Category Archives: food memories

Gratuitious Wedding Food Porn

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Planning our wedding was stressful. And exciting. And maddening. And fun. And frustrating. Some things I could just not get motivated to take care of. I didn’t care a lot about what some would consider “traditional” wedding decisions. Where people would sit. What type of guest book to get.   So I dragged my feet and hemmed and hawed about certain decisions–but when it came to wedding food, I knew exactly what I wanted and how I wanted it done.

First things first: Wedding cake. Does anybody even like that crap anyway? Does any person legitimately enjoy eating cake? And wedding cake is the worst of it–75% frosting, 25% frills and fondant. I couldn’t see myself paying a couple hundred dollars for something I wouldn’t eat anyway. Our solution? Wedding pie. We ended up ordering them from Barb’s Pies in Ferndale, Washington, and they turned out perfect. My father in law made a tiered stand for them and the whole set up was better than I could have imagined.  I got that cute pie sign from the World Market last February, right around the time we decided on pies and it was totally meant to be at our wedding.

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Photos by Angela Noelle Photography

After I had the pie idea nailed down, I moved onto dinner. It was an outdoor wedding at gorgeous Vartanyan Estate Winery and so I knew I wanted something outdoor friendly–but also elevated. Kabobs was the first thing that came to mind. Thanks to my lovely mother in law, we were able to pull off the food like a well oiled machine. She had a whole brigade of friends show up to man the grill and serve everyone.

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We had beef and chicken kabob marinated in easy, but assertive marinades. The chicken was dusted in Emerill Lagasse’s “essence” and smoked before being grilled the next day. The chicken was marinated in lemon juice, dijon mustard, fresh rosemary, garlic, and salt and pepper.

My only regret that day was not getting to eat more of the spread. I think I had a bit of cheesecake and a bite of salad. It was nice to see everyone else chowing down, though.

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Tacos à la Shiela

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Quintessential childhood foods.

As adults looking back, we often wonder, how in the world did my folks think it was ok to feed me that? Or why did I think that tasted so good? But they did and we did and we grew up healthy and happy, right? Well adjusted adults–regardless of the fried spam sandwiches and spaghettios.

Chef Boyardee. Campbell’s. Tony the Tiger. Squeeze its and Capri Suns. Push pops. Ring pops. Pudding cups. Most of it highly processed. Loaded with sugar, salt, fat, and gimmicks.

We survived, though–and I try my hardest to give the kids wholesome foods–hoping that those recipes will be quintessential for them when they reflect as adults.

And then sometimes, like tonight, I hearken back to a simple time–a time when it was perfectly acceptable to include cheese whiz in a recipe and feed it to your family. Tonight, I make tacos à la Shiela.

Shiela is my dad’s sister–and for all intents and purposes, she is my mom. The best memories of my childhood were with her–and some of my earliest and strongest food memories are with her as well. These tacos are simple, addictive, and trashy. Cheese whiz, browned and drained hamburger, and a can of rinsed kidney beans. Mix it all together, throw into a taco shell along with your regular cast of taco characters and you’ll have something that is salty, gooey, creamy, and crunchy. The best guilty pleasure I can think of. And now I get to share it with my family. I’d have taken a picture of it cooked, but it’s equal parts brown and gloppy–not exactly the most photogenic dish.

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In other news, we are making garlic and onion wine tonight. Super excited!

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How to cook for small children: a case study

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The first meal I made for the kids was smothered pork chops. I coated lean pork chops in flour, seasoned with Cajun seasoning, salt, pepper, and sage. Then I browned them in butter on both sides, moved them to a plate, made gravy in the pan I took them from, and then slid the pork into the gravy once it thickened. They loved it–I remember the six year old saying: “Jenn, I love your chicken!” I started to say: “That’s por–” Then Henry cut me off. “Say it’s chicken,” he said under his breath. From that day forward, I learned that feeding these kids involves a lot of fibbing.

Once I got confident in feeding them meals they’d actually eat, I’d start hearing: Well, Mommy cooks it this way…or Grandma does this…and then all of my new found confidence would disappear, leaving me like a deflated balloon. But I kept trying. For six months, I made them a different kind of muffin each week for breakfast. Cherry walnut, peach pie chia muffins–you name it, I tried it. And when I got home from work each day, I’d walk into the kitchen, where they ate, and step on the dried fruit and nuts they picked out of their muffins.

I learned that these kids will put away a dozen scrambled eggs like it’s no one’s business. I also learned that they would rather have plain pancakes, which they will eat by the stuffed mouthful, instead of whole wheat with blueberries.

I have learned that something they loved last month will be rejected this month. I learned that I can mature their palates by slowing introducing strange ingredients into their normal favorites. I learned that I can say: Eat it anyway.

I learned that half of their meal will inevitably end up on the floor or smeared into the seat cushions of their chairs. I have learned that if Daddy eats it, so will the three year old. i have learned that I have to give Daddy “the look” so that he takes some salad and eats it with forced cheerfulness. I have seen these kids inhale cornbread dripping with butter and honey–and feign interest in the chili just so that they get another piece of cornbread.

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Pizza at Northfork Brewery

As I have learned to feed them, I have grown into this stepmommy role–and my confidence no longer hinges on whether or not they eat my dinner. Although some nights, when they turn up their noses at something EVERY OTHER PERSON IN THE WORLD WOULD EAT, I am tempted to open them up a can of dog food and go cry in my room. But that’s completely normal, right?

 

What a(n) (ice) day

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Snow and snow and snow and ice and sleet and ice and ice.

But I am wearing clean pajamas and I did do a lot of organizing and cleaning around the apartment today. I have a roast beef in the crockpot that needs about another hour or so. Roasted butternut squash and mashed potatoes. And the best part: sweet potato biscuits. I may never make regular biscuits again. Granted, I did grate an entire stick of frozen butter into these puppies, but I’d like to think that including an entire baked sweet potato into the biscuits counterbalances the butter. Right? Right. (right?)

Over 5300 people in Eugene are without power at the moment and out local electricity company said to expect outages even if we haven’t had any issues so far. So, yeah. Henry went to the store to get beer, candles, and hot cheetos. That’s all we need to be snowed and iced in–and without power.

Please make these biscuits. I didn’t change a thing about the recipe. Some reviewers said that grating frozen butter was difficult, but it was so easy and weird that it was almost a novelty.  Ooh! Grated butter!  Even Henry smiled at it.

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On Apple Pies and Boiling Broth

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Snow Day Eugene 2014. More snow than this area has seen in decades (Don’t fact check me; I heard that on facebook).  I had a productive day in my pajamas. It felt good to clean, cook, and organize before the kids get here on Sunday.

I made Mongolian Beef for dinner with this recipe. Then I took the chicken carcass I had been saving and made a stock.  Then I even got the inspiration to make an apple pie adapted from this recipe. It was my first apple pie ever. I was on a roll.

Then I got cocky. I may have even gloated a bit when I saw how beautiful and rich my stock had gotten.  I asked Henry to help me strain it so that I could cool it and freeze it. Then, Stupid Jenn decided to process the stock into her large, antique glass bowl. Before I knew it, boiling stock had spilled in a torrent down my feet and the bowl had cracked into several huge pieces. I cried and Henry ushered me to the bathroom to soak my feet in cold water. He then proceeded to clean up the entire kitchen, cutting himself in the process.

Thankfully, the apple pie turned out. I think I need to go to bed now before I hurt myself or anyone else.

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Trains and Thomas the Tank Engine and Scooby Doo, Oh My!

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What a fun and exhausting day. Up at 7:30, the kids tore through their presents, one of them threw up (fingers crossed it was a fluke), we made breakfast sandwiches, played, played, and played some more. Then nap.

While they napped, I made a simple Thanksgiving-type dinner for Christmas. I got a bone in turkey breast, made mashed red potatoes, bacon’d green beans, rolls, gravy, stuffing, and a cherry cobbler. Simple stuff–food I have been making for my family for years. At a young age, I was responsible for the Thanksgiving dinners and I have this down. So far down. Underground. I’ll stop now.

For the turkey, I lifted the breast skin (gross) and slathered butter, lemon zest, garlic, salt and pepper, garlic, thyme, and sage on the meat. Then I salted, peppered, and olive oiled the skin and set it in the oven at 350 for three hours. The rest of the dinner came together like a snap.

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Now, we are, in our own special blend of procrastination and harried productivity, packing for our trip to Washington tomorrow.

Merry Christmas. We are a hot mess, trying to pack and clean. Wish us luck!

Happy Thanksgiving and Almost Christmas

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Wow. Life happens and the blog falls by the wayside. We moved, by the way. Across town, closer to the kinder’s school and right next door to Winco.  I also was a co-recipient of the Oregon Small Schools Association Teacher of the Year.

It’s been a crazy busy month and a half. Right after I got the teaching award, I got strep. I am behind on my Masters homework–like weeks behind. But Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I planned to enjoy it, and put other worries and stresses behind for a bit. (Edit: I have now put my Masters on hold for sanity’s sake and it was the best decision I’ve made in a long time.)

For Thanksgiving, we went to my best friend’s house and ate dinner with 15 or so other people. It was amazing. We had turkey and ham, of course, and everything else you could imagine. I ended up making crockpot mac and cheese, a cream cheese and cherry pie, and sweet potato casserole.

I may or may not have eaten too much food, drank too much wine, danced too much, and actually sang karaoke on their Wii.

Giving somebody the what for

Giving somebody the what for

the munchkin and me, cheesing

the munchkin and me, cheesing

It was my 5th year spending Thanksgiving with my best friend’s family and it was the best one I can ever remember having.

me and the bf

me and the bf

Later that week, Henry’s dad, Henry’s dad’s girlfriend, and Henry’s brothers came to visit for yet another Thanksgiving. As much as I lovelovelove Thanksgiving, I didn’t want to do another turkey. Instead, I made individual chicken potpies based on this recipe.

potpiesDelicious, delicious, delicious.

Fast forward an entire month and here we are, a couple days from Christmas. Henry and I are going to have a Christmas with the kids tomorrow and on Christmas, and then we will head to my dad’s, then to Henry’s dad’s, and then to Henry’s mom’s house–and then back home. A whirlwind trip if there ever was one. We are nearly ready for our own small, family Christmas. I’m going to make a turkey breast for us and have a small Thanksgiving meal for Christmas. I’ll do a post on that when it comes up in the next couple days.

On a final note, we did the last of all of our shopping today. Or so I thought. I’m thinking I have to go back and buy butter. Wish me luck. Winco is a mad house.

P.S. Here is dinner…

spaghetti sauce

spaghetti sauce

What are you having?