Hear Ye, Hear Ye

Grub –   Maybe because it’s Summer Time, and maybe because I live in Georgia where if the humidity doesn’t bother you the heat and humidity combination will make you question everything you thought you knew about the melting point of human flesh, I am super into ice cream this week.  Two favorites are Ben & Jerry’s Urban Bourbon (delightfully indulgent) and Halo Top’s Mint Chip (light and guilt-free).  The Halo Top could use more chips, but I just add some Ghirardelli baking chips and I’m good to go.

Straight Outta Pandora – artist I’m super into is BORNS.  I heard the song “Dug My Heart” and it was all she wrote.  Check it out here.   Their music has a very… mystical quality to it.  It’s 80s but it’s also modern.  “American Money” is mesmerizing.  Another band on my list this week is Young the Giant.  Listen to “Something to Believe In” and get back to me with opinions and suggestions.

Globetrotting –  Found a great deal for flights to Rome, Italy.  I think it was posted by Conde Nast Traveler magazine, but don’t quote me on that.  Trying to get my bro and sister-in-law on board.  I’d love to be there this winter!  We’ve been to the Colosseum once before but unfortunately Gladiator hadn’t come out yet, so I’ve not had the opportunity to stand inside it and scream, “Are you not entertained?”  So.  Life goals.

Body – My focus right now is on sleep, rest, self-care, and hydration.  I notice a real difference in myself when I drink lots of water and when I get lots of quality sleep.  On the fitness end, I’m spending tons of time outside, touching nature and breathing fresh air.  Highly recommend this to all my fitfam/gymrat friends.

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Callaway Gardens, Robin’s Lake Beach. @emmettsmommy86 on IG

Heart and Soul – Psychometry has been on my mind this week.  The following is from Wikipedia:

(from Greek: ψυχή, psukhē, “spirit, soul” and μέτρον, metron, “measure”), also known as token-object reading, or psychoscopy, is a form of extrasensory perception characterized by the claimed ability to make relevant associations from an object of unknown history by making physical contact with that object.

I don’t know if I believe a person could pick up an antique and discern things about its previous owners, but I do wholeheartedly believe that all things are energy.  (Notice I didn’t say all things “have” energy.)  Living things like people, plants, and animals as well as non-living things are all made of energy.  Some people call this vibration.  I refer to raising vibration a lot, because I believe positive things in life vibrate at a higher level than negative things, so the goal is to always raise or keep high vibration, so that you’re always energetically on the same wavelength (so to speak) with those things that are most desirable for you.  For more information on attracting, check out Agnes Vivarelli on YouTube.  Her videos are about vibration, manifestation, and radiating love.

What Dreams May Come – The only dream I had this week was a nightmare, so I’m not going to post about it.  Hope to have a better dream story next week.

Photographing – Trail runs, nature, animals, moving away from selfies and people photos.  Also, painted rocks, both hidden and found.  Haven’t heard of the rock-painting phenomenon?  Get Involved in Your Community!

 

Big and Small Screen – I have only seen a couple episodes of Criminal Minds this week, but they were good ones.  The relationship between Derek and Penelope is everything. I watch this, totally enjoying their back-and-forth dialogue, and half-hoping for a hookup.  Also watching SDCC footage here and there.  Love the new Justice League trailer, especially Jason Momoa as Aquaman (you can follow him on Instagram ) and Ezra Miller (also on Instagram) as Flash, who my son is most exicted about.  Momoa has been my main guy for a while, I’m so excited to see a spirit like his succeeding in Hollywood.  Miller is a talented actor and I’m curious to see where he’ll go.  Flash also seems to have all the funny lines, but maybe that’s just the trailer.  Oh, and you can see the Justice League trailer from ComicCon 2017 right over here.

Between the Pages – This week I read Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor” for the first time.  A self-professed Shakespeare lover/buff/geek, I am ashamed that I haven’t read everything he’s written.  I’m not into the comedies as much and the language (and therefore the humor) can be difficult for me to digest, but I got through it.  I also went to SparkNotes.com and read the synopsis.  It’s a helpful website as it also gives context, informing the reader of what was going on in England at that time.

Tech – My only news here is that I finally played Pokemon GO.  It was underwhelming, but thankfully I didn’t walk off any cliffs.

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Chocolate Chip “PanCrepes”

Most of my ‘best’ dishes happen by accident.  I love feeling like a mad scientist in the kitchen – creating, substituting, and usually not measuring or following any specific recipe.  I call it ‘guerrilla baking’ in jest, but in truth it’s the most freeing way for me to cook.  Tonight I made something in between pancakes and crepes, using applesauce instead of vegetable oil (blech) and Ghirardelli semi-sweet morsels.

My husband sent me a “Good News!” text, and once I heard what the good news, I decided to celebrate.  Hence, cooking with chocolate.  What makes a heart (or tummy) happier on a cold winter’s night than something buttery, gooey, and chocolatey?  I certainly can’t think of anything.

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So I put a pat of Plugra Unsalted butter (my favorite, hands-down) and got to work.  These are the result. They are not as thin as crepes, not as fluffy as pancakes, just the right ‘in-between’ of sweet and savory, with melted chocolate in the middle. They may not be pretty, but my taste buds are not complaining.   I don’t have a recipe, though if I did I might not share it, as I like to keep my Franken-Dishes to myself.*

These ARE vegetarian – they ARE NOT vegan but could easily be modified.  (Which I may do for myself tomorrow!)

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*Alright, boys and girls – after several requests I’m going to post a ‘rough’ version of the non-recipe:

1/2 C milk or non-dairy milk

1/2 C all purpose flour

dash of baking powder

pinch of salt

pinch of cinnamon

1 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp applesauce (or vegetable oil)

1 Tbsp butter or margarine (you really want to use butter here)

1 large egg

Any chocolate you like.  Dark chocolate will give a more bitter taste, so if you want sweet go with milk or semi-sweet chocolate. You could also add vanilla (I was out).

Preheat a pan or skillet and drop a small ‘pat’ of butter.  (Just a LITTLE bit is fine – this adds flavor and thins out the batter a little.) Mix wet ingredients in a bowl. (Egg, butter, applesauce).  Whisk together, then add dry ingredients.  Mix well (mixer not needed, just do it by hand.)   Pour batter in pan as you like – I started small to ‘test’ then got bigger.  Makes 4-6 PanCrepes.

Cheaters [Never?] Win

So it’s been WEEKS since I’ve blogged and it feels like YEARS.  It’s also been weeks since I’ve baked or cooked anything new, and I’m so happy to report that today I was able to do some of that also.  I’ve started a new day job, which is awesome and keeps me busy during the daylight hours.  The last few weekends have been spent sleeping. Oh, how I’ve missed the sleep.

Anyway, my husband’s employer is having a contest tomorrow.  A cupcake contest.  This will be simple.  A breeze.  Like shooting fish in a barrel.

Not so fast.  Actually, last year I made something for the same contest.   I poured my blood, sweat, tears, and some gorgeous produce into that dish.  I was incredibly proud of my entry, and I was sure I had won, even before my husband called from work that evening.

Actually on that call he told me “Well I thought you did an amazing job.”  Aha.  The pat-on-the-back, “A for effort”,  I love you anyway talk.  I had lost.  And it must have been by a landslide, the way he was holding my hand while delivering the news.

A few things I should have thought about last year:  I carefully selected a healthy/vegan recipe, which was mistake number one.   When your target audience (or appetite) is middle-aged American men who lift heavy things for a living, healthy/vegan isn’t what you want on your nutritional info label.  I also made sure to make it really “neat” looking.  Photo-ready.  (A habit of mine, you know.)  That was mistake number two.  Men like these don’t eat things that look like they’re meant for afternoon tea.  They eat chicken wings covered in hot sauce and messy things with gravy.  Basically if it isn’t on their faces and hands or staining their clothes, it isn’t even a threat in this challenge.

I expected to win last year’s contest because I made something I would be thrilled to eat.  I was not only a loser last year, but mine was one of the few dessert trays not totally emptied during the judging.  Ouch.  That was a punch in the ego.  The grand prize winner was something called “death by chocolate”.  When I asked my husband to describe it to me, he just used the word “chocolate” a lot of times.  So… yeah.  I felt like my pure-bred racehorse had just lost the Preakness to a lame old (chocolate) donkey.

This year, determined to win, I approached the contest from a completely different perspective.  My culinary plan of attack is much more man-centric.  I can’t believe I’m going to say this out loud, but… I … CHEATED.   Yes, I made red velvet cupcakes with icing inside.  But, I cheated.  I… *gulp*… made them FROM A BOX MIX!

Nothing says loving like powder and oil.
Nothing says loving like powder and oil.

Cooking or baking things from packages might not be shocking to some of you, but I grew up in my grandmother’s home.  All the dishes, desserts, birthday cakes, ALL of it was made from scratch.  Real ingredients, real “elbow grease”, or not at all.  Box cakes are blasphemy.  Of the devil.  A shameful, horrible invention.

However, box cakes are also what Americans eat.  I want to win, and so I stooped to the lowest level I could fathom.  And you know something?  Perhaps the worst of all of this is that it doesn’t actually taste that bad.  (Please don’t tell Grandmother I said that!)

Holy fakecakes, Batman!
Holy fakecakes, Batman!

The cake is moist and bouncy.  Certainly not the color or texture of something that occurs in nature, but not completely unappetizing.  They smell good, too.  I used my apple corer to dig out holes in the middle for the icing.  Looks yummy, no?

Another upside to “cheating” in baking is the time difference.  These cupcakes took me about 45 minutes, from start to finish, including cleaning up the kitchen.  If I had made these by hand from scratch, well, I’d probably still be baking and not blogging about what I’d baked.  So here’s a photo of hte finished product, all iced and (dare I say it) delicious-looking.

This is what winning looks like.
This is what winning looks like.

Beautiful, no?  Unfortunately the icing turned out a bit thin, but I don’t think the guys at my husband’s job are going to notice.  Mark my words, these from-the-box, spongy, blasphemy cupcakes are going to win me that prize.  These cupcakes are this year’s chocolate donkey, my friends.  I can feel it. Winner’s circle, here I come.

Calamity Cookies

Sounds exciting, right?  Ooh, I promise, they are!

This evening after dinner my husband decided to cut the grass.  Our lawn is rather large, so I knew it would take him a while, and I figured I’d use my free time to bake something.  Usually, the mood to bake strikes at a time when I am not able to go to the store, and tonight was no different.  As a result, I end up foraging in the pantry and fridge to see what I can put together.  This accidental mash-up just happens to be a masterpiece.

Here are the ingredients I found and mixed together.  I didn’t do any exact measuring, sorry. I don’t really cook that way.

Calamitous Ingredients
Calamitous Ingredients

[Preheat oven to 350 degrees.] I started with one medium-ripe banana, mashed with a fork.  Add some oats.  Eyeballed, I’d call it 1/2 cup.  Sprinkle some cinnamon, because I put cinnamon in everything.  Cut up some Green and Black’s Organic 85% Dark Chocolate, wipe drool from face, wash hands, continue.

Mmm...chocolate
Mmm…chocolate

Add a generous serving – maybe 2 tsp – of Agave nectar.  [Not pictured is a packet of nuts from a popular fast food chain.  It was really just a handful of pecans, so I chopped them up and added.]   As the ingredients fall into the bowl, this mixture already smells amazing.  I don’t really love the idea of chewing raw oats, otherwise I probably would have just eaten it all with big spoon, no baking required.

Smells even better than it looks.
Smells even better than it looks.

I suppose you could put these on parchment paper, if that’s your thing, but like I said before these were spur-of-the-moment fluke cookies, so I just lightly sprayed a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and scooped them out.  I ended up with 6 cookies.  Perfect.  Five for me, one for husband if he finishes mowing the lawn in time.  Maybe.

Before baking
On the cookie sheet and ready to go.

Place the cookie sheet with these divinely aromatic balls of sweet misadventure into the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes.  Mine took closer to 15 minutes.  Be careful not to leave them in too long expecting them to harden like cookies do.  These are made of banana.  They are supposed to be squishy.  Scoop onto a rack or plate and allow to cool [if you can stand the wait.]  Me, I ate one piping hot and it was worth the burn on my lip.

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I must say, particularly for something I didn’t mean to do, these “Calamity Cookies” are one of my finest culinary achievements.   Pros: they took all of about 20 minutes, start to finish.  There’s virtually no clean-up.  And the nutrition!  These cookies are totally healthy, great for kids’ snack or for when friends pop over.  I made sure to scribble on a notepad a rough estimate and description so that I can make them again one day.  Oh, and if you’re wondering, Husband did finish his chores in time to try one.

A photo of deliciousness.
A photo of deliciousness.