Southern Successes and Books

Tonight, Michael and I made Fried Chicken, BBQ Beans, Cornbread and Lemonade. All from scratch. And I have to say, I think we did pretty well! Michael hasn't been feeling very well since Friday morning (He says the cats are trying to kill them with their fur), and this was really our first activity this weekend. He's been holed-up in the bedroom reading Book 6 and Book 7 of the Harry Potter series (A little late, no?), trying to recuperate.

Michael almost completely handled the fried chicken (a wonder, I know), and did a special breading that I thought was inventive. I worked on the beans, cornbread and lemonade. The cornbread is my Granny/Mom's family recipe, and it was my first time to prepare it by myself. It turned out well. Following a recipe for homemade lemonade, I discovered that it takes a heck of a lot of juice to make a decent pitcher of this stuff! It takes a whopping 1 cup of lemonade for a pitcher-full! Well, my pitcher at least. Anyway, it all turned out well!

The photo is a bit skewed due to the angle I was sitting at - yes, it shows my apparent laziness as well as my eagerness to chow down! This is Michael's plate of course; you can tell by the HEAPING amount of beans. :)

Also, I just finished two books: The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte (Syrie James), and My Life in France (Julia Child). Let me attack The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte first. I was very skeptical of this book to begin with, due to the "biographical" nature. I knew it was a work of fiction by James, and I didn't know how an author could just flesh out the days of someone's life based upon the well-know facts like publishing dates, marriages, deaths, etc. Was I surprised! With many letters (the kind people never write anymore) and other documentation, James was able to produce a thoughtful, compelling, and sweet telling of Bronte's life. A little of a tear-jerker if you're not used to that time period's usual run-of-events, as it mirrors her life. Great book.

Secondly, My Life in France - this book has somewhat inspired me to learn another language...so I can understand what the dishes Julia cooks are titled! It was a little frustrating when you can't understand what Child is describing (unless it's one of the few points at which she'll translate for the idiot Americans who are reading), but overall it was a truthful and dizzying look into her life. She's an interesting and intellectual character. Towards the end I felt like she was a little unfeeling or in denial towards the outcomes of her co-author (of her first two cookbooks), her family or in-laws, and even her beloved husband. Did anyone else feel this way? Has anyone else read this book? I won't go into any more detail, in case people reading this are planning to pick up the book.

Tomorrow begins another week. Much to look forward for.


WordXWord Festival

In Pittsfield, MA, one of the towns we frequented while in the Berkshires, a WORD festival is held every year - yes, that's what I said, a WORD festival. They feature plays, readings, original work, concerts, etc. Their tag line is "Written. Spoken. Sung." How amazing! And how hardcore - the event lasts for a week! I would love to go sometime. Then, we could stop at one of the 50 brunch cafes on North Street, and then buy books all day. Sound good? http://wordxwordfestival.com/

On another note, I have finished planning our 1 Year Anniversary vacation. (With heavy input from the Husband, of course.) We are going to the Ouachita National Park to camp, grill and hike, and then we are going to Hot Springs, AR for a little R&R! I can't wait! We've both been to the area before, but not since we were little kids. I am really excited, mainly because we both love camping and haven't gotten to go in a while. Also, my grandparents recently (as in last week) gave us a huge box of camping supplies. My dad is letting us borrow his lantern, which is similar to the one pictured above. It's a bit older (I not sure by how many years), but it still works very well. We now are more than ready for a great camp-out.
Any suggestions while we are in that area of AR?


My Blender Isn't Broken!

Last night Michelle and Corban came over for dinner, and I made a fabulous roasted-everything salsa. That's right, roasted tomatoes, serranos, poblanos, and onions, along with all the rest of the usual salsa ingredients. When I went to pour the roasty, spicy goodness into a serving dish, the blender came apart! I thought I broke it because I hit the top of the blender on the bottom of an overhead cabinet. This morning I threw all parts in the dishwasher, in hopes that they would come out clean and unscathed. I was right! I had accidentally unscrewed the bottom plasic piece from the connecting glass. I had no idea you could do that! Anyway, I feel like I have a new blender, and I plan on making a multitude of smoothies and sauces soon.

On a side note, I made Huevos Rancheros and cinnamon-vanilla pancakes for everyone last night. Michelle provided the BEST mimosas and fresh fruit. It was awesome!

On yet another note, my cat is sickly. Giada is yarking every few hours, and I'm thinking she has a virus. Has anyone's cat ever had a virus? It's already been 48 hours, and I was hoping it would be gone by now. I'm contemplating going to the vet, but I'm not sure if it's worth the time/money/further upsetting the cat, etc. Advice?


Family Dinner Recap

I'm finally getting around to it - A recap of the Family Dinner! We had most everyone there, which means 10 people there. I made the same menu I described before, and it turned out very well! Here is the table:
And here is the food, with my mom sitting in the stool at the bar:
We played a mean couple of games of Taboo (remember that one?), and then talked for a while. It was a lot of fun! I think I might do another one later. Great times!


Bennington Potters

So, every week, I'm going to try and feature something interesting/ fascinating /cute / incredible I've found concerning New England. I know, I'm obsessed. At least I'm admitting it, right?

This week's feature: Bennington Potters (http://www.benningtonpotters.com/)

They're stoneware pottery makers that have been practicing their craft since 1948. If you browse around their items for sale, you either love it or hate it. I love their style, and I think it's amazing that people from all over the U.S. and elsewhere have been supporting them for close to 60 years. Their Web site is so put together - almost like a big retailer's site. Anyway, I have this piece on the way to my apartment in Texas:

Aren't they amazing? This community in Vermont busts all of these pottery masterpieces out daily. I love their green and blue patterns - they'd go perfect in my kitchen. Thoughts?

P.S. - Change is definitely tardy.


Anyone Remember This Song?

I got myself a notion
And one I know that you’ll understand
To set the world in motion
By reaching out for each other’s hand
And maybe we’ll discover
What we should have known all along
One way or another
Together’s where we both belong

If we listen to each other’s heart
We'll find were never too far apart
And maybe love is the reason why
For the first time ever we're seeing it eye to eye

If a wall should come between us
Too high to climb
Too hard to break through
I know that love will lead us
And find a way to bring me to you
So don’t be in a hurry
Think before you count us out
You don’t have to worry
I will never let you down

If you’re ever lonely, stop
You don’t have to be
After all, it’s only a beat away from you to me

If we listen to each other’s heart
We'll find were never too far apart
And maybe love is the reason why
For the first time ever we're seeing it eye to eye

Why do I STILL really like this song? I'm such a kid!

In other news - it's the weekend! I'm making quesadillas tonight, and taking it easy. I hope everyone has a good one!


New Blog Layout

I've changed my blog layout, mainly because this layout reminds me of the things I love.

First, New England. The photo above is one I took at Salisbury Beach in northern Massachusetts. We (Husband and I) were on our way to Maine, and stopped here to view the beach. What a lucky detour! We walked in the soft sand near the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, collected stones and lost fishing weights, said hello to the seagulls, and breathed the fresh sea air. Everything was so beautiful and memory-making. I have more photos of this one beach than of any other area in New England. I can honestly say it's my favorite place to be at this point in my life.

Thus, the new photo. Secondly, I love simple lines in design. I reverted back to this simple layout to showcase the posts and photos. I'm going to try to post a photo with every entry - mark that as a goal! Besides, who wants to read a post without a picture?


Diamond-Shaped Shortbread!

The dinner party was a success! I'll have photos soon.

Michael and I made diamond-shaped shortbread half-and-halfs this afternoon. They're a super-yummy Ina recipe. (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/shortbread-cookies-recipe/index.html) They were messy, but really delicious! We have some left, if anyone wants one. :)


Dessert Sneak Peek!

Take a look at these fabulous dessert bars from Two Sisters:
It'll be a fabulous end to the Dinner Party on Saturday!



Two Part Post - Again!

Part One:
Garlic Roast Chicken results!

We used Ina Garten's recipe I posted yesterday, and it turned out better than great! The chicken was cooked perfectly, the vegetables the same, but with a yummy caramelized, concentrated coating. We ate the meal with a red from south Texas. That, however, was not impressive, and we won't be buying it again. Tonight, we will be having sandwiches. :) I need a break before this weekend!

Part Two:
Keep me in your thoughts! I will be most likely traveling this weekend, and I'd love to have everyone thinking good thoughts about me for good luck! Results soon, I hope!


Cinnamon Rolls & Other Excitement

Yesterday morning I made cinnamon rolls for Michael and me - it was raining, and it seemed like a good day to make them. It took ALL morning (from 9:00am until noon), but they were excellent. I even made the cream cheese icing!

Tonight we're making a Garlic Roast Chicken (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/garlic-roast-chicken-recipe/index.html), an Ina recipe of course. We saw it on a DVRed show we missed a few days ago. (We just got a DVR...I know, we're behind with the times, but it's so neat!) We have carrots, onions, potatoes and parsnips to roast with it. It's going to be so beautiful.

This week is prep week here at the Oates apartment. It's finally here - the Family Dinner is set for this Saturday evening. I've finalized the menu - it's pretty much the same as the one I've already posted. Everyone but Jamie and Qas are coming, so it will be a full house! (10 total, I believe.) My mom told me that Qas will be in Albany visiting his father - I'm so jealous! I bet NY is so gorgeous right now! Anyway, it will still be a ton of people! I'm excited to have my family see the re-covered antique chairs and to see our apartment. Some of my family members haven't seen the apartment, and we've been living here for some time. I'll be sure to take pictures of the festivities.