Monday, December 31, 2012

Here's Where I've Been

Hey. Hello. How are you?

I was kind of hoping that I could invent some kind of wild, interesting story to explain why I haven't posted in a while, but many of you know me personally and you could sniff out a fabricated story on my part a mile away. Drat.

I've been busy. Just like you. And now that all of the festivities are over all I have are random photos (but wonderful memories!) that seem to make no sense, tell no story, sing no song.

See no evil.

I'll stop.




Here are a few shots of the last few days of randomness...



We enjoyed my nephew's lovely wedding and reception. Congratulations Wes and Debbie!









































Here's a shot at the reception which was held in my sister's awesomely beautiful barn! I'm taking the pic from the upstairs loft. From what you can likely tell, this is a party barn and not an animal barn! No donkeys in sight.


Weegie had a birthday! He's 7!





























































He got all the rides he wanted in the Mule.




He got a new bone!




























The whole big hoopla just wore him out.




The Chief and the boys worked on pulling down one of the century-old trees that sadly did not survive last year's horrible drought.
































They all stared up into the air a lot.
































They attached a large, heavy duty strap to the tree...





















And used the tractor to pull....






























Usually, the strap either snapped like rocket and slammed into the front of the tractor (which made me scream and run back into the house). Or it flew off and got all hung up in the trees.

In which case, they all just kind of gave up.

It was really cold out.




























I hope your last few days have been wonderful too!

Happy New Year!



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Banana Amnesty


























There's really nothing like being blown out of bed by a 65 mph wind. And I'm actually talking about the real outside God-breathed wind, and not The Chief creating a storm of get er done type activity that viciously sucks everything into it's vortex.

And there's really nothing like one of these muffins for breakfast. Especially when accompanied by a TAB.

Since I was up I figured I better get thee in the kitchen and make something before my son (who's here for a week or so) got in there and started foraging for smoothie ingredients. Since he's been here I tend to be missing ingredients for meals. Things like kale and kiwi and carrots. Apples, pears, and spinach. All fodder for his current Plant Based Diet health plan. I should never have introduced him to my Vitamix.

Anyway, making these muffins seemed a way to rescue some of the bananas from sure Death By Smoothie. Just a small expression of banana love on my part.

They are delicious. I made tons. Please have one. I'll even share my TAB.

Cause I love ya.








Banana Crunch Muffins
(adapted from original recipe by Ina Garten)


Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 bananas)
  • 1 cup medium-diced ripe bananas (1 banana)
  • 1 cup small-diced pecans (toasted)
  • 1 cup granola
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • Dried banana chips, granola, or shredded coconut, optional

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line 18 large muffin cups with paper liners. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the melted butter and blend. Combine the eggs, milk, vanilla, and mashed bananas, and add them to the flour-and-butter mixture. Scrape the bowl and blend well. Don't overmix.
Fold the diced bananas, walnuts, granola, and coconut into the batter. Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling each 1 to the top. Top each muffin with dried banana chips, granola, or coconut, if desired. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly, remove from the pan, and serve.




Monday, December 17, 2012

The Promise is We'll Be Held

I'm simply not eloquent enough to adequately express my emotions over the recent school shootings. At least not in written form. It's as if I can't bear to write all the words and then have to look at them. Black and white. All neat and tidy. It seems too little.

Innocent little children. Devoted and heroic teachers. I can't fathom the unspeakable horror.

Their families have most assuredly had the sacred torn from their lives.

If I could sing (and I think I've expressed more than once here that it has always been a lifelong desire of mine...) this is what I'd sing for them.

Natalie Grant does it so well.





My favorite part at the end of the song...


If hope is born of suffering
If this is only the beginning
Can we not wait for one hour
Watching for our Savior

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive

This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held.


Amen


Sunday, December 16, 2012

You Pay For The Whole Seat, But Only Need The Edge

Hello?

Anyone still there?

It seems I may have been neglecting my duties around here just a bit. I realized last night that chances are high most of you have barely functioned normally without my frequent, spellbinding updates. Especially around the holidays when I should be providing a minute-by-minute account of all the excitement.

So here you go

-The Christmas Tree- I've practically devoted every spare second in the last two weeks to keeping the tree alive, lush, and slurping up the water. A little background: I need a live tree. I just can't get on board with the thought of an artificial one (which is certainly not to say that all of your very own personal, artificial trees are not just delightful!). But for me, the texture and the smell and the sap and the needles and occasionally the interesting creatures that come along with a live tree are too tough to give up. I like it all. The trouble is, we selected a slightly much larger Noble Fir (always my species of choice) than we typically do which precipitated an avalanche of Humongous Tree Related Problems.

First, The Chief had to build a new custom stand which includes a very large plastic container for holding approximately 10 gallons of water. (I sacrificially gave up one of my very favorite Tupperware storage containers) (I'm kind of like a martyr, I know) Then there was the fact that we realized that almost all of his saws (do you find it strange that he has a WHOLE HOST OF SAWS?) were inconveniently at the farm, so removing some of the pesky bottom limbs became a frustration. The drilling of the holes into the bottom of the trunk (for maximum water absorption) turned into what might be termed a fiasco (because seriously people, if you don't know, or have never participated in any kind of tree preparation with an Engineer?) The main and only goal is to

NEVER, EVER, EVER LET A SEAL FORM ON THE BOTTOM OF THE TREE.

EVER.

If you do? Christmas joy as we are so fortunate to know it is basically over. If the tree stops absorbing  water for even one second there exists the chance of a seal instantaneously forming in that second thus rendering the tree unable to soak up it's life liquid. And then really. Nothing else is good. So it can NEVER go dry.

I let this happen once. It's a time I'd rather not recall.

Anyway, I'm proud to say that with the help of an automatic timer, some nerve pills, and the loss of a lot of my free time. our tree is beautiful and green.

(Oh and also with the help of my dear friend and neighbor who gave her time and energy to keep that sucker alive while I was out of town for a few days)

God Bless you JoBeth. She texted me at one point to say that it was taking so much water that she might have to give it all the eggnog next...

-The Christmas Gifts- I've bought two. That's it. Isn't it still November?

-The Christmas Parties- I've hosted two in the last seven days.

-The Christmas Foods- I need to make my official Christmas Cinnamon Rolls, a few Pralines, and some Martha Washington candy. Which makes me think. What are the Must Have Christmas Foods in your home?? 

A certain kind of cookie or cake? Do you make tamales?
stollen?
kolaches?
candy of some sort? like your Grandma's special fudge, or peanut brittle?

I'd really like to know.

But now?


Gotta water the tree.

I'd love to hear from you.





Friday, December 7, 2012

The Thrill Is Gone

So here it is Friday. And here I am writing about it.

(Well technically it's not Friday yet, but you would never know that.)

And if you're sharp you've caught on that I don't really have a plan for this post. Perhaps after I get going, we'll build up some steam.

Um.

Voila.

A handy bulleted list for your pleasure.

* I've been doing some cooking and some baking and the subsequent cleaning necessitated by such activities, and now all I really want to do is think about Person of Interest and Mr. Reese. Because why? He's awesome. That's why.

*I've recently unfriended my vacuum cleaner. I used to love my vacuum so much I wanted to marry it, but now it's slowly dying the slow death of all vacuum cleaners where it alternately works then doesn't work, then maybe sort of works if I only push it while my eyes are closed.

*Right now, right this very second, there's a Pina Colada Cheescake in my oven. Can you smell it?

*My driveway is sinking.

*I'm trying desperately not too get too excited about Johnny Manziel and the Heisman because, well, it's Johnny Manziel. And The Heisman.

*My son called me and told me he had dreamed something really strange and that I was the only one that would appreciate it. (I love it when these things happen.) In his dream he was working at one of the gates at Kyle Field and one of the people who came through his gate was Carl from Family Matters. I loved Carl. I loved Family Matters.

(This is not gaining much momentum is it?)

(Perhaps I should stop.)

(What's new with all of you?)

(Is your driveway sinking?)


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Little Salty Behind The Sweet






























I can't tell you how many times I heard those words from my sweet Daddy.

"I just need a little something salty after all that sweet", he'd say.

He'd want a potato chip after a piece of cake, some peanuts after his beloved ice cream, or a cracker or two after one of my Mom's luscious pralines.

A palate cleanser. An equalizer of sorts. But I also on occasion saw him grab another praline after the crackers or some icing off the cake after the chips...

So he played both sides.  I'm telling you the man was sharp.

And since this is the season of all the sweet, I thought we needed to throw in a little salty on the side. I mean things can be too sweet. So can people for that matter. No one I know, of course, but you know what I mean. Sappy sweet. Cloyingly sweet. Let's keep it all mixed up so we don't get bored, OK?

Here's the greatest little cheese wafer (and I'm sorry but it's just not Christmas in a southern household without at least 6 dozen or so of some sort of cheese crackers, wafers, sticks, etc...) that also has just a hint of sweet cherry juxtaposed with cheesy tang and spicy hot pepper.

Like I said. I'm all about mixing it up.

You can make the dough, roll it into log shapes and then refrigerate until you're ready to slice it and bake.




























 I've kept it in the fridge for five days or more with banner results. Just make sure you refrigerate
for at least 8 hours to guarantee the butter hardens so the wafers bake up nice and neat without any spreading.





















































I know you'll like them.









Cherry-Pecan Cheese Wafers
Lu


·         1 1/2 cups chopped pecans 
·         1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped sweetened dried cherries (or cranberries)
·         2 cups butter, softened 
·         3 cups  freshly shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese 
·         1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
·         1 1/2 teaspoons salt
·         1 teaspoons ground red pepper
·         ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
·         4 cups all-purpose flour 


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Cool completely (about 15 minutes).

2. Meanwhile, soak cherries in boiling water to cover 15 minutes; drain and pat dry with paper towels.

3. Beat butter and next 3 ingredients at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until blended. Gradually add flour, beating just until combined. Stir in cherries and pecans. Shape dough into 4 (12-inch-long) logs; wrap each log in plastic wrap. Chill 8 hours to 3 days.

4. Preheat oven to 350°. Cut each log into 1/4-inch-thick slices; place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from baking sheets to wire racks, and cool completely (about 20 minutes). 

Happy Wednesday!