November 28, 2010

Super Sunday

We started with our regular weekly trip to our favorite donut place.

Then we played Wii until our arms about fell off.

Now we're finally getting with the times, & watching some Dexter on Netflix.

Hooray for Sundays. Even though they mean it's back to icky work tomorrow.

November 27, 2010

Sweet Potato Secrets

For years I turned my nose up at all things sweet potato. And I can't quite tell you when my tune changed, just that nowadays I loves 'em. Especially this version, which is fresh and home cooked.

Well, except for the marshmallows. Some junk food is sacred.

Anyway here's what you'll need if you want to try this recipe:
  • 2-4 medium/large sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter (need I say, not margarine)
  • 1/2 bag mini marshmallows
So this is ridiculously simple, considering the deliciousness that results. Peel your sweet taters and cut them down, roughly into 2 inch cubes. Try to get the chunks as similarly sized as possible, but don't fret about it. Add them to a pot of lightly salted water, like so.

I really oughta fix these more often.

Stick a lid on there and set it over medium-high heat. Once it's boiling, let it go for maybe 15, 20 minutes. You'll know it's done when the chunks start to crack, and you can push a fork into them easily.

When you have about 5 minutes to go, start melting the brown sugar and butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Once it's made kind of like a grainy paste (and yeah, that pretty much looks just as gross as it sounds), add a little water from your tater-boiling pot. You want just enough to finish dissolving the sugar, which makes a glaze. I generally put in about 2-3 spoonfuls from my big Teflon stirring spoon.

Like this one, but without the holes. Obviously.

Cut me some slack, y'all. That was the only spoon picture I could find. And it sure is making me crave those chicken wings. I digress...

So yeah, you'll want to bring the butter, sugar, and tater water to a boil, stirring frequently. You'll know this is ready when you can take out the spoon, draw a line on the back with your finger, and the line holds. There's a proper word for this which I can't think of at the moment, but that's not important. What is important is that you be CAREFUL drawing that line, because melted sugar is freaking hot.

By now, your taters should be fork tender, so go on and drain off the rest of the water and put the chunks into a casserole. Next pour in the glaze and smash it all together with a fork.

Finish with a half a bag of mini marshmallows, and pop it into the oven until the 'mallows get brown.

Brown, and also crispy. Ye-um, ye-um!

Depending on how hot your oven is, this will take anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes. My best advice is to follow your nose. When you get a whiff of toasty marshmallow, you're good to go!

Like I said, too ridiculously simple for once a year. I think I'm going to make some more of these next weekend. With some chicken wings.

November 26, 2010


A few years back, Doug and I switched from turkey to chicken for Thanksgiving. Even the smallest turkeys we could find ended up being more than we could finish. And considering I don't roast chickens every day either, it's special enough for the occasion.

 Especially with all the fixins.

I've spent a lot of time on this matter under the spotty tutelage of Chef Google. And I still don't have it quite right. So please indulge me as I share what I tried this year. I'm sold on some of these techniques, but I'll be honest about the ones still up for revision.

First, the math. We wanted to eat at about 12:30. I worked out a cooking time of roughly 2 and a half hours (which I think may have been a little long). That meant I wanted to put the bird in the oven at 10:00 a.m.

So around 9:30 I got her out of the fridge and rinsed her off good with cool water. I pulled off the loose fat and patted her dry with paper towels.

Yeah, it's kinda gross at this point.

The next task was to scrub my celery and cut off the leafy ends. (I planned to use the celery stalks for my stuffing, natch.) Then I washed up a pound of carrots and cut the stems off a couple of those. No peeling? Damn right! I also peeled and quartered a white onion, and set the oven for 450°

Now, here's one of those moves I'm not fully sold on. I whisked together a stick of softened butter, half a small lemon, and some marjoram to make lemon-herb butter. 

 Not pictured: marjoram. Obviously.

With help from my faithful sous chef, I salted and peppered the chicken inside and out. Then I rubbed it down with the lemon-herb butter. Outside, inside, and under the skin. In hindsight, I don't think the lemon did any good. Next year I'll probably go back to plain butter -- the way my mama does it!

Next, I stuffed the chicken with half the onion, two carrots (cut in half), a few celery leaves, the rinds of my squeezed lemon, and some rosemary sprigs. I am totally sold on the rosemary. Some folks like thyme, sage, and/or bay, so if you ever want to try this, there are some ideas.

Looking yummier...

At last came time to put the chicken in the oven. I think it's worth mentioning here, if you don't use a roaster with a rack, you can just pile up all those vegetables and set the bird on top of them. I use the rack-and-stuffing approach because I find the rack helps with even cooking.

After about 15 minutes, I cut the heat down to 350°. I also put green beans and carrots on to slow simmer. Because, you know, they ain't proper vegetables unless they've been cooked within an inch of their lives.

Dude. I'm startin to get huunnggrryy!

It all hit the fan starting about 11:30. That's why I only managed to take two pictures of the entire sweet potato and stuffing preparation. But you'll have to wait, because I'm not spilling my sweet tater secrets til tomorrow.

Just before I started trying to gnaw off one of my arms, it was time to take the chicken out of the oven.

Get in my belly!

And since that moment, my life has almost exclusively involved the following: eat, sleep, repeat. Hooray for Thanksgiving.

November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

A debilitating case of the food coma prevents me from fulfilling the sacred mission of Popcorn today. But tomorrow, you'll be reading a cooking blog again. For now, a sneak preview:

Roast chicken, stuffing, carrots, green beans, and sweet potatoes

And, is it just me, or is this picture totally vertigo-inducing? Guess I need to work on framing shots with the new aspect ratio. Always something...

It dawns on me how thankful I am that there are people in the world actually interested in my strange ramblings. I hope your Thanksgiving was filled with blessings, for y'all have surely blessed me.

November 24, 2010

Most of all, I'm thankful for this guy.

 Who ran off with me to Las Vegas to get married.

Who busted his ass at a mall job for years, to put us both through school.

Who takes out the trash and does laundry every week, carries all the heavy stuff, and indulges my periodic urges to randomly rearrange furniture. Who faithfully oversees all our grilling.

Who never held my dorkiness against me. Who bravely chauffeurs us around Atlanta.

Who looks this handsome in crappy, low-light photos.

Whose cute picture I took in the grocery store this morning got totally eaten by the new phone. (Dammit.) Who's the world's greatest husband (i.e. sous chef, housemate, best friend, and partner).

I love you baby.

November 23, 2010

In the spirit

Doug snapped the holiday tree at his office today. I love that he loves his cubicle farm.
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November 22, 2010

Really? More pictures of trees?


This is the view from my office. I am grateful for the sunshine.
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November 21, 2010

I realize I'm getting to be a one-note song

But getting this new phone all set up and going has consumed my life! I'm even cross-posting this picture of my neato case, because I hate publishing plain old text.

I am pleased to report, I have defeated the evil campus server, and can now send and receive emails! Partying like it's 1994 up in here, I tell you. It's been four days, but I think I may at last be finished frakking with this phone, and can finally get down to just using it.

November 20, 2010

Must... Blog...

It's been a busy day today, to the extent I'm near cursing the day I promised myself I'd blog through this month. But it's not like I have real problems.
The nonsense I've posted the past couple of days pretty much tells the story. Playing with the new phone, to the extent I've given myself a crick in the shoulder from screen-tapping. Again, not like I have real problems.

In fact, as I (slowly) work through my contacts trying to make sure friends & family have my new number, I'm being reminded how lucky I really am. Pretty much living the dream, is how I've been responding to the "how's life" question.

Yeah I'm overwhelmed with work, but I have a job. No mean feat in this day and age. Doug loves what he's doing. And, if I have to tell a secret, I love what I'm doing too. Everybody should be so blessed.

 Getting in the holiday spirit, perhaps?

I'm grateful we can afford to upgrade our phones. Shallow? Maybe. But that's nothing compared to what I have planned for All Kinds of Pretty tomorrow. I'm grateful for a lot of things, but I'm going to save those for later. You know, just in case this got-nothing-exciting-to-blog-about trend continues.

November 19, 2010

Then again...

One-touch photo blogging is pretty badass!

The miracle tater is just about now filling the kitchen window. Surely it can't survive all winter?
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Will this app be worth the money?

Considering I don't think this does anything I can't do in email, probably not.
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November 18, 2010

Phone blogging 2.0

I've been messing around with this Droid for a solid 6 hours. Pretty tickled so far. So. Questions for other 'roid ragers.

Know of a good Blogger app? You'd think it would be a no-brainer, what with both of them being Google products.

Also, suggestions for a nice, purse-friendly, screen protecting case?

November 17, 2010

Nablo fail

 I suck at commitment.

I like to move house. Even though the older I get the harder that becomes. When I can't move I like to rearrange furniture. Even though Doug kind of hates me when I get that feeling. I like the rush of new, novel. Even though that always comes with the anxiety of not-knowing-what-the-hell-I'm-doing.

Which is all a very long way of saying, to expect myself to blog for 30 days in a row was probably madness.

My back is killing me.

Nonetheless I schlepped my ass down to the local R1 university to look around and maybe get some questions answered about their doctoral program. Total strikeout. Didn't learn anything I hadn't already found by obsessively stalking their website. The big question -- how much of my extra graduate coursework would transfer into the program -- is un-answerable, apparently. Something to be decided after admission.
Doug: "Did you bother to tell them that whether you apply actually hinges on this information?"

Me: "No. Because that's not really true. Whether I'll ever finish is what really hinges on this information."
Their website says to expect four years post-Master's for a full-time student to complete. Since I'm probably only capable of one class per semester (and three classes is full time), that puts me finishing in TWELVE. So those extra hours they may or may not accept as transfer credit would be extremely helpful.

Maybe this whole PhD thing is a bad idea... Too much of a commitment.

When I got home I tidied up a little bit and dug into the endless pile of grading laying at my feet. Clearly I've overloaded myself for this semester; for spring I'm cutting out assignments left and right. For the moment though, I'm stuck following through on another foolish commitment.

Right now I really should be out of the shower already and headed over to the office. I made a dent yesterday, but just a dent. I more or less just passed out on the couch in my fortress of white paper.

Is it finals week yet?

November 15, 2010

Bye-bye B-B

Share a cheer with me, because we bought Droids.

No, not this kind... Though that would be super-bitchin. 

We bought the phones, of course. Droid 2 for Doug and X for me. You know, because Mr. Balcony-of-the-Muppet-Show jes' don't get them damned infernal touch-screen doo-dads. Or the damn kids always playin' in our yard.

Teehee... Kidding, baby.

What that means to you, faithful readers, is the end of internet-porn-quality 2MB BlackBerry photos. For with the purchase of a snazzy new X, I will quadruple my mobile photo power.

Also, buh-bye to AT&T. Which delights me, because as shocking as it may sound, I do sometimes need to leave the Southern States.

And right now I need to go bribe my man with kisses. You know, so I don't get exiled to the couch for making fun of the local despot.

STILL KIDDING! No really! Kidding!!!!

November 14, 2010

Fall colors!

At last! I was starting to think they didn't have fall in Georgia.
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November 13, 2010

Mountain Biscuits

When the word biscuit is right there in the name, y'all knew we had to scope this out... And what a find! I will actually be saving this cinnamon roll for later, because my biscuit with gravy was so big, hearty, and satisfying. Reminded me of my mom's b&g. YUM!!!!
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November 11, 2010

Neat stuff I found

You know, because I'm rapidly perfecting time-wasting, elevating it to a form of high art.

Overthinking It -- The tag line says it all: "where we subject the popular culture to a level of scrutiny it probably doesn't deserve." Like, only geekier.

Final Girl -- I am a horror junkie. It's cool, I've come to terms. Here's how I feed my jones at work, where I would feel awkward about the boobies and splattering guts.

I mean, it's not like I have a shitload of work to do or anything...

Updated on Friday, 11/12 to add: Photoshop Disasters --  Just in case anyone in the world still believes that advertising images bear any resemblance to actual people.

November 10, 2010

Hoops on a Tuesday

First off, just humor me will ya & pretend my photo here is "artistic" and not "craptastic."
Last night Doug very sweetly accompanied me to a basketball game on campus. See -- and I realize this may be a little silly -- a good third of the team is in one of my classes. I kinda wanted to see how they play.

We had a good time, Doug's grumpiness about their apparent pro set offense notwithstanding. Friday is the Kentucky season opener, which I hope means he'll get less grumpy.

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November 09, 2010

Dude, this HAIR!

Sarah Palin wannabe? Or Tina Fey. I'm goin with Tina Fey, on account of I *just* had lunch.
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November 08, 2010

Good afternoon

It may be tough to see there in the shadow, but here's the spot where I get all my britches cut off for my short legs. Yummy gyros next door & it's a lovely errand!
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November 07, 2010

My husband has never seen The Lost Boys

I have clearly committed marital malpractice, and must rectify it by bedtime.

Down with pussy, sparkly, non-killin vampires.

Two points here:
  1. These are vampires, dammit. Motorcycles, rock-n-roll, and killin. Lots of killin.
  2. Jack Bauer is nothing. Make mine immortal, with a big 80's mullet and pointy teeth. 
It's movie time, y'all. Ooo! And then it will be Walking Dead time.

Because it's always Halloween inside my head.

November 06, 2010

From the actual MacBook

As you may have inferred from yesterday's post, there ain't much going on around here today. Certainly nothing that struck me as dying to be captured in a grainy BlackBerry photo. 

Instead here I'm stuck a-thinking. Mostly about these posts from Courtney's blog, which (unintentionally I'm sure) kind of shamed me.

No denying, I'm not very real in this-here webspace. I didn't start it for that purpose, which I cling to as an excuse I guess. I took to the blogging for two reasons (for washed up limited preppers never die).
  1. I wanted to overwrite an unsatisfactory online "self" as a part of my job search.
  2. I was getting a lot of "Oh I wish I could cook" [insert peasant dish here] and thinking, "Dude. If I can, freakin anybody can."
Once this semester got serious, the cooking pretty much dried up. And with it, blogging material. Not to mention the feeling that, when I had time to myself, the last place I wanted to hang out was in front of the computer. Which explains why photoblogging from my phone has become the norm around here.

But back to the point, which is my lack of realness. I could log on and bitch. Lord knows I've got material.

For one? Too. Many. Students.

And too many mandatory faculty obligations.

Backaches that have come back at their worst in 5+ years.

The parade of ailments (two colds and an eye infection, if you want to keep score).

Weird, unsettling dreams.

A gnawing sense that building a respectable speech team -- in a place where folks don't even know the basic vocabulary -- is Mission Effing Impossible.

Piles, literal PILES of dust on just about every surface I see.

Paralyzing terror when I think about adding PhD classes to this already overflowing plate.

And missing cooking. I mean for real. The sharp-knife-through-vegetables catharsis that probably saved my life in 2009, the daily sense of accomplishment... I miss it! Never mind all the piles of delicious, homemade, from-scratch food.

None of which is to say I'm miserable, or even all that unhappy. I have my down days. Which, who the hell doesn't, right? My life ain't never been shiny...

For now though, it's surprisingly happy.

November 05, 2010

Wild weekend plans

For we are just what you imagine of a young professional couple in the city.
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November 04, 2010

Morning drive

Risking arrest for using a cell phone while driving, the intrepid Popcorn pauses at a stop light to capture Atlanta congestion for posterity.
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November 03, 2010

Work work work

Behold, the machine that made me fall in love with Apple all over again. Just don't ask me about the iPad my dean totes around like he's Moses with a stone tablet. Every time I see him I helplessly transform into a quivering pile of green Jell-O.
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November 02, 2010

My little bookcase

I know, I already missed a day. But I'm gonna do my best to keep up with nablopomo this month. I figure sharing snapshots of my life & environs won't be too arduous. Plus, I can do these from my phone. Total bonus.
I've had this little book shelf since circa 1996. I definitely glued it together in good ole Harper Hall. Its held up amazingly well for being pretty much cardboard, don't you think?
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