.  

Case in Point: 

Since we are headed to Boston in about a month and are going to a Red Sox vs. Yankees game at Fenway and there are sure to be hotdogs and beer involved, I decided to look up what a Fenway hotdog is like.  Turns out there are regional hotdogs just like the regional BBQ and sauces I’ve mentioned before.  Chicago has one, NY another, Fenway has what’s called a Fenway Frank served in a New England-style bun (I’m not sure exactly what that is, but I’m excited to find out).  Texas?  Texas fries theirs.  Of course 🙂  The Texas State Fair is famous for their corn dogs.  Cornbread coated and fried “hotdog”.  The Fair actually offers pretty much anything fried from cheesecake and Snickers to butter and beer (I have no idea, so don’t ask 🙂  )  The corn dogs are great, I have to admit.  I prefer the battered and well-greased weeny to the in-a-bun one everytime.  I’ll let ya know how the Fenway Frank stands up. 

Really,though, I’m not much into fried.  My mom always cooked pretty healthy growing up and I tend to think most things are just as good in a non-fried version.  Oven “fried” chicken (rolled around in buttermilk or egg whites, coated in something crushed and crispy like cornflakes, fiber one, nuts, or a combination and baked) is one of my favorites from childhood and oven sweet potato “fries” are often better to me than the real deep-fried variety.  My mom did fry quail and that was a delicacy in our house.  We only ate what dad had hunted himself and so we only got it a few times a year.  All in moderation, though that particular dinner was always a gorge-fest.  Hey, I said it was only a few times a year 🙂  It was the only thing she fried and to this day even the high-class restaurant quail dishes done with fancy sauces can’t compete. 

Kelly (another born and bred Texan) and I have had the discussion before about what is truly better fried.  She says okra and I used to agree.  However, once discovering the wonders of roasted okra, I have to bail on that one.  To me its chicken liver (groan if you want, but as we have established I am from the South) and quail.  

With all of this background information, I bet you can guess what I did last night.  I fried y’all!  

Fry It UP!

Even though I have lived South of the Mason Dixon line all my life, I have never fried a thing.  I am happy to indulge in a greasy goody on occasion outside of the home.  Since we don’t go out to eat all the time, I order whatever I like at restaurants and consume anything that looks good at parties.  However, I am health conscious in my own kitchen.  We eat at home for 90% of our meals and that leaves our indulgent dinners out 100% guilt free. 

Lastnight, though I decided to channel my inner Paula Dean a bit.  I just have to stop and say I LOVE her!  It feels like you’re getting a big hug just to hear her talk.  Her recipes don’t touch healthy with a ten foot pole, but when in need of something truly decadent, they are the way to go.  She’s my go-to when I want a full-fat, holiday worthy dish.  

Anyway, back to lastnight.  I did use a Cooking Light recipe for the fried chicken, but it was still fried.  Fried and relatively healthy, so WIN/WIN.  

Pan-Fried Chicken 

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 chicken breast half or 1 thigh and 1 drumstick)
 Ingredients

  • 1  cup  all-purpose flour
  • 1/2  cup  whole-wheat flour
  • 1  teaspoon  ground ginger
  • 1/2  teaspoon  hot paprika
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2  teaspoon  fine sea salt
  • 2  bone-in chicken breast halves, skinned
  • 2  bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
  • 2  chicken drumsticks, skinned
  • 1/4  cup  peanut oil

Preparation

1. Sift together first 6 ingredients; place mixture in a large zip-top plastic bag. Sprinkle salt evenly over chicken. Add chicken, one piece at a time, to bag; seal. Shake bag to coat chicken. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess flour. Place chicken on a cooling rack; place rack in a jelly-roll pan. Reserve remaining flour mixture. Loosely cover chicken; chill 1 1/2 hours. Let chicken stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Return chicken, one piece at a time, to flour mixture, shaking bag to coat chicken. Discard excess flour mixture. 

 2. Heat peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 25 minutes or until done, carefully turning every 5 minutes. 

 3. Line a clean cooling rack with brown paper bags; arrange chicken in a single layer on bags. Let stand for 5 minutes. 

 Kitchen Notes:  The key to success with this recipe is even heat. If the oil gets too hot, the chicken may brown too quickly before fully cooking. You can lower the heat, or brown the chicken on the stovetop and then cook in a 350° oven until done. If the oil is not hot enough, the chicken will absorb too much of it. Omit spices in the breading, if you prefer. 

 Nutritional Information 

Calories: 245      Fat: 10.1g (sat 2g,mono 4.1g,poly 3g)     
Protein: 28.2g     Carbohydrate: 9g     Fiber: 0.8g    
Cholesterol: 87mg     Iron: 1.8mg     Sodium: 240mg    
Calcium: 17mg

 Cooking Light, JUNE 2009 

 It was more like a crispy crust than the thick breading on traditional fried foods, but it was yummy and got a two thumbs up from my completely Southern through and through husband.  It was incredibly juicy.  Roasted okra as a side completed the meal  

dinner Southern-style

What’s your favorite indulgence or comfort food?/  Do you think anything is better fried?

Pancake Power

I am a big fan of protein pancakes.  There were a few months there where I had them for breakfast every morning.   I made many varieties with blueberries or strawberries, topped with banana, gingerbread and carrot cake versions, and chocolatey goodness with chocolate protein powder to name a few.  The different ingredients and toppings are endless and they kept me satisfied for hours.  I have moved on a bit with so many other yummy breakfasts out there to try, but I still make these at least a couple of mornings a week. 

With my love of the power pancake, I was pumped to discover Lisa’s version.  I like this one because it still packs in the protein, but doesn’t rely on protein powder and has the addition of oats.  Protein + carbs=winning combination. 

I only made a half version because I like to eat a snack mid morning rather than a big breakfast, so half was the perfect amount for me.  I also added spinach (you can’t taste it, so why not throw in some extra veggies) and reduced the oats a bit to add some flax seed.  These are REALLy good!  Dare I say better than the original protein pancakes?

Green mean potein machine

What I did:

1/2 cup cottage cheese

3 egg whites

1/3 cup oats

1T flax seed meal

handful of spinach

cinnamon

Throw all above ingredients in a blender (I use my magic bullet).  Pour pancake-style in a hot skillet sprayed with cooking spray and add blueberries to each pancake.  Turn over and finish cooking, pressing lightly so the blueberries smoosh in a bit.  This is all very technical, I know  🙂

Do you eat the same things over and over when you find something you like?/Any one thing in particualr at the moment?

Perfect Timing

After writing yesterday’s post, I began to think more about the things I love.  What makes me happy?  What makes me smile?  Do I pay attention to those things regularly or run pass them and miss out some on the little day-to-day happinesses?  Happinesses, huh?  Really, is that a word?  It’s my blog and I’ll make up words if I want to, words if I want, words if I want to (sung to the tune of It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to).  So one of those little things that makes me smile…what I just did there.  Being a huge dork and finding myself HI-larious 🙂  Learning to not take myself so seriously is an ongoing lesson that my husband has been a huge help with.   

As I was reading September’s Cooking Light lastnight, I came across an article titled “Deciding to be Happier”.  Perfect timing.  Underneath it says, “Yes, deciding”.  I mentioned yesterday that our life is OUR life and we make of it what we want.  We get to DECIDE how we feel and react.  Even if something is totally out of our control, it is our decision how we will react to it.

Though, I’m not a self-help type person, I did hear a motivational speaker once whose main point was “Attitude is a CHOICE”  I think it’s so easy to get down about things that are going on and throw a bit of a pity party (often justified) when things are happening TO you.  I think it’s important in those situations to realize that even when you can’t control the events, your reaction and decisions on how to handle them are all up to you.  Positive or negative, it’s a choice.

This article in Cooking Light basically had the same idea about happiness.  Psychologist Dan Baker wrote a book called What Happy People Know followed by one titled What Happy Women Know.  The writer of the article asked Dan Baker if he really thought women were so different that they need their own happiness book.  

“Well, yeah, you do.  I’ve sat down with thousands of women and the predominatn thing they talk about is relationships, but they tend to overlook the most important relationship – the one with themselves.  You can’t have a healthy relationship with anyone else until you have one with yourself, because you are the common denominator.” 

The he said something that really caught my attention.

“Women are critical and hard on themselves in a way that they wouldn’t be on anyone else”

Why?  Why do we do this? 

Words of wisdom from the motivational speaker were “Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a little child.”  We are the one person that truly knows us.  We are most vulnerable to ourselves.  We are like impressionable, sensitive children to ourselves and therefore we should treat ourselves as such.  Would you ever tell a child they have fat thighs?  Would you ever tell a child they are ugly?  Would you ever speak to a child as if they are unworthy?  Would you ever point out to a child that they don’t have enough?  NO!  So don’t do it to yourself.  Stop being so critical.  You are the one person who should love yourself in and out and instead we often are hardest on ourselves.  Self-worth has a lot to do with happiness and nobody else can provide that for you.

You have to be active in your own happiness.  You can’t rely on others, events, money, etc to make bring you joy.  Mr. Brown gives several ways to focus on happiness and among them was “Don’t Miss the Little Things.”  He says that happiness is like exercise or healthy eating.  It’s a great concept, but the work is constant.  Happiness is like a muscle that requires exercise and can be difficult if you are out of practice.  He suggests that three times a day you conduct an Appreciation Audit.  Think of a person, event, or something in your life you deeply appreciate.  It becomes a habit to focus on the good stuff and then even when you come to a bump in the road, you still have a meaningful, fulfilling day. 

Choose happiness.  Rather than focusing on flaws (that we ALL have), focus on what your body does for you everyday.  Instead of focusing on what you want or wish you had or comparing your life to others, think of the little wonderful things that make you and your life unique.  It’s all about perspective and you get to make of it what you want.  If you want to make a change, make a choice to change.  If change is out of your control, choose how you look at the situation all together.  Be active in your happiness.  Participate in your life.  You can’t rely on anyone but yourself to make YOU happy.  You have to appreciate YOU before you can appreciate anyone else.   

 

Summer Hiatus

Clearly I am not keeping up with the blog well.  I have been reading everyone else’s (not to worry), but I have slipped on consistently writing my own.  I guess I took a summer hiatus.  Students and teachers across the nation take the summer off.  So do most of my favorite tv shows (hurry up with the new seasons already!)  School started back here today (not that I attend anymore  🙂 ) and that always seems to mark the beginning of fall.  Even if it is over 100 degrees outside.  Time to get back on the bus.    

While I’m rejoining, hopefully with some consistency, we are losing a lovely blogger.  Kelly has decided to take a leave of absence.  Go say bye to her if you haven’t already. Since I get the pleasure of hanging with her in person quite often, I’m sure you will see her shining face in the blogworld via this site on occasion.  Wipe the tears 🙂 

 Her reasons for quitting are valid.  Extremely reasonable.  She doesn’t want to miss out on life.  There is so much to experience.  The little things can be so enjoyable but also so easy to miss.  It made me think of all the things in life, large and small, that I love and reminded me to focus on and cherish every single one.  The whole reason this blog was started was to learn to appreciate the smaller things in life.  Learn to find a balance between the real world rat race and the small everyday things that make a happy life.  My happy life.  I have a hard time slowing down and seeing the beauty in it all.  Writing about it helps with that, but I don’t want to miss out on any of those little joys because I’m too busy writing about them.  Haha!  The balancing act continues  🙂  Maybe that’s why I have been a bit less consistent than I was at the beginning.  Sometimes we just need to stop and smell the flowers.  STOP and smell the flowers.   

Here’s to making the best decisions for you and being an active participant in your life.  It’s YOUR life!  You have a right and an obligation to enjoy every minute.   Make of it what you want.  It’s yours.