Saturday, September 20, 2014

Raw Kale Salad Video

Watch me make my Raw Kale Salad...

I mean, if you want to.



http://youtu.be/1cjaqFffO5c

For the recipe, click HERE!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Barnyard, Band-Aids and Bleu Cheese...

Those three things don't necessarily sound like things you want to smell or taste in a drink, do they?

Right...

OK, so...what if you add the word sour on top of it...how 'bout then?

Nope?

Yeah...that's understandable.  But, let me explain what I'm getting at here...

I wrote recently about sours in a Thirsty Thursday post, more specifically the Gose from Westbrook Brewing Company.  That style of beer isn't for everyone and I understand that, but I love trying new and different things...it keeps me young ;-)  And today we're talking sours again...but this time I'm talking about a beer made by one of my favorite North Carolina Breweries, Wicked Weed, called Amorous Sour IPA.  Wicked Weed Brewing is based out of Asheville and their stuff is GOOD.  And unique.  And...pricey.  But, like I mentioned in the last sour post, it's worth it if you understand what goes into brewing their beers.  This beer, this Amorous, is incredible.  It's brewed in both Brett barrels AND sour barrels so you absolutely get the flavor of each so intensely.

Brett is short for Brettanomyces.  (Not just some guy named Brett who built a barrel.)  If you're a big old-world red wine fan, specifically wines from Bordeaux and the Rhone Valley in France, then your palate is most likely already familiar with the flavor that Brett brings.  Brettanomyces, simply put, is a yeast that sometimes grows on grapes.  Most winemakers go to great lengths to avoid this, as too much of it can ruin a wine, but with the right amount of finesse, tiny amounts of this yeast can impart great complexity to a wine.

And there are three compounds responsible for the aroma and flavor you get from a wine (or beer) that uses Brett in the brewing process:

The first compound is 4-ethylphenol, which imparts the smell of...(wait for it...) band-aids, horse stables and barnyard.  This happens to be something that I really enjoy on the nose of a red wine...in small amounts, of course.  It's not for everyone, but perhaps the fact that I happily spent much of my childhood in a horse stable and in barnyards helps matters a bit... 

The second compound is 4-ethylguaiacol, which smells of bacon and 'Christmas' spices.  Ahh... another personal favorite flavor profile of mine.  But I suppose bacon and Christmas is an easy sell for most people, huh?

And then there's Isovaleric acid, which frankly smells of rancid meat and moldy cheese...(sounds delightful, huh?), but if detected in trace amounts on the nose of an otherwise well-balanced red wine, it can be quite lovely, believe it or not!

So what some beer producers, specifically those who brew Belgian-style ales, have done is take those wine barrels that have been 'infected' with Brett, (or sometimes they just inject the stuff right into the fermenter), and age their beers in it so they can play around with those flavor profiles.  And Wicked Weed has done it right, my friends!  You get the perfect amount of Brett on the nose of Amorous, lots of delicious barnyard and cheese rind, and then what you get on the palate is equal parts sour and tropical hoppy-ness, because they dry hop it with a variety of American hops. It's just magnificent.

Last week I went to our local carrier of Wicked Weed beers, The Davidson Beverage Company, after our good friend (who was out of town at the time) texted my husband to inform us it was in stock, and I pretty much cleared their shelves...then (of course) took a picture of it to send to our out-of-town friend as a tease...

(DBC sells it for $14/bottle.)

The next day my husband and I both tried it at the same time, in separate rooms of the house, and found ourselves texting each other thing like,


'This beer!' 

... 'I know, right?!' 

... 'Woah!'

It's just so damn cool, this beer.  It gets you thinking, it isn't easy, it isn't simple, it is interesting and fun and exciting.  It makes your palate wake up and stand up straighter.  And doesn't that sound delightful?  Why drink or eat something that doesn't have much to say?  Imagine yourself at a party...would you rather talk to the dull one in the corner with nothing to say, who's been ready to leave for the past hour, or would you rather strike up a conversation with that hot piece of somethin', full of rhetoric, tearing it up on the dance floor?

Right.

Let's open up our minds, and our palates, to new and more exciting things...you never know what you'll enjoy!

...like the smell of horses in your beer glass...?

And since you all know I'm a giver, I hand-delivered a bottle of this special juice to our good friend...because something this good deserves to be shared with loved ones.  Which is why I decided to write about it today.

But this will have to count as me sharing it with all of you...because I simply don't have any more that I wish to actually share with all of you.


I do hope you understand.

Cheers!

Monday, September 15, 2014

13 Going On 33

Well.  It's happening again.  The whole 3 am thing.  Yeah, I thought I shaked that awhile back, but nope.  It snuck on in again.  Sneaky little devil.  Last time it happened I was obsessed with trying to figure out the meaning behind it, and I put it together, in cosmic-hippie fashion, that I was simply going through a creative phase and was just supposed to let it happen...and I did.  And then I guess I became super boring and incredibly un-creative because I started sleeping late again (til 5). But now that it's happening again I'm less concerned with the meaning (I get it, I get it, I'm creative. Enough already.)  I'm more concerned with...oh, I don't know...why it's happening.

I have a long history of not being able to sleep well when I have a lot on my mind or am excited about something.  Positive or negative, if there's a lot going on upstairs, I can't sleep like a normal human being.  So... I'm just trying to think of the things that have been on my mind lately...

Could be that my daughter's in preschool for the first time...

Could be that I'm finally left with a little time to make more cooking videos...

Could be that over the weekend I conquered a fear of mine- singing and playing for a small crowd (and then FILM it. Yikes!)- and I got to do it with my long time girlfriend...something we haven't done since we lived together over 14 years ago...





(Another short clip can be seen on Instagram)

Could be that I finally got my glasses and have been quite responsible with wearing them when I'm supposed to...

(See?  Good morning, America!  Here's me right at this very moment. And I didn't even make myself look all purty for ya'll.  Nope.  This is raw and real 3 am business here. And that 'shirt' I'm wearing?  Oh that would be my father's old t-shirt.  If you grew up with me...you know the one.  It's been loved hard, that shirt. I think it's on backwards right now.)

Could be that I just realized that I've been drinking my coffee with slightly old half & half and have been slowly poisoning myself over time and waking up at 3 is the manifestation of my slow dairy-induced death...

OR...could be that it's officially my birthday week.  (Woo-hoo!)  On Saturday I'll be turning 33 and am actually excited about it this year.  Allow me to explain.  My birthdays are always a little strange for me...I blame elementary school.  And junior high.  And high school.  You know the girls who got to walk around all day with a big bunch of balloons on their birthday?  They walked into class and their desk was covered in flowers and cards, and their lockers were done up all fancy and stuff?  The whole school knew it was their birthday.  Yeah...that wasn't me.  That was never me.  (Enter sad, pitiful face here.)  Man, I wanted to be one of those girls.  Ha.  So I think what my 8, 13, 18 year old selves wanted so desperately is still kinda what my 33 year old self wants.  Isn't that silly?  But we never quite shake our old insecurities do we?  We only learn how to deal with them as we get older and wiser.  Plus, don't we all feel a little bit like a child on our birthdays anyway?  It makes us reflect on our past.  And in my case, I tend to revert back to that shy, little girl who never ever told anyone that's what she wanted for her birthday- to feel kinda like a princess and for the whole school to know it was her special day...if just for a moment.

So I get kinda bummed around my birthday every single year because of that shy, little girl and what she never got.  Pretty ridiculous, I know.  It barely makes sense as I type it, but that's the honest truth.  I have so much to be thankful for and yet that is something that, every year, creeps into my mind.  See- what I shoulda just done back then is just do all of that for myself.  Send myself flowers and buy myself balloons and make everyone else think I had a secret admirer somewhere.  (Right.  That wouldn't have been sad at all...)  I am a super good birthday giver, though.  I rock at people's birthdays.  I should go into official birthday giving business.  I'm a shower-er.  I love all that stuff.  But for some reason I have such a problem with voicing what it is that I want.  And then end up being disappointed that I never got it...

But this year I told myself I wasn't going to do that.  I wasn't going to go into this birthday feeling like a 13 year old.  I'm not sad and pitiful anymore!  I'm turning 33, damnit!  I'm a grown-ass woman.  If I want something, I can't sit back and wait for someone else to bring it to me.  What sense does that make?  People can't read my mind.  (Lord knows that would be near impossible and take for damn-ever to do.)  So every day this week I am treating myself to something that I want.  Every day I'm creating my own something to look forward to.  Because we create our own happiness.  No one else is responsible for our feelings and emotions.  No one else can create our happiness.  It took me 33 years to figure this out and I'm happier now because of it.  So I am telling you now, if you don't know this, if you don't already do this, do it now.  Start this year.  Stop being disappointed in people, stop allowing yourself to be let down.  If you want something, grab it.  (I mean, don't be rude.  Don't just, like, take people's stuff.)  But truly- if there's something in this world that you desire, something that you've always wanted but were always to shy and insecure to ask for, something you perhaps have been waiting on someone else to do for you, just make it happen.  Just.  Do.  It.  And that's what I'm doing this year.  I'm doing what makes me happy.  Finally.

So if you see me walking around town holding an unreasonably large bunch of balloons any time from now until the 20th, just go along with it and pretend that I didn't buy them for myself.  K?

Thanks.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, when I was a baby, my birthday cake was always Carrot Cake.  And when I got older, I didn't really have a birthday cake every year (sometimes we ate Apple Pie, sometimes Peach Cheesecake...) but we sometimes traveled on my birthday, so it wasn't always practical to have the same birthday dessert every year.  And then now, as an adult, I'm just not a big sweets person in general so I declined the offer for my sweet mama to make me a cheesecake.  But this year, so I can still get the taste of my childhood, I've decided to whip up a batch of my Carrot Cake Scones to have for breakfast.  And if you're in the neighborhood, stop on by because I'll have plenty to share.  It'll be my birthday present to you.




Sunday, September 14, 2014

(Gluten-Free!) Plum Peach Pie...on the fly

So I made a pie...a new recipe that I just kinda made up as I went along...and I filmed the process.

Wanna see?



http://youtu.be/BklsQhPhKAU

And here's the recipe!


*Crust
For my gluten-free pastry recipe, click HERE
For my all-butter, standard pastry recipe, click HERE

*Filling
In a large bowl, combine the following..

-4-5 cups sliced fresh peaches and plums (any ratio you'd prefer), which is roughly 2 1/2 lbs fruit, pre-slied.  (If you decide to use frozen, sliced peaches (or plums), DO NOT THAW and just follow the directions below for how much more thickener to add to the recipe.)
-1/4 cup cornstarch (double this amount to 1/2 cup if you're using all (un-thawed!) frozen fruit)
-1 lemon, zested and juiced
-1/2 cup + 1 TB light brown sugar (adjust sugar amount depending on your fruit's sweetness)
-two splashes almond extract
-one splash vanilla extract
-3/4 tsp ground ginger
-good pinch kosher salt

Mix well and set aside to begin to thicken while you roll out your first pastry disk and place into an un-greased, deep dish glass pie plate

Pour filling over raw pastry.

Dot with 3 TB unsalted butter, diced

Roll out second pastry disk and place over filling.  Curl under any excess pastry and pinch to seal with the bottom around the edges.

Vent top crust with a sharp knife by cutting a few slits into the dough.

Brush crust with some cream, milk or half and half to coat the entire surface.

Sprinkle generously with sugar (I prefer raw sugar b/c of the larger crystals).

Place on top of a foil-lined cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 (do not open oven) and bake 30 minutes more.

Allow to cool for about 30 minutes before serving warm (...with vanilla ice cream!!!)


Friday, September 12, 2014

Wedding Fashion...and this Dude lookin' like a Lady

So...yeah, I'm a fashionable girl.  I love clothes and make-up, I read the magazines, I'm in on what's on trend and what's not.  I love everything about being a chick.  Being a girl rocks.  But...I wouldn't call myself girlie.  I'm more of a 'boots and leather and tight pants' kinda girl, more of a 'today I feel like a gypsy so I'm gonna wear a belly shirt and a maxi skirt and a ton of jewelry' kinda girl or more of a 'throw on a short skirt and heels and then look forward to taking it all off the second I walk in the door' kinda girl.  I love the show of it, the idea of it, the act of putting it all on...but I'm all talk.  I adore getting ready for an event, (and I can make anything be an event).  I like taking my time and planning out my outfit and hair and make-up and accessories for fancy times out but then I remember that I have to then behave like a Lady.  No legs propped up on the table, nope. Those legs need to be crossed at all times, shoes must stay on, no fidgeting... I'm like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, minus the ho part of it all.  So when it comes time to get ready for a funeral or a wedding, something that I'm really not in control of how I want to look, but rather how I need to look, I can step up to the plate and take a damn good swing, but boy do I get exhausted running those bases.

So I've decided to share with you what I wore to a recent wedding of two of my junior high school friends. It was a weekend long wedding extravaganza that ended with a Monday night wedding. And, knowing I had to be a Lady on Monday evening, allowed me to let some of my other colors shine during the prior festivities...

First there was the Saturday night dance party blowout, where I chose to be the Lady in red...and gold...and leopard. 


With an extremely smokey eye...


Who found herself behind the DJ booth with her 7th grade boyfriend for most of the night...


...when she wasn't going hard on the dance floor.  (Ahem, not necessarily very Lady-like...)

Then there was Sunday brunch. More laid back, chill but still very fun. I went with a little flirty, quasi-bohemian vibe... 


And a bold lip. 


But once I got all of that out of my system I knew I needed to bring my A-game to Monday night. I needed to be Lady Abbey. 

And that's what I'm about to share. Big time. Because, frankly, you may not see me looking this Lady-like again in a super long time.  So it needed to be documented and talked about.  In detail.  A lot.

Ya'll ready for this?

Dude. I tooootally looked all sophisticated and stuff. Fo Realz

Here's the complete ensemble...(in bad lighting and messy bathroom, obvi.)

(Dress-H&M, Shoes-Target, All accessories-H&M)

To begin the 'getting ready' process, I started with my hair, putting it up in a top bun with a bow (oh-so-girlie), and I'll talk more about that later.  But then came my favorite part...the make-up.  And I felt that for this occasion and this dress, I needed to call upon a little Hepburn, Audrey that is.  The Ultimate Lady.  I went with a Breakfast at Tiffany's vibe with both the hair and the make-up.  


I did a heavy wet-lined and winged upper lid, a little light brown shading at the brow bone and below the lower lash line and white liner in the water line to open up my eyes, lots of top lash, a strong brow, a little soft pink blush right under the apples of my cheeks and a soft, matte pink lip.  Done!  Exactly what my vision was.  Awesome.

But then I remembered I had to get out of my old Wildcats t-shirt and into my Lady-dress...which needed to be slipped over my face and head...that now had a ton of makeup on it and a giant bun and bow perfectly situated on the top of it.

(I wonder if Audrey ever had this problem...)

Got the dress on, with help from my husband and I think the only reason why my hair didn't get messed up was because I used roughly 1/2 a bottle of hairspray to keep everything in place.  (And the rest of the night I had to look down on my cell phone that was misted with a tacky film of the stuff. Note to self- remove phone from countertop when planning on weathering a hairspray storm.)

(Hooray for hairspray!)

So... here's an arial shot of my head taken as we headed to my mom's to drop off the kids. 


I used a bun doughnut that I got from H&M to bulk it up, otherwise my bun would be terribly tiny and incredibly un-Ladylike.  And because, even when I'm pretending to be a Lady, I like things a little un-done, I made sure to mess up the bun by pulling at it a bit, which I think gave it more character.

And the accessories can be seen here....(Really, this was just an excuse to take the shoes off one last time before I wasn't allowed to.)

(Like I said before, the shoes are Target and everything else is H&M...pretty sure that's a toiletry bag that I'm using as a clutch, but it works!)

My mom snapped a quick pic of us before we headed out...and actually, we both seem a bit uncomfortable in this picture, don't we?  Maybe he wanted to take his clothes off too...

(But I say we clean up quite nicely when forced to do so!)

It is amazing what a different outfit can do to you though.  It can completely change the way you think about yourself and behave...for a moment, at least.  I began the evening sitting up straighter, feeling pretty, which then progressed to feeling awkward and on edge, then progressed to wanting to strip down, and then later progressed to my head hurting from all the bobby pins and hairspray... 

(Being a Lady is hard damn work.)

And because I can't resist a bathroom mirror selfie, this is me about 2 hours in to show you all that everything is still on!! Yay for no indecent wedding exposure!! 


But then this happened...somewhere around hour 2.5?...


See. This is what happens when I'm told to sit still for too long.  AND siting next to a girl, one of my oldest and dearest, bestest friends, who I know would walk through fire with me...or a bamboo field in this case.  

I mean...I could spend some time explaining the meaning behind this picture or I could just let it speak for itself...

But here are the moments before (in case you were curious), which are generally as important as the moment itself, I believe...if not more. 


Yeah...we had a lot of time to kill while all the sophisticated photos were being taken behind us...



(We look sophisticated, yes?)

It was a great night.  It's always nice to see old friends, have an excuse to get out of the house and put on something different.  I really did feel quite nice that evening.  And considering we've now all seen that I was three totally different people over the weekend and trampled through a forrest at some point, we know that I cheated and let a little bit of my un-Ladylike self be visible through all the hairspray.  Because really, at the end of the day, they're just clothes.  It's just make-up.  It's just hair.  None of those things define who we are.  But they are a way for us to play and tap into all the different parts of ourselves that linger under the surface.  There's a Lady trapped inside each and every one of us. (You too, sir.) Sometimes you just have to suffer through some blisters and bows to find her.  

Or...come home, kick off those heels, take out all the bobby pins and remember who you really are. 


Just a bunch of messy things that, when held together properly, can put on a damn good show for a few hours.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Upside of Down

Whenever I feel a little stale, I flip myself upside down. (Wait.  Are you laughing?) Whether I'm maybe a little sad about something, tired, bored, stressed, (bloated)...hanging upside down for a little bit really helps.  It's really quite a rush, to be honest.  Add I know that sounds so hippie of me, but it's true.  I'm upside down a lot...I would know.

So in lieu of a standard Workout Wednesday post where I would perhaps share a tip or new routine with you all, I decided to share how my three year old daughter and I now bond...in picture form.  You know, just what we do to hang out in our spare time...  

It is true that our children will copy whatever it is that they see us do.  She's just seen a lot of upside down mommy lately and my husband and I would find her in various rooms of the house trying to do it herself...


So yesterday she and I decided to be upside down together.  And below are the snapshots of our afternoon, in chronological order (and no, she's not injured in any of them-don't worry!).  And then at the end there's a short video I made for Instagram of it all coming together.  (That child loves having her video taken...a trait she surely must have come up with on her own...)

she doesn't realize she's backwards...

and I just don't have the heart to tell her...

nice catch, mommy.

she got her feet up!

whoops.

the look on her upside down face, looking back at me, is priceless- so, so pleased and proud.

YouTube video:





(And if you listen closely at the beginning of the video, she's saying, 'OK, I'm in position!'...she's cuing me in, that little pro.  And then, at the end she totally leaves me high-five hangin' and instead opts to cheese in front of the camera...it's a mystery how she became so camera-comfy.)

Oh, the giggles, oh the fun we had.  And that's all it takes.  That's all it takes to have a special moment with your child centered around something fun and different and healthy.  It doesn't have to be by doing inversions on the front door, it could be taking a walk to collect sticks and leaves outside, it could be seeing who can jump the highest, it could be baking something healthy in the kitchen together.  No matter the activity, your kids need to know that being healthy and active is simply a way of life.  And that it's fun.

And sometimes they just need to know you're always there to hang out with them whenever they want.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One of my family's favorite things to bake together, that just so happens to be incredibly healthy, is my G-Free, Processed Sugar Free Coconut Banana Bread.  My kids have always loved to peel the bananas for this recipe, to use the electric beaters, to crack the eggs into the bowl, and to stir it all together.  And everyone, big and small, loves this recipe.  EVERYONE.

Then there are a few others that we all love as well!!

*Pumpkin Bread (G-free, the super healthy version!)

*Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal 'Cookies' (G-free, Dairy free)

*Chocolate Brownie Cups (these contain pureed chickpeas instead of any flour!!)

*(Avocado) Chocolate Pudding (G-free, Dairy free, raw)

*Raw, Vegan, Chocolate Pudding Pie (THE BEST raw/vegan chocolate dessert recipe. SWEAR!)

*Raw, Coconut-Almond Cookie Balls (a great breakfast, snack or dessert item and so easy to make!)

Have a great Wednesday, everyone!!!