Tag Archives: Cooking

lessons in fun (do what you want!)

15 Apr

“What do you like to do for fun?” “What are your hobbies?” “What are your favorite things to do outside of (job/school)?”

On the surface, they are simple questions, usually posed by those who’d like to know you better, or often included on an application or bio form. Fun is not complicated or difficult, but when you really want to give the question a good answer, what do you say?

A few years ago, I seriously didn’t think I had any hobbies. Is Netflix a hobby? (It really, really shouldn’t be.)

What are hobbies, anyways? Some people might think of hobbies are like stamp collecting or model-making, but I think hobbies are those things you do that you really enjoy, but you’re not making money from it. It’s just for the pure enjoyment and maybe your even passion for it.

I was telling Brent my despair at being hobby-less a few years ago, and he just looked at me and was like, well, cooking is your hobby, isn’t it? Oh. Right. That thing that I really enjoy because it makes me happy and is a creative outlet that I can share with people. The giant cookbook collection, expansive Pinterest food board, unnecessary amount of aprons and far too many rubber spatulas… Yes! I have a hobby! It’s very exciting to have a hobby when you’ve been hobbyless.

Chair and tires watching Chopped together.

Chair and tires watching Chopped together.

Brent was also lamenting his hobbyless existence not too long ago. He didn’t think “working on his car” was really a hobby, especially since he doesn’t have a lot of time (or money) to devote to it. But the stack of tires in currently hanging out in our living room and the abundance of car-related parts and pieces in our storage unit beg to differ.

I think that’s the thing, though. We don’t always realize we have a “hobby” because we just like to do these things. We’re not experts or professionals, and that’s exactly what makes us hobbyists. You don’t have to be really good at something for it to be your hobby. You don’t have to be the best, you just have to have fun. You have to get something out of it.

The lovely paintings from Rifle Paper Co. and the cutest animal jewelry from The Small Wild Shop has really been

you-make-everything-beautiful-illustrated-art-print-01inspiring me lately. I’d love to be able to draw/paint/sculpt like that, but I don’t really know how, and I’m not super great at it. I even try to mess around with watercolors and acrylic paints, but give up quickly because I just don’t know how to work with them, and nothing turns out right.

Yesterday I got the community college continuing education catalog in the mail. (Right after my mom was telling me to look into taking a community ed class…good timing, Mom!) They have EVERY class in there, you can learn how to sell things on etsy, brew beer, file your own taxes, and plant a garden. Oh, and learn how to bake alcohol infused cup cakes. Everything. Even painting.mallards

Guys, I’m doing it. I’m taking the Painting 1 class they’re offering this summer. I’m not good at painting, and I don’t know how. But it can be my hobby if I let it be. I want painting to be my hobby. That’s my whole point after 500 rambling words. I get to pick my hobbies and the things I choose to have fun with.

So, how do you answer the question? What do you want to do for fun?

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My Week in Cooking

5 May

Wow, I just realized I didn’t post a single blog in April. That’s pathetic. I think it’s because I think I never have anything interesting to post. But now, I’m going to post whatever I feel like. So here’s my promise in digital ink: I’m going to post much more often. About whatever.

Today’s topic: cooking!

You know how people list hobbies or interests and it always sounds really cool and interesting? I always wish I was these people, with their novel writing or guitar playing. But Brent just pointed out to me recently that cooking and baking are my hobbies. I cook every day, so I didn’t really consider this a “hobby,” but it totally is. Because I love it.

When I tell people I cook every day, I usually get a side-eyed glance and a polite response, but I’m sure these people think I’m crazy. I admit, I’m lucky with my job and schedule because it leaves me a lot of time to cook, since I don’t commute and my hours are flexible.

I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but ever since I graduated college and got married, it really has become part of my life.

In college, I’d whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies or make some tacos, but cooking wasn’t my priority (obviously). I’d boil some pasta and cook up some chicken and call it a home cooked meal. Which, it is, but isn’t exactly gourmet.

As I got more time, I started to cook a lot more for people. My roommates and I would collaborate on a meal every so often, sometimes slaving away over a miniature stove (seriously, who puts in a half-sized oven in an apartment!?) with all the windows open and fans blasting in our 1930s, non-air-conditioned apartment building.

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Hey, it’s me in my college apartment kitchen! Notice the total lack of counter space and that stupid tiny stove in the background. I don’t miss that.

But once I had someone to cook for every day, I really got into it. Sharing the food I make is the best part about making food. I love scouring my magazines and cookbooks for interesting ideas, and my my food pinterest boards are totally full of recipes. I love hearing Brent’s approval as he scarfs down my latest creation. It’s one of th best parts of my day, too.

My meal prep actually begins on Sunday. I sit down with my cookbooks and pinterest and comb through recipes for the week. I ask Brent what he’s craving (which is almost always fish or “meat”) and start making a list.
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(Check out my funky new vegetarian cookbook! I picked it up at a garage sale this weekend, and it’s pretty great.)

I plan out what I want to make each day of the week (except for the weekends), and make my grocery list accordingly. This allows me to have everything I need on hand throughout the week, helping me avoid the last minute grocery store run. Admittedly, though, I still end up going back for something.

This approach to cooking also helps us eat healthy all week. Because I plan for it, we rarely play the “what are we having for dinner” game and cave into pizza or Chinese food delivery.
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The menu this week! I’m particularly excited for the broccoli casserole, which I found in a vintage 1960s copy of a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. There’s cream cheese and bleu cheese involved…yum!

More to come soon! Happy Monday, all.

 

 

 

 

 

Apple traditions with a twist

10 Oct

Like I said in my earlier post, this week is apple week. However, I forgot I came home with roughly 25 pounds of apples. So…in reality, it’s apple month.
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Apple season always meant apple crisp in my house growing up. My mom, bless her, doesn’t bake really at all, but she makes the absolute best apple crisp. Ironically, it’s made in the microwave. I know, this sounds like the worst. But it isn’t.

Somehow this magical apple crisp became a birthday tradition for me. My birthday is in December, and my mom asked if I wanted a cake but I asked for the crisp. I think we had some sort thing on my birthday that wouldn’t let us have a traditional birthday dinner, so I got apple crisp breakfast. I gotta tell you, that’s the breakfast of champions. I miss those!

I didn’t make apple crisp yet, though. (Don’t worry, I will!) I did, though, come up with a new crisp concoction that combines the best part of apple crisp – the sugary, crunchy, buttery topping- and the sweet bite of an apple cake. As much as I love the simplicity of apple crisp, I wanted to see where else crisp could go. I took a variation of my favorite blondie recipe and tweaked it, making an apple blondie base with this incredible topping. The blondie is really more cakey. This could be solved by omitting the baking powder, which I’ll try next time.

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It’s all very exciting.

You can throw this together super fast if you have a nifty apple peeler-corer-slicer combo, and you can pick one of those up for about $20. It’s definitely worth it if you have pounds upon pounds of apples lying around. I have a wine box full of apples right now.

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And please, have some of this for breakfast. It’s bound to make your morning a bit better!

Apple Crisp Blondies

For Blondies:

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 2 medium apples, cored, peeled, diced
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

For Crisp Topping

  • ½ cup brown sugar packed
  • ½ cup oats (old fashioned or quick)
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice)
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350, prepare a 9×9 greased baking pan (I used a 9 inch ceramic tart pan, and it worked wonderfully). Place parchment in bottom for easier release.

Prepare blondie batter:

In a medium bowl, wisk brown sugar and melted butter together until well blended (a minute or so). Wisk in the egg until well combined. Fold in the chopped apples and pecans. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together, and then slowly stir in to your apple mixture; the batter will be very thick.

Prepare Crisp:

Wisk brown sugar, oats, flour, and cinnamon together until well combine. Add in melted butter and wisk until mixture forms small clumps. Sprinkle mixture evenly on top of blondie batter, pressing down very lightly to adhere crumbs.

Bake for 42-45 minutes, letting blondies cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting. I cut mine into wedges, since I used a tart pan. Store these in the fridge – they’re good cold or warmed up.