Sunday, August 21, 2011

Homemade Granola

I've been trying to develop healthy snacks for Aubrey lately that don't cost a fortune because, well, the guy can eat. In high school, his friends told me he'd have a box of cereal for breakfast when us normal folk were simply having a bowl. So, throw in several hours of physical training per day as he goes through the new fire academy and you see what I've got on my hands here. I've been experimenting with different types of homemade granola and I think I now have a winning and wholesome combination. I've been holding off posting because I couldn't get the stuff to cluster and it would just spill everywhere when I'd eat it and the I.T. guys at work were probably sick of cleaning out my keyboard ( I once got a cornflake lodged under the "F" key for a week... it was reakin unny.) But, alas, I figured it out. Egg whites... not just for lame breakfasts!

You can do any fruit/nut combo you like with this base recipe but this is my fave.

Homemade Granola with Mango and Tart Cherries
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup quick oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup dried tart cherries, rough chopped
1/2 cup dried mango, rough chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/6 cup good honey
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp kosher salt
2 egg whites, whipped until foamy

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Toss the oats, coconut, walnuts, and dried fruit together in a large bowl. Pour the oil and honey over the oat mixture. Add the cinnamon and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats and nuts are coated with the liquids.
3. Fold in the egg whites until coated.
4. Pour onto a sheet pan in a single layer. Bake until the mixture turns a nice, even golden brown, covering with foil on areas getting done too quickly when needed, for about 25 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before disturbing the granola, ensuring that the egg whites set. Granola should form light clusters when scooped off. Store in an airtight container.  The clusters won't survive extreme jostling but are perfect for easy snacking and won't break your teeth like the store-bought stuff. Yay!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Spicy RC Cola Pork Sandwiches with Cilantro-Jalepeno Slaw

P-Dub has done it again. And, before all you haters go off a-hatin' let's just appreciate the fact that the woman didn't make it on money alone... she's talented. Yeah, I said it.

I've been eye-balling her Spicy Dr. Pepper pork for months but haven't had much time to make anything involving more than 30 minutes of my time since Aubrey started the Fire Academy. Luckily, I worked from home today so at lunch, I popped this baby in the oven and by six it was falling off the bone and winning over my heart. And, it only took a whole 2 minutes to put in the pot. Seriously, quarter an onion, throw in the roast, open a couple cans of peppers and pour in some leftover RC cola from the fourth ( I didn't have Dr. Pepper.)

I had it with P-Dub's cilantro slaw sans red cabbage because apparently it's exclusive to Whole Foods in Tulsa and at $1.69 PER POUND, they can keep it.

Here's the link to the recipe. I halved the pork amount but kept the spice amount and it was SPICY. Almost too much even for me. But, it was so worth it. I highly recommend this one.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Aubrey and I recently took a U.K. trip and had an amazing time. We flew into London and rented a car to drive through England and Scotland with a flight out of Edinburgh. We had sort of a hellish return flight which warrants no further recollection but the trip itself was amazing. We had absolutely no plan other than to book it up to Manchester immediately after getting our car to watch Manchester United v. Chelsea at Old Trafford Stadium. (If you think you're gifted in the art of profanity, go to an English football match and get schooled.) After that, we were free to do whatever we desired for two weeks and it was heaven on earth. So here's a few of my favorite choices in England...

Getting a pint at the coolest pub that some how mixed diva wallpaper with old world rustic charm.

Discovering widespread availability of local cider. I thought I'd spend the whole trip with an empty hand at the pubs but was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this stuff. Plus, it was great to try the local brew in every city. The Cotswolds stuff has got to be the best in the world. I'm sure of it.

The Tower of London. If you pay admission for one thing in all of England, make it this. Crown Jewels,  intense historical significance, a superb cafeteria on the grounds...yum. We spent a whole day here. And, yes, I know this isn't a representative picture of the Tower but look at those doors!

 Walking. Seriously! The national pastime of England is walking which sounded a bit weird to me until I discovered that they know how to do it right. There are public footpaths through most of the countryside where you can walk through private property and from town to town. It was gorgeous.

These pics are currently serving as decorating inspiration for me. In fact, the whole trip is inspiring.  I have to go hang a curtain rod!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Good Eats in Boston

Guess what? I'm in Boston. Guess what else? I've got food on the mind. Here's some good stuff I ate over the last couple of days...

Legal Seafood in the airport really delivers, especially for terminal fare! Way better than McDonalds or Chili's To-Go. I'd give the chowder a "7" for the clam chunks but it was lacking in heft and seasoning. Their crabcakes were pretty good, too, but they've got nothing on The Original Pierre Maspero's in New Orleans. Nothing. I'm sort of a crabcake snob but I couldn't tell you my criteria. It's just good, better, or best.
Sourdough makes my heart sing. As does butter served room temperature. I'm a bit of a butter snob, too. Cold butter is high on my list of restaurant pet peeves...right under the dreaded half-serve ( where only half the people get their food and awkwardness ensues- We'll wait for really, go ahead and eat... are you sure? )

 This was the Funghi  pizza at Pasta Beach where I ate way too much, drank way too much ( iced tea) and waddled all the way back to my temporary home. Also, they had beautiful paint colors- striped cream and grey with colorful coastal art. They also had very fresh and tidy looking desserts but unfortunately I had no more room. Oh well, I have four more days here to practice belly space management!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lately with a side of Candor

I’ve lost a lot of sleep lately with anxiety manifesting itself in the form of interior decorating. Paint color to be exact. It’s been a year since we moved in and it’s time to finish this madness. Do you know how many shades of white have been invented? Too many. You see, it took a long time for me to even get to white. And, even so, it’s now turned to vanilla cream or canvas. Though, hazy sky and urban putty keep creeping in and laughing at me behind my back.

I’ve now employed my friend, Sindy, to help navigate my twisted style preferences of the day. She’s pretty handy since she accepts payment in the form of rugs I buy but no longer like or for which I have no more room. Her weapon of choice is asking me what I like. And, that’s the problem.

I like so many things, I can’t narrow it down. My husband’s patience and our funds are wearing thin with my failed attempts. I’m starting to think the problem is that I’ve been lacking the courage to determine what I don’t like in order to rule crap out. I’m not really one for passing judgment easily which is a trait I usually value in myself. The down side is an extreme undermining of my self-judgment, as of late. So, I told this to a therapist and she ended up telling me all about herself for a full half-hour and told me I should be doing this and should be doing that, which included her recommending I get a colorful couch like hers which happened to be a repeating pattern of montaged Monet. This is when I decided I didn’t need to go back to her despite her slow, concerned insistence that I was going through sooooo much and should really see her for the duration of my free sessions I get through work. Bottom-line, that couch was fugly. And, there it was. The spark of hope that I could make a judgment and be completely okay with it.

I didn’t think about that again until today but that freedom to judge, to make mistakes, to try and try again is precisely what I love about cooking. It’s up to me. If I screw up, there’s another meal in a few hours to try again. Some mistakes are beautiful. Sometimes, I enjoy just being surrounded with gorgeous ingredients. I don’t obsess. I just flow. This is the same feeling I have when traveling with Aubrey. Judgment without fear or guilt, knowing that whatever way we decide to turn, wherever we decide to sleep, however we get there, we’re gonna love every second of it. Maybe it’s not so much the knowing but the decision to love every second of it that counts. Maybe its allowing something to be without definition. Damn. I’m already better than my therapist.

So, that was the lately and here’s the candor...

My parents are getting divorced after about 30 years together and it's messing with me in weird and deep ways.
So, interpret my decorating dillema as you will.

Also, I sorta hate writing this blog. Not so much the idea of writing, because I love writing. And, not so much the topic of Aubrey, food, and travel, because I love these, too. In fact, these are things I am most sure of in my entire life. It’s more about what the idea of this blog meant to me. I approached this thing with extreme ambition, over-thought, and under-execution. Sorta like decorating… hmmm?!?

I took tap lessons when I was younger and got really mad at my instructor because she made me shuffle, ball, heel all flippin’ lesson when all I wanted to do was go Shirley Temple on her ass. It wasn’t that I thought I was advanced. I loved learning. I was just really embarrassed at displaying my lack of skill in front of everyone in the meantime… I wanted to learn in private.

Confession: I used to watch my traffic counts daily. If that's not the cart before the horse I don't know what is. I fantasized about being the next Pioneer Woman. This is embarrassing to admit but I bet I’m not alone in this feeling, especially among the many budding food bloggers out there. The internet is the great equalizer. Anyone can make it in the age of reality stars and American Idol, after all. So, I picked a name. I picked a theme. I picked a differentiating factor. I felt regret for not having a comprehensive business plan or the time to conduct the necessary market research. In other words, I turned this into a work ambition and I started to hate doing it. I hate the disappointment I feel when my posts are lame, when my voice is forced, or when I hear the ring of inauthenticity in my tone. I hate the guilt I feel when I don’t post. Ugh.

I don’t know what I’m doing in the kitchen any more than I know what I’m doing when I travel or when I’m buying rugs or paint or trying to figure myself out. I’ve just embraced enjoying the process and the beauty of the kitchen and travel  (I’ll get there with the others.) I don’t like writing like I know anything and for some reason I've felt compelled to write this way. I much prefer learning as I go and now I’m feeling comfortable doing it out loud without boundaries or embarrassment. I don't know if you'll see changes but I'll feel changes so that's good. Trusty 44 followers... thanks for taking this journey with me. I’m deciding to have some fun with it now. Also, please don't worry about me unless I start posting videos like this:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I decided to quit buying Naan for my pizza endeavors and just started making my own. I've done P-Dub's Basic Pizza Crust and it's pretty tasty. I'm still working out the kinks on how to make it crispy on the bottom but, generally it's pretty perfect (Someday, I'll quit being lazy and I'll dig out my pizza stone.) Today, we incorporated kale which was weird but I felt really healthy afterward, despite the massive cheese intake. Total combo included kale, tomatoes, red onion, crimini mushrooms, minced garlic, sundried tomato, and basil pesto base. WHY NOT? It was great.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bread and Butter

Sometimes I get mad cravings for delicious crusty bread lathered in expensive butter that's so delicious it tastes like cheese. This is one of those times. I'm too lazy to go start myself a round of 5 minutes a day bread or the go to No-knead so I'm just gonna satisfy myself by checking out these loaves of days gone by...
 Ugh. No satisfaction. Must start on that "year of the perfect crust" thing...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Po Boys for President

This is a Po Boy. You will find such things if you randomly hop in a car and drive to New Orleans for New Year's Eve or Groundhog's Day or whatever other time strikes your fancy. You will become overwhelmed with the number of "authentic" cajun restaurant offerings and you will want to pull off the highway and get some gumbo in your belly, pronto. I would encourage you to wait. Stake out your options. Look for something real. And, by "real" I mean real good. To do this, you may need to venture a little further off the highway than within sight of the exit. You may need to drive in circles a little bit. You may need to stop and call for directions even though you have three iphones at your disposal and a gps. You may even find that you've passed the place... once or twice. You may accidentally mistake it for an abandoned convenience station. You may realize it WAS a convenience station. At this point, you must go in.

 This  is Robbie G's in Alexandria, LA and I found it ALL BY MYSELF. Okay, Yelp is a helpful tool for this and I am a huge fan but I'm gonna go ahead and claim credit for this because Yelp only got us so far. It got us a name of a place where the "locals go." I had the daring nerve to seek it out and call it my own. I even used their toilet ( which is located " 'round back.")

Mr. Robbie G came out of the back himself, apron on with spatula in pocket and said "Whadyallwan?" We asked. And, we received.

Yum. Get yourself a Po Boy at your earliest convenience like these fine folks. I recommend it with cheese ( as I do for most things.)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year, New Word

Once upon a time, I was was way into scrapbooking. Well, more accurately, I was really into buying scrapbook supplies. Anyway, through this process, I became a  follower of the  "one little word" challenge known to the scrapbook community. I liked the idea of having a simple guide to help me remember what's important and be able to document my life accordingly. It soon became evident that the one little word challenge was deeper than a page layout. Thus, Aubrey and I started picking a word every year. For example, our year of "Experience" led us to sacrifice buying home comforts and we saved up like crazy to take a European adventure. Our year of "Be" led us to figure out what makes us tick and brings us peace so we literally moved to a new town. For 2011, we have chosen the word "story." We aren't exactly sure what this means yet... or, more specifically, how this will manifest itself. It's a pretty powerful concept to me. Also, it's compelling because there is no clear direction. What will the story be? I don't know but I want to be presently aware of the actions I take and the contributions I make that develop my own narrative. To me, it's the opposite of "summary." A story is something I've consciously contributed to as both a participant and an observer. Maybe I'll have a story of the year I finally learned how to make baguettes. The story doesn't start if I don't get up and grab some flour. Maybe it's something bigger than perfect crust. I don't know. I'm looking forward to where our word and our story will take us this year.

Now, with all that said, we got a jump start on adding to our personal narrative. We pretty much recruited a buddy, hopped in a car, and celebrated the new year New Orleans style. Stories about that are to come...(yeah, this is a food blog, so expect a bunch about food.)