Friday, January 15, 2010

Getting away in the Big Easy

Last weekend Robert and I took an early anniversary trip to New Orleans-

One of my High School BFF's was having a 40th birthday Bash.
The theme was Solid Gold Dance Party.

We took off on our road trip on Friday and had a blast. It's about 350 miles to New Orleans and we got there in about 5 hours- which is amazing.

I drive with 4 kids 200 miles to my parents house and it takes almost 5 hours- GO FIGURE-

On Friday Night we ate at Bubba Gumps and had Shrimp and we stayed in the Sheraton on Canal Street. It was sooo relaxing.
The Girls spent the weekend shopping with Rob's parents and the boys stayed with their friends.

Danielle and I have been friends since 9th grade, she's sooo much fun and we laugh and carry on like teenagers when we get together.

She met us for Brunch at the Court of Two Sisters on Saturday Morning

I know there are more things to do in New Orleans than just eat- but that's how I vacation.

The Court of two sister is a fun place to eat and listen to jazz music. I read it about in a Hemingway novel and a Faulkner novel once. Then before Robert and I went to New Orleans nine years ago for Danielle's wedding, I was reading a novel and in the novel the writer was interviewing Hemingway at the Court of Two Sisters. So we had to go then and since it was fabulous we had to return. Also I am a big fan of William Faulkner and he wrote his first novel around the corner from there and so well you just have to go.

After we left there we went to the Faulkner Book store- where he lived and I bought a Flannery O'Connor Novel. That girl was NUTS- her writing is very scary and I'm amazed that she published in the 40s and 50s. She's timeless though.

At Danielle's party she had Karaoke. Danielle, unlike most people, can actually sing. I wanted to join in the festivities and you can see our internet sensation here on you tube. For some reason they turned down my mike...hmmm must not have wanted to overshadow the birthday girl- lol

We had a great time and were just thrilled to spend some time alone, you have to do that every now and again, it's the secret of a long and happy marriage.

Speaking of which on the 27th we'll have been married for 13 years. It seems like only yesterday we went on that fate filled blind date. He still has those gorgeous green eyes and he still makes my heart skip a beat. It's been a fun 13 years and I look forward to about 40 more!

Here is another video I shot of Joely and her friend Corey at the zoo on the 31st. Alice isn't in the videos because she spent the day at a zoo camp. Click here to watch it, but I warn you it's about 6 minutes long.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ode to some cookbooks

It's not that I never learned to cook, I just never learned to cook southern, I was raised Mormon and ate a lot of WONDERFUL food that was easy to cook.

Mom taught me how to cook and she supplied me with plenty of my favorite recipes. One of my favorite dishes is actually something my dad always makes, Meatloaf. He always cooked Lima Beans as a side dish to go with the Meatloaf and it's dreamy. Sadly nobody else cooks them the same, and I have yet to master the art of the Lima Bean.

But then I met Robert.

Robert, who is basically perfect, except for his palate.

He didnt' grow up on casseroles, and he disdains anything with "cream of..." soup in it.

We had dated a few times when I thought awww I should cook for him.

This "aww" moment came after visiting his apartment. His fridge had some sodas in it and some steak umm in the freezer.

Clearly he needed my culinary expertise.

So he picked me up from work and we went to Central Market in Austin.

Back then we didn't grocery shop like we do now.
Back then it was all magical, holding hands gazing into each other's eyes.

Grocery shopping for one meal could take HOURS.

Now we divide an conquer-

"You take the meats, I'll get produce, we'll meet in Breads
GO! GO! GO!"

But back then it was all rainbows and unicorns.

So I go first to the amazing cheese selection, because I was going to make my specialty, stuffed shells and then Robert said something I'll never forget.

"Don't get any cheese for me, I don't eat cheese except on Pizza."
What the What????

How could I cook on the fly with that info? Shouldn't he have given me that information, say the night before?

At that moment, everything I knew involved cheese.

All of my favorite dishes that I had learned from the tutelage of mom.

Broccoli and Cheese Chicken, Manicotti, Sheperds Pie, Lasagna, Most casseroles.

You know add cheese and Broil? Cheese makes it all better.

I was frusterated to say the least.

So after him hawing around I admitted I had no clue how to cook without cheese.
Sure I could have made Meatloaf, Chicken Supreme (an awesome dish that involves chicken, bacon, something else, but also cream of mushroom soup, my spidey senses told me to stay away from that) Chili, rice pilaf etc. But all of these items required a recipe, I didn't have recipes on me.

So we spent about $40.00 on kick butt salad ingredients and then picked up pizza on the way back.

After that he did the cooking, and he's good at it.

After we got married, In the Christmas of 2000, Sue, his mom started a tradition of giving me a new cookbook each year for Christmas. The above picture shows the cookbooks, minus this years cookbook.

I love the cookbooks! I've made at least one thing from each cookbook.
The first cookbook, is my third favorite cookbook ever. It is a collection of recipes from Central Baptist Church, where Robert grewup. Robert's Aunt Susan put a lot of recipes in there, I cherish it. Plus nothing beats a good Church cookbook.

The Second one was after 9/11 and Sue had been to New York that summer, it was real neat to have a cookbook from New York. I made a bread recipe and a soup recipe from there.

In 2002 she gave me the Lady and Two Sons dessert and candy cookbook. It was two days before I would no longer be the Lady with just two sons, because we were having Alice on the 27th. It has come to mean a lot to me because it was published before the Lady, Paula Deen, became famous thanks to the food network.

I love all of my cookbooks and I'm proud to say I've mastered making buttermilk biscuits, this took 12 years of practice and thanks to this years cookbook

I've mastered the art of making gravy. The formula is simple. Use two Tablespoons of pan drippings and then add two Tablespoons of thickening agent and mix quickly with a whisk. Add two cups milk and bring to a boil, stirring the whole time. If you need more or less gravy, just remember this whatever amount of grease you use in Tablespoons, add the same number of Tablespoons of thickening agent and then the same number of CUPS of liquid. Perfect everytime.
My Second favorite Cookbook is an old Exxon cookbook,that was Robert's great grandmas. IT has her name and address written in the cover and her coke a cola cake recipe in it. It also has her notes in it. Also it calls for Oleo instead of shortening, so you know the recipes will be tasty.
My favorite cookbook is last, but not least, the cookbook my friends and I put together in the Memorial Park Ward in Houston. When I say put together, I mean it quite literally. I typed the recipes, Heather formatted them and did the graphics and got everythign printed. Then Jenni, heather, Adrienne and I collated them and got them bound. It was hard work, but it has all my favorite recipes in one place. My aunt's recipes, my mom's recipes and then my friends stuff too.
So now I have in my personal arsenal instructions on how to cook almost anything. Robert is bound to like something and sometimes when he's not looking I'll add some cream of something soup, just to remind me of home.

Holy Coupons Batman