Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Relaxing out of Necessity...

My brain hurts. Sure I could say my head hurts, but really I think it's my brain. It was happily floating around in my skull, thinking up recipes, smelling delicious smells, tasting delicious alcohol, reading wonderful books, and then all of the sudden...WHAP!!! It was suddenly thrown into a dark room, tied to a chair, and made to look into a bright light for 5-8 hours a day. And while my poor little brain was trying to comprehend what had happened it was tied up to a lot of other little brains in various states of confusion. These poor little brains were all stuffed full of information that seemed to come from nowhere at all and by the end of the first week they were so exhausted they could barely move the bodies that they lived in.

So today, after limping out to my car, and nearly getting into a car accident on my way home I decided a break from school was necessary. I tried to convince myself I had to start studying, but I knew if I did my poor brain would just give in and wind up whimpering in a dark corner. So I got home, put on my PJs, made some popcorn , and turned on Barefoot Contessa. I plan to watch through dinner and then, when my brain is restored, begin easing into studying. I have all night and the next three afternoons to catch up. I need to concentrate on learning, not grades, and keep my goal of being a good vet in mind.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Surgery, Anesthesia, and Sore Muscles.

Today was our second day in surgery lab. The topic of the day was understanding anesthesia equipment. Let me tell you, it makes loads of sense while it's being explained to you, but afterward it's as if your brain has been wiped clean of all knowledge. Any inkling of an idea you might have had when you were listening has suddenly been replaced with stone cold confusion. After figuring a few things out, and learning the basics I still felt like I knew absolutely nothing. I feel like I have watched countless people perform anesthesia in the past as if it was as simple as well, breathing! Turn a knob here, adjust a rate there and everything is peachy. I am sure however, that if I tried to do it my patient would blow up like a balloon and be found somewhere in the vicinity of the ceiling. Sigh. So tonight I am planning on reading the anesthesia book. Of course I also need to review all of my other class notes for Med 2, Zoo Med, Food Animal Med, Toxicology and Diagnostic Path. Plus I have a club meeting at 5:30. Bleeurghhh!!!

Ahhh but enough about school stress, lets talk about muscle stress. Ouch! My muscles are really sore from working out yesterday, partially due to intensity, partially due to a lack of drinking water today, since I left my water bottle at home. I'm having a hard time standing, let alone running or exercising. I guess I will just have to hydrate tonight and hope for the best tomorrow. Until then it's study time.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Chin up, Chin up, Everybody Loves a Happy Face!

I am back on the happy train again! I am studying (well, I'm taking a break now of course!) and exercising, and I am convinced I can eat healthfully from now on. I am also trying to figure out why my blood sugars have been off lately, but that is a different post. I think sometimes I just need an attitude adjustment, and the best way to do that for me is to stop focusing on myself and focus on other people, or goals. For instance I made cookies for Max's roommate because he was worried about his upcoming test and he was very excited about them. Then I took the rest to school for people to eat, and everyone loved them. That certainly boosted my mood, and not because everyone was complimentary about them, just because sometimes I think college students miss home, and what better way to help them feel at home and remind them of all those wonderful homey things than to make cookies?

So what about goals? What about doing something fun? Yesterday I went to the Large Animal Vet and helped him vaccinate calves! It was a great learning experience and I think he may have appreciated the help, as it took us about 5 hours to vaccinate 85 calves! Being out in the Kansas sun, with rolling grassy slopes, wild flowers and trees was great, and really helped boost my mood. I also got to learn about Large animal medicine. Something I am really interested in, and have been considering pursuing as a career! So that was great!
I am working on keeping these things in mind to prevent relapses of moody sadness. I hate being sad, then Max feels sad, I get sadder, and then forget what I am working toward and just mope around like a slug in a winter garden. So back to feeling good, working hard and striving to improve myself.

P.S. All creatures need to do what's fun and relaxing, so one of my other goals is to do something fun daily! Whether it's taking a mud bath at Warrior Dash, hanging out with friends, or just taking a nice long nap!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Recipes for Fall 2010

Cooking makes me happy, especially baking. Whenever I get bored or stressed, I know I can look up a recipe, make it, and make somebody happy when they eat it. It also helps me because it's methodical, it takes time, planning and a small amount of work, and in the end, when you are waiting for something to come out of the oven, their is that tiny bit of suspense and anticipation of seeing how everything comes out. So to help keep me sane during school I have decided to bake once a week, most likely on Friday afternoons or Saturday mornings. This way I can either a) have fun with a new recipe, or b) bake something that I can use for breakfast or snacks during the week. Below is the schedule I am going to use, this schedule may change with tests and holidays etc. but I am going to try to stick to it as much as possible! I am including where I got the recipes from (if they are , in case anyone else would like to cook along with me!

September 4th: Corn Bread
September 11th: Lemon Melting Moments (ittybittykitchen.com)
September 18th: Cottage Cheese Muffins (101cookbooks.com)
September 24th: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles (loveandoliveoil.com)

October 2nd: Celtic Knot Cookies (www.sprinklebakes.com)
October 8th: Pumpkin Bread Pudding (closetcooking.blogspot.com)
October 16th: Oatmeal Cream Pies
October 22nd: Greek Pizza Muffins
October 29th: Homemade Candy Corn (seriouseats.com)

November 3rd: Max's Birthday Surprise!!!
November 13th: Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake
November 19th:Maple Baked Apples
November 24th: Upside-Down Cranberry Corn Bread (gildedfork.com)

December 4th: Healthy Blueberry Lemon Scones (gimmesomeoven.com)
December 11th: Medley Muffins (gimmesomeoven.com)
December 18th: Cake or Death Cake
December 24th: To Be Arranged
December 31st: To Be Arranged

The Truth About Vet School

The truth about vet school is, it makes me absolutely miserable. Since school started on Monday I have cried three times, felt depressed every day, become lethargic, grouchy, all but given up on diet and exercise plans, and my blood sugars have been crap. Compare that to the summer, when those things didn't happen and I could stick to my diet/exercise plan easily. So....I guess I have to try not to let school have such a negative affect on me. I'm not sure how I am going to do it, but I have to get healthy and I can't let school get in my way. I'll do my best.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Warrior Dash Rockies!!!

This past weekend a brave team of vet students (and their significant others) chose to spend their last weekend of summer break, not quietly sipping margaritas or wine at home, but making the seven hour drive to Denver, CO to participate in one of the most fabulous, gut wrenching and masochistic races in the history of mankind! That's right Warrior Dash!!! If you haven't heard about it you should really check it out, especially if you love to run, climb, wade through mud pits/rivers, and jump over fire. This was without a doubt the best day of my summer, and I can't wait for the next Warrior Dash.

The day started at 9:30. We went to a diner called Sam No. 3 for breakfast. They were highly recommended by the hotel for their delicious breakfast burritos, and if the crowd of locals didn't convince you the food was good, I don't know what would. They were packed! The hostess was nice enough to seat our group of 9 together, and we feasted on giant pancakes, french toast, and of course burritos. The only problem we had was that we couldn't take our leftovers home, and many of us left a considerable amount of our giant portions on our plates.

After breakfast we walked around downtown Denver. There were a ton of interesting restaurants, bakeries, and shops. We went to The Tattered Cover Book Store, and I never wanted to leave! They had a huge selection covering anything and everything, including a section on how to grow marijuana. Which was rather funny. My roomates asked if they had a section on growing plants indoors, as most of our houseplants were a bit worse for wear after summer. A hop, skip and a jump later they were presented with the....ahem...wrong section. After correcting the shopkeeper they were escorted to the less criminal of the botanical how to's, and began researching remedies for yellowed leaves and drooping foliage. Meanwhile I was wandering around the store in awe. I did manage to find two books I wanted to buy. The first being The Tower, The Zoo and The Tortoise, which was a lovely and whimsical book (I read it on the way back to Kansas), that I would suggest to anyone. The second was The Elegance of the Hedgehog, which I have not read yet, but must be good, as 1) it has the word Hedgehog in the title and 2) at least 3/4 of the employees in the store seemed to have read the book and highly recommended it. It was a great place to visit, and maybe someday I can go back and take a little more time to look around.

Finally we set out for Copper Mountain, the resort where Warrior Dash was being held. Our wave started at 4:00, and it only took us an hour to get there so on the way we stopped at a beautiful lake and hiked/relaxed for an hour. Eventually we got to our final destination, and the excitement began to build up to epic proportions! As we walked to the main camp we saw all sorts of people dressed as vikings, warriors, and Roman soldiers. There was also a guy in a gorilla suit, a guy dressed in a regular suit, an oompa loompa, and quail man (TV show: Doug on Nickelodeon). Many of us were just in our work out clothes, but Brittany, being on the ball, provided us all with pink stick on mustaches to lend us an air of masculinity. Everyone took their place in line, and as flames shot up from the starting line we took off. Our first obstacle was to jump over some cars that were blocking the road. This was followed quickly by a giant wall of hay we had to scale. To save time and energy I slid down the other side, and headed for the steep hill that we had to climb up, hand over hand, with a rope. After that it was up the mountain. Slowly but surely we trudged up, running long forgotten. After finally reaching the top I began to run again down the mountain. Here I made up some time, and I went as fast as I dared until I reached the next obstacle, tires that we had to go through via knee highs. More running followed until we got to the mud pit. This was the worst obstacle of all. The pit was about a foot and a half deep with barbed wire running over it. We plunged in, but quickly discovered that the mud was full of sharp little rocks! Every time a knee or a hand went down for the next slog forward flesh would grind against stone, and I had to grit my teeth to get through. Immediately after this there were tunnels sloping uphill we had to crawl through. I thought my knees hurt before! The tunnels were slippery with mud from others who had gone before us, and they were smooth inside, with nothing to grip. Luckily the tunnels were comprised of three tubes linked together and every time two tubes met there was a lip that I could get my fingers around and haul myself forward. My knees, covered with mud, continued to be assaulted by the sharp bits of gravel that had clung on from the mud pit, and were in a shocking state when I finally emerged from the tunnel.

To tired and heavy with mud to jog Brian and I walked for several more minutes until we regained our strength. We then jogged to the warrior walls and hoisted ourselves over, followed by the cargo nets, and the balance beams. Finally we got to the river crossing. We waded in and took a moment to clean some of the mud from our hands and arms, then it was up the other side and jogging again. At this point we knew we were close to the end. Suddenly, ahead of us, we could see two of the people from our group walking. We cheered for them as we ran up, and Bryan decided to walk with them awhile. I chose to keep running, and as I moved past them Bryan changed his mind and we kept on jogging! One hundred and fifty yards later we were closing in on the last obstacle, the warrior roast. Two 2 ft. tall lines of fuel and ember that were on fire. Picking up speed we vaulted over the first and then the second, and finally ran across the finish line!!! There we were met by our medals, friends, and water! Brian got a big kiss from Brady, as everyone cheered in the rest of our group. After many pictures we headed off to get cleaned up...but we still had one more challenge ahead.

Although there were showers at warrior dash, they consisted of cold water. We were therefore advised to jump in the pond at the resort to clean off. As I tottered in over uneven rocks the frigid water robbed me of any breath I had caught after the run. Finally I tightened my jaw and plunged into the murky, icy depths. Coming up, I quickly regained my footing and began scrubbing at my arms and legs to remove the mud. I also tried to get as much out of my shirt as possible and was very thankful that I wore shorts that were not very absorbent and easily cleaned of the mud. By this time I had gotten quite numb and was really warm standing in the water, so I dunked my head under to clean the mud out of my hair and off my face. Eventually we all got out, dripping and frigid. We went up the hill and I indulged in the purchase of a sweatshirt. In the bathroom I removed the cold heav shirt I had on and replaced it with the warm, dry one. I then headed to the food tent for some corn on the cob, as being from Indiana I had to get my fix. Finally I returned to my friends and we all gathered to drink our complimentary beer together. The sun came out, music played and there were happy people everywhere. After enjoying our drinks we decided to head home and get cleaned up.

Back at the hotel the shower was glorious. Of course my knees took issue with all the mud coming off, and bled freely to express their distaste. Finally clean, and relatively clotted (Everyones knees were scratched, scraped and bleeding), we headed out to enjoy, you guessed it, more drinking. We went to a very nice restaurant and sat on the patio to enjoy a glass of wine (me and Ann) or cocktails (everyone else). It was a beautiful night and there were all sorts of interesting people out. At 12:30 we paid our bill and walked to a dueling piano bar called Wild Ivories. It was request night so we heard many of our favorites from high school and undergrad. The piano players were hilarious but I think we were all a bit relieved when we left at closing time (1:00 am). Back at the hotel we all gathered in one of the rooms to talk and play clue. It was wonderful, but soon it was 3:30, so we said goodnight, put on our pj's and finally collapsed into bed.

Overall it was fantastic! I had a great time with my friends, I bought some great books, and I got to see Denver a little more. I definitely want to go back and take some time to enjoy the city. My time for the Warrior Dash was 48 minutes and 5 seconds. I plan to keep training so that I can beat my time the next Dash I go to. I am trying to convince Max to go with me to Texas or Ohio for the next one, I think he would have a blast!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tenaciously Hanging on Equals Success!!!

Yesterday and today have turned out great so far! My mentorship yesterday was filled with cows, bulls, and calves, and all had procedures that I needed to observe/do on my check list for the mentorship. I got to preg check a cow and this time I actually felt something besides a lot of soft squishyness. It was a calf! Yay!!! I also learned how to do breeding soundness exams, and gave vaccines to some little calves. I even made Dr. Klentz laugh, so it was a great day at the Mentorship. When I got home Max had made a delicious and healthy dinner of Ratatoulli with couscous, yum! Then we went and sold my Ipod Shuffle, which I hadn't used in ages, for $20.00, which I was very happy with. Then we went to Cold Stone for a treat, and finally came home, where we met Adrian, Michelle and Elizabeth who came over for a nice glass of wine while watching Princess and the Frog! It was a lovely night!

This morning after a restful sleep I woke up and weighed myself. I actually lost 2 lbs. ! What?!?!? I have no idea how that happened but it did! Now I have 2 great dresses that I haven't been able to wear in ages that fit! Yes!!! I wish I could say it was because of exercise and a rigid diet, but alas, I haven't been able to exercise for the past week due to the mentorship and my diet has been sporadic on the calories. I guess I will just keep doing what I am doing. I can't wait to start exercising once school starts though!

(I love the Far Side, this has been my favorite strip from it since I was about 10 years old!)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Plum Tuckered Out.

The past few days have been full of excitement for me. On Wednesday I went to an important meeting with one of my teachers from Vet School. He is coordinating a new satellite school for Chinese students and is working with The Chinese Association of Veterinary Medicine to help improve the standard of care for all animals in China. At the meeting he announced to me that I would be his part time employee during the school year, and would be helping bring all of these projects to fruition. Yay!!! I finally have something going for me in vet school!

On Thursday I started my final mentorship at a mixed practice in Clay Center, KS. So far I've seen a few cows, and lots of dogs and cats. It has been really fun, but every night I come home so tired I can barely make it inside. Luckily Max has been making dinner most nights, so I can come home and veg on the couch. Still, I have been far to exhausted to bake, blog, or exercise. I have also been in a terrible mood. I have been really depressed and angry at myself, and I can't really figure out why. I just feel like I am constantly failing at life, and anything else I try to do. Soooo...good news, bad news and lots of uncertainty. Hopefully I will bake something tonight or tomorrow. I have muffins to make!

P.S. I love this baby anteater (Zooborns.com). He looks so sleepy, just like me. :)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Weighty Issues

This afternoon while Max was away I watched the show "Too fat for 15" followed by "Huge". Both are shows about weight loss boarding school/camp for teens and pre-teens. Huge was very much a television show, complete with unrequited love, forbidden love, and a politically correct cast. They also concentrated a lot on weight as a measure of success. The entire show centered around the dreaded weigh in day, when everyone would find out if they were successful or not. Hmm.

"Too Fat for 15", was a bit more realistic. I liked fact that they talked a lot more about the emotional side of food and eating. They showed group therapy sessions, counselors that worked at the school, and the families of the kids. I found it interesting that several of the parents bringing their children to the school had recently gotten lap band surgery, or other forms of surgery to aid in weight loss. I really hope the camp works for these kids. I hope they can learn to live healthfully and value themselves even if they aren't the commercial ideal of what people should look like. I hope they don't see what their parents are doing as a quick fix. Losing weight takes time and effort, and I hope these shows don't detract from the work it takes to accomplish and sustain good habits.

Meanwhile, I continue to struggle with my own issues. I have been tracking what I eat and exercising. I feel healthier, but I don't think I have lost a bit of weight. I know I just have to keep plugging away, but it's difficult when you feel like nothing is happening, or when you feel like you are doing something wrong. I have been trying to figure out my BMR, but every site gives me something different. One will say 1100 calories a day, the other will say 2100 calories a day, how am I supposed to figure out how many calories to eat, if I don't know how many I actually burn? I really wish I could get some sort of medical consult or personal nutrition/training consult, but that will have to wait until I get Rent, Parking pass, utilities, books, medical supplies, and groceries paid for. Hopefully in that order. Blurrgh. All of this should get easier once school starts. I'll be able to get some sort of schedule going, be able to put my budget into practice and have a huge distraction in the form of school. That's what helped me lose weight the first time. The less I think about it the better.

Losing weight isn't that hard if you just stick to the basics, diet, exercise, emotions. I just have to stay mindful of of that, and keep going. Hopefully I'll start seeing results soon.

P.S. The pictures are from Zooborns.com. They are Puggles, or baby Echidnas. I think they are super cute!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Glazed Doughnut Mufins

Mmmmm...sounds good! These were a snap to make and they look great, especially once you get the glaze on them. I have really been aching to make some kind of doughnut lately. I probably shouldn't, but I just can't silence that little voice inside my head telling me to try it. I think that some small part of me imagines I will be great at it, perfect the ultimate recipe and then make my brother happy when I go home for the holidays. Never mind that I have never made doughnuts in my life, am horrible at frying anything, and my brother is probably moving to either coast in the near future for work. Yeah. So I have no real reason to make doughnuts other than fun and adventure....something I should probably get from going outside.....but I digress. The muffins were actually found on another food blog, so I decided to try them out, unfortunately I built them up in my mind and expected them to taste exactly like glazed doughnuts. Wellllll....maybe not so much. They hint at tasting like doughnuts, but they don't give that kick, simply because they are not fried and well....that is kind of the point of the classical doughnut. All in all however, they were tasty and Max agreed they tasted even better the next day!

Glazed Doughnut Muffins Recipe:
(Adapted from My Baking Addiction, who adapted it from King Arthur Flour)

For the Batter

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 to 1 ¼ teaspoons ground nutmeg, to taste
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk

For the Glaze

3 tablespoons butter; melted
1 cup confectioners’ sugar; sifted
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons hot water

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a standard muffin tin. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars till smooth. Add the eggs, beating to combine. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla. Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan, filling the cups nearly full. Bake the muffins for 15 to 17 minutes, or until they’re a pale golden brown and pas the toothpick test.

In a medium bowl, prepare the glaze by mixing together the melted butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and water. Whisk until smooth. When muffins have cooled slightly, dip the muffin crown into the glaze and allow the glaze to harden. Enjoy!

I had so much fun making these! It always helps when something looks and tastes good! It also helps to have a great kitchen helper, and camera man when you can't get it focused right *ahem*.

Hedgehog Flea Alert

It was a quiet evening last week when I decided Twitch needed some play time outside of her cage. Actually, I think I was rather down about something or other, probably school again, but Twitch and Max are my main comforters when it comes to any catastrophe, great or small. Anyways, I picked her up and was cuddling her when suddenly a giant flea came wiggling out on my arm! I yelled for Max and rushed Twitch into the bathroom. I turned her over so I could see her belly and low and behold there were about 10 fleas wiggling around, looking for cover. I turned the water on in the bathroom sink and ran Twitch a nice warm bath while capturing fleas and tossing them into the toilet for flushing. Poor Twitch just sat there watching me cuss angrily at fleas, as I picked them off and berated them for choosing my beloved Hedgehog as their home. Finally I had removed all the visible fleas, and Twitch went for a paddle in the sink to scare out any remaining offenders (2) which I picked off and flushed as well.

The next step was to empty out her box. Since fleas usually remain in the vicinity of their host I figured, they were probably still confined to her enclosure, and were not running around the house showering it with eggs. I quickly trashed the bedding and all disposable toys, washed out her dishes, and took her wheel, tunnel and the enclosure outside. That being done, we decided to go to bed, and take Twitch to the vet to get some flea medication the following day (Monday).

The next day proved frustrating. The Exotics service at the Vet School was closed for the next three weeks, and there was only one other vet clinic that would see Hedgehogs in town. I really didn't want to go there, because I have had 2 friends who worked there and they told me all the shady things that go on there (One of my friends lost half of his finger, no joke!). So I decided to try and find my wonderful Parasitology professors, because they could give me the prescription I needed for flea preventative. Of course they were out as well, so it was off to the dreaded clinic.

To be fair, the clinic was very nice. The receptionists were efficient and helpful, and the vet saw us promptly. If I had not had a biased opinion going in I would have been quite impressed. The vet prescribed Revolution (Half the kitten dose for my 400 gram Hedgehog) and after applying it we went back home and cleaned Twitch's house and toys so she could relax.

SO how did Twitch get fleas in the first place? Well, she has been at my Mom's house all summer, with three cats, one witch was very curious about her, and insisted on climbing in the box to watch her more closely. Of course the cats go outside all the time, so as soon as the cat jumped in with Twitch she probably dropped eggs and fleas in the box, and the rest is history.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Covert Chocolate Chip Scones

Max is an excellent boyfriend. He is thoughtful, considerate, he buys me flowers, he makes me coffee in the morning, he eats all of my baking experiments, and always cheers me up when I'm down. So whenever I get the chance I try to do little things to make him happy. I've felt very guilty lately because I get up super early and eat breakfast, leaving him to fend for himself. So I decided one morning to make him something special for breakfast. I love being sneaky!

Problem! Limited groceries available! I didn't want to leave and come back because I was afraid he would wake up. SO I scoured the internet for a simple, but tasty recipe for breakfast. After about 5 minutes of searching, voila! Chocolate chips scones from The Joy of Baking Website! I managed to collect all of the ingredients save 2, which I substituted for other things. All in all they came out quite well, and tasted quite a bit like chocolate chip cookies...with the lovely soft texture of a freshly baked scone. I was quite happy with them, and Max was very excited when he got up!

Almost Joy of Baking Chocolate Chip Scones:

2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup White Sugar
1 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 cup Butter, cold and cut into pieces
1 cup of Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 tsp Vanilla
3/4 cup Milk

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees, place the rack in the middle of the oven, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine all the dry ingredients (except the chocolate chips), and then cut in the butter with a pastry cutter. It should now look like coarse crumbs.

In a separate bowl, stir together milk and vanilla, then slowly add to the dry mixture until it is fully incorporated. Be careful not to overmix. Transfer to a floured surface and knead 5 times. Pat into a circle that is about 1 -1 1/2 inches thick and about 7 inches in diameter.

Cut the circle in half, then cut each half into 4 pieces, so you get a total of eight scones.

Place the scones on a baking sheet and brush the tops with just a bit of milk.

Bake for 15 minutes , or until they pass the toothpick test. cool on a wire rack for a few minutes to avoid burned fingers.

These scones turned out great! I would give them 4/5 stars, and will definitely make them again for my brother and friends in the future.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Two Failures...and a Couple of Dissapointments.

It's always disappointing when recipes don't work out. I've had a couple so far this summer that just didn't come close to working. So I chronicling them here for future reference. I also would like to include two recipes that just didn't work out for me. One was for Carrot cake cupcakes. The recipe was supposed to be the best carrot cake ever. For me it was far to oily. The recipe called for 1 1/2 cups which made the cupcakes sink in the middle, and saturated the cupcake liners. What I took from those muffins is, even if someone is older and wiser than you when it comes to food, doesn't mean you should go against your instincts. Perhaps the recipe was good for this person, but especially for me, the oil was way too much. I plan to try a different recipe soon, and I hope to have better results.

The second recipe was for Hummus. It was good, but not the best I had ever tasted. It was the same as most commercial hummus, which now that I think about it is probably why it was the "Best Hummus ever Made". SO perhaps it's just my misconception. Anyways, on to my personal failures.

The first were the above brownies. They were Peanut Butter Banana Brownies. The one problem, I used banana flavoring instead of real bananas. The real bananas would have made these brownies excellent. They were too small and the banana flavoring came out light and odd. So next time, a layer of real banana or some mashed banana in the batter.

The next recipe was for oatmeal lace cookies, which were supposed to be tiny, crispy, morsels. They were, to date, the hardest thing I have ever tried to make. I mixed them up, put them on the sheet, and they came out like this.

I had to scrape them off the foil, and destroyed them in the process. The edges lifted well enough but the middle was so soft that the cookies fell into a million tiny pieces. Max still liked the taste though! So the next batch I made extra small, because I thought maybe they just needed to be cooked really dry.

They came out a bit better, but some still cracked in the middle. Which was the same for the last batch as well. Boo. I really don't know what went wrong. Hopefully in the future I can figure it out and make these like they were supposed to be.

Hoosier Daddy!!! Cornbread

Random Indiana Factoid: People from Indiana are called Hoosiers. Not Indianans or Indianites, Hoosiers. No one really knows where the word came from although legends abound. I only remember two from my high school history class. The first involved a drunken bar room brawl in which some poor fellows ear was chopped off with a knife. Afterwards when the bartender was sifting through debris he gingerly picked up the lost ear, and inquired, "Whose ear?". An interesting story...although perhaps it would be more feasible and food blog worthy if someone was cooking up pig ears and inquired whose ear it was he had just fried up. Probably not mine. The other story involves the fact that in the olden days Indiana folk would always call out , "Whose there?" When someone knocked on the door. Really? I think everyone would be called a Hoosier if that were true. Hmmm...perhaps I should do some more research into this pigs ear theory. Maybe Hoosiers were once known for their voracious consumption of pigs ears...we do have a lot of pork production.

Anyways, now that I have finished that diatribe, I shall explain my real purpose here which is to give you a pretty tasty recipe for Cornbread *Ahhhh (Angels sing)*. Corn is one of the chief exports of Indiana, mostly for animal feed, but we get great sweet corn in the summer, and it has always been one of my favorite foods. Corn on the cob, corn bread, corn pudding, corn muffins, corn mush, popcorn, could it get any better? Oh, and in case you were wondering we also export soy beans, pop corn (different from regular corn), and duck. Yes duck, we are the largest producer/exporter of duck in the United States thanks to Maple Leaf Farms : http://www.mapleleaffarms.com/1, but back to the cornbread!

This recipe was adapted from a healthy corn bread recipe I found online and Ina Gartens recipe for jalapeno cornbread. It is a coarse, savory bread with just a pinch of spice. Overall I would give it a 3/5 stars. I would have liked to have a bit more of the spice come through, and in the end I would like the bread to be a but more moist. Hopefully I will have a chance to improve upon it soon.

Hoosier Daddy Cornbread Recipe:

Servings: 12 Calories per Serving: 130

1 cup of flour
1 1/2 cup of corn meal
1/3 cup of sugar
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp paprika
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and grease an 8x8 baking dish. In a large bowl mix all dry ingredients. Stir in milk, eggs and jalapenos until it has just been combined. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until it passes the toothpick test.

If you are worried about calories this is relatively safe! Made with 2% milk it is 130 calories per serving, which is good for a corn bread recipe! I hope you enjoy it, I certainly am, and Max said it was a great cornbread that was delightfully different from those he had in the past. That's all for now, happy baking!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Blackberry Jammer Thyme!

Mmmm blackberry! If I had to choose one jam to eat the rest of my life it would be this one. The dark sweetness with just a touch of tang is simply irresistible. I was thinking about Max and I's trip to Nevada one evening and decided that a recipe with blackberry jam would be a fun distraction.

You see when we went to visit Max's family in July we all went out for breakfast together one Sunday. As we were all talking I watched Max's Dad go through the huge basket of jams and jellies that had been provided for morning toast. After a careful search he triumphantly held up a single small packet of blackberry jam, which he gloated over with the glee only a true foody can manage. Apparently the western states don't get a lot of blackberry jam, or maybe people just eat it all. Who knows! Despite the fact it is a rarity in Reno, I happened to have a jar tucked away in my Kansas refrigerator, and despite the fact I could not find a recipe that I could use (missing ingredients are a real pain!) I set out to create a blackberry jam crumble bar... thing.

The recipe turned out pretty well, especially since I have very little creative baking experience. Most of my baking consists of following pre-fabricated recipes that I am pretty sure will come out delicious. This was an amalgamation of several recipes and me, so I am a bit proud! For all my work I would probably give it a 3 out of 5 stars. It tasted good, it looked good, but there are some textural issues with the base that need to be worked out before the recipe is actually perfected. You'll also notice that I added Thyme to the recipe. I have no real explanation for this other than I thought the lemony flavor might bring out the blackberry goodness a bit more, and I wanted to see what would happen. So here is the recipe, and if you would like to try it, comment on it, or send me improvements to try I would be thrilled. I hope to finalize the recipe sometime in the future!
Blackberry Jammer Thyme Recipe:

1/2 cup of white sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup of butter or margarine (I had margarine on hand, and it's cheap. Yeah.)
1 egg
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1 large jar of Blackberry Jam
2 packets of cinnamon flavored instant oatmeal (about a cup)
4 Tbsp of flour
1/2 cup of brown sugar
3 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp salt

In a large bowl combine the first 7 dry ingredients until well mixed. With a fork, cut in the butter and eggs until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pat the dough into a greased 8x8 baking dish, making it as even as possible. Spread a thick layer of blackberry jam over the dough, about 3/4 of the jar if you want a nice thick layer. Finally, combine the last 7 ingredients in a bowl until the mix looks crumbly and delicious. Spread the crumb mixture over the jam. Place in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before cutting into squares. Serve warm with ice cream!

Summer Baking Extravaganza

So, I am changing my life style for the better, I am eating healthy foods, exercising daily, drinking lots of water.....but sometimes I just can't help myself, and the baking itch begins. The result? In the 2-3 weeks I have been back in Manhattan I have baked carrot cake, 2 batches of brownies, 2 batches of corn bread, snack bars, cookies, crumbles, etc. This comes from a combination of watching too much food network, having loads of cookbooks around, and reading food blogs. Lucky for me I have plenty of people to eat them and get them out of the house...except for the cornbread. The cornbread is mine! Muhahhahaahaaaaaaaaa!

Anyways, I have decided that since I have so many recipes and pictures I am going to start posting them. I hope that they will add a little fun and inspiration to the blog, as far as cooking is concerned. I also hope to chronicle more healthy recipes in the future, but for now these will have to suffice!

P.S. Here is a picture of Max and I at the FT. Wayne Childrens Zoo. Since Max is usually my partner in cooking crime, I thought it was high time he got a picture on the blog. Isn't he cute! <3