Big life-changing announcements!

Bugaboo, here I am. Full of Christmas cheer and apologies for being a bad blogger. Over a month has passed since my last post about broccoli soup. And it will be quite a bit more time before I post any more food-related bits. Alas! However, I have a good reason for both of those things.

Why haven’t I posted in over a month? Well, because the thought of food, much less the smell of anything cooking, made me very sick. I couldn’t even look at my RSS feed without feeling a little green. I finally went to the doctor at the beginning of November and – surprise! I am happy to announce that we are expecting our first child in mid-June 2012! I am now to the point where I can at least stand to smell a working kitchen again, and carefully eat small meals – both of which meant Thanksgiving wasn’t a bust, a major concern – but I won’t be doing much cooking for a while. And that is because…

After living in Kentucky for a little over a year, we have had issues finding full-time employment and benefits. The economy here just isn’t what we expected when we moved up, and it’s not improving. No benefits = no insurance, and that isn’t something we can accept now that we have a baby on the way. So on the 15th of December, we will be putting all our kept belongings into a Uhaul trailer and various vehicles for the not-so-terribly-long drive back to Athens, Georgia. We can get the husband back behind the wheel of a police cruiser, where he belongs, and… well, we’ll figure something out to do with me.

In any case, the next two weeks will be full to the brim with obstetrics appointments, packing what we want and tossing or donating what we don’t, cleaning house, split shifts at work and preparing the dogs for a long-haul trip, I won’t have much time to myself before the move. After the fact, I don’t expect to be able to do much until after the holidays, what with settling in and the general holiday madness. So, barring the odd picture or comment, don’t expect to see much of me until after the first of the year. Have a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, until we meet again!

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For a dose of sunshine, eat some lemon pie.

Since the beginning of December, our landscape has pretty much looked constantly like this:

Winter in KY 2010-2011

Not that I’m complaining much – I like the snow. Georgia didn’t really have snow to speak of, only the ice that appears around January and hangs around until March. Kentucky doesn’t usually have too much snow on average, but every so often we get really big winters. This year was the year – we even got a White Christmas for the first time. Cullen has also gotten plenty of practice shoveling snow from various surfaces. :)

Even as much as I love seeing all the pretty, pristine white, sometimes it’s a little too much. I get snow-blindness, and then I get depressed. (Okay, so that’s not the exact order of things, but they do happen.) Stuck inside all the time, too cold to go out, too wet to go play? Bleh. On top of that, the dogs are going stir-crazy – we can’t allow them to romp and play inside as much as they’d like, and playing outside in the snow is fun until ice balls form between their footpads. This all makes for sad puppies. Owners, too.

Lemon pie - Whipped Cream Beaters

While I can’t cheer up the dogs with dessert or citrus, I can do a little something edible for myself that brings the sunshine of summertime inside for a little while. Citrus seems to be everyone’s go-to for a wintertime pick-me-up, and I’m no different. I started making this earlier this winter as something to bring for dessert to a weekly supper at my aunt’s, and I’ve made it several times since. I adapted the lemon tart provided by the gracious Mrs. Humble – I don’t have an 11″ tart pan, so I used a pre-made 9″ pie crust. The recipes makes more than double a standard pie; I bet you could probably get at least two small tarts out of this in addition to the two standard pies. I have also made it in a deep dish, and it fills almost too full. The baking time is also different because of the depth of filling, but it still works out well. Just add 20-30 minutes to the baking time below, until the center is set but still a bit wiggly. Mrs. Humble dusts hers with confectioner’s sugar. I’m sure that’s plenty tasty, but I top mine with sweetened whipped cream. (I’m sure you could also use meringue, but since I don’t eat it, I don’t make it without sincere persuasion.)

Lemon pie filling in progress

Thankfully, the sun seems to be coming out more often now, and the snow seems to be leaving us alone for a while. Granted, we still have March to deal with, and after the winter we’ve had, it will be a formidable one. Thankfully, with lemon pie on my plate, I think we can deal with it a bit longer.

Lemon Custard Pie
(adapted from Not So Humble Pie)

serves 8-10

ingredients:

1 frozen unbaked pie crust
2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 c granulated sugar
2 pinches of salt
6 large eggs
1 c fresh lemon juice
1/2 c heavy cream

1-1 1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 c confectioner’s sugar

directions:

Preheat your oven to 350°F and position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Press 1-1/2 tablespoons of lemon zest into the unbaked crust before baking according to package directions. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Process the one cup of sugar with the remaining lemon zest in your food processor or with a hand blender for about 2-3 minutes, until the zest is finely ground. Pour the sugar into a bowl and add the eggs, lemon juice and a pinch of salt; whisk until smooth.
In a separate bowl, beat the 1/2 cup of heavy cream to soft peaks and then whisk the cream into the sugar/egg mixture until just blended. Pour this mixture into your still warm crust and bake for 20-30 minutes, until the filling is just set in the center.

Allow the tart to cool completely. Refrigerate if desired. When ready to serve, beat the 1-1 1/2 cups of heavy cream with the 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar until a desirable consistency is reached. Serve delicate, rich slices topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream.

Lemon sugar and farm eggs

On returning to the world, and getting up on time.

You’ve probably noticed – or maybe you haven’t, I don’t know – that I haven’t been around lately. That’s because Cullen and I have moved, yet again. Now I’m realizing a dream because we’re finally at home, my hometown, and I couldn’t be happier. We both have jobs, paid-for vehicles and a house that’s comfortable for us, three dogs and anyone else who may show up. I’ve been working on this for years, literally, and it’s gratifying and humbling to see it realized. At this point, we don’t have Internet at the house or satellite, but that’s to come soon. In the meantime, I’m trying to make up some buffer posts (including white chocolate chip pancake cookies, jam pie, back posts about Louisville and a neat little place in PKY called The Rock), but I haven’t gotten much done on a computer since I’m still working on getting all our boxes unpacked and put away. We’ve got time, though – I don’t plan on moving away from this house for a long, long time.

The purpose of this post, on the other hand, has not very much to do with food and everything to do with 1) saying hello; 2) giving a short shout-out to a friend of mine in Lexington who just started her own food blog, Dancing in the Kitchen; and 3) giving another, longer shout-out to the October Maximize Your Mornings group at Inspired to Action (ItA). ItA is a Christian, mom-centric website run by Kat dedicated to giving moms tips and advice on raising children, keeping house, staying sane and giving back to Him (in addition to other things, of course). Maximize Your Mornings started out as Kat’s free ebook, which focuses on using the quiet early morning as “you-time” – time for coffee, exercise, Bible study and whatever you want to use it for. She has partnered up with Michelle at So I Married a Mennonite to do another MYM challenge for October – if you’re interested in joining up with the rest of us, check out the Week 1 start-up post linked above; #hellomornings, @inspiredtoaction and @michellebygrace on Twitter; and the ItA BlogFrog forum.

See you soon!

Move over, Milkbone! Homemade dog treats.

The Dogs of the House

I don’t give my dogs enough credit. Honestly, they drive me insane a good majority of the time, as I’m sure anyone can attest who follows me on Twitter or is my friend on Facebook. But if I didn’t have them around constantly, underfoot and underhand, I’m pretty sure I would go stir-crazy. I love my dogs – they’re my furry babies, my therapists, my source of love and aggravation when my husband’s not home. And you wouldn’t think it to look at them, but their needs are actually very specific – and Tucker the Princess of All Things, will not let a minute go by without informing me, constantly, of how things are supposed to be. For example, we add a little bit of vegetable oil to her food every morning, to help with digestion and cut down on shedding. She will not touch her food, much less eat it, unless there is oil on that food. I’m not kidding. She will stand there and stare at me until oil is mixed in, and then daintily chomp away. Mac, my once-upon-a-time hunting dog, will not go out in the wet yard to relieve himself. If it’s raining, you can forget it. The priss. And Gunny… well, Gunny is a whole thing unto himself. Any dog that is two feet tall and can jump four feet up into my open office window, flat-footed, is a special little dog indeed.

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My apologies, really.

Ever gotten stuck in a rut? Or, more accurately, fallen down from a high spot? That’s pretty much where I am, hence the lack of posts recently. Really, I haven’t been inspired to cook – well, I shouldn’t say that. I have been inspired to cook, thanks to the numerous beautiful and delicious-looking dishes posted all over my RSS reader for days now. I see them and go, ‘Ooh, that would be nice…’ But when I get home? It’s all I can do to make grilled cheese or cacio e pepe.

Basically, I’ve gone back to the basics: I’m living on fancy grilled cheese, cacio e pepe, and the occasional muffin or oatmeal for breakfast. I don’t know if it’s the holidays, which always come with a mix of gloom and cheer; the newest addition of giant dog into my tiny apartment, which makes three total; or maybe it’s time to rearrange the furniture and adjust my feng shui so it’s not getting blocked by ironing boards and kennels piled with clothes or saddles stacked three deep against the wall. Maybe I need to detox and spend seven days eating Japanese and South Beach-approved, deep in meditation, yoga and kami bushi kai katas. It could be my impending accounting final and my subsequent graduation as a member of UGA’s Class of 2008, or a few other rather important things that won’t be mentioned until after Christmas (Cat, you know what I’m talking about, hush-hush!)

Maybe I just need to suck it up and get over it. I have cravings for McD’s chicken nuggets, for crying out loud!

In any case, this weekend is going to lend itself to many things, likely including moving my furniture by myself (I’m afraid of what’s under the bed), having a barn party Saturday night, decorating for Christmas (and making my own ornaments), finishing up my last bits of homework for the last class of my undergrad career… and baking some kind of apple dessert, likely a tarte tatin. I have Granny Smiths still waiting patiently on my island to be used for something.

So please accept my quiet apologies for my absence. I’m doing my best to make a comeback.