Sunday, August 28, 2011

The remedy

My houses some of my most prized possessions- a Kitchen Aid stand up mixer, a red cast iron dutch oven, a refrigerator filled with fresh foods, and my wine glasses. Not only does it hold my treasures, it leads to the deck!  A girl has to have priorities- hubby tries very hard to win my girly side over with jewelery. While I appreciate his effort, I am not the normal girl- I squeal with delight in my espresso maker and full size food processor.  So when our state was rocked with an earthquake and hurricane within a 5 day span I retreated to the kitchen (and grill). Nothing warms my soul more than spending time in the center of our home.

Enter juicy Steve-burgers (grilled during and after a pretty ginormous Thunderstorm)
1 lb 90/10 ground beef
heavy splashes of Worcestershire
2 cloves fresh minced garlic
black pepper and sea salt
dried spices for rolling

Mix beef, Worcestershire, garlic, salt and pepper together and form 4 balls. Flatten slightly and roll the edges in a mix of pepper and spices to taste ( I am partial to spicy mixes with lots of course pepper). Depress the middle of the burger and grill on medium high heat for 3 or 4 minutes per side. Add cheese as necessary. 
Steve won my heart and stomach by grilling me hamburgers early in our relationship. While we share the grilling duties these days, we often reminisce over the early days with every bite (he still outgrills me- and his burgers are hands down the best I've ever had!)

Nothing calms earthquake shocked nerves like juicy burgers with grilled potato wedges!

To soothe the pre-hurricane anxiety, pulled pork sandwiches are a must!  Whole wheat buns hold the perfect combination of spicy pork with broccoli slaw. 
My slow cooker did all the work in making the pork fork shreddable.  Low heat for 6 1/2 hours left a 5lb pork loin  perfect (and ready for sauce).  There's no use rewriting perfection- epicurious has it taken care of here.  Topped off with broccoli slaw, bbq is the answer to many ailments and anxieties.  I like my slaw more peppery and vinegary, and would dare judge anyone in their slaw consistency preferences. To my broccoli mix (lame- store bought in a bag!!! It was a hurricane after all)  I added 1/4 cup olive oil mayo (I'm hell bent on making my own mayo, just not today), small swirl of agave nectar, 2 Tbsp milk, and 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, heavy doses of pepper.

And if that hasn't taken care of restoring wrecked nerves, go here and make these.  I wouldn't dream of changing one of Jenna's masterful recipes. She is a bloggin' kitchen all star.  With trees dancing dangerously with each other- and a few tree casualties on our property- there was no sense in leaving the house yesterday.  Five hours spent baking bread did not seem unreasonable, and after 1 bite I began planning the next all day bake session!

Today brings sunshine and relaxation- time to enjoy it!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

when in doubt...

...make your own hummus! This post lacks pictures- and while I apologize, I most certainly do not feel sorry for every carrot dipped, hummus covered, pita lovin' bite I ate! Nope, not one lil' bit!! So let your imagination guide the picture- and follow closely!  I promise home made hummus is better than anything you've ever bought- and worth the hours of soaking required.

Soak 2 cups of chickpeas overnight (OR speed it up by boiling them for 2 minutes, turning off heat, and covering for 1 hour)
Simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours
Use a food processor- and whirl together for 2+  minutes with the following.
1/3 cup tahini
2 Tbsp olive oil (I usually add more, depending on desired creaminess- but start with 2)
2 giant cloves of garlic (extra gaaaah-licky)
sea salt to taste!
3 Tbsp lemon juice
dash(es) of Cayenne pepper- I lurve the Cayenne pepper!

Then have fun and add whatever floats your boat- roasted red peppers, pickles (my hubbies fave!!), goat cheese (ummm honey can I have a goat?!), and enjoy with your favorite veggies and pitas.

I have doomed myself, and store bought hummus will no longer due.... thank goodness its easy as P.I.E. (which I have a long sordid history with.... damn you pecan pie!!!)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Peachy BBQ Burgers

Summer is quickly slipping by and each day I grasp at my last little bit of freedom before heading back to my j.o.b.  I LOVE my job, but need my summers off to rejuvenate  study innovative new approaches of reaching students from different demographics while preparing them for future tests, AND instilling them with skills to be critical thinkers, and leaders of the future.  Just kidding- they teach you all that and more at COLLEGE!!! 
Summer can KEEP it's humidity and 90+ degree days... this teacher doesn't want to go out for recess and need a shower afterwards- but I'll take the laid back evening of grilling (any night of the week). This week's grilled deliciousness is dedicated to my friend Marcee. She makes amazing chicken burgers with feta and spinach mixed it... and strawberry secret sangria. I'm not sure if it's truly a secret or if she just forgets how she does it each time. Either way I could eat/drink at her house everyday in the summertime... thankfully we share the same schedule! Now put down your best practices guide book, and turn on the grill!

Barbecue Chicken Burgers

1 lb. ground chicken- the lean stuff
mass amounts of black pepper and garlic- according to your taste! Just don't try and kiss me after eating one of my burgers or you'll be sorry!
red pepper flakes- gives it fire
bbq sauce- store bought or home made
goat cheese
peaches-cut in 1/2 with pits removed
onion- 1/2 large white onion, sliced
olive oil
burger buns

Fire up the grill and get it nice and hot! Mix in salt, pepper, garlic, and red pepper flakes well with ground chicken. Form 4 patties from the meat.  Oil grill grates, once hot! Put burgers down and grill accordingly. I do a few minutes each side before flipping.  Baste burgers in bbq sauce make sure it coats each side nicely- the sugars in the sauce should thicken and make it extra sticky on the outside of the burger.  Meanwhile, cook onions in oil on medium heat for about 20 minutes. They will start to turn light brown. The longer you cook them the better- caramelizing onions is a low and slow process. I always rush it with a higher heat- thus not TRUE caramelized onions. If you have the patience go all out! I use a meat thermometer to make sure my burgers are cooked all the way, a few minutes before pulling them off put peach halves on the grill.  Grill on each side- giving nice char marks.  Once everything is ready, assemble your burgers!  Top bbq burgers with a bit of goat cheese, onions, and sliced peaches. 

Enjoy- a perfect edible representation of summer flavors!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Marry Your Best Friend

Lesson 3 is the most important. Should you leave your campsite messy before having to move it- it will just make your move a bigger pain.  Should you forget Benadryl... well you may be totally screwed.  But make sure you are married to your best friend- if they aren't then you better start making them your bestie!  I will not convince Steve that a couples massage and pedi  are a great bonding experience... or that white wine is perfect in the Summertime.

Epitome of manliness
And while he tries, he'll never teach me about the trajectory of bullets and whatnot.... or that a ceramic dragon would look cool in ANY room of the house.. well maybe the garage.
Nothing says "Welcome to Our Home" like a dragon....
What makes him my best friend is that in ANY situation, I know that together we are capable of succeeding. Small tasks like cooking dinner together started our relationship off in the right direction. Small tasks turned into larger ones- purchasing a house, combining different tastes and redefining OUR combined style, taking care of our 4 legged fur babies, and being able to STILL have fun on a trip that went south just a few days into it!
Random acts of Beach Yoga
We mentioned packing it up and heading home- SHOULD the pups need a trip to the emergency vet. A decision not to take lightly, as we were on an island and would have had to call in the privately run ferry to pick us up.
please get me out of here
 Our trip may sound like a nightmare to some- and believe me parts of it were!

Boy, I'm not taking you home til you catch me a tuna
 We were also able to have a blast together, once we knew the pups were going to be fine.  We goofed off in the ocean, spent hours catching fish, spotted sharks feeding REALLY close to the beach, saw the most amazing stars, cooked world class dinners, drank incredible craft beer, listened to soul stirring music, and fell more in love! 

Fly Venom has been known to have this effect of people... true story

nom nom nom
 Inspite of less than desirable circumstances, we were able to enjoy moments of bug relief- with an optimistic approach.

Beautiful sunset = flies gone, enter mosquitoes
  Lesson #3- It's not about where you are, but who you're with. If the person you married becomes your best friend, you are good to go!

just like our first date.. only we're married!

Lesson 2- PPP

So if you read the previous post, you have our PI history, our campsite fails, and a brief version of the bug attack.  Far too much info for 1 post to recap our trip- the lessons learned in this trip will require multiple postings (happy reading!).
A year ago we took Blitzie on her last camping trip, and started a new tradition with the Black Dog and the Gray Bear. 
Blitzie on Portsmouth Island in 2010

Marking our 1 year adoption with Whiskey, we were pumped to let them chase crabbies and play in the surf. 
Whiskey Girl

Ramsey making her presence known
 When we woke up with no wind, Thursday morning, we of course felt the lil' ninjas munching away on our ankles. It wasn't until the pups started running around in circles, nipping at anything, and pleading to us with their sad puppy eyes that we knew we were in trouble.  Hubby stuck the dogs in the truck- blasting AC, ya know because what's better than being bit by bugs in 90+ heat!?  We started the move. I checked on the ladies refilling water bowls, and making sure they were ok.  Whiskey took the brunt of the bites and had HUNDREDS of little whelps forming from her paws to her snout. In the 10 or so minutes we were outside, she had been attacked and was starting to puff up with an allergic reaction.  Steve asked me how she was doing, and all I could say was it was getting worse! My dude is pretty awesome under pressure. Both of us garnish a take charge, clear and concise mentality- and don't let direct orders cause our feelings to be hurt. So when I directly "requested" Benadryl- he was there. Water refills- all over it. And when he said we had to move, we moved. While our ankles provided lunch for the black flies, we carried our campsite out to open beach-by this time it was at least 96 degrees outside. The silver lining?! There was none!  It was a craptastic situation- not to mention our minds were constantly worrying about the dogs and if the benadryl would even help! Forty five minutes of hell gave the antihistamines time to do their magic, and Whiskey started to look like herself again. Our campsite was up, in it's new location, and God blessed us with gusts of wind strong enough to take the black flies back to the dunes- leaving us the green headed suckers to deal with (they at least won't bother you if you reapply bug spray every 30 minutes.) Both pups spent the day in a Benadryl induced intoxication, and woke up the next morning feeling better.

Fully recovered

Whiskey on her crab hunt
 Lesson #2- Pack Pink Pills.

Welcoming Party

For the past three years we have set aside time to venture down to Portsmouth Island. Just south of Ocracoke, NC, PI was once occupied by a small fishing village.  The village still stands, however the people have since moved off the island.   We found PI in a small Outside magazine article a few years ago- the rest is history! Each trip has been marked by 'events' out of our control. The first trip- the mildest- was in June of '09. It was a great intro, and lured us into planning another.
I could do this every summer...
April of 2010 brought WIND. Sandblasting wind that shot down the beach- making fishing terrible, and ushering us into the safety of the dunes to retreat from it's fury. 

Our desires of the PI experience were not met, so we again traveled back in 2010, this time bridging the last week of June, into the first week of July.  The wind was much calmer, but still present.  Thunderstorms rained down destroying  our metal awning frame (basically palmed it flat onto the beach.)  We retreated to the dunes...again.  After a few enjoyable days of sunshine, we were set to head home. We packed up a majority of our campsite- leaving only the tent and some clothes to take care of in the morning.  Thunderstorms again came through this time raging against our tent (a glorious North Face Tent, purchased as a Christmas Gift for hubby, on our 1st Christmas!)  Poles broke, rain fly ripped, tent failed. We slept in the truck. 
The Thunderstorm that ate our campsite

With high spirits we set out for our 4th adventure on PI, this time with 2 pups! We caught the ferry, drove up the beach to find our spot and set up camp, this time close to the dunes, so we wouldn't have to move it!

Wednesday and Thursday were warm, breezy, beautiful beach days.  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were hot, dead calm days. Have you ever seen the Atlantic Ocean look like a lake?! It was scary calm. There were NO waves, NO wind and NO relief from these guys. 


Black flies, unassuming as they appear, are the ninjas of the bug kingdom. Swarming in from the dunes (because there was no wind to keep them at bay), they attacked both hubs and myself- as well as the dogs.  We quickly made the decision to move our campsite closer to the water- to no avail, they just followed us. They laughed at our bug spray- 100% deet- and kept on mounting attacks at our ankles.  The wind picked up, the bugs went back to the dunes, and we were finally safe from their onslaught.  Lesson #1- you will ALWAYS move your campsite on PI, so keep it clean.