Friday, August 29, 2008

back to the grind

Oh yeah . . . this semester is gonna be INTENSE. I'm only taking 3 class but 2 of them are Anatomy & Physiology classes (lecture and lab) so, I have my work cut out for me.
Also, our unlucky with money streak is not quite over either as we found out a bunch of stuff is wearing out on newer car (2006 Toyota Matrix) that is gonna cost us. I am not, however, giving up hope that things are gonna turn around for us because I know for a fact I have quite a few karma points banked.

I had my 29th birthday last week and I really cannot believe I am almost out of my twenties! Seriously, I don't feel that old and I don't think I look 29. It’s a strange feeling like my life is on warp speed now. What the hell happened?
Anyways, here are a few pics I took the past week.

Jared bought me (us) this AMAZING cookbook for my b-day (even though I said no presents!!!) and we love love love it. My Panda Drummer is peaking over and was mad impressed.
Well, I did say no presents but I also told Jared I wanted an aloe plant and of course he remembered. Surrounding the aloe plant is 3 figurines I picked up (pretty cheap too!) at different antique stores, as my own presents to myself. They looked sad and needed to come home with me. (in this pic, to the left is my Jesus Fish sculpture, which I'll show in next pick. To the right, is one of our wedding pics.)
I can't think of anything much cooler than a Jesus statue riding a Fish in the ocean (I actually made this for a ceramics class years back), that is being charged upon by a shiny white bad ass unicorn and having "Blinky" motor by. Nope, not much else cooler that that
. . . well, expect maybe these 2 Birthday pictures I was sent from my sister Erin of my nephew Gabriel. Gabriel is wearing a pirate outfit I picked out a long time ago that he can finally fit into.
Oh and the back view showing off his first "tattoo" printed on his bottom that says "Shiver Me Timbers" with a pirate ship. ARRRRH!
Is it possible to be both tough and adorable at the same time. Yep.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

breaks should be about easy going, right?

Let's see, I made all A's in my 3 summer courses and presently have a 4.0 GPA. This felt like a promising start to August. However, besides my lovely grades and overall healthy and happy family, this month has been kinda crappy so far . . . It all started with taking Sweetpea to the vet for all her shots and updates for the year that came out to about $250, then my 93 Ford Thunderbird (we call her the Dirty Bird) likes to give me the shit eye every now and again (the car version of giving the shit eye is by turning on the most dreaded CHECK ENGINE light). Oh, and because my birthday is this month, I had to get emissions testing done on the ole' Dirty Bird and pass for my license/registration to be renewed. We Passed!
Oh, and if all that wasn't enough, I found out I have to get a very expensive dental procedure done ASAP that won't be done anytime real soon because we just spent WAYYYYY too much on my tuition and books for fall semester.

Oh, and I turn 29 on Tuesday, August 19th AND that is the first day of my fall classes as well as the start of my last year of being in my 20's. Time to start thinking about, putting together and actually accomplishing my 30 before 30 list. I think the first on my 30/30 list will be organizing all of my random old pictures that should be respectively in proper photo albums instead of ratty ole' shoe boxes. There is quite a few and clearly, at my age, I would have a lot of OLD pictures.
I mean, I need to protect gems like this . . .
This was taken of me in Tampa, Fl when I was around 4 years old, blowing bubbles, lookin' sassy in my 1983 outfit, complete with some bad ass skates. Ah, to relive those carefree moments would rock.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Indian food could be the best thing ever.

Making a full on Indian meal as my first attempt after about a 2-month cooking break was a gutsy move on my part. There isn't really a super fast way to make really great homemade Indian food, especially when you're a novice in the cuisine. I went to a local Indian grocery store this past week to get a couple things to help me through including some aged basmati rice and these two lovely products:
One of my favorite parts of eating out at an Indian restaurant is the gigantic spiced lentil cracker with chutney condiments they bring to the table when you arrive. I was on a mission to make these at home to enjoy. I found these lentil crackers at the store but wasn't 100% how I was going to handle and cook the large discs so I opted for the mini versions called Papad Jeera, which are the size of a small tortilla chip. These little babies are amazing to watch cook. As suggested from the various online sites I came across, these papads should be VERY slightly dampened with a touch of water and then let ALMOST completely dry again before cooking. I put a little oil in a small frying pan over medium heat and gently threw in the papads and watched in a matter of 5 seconds on one side and 5 seconds on the other side as they turned into the miniaturized versions of the one I always devour at restaurants. Besides purchasing tamarind-date sauce to dip these papads in, I also made another one of my favorite toppers at Indian restaurants: onion chutney. All I did was cook ground paprika, cumin and salt in a little oil for a few seconds, added a finely chopped Vidalia onion, tomato paste, sugar and a touch of tamarind date sauce. The onion in the chutney shouldn't really be too cooked but only heated to take the edge off and marry the flavors together . . . maybe 5 minutes? This chutney was pretty right on after being chilled for a few hours in the fridge.
So, just making these papads and the onion chutney took a while to make but I pushed through to make some of the best curry I have ever made at home. The main dish contained potatoes that I boiled whole before hand, cauliflower, peas, coconut milk, salt, and various spices such as coriander, cumin, chili powder, turmeric, fenugreek, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, bay, black pepper and mustard (there were a few more I can't recall now) as well as a half a can of coconut milk. Boy or boy was this tasty. It didn't have a spice/heat that hit you right away but rather came up from the back after a bite was swallowed. It wasn't a lingering spicy heat, which was pleasant.
Of course I made rice that complimented the curry perfectly. I prepped my aged basmati rice pilaf style in a bit of Earth Balance and these 5 lovely additives:
1 cinnamon stick, 5 whole cloves, 5 whole cardamom pods (green), 1 bay leaf and a pinch of saffron threads. I added a combo of water and coconut milk to the oil "cooked" rice and let it cook for about 20 minutes and fluffed it with a fork. Typically, I remove the spices so that people do not chomp down on one of those spicy bad boys accidentally.
I think the key to good Indian rice is to rinse the rice in a colander several times to get the excess white starchiness off. Just run it under water (or soak several times) until the water runs almost clear. Then let the rice totally dry out once again (you'll be surprised how fast this happens, actually) before adding to the oil. I swear this ensures that you won't get sticky, gummy rice but rather fluffy separated grains. I usually use a liquid to rice ratio of 2:1 (actually slightly less than 2 cups of liquid to 1 cup rice).
All and all, I was very happy with my first meal back, especially since it was so time consuming and labor intensive. And even after 2 days passing since this awesome meal, our house still has a lovely perfume of cooked Indian spices lingering.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Yeah!!! Summer term is over. Grades aren't out yet, but I think I did awesomely in all three classes. Oh, and get this . . . I really like chemistry now. It was pretty cool to start at something so abstract and have it built up into something amazingly complex and meaningful. Yeah, I know I'm a nerd.
To celebrate my summer courses ending, I made a trip over to Last Chance Thrift Store (Decatur location) to hunt for some treasures.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE 1970's kitschy designs and color schemes of yellow, avocado greens, browns and oranges. These magical color combos were a definite in the house I grew up in (*although I'm quite sure my folks would call them "tacky" or "hideous" instead of magical). I recall our kitchen being modest and a bit darker than other parts of the house due to the brown cabinets that overpowered the muted/pale yellow counter tops and linoleum floors (I think they were yellow . . . I'm getting old and my memory is fading). We had this amazing shaggy green carpet throughout the house and of course wood paneling on the walls in several rooms. I loved it!
One thing is for sure, I didn't grow up around fancy matching Pyrex glassware and I don't recall my mom hosting a Tupperware party at our house, but for some reason I am especially drawn to Pyrex casserole dishes and nifty Tupperware from that era. There is something about these things that are so comforting and really, really hard to pass up when I see them at a thrift store. Needless to say, I was super happy when I came upon 3 awesome items that only cost a total of $5.
The first thing I found were these matching Tupperware containers that didn't look quite deep enough to store salad dressing but clearly looked like some sort of container for a liquid condiment. After some research, I found out that these gems are oil and vinegar cruets. They are in very good shape and only cost $2 for the pair!!!

Next I found this crazy spaceship looking item that turned out to be a kitchen timer, made by Presto (Eames Era Space Age UFO design). I had a hard time finding out a lot about this particular gadget so, I'm not a 100% on the Eames Era tip, however, it was only a dollar, I needed a kitchen timer, it looks freakin cool and it works!

The last beauty I found was a Pyrex Woodland Brown Flower 1 quart casserole dish. It doesn't have a lid, but honestly, even when I have casserole dishes with glass lids, I hardly ever use them. This was $2, which is a little more than what I would spend on an incomplete piece, but it HAD to come home with me! It was practically begging me.

Now, I gotta start prepping for the Indian meal I am making for Jared tonight. It seems like I haven't made a decent meal in forever. I hope I didn't lose my touch in the kitchen and it turns out well enough to brag about.
I'll be visiting everyone's blog super soon!