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Monday, October 26, 2009

December Daily

There is a group on Flickr doing a thing called December Daily 2009. I had no idea what it was about so looked at the 2008 group. I found the person below who did it:

December Daily 2008

You make a small album and document your days and decorate the pages. I think the real point is to get you to document the days with a photo and the pages can come together when you have the time. For me it would probably be a weekend project to put the week together. I got excited but then I got very unexcited. Scrapbooking is not my thing at all. I've made one page. One. It just does not stir that creative thing in me. To be honest, it seems like a real pain in the ass and a lot of work. But, I still think this looks...interesting. I'm not sure if I will do it, but I'm not going to rule it out just yet. I mean, you have to love that book in the link above....it would be cool to have one to look back on every year. And it's only a month. And there is sure to be lots to take photos of. OH! And I have that film camera that Greg got me that I have yet to use!! Wow, that would be awesome to use that for all the pictures. Humm. It's starting to sound a bit more interesting after that revelation. Well anyway, look at the link above and at all her pages. She did a good job of making the pages fun without being elaborate....mostly just trying to talk myself into at this point ;)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kitten @ Play

Tuesday was my 42nd birthday. Every year I take a picture of myself just so I can see the changes. Sometimes I post them to Flickr and sometimes not. I asked Greg to pick his favorite of the ones I took and he said it was a tie between the 2 below. Which do you like?





Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Disneyland Photos

Greg and I went to Disneyland for our 18th anniversary over the weekend. Here are a few photos from the trip. The scary pumpkin with the santa hat and the scary house is the Haunted Mansion that they decorate in the Nightmare Before Christmas theme :)










Thursday, October 15, 2009

I want to start by saying I am not under the false idea that I am not flawed. I'm not perfect, I'm not always right and I don't have all the answers. I know this.

That being said, I do know *myself* pretty well. Other people....not so much.

What bugs me is when people think they have me all figured out. They *think* they know what makes me tick. I can honestly say Greg is the only person who knows me that well. And we're not talking about knowing my favorite color and the fact I like cats. We're talking about what's in my head. How I think. How I make decisions. What my triggers and traits are. What I think on a deep personal level. I'm a guarded person and people only know what I want them to know. They *think* they know, but they don't. I will show varied sides of myself to people.

So the next time you think you have me figured out -- think again.

In The Pink

October is breast cancer awareness month and I thought I'd share a few things.

Michelle's Story.

The White House shows their support.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Ghosts * Nostalgia * Halloween

I took a quiz to see what kind of Halloween character I am. Here's how it went.

You are undoubtedly a ghost!

You're quiet and on the shy side, but when you're angry, you have no problem causing a scene, complete with slamming doors, stomping footsteps, and the occasional tantrum in the attic. You dwell on past events, especially when you feel wronged, and you're also prone to nostalgia -- people often have to tell you to stop living in the past!

23% A witch
19% Frankenstein's Monster
30% A ghost
28% Dracula


---

Oddly enough, it's kinda accurate. Tho I don't slam doors and I try *not* to make a scene...I rarely stomp either. However, I do get pretty miffed about being wronged and I am shy and quiet. The nostalgia thing is a bullseye. I do like pondering "the good ole days" and I like old things like antique Christmas decorations and vintage kitchenware. I also wish I had my hair and skin from when I was 19, but I don't think that's what they mean. One thing I don't long for is a bunch of stuff from the 80's. Those clothes....yeesh. And the music.....yeesh, yeesh! I listened to it and thought it was great, but now I can hardly stand a lot of 80's music. I like 80's rock, but stuff like The Bangles, The Police, Duran Duran....that all leaves something to be desired in my book. Really, it does. If you heard that stuff now for the first time, would you like it? If you say yes, then we have very different taste in music. I'm not saying it all sucked, but there is a pretty big percentage that does.

And since I'm talking about nostalgia, this gets me thinking back to the days when people dressed up for Halloween at work. Why don't people do that anymore? A few years ago I dressed up on Halloween in full costume for work. I don't think a single other person dressed up. I felt incredibly ridiculous. You know when everyone is looking at you like you are crazy? That's how it was. It's Halloween, people! It's not that weird to see people in costumes! So around 2pm off came the wig and I removed all my scary make-up. I have not dressed up since then :(

See....lots of stuff to be nostalgic about! Boo!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Chop Chop

Pork chops are notoris for being dry and tough. Greg and I have been making them for years and we never seem happy with the outcome. However, we recently started taking a new approach.

brine + gravy = juicy chops

If you make pork chops, they have to be served with gravy. I know that might seem like an obvious fix, but a lot of recipes for pork chops don't call for a sauce or gravy. You have to inprovise and make a sauce if the recipe does not call for one. Usually a white wine or chicken stock based sauce will work with pork chop recipes.

Also, only cook them until they are done. Even thick pork chops won't take very long. If you leave them cooking past their done stage they will be as dry as the Sahara and they will be like eating blocks of wood. I know you all know what I mean...we have all had the block of wood pork chop.

A while back we made pork chops and Greg suggested we should brine, which was a great idea. They brined all day and then I seared and cooked them in chicken stock. I made a maple sauce to go over them. They got that nice brown crust on them and then gently cooked the rest of the way in the stock. The sauce was awesome. And the best thing....they were juicy!

A few nights ago I made pork chops again and they turned out great.

Here is what we brined them in:

2 cups water
2 cups apple juice
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 celery stalks
20 black peppercorns

We put it all in a ziplock bag with the chops and they hung out in the refrigerator.

When I was ready to cook them, I remove the chops from the brine and rinsed them under cold water and patted them dry. Now for the sauce.

Molasses-Mustard Glaze

1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup apple juice
Salt and pepper

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Season the chops on both sides with salt and pepper and cook until golden brown. This won't take long, so don't run off and water the plants or something for 20 minutes. Once browned on both sides, remove from pan.

Now for the onions.

I thinly sliced a really big onion and cooked them over medium heat until they were caramelized. It takes about 10-15 minutes. Once caramelized, add Dijon mustard, whole-grain mustard, molasses, and apple juice and bring to a simmer. Add the seared chops back to the pan and turn the heat to low and cover. The chops we had were thick so I let them cook on low for 20 minutes. This is just enough time to make some wild rice and steam some mixed veggies.

When the rice is done, you are ready to plate it up. I served the chops on a bed of rice with the caramelized onion sauce over the top. Mixed veggies on the side. It's really good! They are juicy because of the brine and also because I didn't overcook them.

**If 20 minutes pass and you are not ready to serve them, remove them from the pan and loosely cover them with foil. Don't let them continue to cook in the pan! You can leave a lot of meats on the stove to hang out until you are ready to serve, but pork chops are not one of these things. They will turn into blocks of wood before you know it!

Now, you might say it sounds like a lot of mustard or that it must be sweet from the juice and molasses, but it's neither of those things. I don't know how, but it all comes together perfectly.

One thing I have learned about cooking is, you have to try things even if you don't think you like it. I wasn't sure about the molasses and almost used something else, but then I just went for it. Turns out you can't even tell there is molasses in it.

I thought I didn't like fennel, but as it turns out, it's really good when it's cooked! I had no idea until I tried a recipe that called for fennel. I still don't care for it raw, but cooked is a different story.

Mint. I was pretty sure I didn't want mint leaves in anything I ate. Well, turns out they are not bad on fruit. And just saying that makes me crinkle my nose a little...even tho I know it's good. I just have an adversion to mint....or thought I had, I guess I should say. Although, I do like peppermint patties.

Anyway, there is your pork chop lesson. Follow my 3 rules; brine, gravy or sauce and only cook till done, and you should experience juicy pork chops :)

**I cooked mine for 20 minutes because they were very thick. You need to judge cooking time of the thickness of the meat. Thin-cut chops will not need very long at all.