The Excellent Adventures of Kim and Kev

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Food And Wine Festival

The day is finally here. For me to avenge my previous experiences at the food and wine festival. I have a long list, an empty stomach and friends to share with.

Let the eating begin.

And how fitting that the Food and Wine Festival was celebrating it's FIFTEENTH anniversary. Guess who else is....

Well, actually it is almost SIXTEEN years. But who is counting. We are still in the fifteenth year which is pretty darn cool. And it gave us lots of opportunities for prom like pictures....

We ( me and Kev) had already decided that this special event was NOT a day for rides. It was strictly food and festivus. And we definitely followed that plan. THE ENTIRE DAY. With family members coming and going depending on their level of hungry. I even took a mini nap in front of Mexico. Yes, I am very cool like that.
And I've decided the best way to tell our story is to list every single thing that went in to my families' mouths. By country, of course. And with some pictures. ( I had planned to take a pic of every morsel of food... but alas, a couple of bites in and I had already forgotten) And just so you know what I actually ate - in case you are keeping track of my eating abilities- I will put a "star" next to the things I tried. It is pretty impressive if I do say so myself.
So, we started off in Mexico.
*A bowl of guacamole and chips. Plus two strawberry lime margaritas.

( This was only the beginning and Kev proclaimed " I am so happy right now. I have a bowl of guacamole and a margarita". And I knew then that it was gonna be a great day.)

There was a little bit of nacho cheese left in the cup - and I knew my Dad- who believes that wasting food is right up there with murder- would finish it off. And he did. With a straw because we didn't have any utensils.... ( I heard banjos playing in the back ground)


Then China...
* pork pot stickers
*xinjiang bbq chicken stick.
green tea plum wine cooler
The pot stickers were fabulous. And Kev says that anything on a stick is fun to eat. They also had black pepper shrimp with noodles. My Dad tried that and allowed me to try a smidge of noodle. It is my one regret of the day that I did not go back and get my own plate of this stuff. It was wonderful.


South Korea -
*barbecue short rib with steamed rice and cucumber kimchi. ( Kev's fave)
lettuce wraps with roast pork and kimchi slaw
herbal rice wine
black raspberry rice wine

Poland -
Kielbasa and Potato Pierogie with Caramelized Onions and Sour Cream
Pork Stuffed Cabbage
Chile-
Pastel de Choclo ( beef and corn pie)
Argentina-
grilled beef skewer with chimichurri sauce
roasted corn and cheese empanada
Singapore -
* Coconut braised beef rendang with jasmine rice
* Singapore Sling ( WOWZA! way too strong for my liking - but one of Dave's faves)
U.S.A-
*New England Lobster Roll ( my fave - so yummy and I've already found the recipe)
*Bison chili with cabernet and wild mushrooms ( take it or leave it - tasted just like any other chili)
Morocco-
*Hummus and crispy pita. WE HAD THIS TWICE!! Yum!
France-
*Parisian Cosmo Slush
I wanted someone to try the escargot - but couldn't get any one to do it. :(
We took a break here for a little while. And just let our stomachs chill....



And then went to Ireland-
*Fisherman's Pie ( lobster and scallop in a pot pie - YUM CITY!)
Warm chocolate lava cake

Things got a little rowdy after we discovered the PASSIONFRUIT margaritas. Back in Mexico. And yes it was a long walk back- but worth it. Multiple times. One of my favorite drinks ever.


Another visit to France for the Parisian Cosmo Slush...


Then Canada-
Chicken Chipotle Sausage with Sweet Corn ( Dad's fave)
The Meat plate - applewood smoked beef, duck and ham
Cheese Fondue with croutons and roasted potatoes
Greece-
Spanakopita
Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki
Baklava
And yes, we loitered around a trash can for an hour or so. That way we didn't have to walk so far to throw our trash away. Pretty classy.


All of that food and we didn't even make it to the following countries...
Brazil
Puerto Rico
South Africa
Germany
Italy
Japan
Australia
Belgium
Spain
Nor did we even try all of the offerings at the countries we did make it to.
This festival deserves two to three days of dedication.
But we couldn't stop there. Nope. It was 8:40pm. The park closed at 9pm. And I had already made reservations for the NEW Italian restaurant - JUST IN CASE we were still hungry.
Which we weren't. But who cares. Because it was out of this world!!

It is a new pizzeria. One where they make the mozzarella cheese home made. And cook the pizzas in fancy pizza ovens...


So, we ordered bread. Chicken parmesan. A pitcher of beer. And two pizzas - pepperoni and four cheese....




The pizzas were heaven on a plate. So delicious that words cannot describe. If Kev didn't mind, I would move to Orlando and live inside the pizza oven and just eat pizzas all day. It would be hot - but worth it.
At this point. My body was numb with food. And the park was completely closed and dark. We were some of the last people there. So, what do you do when you are EXTREMELY full and tired. Well, you head out of the back of the park to The Boardwalk ( where we hung out the night before) and go to Jellyrolls - the Piano Bar. And then you attempt to dance off some calories but instead just lean up against the wall hoping that your extreme participation in the festival does not do damage to internal organs.
If you are a foodie. And a festival fan. Then this is truly a great event for you to experience. I loved every second of it. AND we even got to see/hear NIGHT RANGER in concert.
You know. Night Ranger. The eighties band that was a one hit wonder. "Sister Christian.. oh the time has come". Look it up.
I just went back to read over the post and feel like I didn't really eat all that much compared to how much food was there. But believe me. I was walking with a limp and had slurred speech. And not because of the eleventy billion passionfruit margaritas I had. It was because of the food.
Anyway, next year my SIL Laura and I are going to run the Food and Wine half marathon. In October. And then we get to join our families at the festival for an "after run celebration". Maybe I won't feel so guilty about eating so much if I have just run my tail off.
Food and Wine Festival - I heart you!
Coming Soon..... Our Not So Scary Mickey's Halloween EXTRAVAGANZA!! SO.MUCH.FUN!














The Big Fat Greek Dinner

The first day of our Disney trip started out with a lot of driving. And music, and bathroom breaks, and sleeping.

And for the record - only the passenger was sleeping. I think. I seem to have forgotten a couple of hours of the trip.

I had been planning this trip FOR.EV.ER and was really looking forward to it - so the fact that Kev was able to go last minute really blew my skirt up. And in addition to Kev going - we were rooming with the newlyweds Dave and Laura ( all the way down from Syracuse) AND spending an ENTIRE day at the Food and Wine Festival.

This was my third visit to the F & W Festival. And this time I was finally ready to take on the challenge. For my first visit, I was too overwhelmed and didn't eat a thing from it. ( Weird - I know) My second visit, we got there kind of late and I ate as much as I could before they closed. But this time, I had a list. I had a plan. And it started at 10 am and lasted until 10pm. All food all the time.

Does any thing get better than that?

But this post is NOT about the F&W. ( Believe me - I have a long detailed post about that) And this post is NOT about the super fun Halloween party that we attended ( again... totally deserves a separate post). It is just about the first day. The low key "let's chill out, get caught up, and enjoy a great meal" day.

And that is just what we did.

We met up at the Disney All Star Sports Hotel. Bethany, Laura, Dave, Kev and myself just hung out in the room for a little bit - telling tall tales, laughing, and fighting over how we were going to sleep. ( Rooming with newlyweds can potentially be a nuisance)

Then we hopped on a bus and headed over to our dinner reservations....

Now, we strategically chose the reservations based on a couple of things..

1. It is a fairly new restaurant that none of us had eaten at yet. ( which is rare as we are all fanatics)
2. It is owned by Cat Cora - star of Iron Chef.
3. It is located at one of our favorite spots - The Boardwalk.
4. It is GREEK food.
5. Does it get much better than that?


I had researched the menu about 71 times. I had already chosen exactly what I wanted to eat - but was worried about the portion sizes. Which is weird for me, I know. But my issue was this: I had been eating much lighter meals for the past month and we were spending the ENTIRE next day eating at the festival.

Always the perfect dining companion, Kev agreed to share a couple of things with me. Luckily we have very similar tastes in food so it works out well.

We started off with some amazing fresh bread and butter. Sangria and a margarita.

Then came our main course - in small appetizer size bites. Perfect.

It was so absolutely delicious that I forgot to take a picture and was eating away when Kev reminded me. We ordered the spanokopita and the lamb sliders. Now I have had spanokopita before. But this stuff was incredible. Flaky and flavorful. Yum! But then I tried a bite of the lamb slider. And I could hear little songbirds singing in my ears. I am officially in love. Never having had a lamb burger before, I didn't know what to expect. But it was spicy, tender, and perfect in every bite.

As a side we shared some sweet potato fries..... ( my eyes just rolled back in my head just thinking about them)



And then came dessert. Again, something completely new to us. I even used to work in a Greek restaurant and NEVER had this dessert. Baklava. It just never looked appealing to me.


But I could seriously eat this dish a thousand times over and be content and happy for the rest of my life. I can't even explain how delish it was. Except for that I will. It was nutty, and honeyly, and flaky, and flawless. And the pistachio gelato was the PERFECT side for this delight.
For goodness sakes alive!! IT.WAS.SO.GOOD!!
The entire meal was out of this world. Definitely exceeded my expectations. And the company was pretty amazing as well.
We tried to hang out on The Boardwalk for a little bit. But ended up heading back to the hotel to get rested up for THE BIG DAY.
We had some stomach stretching to do.
And just wait until you see every thing that our stomachs had to stretch for...




Saturday, October 30, 2010

Failures And Successes

I am coming up on another birthday - 30 days to be exact. Which is why I have spent most of my vacation deep in thought.

Deep in thought about my life. Where it is going. What I am doing. What makes me happy. I have had some MAJOR failures this year. And some MAJOR learnings and successes. This year has been quite a turning point for me. And I have realized that ultimately you cannot depend on any one else to make you happy. IT IS ALL UP TO YOU! And then I randomly came across this manifesto for life. And it made so much sense....


I think I might get this tattooed on my back. Except in sharpie. Because I don't really care much for real tattoos.

Reaching "mid-life" has been hard. But I realized that I'm smarter, stronger, and more in control of my destiny than the silly little 18 year old girl in the framed photo on Kev's nightstand. So what if I'm covered in wrinkles and haven't been carded since I was five years old - it is all about the experiences and the laughter and the tears ( both good and bad) and .. you know I have to mention... the food.

I sure do love some food.

And speaking of failures and food..... I actually made a pretty disgusting dinner this week. I envisioned such a delicious, healthy meal and ended up with a bucket of slop. It all started with these....


Parsnips. Which we had never eaten before. They are FULL of nutrients and goodness and supposedly taste good baked in the oven with olive oil and salt.

Well, actually I thought they were pretty good. Drenched in ketchup. They have an interesting taste - and when you have in your mind that they will taste like fries. And they don't. Well, it's not so fun.
But then the real kicker was the portobello mushroom sandwich. GAAA- ROOOSSS. I grilled a big mushroom. And put it on a sandwich thin with a huge roasted red pepper, spinach leaves, tomato and mustard. Some thing was off about it. Like maybe too much liquid from the mushroom and the pepper. And it just was one big mushy wet sandwich. I HAD to throw the other two away...

And apologized under my breath to my Dad for throwing out good food. Except for it wasn't good.
And then I had to bake a quiche for Kev's lunch the next day - because I was planning on him taking leftovers.
Oh well... you live and you learn. Tonight I am making two vegan Thanksgiving side dishes with a honey roasted turkey breast. I guess that is kind of rude to serve turkey with vegan side dishes. But that's how we roll.

After proof reading this post I believe that I may win an award for "most random mish-mosh of thoughts" ever. But, like I said, I've been doing a lot of thinking and just needed to clean out my brain files... if ya know what I mean.
Hopefully coming soon.... A Disney trip recap. ( Still waiting on family pics) and of course, OUR HALLOWEEN/HOUSEIVERSARY EXTRAVAGANZA


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Facing My Fears

I have a lot of fears. From seeing Jason Vorhees walking around my back yard to thinking that someone is hiding in my spare tire hole in my trunk just waiting to crawl out and scare me while I am driving.



I've seen it happen before. On t.v. Which means it is a possibility.



( And yes, I have started checking my trunk before I get in the car. And just in case you were wondering - if I open the trunk and see him in there, I will just yell at him to get out while I hit him over and over again with my purse)



I have a WILD imagination, folks. It keeps me awake at night.



But today's focus was conquering my fear of the dam. The Lake Murray dam. I will go out of my way to not have to drive over it. And if I do go over it, then I spend the entire 2 minute drive picturing the dam crumbling beneath my car OR me just driving right over the side. I have a plan to escape in the case of either of those things happening. Kev even bought me a special tool to break my windshield and we have practice drills every Sunday afternoon.



Once, Kev's Mom told me that if the dam broke - it would wash away the entire city of Columbia. Which is why we keep moving farther and farther away. And why I keep a wet suit with an oxygen tank under my bed. I will swim to safety.

Or become a mermaid. Which ever is easiest.



So, now that I have made my insane behavior completely clear to you - that is, if I already hadn't- I will tell you about my quest to conquer the dam.

It all started with me having the day off and wanting to try something new. I've been going to the gym pretty regularly and while I loveitmorethancheese - I wanted to expand my horizons. Running the dam seemed like the perfect thing to do.

It was rainy in the morning which gave me time to get myself motivated for the task at hand. I truly believe that food is the best motivation ( except for money. That would be the best motivation but since no one has EVER offered me money to do something, I will have to stick with food) so I mixed up a delicious bowl of oatmeal....





Except for this was no ordinary oatmeal. It was whipped banana. With a scoop of fresh pumpkin. Some walnuts. And a drizzle of honey.

Basically it was Fall in a bowl. And boy, was it scrumptious!

With a full belly, Kev's miniature Ipod, and a bottle of water... I made the 30 minute drive to the dam.


It was such a gloomy day. But that meant it was peaceful with hardly any one on the sidewalk. If you look closely at the picture - you can see the dam off in the distance. The ominous 1.7 mile walk across the lake.

I was so ready for this. Except for I already had to pee. And this is where another one of my fears comes in. Some times when I am outside or going to a place that I don't know much about.. I start to worry about being able to find a bathroom. And because I start to worry - it makes me have to go that much more. To the point where I often contemplate just squatting where I stand. Most of the time, I quickly realize that I am in Walmart and I make my way up to the front. But times like last week when I went to the fair, I didn't drink any liquids all day for fear of the bathroom sitch. And it resulted in me looking like shriveled prune by the end of the day.

I was determined to run the pee right out of my mind. Maybe I would sweat it out. But once I made it to the other side, I was beginning to panic. I had two options. I could run across the street to my parent's house. Break in. Use the bathroom. And then get arrested for setting off their alarm. OR I could take a deep breath and walk down the docks and hope for a bathroom. Or large shrub.

And now for facing fear #3. I found a bathroom! ( Hooray!) BUT it was straight out of the horror movie "Sleep away Camp". The movie that I watched with my best friend sitting nose to tv screen in case her mom came in to see what we were watching. ( For you young uns - we didn't have remotes back then which meant you had to sit close to the tv to change the channel) That movie scared me for life.

But having to go to the bathroom out weighs being murdered by an insane preteen. So, I took a deep breath and went in. The whole time I was "going" I had to look up to make sure that no one was climbing over the top of the shed or looking at me through the skylight, or waiting for just the right moment to hit me over the head. It made me dizzy. But I survived. Only because my awareness skills scare off predators.

So, having conquered THREE fears in one day makes a person feel very empowered. Which meant I ended up crossing the dam a total of FOUR times. That is 6.8 miles. Half of a half marathon. It was awesome.

And it felt soooo good to actually use my inner thighs for something more than cracking open nuts for family members during the holidays and opening the occasional jar of pickles.

I even prevailed over the vulture/hawk/crow that was circling over my head the entire time. Just waiting for me to fail. I laughed in the face of that crazy bird that I had no idea what it actually was.

I made it back to my car in one piece. Sweaty and sore - but still one.


And look what was waiting for me. My scrumptious after workout snack of a Kashi pumpkin pecan pie bar and a Honeycrisp apple....

Speaking of honeycrisp apples - UM! THEY ARE INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS! This was the first time I had had one. And I will NEVER eat another type of apple as long as I live.
Unless it is free. Or the last thing to eat on Earth.





Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Favorite Things

Remember this? A post about my favorite things. I used to do it weekly. Now I'm lucky if I blog weekly. But I figured that I would start sharing again - just in case you are dying to try some new things.

And the fact that I still haven't compiled all of my Disney World pictures from my amazing trip. Or should I say AH-MAZ-ING! Because it was. I'm still recuperating.

I will start off with the Triscuits. Cracked Pepper and Olive Oil.


Now I have always loved triscuits. They are my go to cracker. So, you can imagine my delight when I saw they have added the flavor of cracked pepper. And this "cracked pepper" is also one of my new favorite things. I have never cared for pepper until the day that I realized how close I was to 40 - and then suddenly we became best friends. It is something about keeping my taste buds alive and kicking.

But the crackers - they are perfect with a small piece of mozzarella cheese - or some sort of light cheese- to offset the "spiciness" of the pepper. Putting cottage cheese on them is another delight of mine.

Then there is the Chobani Greek Yogurt.....

Seriously, where has this been all of my life? It is so rich and thick and stocked full of protein. It is the perfect snack. I have to admit that my first try of Greek yogurt left me with a yucky taste in my mouth - but once I tried a couple of flavors and a couple of brands... I fell in love. The pineapple is the absolute best ( in my opinion) and I also just bought some vanilla and honey flavored that I cannot wait to try.

And last but not least..... The Kashi pumpkin granola bars.

These are limited edition for the season. Which means that I stocked up. Because that is just what I do. If you love pumpkin ( yes, please) and granola ( yum!) and nuts ( holy goodness) then you will be just as thrilled as me to open one of the babies up. The one on the right is almost like eating a pumpkin pecan pie.
Eating healthy has become SO.MUCH.FUN!
Just wait until you see what I've been cooking this week.... all super healthy and nutritious - especially after every thing that I ate and drank at the Food and Wine Festival.
And now I am off for a run. And to pick out some pumpkins for our pumpkin carving contest this weekend. ( the one between me and Kev )
If only the weather felt like Fall.....



Friday, October 22, 2010

A Little Of This... A Little Of That.....

I've just got a couple of things to tell you. Random bits of information that probably do not deserve their own post.

1. I finally scored on finding some canned pumpkin!!


So, I bought as much as I could carry. Because I'm a hoarder like that. This stuff is elusive. I had to go to three stores to find it - and ended up getting it from Walmart. My nemesis. I've got big plans for this pumpkin. BIG PLANS! And you better believe you will be a part of them - even if all you get to do is experience them through reading.

2. Apparently I wrote about my love for Slim Jims in a recent post. A post that I cannot seem to find now - nor do I remember writing about. It is a true story that some times I go back and read a post and am just as surprised as you are as to what comes out of my mouth/hands/head (?). Anyway, he came home the other day after catching up on my millions of posts ( five) from the summer and was so intrigued that he did not know this piece of info about me. I guess that makes me a closet Slim Jim eater. Because Kev pretty much knows every thing - I mean I talk about myself constantly and all. So, then I confessed that my Dad used to buy them for me when we would go fishing or on road trips. And I grew to absolutely love them. So, when I'm on the road - I get myself one. Every once in a while. A Slim Jim and a diet Dr. Pepper. Excellent combo! And I would really rather not know what they are made of because oddly enough I have a very strange aversion to meat - and am picky about what kind and how much I eat. So, I'm sure that Slim Jim's don't really have a place in my life.

3. And speaking of road trips. I'm going on one. TOMORROW! I am going to the Food and Wine Festival in EPCOT. And let me just shout it from the rooftops that I CANNOT WAIT! I've got plans. Big plans. And I've got to pace myself because there is so much food that I want to try. Don't worry - there will be pictures. And commentary. And a detailed re enactment of my adventure. And I can't leave out that I will be attending the Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom. In costume of course. With a huge group that I call my family.

4. And that about wraps up my little tidbits of information. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. And if you come across some canned pumpkin. You better grab it. There is a shortage, ya know.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Week's Cooking Review

I believe I promised you a weekly review. A review of how my menu tasted. The highs and the lows.

So here goes...

This was my weekly menu:


For starters, my menu got a little out of whack. I have stuck to it this entire time that no one has been watching. But the minute I put it out there for the world to see - I have a crazy week and rearrange my plans at the last minute.

The layered salad came first. It is a good ole Southern potluck recipe. Lettuce, peas, cucumbers, eggs, bacon, onions and cheese. In between the layers is a simple sour cream, mayo, salt and pepper dressing. Kev loves it. It is something different and refreshing. Also it is easy to pack for lunch. I threw some Texas Toast croutons on the top and it was complete.
Next up: Onion Souffle.


I had never made this before. It was basically tons of Vidalia onions cut up in a sourdough bread mix with parmesan cheese. It was an excellent side dish. Definitely deserves a place on your Thanksgiving table. And the fact that it is healthy makes it so much better. I served it with beef tenderloin and the leftover peas from the layered salad.


Breakfast Casserole. You have to make this ahead of time because it has to sit overnight. It seems like a lot of work the night you make it because you probably also just finished cooking and cleaning up another supper. But on the actual night you serve it - EASY PEASY!

This is a picture of the mini casseroles hanging out in the fridge. I used turkey sausage ( DELISH), whole grain bread, low fat cheese, and eggs. This way we had individual servings ( no overeating) and it was easy to pack for a lunch. I just added some pineapple to the meal to make it a little heartier.
Then there is the chicken lombardy. Let me just warn you that my "new to me" camera and I aren't getting along so well. I can't seem to adjust the flash or bright light settings - so the chicken looks pretty scary even though it was great.

The chicken is cooked in white wine and chicken stock with mushrooms and a tiny bit of mozzarella. It is served over whole wheat angel hair pasta. With a side of brussel sprouts. I'm sure that I've mentioned that Kev and brussels must stay separated at all times. Due to their dislike of each other. But since I happened to get brussels ON SALE and the fact that I love to push Kev to try new things... I added them to the meal. BUT I cooked them in the same white wine broth and roasted them in the oven. They were pretty darn good. I only made Kev eat three of them and he said he liked them. ( Of course, that may be because I threatened him with more if he complained about eating them)
And then there is the buttermilk chicken which did not make it on the camera. We seriously ate it soooo fast before I could even think about it. It was scrumptious. The sauce on the chicken was made with fat free buttermilk and fat free cream of mushroom soup ( plus a couple of different spices). You pour it over the chicken and brown rice. Throw a couple of fresh green beans that I sauteed in olive oil and garlic and you are all set.
Oh - and the lasagna was a Stouffer's. I make those for Kev from time to time if I am working a lot so he can eat it for a couple of lunches at work.
All of the recipes for the week came from Southern Livings Greatest Recipes magazine that I acquired a couple of years ago.
And I think I just won the award for the least entertaining post ever. Unless you like food and cooking and stuff. Then maybe you enjoyed it.
Just wait until you see the next week's menu. It's gonna get crazy!





Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Oaks

I grew up riding around in a bus. A big, rowdy, full of mischief and crushed goldfish crackers bus.


It was made for our family. Plenty of room for every one. In fact, we each had our own seat/bench and could stretch out as far as your body would let you. This preferred way of travel helped to minimize accusations such as "she is touching me" or "she is looking at me" or "she is being bossy and obnoxious". I say "minimize" because regardless of how much space I had it was my job as the big sister to harass my siblings. But this multi seated van definitely made road trips much more enjoyable for us - and especially our parents.


And speaking of road trips. We took millions of them. For a month at a time. To Canada. To Mexico. To Wal-mart.


In fact, I even have a picture to share of our family on the road - ( notice our "bus" in the background)





My childhood was always an adventure.


And one of the things that kept us so entertained was music. And because little kids didn't record songs back then ( due to their long shifts in the coal mines), we listened to Country. And these trips are where my absolute LOVE for vintage country music began.


Except for it wasn't vintage back then.


One of my favorite groups to listen to was the Oakridge Boys. My Dad would play every tape over and over and sing at the top of his lungs. Not only could I hear him, but I could see him in the rear view mirror from all the way back in the "wayback" of the bus.


It was comforting and soothing. And just plain fun. Some times we would act out the songs for each other. Some times we would change the words for a laugh or two. Some times we would all just sing together. Like a travelling band of entertaining gypsies. Or like the Partridge Family.



Fast forward to present day .... and you can imagine my surprise and delight that the Oakridge Boys were coming to the State Fair.



Now, I haven't been to the fair in probably about 15 years. I think. Greasy foods can cloud your mind if you are around them too long.



Which is why when I went this past Sunday - I did every thing that I could to not INHALE. Wow - the grease was thick. And greasy. And I had a not so nice flashback of the last time I ate at the fair. I had the fried mushrooms. And due to the fact that I try to keep this blog family friendly - I will NOT tell you what happened about an hour later. It was not nice. Or polite. And has forever ensured that I will not eat food from random food carts where people are cooking in their own sweat.



Sorry if I just ruined it for you.



And besides the fact that I was rushing after work to get there and my dress got caught on the turnstile so when I turned the turnstile it pulled my dress straight up and every one behind me caught a glimpse of how hard my spanx were working, I only missed five minutes of the show.

And would appreciate some free spanx from the people that make them due to my amazing advertisement.

This is how I remembered the Oaks....

And this is how they look now....


A bunch of silver foxes if I do say so myself! Their voices were perfect and they sounded the EXACT same. It was such a treat!
Now due to the fact that I have a reputation to uphold - I did not sing along -outloud. Just in my head. But I did let my guard down enough to clap along with the music a couple of times.
And when they sang one of my favorite gospel songs - a cappella. Well, that was just the icing on the cake. I got chills, I tell ya. Chills!
Y'all know that I LOVE to take walks down memory lane - and this was a pretty amazing walk.
Now, if I can just get Kev to download some of their music to my Ipod. He claims that country music and electronics don't mix.




Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Our Family Cookbook

I wrote about this once. A family cookbook that my cousin Angela was putting together. I would link you to the post just for old times sake but I have no idea how. Or have the patience to learn today. Anyway, it was pre-sweet baby angel Lillian being born. So, over a year ago.

She had asked every one to submit their faves so we would have a treasured book of family recipes.

Now we all know how much I love cookbooks. How much I love cooking. How much I love exchanging recipes. How much I love to eat. And most importantly how much I LOVE and miss my Nana.

So, you can imagine my absolute delight when I received the cookbook....





What an amazing keepsake! Angela couldn't have done a better tribute to our sweet Nana. She was an incredible cook. Most of my fondest memories are being welcomed in to her warm and comfortable home with a delicious meal. She put so much love in to every thing that she prepared.
I cannot wait to prepare some of her very own recipes. This cookbook is such a great way to keep her memory alive - even though she will always be in my heart.
And thank you SO much Angela for putting together such a special book. It really means so much to me! And your time and hard work is greatly appreciated!






























Friday, October 15, 2010

Is There Such A Thing As Too Much T.V.?

No Way!

Unless that is all you ever did and your body was officially fused with the couch. Then I would say that you had been watching a little too much - but maybe you could get a guest spot on a talk show about compulsive tv watching. And you could become famous.

I would be a little wary of being invited to a talk show, though. Because it could be a trick and you could really be on a show about paternity tests, baby's mommas, or circus clowns that happen to be your secret admirer.

And I REALLY hate clowns.

And I also REALLY need to stop sharing bizarre thoughts of mine. You might start to think I am strange.

Anyway, you have always wanted to know what me and Kev watch on tv. I am sure of it. And so I figured I would finally dedicate a post to our Fall television watching schedule.

( You may want to grab a paper bag just in case your excitement causes you to hyperventilate)

Our nighttime tv watching is our "special" time together. It is the part of the day that I look forward to the most. Relaxing and hanging out with my best friend. Even if some days I do not get home from work until 10:30pm, we still spend some time watching the tube. It is just how we wind down.

The summers can be rough, though. With all the shows on hiatus - we are left to watch random NetFlix movies, re runs of Glee, and the dreaded Sci Fi. You would think that my boredom would have led me to post more on the blog - but a blog post requires peace and quiet and alone time. And I spent most tv watching nights sighing heavily, reading other people's blogs, and flipping through magazines and cookbooks.

That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the company. The company is the most important part after all. And I DID really enjoy Glee. Watching it this past summer has ensured it's addition to our weekly line-up.

And as for the Net Flix. It has TONS of potential but when the person (Kev) who orders all the movies bases his choices on if they were rated 4 out of 5 stars. And there are only FOUR tv nerds who actually go on NetFlix to rate the movies and they close their eyes and just push any random button ( which happens to be a #4 most of the time) ... then hopefully you understand why I role my eyes when I see the red envelope in our stack of mail.

Oh, and I can't leave out a comment about Sci Fi. I used to be a junkie. There were actually some pretty cool shows that we would watch together. And then they all got cancelled. So, now my extent of watching Sci Fi is when shows like "Sharktopus" ( betcha can't guess what two animals made that monster) or "Tremors Part 15" is on.

I guess they are good for a laugh.

As you can tell, I was desperately COUNTING THE MINUTES until the new Fall shows began. And let me just say that it has been a mixed bag this year.

We knew going in to this season that we would have to replace LOST and 24. Two shows that made us what we are today. Adrenaline junkies. Except we only like to watch. Not partake. We enjoyed LOST so much that we had season premiere and finale parties. IN COSTUME. And as for 24 - some times it was a little hard to take. But you gotta love Kiefer. Me and him go way back to The Lost Boys ( I just realized that maybe he is responsible for my fascination with vampires)... and I've never stopped feeling sorry for him since he was dumped by Julia Roberts in the late 80's /early 90's. ( That time period is a blur for me)

So, Kev decided that we would "audition" new shows. Because he is a lover of every one and wants to give every one a chance. This world would be at peace if he was in charge.

Me- notsomuch! I read one sentence in to the description of the show and I'm over it already. I give 15 people/things/tv shows a chance each year and my quota is almost up. I don't have the time or the patience. Which is why I have been reading blogs, flipping through magazines and cookbooks, and knitting leaf covers for our MULTITUDE of plants that are completely overtaking our home. ( I love each and every one of the little suckers, though. They sure do make me smile)

So, after about three weeks.... I think we finally have it narrowed down.

And now I will present to you our MUTUAL tv show loves:

CSI - Original, Miami, New York ( love the addition of Sela Ward)
Criminal Minds ( so sad to see A.J. leave the show, though)
Bones
Mentalist
Modern Family ( HI-larious!)
30 Rock ( perfect cast)
Community ( Joel McHale is some good times!)
NCIS
NCIS- Los Angeles
Lie To Me

Shows we are on the fence about:

Fringe ( used to be a favorite - hate the story line this season)
The Office ( boo hoo! Used to be my absolute favorite. I'm having a hard time getting in to it this year)
The Chase ( new show. I thought we were watching something else the first time we watched it so I refused to give it the time of day because I hated that something else and then at the very last scene, I realized we were watching a new show and have since enjoyed watching it. I don't want to dedicate too much time to it though - in case it gets cancelled.)

Shows that only I am OBSESSED with:

The Real Housewives of The O.C, New York, New Jersey (some times), and BEVERLY HILLS ( which just started last night and I have yet to see an episode but just know that I will love it so much because one of the housewives was a child star for Disney and was in one of my all time favorite movies named " Escape to Witch Mountain" ) I do not, however, enjoy the Atlanta or D.C. ladies. They are not fun/funny at all! ( to me)

Top Chef - ANYTHING. Cooking competitions are like cheese to me. I never get tired of eating them.
That didn't really make any sense.
Anyway, right now I am watching Top Chef - Desserts. Which is FULL O' DRAMA. And I have to say that I watch cooking shows to get AWAY from drama. So, I'm a little exhausted from it but love it just the same. AND they have announced Top Chef- MASTERS which will be lots of former contestants competing AGAIN for the title. Hooray!

Friday Night Lights. It has officially been cancelled. But I sure did love the show. It was the only thing that has EVER made me want to go back to high school. But just to meet Tim Riggins. Not to sit in class again.

And now for the shows that ONLY Kev is obsessed with:

I will start by warning you that you have probably NEVER heard of any of them and might accuse me of jibba-jabba when you are done reading the list. I assure you that they are all real shows and usually the perfect thing to put you to sleep. In case you are in need of an insomnia remedy.

Sanctuary
Stargate Universe
Top Gear ( British car show - actually pretty funny and would be my favorite of the group)
Caprica
Warehouse 13

Instead of writing a summary next to each one, I will sum them up by saying (with the exception of Top Gear) that the shows involve one of the following ( if not all) Space, Monsters, Futuristic Computers and Weapons, Aliens, Girls jumping on trampolines, and More Monsters.

That about sums it up. We watch just about every thing on DVR. Unless we are eating supper. Then we might catch an episode of Big Bang Theory. Or Dancing With The Stars. Or, if I am extremely unlucky that day, Wipe Out or Funniest Home Videos. I cannot stand the last two shows. Even if I happen to laugh out loud it still doesn't mean that I care to watch either of them. But goodness gracious, Kev's eyes light up when either of them are on. You can hear his laughter from a mile away - which is why I have been known to sit in my car down the street at the corner gas station until the show is over.

God forbid there is ever an emergency during Wipe Out or Funniest Home Video. KEV WILL NOT STOP WATCHING FOR ANYTHING!

And then to finish out the evening.. we usually watch Family Guy ( hate their voices), American Dad, Robot Chicken or Chelsea Lately ( love her). Or some times if I'm super lucky we get to watch the Food Network. They have some pretty informative shows on late at night.

Well, that about wraps it up. Now that you are probably poking your eyes out with a toothpick and wishing you could have the time back in your life that it took you to read this post. And I'm sure that Kev would have had a lot more clever things to say and add to this article - the t.v being his second wife and all.... but alas, he has yet to be interested in writing for you and depends on me to type up his deepest thoughts.

And now I am off to try and find The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills episode - before I jump out of my skin with anticipation.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Where Is The Love?

I just got home from an amazing class at the gym. I am bright red (good thing that's my favorite color) and soaking wet ( don't worry Kev, I'm sitting on a towel and being careful not to touch anything) AND I FEEL AMAZING.

I had a revelation today. Well, maybe not so much a revelation - because I already had these thoughts - but more of a break through. And I felt the need to sit down and blog about this break through the minute I walked in the door - while it was still fresh on my mind.

You see, I cried a little in class today. For me, that is the true sign of an amazing class. It has really touched me in some way. It has really pushed me to my limits. It has really inspired me. And today happened to be one of those days.

It is the reason that I wear a hat. And pull it down low on my face. I have uncontrollable emotions.

My class today was BODY ATTACK. It is my new favorite. It is the hardest class that I have ever taken. They say it burns between 600 and 1200 calories depending on the levels you choose to participate in. It is fast, and intense, and makes me push myself to the extreme. I like to describe it as a class filled with sports drills. A little basketball, skiing, football, and lots of jumping and running.

But as much as I love this class- I have been so exhausted lately. And I was totally dragging this morning. Until I walked in and claimed my spot. And saw the huge smile on the teacher's face. And heard the energy in her voice. And I was so glad I pushed myself to get up and go this morning. That is exactly why I LOVE the gym. Because of the teachers. They are the most caring, supportive people in the world. They push you to your limit - but encourage you along the way. It doesn't matter how skilled you are. What shape you are in. What you look like. They are there for you 150%. And their ultimate goal is to make you healthy and for you to feel good about yourself. I wish I could stick them all in my pocket and carry them with me throughout the day.

So, the class begins and one of the first songs was "Hot Stuff" by Donna Summer. Except for it had been re-mixed and was even faster and more intense than the original. And we were told to run across the floor and jump up in the air like we were dunking the basketball. Over and Over and Over. ( It is way harder than it sounds) But when we jumped up in the air we had to yell " I am Hot Stuff!"

And that is when the wheels started spinning in my brain. And I first got emotional. Because I started thinking about how I have had body issues for the majority of my life. (Which is a very long time - because I am "up there" in age) I have been on a trillion diets. I have lost weight and gained weight seven bazillion times. I have obsessive issues with food. ( not to be confused with my love for cooking - well maybe that is why I love cooking so much) I could look at myself in a mirror and point out seventy-seven things wrong with me. And you know what? I'm not alone. I make a living building women's confidence. Dressing women to make them feel their best. Highlighting their best qualities. It is a rewarding job - but very draining at the same time. Because 90% of the women I help feel the same way I do. They are always "starting a diet tomorrow" or hating the way they look in something. Or are just generally so hard and critical of themselves. And I'm talking size 0 - 14. Just because someone is in a small size doesn't mean that they love themselves completely. And I spend my days giving compliments and boosting self esteem. And just feeling so frustrated that people are so hard on themselves.

And then I do the exact same thing.

Except for Kev receives the brunt of my issues. And that is when I felt like I was hit with a ton of bricks. ( Or perhaps it was the sharp pains in my side after running so much) A wake up call if you will. And I realized a couple of things. One thing is that I have been blessed with an amazing husband. A husband that loves me no matter what. I could be a size 4 or a size 16. I could be eating a salad. Or eating a huge bowl of ice cream. He loves me for me. He encourages me. He supports me. But ultimately he just wants me to love myself and be confident and be happy and healthy.

Second of all, it made me so sad that so many women have body issues. And the next song we worked out to was "Where is the Love?" by the Black Eyed Peas. It is one of my faves and has incredible lyrics - but today it took on a new meaning. More like "Where is the love for yourself?" I wish there was a magic pill for all children that would help them love themselves for who they are.

It makes me laugh now to think back when I was a kid and the things I hated about myself. This was before cellulite and muffin tops and love handles and boobs that touch the top of your pants. I vividly remember staring at myself in a long mirror in the 7th grade gym locker room and hating how long my legs were. I thought they were so abnormal and hideous. All I wanted was to have short legs so I could be little and petite like the other girls in the 7th grade. And strangely enough - my seemingly long legs when I was a kid turned in to short stumps that now prevent me from wearing regular length pants and being able to touch my feet to the floor in some chairs. What I would give for long legs now.

My point is this - Be happy with who you are. Hold your head up high. Love yourself. It makes all the difference in the world.

I came across an incredible blog last night - www.healthytippingpoint.com. It is written by Caitlin. A woman who is the creator of "Operation Beautiful". If you go to her site you can click on "Operation Beautiful" at the top and read all about it. It was amazing. And worth a minute of your time.

By the end of my class today. I was in full on tears. ( And sweat and lack of breath) But I felt amazing and powerful and accomplished. And for some one who usually hides in the back of the class - I was even comfortable enough to show some of my (hillbilly) dance moves in one of the songs. And as I looked around the room full of women of all ages, sizes, races, and exercise levels. I definitely felt the love.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Revisiting Recipes

It is a known fact that I am obsessed with cookbooks. And cooking blogs. And just plain ole recipes.

In fact, I just skimmed through all of the posts I have ever written and I have seriously posted about food or my obsession of food no less than eleventy trillion times - give or take eleven million.

And for that I apologize profusely.

Unless you enjoy cooking and have gotten a good recipe or two off of this blog, or the blogs on the right hand side of my blog. Or even straight out of my mouth.

I have been known to purchase a cooking magazine just about every single time that I have gone to the grocery store. And I have quite the obnoxious collection. A collection so big that I was going to take a picture of it - but then realized I have created quite a mess on my cookbook shelf. And throughout my house for that matter. During this week long quest to revisit some good recipes.

So, you will just have to close your eyes and imagine it. It is just about a full shelf. Like 8 feet long - give or take a couple of feet depending on how you measure.

I use a fairy wand.

And it is FULL of cookbooks and magazines. And my own personal journal books of every thing else I have collected. Whether it be online or word of mouth or someone just emails me a good one.

And unfortunately, I have no rhyme or reason to the journal books. I just write recipes in order that I receive them. So, I have to depend on my trusty brain to know what is inside.

Also, unfortunately, I have STOPPED buying cooking magazines. I had to put myself on restriction once I began the mad world of couponing. There is NO room in my budget for words printed on paper. Therefore, in my mad frenzy that I have begun - the one where I'm so ready for Fall and cooking - I have decided to revisit EVERY.SINGLE.BOOK that I have collected over the years. And make every recipe inside that falls in to to the following categories:

1. Every thing unless it has heavy cream.

That's it. I'm easy going that way. Heavy cream seems to be the only thing that I can't "healthify" ( not sure if that is a word - don't judge me). I am also skipping desserts - but making a list of ones that look amazing and I will make them for upcoming events.

And speaking of upcoming events, I have a journal that lists each one and what recipes I would like to make for them. And which books/mags/journals they are located in. Isn't that smart? That way, when Columbus Day rolls around and I want to make Pilgrim food ( or whatever it is that Columbus ate) I can turn to the appropriate page. Then turn to the appropriate book. And then cook away.

I amaze myself sometimes with my organization.

Kev will tell you that I amaze him with my lack of it.

And then I will respond to that with "I'm organized when it's important"

Which is why my sock drawer is just a bucket of mismatched socks. That is why I only try on shoes behind closed doors.

So, each night this week as Kev is auditioning new tv shows to our Fall viewing schedule, I am busy turning pages and making lists and making meal plans.

( My down time is WAY too precious to waste on a show that we may or may not watch - once he gives it the green light, THEN I will get involved. But don't worry. I've got a post planned to discuss our tv watching habits.)

( You are welcome)

I just re-read this post and have decided that the point of it is to let you know how many amazing recipes are out there. There are so many wonderful cooks, chefs, blogs, and books. So, if you are having trouble coming up with what you are making for supper. Get creative. Try something new. Get online. Cooking expresses my love for the person I am making it for. ( Unless I have to cook for the devil - then I would probably put poison in it. Or rat poop.). Food brings people together. It's the main part of every celebration. And it is just something I REALLY enjoy doing.

( Am I still making any sense or have I gone over the edge?)

Hopefully, you will get some great ideas from this site. Or atleast enjoy reading about them.

And now I think I need to go take an Advil ( or three) and chill out a little. Kev is "googling" rehabs for recipe addicts.

Goodbye for now.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I've Got The Cooking Bug Again

It's back.

The illness of mine that involves an obsession with food.

And it's not really like it was ever cured and then returned. It never left. It was just on summer vacation. I mean, I still cooked all summer. How else would we have survived. And we still tried new things and new flavors.

But my full on, recipe hoarding, month at a time menu planning, making googly eyes at the produce section of Publix, dreaming of sugar plums dancing in my head .... IS BACK.

And it is back with a VENGEANCE!

Except it will be a little different this time. Because I'm cooking for health. And in moderation. But don't let that deter you from my kitchen... because I never said it would be without flavor. In fact, I am hoping to produce some incredibly flavorful meals.

Starting NOW.

Because last night doesn't count. The meal was flavorful all right. But a little too much. It seems my unorthodox love for chipotle peppers made a disruption in my peaceful little supper when I used THREE whole peppers instead of the 1/2 of one that was in the recipe. I mean, let's face it.. when making a Mexican recipe - 1/2 of a pepper doesn't seem like much. But if you have ever tried one of these peppers then you know it is more than enough. So, one bite in to my healthy shrimp quesadillas and little tiny beads of sweat popped up on the top of Kev's head. And we LOVE spicy food. So the sweat beads meant that I went a little over board which resulted in him drinking an entire gallon of tea.

Let's just say that I went back and re-opened each quesadilla and removed the seeds and peppers so he could eat them as leftovers.

And now for the point of this post...

My new purpose for this blog is to document the meals. The good, the bad, and the ugly. But, no worries. It won't all be about food. I will do this in addition to the crazy shenanigans that we seem to get involved in each week. I'm thinking a weekly food post.


( And for those of you saying "yeah, right... she can't even manage posting once a week - not even once a month"... then I say "fair enough. I've been so slack and so busy and I will do my best to keep up with my plans") Trust me. ( That was actually fun. Having a conversation with my readers in parenthesis)

Anyway,

I will base my post on my menu board... Remember this?
Yes. I still use it. EVERY week. Even though Kev informed me last night that he never looks at it. WHAT? After the entire one minute a week of work that it takes me to keep up with it - and he never looks at it. Well, that's ok. Because I do. And I still love it. And it keeps me organized. And it apparently needs to be cleaned. And I realize the picture looks off center but it is IMPOSSIBLE to take a picture of this straight on because of all the lighting ( I'm not complaining) in my kitchen.

So, off center it is.

I will just feature the highlights. And hopefully share some amazing recipes that you can share with your family.

It's just a way I can give back. Especially since Goodwill won't take all my old 80's clothes. Or mustache trimmer. Or collection of trolls.

And now I'm off to do some food research. Which may or may not involve me putting some thing in to my mouth.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sweat

I hope you didn't mis-read the title and think that this was a sugary SWEET post about desserts, or babies, or squirrels jumping on trampolines.



Because it's not. It is about SWEAT. The disgusting ( but satisfying) liquid that pours out of my body every time that I go to the gym.



It is not to be confused with what happens when you are all dressed up for work and you have to get in to a hot car in the middle of summer. That is UN-satisfying. And ruins my whole day and my silk blouses.



( Do I even own any silk blouses? That sounds too lady-like for me)



Anyway...



I wanted to write about my gym experiences. And I don't really have a decent picture to post. So, I googled "pictures of people sweating". It was very interesting and gross. And it seems that women don't sweat so much because most of the pics were of men. Which is why I chose this one.... the closest resemblance...







Except it looks more like Kev. But only because if you have ever seen me at the gym then you know that I wear WAY more clothes than this. Like long pants. And long tees. And shoes. And a hat or two - depending on how unruly my hair is that day.


You would never recognize me. It is funny how many double takes I get because the ladies are trying so hard to figure out why I look vaguely familiar. ( I'm THE.LOFT.GIRL) And that only happens if I smile. My huge teeth are a dead giveaway. A Switzer family trait. If I keep my mouth closed - I'm usually safe to sweat profusely, act clumsy, and grumble under my breath.


As far as the guys at the gym are concerned. I look like one of them. They don't pay me a bit of attention. One time I went in to Kev's shop after a workout. And he said " What can I do for you today, Sir". True Story.


I could easily rob a bank with my gym disguise.


Ultimately, I have been SOOO happy being back at the gym. I mean... it's super tough to get up early in the mornings. And I have more sore muscles and aches and pains than ever before. And then there is the whole sweat issue multiple times a week. But I feel SO much better. And the classes that I take are amazing and fun. And I just missed being in that type of environment.


And I definitely still have some ( A LOT) of work to do. I'm still struggling with how much to eat and when. And which classes to take back to back and which ones not to. ( When you are on your second class and your teacher starts to look blurry and you feel nauseous. It is probably time to call it a day)


And then there is my ultimate goal of running races again. I enjoyed it so much before and have really missed being a part of raising money for good causes and crossing a finish line. I had set a personal goal to run my first race on New Year's Eve. It was the first race I ever ran over four years ago. However, when I went to register online today - they have changed the date to the day after Christmas. And guess where I will be? WORK. So, now I'm on to the Race for Hunger in February. It is a 10K in Lexington ( the second race I ran over four years ago). And it was very empowering - except for when I was running next to traffic and I could feel the eyeballs on me as I was jogging by. They were probably trying to decide my gender.


Then there is the Marine Mud Run. It is held in October. I heard about it from a friend of mine, Kelly. And then from another friend, Sarah - who in amazing detail told me every single thing I would encounter in this great challenge. Down to the last drop of mud. And now I'm hooked and a little obsessed. And can't wait to compete. In fact, I'm having Kev build every obstacle in my back yard so I can practice weekly.


He is so thrilled.


So, not only will I be supporting Marine's families. But I will have the luxury of getting as muddy as a pig. And swinging over a creek on a rope. And climbing a wall. And did I mention getting muddy. I can't wait to see the look on Kev's face when he sees the mess he has to clean up when I come running in the house to give him a big hug.


He will be so thrilled about that, too.


And last but not least, there is a Half-Marathon in Epcot in October. It is for the Food and Wine Festival. And starts at 10PM. AT NIGHT!! ( In case you didn't know what PM means) I think it would be incredible to run at night. Being that I'm so obsessed with vampires ( Tru Blood not

Twilight) Just think, if I get bitten I will forever be in a runner's body.


After the Half-Marathon, Disney has a celebration for the runners and their families at the FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL!! Does it get any better than that?


And I haven't even mentioned the other "small" races I would like to do next year. These were just the big ones.


That is if my knees hold out.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Happy Fall

Lucky for you and for my household... the pool is officially closed until next Spring.

The pool is like a child to me. I feel very guilty when I don't spend enough time with it. But then my "Aunt" status kicks in. And I give it back when I've had enough. And when I am sitting in the pool, curled up in a ball, shivering until my lips turn blue... then I have had enough.

The good news is that my weeks won't be so hectic. I will be spending more time on the inside getting things done. Like watching tv. And avoiding the laundry.

But most importantly - The pool closing means IT IS FALL. I love this time of year. And yes, I do say that about every season. I think it is the change of scenery that I love because we all know my attention span lasts about 3 1/2 minutes.

I love the weather. I love the clothes ( wearing boots is my favorite hobby). I love the flavor of pumpkin. And I LOVE the amount of cooking I get to do. It is so much more fun to cook in the Fall and Winter than in the Spring and Summer. You can actually enjoy a hot meal without sweating.

And my Dutch Oven sure has missed me.




I decided to kick off October 1st with a couple of things. First of all, I put a Fall wreath on the front door and a pumpkin candle in the Lodge room.

I had to take a nap in between the two because decorating is exhausting.

Second of all, I decided to make a yummy chili/stew. My Dutch Oven has been begging for me to use it. It calls to me every time I walk through the kitchen. All shiny and red. It is one of my prized possessions. I found this recipe in an old Rachel Ray magazine. It was called "the end of summer stew".

Perfect!

Now, we have been eating pretty darn healthy lately. I pride myself on being able to turn just about any meal in to a healthy version.

I also pride myself on my grocery shopping planning and purchasing. And how much food I have been able to fit inside my pantry, fridge, and freezer. It's obnoxious, folks. Let's just say that if we were ever to be invaded by Aliens and we had to hide in our homes for safety.... we would be set food-wise for YEARS.

That is if they let us keep our electricity on. My survival is based on my freezer's survival.

Anyhoo, all that just to say that I had most of the ingredients in my house already. I had tons of vegetables I needed to use. Ground turkey. And Beer.

This soup had the most delicious and most random ingredients. Lime zest? check! Fire roasted tomatoes? check! A can of Bud Light? check!

Kev commented that my cutting board looked like a taste explosion when he saw how many yummy things were going in the pot.

And the stew/chili did not disappoint....

I'm sure it will be even better today. And tomorrow. And the next day. Because I made enough to feed an army.

And then I spent the evening looking through old cooking magazines and cookbooks - making a list of all the recipes I want to try this Fall. Things that I had passed on before due to difficulty and flavors.

I'm looking forward to a yummy season. In moderation, of course.

And now I'm off to put up one more decoration. A hay bale on the front porch. The perfect placement will be so intense that I may have to sleep for the next two days straight.

But that is the price I will have to pay for a decorative home.