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Showing posts from December, 2011

Thank God for Texas: Lamesa

A special shout out tonight to the good people of Lamesa, TX. I made chicken fried steak for the first time ever tonight and I did it using Ree’s Drummond’s recipe. She is better know as the Pioneer Woman and if you’re not familiar with her blog including her beautiful love story detailing her courtship and marriage to a rancher (High Heels to Tractor Wheels) and her recipes and photography you are missing out. Anyway, the meal was fantastic and so I set about researching the origins of chicken fried steak. Turns out it was created by none other than the early residents of Lamesa who had immigrated from Germany/Austria (Weiner schnitzel anyone?) and adapted their recipes to the abundant supply of beef in Texas. I am especially enamored with this history because one of my very special friends and blog reader hails from Lamesa (shout out to Sunny!). You can read all about the history of CFS yourself on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_fried_steak

Winding down 2011

Today is the next to last day in December. The month has just flown by. I wrote about our trip to Turkey in my last entry (by the way the kabob restaurant we visited the last night with the gracious hospitality is called Cigeristan) but I actually took two additional weekend trips to Europe after we returned from Turkey and a weekend trip to NM as well. The first weekend in December I flew to Krakow for a “mile run” to log more Delta miles for the year in order to re-qualify for Diamond status. Jonathan has already crossed the status threshold so he opted to stay home. I flew via NYC, Montreal, Paris and Warsaw for maximum miles and via Warsaw, Paris, Amsterdam and Detroit on the return for even more miles. If there was a way to squeeze out any additional miles on one trip to Poland I’m really not aware of it. A bit exhausting to be honest but a lot of fun. As a bonus, I met a group of older travelers (55 years+) from Italy on the flight from Warsaw to Krakow and we hit it off very we…

Trip Report: Turkey

Each Thanksgiving, Jonathan and I like to travel somewhere new over the holiday. Turkey seemed like a logical place to visit as of course everyone associates Turkey and Thanksgiving. Brilliant! We gathered up a few friends from the Beautiful Life meetup group and made our way to Istanbul to get things rolling. Our first day of the trip was consumed with just getting to Turkey (via Paris on Air France for maximum miles of course) so we had time only for dinner before we called it a day. I chose Mezze based on its stellar reputation on Trip Advisor and the restaurant did not disappoint. Lovely little small plates was the name of the game for everyone and the lamb was tender and juicy. The establishment has a featured dessert that is unique: Ballý Bademli Cevizli Kaymaklý Muz (Geleneksel veya Acýlý) . Oh sorry, did you want that in English? Bananas Topped with Honey, Almonds, Pistachios and Clotted Cream with Chili Sauce. Read that again out loud and think about it. Cream. Hot Chili. Hon…

Butterfly Angel

My parents (and their previous spouses) wrestled strenuously with their personal demons and so my siblings and I grew up in the midst of constant drama and angst. Each of us has our own story of what we endured, with varying degrees of abuse and crazy aimed in our direction. I was the younger half-sister that my parents attempted to anchor their “new” life around while they put their existing children on the backburner and this led to a lot of resentment building up against me from my sisters and brothers. With some siblings this resentment expressed itself with blunt aggression and rage while with others it was released with subtle slights and cold comments. And for a couple of my siblings there was no marked signs of resentment but there was always the emotional distance of being strangers, raised decades and geographical regions apart. With my sister Suzie everything was different. Every interaction with her during my childhood was positive and love seemed to just pour out of her. …

Sunday Supper

Tonight marked the first evening in over a month that my husband and I were both in town for Sunday dinner. We held our usual open house dinner party and I decided to take a culinary risk betting on recipes out of a cookbook I’d not used before. It’s a minor gamble to rely on a recipe you’ve never made out of a cookbook you are well familiar with and have used for other recipes to success. It’s a major gamble to source recipes from a book you’ve never worked with before. Luckily the risk resulted in reward as each of the dishes were met with enthusiasm and praise after tasting. We had three guests join us for dinner so with Jonathan and I that made five around the table. All recipes excluding dessert are from Holiday Fare : Favorite Williamsburg Recipes. This is the souvenir cookbook Jonathan chose for me from our visit to Colonial Williamsburg – he presented it to me as a Christmas gift a few years back.  We opened dinner with Candied Pecans and Leek-y Brie. I am not a leek fan (neit…

Weekly Menu: Winter

I’ve heard from several readers that would like me to share the weekly menus I put together for our family. So the weekly menu feature is henceforth rolled into publication. Expect periodic posts under this category as some weeks we are out of town and other weeks life can be so hectic that every night is takeout, leftovers, or cheerios. Also expect that some weeks the menu will be published as a partial week menu due to travel. Finally, please note that while I strive to incorporate a healthy selection of vegetables, fruit, and fish every week, the menus are not set to a specific caloric intake or diet plan. They’re just set to yummy. This week’s menu is below. Cookbooks you’ll need to have on hand include Southwestern Vegetarian by Stephan Pyles, Plenty by Yotam Otto Lenghi, and The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever by Beatrice Ojakangas. These cookbooks are all sound investments that we will be coming back to throughout the year for recipes. I’ve also included hyperlinks to the recipes …

Creativity and Optimism: Practical Applications (part 1)

I read once that optimistic people who believe that good things are coming their way appear to be lucky because good things repeatedly do indeed happen to/for them. Turns out just as many good things come down the pike for all people on average but only the optimistic people are looking for them and notice them and are therefore able to pounce on such opportunities more frequently.Can you teach people how to approach life with optimism and creativity? I’d like to think so but studies are inconclusive. Well actually that’s a lie- the studies *were* inconclusive when I last reviewed the matter for a term paper as an undergrad in the 1990s. It’s entirely possible that science has come to a firm conclusion on the matter by now but I can’t be bothered to look it up. In any case, I wanted to provide you two case studies in optimism and creativity, drawn from my personal experience to illustrate their practical applications. The first case shall be documented by way of a thread of email corr…