Friday, May 28, 2010

Cooking with Sara: Brown Sugar Pork and Southwest Quinoa Salad

Happy Memorial Day, my lovelies!  Be sure to hug and thank a serviceman this weekend in appreciation!  Both my Dad and Brother are ex-Navy, so I'm sending them a big, "Thank you for your dedication, commitment, and sacrifice!"

Now, to the recipes:  Some of you may know about my tortured relationship with pork.  I've tried and tried and tried to cook it, but it fails me every time.  I can whip up a fantastic steak, an oven-roasted chicken, and sea bass to melt your heart.  But, pork?  The last time I cooked it, I ended up throwing my silicone potholders across the room, and Bo immediately hopped up with an offer to pick up something from a restaurant.  (In my defense, the dang meat probe was set to Celsius, and I way way way overcooked the pork as a result.  And then threw the potholders.)  So I thought I'd give it one last go.  Of course, I didn't actually cook it.  In my world, bbq-ing and grilling is strictly a Man Job.  I don't even know how to turn on our grill, and I like it that way.  So, I whipped up this marinade and let Bo work the grill magic outside.

The salad recipe is a variation of a Texas Caviar salad recipe given to me by Chimly's family.  The Texas Caviar recipe is yum city as written, but I thought it would be fun and interesting to add quinoa to the mix.  And, we loved it!  Be sure to make it at least a couple of hours before your bbq so that it can get really chilled and let the flavors set in.

Happy long weekend, everyone!  Be safe out there!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Whistling Dixie

My name's not Dixie.  And I ain't from around these parts. 

And did you know that I can't whistle?  Like, I do not know how to whistle.  My sister thinks it's hilarious.  Bo thinks I'm just not trying.  When I whistle, what comes out is an airy whisper of a sound.  On a good day, I can get one clear sound to emerge.  On a really really good day, I can sputter out a tune - as long as it doesn't contain more than 3 different tones.

Now, none of this has really bothered me thus far in life.  I actually thought of it as a fun unique thing I have going for me.  Until now.  See,  Rory has totally traitored on me.  She left the land of Sara Love to set up camp in Bo Town.  I'm pretty much only interesting to her when I've got a treat or when I say, "Wannagoforaride?"  Aside from that, she's totally become Bo's dog.  It's entirely unfair.  I routinely remind her that I'm the one who adopted her, I'm the one who buys her food, I'm the one who gave her a name.  But none of this seems to matter.  If Bo whistles at her, she immediately gives him her attention.  I can yell or clap (my latest favorite for trying to change her focus), but it's as if I'm doing nothing.  So, I've decided that I need to learn how to whistle.  Even tho I only know men who do this (my dad, included), I'm convinced that, unlike bbq-ing, it's not a gender-based ability.

So tonight, I asked my good pal Herr Google to teach me how to whistle.  To be honest, I'm astounded at the number of results that came back.  I had no idea that so many people had broken whistlers just like me!  EHow promises me that with practice, I will be able to whistle "with comfort and ease."  (Oh.  I hadn't even thought about its being comfortable.  Are you whistlers out there doing it uncomfortably?  This is information I might need if I'm venturing over to your side.)  Another site instructed me to practice in front of the mirror for 5 minutes every day.  (That sounds like way too much commitment for me.  Pass.)

These instructions for a fingerless whistle are fabulously detailed, so I might* just have to give them a shot.  But then I found a whole slew of how-to videos:


I wonder how much practice this will require?  I really need to learn how to whistle like this if I have any hopes of stealing my dog back being able to get Rory's attention when she's focused on a squirrel.  

Do any of you have broken whistles?  Anyone else want to join me on my quest?  Let's check back in a couple of weeks to compare notes, alrighty?

* "Might" because I'm currently sitting on the couch sitting next to Bo.  Who's deeply involved in the playoff game on tv.  I'm not about to practice this and potentially hyperventilate.   It's not even halftime, and I fear I'd be dead by the time he noticed my limp body turning blue.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Come to My Window

Remember when I was gushing last week about how much I love it here?  What with the seasons, and all the green, and the trees everywhere, and the forest behind my house?  And I mentioned wanting to show you the before and after pictures of that forest?  Well.  Here they are!

dated 3/25:
just this morning, 5/24:

same forest, same shot - 2 months apart:

Can I tell you how much I love having this to see outside my window in the mornings?!  God help us when dreamy, dreamy Autumn arrives, and I become a slobbering mess.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cooking with Sara: Gimme My Baby Bok, Baby Bok, Baby Bok Choy

Today is my day on the food blog, and I whipped up a salad and a dressing.....

Baby Bok Choy...

Baby Baby Bok Choy!!

Balancing the Bok:

Oh yeah, she totally spit it out after this.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hi, and Hello

I've so been wanting to post something - anything! - lately, because I miss writing, but I just keep not having time to do it.  I swear, I spend every evening in my kitchen, working on something (3 new recipes made in the last 12 hours?...check!).  While I am standing in that corner of my house, my mind is somewhere else entirely, and I've written somewhere around 182 blog posts in my mind.  I'm really, really starting to see the benefits of software that could transcribe my voice to text.  Course, you never know what kind of rambling you might get out of me at midnight, covered in dipping chocolate, listening to Paramore too loud, while trying to assemble Lamb Pops.  Rory isn't entertained by my dialogue, but who's to say that no one else wouldn't love it? :)

I keep trying to think of a quick recap to my week so far, but all signs point back to food.  Does my life and every speck of my time truly revolve around food?  I hate being that person who's only got one topic she can ever talk about.  You know that girl - every conversation eventually swings around back toward that one topic she loves.  Gah, people, I don't want to be that girl!!  Anyway, enough about my obsessions and inability to manage time (my 2nd favorite topic, am I right?)....

I do want to gush a little about Spring here in Atlanta.  Spring has always been my least favorite season.  I mean, c'mon - it just can't compete with the awesomess of Fall and Winter, no chance!  But now that I'm once again living in a place with distinct seasons, I have a newfound love for Spring.  Every morning, I stare out the window in my bathroom to see how the forest has changed overnight.  And it really does change overnight, it's amazing.  Another blog post I've written tens of times in my head is a before-and-after photo compare of the view from my bathroom window.  I snapped a phone-pic of it 2 months ago, and the trees and foliage have changed drastically in that short amount of time.  These days, spending any kind of time outdoors and in nature just fills me with peace.  It instantly calms my frantic state of being.  Ahhhhhh...Peaceful Sara....We like her :)

I'm seriously so in love with living here.

{ happy, contented sighs. }

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cooking with Sara: Steak Bites

Recently, a new friend told me about how amazing Pioneer Woman's Steak Bites recipe is, so of course, I had to try it. 

The recipe itself is a little wordy and detailed, but the whole thing goes together in under 10 minutes!  And it really is goooood.  I'll definitely be making this again.  I might even experiment with adding other flavors with the butter - wine?  Fresh herbs?  Soy or teriyaki sauce?  Just a smidge of any of those would probably taste really good.

Also, I have to put in my two cents here about red meat:  First off, I really don't know a thing about cuts of meat.  I typically wait until Filet is on sale and then buy it.  Because, it's hard to screw up Filet Mignon; it really doesn't need much of anything added to it, and it's delicious.  Aside from that, I really like to buy "natural" meat.  I know, I know - that "natural" label is impossible to regulate, and you don't truly know how much more natural the meat is than regular stuff.  But I will say this:  Bo and I can totally taste the difference.  Whenever I spring for "natural" meats in the butcher case, they've tasted better.  I'd like to think that their claims of zero hormones are, indeed, better for me, but who really knows. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Popping My Head Up

Yes, I'm still alive. Just more swamped than usual. I didn't think it was possible, and then.....It's a horrible habit of mine - I'm continually piling things onto my to-do list, until I've hit the point where I scream, "NO MORE!" I've struggled with over-achiever-ness my whole life, and I'm sure it will be an issue til the day I die. At least these past handful of years have taught me to be better at recognizing the signs. They've also taught me that it's ok to not have it all. I don't have to beat myself up for not being able to accomplish every single item on my list; it's ok to let some of them go. It's ridiculously hard, but it's ok.  One day, I'll reach that place of wisdom and enlightenment, and my life will be filled with peace and contentment.  Right?  Please?  Please say yes? 

For now, I'll give you the quick recap of my past two weeks:

I accepted a Sarandipity order of 300 Cupcake Pops to be shipped out this week... Check.

I shipped them out this week... Enormous Check.

My parents and brother came to visit Bo and me over Mother's Day... Check.

It was also Bo's birthday and Mom's birthday (on Mother's Day, yes)... Check.

Made a yumtacular scratch strawberry cake for them for that day (recipe to come)... Check.

Visited the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and was in *bliss* for every second I spent outdoors in nature (photos to come)... Check.

I accepted a Sarandipity order of 300 Cupcake Pops to be shipped out in two weeks... Check.

Met a fabulous girl via Facebook who makes and sells toffee; we call her Sarah Toffee... Check.

Agreed to do a swap of my Pops for her Toffee next week (yummy photos and details to come!!)... Check.

Sister's foster dog had puppies 2 days ago, and she's making me smile with puppy photos.... Smiley Check.

....I'm sure there are more things, but I'm at a loss for the moment.  Tomorrow, I'm back to my regular recipe posting, and next week, I'll post some of my pretty flower pictures from the Botanical Gardens. 

Smiles & Hugs,  me