Sunday, March 4, 2012

What a way to start your Sunday

This morning Seymour spilled the water dish AGAIN (for about the ten-millionth time) in his attempts to get to Pliny's toy stash hidden under the shelving in the laundry room. Judging by the muddy paw prints on the floor, both kitties had walked in the spilled water.

I couldn't resist taking this video because Pliny sits like this all the time next to Jason. However, it's also gross when you realize Pliny's cleaning off the kitty litter that crusted to his wet back feet. Mmm...breakfast! Bleh!

More Furry Fun!

Psycho kitties hiding in the shower. They play the stealth kitty game every time I take a shower.

Seymour on a fishing expedition (or so he thinks).
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So cute...

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

A sincere apology

Hello my dear and few blog readers. I'd like to apologize for disappearing as if I've fallen off the face of the planet. I posted where did June go but I can't even explain where July, August, September, and October disappeared to. Though I haven't been blogging, I HAVE been traveling, planning major events, cooking up a storm, and having as much fun as possible between studying and working all the time. I hope to at least update you on the past four (gasp!) months and share all the tasty food I've been eating and places Jason and I have visited. Please notice on your Google Reader that I have indeed FINALLY posted something and accept my apology for disappearing on you.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stormy Week

Some of you wonderful blog followers also happen to live in Kirksville. Hopefully, you, your family, and your home survived the straight line winds that literally ripped through Kirksville around midnight Sunday night/Monday morning.

We lost power at 12:15 a.m. and got it back on Tuesday late afternoon. I salvaged what I could from the fridge and freezer and I safely evacuated the large quantity of frozen meat in the deep freezer to Kristi and Gerrit's house. It was an inconvenience to lose electricity at home and a few foodstuffs. However, I think for a lot of us seeing this damage produced by 70+ mph winds reminds us that our storm was nothing in comparison to the devastation experienced in Joplin.
I thought I would share what our backyard looked like. We were very lucky compared to many of our friends, coworkers, and fellow community members.


If a straight-line wind tries to blow over your pepper plant the night
before here's a tip. Turn it the other way so that in the future the wind
coming from that direction might straighten it a bit. 

The basil plants got a little bent out of shape and the
white flowers on the left were partially lifted out of their dirt.

Ha! You thought that was all I cooked in June!

What would an insanely busy month be without a dinner party or two right?

My parents and brother came to visit for Father's Day. On Saturday night, I was already hosting a birthday dinner party for our friend Carla so we expanded the dinner party. Our friend Kristi was in Michigan but her husband Gerrit was still in town and he also has a June birthday. So I created the Birthday for Carla and Gerrit/Father's Day for Joseph Free State Brewing Co. Beer Dinner.

I had leftover paper from the wedding so I drew up menus and place cards. Then I proceeded to cook a dinner party for 10 with my mom as sous excellent sous chef in fact! I didn't get as many pictures as I hoped but that's because everyone devoured whatever I set on the table before I could take a picture.

We started with Leek Toasts with Blue Cheese from Smitten Kitchen. If you look at her pics, you'll notice I went with spreading the extra creamy blue cheese on the bread underneath the leeks. But I LOVE how bright these leeks become and they do have a unique, delicious flavor. This was a big hit and I had never cooked leeks but I would highly recommend the recipe.

The next course was a salad with pistachio crusted goat cheese. I served it with Free State's KellerPils as pilsners are supposed to be a good pairing with goat cheese. It has a homemade dressing that is to die for. I have a handwritten copy of this recipe in my recipe notebook so I'm not sure where I got it. I'll try to post the recipe here sometime soon because it was soo good! I had trouble with making the "crusted" part of the goat cheese as the pan didn't seem warm enough to sear the nuts and I ended up with mushy cheese balls. However, no one complained and while not the prettiest, the taste was fantastic. 

The main course was another shout-out to Real Simple. This time it was Five-spice Pork Chops with Grilled Plums served with Free State's Meuse River IPA. The subtle spice flavors from the beer paired perfectly with the five-spice blend on the pork. This tasted great and was very popular. However, I ran into a few problems (besides melting my meat thermometer and my silicone tong handle). The grill basket I used for the plums and scallions was too small for the quantity of scallions needed for 10 people. I had multiplied the recipe quantity by 2.5 to accomodate 10 people instead of 4. My wee grill basket could handle the plums. But when the scallions were added at the last couple minutes of grill time there were suddenly 30 scallions on top of quickly deteriorating plums. They were nowhere near the heat that was supposed to grill them in 2 minutes. Whoops! If you use a large flat grill pan then you'll be fine. If you have a smaller square one like I do with angled sides then I'd recommend removing the plums from the grill before you start the scallions.

For dessert, we had Real Simple's Blueberry-Gin Sundaes paired with Free State's Oatmeal Stout. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of this course but we will definitely be making it again. If you plan to serve it to 10 people, keep in mind that a cup of gin takes a lot longer to cook down than 1/3 of a cup (the amount for only 4 people).

We wrapped things up with some limoncello and great conversation.

Pleepleus doing his part to help.

Then Kristi returned from Michigan and we hosted Kristi and Gerrit's Birthday Dinner the following Saturday.

Clifton and Rachel joined us for a true Shaw-Davis-Scholten Clan evening.

Rachel and Kristi pitched in this time as well. Rachel brought Chorizo and Pepper Skewers (another recipe from Real Simple) which we enjoyed with M. Lawrence Sandpiper Sparkling Wine from Michigan.. Kristi made a couscous salad with pineapple, cilantro, and red onion. To match the couscous salad that the Birthday Girl was craving, I made coconut lime grilled shrimp and grilled sirloin steaks seasoned only with salt and pepper.

After the appetizer/wine pairing, everyone enjoyed whatever beverage they wanted. But I wanted to do something special for Kristi since she only got to attend one birthday dinner and Gerrit was spoiled the weekend before. Kristi really likes Pisco Sours. If you are a fan of Zane Lamprey and the show Three Sheets then you might know what I'm talking about. If not, go rent the Peru episode and you'll be caught up. :-)

Last July, Clifton went to Peru and was kind enough to bring us back a bottle of Pisco. We shared some with our friends one night and discovered that Kristi was a big fan! Since we only had two bottles total between ours and Clifton's we decided to surprise her for her birthday. We enjoyed Pisco Sours using the official Zane Lamprey recipe and had a great night. I hope it was a memorable birthday party!

Um...where did June go?

Today I was talking to my mom while making dinner. At that moment I was chopping the first green pepper (I couldn't leave it on long enough to turn red) from my red pepper plant on the driveway. I started going on and on about how my tomato plant was loaded with green cherry tomatoes just waiting to ripen and I had tons of pepper growing quickly. She mentioned how corn was supposed to be at the Farmers' Market this weekend...and that's when I realized that in only a few hours it will be July! July! The entire month of June is gone and I barely noticed. I accomplished LOADS in June but I was so busy that entire weeks were zipping by before I could realize that it's been 20 days since I last posted! 20 days! How does that happen?

Well, I'll tell you's what I did in the month of June. (I apologize now for what is sure to become a record length post or possibly series of posts.)

1.)  I started roasting my own coffee. (I'll post more specifics in another post.) I was tired of having to buy pounds of coffee that was often old and from Columbia or Lawrence and therefore not easily obtainable. They cost $12 to $14 a pound and I have had several friends who roast coffee. So I took up another DIY hobby.

2.)  I started trying to run-commute twice a week. I pack an extra lunch and the next day's change of clothes on Mondays and Wednesdays. Then I run to work from home (1.5 miles each way) to the office and FINALLY found a way to sneak 2 workouts of 3 miles each into my weekly schedule. It does take a lot of planning but with work, summer school, and trying to lift weights with Jason over my MWF lunches there aren't a lot of hours left in the day. So now I run 15 minutes to work instead of drive for 7-10 minutes to work (depending on lights and traffic).

3.) I was elected President of Kirksville Young Professionals. I was Secretary last year and I am thrilled that my fellow board members had the confidence to vote for me as President. I am really looking forward to adding to all of the work we've accomplished in the past year. Go KVYP!

4.) We ate our very first cherry tomatoes on June 12th. I thought I would treat them special so I made a mini caprese salad. I drizzled them with olive oil from Spain and some basil from the backyard. Delish!

5.) I started summer school on June 6th and resumed commuting twice a week to Columbia for classes. The course is Advanced Regression Analysis and will conclude my statistics coursework.

6.) I rolled over 200,000 miles in Laurel (my Subaru Impreza). She did it with four brand new struts while commuting to Columbia (of course!). As a Subaru, I expect her to live at least another 50,000 to 100,000 miles. It makes me sad to think of a time when I might not get to drive her. :-( Also, my best friend Cara might find this the most amazing since it was only a few years ago that I rolled over 100,000 miles. A DeSoto, Kansas, police officer stopped to ask us what we were doing because we had hopped out of the car in a pitch black neighborhood, held up Amos Lee's new CD, and took a picture of us in front of the car. He thought we were insane and let us quickly leave DeSoto but I will never forget the memory.

7.) Jason brewed one last beer with my parents when they came to visit for Father's Day. (I was in the kitchen working on #8.) Joseph hadn't seen our new house and my brother Nathan had never been to Kirksville. It was a great weekend!

The beer baby bubbling away
in the hall closet.

8.) I cooked a lot of tasty food.

This is what you make when you buy a ton of strawberries at the Farmers' Market.

If you happen to have loads of asparagus from the Farmers' Market (or wherever you buy veggies) then here are two recipes.

From Hy-vee's Seasons magazine article on asparagus, April issue, pg. 28 (or page 30 of this .pdf.)
"2. Shave the spears into ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Toss with fresh lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Shave Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese on top."

I left off the cheese from above and coupled it with Sauteed Corn, Pepper, and Sausage (I used turkey sausage that was on sale) also from a Hy-vee recipe. We had it for a really late brunch but you could eat them together or separate any time.

Oh look! More foil packet potatoes and grilled pork tenderloins! But do you have this Grilled Asparagus and Manchego Cheese recipe from Real Simple?

Ribeyes from my parent's side of beef, Kirksville snow peas
seasoned with sesame oil and red pepper flakes, and tri-color
foil packet potatoes all grilled.

Finally, Gnocchi with Turkey Ragu (the dinner I was preparing tonight when I realized June was over.)