Saturday, September 24, 2016

It's finally FALL!

As of last Thursday, it's officially FALL!

To me, Fall means 2 things: Pumpkin Spice Lattes...and memes about Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

The problem is that no matter how wonderful I remember them being, I don't actually like them anymore (which breaks my heart). The Starbucks version tastes like chemical-y artificial flavors to me more than actual pumpkin. And it's so so sweet, I just can't.

So what's a girl to do?
Make her own pumpkin spice coffee creamer. Duh.

I did this yesterday, and was able to kick off the first full weekend of Fall with my pumpkin spice coffee & lots of college football.

A perfect Saturday if you ask me.

Pumpkin Spice Creamer (dairy free)

1 can Coconut Milk
5-8 Medjool Dates OR 1-2 T of honey (depending on your taste)
1/2 15oz can Pureed Pumpkin (make sure it's just pumpkin, not any other weird ingredients added)
2 t Cinnamon
1 t Nutmeg
1/2 t Cloves

Add coconut milk & 5 dates to blender and blend until completely blended.
Add the rest of the ingredients & blend until combined.
Taste & adjust the sweetness as necessary (you can add more dates or honey to increase sweetness to your taste - just do it a little bit at a time)

I couldn't resist...

Thursday, July 4, 2013


After 3 very long days of waiting, it's finally here.... IT'S PICKLE DAY!!!!

So every year we plant a vegetable garden. There is nothing in the world better than home grown veggies! This year, we switched focus to installing water barrels and ponds in an attempt to be more efficient & conserve water and we scaled back the veggie garden. Who knew it would be the rainiest season Atlanta's seen in years and we should've been building an ark.

Since cucumbers love the rain, we have cucumbers coming out of our ears (even though we only planted 2 cucumber plants).

So what do I do with all these cucumbers?!?


Ok, so I did research on pickles for 2 days and oh dear god, there is no end to the different ways to make pickles. Here's some of what I learned:

• The 2 basic methods of making pickles: Canning & Refrigerator pickles. Canning is the traditional method of using sterilized jars, filling them, then boiling the jars in a water bath to kill any bacteria. This is kind of a big process, but they last for a LONG time! Refrigerator pickles are similar, but you don't need to boil the jars in the water bath. However, because the bacteria is not removed, these must be stored in the refrigerator and can only last about 2 months. (I chose the refrigerator pickling method since all I have right now are cucumbers. Hopefully we'll have enough veggies to can a little later on in the season)

• In general, with either method, you want to process them as quickly after picking as possible -- like, within 12 hours quick!  (I didn't realize this, and some of my pickles sat for 2 days before using them - oops!)

• There are many theories as to how to make crispy pickles. I chose the ice bath. Letting them soak (whole) for 2-6 hours in an ice bath makes them crispy -- and it totally worked!

• You should cut off the ends. Apparently the enzyme that makes them squishy is in the ends. This isn't a problem for us because I prefer either spears or slices. I'm not a big fan of whole pickles.

•  Some say you have to boil all the spices together before adding to the jar, and the some say you add the spices to the jar with the pickles and add the hot liquid. I tried both methods and both seemed to work fine.


I prefer Bread & Butter pickles, while Jack is a dill man. I started with these 2 basic recipes from Alton Brown (love him!) & The Kitchn.

So I started with 6 cucumbers (some were picked that day, some the day before, and some 2 days before).

Sooooo purty!

And I let them sit in an ice bath and think about what they did for about 6 hours...

Meanwhile I ran my jars, lids & rings through the dishwasher.

Then I started packing the jars. I ended up with 4 regular sized mason jars, & 1 tall one that I used for the spears.

Here they are all packed & ready to go. 3 on the left are spicy garlic dill, and the 2 on the right are spicy garlic bread & butter (notice a theme?).

I love garlic...and I love vidalia I couldn't resist adding some of each to all the jars. Try to layer everything throughout the jar so all the flavors mix together. Also try to cram as much into the jar as possible (without damaging the cucumbers, of course).

When you add the liquid, fill it to the bottom most ridge at the top of the jar. You want about an inch of space between the liquid & the lid. As the jars cool, you'll hear the tops pop down and the jars seal. Once they're room temperature, stick them in the fridge.

Here they are 3 days later. WAIT AT LEAST 3 DAYS!!

I know, I know.... you're saying "BUT I WANT PICKLES NOW!" I get it. But, no. Wait.

Ermahgerd YUMMMMMMM!

AB's Bread & Butter Pickles: (video here)
For Pickling Liquid:
1 cup water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp pickling spice
1 tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp turmeric
Red pepper flakes (to taste)

For Jars:
3 pickles (sliced or speared)
1/2 Vidalia onion (sliced)
4 large cloves of garlic (cut into pieces)

Add dry ingredients to clean jars. Mix everything for pickling liquid in a pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 4 minutes. Add to jars.
*Makes enough liquid for 2 jars

For Each Jar:
1 tbsp Fresh dill (or more)
Sliced Vidalia Onions (or any sweet onions) - to taste
2 large garlic cloves (cut into pieces)
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
*dried cayenne would be good instead of the red pepper flakes

For Pickling Liquid:
1.5 cup Apple cider vinegar
1.5 cup Water
2 tbsp Pickling salt
*I had to make 2 batches to fill all 3 jars

Add all jar ingredients with spices in the bottom, then onions, garlic, dill & cucumber layered on top.

Once you've added the liquids to all the jars & close them, let them sit on the counter until they return to room temperature. Then keep in the refrigerator.

Wait at least 3 days before opening!

They'll stay good for up to 2 months, but I doubt they'll last that long!

Sunday, June 23, 2013


For some reason, this summer I'm being harassed by ants. Big ones, small ones, red ones, black ones -- they love me. The feeling is not mutual.

ANT TRAUMA #1: Piss Ants

It started with ants in the kitchen. Every summer, without fail, we get ants in the kitchen. You know the ones -- little, tiny, black, annoying...the ones we in the South lovingly refer to as "piss ants." Yes, I'm sure some of the cause is the occasional dish in the sink that's stayed too long, but for the most part, it's the fact that there's some caulk that needs to be redone on the counter which grants the little buggers access.

So I wage war.

Our friendly exterminator said not to use any type of bug spray on the ants because it interferes with whatever it is that they use. So, I use counter cleaner. Hose 'em all down. Clean and clean and clean. Hose 'em down. Clean. Repeat. Doesn't make a bit of difference - every morning, more ants.

So with a little research, I came across the fact that ants apparently hate bay leaves. Sounds like a bunch of hooey to me, but I'll try anything at this point because I'm clearly losing the war. So I put 2 little bay leaves on the spots where the caulk is cracked and I believe the ants are getting in. I checked back over the next few hours and found a few here and there, but my assumption is that those guys were already out and about.
Tiny (yet effective) ant fighters....

Over the next few days, nothing. Nada. Not one single ant. Even when Jack started leaving Coke & beer cans next to the sink again, NOTHING!

Who knew? 2 tiny bay leaves. Done!

ANT TRAUMA #2: Red Bitey Bastards

So, in all my brilliance, I was hanging out by the pond the other day when I saw one of my lovely tomato plants growing outside it's cage. So, forgetting I was in flip flops, I immediately go to fix him up, and find a giant pile of big red bitey bastards living in my garden (oh yeah,  I stepped right in it!). Now, we're not super organic gardeners -- but we try as much as humanly possible to not use chemicals near our veggies. We use coffee grounds, egg shells, fireplace ash, leaves, etc etc -- so putting ant killer smack in the middle of my garden wasn't super appealing.

Your ant fighting arsenal.
So after a little research, I learned that ants don't like cornmeal. Well, they like it, but there was something about it expanding in their stomachs, tiny ant explosions, you know...that sort of thing. So I figured if corn meal was good, Jiffy was even better (theory being the sugar in the mix attracts them, and the cornmeal does them in). So I did some poking with my shovel and stirred them up (while wearing more appropriate shoes), dusted the general area with Jiffy mix, then came back later that night and did it again. It took a few repetitions, but eventually, they went away -- or maybe they all exploded? Who knows.....but the end result is the same! :)

Boom! I win.

Next up.... squirrels!
If anyone knows how to keep them out of my flower pots & beds away from all my bulbs, I'd love to hear it!

Friday, November 30, 2012

god help us all..... dammit.

It's here. The moment I knew would come, the day I secretly dread, yet am never quite prepared for.....

God help us all. 

Take cover. Run for the hills. Save the children. Batten down the hatches. SAVE YOURSELVES! Because there's nothing quite like a sick man....

Jack is a mover. And a talker. And a social being. So the fact that he's been sleeping and sick with no energy for going on 5 days has not done much for his disposition.

This is what we've become:

Me: Can I get you anything? Soup? Crackers?

Jack: You know what sounds good? Some of that damn jello in the fridge...

Me: Ok. 1 damn jello or 2? And would you like some damn coke to go with your damn jello?

Jack: That sounds damn good! Thank you, dammit.

....and this is what we do.

What's wrong with him? Both ears are badly infected (a feat I didn't think possible for an adult! This sounds like the diagnosis for my 2 year old nephew, not a grown man). And since he still has his wisdom teeth, his throat & neck are just a giant mess of red, angry, badness. And everything hurts.... hot, cold, room temperature, soft, hard -- doesn't matter. It all hurts.

The only thing that has helped this:
1 cup hot water (hot hot)
1 T honey
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 T lemon juice

Mix and get it down his throat one way or another.
But make no mistake.... a sick man is a sneaky man. Do not walk away before you watch him finish it completely... I learned that one the hard way.

Feel better already. Dammit.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Last Thanksgiving, I don't quite remember how, but we ended up with 3 turkeys. I have no idea why. So our resident turkey frier fried 2 of them (it's way quicker), and we brined, then smoked the third. All were WONDERFUL -- and amazingly enough, there were very few leftovers.

So I started doing searches for what to do with turkey leftovers -- because the idea of piling some of everything you had for Thanksgiving on a sandwich kinda makes me wanna hurl a little bit -- and I came across this: "Coconut-Lime Turkey and Rice Soup" from Kalyn's Kitchen.

*Quick side-note, if you have never tried anything from Kalyn's Kitchen, you're missing out! It's mostly South Beach diet recipes, but all that means is low-sugar, low-carb -- and really, who couldn't use less sugar and carbs!? Some of our FAVORITE recipes have come from here, so check her out!

But as I was saying..... this soup sounded amazingly similar to our favorite soup on the planet, Thom Kha! Thom Kha makes EVERYTHING better! Whenever we're sick, sad, grumpy, or just cold -- this is our go-to soup.

So, I modified Kalyn's recipe a bit to make it a little more Thai....

I started by making stock with all the turkey bones. I use mostly the same ingredients for all the stock I make, so it's the same as the corn stock (recipe here), just minus the corn & add turkey bones (duh). The only thing you do differently with stock made from meat is after straining, stick it in the freezer for 30-60 minutes (or leave it in the fridge over night) so the fat settles on top & hardens, then scrape it off. Ew. Nasty.

This is after about 5 hours of cooking (pretty gross looking, but tastes yummy)

So start with 6 cups of turkey stock (fat removed), and add garlic, lime juice, ginger slices, brown sugar, soy sauce & red pepper flakes and simmer on medium for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash mushrooms and slice into bite-sized pieces, and chop or shred turkey.

After 20 minutes, scoop out the garlic & ginger and throw away.
Add mushrooms, let simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add coconut milk, turkey & cilantro. (after you add the coconut milk, you can't let it boil any longer or the milk might curdle, so be sure to keep the fire on low)
Taste at this point and add cayenne, salt, pepper and/or more red pepper flakes as needed.
When the mushrooms are almost cooked, add green onions.


Turkey Thom Kha

(Chicken can be substituted if you don't have turkey - it's yummy too!)

6 cups turkey stock
6 T fresh-squeezed lime juice10 thin slices ginger root*
6-8 medium garlic cloves, sliced
3 T soy sauce
3 T brown sugar
2 cans coconut milk
2-3 cups leftover diced or shreded turkey (if you dice it, make it pretty small)
3 large portabello mushroom caps, sliced into bite sized pieces
2-3 T chopped cilantro (more if you like, but I'm not a huge cilantro fan)
1 green onion, sliced
Red pepper flakes (to taste)
Cayenne (to taste) -- don't judge me. Yes, I put it in everything!

• Add 6 cups of turkey stock (fat removed) to large pot along with garlic, lime juice, ginger slices, brown sugar, soy sauce & red pepper flakes and simmer on medium-high for about 20 minutes.

• Meanwhile, wash mushrooms and slice into bite-sized pieces, and chop or shred turkey.

• After 20 minutes, scoop out the garlic & ginger and throw away.
 Add mushrooms, let simmer for about 5 minutes.
 Add coconut milk, turkey & cilantro. (after you add the coconut milk, you can't let it boil any longer or the milk might curdle, so be sure to keep the fire on low)
 Taste at this point and add cayenne, salt, pepper and/or more red pepper flakes as needed.
 When the mushrooms are almost cooked, add green onions.


*Side note -- ginger isn't cheap! And most recipes only call for small amounts, yet you have to buy the whole root. Stick it in a ziplock bag in the freezer and just cut off pieces when you need them. It'll keep indefinitely!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Don't worry Martha, your job is safe...

So in an attempt to help me with my "homemade Christmas" mission, my mom & I made peppermint marshmallows tonight...

It....errr.....didn't quite turn out like the picture. It tastes great, but looks like I slaughtered something.

Oh well, guess I'll just have to keep drinking hot chocolate until these are gone and I can try again.....
Who knew marshmallows were that complicated!? (btw -- no recipe until I figure out how to make it not look like THAT again)

Don't worry Martha Stewart, your job is totally safe for now.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

how to fix your towels...

So, I've told you how to clean your microwave for real, I've told you how NOT to clean your oven, but now I'm going to tell you the best cleaning tip I've found on Pinterest so far....


Let's start out by saying this......Jack and I view certain things differently. He's a man. Men do things like..... never change out their shower towel. Ever. If I went out of town for a month, I would come home and find the same towel hanging on the shower bar (if it hadn't gotten up and walked away already).

Men also do things like.... clean up spilled beer on the dirty floor with a good bathroom towel that you will in the future use to dry your face. We have what we call "dog towels" for this. Lots of dog towels. And though they're used for everything from drying wet dogs, to wiping up spills, to wiping your feet when coming in the house, they ALWAYS smell somewhat like dog. Ew.

The dog towels, the kitchen dish towels, and the shower towels all end up having their own smell, and it's not always a good one. And then I found this on Pinterest: "How to Remove Mildew Smell from Towels" (which really should read "How to make your towels no longer smell like dog, beer, mildew, or just general skankyness"). Best. Tip. Ever.
My washer & dryer. They're red - that makes me happy.
And it's so simple.... Just throw the skanky offending towels in the washing machine with 2 cups of white vinegar (no detergent), and run on the HOTTEST water setting you have. (This makes me so thankful we have the "sanitary" setting on our washer.) When that's done, run the same towels through another cycle, this time with detergent (also on the hottest water setting). Then dry as usual.


Even if you think your towels smell fine, do this immediately!
Then thank me...
You're welcome.