Just a little blog about me and mine.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 November 25, 2009

Filed under: family,food — Katie @ 11:51 pm

Today…I got off work at 1pm. It was a quiet and productive morning at work, but it’s always fun to leave early. I did get to read, rather re-read Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese as part of something I was doing. So beautiful. I just adore her, even though I’m not a huge poetry fan…just her and Rilke. Maybe I’ll be converted yet.

When I arrived home, my dad had already finished cutting down the huge bushes in the front of the house, and cut down the two dead dogwoods in the backyard. Together we picked up all of the small branches and and stacked the larger pieces usable for firewood. We also have another exciting yard project in the works, so stay tuned.

A highlight of the day, and this week, has been watching my Christmas cactus, er, Thanksgiving cactus, bloom. Shortly before she died, my grandmother gave me this cactus that she had at her house. It’s blooms are a beautiful coral color, which reminds me of her since it’s a color she really liked.

After a much less glamorous supper of sandwiches and chips and more fruitcake cookies, we removed the turkey from it’s brine and put it into the refrigerator until tomorrow. I made cranberry sauce, PL got the gravy mostly ready (or at least as ready as it can get without a turkey and its drippings), I assembled made from scratch, (not just from scratch but yuppie-like with a bechamel and gruyere and sharp white vermont cheddar), macaroni and cheese and got it oven-ready, and together we made a pumpkin ginger cheesecake.

While the cheesecake was baking, the oven did it’s really hot freaking out thing (c.f. Julia’s chocolate pecan pie from last Christmas Eve and my banana oatmeal bread from this summer). What happens is that it gets really hot all of a sudden, like lava hot, and turns itself off and won’t turn back on. PL thought she smelled something burning so we caught it early enough to scrape some black off the top of the still uncooked cheesecake, turn the circuit off and back on, and try again. We cooked it a bit more, and it’s cooling now so I think we saved it. I guess we’ll know tomorrow–the batter was very good, even though we added extra ginger to the recipe, so I hope the oven freakout didn’t ruin it (did I mention we have a $3500+ Jenn Air oven, not cool). We watched Glee while all this was happening, turning the tv off and back on a few times trying to find the right switch on circuit breaker for the oven, it’s the unlabeled one of course! Why then did we try the one that said “range” first, silly us for thinking things make sense in our house.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Filed under: family,food — Katie @ 11:28 am

Today…my parents arrived at our house for Thanksgiving. PL and I cooked a really nice dinner for them, Chicken in Mustard Sauce, Middle Eastern Carrot Salad, and Green beans with Almonds. My mom then washed all the dishes since she can’t let a dirty dish sit around for more than a few minutes after eating-it’s fantastic.

Then we brined our Thanksgiving turkey. My dad hinted several times that the best turkey he ever had was one his mom brined before she cooked it. We bought a free-range, never injected with junk, vegetarian fed bird at the farmer’s market and we are using this recipe for the brine and then the gravy. I always ate giblet gravy with boiled eggs in it growing up, and I’m not a huge fan, and by not a huge fan I mean that I think it’s disgusting. I make a good pan gravy now, but thought this would be nice to try.

Since the turkey has to brine 18-20 hours and then sit in the refrigerator overnight after that, we had to get started yesterday evening. Yes, I confess that I am generally that organized all the time, I even have a Thanksgiving 2009 Google Doc schedule, so fun.

The turkey had been hanging out staying nice and cold with ice water in our cooler outside since we had too much stuff in our refrigerator. We somehow made enough room in the refrigerator, and it’s now brining in a large bucket. We were also smart enough to snag some of the large plastic bags they use in the meat section at the DeKalb Farmer’s Market which are nice and strong and the perfect size. (Full Disclosure: PL bought a brand new bucket for turkey brining (our stockpot was too small) on Monday, but then was so happy to have a bucket she used it for Murphy’s oil soap and water to mop the floors, even though I said that was gross. I lost the argument, and she cleaned the bucket really well after mopping, then we lined the bucket with one plastic bag, and put the turkey inside of 2 more. She might not like me sharing that, but it’s funny to live in our house most of the time).


Recipes and Notes September 29, 2009

Filed under: family,food — Katie @ 3:48 pm

If you happen to be one of the 8 people who have looked at my recipe blog recently, you might have noticed that I just added a ton of stuff. We haven’t been eating that much, I promise. While I hadn’t really gotten behind on posting new recipes to What’s for Dinner, I did have a large stack of recipes that I had yet to make and then post to the blog. You see, I had a large stack of Cooking Light and a few other magazines with some recipes in them I wanted to try. Then I decided I needed to clean out the magazines (I can’t remember if this was before or after I watched my first episode of Hoarders ever and then had to organize everything I own that night and the next day), so I tore out the recipes I wanted to try. A stack of paper is less clutter than a stack of magazines, right? Then, they sat in a stack on our kitchen island for a few weeks. Finally, this past weekend while it was raining, again, I sat down and entered all of these new recipes into the blog, even though we hadn’t tried them yet. While I had used the blog to enter recipes we tried, I created it just to organize and store our recipes, and spent a lot of time thinking about how I could search by tags and categories. So for instance, I can type in dijon mustard or black beans and it pulls up several recipes with that as a main ingredient, or I could scan by categories like soup or dessert. Clever I know.

Getting the recipe blog updated was a labor intensive process, but was helped mightily by GT football winning their game in the background. It was also helped by the fact that since most of the recipes I had to enter were from Cooking Light, all of their recipes are online (mostly at so you can search for the dish name and cooking light and pull it up), so I had to do the post naming, categorizing and tagging, but I could copy and paste the recipe into the blog and then just clean it up a little. I probably spent 2-3 hours entering all of the recipes though. You’re welcome.

So far we can’t guarantee that all of these recipes are good, but looking through all of those recipes in order to post them made me eager to try some new things this week so I can already give a few comments.

Sunday morning I made these pumpkin ginger waffles as a surprise for PL. While she was getting ready for bed Saturday night I was sneaky and went back to the front of the house and pulled our pureed pumpkin out of the freezer so it would be ready for waffle batter Sunday morning. I thought I had ground ginger, but didn’t so I added pumpkin pie spice instead. We still remember some gingerbread pancakes we had a few years ago, so this recipe was appealing since it seemed to pick up some of those flavors that were so good. The waffles were awesome! I bought some ginger later that day at the Farmer’s market so these will be even better next time.

Yesterday after a really hectic day at work, I came home and made Dijon Mustard Chicken Fricassee and Lemon Chive Roasted Vegetables (I used purple fingerling potatoes, red new potatoes, carrots, parsnip and onion). I had to spend 5-10 minutes in the morning getting the chicken marinating in the mustard-herb sauce, but it was worth the time. This dinner was incredibly good, and not terribly hard for how fancy looking it was. The carrots were especially good with the lemon and chives–who knew? PL washed all of the dishes and even swept the kitchen, so it must have been good.


Why I’m Always Tired on Mondays April 27, 2009

Filed under: family,food,gardening — Katie @ 2:52 pm

PL is in the middle of finals, so I’ve been trying to be as helpful as possible around the house so she can just study.  It’s a nice feeling to be so useful, and I actually enjoy thinking of especially nice things to do to make PL’s life easier and happier (like buying PL and her classmate chocolate peanut butter cheesecake brownies from the Farmer’s Market or getting a pot of coffee ready to brew whenever she wants to turn it on).  1, 2, 3…Awwww.

Her law school study partner has been at the house almost all day everyday since last Monday except for sleeping–which they aren’t doing a ton of anyway.  I realized that when someone is around for an extended period of time your normal routines become public–cooking, cleaning, exercising, eating ice cream at 11pm. Our closest friends have been around while we’re doing laundry or dishes, but even with them we usually just hang out with them and save other chores and cleaning for another time.  Since PL and her friend were studying, I continued on with my usual activities, but felt a little self-conscious at times about putting our household operations on display. For example, I wanted to organize the pantry, but felt like that would make me look way too OCD and industrious. (fyi: I did eventually organize the pantry, but did it while our guest was gone.) 

So, here’s what I did while they studied, and studied some more, followed by more studying. 

I started by weeding flower beds in the yard and then sprayed lots of Roundup on more even more weeds since pulling them up wasn’t going very fast. I  made a little more progress in our front yard garden bed, but it was really hot by noon so I went inside and took a shower.  I organized the pantry-it did actually need it by the way-and went to Lowes (along with half of the population of Atlanta) to buy some plants.

With the plants unloaded from the car, but with the sun being too hot, I stayed inside and watched Superbad on DVD…I just love Michael Cera.  The whole time I had laundry going too, lest you think I just sat around and did nothing for 2 hours.   

As it was getting dark and cooler I planted Gerber daisies and Mexican heather by the mail box and spread some grass seed on our giant dirt patches in the backyard…probably an exercise in futility but one can dream of having grass one day.  (I’ll post pictures soon…after I find the camera and remember to take them, and upload them)

Then I cooked a yummy dinner of apricot glazed chicken (I checked our recipe blog and I never posted that, so I’ll get on that soon too), sauteed yellow squash, and green beans for my law student.  It’s not too hard of a recipe and really delicious, but it does involve the food processor. 

I went to Sunday school and church and stopped at Chipotle for lunch.  I enjoyed sitting under an umbrella on their deck by myself watching the cars and street traffic, but I didn’t stay too long since I had other errands to run.  After lunch I went to the Farmer’s market–and got all our weekly groceries there.  That’s right, all of them, which I don’t normally do but I’m reading yet another Michael Pollan book and felt like we needed organic milk this week. 

When I got home I prepared 60 pounds of chicken leg quarters for the dogs to eat-I used every container we have for the dogs’ food plus a couple more that I found and they are now set for their meals for 20 days. I only cut myself once, and just in case you were wondering, it takes me 2 hours to get that much chicken ready.  In case you are also wondering what in the world I’m talking about (I did say my normal private routines became public) our dogs eat a raw diet…and it makes them very healthy and happy.  Luckily PL’s study partner already knew that our dogs ate this, so she was intrigued but not grossed out by the fact that we had 60 pounds of raw chicken in our kitchen.  Damn dogs.

After filling our freezer with containers of chicken, I went back outside and planted pansies in the flower bed by the front door, planted our side yard flower bed (moss rose, more pansies, and some other flower that I thought was pretty but can’t remember its name).  Daylight was still my friend so I planted herbs in the backyard herb garden-basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, flat leaf parsley, mint, bee balm (no clue what this is good for but it makes pretty flowers), and sage.  I had enough daylight and energy to put mulch around the newly planted things and hang up the bumblebee windsock that I bought.   

After a shower since I was covered in dirt and mulch, I cooked organic tofu stir fry with garlic, carrots, broccoli, snow peas and green and orange peppers (peppers cooked in a separate pan since I can’t/don’t eat them) and brown rice for my law student plus her study pal.  I am totally a keeper. 

Then I did another peculiar chore that is not usually put on display–I made vegetable bags for me and PL.  So, vegetable bags?  This is a long story, but we learned a long time ago that we actually will eat more vegetables if we cut up fresh vegetables and put them in bags for at least a few days during the week.  When we pack our lunches we can just throw a bag in our lunch box usually along with some fat-free ranch dip.


Time Wasting Website Review: This is Why You’re Fat April 22, 2009

Filed under: food — Katie @ 12:04 pm

Oh Americans…we can’t find a food that can’t be made a little better by adding cheese, bacon, or deep frying it. I present This is Why You’re Fat. It’s a fascinating blog of some truly amazing foods. I’m happy to say for the future of my cardiac health that most of the foods look disgusting to me. Additionally, since I don’t smoke pot, things like the snack food pizza (pizza topped with doritos and corn dogs) aren’t anything I crave on a regular basis.

I do have to confess that I think this might be the best omlet ever (chicken fried steak and gravy omlet with cheese and onions):

However, I’m afraid that meatloaf with a delicious macaroni and cheese center might sound gross, but it’s slightly intriguing. And a deep fried grilled cheese just looks amazing.


30 to 30 March 30, 2009

Filed under: fitness,food — Katie @ 4:01 pm

I was counting weeks on the calendar recently for some vacation and work things (6 weeks until we take our just booked vacation!), and realized I will turn 30 in 30 weeks. So far I feel ok about turning 30, but ask me again as it gets closer. I will be 30 with a 26 year old girlfriend, so that makes it a little better 🙂

I do feel like turning 30 is a big deal (and I will have a big party to match) and I hope I can be fairly intentional and reflective about the fact that it is a milestone. I’m sort of always having a career existential crisis, so turning 30 won’t make that any better or worse. But I think the area I want to focus more on is improving my overall fitness and health levels since it’s all downhill from now on. My family has the most rockin’ genes ever: high blood pressure, diabetes, breast cancer, colon cancer and more diabetes. A lot of that is prevented or made better by fitness and nutrition though.

Since I was about 10 I’ve been overweight and even though I played sports it didn’t get any better. In 2004 and 2005 I lost 38 pounds by making better food choices and learning more about healthy foods. I didn’t do any intentional exercise then, but I was living in DC and walking a bit everyday which helped I’m sure. Since moving back here I’ve gained 16 of that back, even though I’ve been a fairly consistent (maybe a little lazy) exerciser. To be a really healthy weight, I probably should lose that 16 pounds plus another 10 or so. Since losing about a pound a week seems to be ideal for doing it in a healthy way and being sure it’s long-term, and I also have about 30 weeks to go until I’m 30, it works out to be a pretty good plan. Thirty weeks would also be a little extra time too to make the goal since there’s some parties and holidays and vacation in there (which always includes lots of eating out and drinking–especially since PL wants me to go dancing, that’s even more drinking).

So, now my goals are public, and I have a deadline, so hopefully that will help me over the next 30 weeks. The end of Girl Scout cookie season will help too.

Since I’m a nerd I made a little Google docs spreadsheet with a list of the Monday’s between now and my birthday (October 15). I put a section for weight, and down the list I wrote goals according to weeks. For example, at 5 weeks, my goal is to lose 5 pounds. I also made a goal to focus on for each week, just to help break the overall project into smaller pieces. These goals are things like “run every other day this week” and some other things not as directly linked to weight loss, but are good for me like cutting down to 1 soda a day or less and eating vegetarian one day a week.

This week my goal to focus on is writing down what I’m eating. Just like when starting to budget your money, you first just write down what you spend to see where it goes, I want to start with writing down what I’m actually eating. Hopefully that will show me where I’m running into trouble and help me make the right changes. I don’t claim to be the most consistent exerciser, but I’ve been doing it and also gaining weight while doing it, so the formula is breaking down somewhere (beer? late night cereal? check, check).

I’m doing this on The Daily Plate, now hosted at It’s easy to enter foods and get accurate serving sizes, choose how much you actually ate, when you ate it, and see how many overall calories you’re eating. This seems helpful because we do fairly well with cooking healthy meals at home, but we don’t always eat just one serving of something and snacks really seem to be what do me in. I recognize that it’s not a controlled experiment just to write down what I’m eating, since I know that if I actually had to write down that I ate like 8 Girl Scout Samoas yesterday I probably would have stopped eating them at 1 or 2.


ATNTFTB: ‘Joy of Cooking’ or ‘Joy of Obesity’? February 17, 2009

Filed under: food,in the news — Katie @ 9:39 pm

Today was an uninspiring news day (Sen. Burris might be a bit shady after all?  I never in a million years imagined that), but I did see this nugget of an article that came from the Los Angeles Times.  I am in no way suggesting that this news source is comparable to the New York Times, only that I wasn’t inspired to blog about salmon brain injuries today or you know, any of the actual news.

This article is fascinating though, so even if I’m bending the rules, I hope you enjoy it just this once.  In a comparison of 18 difference recipes in the Joy of Cooking–recipes that stuck around from the 1931 edition to today’s–researchers found that 14 of those recipes have increased their overall calorie counts by an average of 982 calories or 44% per recipe.  The article notes several reasons for this calorie increase:

  • Changing serving sizes–a 1997 waffle recipe made 12 waffles, the exact same ingredients made 6 waffles in 2006.
  • Adding more of certain ingredients-beef stroganoff apparently needs a whole cup of sour cream these days, when just a decade ago it needed 3 tablespoons.
  • Making substitutions to use more meat instead of vegetables-since meat was a lot more expensive in 1931, people ate less of it than we do now).

I did my own mini-study at home since I have both a 1976 and a 2005 copyright Better Home and Gardens New Cookbook (that’s the red checkered one).  One recipe I often make from this cookbook is Banana Bread.  Both recipes make the same size loaf, but in 1976 the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/3 cup shortening.  In 2005, you need a whole cup of sugar and a 1/2 cup of shortening.  So, if you’re reading this and you are lucky enough to get to partake of my banana bread on occasion, I’m going to begin retro-themed baking and use the 1976 recipe.   And I”ll also do my part to bring back Ham Medley and Company Creamed Tuna and maybe a nice elegant rice ring, since those recipes somehow were left out of the 2005 edition.

I often argue that eating at home instead of in a restaurant is one of the easiest ways to eat better and lose weight, and of course save money.  But, as this study shows, our food troubles extend beyond restaurant fare and into our own cupboards.  The article also briefly highlights the growing size of our plates and utensils–an actual serving of pasta looks tiny and unsatisfying on a giant plate so we eat more.  PL and I got new “everyday” silverware recently (from my mom of course) to replace an older set my late aunt and uncle used for forty years.  The new teaspoon is the size of the old soup spoon, and the new soup spoon?  It won’t even fit in my mouth and we use it as a serving spoon.  The trend is also noticeable with our new dinner plates (also from my mom–who needs to get married anyway?).  We have a set of my grandma’s plates from the 1960s with a 10 inch diameter (most older plates are even 9 inches), and our new set of plates made in 2008 has a nearly 12 inch diameter–if we had older cabinets the dishes most likely would not fit in them.