Tuesday, February 24, 2009

the [real] simple life

you know you've gotten old/boring/married when you look forward to the following "events":

- saturday costco trip
- ordering a papa john's pizza this weekend and watching a rented movie
- watching rachael ray's "30 minute meals" when i get home from work
- matt making dinner tomorrow night (not to imply that he never helps me out when i make dinner and/or doesn't cook, but since i'll be occupied until nearly 8 tomorrow night, he's taking the cooking reigns for the evening.)
- making cinnamon and/or orange rolls from scratch...and consuming them all rather quickly.
- going to the zoo with a friend and her children. i just love primates. 
- getting to bed before 10 p.m.

serious excitement is experienced when i think about all of these things. even after the fact. 

and not to make my new life seem all wah-wah-waaaah, because excitement is excitement, right? there are so many moments of my day that i just cherish and relish in. and sometimes, they seem so simple, so mundane, but who doesn't love costco, seriously? who among us, in the crazy, busy, complicated world we now live in, cannot appreciate the simple tasks of life? the beautiful and short moments of our day that remind us of what's truly important? 

i thought about this last night when i was falling asleep, and matt came in, laid down next to me, held me tight, and whispered, "i love you." 

even though life can feel so difficult and full of schedules and routines, taking in those moments of bliss and simplicity is priceless. while there are many things about my life that i wish were better or easier or different, these small "events" that make up my everyday life make all the difficulties seem endurable and sometimes flat out enjoyable. of all the wishes i could make, some of the most important ones are for more moments of pure excitement and joy like this. more laughter fits late at night, more conversations with good friends, more acts of kindness, more lazy days spent consuming freshly made cinnamon rolls. more simple joys. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

where's hitler? and when did we get to germany?

somedays, i'm not sure what to make of the weather here in houston. it's still winter, right? the time of year is right, and yet...

a couple of weeks ago, i was running an errand on campus when i looked to my right and saw 3 beautiful trees in full bloom. 

spring time.

i then looked down and saw fall-colored leaves scattered on the sidewalk. above me was another tree, finally deciding it was time to shed it's leaves. 

fall?

while the confusing array of seasons settles in here, i guess i should be grateful, knowing that if i were still in utah, i'd seriously be dying and hating snow and the cold and wanting just a hint of spring just to see me through the next few months until real spring/summer arrived and i wasn't cold anymore.

question: am i doomed to always live in cities, states, places where the seasons are either in the extreme (i can't tell you how much i'm dreading summer when it sets in probably around april and lasts until october, maybe november...) or barely existent/indiscernible? or is this really how the world/weather is everywhere?

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in running news, i successfully worked my way up to running a full mile! without stopping! but then...i hurt my knee. (strained my MCL to be exact, which, according to some "medical" website i googled, is a ligament that's rarely injured...yeah, right. unless you're me and have the grace of a platypus.) and i took a week off to let it heal, and now i'm due for a run today. and i'm really hoping i didn't lose my steam. here's to hoping.

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in cooking news, i've fallen in love with rachael ray. i don't care how cheesy and bright and cheery she is. she makes delicious meals, including this one: chicken fajita tortilla soup. i've gotten in the habit of coming home from work and watching "30-minute meals", and i just love her! yesterday, i watched her make this delicious chicken sausage, onion, and pepper fake-bake that i seriously want to try soon. 

in conclusion, i want to own her cookbooks now. and have her in my kitchen to teach me how to make delicious meals in 30 minutes (i'm such a slow cooker...the soup took me nearly an hour to make.)  and also, you should make this soup. it's comfort food with a capital 'C', and pretty dang healthy to boot. at least compared to a half gallon of blue bell ice cream. 

*recipe note: when i watched her make the chicken fajita tortilla soup, she added a teaspoon of cumin, which isn't on the online recipe for some reason. don't leave it out!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

secret ingredient

i don't consider myself to be much of a baker. give me a general cooking recipe, and i'm off to the races. but i think with baking, it's more of a learned art that, perhaps, doesn't come naturally with what cooking instincts i have. i find myself worrying what the texture of the dough should look like, how small/big i should make the "teaspoon sized" balls, and how exactly you can tell when the cookies are done and cooked just right. i haven't even ventured into the cake category, which will change soon since matt's birthday is coming up.

however, the few times i've gotten it right, it's been awesome. one sunday afternoon, i made snickerdoodles for my home teachees, and they turned out amazing. and since my favorite cookie is the snickerdoodle, i knew i had to try this recipe: orange snickerdoodles.

i finally made them last night, and they are divine and actually better the next day as opposed to fresh and warm right out of the oven. i think this is a win for baker nama. and i also added a special ingredient...

nama. 

literally.

as i was grating (i don't have a zester...yet) the orange, my grace failed me, and some skin from my thumb instead of the orange was momentarily added to the zest. 
and that's why this experiment in baking was successful. when in doubt, my friends, just add a tiny dash of nama, and viola! makes all the difference.

since the recipe on technicolor kitchen (one of my favorite food blogs) is in grams, here's the converted version. make them now...ish. 


orange snickerdoodles
ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
finely grated zest of 2 oranges
(i actually only used 1 medium sized orange, and it worked fine.)
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

directions
  1. in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar (1 cup) until light and fluffy. add the egg and orange zest, and beat for 30 seconds. finally add the flour and baking soda and beat until it's all mixed well. refrigerate dough for about 15 minutes to firm up.
  2. mix remaining sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. line two large baking sheets with parchment paper, and preheat oven to 350.
  3. when the dough is ready, shape it into 1-inch balls (about teaspoon sized), and roll them in the sugar-cinnamon mixture. and be generous. they're much more delicious that way. place the balls on the baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
  4. bake for 10 minutes, one sheet at a time, or until they swell then crack. let cool on sheets for about 5 minutes, and then move them to a wire rack to cool completely. this recipe makes about 40 cookies.