Archive | July, 2010

Mmm Malbec.

31 Jul

So tonight we hit Whole Foods for wine tasting. Best decisions ever. They had such good food tonight (salmon, fruit salsa) and a couple of whites that weren’t bad and a red even I liked. I proceeded to go to Trader Joe for some groceries (and I needed a cheap bottle of red wine to make sangria for a wedding shower tomorrow) and I found a rose Malbec. I have been looking for one since the delicious one I had at Barrio at the beginning of the summer. So, here I sit on a Friday night baking banana bread and drinking rose Malbec. I’m content. There’s a new Say Yes to the Dress on tonight (I love watching these girls complain about how mommy won’t buy them a $10,000 dress) and DC Cupcakes which I am officially addicted to and may have to drive to Baltimore/DC just to sample one of these delicious looking cupcakes. But that’s a whole other story. Oh and now there’s a new Say Yes to the Dress series. I really like Randy so I can’t imagine another one that doesn’t involve him as a consultant, but I’m willing to give it a try.

I make a lot of banana bread. My dad loves it. It’s easy to take to the office and cut up for people. I love it. I always have bananas that go bad. I have discovered that Meijer discounts bananas that are about to go bad. I basically always have banana bread ready bananas on hand. I’m prepared at all times. I’ve tried about 15 different recipes in the last two years. I always find a new one on the internet and give it a shot. I’ve made them with sour cream, buttermilk, cream cheese… loads of stuff. I’ve always been a fan of the Betty Crocker “lighter” recipe because I’m all about being a little healthier when possible. I try reducing the sugar, using honey, Splenda, blah-blah-blah. But, I’ve been on this maple syrup kick. I found a bottle shoved in the back of my fridge that my mom and I bought last year. I had completely forgotten about it. Still delicious and now I’ve been using it practically every day on pancakes, waffles… I contemplated using it on toast yesterday I’ve been eating so much of it. I poured some on blueberries last night. It’s getting bad. I may be addicted. So, I cut the sugar in half of a recipe I found and added three tablespoons of maple syrup. It’s in the oven. So far, it smells amazing. Oh and I added some cinnamon. I feel like bananas, cinnamon and maple syrup are a fairly logical combination, no?

Banana Bread

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup fat-free cream cheese

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons maple syrup (the real stuff)

2 ripe bananas

2 egg whites

1/4 cup light sour cream

1 cup whole-wheat flour + 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

*and you could add chocolate or nuts or raisins or anything else you desire in your banana bread

I creamed the cream cheese and sugars together until they were fluffy before adding the sour cream, maple syrup and applesauce. I then added the egg whites and bananas which I mashed with a fork. In a separate bowl, I combined all of the dry ingredients and then slowly incorporated them into the wet mixture. Mix until just moistened. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 60-75 minutes.

And it’s delicious. Next time I’m adding dark chocolate chips… or the dark chocolate M&Ms that have been sitting on my counter since I made cookies last week… or I could just finish those tonight. Mmmmm. Okay. Think healthy thoughts. Says the girl with the glass of wine and huge chunk of banana bread in her hand.

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Just have a big double shot…

29 Jul

So tonight as I’m coming home from the gym, I realize, as per usual, there is no parking on my side of the building. Sigh. I love my apartment complex but that is my one complaint: not enough parking! I think it’s mostly that I come home late sometimes and mostly my complex is full of families and older couples who are going to bed as I’m, say, heading to the gym. But anyway, long story short, I had to park on the other side of the building and went in through an entrance I don’t usually use. There was a guy, looked about my age, sitting on the steps. He was lighting up a cigarette and asked me how I was doing. We engaged in some friendly chatting and when he realized I had just come from the gym, he said, “oh honey. You go in a fix yourself a nice big double shot of something and pass the hell out.” What does that mean?!?! I mean, I think after I responded “I’m good,” I may have made a comment about being exhausted now… and I guess he put together the sweaty clothes and empty water bottle and iPod in my hand… but seriously? Does anyone take shots of alcohol after working out?

Okay. Stupid question. Nevertheless, it cracked me up. He was friendly though. Maybe more friendly 20-somethings will move in around here for me to be friends with.

So after my snickerdoodle adventure with maple syrup, I’ve been trying to think of other things I could put maple syrup in… muffins… cakes… breads… more cookies… Tomorrow on my day off I’m going to do some experimenting. I’m too tired tonight, and I’m sure after that double shot of whatever, I’ll be even more exhausted 😉

And P.S. I Love You is on Lifetime. I love Gerard Butler and this movie is one of my few chick-flick guilty pleasures. Love an accent, especially Irish, and a genuine, sappy love story that does not leave me angry a la Nicholas Sparks.

Unicorns, I love them…

27 Jul

I saw Despicable Me a few weeks ago and I want to go see it again so badly. That rarely happens to me; I never really care to go back to the theater to see a movie again… but lately, Toy Story 3, Inception, Despicable Me, that’s been the case. Maybe tonight I’ll hit the dollar theater and see something I’ve been secretly wanting to see. I love Russell Crowe and Robin Hood is finally down at that theater. And somewhere in the girly part of my brain I secretly want to see Letters to Juliet. I know, I know. Cheesy and it’s probably terrible, but I’d like to see it nevertheless. It has to be better than Dear John was, right?

Last night I opened my windows and turned off my a/c. It was glorious. It’s been so hot and humid that I haven’t been able to stomach turning off the a/c (even though I much prefer natural air). But, last night as I was coming home from teaching, driving with the windows down, I thought maybe it finally cooled down just enough for me to enjoy the breeze through my windows. And I slept better last night than I have in weeks. Glorious. I also woke up taking up my entire king sized bed. I had managed to sleep diagonally with my legs and arms sprawled out. Again, glorious.

I went running again this morning. This is the third morning in a row I’ve gotten a good run in before noon. It makes me feel so much better through the day and I’m so proud of my accomplishments. I go in and out of “being a runner.” I’ll run for months and then fall off for a year. This time my goal is to keep it up through the fall and winter. I thoroughly enjoy it once I get my body to a point that I can go long distances and vary my pace, etc. It’s getting to that point that is hard (as it is with anything). Once I fall off, I have a hard time getting back into a groove. So this time I have vowed not to fall off.

I deleted my Facebook account and have also vowed not to text anymore. I realized over the last few months how heavily my life depending on communicating with people in non-verbal ways. I guess this blog is non-verbal communication… I’m going to allow it though since it’s not really communication directed at someone specific. It’s more for me (and I guess anyone else who stumbles upon it… maybe no one else is reading this? who knows.). I’ve been using email a lot more recently but for some reason I put so much more into an email than I ever did a Facebook message or a text. I guess email became more of the replacement for snail mail. It’s easier to type at length than in a text and it doesn’t come with all the drama of Facebook. So, in addition to running more, I’m vowing to place more importance on meaningful conversation. More verbal talks and more face-to-face time. I know that with some people that will be harder. Schedules are different and a great deal of my friends are in different places now. Since I’m only investing in relationships that I think are worth it, I think it’ll work. And hopefully in the process it will build stronger and better relationships.

I made cookies for my students last night… they were delicious. They ate all three dozen… my 19 students ate three dozen cookies. It made me feel good 🙂

Maple Syrup Snickerdoodles

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tblsp real maple syrup
  • 1 egg

I creamed the butter, applesauce and sugar together before adding the maple syrup and egg. In a separate bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. Then, slowly combine the wet and dry ingredients while constantly mixing on a low speed. I rolled the cookies into about 1 inch balls and placed them an inch apart on the cookie sheet. I baked them in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 7 minutes. They’ll puff up and start to crack on top. They were delicious. I love maple syrup… and apparently so do my students.
Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of them before my students devoured them. Guess that means I’ll have to make more.

Stand still, look pretty

26 Jul

I get some of my best thinking in when I road trip. This week, after two trips to Marietta, I got a lot of thinking in. I lot of stressing and dwelling as well. I also listened to The Wreckers and belted their tunes while I drove.

On Friday, my mom and I had dinner. It was just the two of us, something we don’t do very often anymore. My mom is my best friend. It took me about 23 years to figure that out. It took me the better part of that time to also discover that my mom is always right. She’s very observant and is a good judge of character. She knows which of my friends are worth sticking around for. She’s good with reading boys and she knows what makes me happy. She always keeps these opinions to herself until exactly the right moment. How are moms so good at that? Are all moms good at that? Or is mine a rare type? On Friday when we were discussing some very serious things, she told me that before her mom got Alzheimer’s disease she said some things that weighed very heavily on her mind. My grandma told her how jealous she was of her relationship with me. She wished that she had had a better relationship with my mom, her daughter. A relationship like the one I have with my mom. My mom told me how blessed she had been to be able to thoroughly enjoy her time with me. We fight all the time, generally over silly things. She’s still my best friend and I tell her everything, even the things I probably shouldn’t. Being with her this week was something that I needed more than anything right now. It was also the hardest week of my life.

My dad is developing Alzheimer’s. Things are rough right now. To watch my mom go through this may be the hardest thing I ever do. It makes stressing out about teaching and getting exams graded seem insanely petty. My dad is depressed and there are very few things he seems to be excited about anymore. I’m trying to do what I can to make him happy… fortunately, like many guys I know, it’s easy to get to him through his stomach. He’s not picky so it’s even easier to do.

Strawberry-Banana Muffins (modified from Sunny Anderson’s recipe, Foodnetwork… I’m a little obssessed with her. She’s fun to watch)



  • 1 cup strawberries, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 lemon, zested

In a small bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the mashed banana, eggs, applesauce, sugars, strawberries, and lemon zest. Combine the dry and wet ingredients but be careful not to over mix. Scoop batter evenly into muffin cups (I used mini-muffin cups). Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick comes cleanly out of the center (about 30 minutes with regular muffin size, 20 with mini-muffins).

I added a little crumble to the top (equal parts brown sugar and oatmeal and enough margarine to make it crumbly, like a strudel topping) before I baked them just to give them another texture. You could also add nuts or even another berry to the batter if you wanted (make walnuts or raspberries).

My dad loves banana bread but I didn’t have enough bananas to make it, so I played around with some muffin recipes. I really enjoyed these and I think he did too. And, since I replaced the oil and butter with applesauce, they’re healthier and they were light and not dry at all.

Change

3 Jul

I love when unexpected people come back into my life. I’ve started spending more time with people I went to college with who now live in the same area as me. It feels good to rebuild connections and build stronger relationships. I still sometimes marvel at the fact that I went to a college where I literally knew everyone but didn’t really necessarily know them. So now, I’m getting to know people that I didn’t really know. I like that. I mean, you can stalk people as much as you want on Facebook, but you still can’t say you know them. When opportunities pop up and people pop back into your life, take advantage of it because you never know when they’ll pop out again. So this summer is to spending as much time as possible with people who make me happy… that and celebrating this 4th of July weekend since it’s a holiday I haven’t celebrated in about 6 years. Fireworks, good company, music and of course, food.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (modified from the recipe that comes with Crisco shortening sticks)

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup shortening

1/4 cup butter or margarine

2 tbsps. milk

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1 egg

1 3/4 cup flour

1 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 cups of any combination of chocolate chips (I used 1/2 cup white chocolate chips, 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1/2 cup dark chocolate M&Ms)

Cream the butter, shortening and sugars in a large bowl. Add the milk and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the egg next. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Once combined, add the chocolate. Drop onto a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees F for about 8 minutes (10 if you like your cookies a little crispier). You can make them any size you want, just be consistent or you’ll end up with some overdone and some underdone cookies. I make standard tablespoon sized cookies, spaced about an inch apart.

Condensed milk makes everything better

1 Jul

When I lived in Brazil, I discovered that sweetened condensed milk is like peanut butter; it tastes good on just about everything. They sell it everywhere, it’s super cheap and you can bake with it, cook with it and just eat it straight from the can. We’d pour it over strawberries and mangoes, ice cream and cakes. I have a sweet tooth and it’s just the right amount of sweet.

When I got back from Brazil the second time, I invested in a pressure cooker. I’ve never used it to cook anything except cans of condensed milk. Why would you cook a can of condensed milk? To make doce de leite/dulce de leche, of course! You just pop a can of condensed milk (completely unopened) in the pressure cooker filled with water and a little vinegar (so the inside of the cooker doesn’t stain black). Put it over the burner and let it cook for 20 minutes to an hour depending on how you want the consistency of your doce de leite to be.  20 minutes would get you a thin, syrupy doce de leite, which is perfect for ice creams and cake drizzles. 45 – 60 minutes gets you a nice chewy caramel like product. You can cut it into pieces and eat it by itself. Delicious. And trust me, it’s so much more than just caramel.

This leads me to the other two most amazing things to do with condensed milk. Brigadeiros and beijinhos. I’m a little partial to the brigadeiros because I love chocolate. They’re a small Brazilian candy best described as a chocolate caramel. Beijinhos are coconut based with no chocolate but still have a chewy caramel consistency.

Minha mãe brasileira taught me how to make both and I make the brigadeiros basically every chance I get. They’re a little time consuming by the result is completely worth it.

Brigadeiros

1 can sweetened condensed milk

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

sprinkles (chocolate or colored), chopped nuts or additional cocoa powder; you just need something to roll the brigadeiros in once they’re cooled

In a medium sized pot, combine the first three ingredients over medium-high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to mix the ingredients thoroughly. You’ll have to continue stirring throughout the cooking process or you’ll scorch the condensed milk. Once the mixture is bubbling, reduce the heat to a medium-low and continue stirring. You want the mixture to be slightly bubbly but not really boiling. As the condensed milk cooks, it will start to thicken. If it starts to boil, reduce the heat slightly (and make sure to keep stirring!). The time is always different depending on the heat used. It usually takes anywhere from 10-15 minutes to cook. You’ll know it’s done when you tilt the pot slightly and the mixture completely sticks together. It’ll be one giant blob (that’s the scientific term) of thick condensed milk. As you tilt the pan, there shouldn’t be anything left on the bottom; it should all have run to one corner. Take it off the heat and allow it to cool.  You can place the pot in the refrigerator to speed up the process or just leave it on a counter. When it’s cool enough to handle comes the fun part. Pour the sprinkles or nuts or whatever you’ve decided to use as coating onto a plate. Butter (or cooking spray) your hands. If you skip that step, you’ll be licking brigadeiro off your fingers and palms forever (which may not be such a bad thing). Pick up pieces of the brigadeiro and roll between your palms to create balls. You can really make them any size you want. I prefer smaller ones because I can eat more. Once you’ve rolled a ball, drop it onto your sprinkles and coat completely. Repeat the balling process. You’ll have to re-butter your hands periodically as you notice the brigadeiros becoming sticker and more difficult to roll.

And that’s it. The hardest part for me is the waiting for the brigadeiros to cool. Mostly because I’m so anxious that I just want to eat the stuff right off the spoon.

I’ve seen places in Brazil that put strawberries and cherries in the center as they roll the brigadeiros. Maybe not so traditional but delicious nevertheless.

Lar doce lar

1 Jul

I realized the other day that this is the first summer I’ve been in the United States since before I graduated from high school. I missed high school graduation to go to Brazil in 2004 and since then I haven’t been able to sit still long enough to spend an entire summer in this country. This is the first summer I’m not going back to Brazil… I’ve got a lot of mixed emotions about that. I’m excited to actually be here for the 4th of July. I’m happy to be here where a great deal of my friends are. I can’t wait for all the road trips and tiny adventures I have planned with my friends. The bigger part of me is a little heartbroken. I haven’t met my new baby brother back in Piracicaba. He’s about 9 months old now and I’m a terrible sister for not going back. I miss my family there and my old students. I miss the friends that I made over the years. Then I say all those things aloud and I think “poor, deprived Kimberly. Boo-hoo. You didn’t get to go out of the country this year.” I know, I know. Most people my age never even dream of all the traveling I’ve been lucky enough to do. But I’m selfish. I want to go back to Brazil. I want to go back right now.

Every time I leave Brazil, I leave with the belief that I will go back. It isn’t a goodbye, it’s just a see ya later. I know I’ll go back; it’s the not knowing when that bothers me. Goodbyes never get easier either. I cry harder every time I watch Marcia and Paulo and Ian leave me at Guarulhos. I think a little part of me gets left there each time. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true. It’s my home sweet home.

Columbus is getting to be my home. I realize more and more that I do like it here. I’m always discovering new places that I’ve never seen before. New restaurants to try and new places to shop. New benches to lounge on and new spots to people watch. And now that it’s getting to feel like home, I’m still being forced to say goodbyes. As I get older I realize that people come and go from our lives so frequently. I don’t talk to the majority of the people I knew in high school. Most of my friends from college could be living in Timbuktu and I wouldn’t know the difference. Of course I’ve met new people and made new friends. Some of them have already left my life even though I wasn’t ready for them to. Some of them stick around even though they’re not really welcome. Others will leave soon and then new people will enter. I hate that cycle. It’s tiring. I hope that the fall brings good people to our department at OSU. It will make that cycle and the transition a little easier though no one could ever replace the people that are missing.

It also hit me today that I’m no longer a student. That’s a scary concept to me. I’ve been a student forever. I don’t know how to not be a student. I’m not sure I’m going to like teaching 3 classes in the fall. Can I be a teacher and nothing else? Do I want to teach? What do I want to do? I’ve been weighing my options so much over the past few weeks and today I did something unexpected. I requested information and applications to culinary schools. I love to bake, which is absolutely no secret to anyone who really knows me. I think I could bake everyday and not tire of it. Two very intelligent friends of mine have told me in the last few days that everyone deserves to do something they want to do for at least a portion of their life. Applying to something never really hurt anyone, right?

In the meantime, I’ll just keep baking because it makes me happy. And hopefully it’ll make other people happy at the same time…