Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cooking class wtih Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream's Jeni Britton Bauer

Just registered for this cooking class (big thanks to Grant for the birthday Sur la table gift card) with my mom-in-law and two sister-in-laws. Super excited to be sharing the experience with them!


While in Pittsburgh we did more than just the Ruckus and the urgent care visit. Here's a photo of Chris, myself, Kelly and her fiance Altay. They were wonderful hosts on our city adventure. Our first night in town, we went to the Friday night downtown gallery hop and had dinner at a Pittsburgh institution Pimanti Brothers (where they put french fries on my salad...seriously!) All of this was after our warm greeting with homemade chocolate chip cookies :)

We also took in a classic car show, went for a hike in South Park, enjoyed a great grilled dinner and fire pit with s'mores. All in all, a great weekend with friends!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Guest Blogger-Brittany!

Hello! Your blog entry today does not come from Sonya, but from Brittany Kimmet, Sonya’s sister-in-law.  I am writing today because last week I started working my way through, and documenting by taking pictures, an awesome cookbook, an ice cream cookbook! Sonya asked if I would like to make a guest post on my week of ice cream making and I of course said yes and am delighted to share with you my experiences!
As I stated above my week of cooking was making ice cream, and not just any ol’ ice cream, but delicious Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream at Home.  If some of you have not heard of Jeni’s then I have to admit you are truly missing out! Jeni’s is a local ice cream shop (that is expanding quickly!) that specializes in artisanal ice cream with all natural and as local as she can get ingredients.  She has many signature flavors that are in stores all year long, but then she also makes many different flavors by the season and some pretty crazy concoctions.  She just recently came out with a book of her ice cream recipes this past June while we were on vacation and the day after we got back I had the book in my possession.  Yes folks, her ice cream is that good
Having her book was the first step. The second is actually having an ice cream maker machine.  Yea, I also bought the book without having something to make it with; again, it’s that good (have I convinced all you non-believers yet? I hope so! If not I’m going to keep trying throughout this post ;) ) But continuing on, I was able to borrow Sonya’s ice cream maker attachment for a Kitchenaid mixer (thank you so much!). So after getting the attachment and a trip to the grocery store I could begin my ice cream making. 
In the book (links to the book on amazon and Jeni’s website will be at the bottom of the post) there are, I believe, over 100 recipes, but if you’ve gone to Jeni’s even a few times you will most likely acquire favorites and those are what I went with.  I decided on making three different kinds as I had three nights free to do so.  My first one was Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt (my favorite), Buckeye State, and The milkiest chocolate in the world. 
The book is amazing in that you not only have the recipes for this great ice cream, but the explanations are really easy to follow and at the beginning she gives an overview of all the utensils, pots, pans, etc that you’ll need with pictures included.  I could probably spend the whole post talking about how awesome the cookbook is, but you are here to read about me making ice cream so onward! And I do promise that there will be much less words and more pictures for the remainder of the post :)
Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt
This is my favorite and it had the most steps, but still totally worth it! First a blueberry sauce. In hindsight I should have cooked this a little longer to make the blueberries more tender, but it still tasted good.

Then prepping the yogurt by straining it for 6-8 hours for a creamier texture

Almost ready for cooking!

The first day I was much messier/disorganized. It got better as the week went.  But not cooler.  Did I mention I decided to do this during a week when the heat index was over 100 on most days? Well I did. You would think this wouldn’t be a problem for making ice cream . Ice cream is cold, but to make it you must cook it over a stove.  This = hot, hot, hot in my apartment. Ah well I survived J

Cooking the cream mixture with lemon jest.

Cooling the yogurt off before putting it in the ice cream machine (~30 minutes)

Freezing the yogurt! (again takes 25-30 minutes)

After the mixing is done you layer the yogurt with the blueberry sauce and voila!

:) mmmm . The main issue here was the heat, because all the sauce sank to the bottom, but it still tastes good!
I made Buckeye State the next day ….   

And on Sunday I made the Chocolate ice cream.
The final product! I had about a week and also the help of others to go through the other two flavors (they’re in pint containers), although I could probably do that much damage on my own :)

Each batch made about a quart which for myself is most definitely plenty of ice cream! I’m taking a little break from ice cream making now with my class load increasing this week and studying for the GRE, but I already can’t wait to make my next batch/flavor!
I hope you enjoyed my journey of ice cream making.  Below I added the links to Jeni’s website along with the link to amazon for her book.  Her ice cream can be shipped all over the U.S. and quite a few specialty stores are carrying pints of it as well.  My sister in D.C. is able to find it around her, but I’m not exactly sure which stores she goes to.  The ice cream is a tad on the expensive side, but I honestly believe that with one taste you’ll feel it’s worth it.  I sure did!
<3 - Britt

Two Hands

So now that I've only got one good hand (read about it here), I've found that there are many daily tasks that require two least for me!  Makes me very thankful that this is just a short term thing and think of all of those who really only have one hand/arm.  This guy, Keiron McCammon, lost his left hand in 2006...and it's not slowing him down!
  1. Apply eye liner
  2. Walk two dogs or one not-so-good-at-walking-on-the-leash dog (not that I'm naming names but we all know it's Lila)
  3. Buttoning jeans and pants (I've been wearing dresses all week)
  4. Clasping bras (try this with one hand...really hard!)
  5. Opening bottles (opening prescription med bottles...impossible)
  6. Grinding salt and pepper (or really any cooking)
  7. Lifting laundry baskets or anything heavy that you need both hands for
  8. Cutting my own meat

 Now there is a sliver lining, I have a wonderful husband who is happy to help with any of these tasks when he was home on the weekends!

 Said husband, cutting up chicken for me so I will have food this week, with his "assistants".  BTW, he normally doesn't wear a headlamp and we don't usually keep large boxes in the kitchen.  Our power was out and the basement was flooding so we (I use this term loosely, see #7 on the list) were moving everything to higher ground.  Good times at our house!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fractured Triquetrum-At least it's a good story!

Last weekend, at the spur of the moment, Chris and I decided to meet up in Pittsburgh to spend the weekend with my good friend Kelly and her fiance :)  They were so generous in allowing us to stay in their beautiful and cozy home...once again, thank you!  On Saturday we participated in our first ever adventure race (a Ruckus in this case).  What is a Ruckus???  Well this is the description from the Ruckus website:

This is not a trail run. This is not a mud run. This is an obstacle course.
This event was created for those looking for an "Adult Playground" experience that they can't get anywhere else. The Ruckus obstacle course is designed for those with casual fitness abilities, but is challenging enough for the fittest. There is no time limit and participants are encouraged to run the course at their own pace.
At the end of the day, the course is what the participant chooses to make it, and will provide an unforgettable experience.

And if you want to see more, check out this video.  Yes, I realize that we may be crazy... 

Needless to say, mine truly was an unforgettable experience and I'll always have the x-rays to remember it!  Chris, Kelly and I started with the 10:40am heat on a beautiful Saturday morning.  Chris decided that he was in it for time so he took off ahead of Kelly and I.  The hilly terrain and obstacles made it challenging but fun, over dirt piles, under army nets and through mud pits...until the gauntlet!  Kelly and I were about 1/2 mile from the finish line when as I like to put it, I misjudged my dismount...and fell about 10 feet to the ground landing on my left side (mainly wrist and hip).  Well, my hip took it better than the wrist and I left the race after a the next set of obstacles to head over to the medical tent (I'm still a little bummed that I didn't finish the race).  There I got some ice and was directed to the urgent care for further treatment.  The urgent care folks were very kind and splinted my left arm from elbow to fingertips which really did help the pain, that and the pain relievers they prescribed!  The whole time we were at the urgent care, Chris kept saying "never again, you are never allowed to do a race like this again".

 Team 2 Bobcats and a Buckeye
 Chris "Slow is smooth and smooth is fast"
 Finishing the Ruckus and checking his time :)
Post race, pre-urgent care

I followed up with an ortho specialist on Tuesday and the diagnosis is a fractured triquetrum (small bone in the hand, on the pinky side of the wrist).  I'm now in a removable brace for the next 8 week or so.....which I'm happy with as it could have been much, much worse!  Overall, a great weekend with friends that we will never forget!

Splint from the urgent mobility in left hand
Ortho brace, yay for being able to move my fingers and remove it to shower!

PS. please forgive the hair and makeup...seriously hard to do with one hand!  I even went to the stylist and had her cut 5 inches off my hair just so I could attempt to style it myself.

PPS. Shout out to Chris who completed the race at an awesome pace of 48:53.5 (12:13 per mile).  Remember, 4 miles and 20+ obstacles :)  Great job!

House Updates

Right before we left for vacation Chris spent a day tearing out the carpet and pulling up tacks in our bedroom and on the stairwell.  Our house is now officially carpet free and it was way past time that the old, yucky carpet be removed!  Overall, we were pleasantly surprised with the condition of the floors.  They aren't perfect and will need to be refinished but they look really, really good!  Here's what we have so far:

 Desperately needs some paint :)

 Looking good in the bedroom!

But not this area over by the window!

In the fall, after Chris moves back home after his summer internship, we'll refinish and paint the risers on the stairs.  I'm sure that will be quite an adventure!

Anyone else have any home projects going on???  Would love to know what your working on!

Also, finally matching lamps in the bedroom...lamps seem to give me issues.  Got this set at TJ Maxx! 

Summer Solstice Chicken

While on vacation, we were each assigned a night to make dinner for the family.  Our night fell early in the week and we decided on grilled chicken, grilled corn on the cob and Asian slaw.  I was able to make my marinade before we left, using fresh herbs from our garden and it was delicious!  I adapted a recipe from Janice Cole's cookbook, Chicken and Egg; A Memoir of Suburban Homesteading with 125 Recipes.  The Summer Solstice Chicken was so flavorful but not overpowering (but BRIGHT GREEN), exactly what we needed for our relaxing beach meal :)

Summer Solstice Chicken Marinade:
4 cloves garlic, smashed
approx 1 cup chives, chopped
approx 1 cup cilantro
approx 1/2 cup dill
1 medium white onion, chopped
 2/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Toss everything into food processor and blend until smooth.  Marinade chicken for at least 8 hours or overnight before grilling.  Thanks Brittany for the awesome cookbook, it is full of great recipes :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Best Buddies

Had to share this photo of our two best buddies :)

ipad Cover + give away

Both Chris and my Mom are ipad 2 owners...but I should probably be honest about our ipad, Chris wanted it, I resisted and  then he talked me into it and now I am obsessed with it (and I've stolen it, it's a great tool for my day job :)) To help my Mom, a guidance counselor, protect hers while traveling from building to building, I made her this ipad cover (yes, with leftover fabric from my Trash to Treasure Part 2 post).  I made it intentionally sung so the ipad wouldn’t slide out but it doesn’t fit her ipad + cover…so I’ll be making a second one for her.  This being said, I now have an ipad case…anybody need one?  I'm happy to mail it out to a blog reader as a thank you for reading gift:)   

This cover has a green, brown and white fabric, satin lining, brown trim and a velcro closure.

Urban Garden-Update!

With all the hot, hot, HOT days that we've been having in Ohio our little garden is producing some big time produce!  I've already dried herbs twice and will have plenty to get us through the next winter!  Parsley potoatoes anyone??? 

 We also have lots of dill (above), basil, oregano, rosemary and chives!

 Instead of having tomato plants, we have a tomato FOREST.  Seriously, these tomatoes are taller than I am and I've had to re-inforce with a second cage to hold them up!
Our green pepper plant has put all of its efforts into ONE pepper...can't wait to try it!

Trash to Treasure Part 2

So I forgot to take before photos (again...sorry!) but here is my next attempt to give a new purpose to a tired item.  I've had this straw bag for several years and LOVE it because I can fill it up with lots of things :)

 I replaced the old madras lining and the white but dirty pleather handles with a fun, summery fabric.  I'm happy with the result but need to find a better way to secure the lining, the thread I orginally used isn't strong enough and it sags a bit but that will be a quick fix with a glue gun! 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Prayers, Please

Over the 4th of July weekend, while at a holiday party, my cousin lost his little boy due to a drowning accident.  At this time, we ask for your thoughts and prayers for little Thomas and the family that he left behind.   We all know that Thomas is now in a better place in heaven!

Unfortunately, this is not the first tragedy that has struck our small hometown this weekend, on Friday one of our classmates passed away as well.  Our thoughts and prayers also go out to his family and his daughter Hailey.