Lackluster Thanksgiving post

You know what respectable food bloggers do on Thanksgiving? They arrange a bunch of gourds artfully on the table, make trendy takes on all of the Thanksgiving staple foods, and then take beautiful, well-lit photos of their families eating, being thankful, etc. Then they provide meticulous recipes for everything they cooked.

Well, this food blogger woke up really early on Thanksgiving, threw some clean underwear in a backpack, flew from Des Moines to Chicago to Colorado Springs, and rolled into the party just as everything was coming out of the oven. I am a disgrace. Any minute now, the internet will come to repossess my domain name.

My family went to Colorado earlier in the week to celebrate with my brother who lives in Colorado Springs, and I headed out later so I wouldn’t miss any days of work. We stayed in a cabin in Cascade–check out the view from the dinner table:
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There was also a shower with TWO SHOWER-HEADS! I really thought those only existed on HGTV. Usually when I’m on vacation I just don’t shower, because it seems like a lot of work, but you better believe I took advantage of that situation.

Other highlights of the trip:

  • WHOLE FOODS. We don’t have one in Iowa. I could have wandered in there for hours. I bought hemp seeds and a whole bunch of wheatgrass powder. (Both of those things are perfectly legal in Iowa, in case you’re wondering.)
  • I got to meet up with a friend from law school for a pizza-vino-gelato lunch.
  • I did not buy anything on Black Friday. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s a 100% discount. I also did not make a Christmas list, because now that I have the mixer I don’t need anything else, ever. All I want for Christmas is world peace and jobs for everyone.
  • I got to spend lots of time with my hilarious family, including this fellow in the footie pajamas:

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Such a deep thinker, that Baby Neph.

Next week I promise a real post, with a recipe and everything. I have a very special holiday cookie recipe on tap–I’ve been sitting on this one since I discovered it last winter, too late for Christmas. I hope you all had a good holiday weekend!

P.S. My mom made this recipe from my friend Katie, and it was the highlight of my Thanksgiving plate. Get yourself some quinoa and go for it.

 

Playing outside

When I was a kid, I pretty much liked to play inside. That was where my chapter books were, and it was climate-controlled. Also, I did NOT like to get my stirrup pants and custom-puffy-painted t-shirts dirty.

(Oh, did you want a picture to illustrate my puffy-painted-t-shirt phase? Well, OK.)

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But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become a much bigger fan of playing outside. I love running outside, especially in the cool weather we’re having right now. So, I was really excited to try the Living History Farms Off Road Race, a seven-mile celebration of costumes, creek-crossing, mud, and hills. I had two friends from law school come to town for the occasion, too, so it served as a much-needed reunion.

Verdict: most fun I’ve ever had at a race. I’m happy to report that I crossed all of the creeks (there were maybe six?) and crawled my way up the banks without breaking, spraining, tearing, or dislocating anything. I almost didn’t make it up the last creek bank because I couldn’t find a foothold and fell back in, but a mysterious man dressed like a Lego Person lent me a hand and pulled me out. I fell in love just a little bit. He was wearing a mask, but I surmise that he looked like this.

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As you can see, we didn’t go in costume. I guess I didn’t know costumes were such a big thing at this race, but it definitely made the course entertaining. I welcome ideas for next year’s costume, because I think I’ll probably be back again.

I have no recipe this week–sorry, compadres. Sometimes there’s lots going on and a girl just needs to live on baked sweet potatoes and Dr. Praeger burgers for awhile. I’ll try to get back on my game for a holiday meal recap next week. And speaking of–happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! I’m sending my love and virtual pie to each and every one of ya.

At Last

Oh HEY guys! I’m just hanging out here in the kitchen, singing heartfelt love songs to the new light of my life:

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That is the 5-quart KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer in Empire Red! I know, AAAAHHHHHH! It is the one I have been dreaming of for years. I have admired it on the Food Network, gone to visit it in several kitchen supply stores, and even considered a sham marriage so I could put it on my registry. You could say it’s the Cadillac of stand mixers, but I think it would be more appropriate to say that Cadillac is the KitchenAid of automobiles.

About two years ago, I promised myself I would buy the mixer when I finally got a full-time job in the legal field. The job search process took a long time, and, although I’m generally a sunny-side-up kind of girl, I got just a liiiiiiittle bit cranky about it. (Just ask my mom.) But finally, last Tuesday–while subbing at an elementary school, immediately after cleaning up a cafeteria Jello spill–I got a call, and my first real job. I feel really lucky, I’m very excited, and I start on Wednesday :) But now, back to the kitchen.

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I wanted to get my mixer started off on the right foot, so I initiated it immediately after bringing it home by baking a pan of my Grandma Neva’s brownies. Next, over the weekend, I started in on Ina Garten’s recipe for Ile Flottante. It’s in her Barefoot in Paris book, which is probably my favorite cookbook to just sit down and read like it’s a novel.

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In the cookbook intro to the recipe, Ina says the Ile Flottante “will have your guests groaning with pleasure.” Uhhh…I don’t think that sounds like good table manners, but still–I was intrigued. Plus, the key component of the recipe is meringue, and when you really want to see what a stand mixer is made of there is no better task than whipping up a bunch of egg whites, right? Things seemed promising at first:

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But, after that they went horribly, horribly wrong.

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I don’t know if I got distracted and measured something wrong (entirely possible because Pandora was KILLING IT with its selections on my baking station) or if I just don’t like meringues and never will. I expected them to be crunchy, but they were chewy on the outside and the inside tasted sort of like cotton candy with added protein. Nobody was “groaning with pleasure,” that’s for sure.

But no worries! With my trusty mixer by my side, I am undaunted by baking adversity. The two of us whipped up a lemon cake, which I later served to some hungry family members with whipped cream and raspberries. Much better!

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I used this recipe for lemon yogurt cake, with the following alterations:

  • I did not make the lemon syrup or the glaze, since I had other toppers in mind.
  • I cut all of the measurements for the cake in half and baked it in an 8×8 pan instead of a loaf pan (350 degrees for 20 minutes).
  • I used sour cream because I didn’t have any yogurt.

And that’s all! One announcement: I now have Twitter, and I don’t really understand it, but you can follow me (DarcySSATT) if you want. There are subscription buttons on the right side of this page (under the archives) for RSS, email updates, Twitter, and Facebook. Thanks for reading, and be sure to tune in next week when I attempt to run a cross-country 10K with two friends from law school and face two of my biggest fears (injury and wearing spandex pants in public)!

 

My adventures with Paula

I love healthy food–I really do. Sometimes, though, things happen.

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Sometimes I feel the need to bake something with a lot of butter in it, and I attribute this to the fact that I have a very special bond with the unofficial queen of butter, Paula Deen. To explain, let me first introduce you to my lovely and brilliant friend Lisa:

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We became friends the first week of law school, which was a smart move on my part because she later fixed my laptop several dozen times AND gave me a creme brulee blowtorch to console me after I broke my arm doing step aerobics. I MISS YOU LISAAAAAAA!

During our last semester, Lisa started creating Photoshopped pictures of me and Paula Deen, sitting with things or people that were somehow significant to our law school experience. (The project was inspired by this site, naturally.) I ended up with quite the delightful collection. For example, here I am with Ms. Deen on top of the Boyd Law Building in Iowa City, my home-away-from-home for three years.

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Here we are with Learned Hand, influential jurist/heartthrob.

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KitchenAide mixers, of course:

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And here’s a simple shot of just the two of us, smiling our way to infinity and beyond:

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Paula sometimes terrifies me with her recipes–like the time I saw her make bread pudding with Krispy Kreme donuts and sweetened condensed milk–but I still think we could totally be gal pals. So…..this one’s for her. You’ll need some fun-size Miky Way bars (leftover from Halloween, perhaps), and probably some stretchy pants.

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Milky Way Bundt Cake (adapted from a Des Moines Register article from last week that I tried and failed to find online)

  • 8 fun-size Milky Way candy bars (not the smallest, squarish ones–the ones that look about two-bite sized)
  • 1 c. buttermilk*
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 c. butter, at room temperature (That’s 2 sticks. I know.)
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease and flour a standard-sized (12 cup) bundt pan. Melt the candy bars with 1/4 c. of the buttermilk over low heat, stirring frequently until smooth. In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda. In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the vanilla and add the eggs one at a time, making sure each one is incorporated before adding the next. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the remaining 3/4 cup buttermilk, starting and ending with dry ingredients. Once everything is well-mixed, fold in the melted Milky Way bars. I only stirred a little bit, so the cake would have a marbled look inside. Pour the batter into the greased bundt pan and bake for 55-60 minutes. Let it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Then invert it onto a wire rack to cool completely, and dust it with powdered sugar just before serving.

*Note: If you don’t have buttermilk, no worries. Just use regular milk (dairy, almond, soy, whatever you have) and add a splash of vinegar.

Veggies next week! LOVE AND BEST DISHES, y’all!