My Blue Heaven, and Brining 101

So there’s this place I go during the Summer, it takes three hours to get there, and what feels like an eternity to leave.  It’s a place I hold near and dear to my heart, nestled just outside Lake George, NY.   There’s no cell service, no internet, no cable TV, just the sound of the lake, the cicadas, and whatever else nature decides to throw our way.  If there was year round access, I would never want to leave, it’s a special little cabin called “The Wishing Well.”

Here’s a little piece of my blue heaven….

Cooking there consists usually of grilling, and my favorite way to grill is brining steaks and chicken.  Brining is an amazing way to transform meat.  Pardon the hand in the picture (pretty sure we were all grabbing for the steak) but if the look on Taylor’s face isn’t an indication of how amazing that steak was, I don’t know what is!

 

my blue heaven

Brining is super easy:

  • 1 Cup Salt
  • 1 Gallon Water
  • Whatever spices you feel like using

Honestly, I cheat, I eye-ball it, and it’s never failed me. I take half the amount of water, put it in a pan, and add the salt. I bring it to a boil with whatever spices I feel like using (yes I realize I am completely and utterly vague, but this is cooking, not rocket science. Go with what YOU like, what YOU want to taste, and go crazy with it!) Personally, I used garlic, onion, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Sometimes I throw basil in, sometimes Rosemary. It always changes. Hell, I even throw BBQ sauce in, yes you read that right BBQ Sauce, like out of a plastic squirt bottle. Let me tell you, it friggin ROCKS! Just thinking about it makes me want it!  So you do all that stove top, bring it to a boil, and then add a ton of ice cubes. Basically to equal out the remaining half-gallon of water. (I am always in a rush and like to get it done as fast as possible) Once it’s cool down, either pour it over your steak or chicken in a big ole bowl, or put your meat in the pot, and then let it sit for a few hours.  The steak in the picture below brined for 2 hours, and based on the look on her face, I’d say it was pretty damn good!

 

What do you think about brining?  Have you tried it?  Like it, love it hate it? Do you think it’s too much “prep” for just a pice of meat?

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Thoughts for food…..

I love “Eat, Pray, Love” I always have. As a book, as a movie, as a life motto. It’s how I have always believed; I Eat, I Pray (not nearly enough though) and  I Love.  These are some of my favorite thoughts from it.  All quotes by Elizabeth Gilbert, all pictures by me.

“The only way to heal, is to trust”

“Prayer is a relationship; half the job is mine. If I want transformation, but can’t even be bothered to articulate what, exactly, I’m aiming for, how will it ever occur? Half the benefit of prayer is in the asking itself, in the offering of a clearly posed and well-considered intention. If you don’t have this, all your pleas and desires are boneless, floppy, inert; they swirl at your feet in a cold fog and never lift.”

“To find the balance you want, this is what you must become. You must keep your feet grounded so firmly on the earth that it’s like you have 4 legs instead of 2. That way, you can stay in the world. But you must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look through your heart, instead. That way, you will know God.”

“As smoking is to the lungs, so is resentment to the soul; even one puff is bad for you.”

“Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be… a prudent insurance policy.”

“One thing I do know about intimacy is that there are certain natural laws which govern the sexual experience of two people, and that these laws cannot be budged any more than gravity can be negotiated with. To feel physically comfortable with someone else’s body is not a decision you can make. It has very little to do with how two people think or act or talk or even look. The mysterious magnet is either there, buried somewhere deep behind the sternum, or it is not. When it isn’t there (as I have learned in the past, with heartbreaking clarity) you can no more force it to exist than a surgeon can force a patient’s body to accept a kidney from the wrong donor. My friend Annie says it all comes down to one simple question: “Do you want your belly pressed against this person’s belly forever –or not?”

“I have a history of making decisions very quickly about men. I have always fallen in love fast and without measuring risks. I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism.”

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life……A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake.”

“People always fall in love with the most perfect aspects of each other’s personalities. Who wouldn’t? Anybody can love the most wonderful parts of another person. But that’s not the clever trick. The really clever trick is this: Can you accept the flaws? Can you look at your partner’s faults honestly and say, ‘I can work around that. I can make something out of it.’? Because the good stuff is always going to be there, and it’s always going to pretty and sparkly, but the crap underneath can ruin you.”

“You have the opposite of poker face. You have like…… miniature golf face.”

“Desiring another person is perhaps the most risky endeavor of all. As soon as you want somebody—really want him—it is as though you have taken a surgical needle and sutured your happiness to the skin of that person, so that any separation will now cause a lacerating injury.”

“Stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be.”

“In desperate love, we always invent the characters of our partners, demanding they be what we need of them, and then feeling devastated when they refuse to perform the role we created in the first place.”

“I met an old lady once, almost a hundred years old, and she told me, ‘There are only two questions that human beings have ever fought over, all through history. How much do you love me? And Who’s in charge?”

“How could two people who were so in love not end up happily ever after? It had to work. Didn’t it?”

I LOVE THESE.

How to get ready for a a major storm , the REAL way, and I’m not talking about shopping for stupid things!

Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE a good storm. The thunder, the lightening, the rain pounding down…..it both excites and soothes my soul. One of the coolest things about living in florida, was living through some of the most serious Hurricanes in decades!  Going two weeks at a time with no power, it’s no joke, and you learn a lot. So, for those who haven’t been through a Hurricane, here are some tips that make sense and will actually help you weather the storm and a power outage.

  • Make sure you have plenty of propane for your grill, with a functioning grill you can make anything, even if you run out of water you can boil it (unless you don’t have any water without power)
  • Fill your gas tank on your car! In the winter you should ALWAYS have a full tank!
  • If you have a gas stove you can still cook. Your igniter will be out so you will need a long match or lighter, but you can still get your burners (but not your oven)  fired up! (How great is that?!?!?)
  • Make the fridge and freezer very cold, if I have extra room I bag up my ice and should I lose power, stash it in the fridge right away, and only open the fridge when needed once the power goes out.
  • If it is winter, turn your heat up, get your house nice and toasty. And close off any rooms that don’t need to be open.
  • Buy some pizza dough or have the items needed to make it by hand. I can grill a pizza and throw all kinds of canned items on it. (You can also throw your dutch oven on the grill and make soup that way. Breakfast potatoes can also be made in a skillet on the grill as well, scrambled eggs, etc. You can actually make almost anything on a grill)
  • Buy a loaf of bread for sandwiches. I’ll either make up a batch of chicken salad  just before the storm hits, or get cold cuts, neither needs to be cooked, and as long as the fridge stays cold a bit or you have a cooler you’re good.
  • Hard boil eggs for breakfasts, they are a great ready to eat food
  • Always remember to use up the cold already prepared foods first,  then the cold goods that need to be cooked and are in the fridge, then the freezer stuff, then the non perishables.
  • If you go to a bulk club like BJ’s or Costco you can get a case of individual serving size bottles of Tropicana that do not need to be refrigerated. It’s not fresh OJ, but it’s juice, and the Tropicana doesn’t taste weird like the minute made does.
  • Some percolators can go on the grill. If the stores are out of small bottles of water, look to see if they have the water cooler jugs of water, and then just pour or ladle it out and you’ve got coffee. If you don’t have a percolator you can boil water and use a french press (you can get one of those at TJ Maxx or Homegoods even)
  • Make sure you have a corded phone (old school push buttons) that way you still have a land line even if you lose power. Remember cell phones usually won’t work.
  • Have an old school walkman or CD player laying around? The kind with a RADIO in it? If so then your set to be able to stay tuned into what’s going on outside!
  • WINE, GIN, VODKA, they are all your friends, make sure you have a safe haven for them in your home. Those non perishable OJ bottles make great gin mixers. Oh yea, sippin on Gin and Juice 😉 (Stay classy Hudson Valley)
  • The most beautiful skies you will ever see are just before and just after a storm, take pictures.
  • I get my laundry done ahead of time. (when you’ve gone two weeks without power you realize these things)
  • Charge your chargeables!!!!! Camera, cell phone (eventually it will work)  toothbrush, RAZOR (uhhuh *****Remember, there’s a reason we had the baby boom after that big blackout*********), IPOD, Laptops (you can watch DVD’s or entertain the kiddies with a movie) and any other things you use that need to be charged.
  • If your water doesn’t work during a power outage,  FILL YOUR TUB!!!!!!!!! This will give you “flushing water” as well as water you can use with a washcloth to “wash the vitals”, and have a large bowl or bucket you can use to scoop it into your toilet tank.  Don’t flush every time ****if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down**** Yep,  this is getting personal!
  • Outdoor items, anything that looks like it could be a prop on “final destination”, if you wouldn’t want to see it flying at your face,  or coming through the  window, put it in your shed or garage
  • Candles (provided you aren’t an idiot), flashlights, hand crank or battery-powered radio or TV (the news will still air and this is helpful)
  • BOARD and CARD GAMES!!!!!!! Phase 10, Skip Bo, Monopoly, Scattagories, Clue, Trivial Pursuit; don’t go buy them, dig them out of that closet they are buried in now, you don’t want to have to bother with it later, trust me, you’ll be glad you did
  • Taping your windows is pointless, don’t bother

I think that’s all I can think of for now, think of it as a  forced vacation in your own home with the people you love, or a trip in the Delorean back to the olden days, enjoy it!

winter storm 2013

Forecast picture from Hudson Valley Weather on Facebook

***** 10/26/2012 I am updating this list!

  • Go through your freezer ahead of time and know what is in there, move things around so it is easy to reach items.  Once you loose power, you don’t want to be in there for long looking for things; just get in and get out. Put the items you think you might use first in the front of the freezer, and other items you think you might use lastly, toward the back or underneath other items
  • Pick up some handwipes. If loosing power means you loose water, hand washing becomes a luxury. Flushing water takes priority over hand washing water
  • If you have old terra cotta pots, they make lovely lanterns/candle holders.  Coffee mugs could work as well, and they have handles for easy carrying! Check out the pictures here of the beautiful terra cotta “lamps”

*** 10/28/2012 I have updated with a few more excellent tips from readers!

  • Stephanie added: You can also fill your washing machine with water! And don’t forget , no grills or camp stoves indoors!
  • Valerie added:  While making your storm preps, fill your dishpan with soapy water; you can use this to rinse dishes to then put in your dishwasher until the power comes back; once this “dish” water gets too yucky pour it into your toilet-flushing buckets to use in the toilet and ladle some of the bathtub water into your dishpan to continue rinsing your dishes. And she also added, rather than fill your freezer with ice cubes, just fill some gallon storage bags and plastic containers with water TODAY and by the time the power goes out they should be big solid blocks of ice that will stay frozen a lot longer than your ice cubes – you, in effect, have turned your freezer into a cooler.
  • Jean says: Don’t forget the Peanut Butter…if all else fails!
  • Brandi added: my big tip for dealing with a no water situation (which unfortunately has been an issue for us more times than I can count) ..is GLOVES!! – buy a box of vinyl or latex gloves..you can get 100 for like $10 – they come in VERY handy when you have to do things you would normally want to wash your hands after..like use the bathroom, change diapers, handle meats/eggs, etc…it’s not ideal (particularly from an environmental standpoint) but it’s temporary..and a great added protection from spreading god knows what all over your house when proper hand washing isn’t an option – AND helps protect your skin from the over-use of hand sanitizers!
  • Chef Tim says: Don’t forget you can always charge your cell phones in the car. Buy a power inverter for the car and plug in our crock pot and make something yummy!

Thanks everyone for the great tips, keep them coming!

Love……

I’ve been slacking lately……my mind has been racing, but I just couldn’t sit down to write……  I should probably write about food, but all I can think about is love.

There’s been a lot of sadness lately, a loss of love, several losses of love, all at the same time, and its heartbreaking.  Real love being screwed over and cheated and ripped apart. How is that ok? How is that fair? So many people go through life settling for who ever comes along, for whoever is “safe” and “secure” and who can’t hurt them or get to them, people who hurt them but they’re afraid to leave, all kinds of settling.  But some people, they hit the jackpot. They find that great love, and they go for it. The dive head first into that shallow pool of crazy. The kind where just thinking of the person makes the eyes sparkle and a smile unstoppable.

In a fair world, these kinds of relationships would never be short-changed. These people would go on living and loving forever; in a Nicholas Sparks kind of way, dying together on the same day when they are old and gray.  But the world we live in isn’t fair, it isn’t right, and sometimes, this is the love that gets fucked over and shit on. Pardon my language, but I’m mad. I’m mad at love, mad at life, mad at God.  I’m mad that this is the kind of love that gets ripped apart, and I am mad, that some people have this kind of love staring them in the face, and don’t have the balls to just go for it and they waste it. They waste something so precious, so true and rare, and beautiful. They take it for granted, and that makes me mad.  But me being mad isn’t the point of this. My point in writing this is……I don’t know what. To say wake the fuck up to people who blindly waste their lives?? Who waste life and love and happiness all for what? Wake up and appreciate the love in your life!!!!! And if it’s not the love you want, if it’s not earth shattering, heart pumping, can’t get enough of the other person love, if you don’t get that far off look and feeling when you think of the person, then keep moving. Live your life until it finds you…..

The video below is beautiful. It was done by White on Rice Couple for Jennifer Perrillo who recently lost her husband. They had “that kinda love.” The kind where their eyes sparkled, they had IT, and he died suddenly, without warning. No good-bye, no last words, nothing. It’s not fair, it sucks, sucks doesn’t even cover it! But Jennie and Mikey lived, and they loved. Everyone should learn from them.  Jennie asked everyone to make a Peanut Butter Pie (Mikey’s favorite) and share it with the people they love. So last week I did just that. I made Peanut Butter Pie along with a big Fried Chicken dinner and had my whole family over. And enjoyed every second of their company. As you can see, my niece Taylor REALLY loved it.

This post isn’t eloquent or graceful, it’s foul-mouthed, and I’m rambling,  but it’s real.  It’s me trying to put into words everything running through my head lately about love, and half of it I can’t even begin to describe…..

Enjoy the video….

http://whiteonricecouple.com/films-documentaries/video-creamy-peanut-butter-pie-mikey-jennifer-perillo/

You want some FRIED CHICKEN???

So there really is no point in this post other than to say I have the cutest coolest niece in the world!!!! Taylor rocks, her parents rock, she’s just freaking awesome!!!

Tonight was a big ole family dinner at my place. Southern Fried Chicken, mashed tatoes, gravy, biscuits, coleslaw, cornbread, bakes beans, umm did I forget anything??? Ahhh yes, Peanut Butter Pie for dessert. The video below was the preface to the dinner….enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wm0_RwGWDRQ&feature=channel_video_title

Nothing Screams Summer…..Like An Adult Orange Julius…

Quite possibly the shortest post ever from me!!!!

So a few weeks ago I was introduced to the wonder that is Strawberry Infused Vodka, and I’m in love! Then one of my readers said she infuses her vodka with Vanilla Beans…interesting, could be nice for fruit desserts that call for alcohol, but I’m not big on the Vanilla Vodka…..and then I got another idea.  ORANGE JULIUS, an adult version! Oh yes, say it isn’t so!!! I’ve gone and done it!

The Vodka itself took 3 weeks to sit and rest. And let me tell you…… waiting sucked! Just take a small jar, slit a vanilla bean in half, fill jar with vodka, cover tightly and let sit in a dark corner for a few weeks and shake every day or so.

The recipe itself, completely Easy…

  • 8oz can frozen oj (not minute maid that tastes bad)
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • Lots O’ Ice Cubes
  • 1/2 Cup Vanilla Vodka (or more if you like)
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Throw everything but the ice in the blender and give it a whirl, when it’s all mixed up, throw in the ice. I filled the blender as much to the top as I could to let it still fit the lid.

Pour and Enjoy!!!!!

Breakfast to go, without the drive thru.

I’ve always had a problem with breakfast. Morning time is precious, there’s always a long list of  “to-do’s”  and not enough time.  Cleaning, laundry, dinner prep, garden tending, watering, getting ready for the day, the list goes on and on.  When I finally have time to eat it’s time to walk out the door, and on top of it all,  I don’t like heavy food in the morning.  Then along came  Overnight Oats, the best breakfast invention since Auto-Start Coffee!  But I can’t take all the credit, in fact I can’t take any credit…

Overnight Oats

Several months ago my friend Michael Ruhlman tweeted something about a friend of his who was always inspiring, always upbeat, always encouraging, and she had great recipes to boot; he recommended that everyone check her blog out. Ruhlman is one of the few people who has “Culinary Common Sense.”  He’s no BS, no pretense, he doesn’t give out recipes that he hasn’t made himself, doesn’t pretend to be something he’s not; and in the food world, that’s not rare, it doesn’t exist. Basically, he’s just fucking awesome,  if  he says someone’s good, I trust him.  I checked her blog out and he was right, she’s awesome.  Her name is Kath, and her blog is KERF (Kath Eats Real Food) and it’s fantastic!!!

Kath loves Oatmeal, in every form possible, and she’s ALL about saving time! So pretty much all her recipes are short quick and to the point! Behold the magic of  “Overnight Oats”,  it takes about 5 minutes the night before, they sit in the fridge, and are ready to eat in the morning! No cooking needed, how perfect is that??? And you can make any flavor you want! I use equal parts oats, yogurt, and milk, along with a handful of berries and a banana. Kath adds way more things into hers, but I’m still pretty new at this, so I’m experimenting as I go.  My sister is too, she made a delicious pumpkin one, and WOW was it good!  It’s great to try things together, she’s been way more inventive then me. I find something I like and stick with it, she get’s adventurous!  She even made a Cherry Almond batch, and that was REALLY good too! I think once fall gets a little closer, I’ll try a Pumpkin Maple, or Apple Cinnamon, or use Apple Cider….? I love fall flavors, but I don’t want to rush it, so I’m sticking with berries for now!

Ingredients for deliciousness

I make a big jar full and eat it at home, then bring it to the office and eat more later

  • 1 Cup Oats
  • 1 Cup Yogurt
  • 1 Cup Milk 
  • Handful of sliced Strawberries
  • A few mashed up Raspberries
  • One Banana sliced up
  • Just mix it all up, put the lid on the jar and let it sit overnight.

Finished Product!

 Everyone should try making Overnight Oats! It’s healthy, easy and delicious! In fact, it’s time for me to go make mine. 🙂