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the chocolate covered strawberry pie / updates

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view from above

One of the unexpected ways that 2016 started was when I crashed my 12-year-old Toyota Corolla. Nobody was hurt, thankfully, but my car didn’t make it through. It was one of those things that shouldn’t make you feel sad, because after all, its just a car. But it was paid for, and it got me from point A to point B without much fuss and reasonable gas mileage. Plus, I was totally unprepared for the change. I was used to my car. It has quirks and dents, but we understood each other. It met my needs and I sort of met its needs. And we said goodbye so impersonally in the junkyard where I cleaned out 8ish years of notes, burned CDs, checkbooks from closed bank accounts, pens, and gum wrappers. I even discovered a photo of the previous owners in the glove compartment. It was John and Sherri, circa 1996, with lots of teased hair and unfortunate mustaches and awkward fitting denim. A treasure.

Anyway. So began the treacherous journey of car shopping. We knew that our cars were nearing the end of their lives, and we had discussed the possibility of one day buying something else, but it was definitely not on our radar. New cars are luxury items. For the fancy and well-established adult. And most days, I definitely don’t feel fancy, and I certainly don’t feel like a well-established adult. More like an pseudo adult barely keeping up with life.

To make a long story short, we decided to get a Subaru Forester. And oh man. I definitely feel fancy now. Did you know that cars now have seat warmers? And back up cameras? and CD players that work?? Not to mention fancy blue tooth and a million different other little things that make me feel like I’m driving a space ship, at least compared to my old ride. I know you’re only here for the food, but I cannot recommend the Forester enough. It feels so safe, I have great visibility when I’m driving, it’s big enough to haul stuff in without feeling like I’m driving a tank. And its supposed to be good in all types of weather and terrain, which is great because driving in JXN MS is like going off road, every day.

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harry potter party / pumpkin pasties / nerd alert

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My freehand attempt at the Hogwarts Crest, which just so happens to still be in the dining room.

The recent passing of Alan Rickman, may he rest in peace, reminded me that I never blogged about the Harry Potter party we had back in November. It was a small affair, with maybe a dozen like-minded Potter-nerd friends, as many free decorations as I could print off of the Internet, with Pumpkin Pasties, Butterbeer, and a cheese plate with fixin’s (because cheese plates are my favorite and require no cooking or baking). It was one of those fun parties where at the last second before guests arrived I was able to snap some pictures of what we assembled, then promptly lost my phone and forgot to capture any photos of actual humans. We each took a 100+ question sorting quiz (find it here), watched some of the movies, did Harry Potter trivia (to compete for Head Boy or Head Girl of course) and played Quidditch Pong. It was a marvelous time! Also, a fair warning: If you have no interest in Harry Potter, but you are interested in Pumpkin Pasties, skip the middle and read to the end. They were delicious for breakfast the next day. What I’ve included below is some pictures of the sparse decorations we had, a link to an authentic butterbeer recipe, and my recipe for pumpkin pasties.

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links, etc

Paring down the social media outlets for a while, but I’ll still be posting here, and for the foreseeable future, on Instagram. On occasion I like to post links to news, stories, music, and food related news instead of recipes, which is the subject of today’s post.

The new Dietary Guidelines for American’s for 2015-2020 has been released. This list is updated periodically and it seems the US can’t decide if whole milk is good for you or not. This Washington Post article and this blog post are good reads if you want a distilled version.  For the record, we’ve always consumed full fat dairy at our house, regardless of the recommendations, and straight from the cow as often as we could get it. When I was in college and high school, I drank a lot of 2% because that’s what they had and served, I wonder if that was a product of these recommendations and if schools will adapt to the changes?

Marion Nestle, of Food Politics, offers some great insight and opinions into these guidelines. You can read about these insights here, but I’m sure she’ll add more later. This is worth the read if you want an abrasively honest look at these guidelines, which most people need, because they can be annoyingly convoluted. She also links some great commentary on the guidelines. After reading her thoughts on them, it sounds like the writers of the guidelines don’t want to give really firm advice on anything (like, STOP DRINKING SODA), or they don’t understand the science of nutrition well enough to be well-versed in the recommendations. To be fair, nutrition is relatively new in the studied and researched world of science, and is far more complex than most people think, but there is enough literature out there to be able to actually say “you should never drink soda ever again because it’s horrible for you” BUT that’s just my opinion.

In other stranger than fiction news, Sean Penn met with El Chapo (read: drug kingpin from Mexico) who apparently has nothing on the CIA or Mexican Police. The high points for me: El Chapo wants to be immortalized in film, he’s bros with Donald Trump, apparently he abstains from his product (a lesson for us all), and the race is on for Liam Neeson, Mark Wahlberg, Nicolas Cage or Sean Penn to portray Sean Penn in the film. (the above link is a post from Foreign Policy that describes an interview done by Penn for Rolling Stone, a publication that has a sordid history for how it portrays offenders)

I’ve never made my own marshmallows, but I’ve been meditating on the concept for some time now. The ones bagged and sold in stores have always disappointed me in adulthood, but its really cold outside now (ahem, cold for South Mississippi) and drinking hot chocolate just seems like a good idea all the time. If I was going to make some, I’d probably use this recipe, mostly because they are described as “bonkers awesome”.

whole wheat goat cheese n’ honey drop biscuits

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These are my favorite biscuits.

I’ve been making some version of them for years now, but I love this version best. They take about 20 minutes from start to the end of baking, so that automatically shoots them to the top of my list. I love the nuttiness of the whole grains, the tang that the goat cheese adds, and the honey gives just a hint of sweetness.

I used to make these with plain, all-purpose flour, and of course they were delicious that way. But then I learned that the fiber in whole grains are one of the only types of fiber shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer (you can read more about that here, its actually an impressive 20% risk reduction) i.e. fiber you get from grains that have been minimally processed, like quinoa, bulgar, brown rice, etc. So absolutely this means you can label these as Healthy and add them to your New Years Diet. Ha.

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I’ll let you judge for yourself whether these biscuits are ‘diet worthy’, but if you’re looking for a tasty way to include more whole grains/less white flour into your life, these biscuits are an excellent place to start. Tonight we ate these with salad and grilled chicken, but they’re lovely for breakfast and go great with soup.

Whole Wheat Goat Cheese n’ Honey Drop Biscuits
Adapted slightly from the recipe found in The Joy the Baker Cookbook

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick), cubed, plus 1 more tablespoon for the pan
6 tablespoons soft goat cheese
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons honey

Place a 10-inch iron skillet in the oven, and preheat to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the flour, baking powder and soda, and salt together. Add the butter and the goat cheese with the paddle attachment, and mix until well incorporated. There should be chunks of butter and goat cheese that are pebble sized. Turn the mixer off and use your hands if needed, to ensure the butter and cheese is mixed well throughout. Add the milk and honey, turn the mixer on low until all the liquids are well combined and there is no more dry flour. The mixture will be very sticky. Set aside.

Remove the iron skillet from the oven. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the bottom of the skillet, swirling it around to coat the bottom. Using a 1/4 measuring cup, scoop the biscuit dough into the skillet. I got 9 biscuits, but the original recipe said it yielded 6. Bake for 13-16 minutes, or until the biscuits are puffy, browned on top and golden brown on their bottoms and utterly delicious. If you’re daring, you could drizzle the tops with honey.

Store the biscuits fully cooled in an air tight container, and try not to eat them all in one day.