Wool & Flax

Monday, August 29, 2011

Failure vs. Success

I'm not immune to making mistakes in the kitchen by any stretch of the imagination.  However, I do try to avoid them as much as possible because 1.)  I am afraid of disaster (imagine a fire needing to be extinguished after a failed homemade popcorn attempt...ahem...not that anyone in my family would know about that) and 2.)  I don't like cleaning up a mess. 

Two weeks ago I wanted to take full advantage of our beautiful sweet corn that we received from the CSA and make a corn chowder.  This is one of my favorite things to eat, and although it's still warm outside, I decided that soup was in order.  I worked hard shucking the corn and getting every last kernel off the cob, etc, etc.  G and I enjoyed a nice big bowl of corn chowder that evening.  The next night I planned to have leftovers.  Instead of microwaving individual bowls of the chowder, I just put the pot back on the stove to heat.  Well, that was my mistake.  I turned the burner on too high (which is something I'm constantly nagging someone else about), walked away, and that was THE END.  What had been a delicious, garden grown corn chowder ended up as nasty, bitter, BURNT corn chowder. 
Underneath this nice top layer filled with corn, onion, a bell pepper (all from the CSA), stock, and cream lay a black layer that totally consumed every ounce of deliciousness out of this pot.  I don't know about you all, but when this happens, I get a wee bit upset.  All of the work and produce had to be thrown down the drain, and the burnt remains took about a week to scrape off of the bottom of the pot! 

So last week I decided upon a fool-proof recipe from my dear friend Nada (also my former boss) that G and I could enjoy together, without any heartbreak or burned pots.  The recipe she came up with was so easy (great for a last-minute meal, or when you just don't feel like taking a long time to cook) and resulted in a really tasty pasta dish.  I know it's not really homemade, but sometimes it's fun to take a short-cut.

Spinach-Alfredo Pasta
1 jar store bought light Alfredo sauce
1 package fresh baby spinach
1 onion, diced
1 lb. penne pasta (or other favorite shape)
Parmesan cheese, optional

Directions:  Cook pasta according to package directions (make sure you season the pasta water with salt!).  Meanwhile, saute chopped onion in olive oil or butter until translucent, about 7-10 minutes.  Add fresh spinach and wilt to desired doneness.  Stir in Alfredo sauce.  If the sauce is a bit thick, save some of the pasta-cooking liquid and add a little bit at a time to get the texture you want.  Drain pasta and add directly to the sauce.  Season with salt & pepper (if needed...it really doesn't need salt if you seasoned your pasta, but you might like pepper or red pepper flakes), and top with some Parmesan cheese. 

Then, watch your G$ devour it like it's candy.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Memorable Weekend

For some reason I've procrastinated putting up this post.  I think it's because so much went on last weekend that I'm just now recovering from it, and am just now letting my mind get back to the present.  Last weekend we made a trip up to Northern KY (Taylor Mill, for those of you "in the know") for my 13th HS Reunion.  My graduating class was an astounding 43 people, and less than 1/10th of us attended the reunion.  Pretty sad, huh?! :)  Nevermind - I am thrilled at the 10 of us who were there.  Some of these people I haven't seen in 13 years; others in about 10, and a few (lucky ones) I've seen this past year.  We had a great time just sitting around talking, laughing, and trying to figure out where our other 33 classmates might be.   I honestly felt like I was in some kind of time warp, because I felt like 13 years hadn't passed since I was sitting in the lunch room with these people. 

Emily & Brad, Jenny, Andrea, Drew, John, Melissa, Jennifer, and Josh - it was GREAT to see you all!  I definitely think we should try for a 15-year reunion!!  And John, thanks for the face.

After slightly recovering from a late night, we had a going-away party for Jono & Kirstin, John, Julianne (again) and Janna at Starbucks.  I am so thankful for the people who work at Commerce, because they really are a wonderful group of people.  I tell Keith all the time how lucky he is to work with such great individuals.  A bad day for him is typically a "normal" day for me. 

Thanks you all (and to those of you not in the picture too - Jan, Juanell, etc) for making Keith's job so great, and for caring about your customers the way that you do! 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

For the love of IKEA.

This past weekend the boys and I made a trip up to Cincinnati for a little whirlwind vacation.  We were only away for maybe 30 hours or so, but it was a great time.  We had several places that were "must-stops" since we were only going to be there a short time. 

First we got to see our awesome friend, Kristin, whom I haven't seen since last fall.  It was great to catch up with a precious friend.  While we were visiting at Starbucks, G$ decided to eat some dirt.  That was his first dirt experience, and hopefully it will be his last, but I'm not going to bank on it.  Since the place we were planning to go for dinner had an hour-long wait, we decided to make Graeter's our dinner.  Smart.  To continue the sugar-high, we then hit up our old friend Tim Horton's for some delicious Timbits.  Thank you, Tim, for the Blueberry glazed!  YUM.  We went back to the hotel and decided to take G for a dip in the pool.  It was super fun, although I think he wanted to swim on his own instead of being contained in the float. 

Saturday we enjoyed a lovely (FREE!) breakfast at the hotel and headed nextdoor to IKEA.  This was the star, and the reason for, the trip.  Keith has never actually experienced IKEA before, except for the 2 times he used their restroom - once in Malaysia, the other in Burbank, CA.  Yep.  We've been wanting to get a shelf or shelves for our kitchen for me to store my ever-growing collection of cookbooks.  We dont' have a ton of cabinet space, and some of the books are simply too big.  We had seen several online that we liked, but once we got there, we knew we had to have this one:

I absolutely love it, and it is perfectly functional.  Thanks to Keith for putting it together and hanging it, without busting a hole in the wall. :)

We also found a cute little chair for G for the living room, now that he's getting to be such a big, big, boy.  He seemed to approve (pardon the paci).

He has loved having his very own chair (and he knows it's his!).  He climbs in and out of this thing all day long.  He's really into "reading" right now, so he will bring one book after another out and throw it in the chair and climb up.  It's pretty cute, if I do say so.

We also hit up the outlet mall a few exits up, where we found some great deals, and then we headed straight to our cherished TJ's.  We have so many favorite things we buy here - can't wait until there is one in Lexington.  Finally we stopped at Mio's Pizza, which took me back to my high school days.  I have lots of memories at this place, so it was nice to think back on them. 

Speaking of high school, we're off to Cincy again tomorrow for my high school reunion: Lucky #13!!!  Can't wait to see some of my dear friends.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What goes around comes back around....

My love of farm-fresh vegetables has definitely been passed down to me from my parents.  When I was in about 2nd or 3rd grade, we were lucky enough to have a garden at our apartment complex.  I'm sure you're picturing some kind of flower box contraption on our deck "filled" with 2 - 3 plants, but this was East Tennessee, and we had land.  It really amazes me once I think back to it, because it was such a unique situation, but behind the pool was a massive garden area, where many of the tenants could plant several rows of whatever they wanted.  We had about 5 -6 rows all total: 4 rows of green beans, plus okra, zucchini and yellow squash, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  I remember it all so vividly, mainly because we ate green beans, okra, squash, tomatoes, and cucumbers at almost every meal for an entire summer.  I always like to remind (i.e. give her a hard time) my mom that one night for dinner we had zucchini casserole, boiled squash, and zucchini bread.  I love the stuff, but that was a bit much!  My mom was warned that if she ever brought squash or cucumbers to church to give away, people would run in the other direction.  If you've ever seen how much one single squash or cucumber plant can produce, you'll understand. 

Though that was the only year we've ever had a garden, we've been lucky enough to find half-runner green beans every year.  My mom and I (and my dad, if we were lucky) would spend an entire weekend stringing, breaking, and then canning beans.  The process was long, tedious, and hot, but we were always so thankful to be eating green beans in December!  I have many memories of breaking green beans.  We broke beans outside, we broke them inside, we broke them on a car-ride from North Carolina to Northern KY, we broke beans while watching a horse auction at Keeneland, and I could go on.  I'm sure I would always complain, but I always did it.  It seemed to take a lifetime to get all those strings off those beans!

And that brings me up to the present.  The past 2 weeks in our CSA we've received green beans.  Luckily for me (and Keith) these are stringless beans, so it just requires breaking them.  I don't have the tools for canning, so I decided to freeze them instead, so that we can enjoy them in Winter.  I couldn't help but laugh as I stood there with my green beans, breaking them into the pot.  Can't wait until G$ is old enough to help his momma! :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Santa's Got a Brand New Bag, aka Mama's Got a Brand New Toy

Upon Keith's urging (and I'm actually being serious here), I just got this BEEYOUTEEFUL Spinning Wheel.  It's used, but very gently used. 

Can't wait to get some instruction from experts like Jan & Sara!!! 

It's called the Schacht Ladybug - it's a very light & portable wheel, and each wheel comes with its very own ladybug tucked away somewhere for the owner to find.  LOVE.