Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Paula Deen Kind of Wednesday

Lately, I've been watching a lot of cooking shows. I especially like The Barefoot Contessa, The Neely's, and Paula Deen. I like to cook, and it makes me happy to watch other people who like to cook. Besides, Ina is really calming, the Neely's have this great energy and are constantly bantering, and we all know that Paula is adorable. "I'm in the kitchen with Bobby, Ya'll!!!"

I felt like a sweet treat, and so I started hunting for a good new recipe. I decided that I had a hankering for some cheesecake, but alas! I don't have a spring form pan. But then I found the answer -- Paula's Cheesecake Cookies. They have the taste of cheesecake but the ease of cookies! (They're not really cookies, though... more like bars.)


Here's what you need:

Crust:
1 Cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
(But I used a cup of graham cracker crumbs instead, because my momma can't eat nuts)
1 stick butter, melted




Preheat the oven to 350. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. I stirred the flour into the butter with a spoon, but then mixed in the crumbs and sugar with my hands. (Make sure to take off any rings! It's pretty messy.)
Once it's a crumbly paste, press the mixture into an ungreased 9x13 pan. Pop it into the oven for about 12 minutes. It'll smell divine.



Here's what mine looked like when it was done.
What you need for the filling:
2 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese, softened
(I used reduced fat, and it set up just fine)
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
(I added a little splash of almond, too!)

Beat the cream cheese and slowly add sugar until smooth. Add eggs and extract and beat it some more. My batter was unfortunately plauged by the widely feared vanilla monster, who was unhappy seeing as how he could sense I was about to put him in the oven.


Once it's nice and smooth, pour your batter over the crust and bake it for 20 minutes. Cool completely. (That's the hardest part... it felt like eons!)
Once it was cool, I decided to put some rasberries on top of mine. I bet it'd also be great with a chocolate or caramel glaze, or any kind of fruit. Mm! I would also suggest chilling it for a while before you try to cut it, so it doesn't get too sticky.
Man, oh man!!!
In other news, I did a watercolor version of my drawing of Colton. I'm pleased, although the scan doesn't do it justice :)




What are some of your favorite new recipes?



































Saturday, June 26, 2010

Holy Breakfast, Batman!!!

I just had the best breakfast of the summer.





I was planning on just having a cup of joe... I made some with the beans Mommy got on her trip to Gatlinburg. Highlander Grogg, or something... it's delish. Nice and dark with rum and vanilla flavors!




But anyway, I was lounging on the couch watching Dirty Jobs (one of my favorites), and Mommy poked her head in and said, "Do you want some breakfast?" and I said, "I dunno... what are you going to have?" "Maybe some oatmeal".




I thought to myself I might have some oatmeal too, because that sounded pretty tasty.



But then! She poked her head back in and said, "I going to make a german pancake with fresh peaches on top. Do you want some bacon and an egg too?"



Yes, please.




Needless to say, it was absolutely delicious. I sprinkled some powdered sugar on top, and man. Those peaches were just to die for.





Also, I've been in a slight funk lately... Just a little cabin fever-y, because I don't really know anyone in Chattanooga except for Cassie, and she works every day but the weekend. And I miss Colton. But while I was talking to him on the phone, he encouraged me to make something when I was feeling lonely. (What a smart boy.) When I feel listless, I usually don't feel very inspired, but once I start, I immediately perk up. Here are a few things I've made recently:

(Note, all the metal used (except the earwires) is recycled! Mainly old coins I hammer in the backyard, and a wire basket I found and unwove.)













Colton! I had trouble on his mouth. I may or may not add watercolors.
(ps, do any of you have an etsy account? I was thinking about starting one to sell jewelry, but I don't know if anybody would actually buy any. Is it pretty user friendly?)



















Friday, June 25, 2010

Fill in the Blank Friday!

I'm following the leads of Lauren (http://thelittlethingswedo.blogspot.com) and my lovely sister (http://markandaprilskinner.blogspot.com) Here we go!



1) If I could choose my last meal it would be mashed redskinned potatoes (and/or) crispy potato skins with barbecue on top, sauteed mushrooms, perfectly tendercrisp asparagus, grilled salmon, WHOLE milk, and homemede cinnamon swirl sourdough for dessert :)

2) My favorite person to share a meal with is My mom and sister April (and possibly Colton too) because they appreciate good food just as much as I do. And we talk and laugh the entire meal, which makes everything taste that much better. And Colton's just so darn cute.

3) The best meal I've ever had was a sandwich I ate while I was hiking. It was just ham and provolone on wheat bread (no crust), but I had been going uphill for at least two hours and was totally ravenous when we perched on a big rock for a lunch break. That sandwich tasted like a dream :)

4) The one food that makes me feel instantly better if I'm having a bad day is buttered bread. I just love carbs. Ice cream would do, too... especially Ben and Jerry's cinnamon bun, or Haagen Dazs (Man. How in the world do you spell that?) Dulce de Leche. Or straight up whipped cream

5) My absolute specialty in the kitchen is key lime pie. It's the best recipe I've ever tasted! I cooked some pretty kick butt pasta the other night, though... fettucini in a lemon parmesan sauce topped with asparagus and seared scallops... mmm!!!

6) The city that has the best food is hmm, that's a hard one. I've really not done that much traveling, but I'd have to go with Hilton Head/ Savannah. There's some out of this world seafood there. And my favorite restaurant there is The Pirate's Cove (?) I had swordfish there for the first time, and it was to die for. Also, I seem to remember them having good she-crab soup, but I could have it mixed up with another place... alot of the seafood places sortof ran together in my head. But there's also the plus of them having interesting pirate-y history.

7) My favorite healthy snack is granny smith apples with peanut butter, honey, and rice crispies stuck to it. (I know the cereal part sounds weird, but it adds such a delicious crunch!) I also really like fresh smoothies. I had one yesterday with banana, strawberry, lime, and fresh mint. No sugar added! It was delicious.

8) In my opinion the nationality which has the best food is Asian. I can't get enough Thai, and I also love chinese, japanese, and sushi.

9) If I could learn to cook anything in the world (and be really good at it!) I'd choose homemade pasta. I'm going to attempt it soon! It's impressive and delicious. Also, I'd love to make creme brulee, and torch the sugar and everything, but I think that'd be really bad for my cholesterol, because I'd probably make it once a week :)

10) The most outrageous dessert I've ever had was chocolate bread pudding at Chez LuLu's in Birmingham. I mean goodness gracious! It was delicious.


Well that made me really hungry. I'm going to go drink some morning coffee and snack on french bread toast. See ya!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Boy

Guess what?



I have a boyfriend.




For the first time.




And I'm happy about it.















This fox of a man is Colton. And he loves me!

Let me tell you about him...


He's incredibly kind.

He's brilliant. (I feel like he might have been a child prodigy, actually...)

He's ridiculously good-looking.

He's super talented.

He can always make me laugh, and he can convince me of pretty much anything.

(Except that pectin is made of lizard guts. Although he did make me doubt myself...)

He loves talking about the big things, not just the small things. And he has a very solid theology, which is really important to me.

He loves his family, and my family loves him.

He wants to be a director of photography, specifically of feature films. And he's on the way!

He plays the guitar, piano, and drums. And he's quite the composer!

He's a super photographer, and reintroduced me to 35 mm.

He can't dance.

He's very good at imitating other people's voices.

He has excellent taste in music, literature, and film.

He cries at good movies.

He raced motorcross, and still loves riding and designing/building tracks.

He's a cat whisperer.

He loves to jump off of high things like cliffs, boulders, or trees. Water underneath is optional.

He used to yo-yo. He placed in a mall competition, which I think is funny.

He lost his new glasses on a boat. (Unfortunate... I really liked them)
He humors me when I pester him to speak in Russian, or do the Vitalik voice, or sing a song.
He consented to eat at the girly tea room for my birthday, and allowed my grandmother to wrap a feather boa around his neck.
Basically, he's a keeper.
We always have so much fun together.





He's spilling his drink on himself.




We were each other's first kiss, and first relationship :)



He's trying to choose his favorite cornbread recipe at the South Pittsburgh National Cornbread Festival (He decided on the "Woo! Cornbread pups", which have a surprise hot dog in the middle)





We like being outside.










And while we're outdoors, we usually take a whole lot of pictures.






He makes a bandana a new level of cool :)







So that's us.
Seven(ish) months, and going strong!
He's in Florida right now, playing guitar for the Grecian Urns' cd opening. They're our band's sister band, and they're fabulous. Check them out on myspace!
(I can't wait for him to get back, though.)
Poll: What's the best way you guys have found to encourage and connect in a long distance relationship? Now that Colton's graduated, he's three hours away :(







































Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Girls

This morning I'm going to familiarize you with some of the best girls in the world. (Being my best friends, of course.)


I have a great love of film photography. Since I'm with the girls almost constantly during the school year, they are often victimized by my lens. These are some of my favorites pictures through our schooling. (We're all rising seniors at Bryan College, a tiny conservative Christian school. We love it, and we love being together.)


This is Liz, soon to be my roommate. She loves Toms, good tea, and good music. (She definitely has the best music taste out of all of us.) She's spunky - she's definitely not afraid to speak her mind. This coming year, she's a coleader of the Worldview Initiative - a team that travels around the country to speak to schools about the importance of Worldview and Culture.

This is Rachel, our fearless leader. She's full of excitement and ideas - she's usually the one that comes up with all the fun stuff that we do. ("Girls - we HAVE to do this!!!") She can brew an excellent pot of coffee, and would do absolutely anything for her friends or family. We love to go visit her house in Florida to hit the beach, tour the space center with her Grandpa (he was a NASA bigwig back in the day), and snack on hummus and bagel chips. If you have a problem, Rachel is great person to go to... she is a great listener, and gives out decisive advice. (Which I need sometimes.)
This is Jenny. She's probably the most like me out of all the girls. She's gentle, emotional, and a great comforter. She loves good conversation, caring for people, and constantly wears these ancient, ratty slipper boots. We're all pretty devestated, because this semester she's transferring to another school to get her nursing degree. She's going to be a great nurse! She's worked really hard this year and scored well in her anatomy class! We're all so proud of her.
This is Kate, "the edgy one". But that's mainly just because she has a nose piercing, can booty dance quite well, and has a little bit of a thing for bad boys. (She's not ever dated, though. I'm sure she'll end up with the greatest guy in the whole world.) She is a history buff, and is really organized. She starts writing book reviews at least a month before they're due - we always tease her about it, but we really admire what a hard worker she is. Kate is a sweetie - she's endlessly empathetic, and always sees the best in people. Also, she's a very gifted Violinist. She and Rach will be my sweetmates next year :)


This is Erin. She's hilarious... we never know what she's going to say next. She has this great little Virginia accent, and loves singing along with the Backstreet Boys or Celine Dion. (Her voice is beautiful!) She's really spirited, and would do anything for her friends. She was even enough of a good sport to wear my gold sequin jacket over her dress to a restaurant on her birthday. She's a joy :)




This is Kaity. (Don't worry... she doesn't always wear her makeup like that. She actually doesn't usually wear makeup at all... but we were woodnymphs in a short film, so I tried to make her look slightly... gazelle-ish.) She's our hippie - she's a vegetarian, usually refuses to wear a bra, and loves being outdoors. She dates one of Colton's best friends, so we like to go on double dates whenever we can. She's overseas right now, in an undisclosed place. She was part of the Acts project, which is a missions class at school. The class is mainly preparation for the next summer, which everyone spends abroad interning with a missionary family. We hope you're well, Kaity!


Jenny at the Jr/Sr banquet, which is the biggest event of the year. We went to the Sunsphere in Knoxville, then off to play at Wonderworks.




Kate at Jr/Sr.





Jenny at Greenlife Grocery, trying to pick out some new tea






It's a hard choice sometimes :)






We love produce!





Waiting in line a Ghengis grill... mmm, Mongolian!





We like to go into Chattanooga for girls' night once in awhile - it necessarily includes a restaurant and shopping at Target.



We love to be a little ridiculous once in awhile. This is our getup for a party scene in Silly Squad, a short film shot by a few of our friends.



We love each other :)




Okay, so maybe this is a little cliche...
But I like it anyway :)



We love to go the park and swing, play kickball, or just enjoy the weather.




Lizzie goofs off before we go try "Chicken Planks" at Long John Silvers. Our friend Phillip gets an insatiable craving for them every three years or so, apparently.



At the Broad Street Film Festival
(At which, might I add, Colton won several awards. But more about him later.)

And those are my girls!
With the exception of Cassie, who is my long time best friend at home. I'll save her for another post :)







Sunday, June 20, 2010

Recent Readings

Summertime, I find, is a good time to catch up on pleasure reading.
I try to read at school in between classes, but I usually end up binge reading for a week or two, then dropping all forms of literature for a month or more. Once school ends, I usually take regular trips to Mckay's Used Books to stockpile some good stuff :)

Things I'm reading/have read:

1) Lots of Flannery O'Conner. I have a volume of her complete stories - so far, I've only read A Good Man is Hard to Find, The Geranium, The Turkey, The Train, The Peeler, Enoch and the Gorilla, The Artificial Nigger, Good Country People, and Judgment Day. These have been absolutely wonderful, and I'm determined to finish all of the short stories by the time school starts up again. Miss O'Conner is just the master of all people freakish. It's interesting to see the difference between her earlier and later writings, and my boyfriend (who will from now on be referred to simply as "Colton" is patiently teaching me that sometimes the point is written to illustrate the story, not the other way around.

2) The memoir of Tennessee Williams. I love memoirs, because I love people but I don't understand them. (Which is why we are all so interested in each other, I suppose... who even understands themselves?) Verdict: He is a strange, brilliant man who has had a very interesting life. He's a bit of a drama queen, though. I suppose that's what makes him a good playwright.

3) The adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I've always loved Mark Twain, and I thought that I had read Huck back in the day... apparently, I only read Tom Sawyer. So I'm amending that fact, and enjoying it immensely. I especially like Jim.

4) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. (Well... technically I read this one this past semester. But I list it as one of my favorites, so I'll go ahead and include it.) This book captures the thoughts and fears of an autistic boy so... poignantly, I suppose. I felt so much while reading this, and I also immensely enjoyed the little puzzles that are stuck in every so often. It took me an entire day to understand the Monty Hall Problem.

I also reread The Grapes of Wrath, which was even better the second time through.

There are many more books on the docket... A little Irving, a lot of Lewis, a little more Twain, some Faulkner ( I love The Sound and the Fury, so I recently purchased Absalom, Absalom!), and a few more collections of short stories.

So what about you, faithful readers? (Meaning April. You're my only reader so far.) What do you find to be good summer reading?

The First.

My, Oh My!
I have a blog.
I do not know how to use it yet, however...
It took me about three hours to find and install my (lovely!) background, which I'm terribly proud of, but I still can't figure out where the "about me" column has disappeared to. Also, I don't know how to add a picture. A little help would be greatly appreciated.

Anyway.
This blog is mainly in existence so I can keep up with my sister and brother-in-law's blog. But I'm hoping that once I get into the swing of things I'll be a faithful blogger, posting about my thoughts and my days. I've always intended to keep journals, but I'm not very consistent... I usually just end up turning my journals into notebooks full of doodles and lists.

We'll see where this leads :)