Saturday, August 28, 2010

big money! no whammy!

Kirstie & Nathan (my sister & brother-in-law) visited last weekend, and we had a really good time. Most ridiculous thing we did? Well...Nathan decided that because he'd never been to a casino before, it was absolutely necessary that we go. So Saturday night, we did. I encourage you to visit any casino's website. You will see many photos of lovely, young, well-dressed people having the time of their lives. I think these people must have been hired, because do you know what we did see?
  • Rows and rows and rows of slot machines
  • A bright red plastic ashtray at each and every slot machine
  • Old ladies clutching dollar bills in the left hand and a burning cigarette in the right hand
  • Five middle-aged men on stage playing country music (and they weren't bad, really)
  • A "non-smoking area," which measured about 100 square feet and was immediately adjacent to a cigarette vending machine
It was pretty crazy, and Nathan was less than impressed. I suspect this might have something to do with the fact that he put $10 in a slot machine and lost it all in about three minutes. "Big money! No whammy!" he said. But it was big whammy, no money.

We surveyed the despair around us and decided we didn't want to become senior citizens clutching their Social Security money at the penny slots. So we left and went for frozen yogurt.

Kirstie fared pretty well, though. Here she is with her winnings!

Friday, August 20, 2010

what a week!

We've had a busy seven days.

  • We drove to Colorado. It took a really long time.
  • We stayed in Littleton, south of Denver.
  • We drove to a wedding rehearsal in Loveland, north of Denver. It took about 1.5 hours.
  • We drove to Littleton.
  • We drove to Loveland for a wedding.
  • We drove back to Littleton.
  • We drove to Denver for dinner.
  • We drove back to Littleton.
  • The next day, we drove to Tulsa. By the way, Kansas is boring. Windmills and silos. Fields and barns. That's pretty much it.
  • The day after that, I drove to Mountain Home.
  • Then, I drove to Calico Rock.
  • The next day, I drove back to Tulsa.
  • Today, I refused to drive anywhere. Except to the Honda service garage for my little Accord's 90,000 mile tune-up. 
  • I hope I can see my car hit 290,000 miles. I love the Accord.
  • When it finally dies, I think I will replace my Accord with another Accord.
  • Or maybe a different Honda.
  • But definitely a Honda.
I digress.

Kirstie & Nathan are coming to Tulsa this weekend. It will be so great to see them! We don't get to enough. I'll try to remember to tote my camera around and post some pictures early next week.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

brown sugar cookies & a new food blog

Can I tell you three words that will change the way you think about sweets? Okay: brown sugar cookies. YUM.

I am a longtime lover of sugar cookies. I am also a longtime lover of brown sugar. I have been known to sneak a bite every now and then when baking. (One-fourth of a cup in the bowl...and a spoonful for me.) Sometime in the few weeks before the bar exam, in a stress-induced frenzy, I had a random thought: is there a way to combine my love of sugar cookies and brown sugar?! Yes -- brown sugar cookies! 

So, after the bar, I googled. I settled on this recipe from a blog called Nosh With Me, which I instantly fell in love with. How did I not know this baking blog existed before now? Go check it out -- her recipes look so great!

This recipe appears to be originally from Cook's Illustrated. I get that magazine, so how I missed the recipe I will never know. I'm glad I found it, though. It's goooood.

Without further ado:

Brown Sugar Cookies
14 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (about 1 3/4 ounces)
2 cups packed dark brown sugar (14 ounces)
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (about 10 1/2 ounces)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
Heat 10 tablespoons of the butter in a pan over medium-high heat until melted. Continue to cook the butter until it is browned a dark golden color and smells nutty, about 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer the browned butter to a bowl and stir the rest of the butter into the hot butter until it melts. Set aside & let rest for 15 min.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350. In a baking dish (I used a pie plate), mix granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar until combined well; set aside.
Mix flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl & set aside. To the cooled butter, add 1 ¾ cup brown sugar and mix until there are no lumps. Add egg, yolk, and vanilla to butter mixture and mix well, then add flour and mix until just combined. (Note: I mixed entirely by hand with no problems. I wouldn't use a mixer for this recipe!)
Roll dough into balls about 1-1/2 inches in diameter, and roll balls in brown sugar and white sugar mixture. If you have a cookie scoop, use it! Place balls about 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets.
Bake sheets one at a time until cookies are puffy and lightly browned, about 12- 14 minutes. I have a darker cookie sheet and a lighter cookie sheet. I baked for 13 minutes on the lighter sheet and 12 minutes on the darker sheet.  DO NOT OVERBAKE! The cookies will crack, and dough peeking through the cracks will look raw. Don't be alarmed. After a few minutes of cooling, this will turn into yummy, chewy goodness.
These cookies are best when still warm served with a glass of milk. Try them out! You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Look what I made in the crock pot. Granola!
It's true. I got the recipe here, at a blog I recently discovered. It turned out pretty great! Here's what you need, though the ingredients can certainly vary.  I'm learning that granola is really a "use whatever you have on hand" kind of situation.

You need:
5 cups oats
1 T. flax seeds
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
1/4 c. raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 c. unsweetened coconut
1/4 c. slivered almonds
1/4 c. craisins
1/4 c. raisins
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/4 c. honey

This is the easy part: put all ingredients in your crock pot and mix. Cook on high for about 3 hours. Try to stir every 20 to 30 minutes. It works best if you vent the lid with something.

I like this granola quite a bit. It's not too crunchy and only a little sweet, and it has craisins, which I consider a huge bonus! Don't get me wrong; I like raisins, but raisins are just so...blah. I like the addition of craisins. It gives the granola a little zing.

I found the crock pot method a little fussy, though. Next time, I'll probably just bake it in the oven on 350 and stir every five minutes or so. Granola in the crock pot can burn (though it takes a lot longer than in the oven), and I thought the frequent stirring was kind of a hassle -- a lot more of a hassle than keeping a careful eye on granola in the oven. But that's just me.

Anyway, here's what I did with my granola!
Who needs a restaurant for a fruit & yogurt parfait? I make my own. They're tastier. And they come in a pretty glass.
Pretty glasses: it's how I roll. (Also, it's how I use glasses that otherwise sit in the cabinet and collect dust. Somebody should've told me I'd never use fancy dinner- & glassware.)

Monday, August 2, 2010

the bar exam: an evolution (or devolution?) of meals

A long time ago, I had aspirations to tell you about a simple and summery and delicious meal I made for myself one night when Ross was working. It was only a simple pasta primavera, but it looked so pretty I just had to snap a photo. I wanted to write a blog post to tell you all about how delicious it was and how easy it is to make, but studying for the bar exam took over, and I just didn't have time.

Shot in my kitchen on June 21, 2010 (five weeks before the bar exam):

Then, about a month later, I snapped another photo of a meal I made for myself one night when Ross was working. It was a sad step down from pasta primavera to peanut butter & jelly.

Shot in my living room on July 16, 2010 (11 days before the bar exam):

Things only got worse from here. In the five days before the bar exam, I went to Panera twice (two days in a row, AND I ordered the same thing both times), Pei Wei once, and Chili's once. I ate more grilled cheese sandwiches than any 27-year-old is supposed to. One day, I went to Target and bought only marshmallows and sour gummy worms. The day before the bar exam, my sweet mom sent me one dozen cupcakes.  

The diet has not been going well around here. Luckily, I don't have to take another bar exam for a whole six months. Now if I could just find a way to fit into my suits in one month... 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

post-bar update

Hello, friends!

I just wanted to give you a quick update. The bar exam is over. Without exaggerating, I can safely say that it was the worst thing I have ever had to do in my entire life except attend my PaPa's funeral. I would rather have my wisdom teeth extracted nine times than take the bar again.

Today at church, one of our friends asked me about the test. "I'm sure it was a long test," he said. "What, three hours?" I think he almost had a coronary when I told him I had to write 16 essays in 8 hours -- and that was just day one! I envy people who've never been to law school. What marvelous, stress-free lives they must lead, where a three-hour test is on the long end.

You'll be glad to know I'm back to my old self, though. I'm watching a lot of TV and making lots of food. I'm experimenting with a crock pot granola recipe as we speak! I'm also awaiting the arrival of some new baking pans I ordered from Amazon, and I have some fun test recipes lined up to break them in. I've got several posts planned for the next few weeks, so stick around and see what the Wards are up to these days!