27 June 2014

June Goals

Well, it's been a month.  Things happened.  I did stuff. 
  • Farmers market.  I went to…three?!  And picked out a favorite.  But there are also some pretty great roadside stands around here.
  • Go house shopping.  Ugh.  We’ve been looking at an average of 2.25 houses per week.  Typically the good ones are off the market within four days of being posted, so even if we move fast it’s still not fast enough. Very frustrating.
  • Make a meal plan for clean, healthy eating.  I did not do this BUT I have been more intentional about food and not counting several restaurant excursions due to visitors, I think I’ve been eating a lot better.  I even skipped the free doughnuts at work today.  Feel free to applaud my willpower.
  • Compile some photos to print out for our families.  Photos taken, yes.  Photos printed, no.  So that needs to get done.
  • First visitors!  My parents flew down, Kyle’s mom and uncle drove down on their motorcycles.  Both were great visits and helped us explore the area and get acquainted with our new locale.
  • Avoid getting sunburnt.  Done!  There was one unfortunate day where I forgot to ‘screen up, but we spent most of our time in the shade so it worked out.  We’ve got a beach day planned for tomorrow though, so there’s still time left in the month for me to fail at this goal!
  • Activities with new friends?  Without getting too specific, goal = achieved.  That being said, making friends is really difficult and talking to strangers – no, scratch that, making conversation with strangers is mentally tiring.  But they will always be strangers unless you have those conversations and become acquaintances and then become friends.
So that was June.  There were strong ups and downs this month, which has become a pattern lately – I don’t think I will ever say that this process (moving, making friends) has been easy, I can definitely say it has been very rewarding.  I am really starting to miss the people that used to be constant presences in my life, but I don’t take for granted the massive amounts of sunshine or the way the wind smells blowing in off the ocean.
Enter July.  It starts with a holiday and ends with prohibitive heat and humidity (or so I’m told).  Here’s my list:
  • Drinks with friends!  You know how some people leave a huge impact on your life with a small gesture?  Well those people are passing through town next week and we’ve got plans to meet up.
  • 4th of July road trip.  Details are being finalized so look forward to hearing more about this at the end of the month.
  • Get photos printed to finish off last month’s goal.  
  • Keep the plants alive!  One of the first things my HR person said to me was “Oh honey, your plants are all going to die – they can’t live in this heat!”  A real positive experience.  Not that I needed extra reason to keep them alive, but now that I’ve been challenged, IT’S ON.
  • More summer clothing!  I picked up a couple things at Goodwill but I definitely need to stock up on some hot weather clothing.     
It's the end of a frustrating week that ended with an equally frustrating trip to the bank where they refused to let me open an account because they couldn't verify my address despite me bringing in a check addressed to my new apartment, plus I've got the lease, water and electric in my name, etc, etc.  And of course they're going to run a credit check on me before I can open an account; I've been handing out my SSN left and right lately, which is going to make financing a house a lot of fun.  Anyone want my social security number?  I'm sure there's very little about it that's "secure" at this point.  Rant over, back to the fun stuff:
Garden exploded!  It's getting so big.  Look at this tomato!
And look at these baby tomatoes!
When our visitors were here, we hit up a ton of tourist attractions, including the only tea farm in North America.
Here's the parents, taking their tea facts very seriously.
And tea, of course.  We tried a few different flavors, the sweetened peach iced tea was my fav.
In addition to tea, we also tried some local spirits and wine.
A week later, our second set of visitors arrived via motorcycle.
We started out at a local brewery.
In addition to bev, we also tried some really good eats!
Shem Creek:  "you're pretty much guaranteed to see dolphins."
So yeah.  That's a ton of photos, but we did SO much while the families were in town.  More photos on facebook!

20 June 2014

Fried Cinnamon Bananas with Honey

Let me lay it out for you.  This is a dessert.  It is simple, it is fast, and it is easy.  And if you regularly have bananas, cinnamon and honey in your kitchen, it will make a great oh-no-I-forgot-dessert-but-I-have-people-over-and-I-have-to-serve-something dessert.  And bananas!  You can pretend it's a healthy dessert.  If you're not yet convinced, then maybe a photo of fried bananas laying in a pool of honey will change your mind.
Bananas: slice.
Cinnamon:  sprinkle (I had a minor cinnamon mishap here, you REALLY don't need this much cinnamon).
Pan: fry.
Bananas flip!
Honey: drizzle.
Fried Cinnamon Bananas with Honey
Serves: 2
  • Two bananas
  • 2-3 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp coconut oil or butter
  • 2 tbs honey
1.  Slice the bananas to about 3/4" thick (slice on the diagonal to be kind of fancy).
2.  Sprinkle bananas with cinnamon.
3.  Heat oil in pan.  Fry bananas on medium heat until browned.  Flip and fry until the other side is browned.
4.  Place on serving plate.  Drizzle with honey.
So simple and yet surprisingly delicious.  I wish I had bananas right now so I could make this again.

06 June 2014

Molasses Crinkles

Cookies have sounded really good lately, and in particular, I couldn't stop thinking about the molasses crinkles I used to make when I was young.
So I made some!  And you should too.  I made waaaaay too many, so I brought the extras to my office and got rid of them there.  From the comments, it sounds like not everyone has heard of molasses crinkles, which I found somewhat astounding.  It's a pretty basic cookie, isn't it?  But despite that, they were very well received.  They are so soft!  Like little cookie pillows. 
The recipe starts the way any cookie does - mix butter, sugar and egg.  My butter was a little firm so that's why the batter looks so thick.
Then add the molasses.  This is what gives to cookies their deep, rich color.
Pro-tip:  you can make brown sugar by mixing white sugar with molasses.
Next is the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger.
Mix it all together.  This dough was not nearly as stiff as the molasses crinkles of my youth, maybe I should have asked Mom for that recipe.
I was going to refrigerate it for a while to see if that helped, but I was impatient.  Cookie time!  Form 1.5-in. balls of dough, dip them in sugar, and place them on a cookie sheet.
Bake to perfection.  Eat immediately.  With milk.
Caution: recipe makes a pile.
Molasses Crinkles 
Yield:  30ish cookies
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened (3/4 cup)
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c. molasses
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2.  Mix the butter, brown sugar and egg together.  Stir in the molasses.
3.  In a separate bowl (or large measuring cup) mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt.  Combine dry ingredients with wet until well incorporated.
4.  Form 1.5-in. dough balls with the cookie dough.  Roll them in the granulated sugar then place on a cookie sheet.
5.  Bake cookies for 8 to 9 minutes.  Let cool on a cooling rack.
Eat cookies.  Enjoy cookies.  Ponder the name "crinkles."  My guess:  bakers were trying to explain the cracks in the cookie as a designed-in feature, and not just a happy accident.