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Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

Giving Thanks.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving in Charlotte, North Carolina. We spent it with Dave’s family; immediate and extended! On thursday we had thanksgiving lunch at Plantation Estates, where Grandmother and Granddaddy live, in the private dining room.

Then the girls went to see New Moon while the boys went home and watched football. The movie was awesome! I can’t wait to read Eclipse. Then on friday night we had a big meal at Aunt Celeste’s house complete with two deep fried turkeys!

This Thanksgiving I am VERY thankful for both of our families and how supportive they have been through the transitions of this last year. Many people ask me how we celebrate this holiday being a British family who didn’t grow up doing so, and I tell them that you don’t have to be an American to be thankful : ) We have a tradition of looking back on the previous year and talking about the highs and lows and what we are thankful for. I wasn’t there this year to partake, but I still thought about it. I’m thankful for each and every person in my family. Both the Watson’s and the Klines. I’m thankful for the love and concern you’ve shown Dave and I, and the unfailing support. I realize that we are incredably blessed to have people like you in our lives (Mum, Dad, Andrew, Laura, Jess, Kate, Jack, Karen, Bill, Elizabeth, Ryan, Peter, Megan, Matthew, and Rebecca). We love you all dearly.  

I made a plethora of baked goods to take for the festivite including pumpkin apple bread, banana bread, pumpkin white chocolate cookies, and thanksgiving-themed sugar cookies.

     I start a part-time tutoring job next week where I will be tutoring a group of 6 elementary students in math and reading a few afternoons a week. Who knows, maybe it will help me with the blasted GRE which I will be taking on December 16th! 

Hope you all had a joyful time of giving thanks! We are very much looking forward to coming to Texas in two weeks : )

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Memories and muffins.

Yesterday was the 13th anniversary of my granddad’s passing. I thought about my mum a lot as I know she was missing her mum and sisters back in England. I also thought about all of the happy memories I have from the ten years that I knew Nic-nic.

He was such a special man, and he spoiled his grandkids like there was no tomorrow. I always looked forward to our trips to the north of England to see him and Gran. We lived less than two hours from them but that was a huge journey back then. They lived on a farm in an old farm-house (where my mum grew up). I have vivid memories of playing outside on go-carts, or frolicking in the fields for hours with all of my cousins and running in from the cold wind with rosy cheeks to seek the warmth of the crackling fire. It seemed like Nic-nic always had a grandchild in his lap laughing their heads of as he pulled his fake teeth out and put them back in again. I think the real reason we loved going there so much was that we were given more candy in the week we spent there, than we were for the rest of the year. Nic-nic was always awake first in the mornings before going to work on the farm. Andrew, Jess, and I would arise as early as possible and sneak downstairs before our parents awoke in eager expectation of what we would be given for ‘breakfast’. “Do you want eggs this morning?” Nic-nic would tease. “Cadbury’s cream eggs???” We were in heaven. But these treats were always accompanied with the warning “Don’t tell your Gran or you’ll have me shot!!!”.

Needless to say, we all miss him. I wish he could have seen all that his family has accomplished and the love that was born out of his love for Gran. Even though he’s been gone for a long time now, the memories I have are as fresh as they were 13 years ago. Because I was a child for the entirety of my relationship with him, these memories are innocent, naive, and almost magical. They are unadulterated by the complicated and harsh reality that comes with adulthood. And I like it that way. In my mind he was a saint. He was perfect. He was Nic-nic.

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On another note altogether, I thought I would do a recipe post. I baked these pumpkin apple streusel muffins two days ago and they are delicious! So I thought I’d share.

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Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups peeled, cored and chopped apple

For the streusel 

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons butter

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease 18 muffin cups or use paper liners.

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2. In a large bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 cups sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt.

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3. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, pumpkin and oil.

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4. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stirring just to moisten.

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5. Take the cut up apples and fold them in to the mixture.

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6. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

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Now for my favorite part! The streusel (which should be a food group all of its own in my opinion):

7. In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

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8. Sprinkle topping evenly over muffin batter.

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9. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

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10. As soon as they have cooled, take them to the neighbors, or throw them in the freezer. Otherwise you will want to eat them all, they’re highly dangerous ; )

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The crossing of a threshold

It’s strange when you’ve been the baby-sitter/dog-sitter/house-sitter/plant-waterer/mail-collector your whole life when all of a sudden you find yourself sitting at the kitchen table writing a 4 page novel on how to clean your dog’s muddy paws if it rains. This is what I found myself doing on friday before we went away for the weekend and I realized I had crossed a threshold. We were now the ones leaving and having someone dog-sit. One of our friends stayed in our house to look after Milton and as I wrote ‘The Note’ I tried to be as normal and undemanding as I possibly could. It’s so hard though, when your dog has so many quirks and you have so many tricks up your sleeve to deal with them.

I think I wrote a whole paragraph explaining how to get Milton in from the yard, only for the whole thing to backfire. Let me explain. Milton is a stubborn fellow and has chosen not to come inside when his name is called. This can be quite annoying when one is rushing and needs to leave the house. Therefore one is forced to resort to bribary …  yelling “TREAT” as loud as possible until one sees his little white-tipped tail emerging from the shrubbs and running at full speed to the back door. Once he is inside, the door must be closed immediately for the plan to work. Then a treat is given.

So, I wrote this whole thing out because I knew it would come in handy, and lo and behold Brian (the poor soul who watched milton) needed to leave the house on saturday and milton was not responding to his name. So, Brian got a treat, yelled “TREAT!”, and milton came running. This is where the mistake was made. He didn’t shut the doggie door behind milton when he came inside. So, milton being the oh-so-obedient dog that he is, grabbed the treat from Brian’s hand and pelted out the doggie door back into the yard yelling “sukaaaa” before brian could even blink. All that to say, I think we shall have to look up some kennels for our next trip…

We had a wonderful time in Savannah, Georgia visiting Rebecca. It is so novel to be able to drive for 6 hours and pass through North Carolina, South Carolina, and into Georgia. Such a difference from living in Texas where you have to drive for hours upon hours just to get outside of the state. The town is a really cool place with lots of rennovated old buildings, lots of art everywhere, and lots of quirky restaurants and coffeeshops. It’s only 30 minutes from the sea too. Wonderful. It was great to hang with Rebecca and get out of town for a couple of days.

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white chocolate rasberry creme brulee

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And, for those of you that don’t know; I got a nanny job a few weeks ago. I start in a couple of weeks and am very excited. I will be caring for a 9 month old boy named Tej and he is adorable. His dad is British, and his mom is South African but they moved from England in 1999 (same year as me : ) ). I went over to meet them two weeks ago and stayed for over two hours having English tea and hob nobs. They are such lovely people and I was able to talk very candidly with them.  She is an Oncologist at Duke Medical Center, and he is a Physicist. They seem like very interesting people and I’m so happy that we share such a strong tie already; not being naitve-born Americans! It has all just worked out so well after so many weeks of frustration and looking, God is indeed good.

You’ll be happy to know that I’m still keeping up with my cooking goal of making new recipes. Since I last posted I’ve tried a few things such as:

1. Polenta with zucchini and sausage

2. Eggplant casserole

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3. And tonight I made curried chicken and veggies, with quinoa and arugula! It was great, I’m loving the bitter taste of arugula to change it up from always having baby spinach. Variety people, variety.  

I’m so excited that Jess is coming to visit on friday!!! I’m trying to think of lots of fun things to do when she’s here. Can’t wait : ) Also, congratulations to our good friends the Henries who had their little girl Ananda a week and a half ago! She is so beautiful.

And to finish.. here’s  pic of some of our friends here in NC at our house watching the office 🙂

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Eat your veggies

I am a very goal oriented person. It’s good for me to have concrete things to strive for. So, I’ve decided I need to actually start setting some.

First up, cooking goals:

One new dish every week. I’m trying to become more adventurous in my kitchen endeavours and this will keep me looking for new recipes to try out. I’ve already made two new dishes this week… look at me go!! One I followed a recipe for, and one I made up! 

#1 Curried Cauliflower (with mango chipotle salmon, fresh green beans, and mashed sweet potato). From recipe.

Curried Cauliflower from Southern Living This is the photo from the recipe, not my own.

#2 Roasted bell pepper stuffed with black beans, mushrooms, corn, garlic, cilantro, and cheese. (With baked butternut squash and baked new potatoes). From my noggin.

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I tried to set another cooking goal but it has been vetoed by another member of the family who shall remain nameless. Until later in the paragraph. I’ve often thought about becoming vegetarian. I don’t enjoy and don’t eat red meat, and I can go with or without chicken most of the time. I love fish. So why not? Well, because I am married to a carnivore through and through. He may be skinny, but he loves him a big ol’ juicy steak. So, I thought, instead of breaking up with meat completely, I think I just need space. I want to get away from the mentality that every meal needs meat to be complete. Hence the meal yesterday of stuffed bell pepper, baked butternut squash (an absolute new favorite of mine!!), and new potatoes. In the midst of feeling very proud of myself and thoroughly enjoying such a healthy meal, I ask Dave if he is enjoying dinner. He looks up from his plate and says “Oh, it’s great, I really like it, it’s great …. it just feels like I’m eating a bunch of side dishes”.

So there you have it folks. Meat is back on the menu. I told Dave that I would have a huge leg of lamb waiting for him on the table when he came home tonight to make up for it. NOT. If nothing else, I want just to give vegetables the recognition they deserve.

Sidenote: I just entered to try and win one of these beauties… oh my sweetness. I’ll let you know how that goes.

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