Monday, February 28, 2011


I had a good day at work today, but I've had a splitting sinus headache since the moment I woke up 16+ hours ago. I came home looking forward to 2 things: a leftover brownie and a day off tomorrow to sleep in, work out, and catch up on paperwork.

Well, Ross ate the last 3 brownies and didn't save any for me.

And since I just realized tomorrow is March 1 (thankGodFebruaryisover) it's not a day off, it's a farm day. My internship seemed like a good idea a month ago when playing outside in the summer sun 2 days a week sounded like fun. Now I realize I've signed up for a soggy spring and a 55-hour work week EVERY WEEK from now through the end of October. GULP.

In typical Therese fashion, I now regret this decision. But it's too late to back out now.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Stupid Groundhog

I knew it was too good to be true, but I was still celebrating the warm weather last week. As of a few days ago, everything was covered in ice again.

Then the next morning I got to deal with this before work:

Someday we will have a garage, and it will be a beautiful thing. At least (and I hope I'm not jinxing myself here) the temperatures have stayed above 20 degrees this time!

It's supposed to warm up again this week but it's currently foggy, the sky is green, a 'wintry mix' of precipitation has been falling from the sky all day, and there's a bit of lighting and thunder. What season is it?!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Madeleines for Matilyn

When I heard that my cousin was naming her baby Matilyn, I instantly knew I had to help throw the baby shower and serve these amazing cookies. (Really, any excuse to try a new cookie recipe). I've never been to France and, prior to this weekend, I'd never had a madeleine so I can't vouch for authenticity here. But I do know that I followed this recipe from 101 Cookbooks and everyone loved the lemony, buttery cookies dipped in chocolate. These cookies do require a special pan for the scalloped effect, and people who know these things say metal pans are better than silicone.



1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (6 ounces)

2 Tbs. softened unsalted butter (for greasing pan)
3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
a pinch of fine-grain sea salt
2/3 cups sugar
zest of one large lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat until it browns and gives off a nutty aroma, approximately 10-20 minutes. Strain the melted butter using a paper towel over a mesh strainer- you want to leave the solids behind. Allow the butter to cool to room temperature.
While the melted butter is cooling, use the remaining 2 Tbs. of butter to grease the madeleine molds- make sure you get it in all the ridges. Dust with flour and invert the pan tapping out any excess flour. (You could also use cooking spray made "with flour" instead).

Put the eggs with the salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until thick- you are looking for the eggs to roughly double or triple in volume (approximately 3 minutes- 5 for my mom and I since we used a hand mixer.) Continuing to mix on high speed, slowly add the sugar in a steady stream. Whip for 2 minutes (again, about 5 with a hand mixer) or until mixture is thick and ribbony. Now with a spatula fold in the lemon zest and vanilla, just until mixed.

Sprinkle the flour on top of the egg batter, and gently fold in. Now fold in the butter mixture, only stirring enough to bring everything together.

Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each mold 2/3 - 3/4 full. (Pouring the batter from a small measuring cup ended up being less messy).

Bake the madeleines for 10 - 12 minutes (7-10 minutes for smaller cookies), or until the edges of the madeleines are golden brown. Remove from oven and unmold immediately. Cool on racks and, if desired, dip in melted almond bark and allow chocolate to harden on waxed paper.

Makes 2 dozen.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Phil Doesn't Lie

My attempts at "Winter Wonderland Wednesday" fell apart after the holidays. I guess I grew disenchanted by the sudden ferocity of a late winter. Last week started with sub-zero windchills and I couldn't feel my face, hands, or legs after walking into work in the morning. But this weekend brought glorious sunlight and a taste of spring. It made me think of my favorite thing about winter: IT ENDS!

On February 2, Puxatawney Phil promised we had less than 6 weeks of winter left. I know this week finds us back to 30s and 40s (thankfully above zero, though) and we have a good month or more before consistent spring weather sticks around, but this weekend I was so thankful for the warms spell and spring winds bringing in fresh air and the promise that it's never too late to start anew.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Spring Showers

I have a lot of baby showers to attend in the next few months (5 from February through April) but I'm going to state prematurely that the first was already the best because it was family. My cousin's wife is having a baby soon and my family loves to celebrate!

Homemade madeleines and Cupcake Island cupcakes.

Fruit buggy from Hy-Vee


Spring is in the air

Decorations + gifts

Loving these shoes from the Pitter Patter shop on Etsy

The spread. I come from a family full of good hostesses!

Barefoot Contessa's Shrimp Salad was a hit. For those who asked, click here for the recipe.

Grandma's Fancy Coffee Set

I want to steal this puppy from the baby!

She looks too young to have 1 great-granddaughter and another on the way!

My mom got flowers as gifts for the game winners. Such a good idea!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More Official...

Ross is still an intern on contract, but he does have a biography on his workplace's website now!

Click here to check it out.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sweets for my Sweet

Ross hates my cooking. Seriously, he has gotten to the point where before he tries anything, he asks, "what's in this?" As if I'm trying to poison him with healthy ingredients! So for Valentine's Day I figured the least I could do was make a 100% Ross-approved dinner.  I made enchiladas with extra cheese and no canned tomatoes. Now that's love (and a stomachache).

But what was even better was dessert. We saw an article in the local paper about the popularity of red velvet cake-themed desserts around this time of year and I asked if a) he liked red velvet cake, and b) he wanted me to get something from the nearby bakery.  He said it'd mean more if I made it myself. Well, you ask, I deliver! I used the recipe printed in Tastebud Magazine, a local foodie publication.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tsp. red food coloring
1 cup buttermilk, shaken

1. Preheat oven to 350* Fahrenheit.
2. Sit together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy and smooth (about 5 minutes).
4. Add eggs to the mixer bowl one at a time. Add vanilla and red food coloring and mix until combined.
5. Alternating, add flour mixture and buttermilk to mixer bowl, starting and ending with flour mixture. Scrape down bowl as you go to ensure the mixture is well combined.
6. Drop tablespoons of batter onto parchment paper (or aluminum foil) lined sheet pans, at least 2 inches apart.
7. Bake 7-10 minutes, or until cakes spring back when pressed gently.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder...
Classic Buttercream

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 to 1 Tbs. vanilla extract

Cream butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar slowly and beat for about 10 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla at the end and mix well.

Ross' favorite color. How appropriate!
I intended to follow the recipe exactly, but 1 Tbs. of dough made mini-whoopie pies so I added a bit more on the second pan to make bigger cookies! Also, turns out I had red "writing frosting" in the pantry and not red food coloring. So they're more like brown velvet whoopie pies. But that's okay. They are still delicious.

Speaking of sweets, check out the cutest Valentine that ever entered my mailbox:

Obviously, I checked "yes" and texted a picture to their mom.
These boys are definitely one of the top 3 things I miss most about Texas.  But I digress.

Here's my big-kid Valentine:

I guess my husband is the type to buy overpriced flowers on Valentine's Day. He also got me a more personal gift of Christopher Elbow local artisan chocolates. But the dog ate them out of Ross' bag at work. No, seriously. There's a beagle at work who's been known to eat Ross' lunch when he's not looking, so I think I believe the story.

Hope your week continues to be filled with love!

Monday, February 14, 2011

A short word on self-love

It's hard to love someone else when you don't love yourself. A post I wrote on the subject this summer is now on the Operation Beautiful blog. Click here to see it, and happy Valentine's Day!

Free as We'll Ever Be

Happy Valentine's Day! This is our 4th Valentine's Day together, and Ross and I are at a weird place in life. I often feel like we're in limbo, but every time I hear the song "Free", I realize we're right where we're supposed to be. No mortgage, no major school loans (an infinite THANK YOU to our generous parents for that), no kids. We'll never be here again, so lets enjoy it while we can. Because, in the words of Trace Adkins, "you're gonna miss these days."

by Zac Brown Band

so we live in our old van
Travel all across this land
Me and you

and We'll end up hand in hand
Somewhere down on the sand
just Me and you

Just as free
Free as we'll ever be
Just as free
Free as we'll ever be

Drive until the city lights
Dissolve into a country sky
just Me and you

Lay underneath the
harvest moon
Do all the things
that lovers do
Just me and you

Just as free
Free as we'll ever be
Just as free
Free as we'll ever be...

No we don't have a
lot of money
No we don't have a
lot of money
No we don't have a
lot of money
All we need is love

we're Free as we'll ever be
Just as free
Free as we'll ever be

So we live in our old van
Travel all across this land
Me and you

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Clean Food Challenge Week 2

This week certainly was a challenge. I made a few bad recipes (and I'm not picky, so when I say it's bad, it's disgusting) and things went downhill from there. BUT I did fall in love with some new vegan recipes worth sharing.

Clementine Creamscicle Smoothie 
adapted from Oh She Glows
(makes 1 smoothie)

1/2 large ripe banana, peeled and frozen
1/2 small avocado, peeled and frozen
3 clementines (or, for a stronger orange flavor, use 1 small orange)
1 cup milk (I used rice milk but coconut and regular milk work as well)
1 date, pitted and chopped
1-2 tsp. lemon juice

Freeze the banana, avocado, and clementines ahead of time. If you are short on time, simply chill them for a few minutes and add 1-2 ice cubes to the recipe. Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Everyone I know has a crate of clementines on their counter right now in hopes of brightening the tired taste of winter and warding off any end-of-the-season sniffles that might sneak up during these last-ditch snowstorms. This smoothie is bright enough to remind you that spring is near! I have an on-again off-again thing with avocados, but you can't taste it in this smoothie. It simply gives it the creamier texture. Wondering what to do with the other 1/2 of the avocado and banana? Make banana chocomole, of course!

Chocolate Chip "Cookie Dough" Balls 
from Peas and Thank You:
(makes 10-12 balls)

1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw cashews
6-7 medjool dates, pitted
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 Tbs. mini chocolate chips (or other chocolate, chopped)

Combine almonds and cashews in blender or food processor. Blend on high until mixture is pulverized, but not yet nut butter (should look like sand or very coarse flour). Transfer to small bowl and add dates, vanilla, and salt to blender or food processor and blend until almost smooth. Pour the nut mixture back in with the dates and blend until a dough comes together. Stir in chocolate. Scoop into balls with a Tablespoon and chill until serving.

Savory Socca Stacks
I came up with these!
(makes 1 serving)

1/3 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup black beans
2-3 cups spinach
1 large sweet potato
coconut oil (or any other oil that tolerates high heat)
garam masala or curry powder
red pepper flakes
spray-able oil

Preheat oven to 375*F. Wash and dry sweet potato and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Lay the slices on a greased baking sheet and sprinkle tops with either garam masala or curry powder (depending on which flavor you want). Lightly spray tops with oil and place in over for 35-40 minutes, flipping once halfway through.

When the potatoes have about 15 minutes left, begin preparing the socca. Mix 1/3 cup garbanzo bean flour and 1/3 cup water in a bowl and stir well. Let sit for 1-2 minutes to thicken. Heat skillet on medium to medium-high heat with 1/4-1/2 tsp coconut oil and pour 1/3 to 1/2 of the batter into the pan. When batter bubbles and edges begin to cook, flip and cook the other side. Repeat with remaining batter.

Remove socca from pan and lower heat to medium. Add another 1/4-1/2 tsp coconut oil, then add spinach to pan. When spinach has wilted, add 1/2 cup of beans and red pepper flakes as desired. Stir until beans are warm and remove from heat.

Stack a sweet potato slice on top of the socca and top with beans and greens. Recipe makes 2-3 stacks and you should still have enough beans and sweet potatoes to make another meal in a day or two!

Typing it out makes it seem so much more complicated than it really is. The "hardest" part is waiting for the sweet potatoes to cook!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Live your way into the answers

Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. 
Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them
And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. 
Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

-Rainer Maria Rilke-

Monday, February 7, 2011

Open Letter

To the idiot who stole my car radio last month:

I've had numerous radios stolen over the years, but no one has managed as smashing a job as you have (no pun intended). For a $20 radio, you did $500 of damage to my car. I sincerely hope you took that $20 and fed a hungry child. You are everything that is wrong with society.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Hard Worker

I got force canceled from work today. Meaning, they didn't need 10 nurses and no one scheduled wanted to take the day off. Since I have never been force canceled and most of my co-workers have by this point, it was overdue. I was so excited I couldn't go back to sleep, which is ironic because I stayed up late and didn't want to get out of bed this morning in the first place because I was so tired.

I've already eaten most of the lunch and snacks I packed for work. I did enjoy the sunrise from the warmth of the office, but now I am B.O.R.E.D. There's only one thing left to do: run errands. My least favorite thing. See, I need more human interaction and getting out of the house guarantees I won't eat everything in it out of boredom. But when I leave the house, I tend to spend money I don't need to spend. It's a catch-22. Plus, it looks gorgeous and sunny (and trust me, since February "is the Monday of months," I won't complain about a lil' much-needed sunshine), but that's deceptive. It's 10 degrees and "feels like" negative 2.

SO the point of my babbling is that I was catching up on blogs this morning, and nearly laughed out loud when I read this:

When my husband and I got married, we became one flesh. So when he spends eight hours tearing down and building fence, it’s like I do, too.

I just love the one flesh concept! It makes me one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met.

At this point, I will refrain from exploring just what the whole “one flesh” concept means for [my husband] as it relates to my addiction to The Real Housewives, my moderate agoraphobia, and my refusal to take off my yoga pants for weeks and weeks…

Replace "Real Housewies" with the name of a show I watch, and I'm sure Ross agrees wholeheartedly with this statement. Thank you, Pioneer Woman!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I'm so excited... I just found out that I get to be an honorary Bad Seed this summer! I've been going to the Badseed Farmer's Market ever since we moved here. It's the only one around here that stays open for most of winter, and while many vendors are regulars, the owners also sell their own produce. It's local, organic, the real deal. (Sadly, even this market closes down at the end of February and no local markets open again until May).

Anyway, Badseed hires interns every summer, and the more I think about my "farming" experiences, the more I realize I am a much happier person when I spend time outdoors. My relationship with food is also healthier when I'm more connected to it and more familiar with where it comes from. Well, you can't get more familiar than this!

Brooke and Dan, the owners of Badseed, are expanding beyond their backyard lot and recently bought 13 acres a little east of downtown Kansas City. This new farm is called Urbavore, and due to the intensity of literally starting a farm from the ground up, they needed a few more interns than normal this summer. I applied to be a part-time intern (15 hours a week) and they 'hired' me! Here's an explanation of my new 'job' straight from the horse's mouth:

New life is emerging on Kansas City’s East Side; a living, breathing organism that both feeds from and provides food for its urban surroundings. BADSEED Farm moved up the food chain, and is taking root on new land and in the new form of URBAVORE.

URBAVORE is presently seeking one part-time apprentice and two volunteer apprentices for the 2011 growing season to aid in the creation of one of the largest and most diverse urban farms in the nation. This season, apprentices are tasked with much more than assisting to produce a crop of vegetables; they must also help to establish infrastructure, perennial fruit plantings, animal pastures and diverse natural habitats on 13 acres of raw land only 8 miles from downtown Kansas City[...]
In exchange for labor, URBAVORE will provide a share of the farm’s bounty, and many opportunities for learning. Apprentices will develop skills in no-till, “beyond-organic” vegetable production, integrated livestock management, orchard planting & tree crop maintenance, windrow composting, direct marketing, food preservation, homesteading skills, and more.
So yes, this does tie me down from March 1- October 31 this year, but oh my word-- what an experience! I can't quiet express how excited I am and what an opportunity this is. It's the polar opposite of my 'real' job, but this is a true passion of mine. One of my many dreams is to have a huge backyard garden. And on-site teaching for "beyond organic" production, homesteading skills, and livestock management (they already have chickens and goats and I met them when I interviewed)? Yes, please! Once you've followed something through from seed to harvest, you gain a wonderful appreciation of the way things should be; the way things can be if you let nature take it's course.

I can't wait to share more with you once we get started next month. You can't put a price on this kind of education and yet they are thanking me for my willingness to put in the hard work! Brooke and Dan are so great and I'm going to learn a lot from them. They certainly have the courage to do what I would love to do, but don't have the guts or determination to follow-through on, so I'm honored I get to be a small part of their big year!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Clean Food Challenge Week 1

Last Wednesday, I embarked upon a month-long challenge. I talked about clean food a few months ago, but I didn't do anything about it. I don't handle stress well, and studying for my RNC test threw me back into college habits and my fruit and vegetable habit went down the drain. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to keep exercising because I know it's good for your mental health as well. However, after polishing off a box of Girl Scout cookies and going to bed with a headache and stomachache Tuesday night, I knew something had to change.

I poured over my cookbooks and my favorite blogs and put together a few rough meal plans. The premise of this week was vegan* (with the exception of eggs) and gluten-free. I ate a lot of fruits and veggies, nuts, beans, olive and coconut oils, WHOLE grains (no flour), tea, and coconut, rice, and almond milk.

I had oatmeal with fruit and 'milk' for breakfast almost every morning, which is pretty standard for me. I also spent a day making a batch of soup, a homemade salad dressing, gluten-free pasta with tomato sauce from a jar, and a polenta pizza. The leftovers of which each lasted about 4 meals. I know I only work 3-4 days a week, but I still prefer to just make a mess of the kitchen one day and have meals for the next 4-5 days.

I started the challenge one day into a lovely head cold (which I knew would come after my test, since I hadn't been taking care of myself very well) but 2 days in, I felt much better.  I ate when I was hungry, which meant lots of snacks: medjool dates, apples, oranges (I'm loving them these days), carrots or celery with nut butter, and a few fancier treats. I ate when I was hungry, and tried to stop when I was full. (Which in itself was harder than it sounds.)

I made it through 5 days with ease, but day 6 I couldn't turn down pasta with meatballs and Grandma S's homemade bread! So worth it. 

Recipe highlights:

Banana Chocomole
(makes 1-2 servings)
based off of Gena and Ashley's recipes

1/2 avocado (side note: leave the skin on and the pit in the other half, sprinkle it with lemon juice and wrap it well to refrigerate and it won't brown as quickly)
1/2 banana
3 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 Tbs. brown rice syrup (agave would work as well)
1 Tbs. almond butter (not necessary, but I was scraping the sides of a jar I wanted to finish)
1/4 cup milk (I used SO Delicious coconut milk from a carton, but any milk would work)

Dump all ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and mix until it reaches pudding consistency. You may have to scrape the sides down once or twice. This would be great with fresh strawberries on top but sadly, 'tis not the season.

The pudding's texture is spot-on and I couldn't really taste the avocado. I will say that this is DARK chocolate pudding and very rich because of the cocoa powder. Such a fun treat, though, that I wouldn't have normally branched out to try!

Easy Brown Rice Pudding
(makes 3-4 servings--> great leftovers!)
again, based off of one of Ashley's recipes from the edible perspective

1 cup short grain brown rice
1 cup water
1.5 cups coconut milk (I used SO Delicious brand from a carton again)
1 Tbs. coconut oil (if you don't like coconut, any milk and any oil will work)
2 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. maple syrup
almonds, coconut flakes, or dried fruit to garnish as desired

If desired, soak rice in water for 1 hour, rise, and drain. I did this because it's supposed to improve digestibility, but it's not necessary. Either way, the following directions are the same: dump all ingredients except garnishes into a medium saucepan and stir to combine. Bring to a low boil, stir once, and cover. Reduce heat to low or low-medium and simmer for 50 minutes. Turn off burner and remove from heat. Let sit 5 minutes and then stir to fluff. Serve or refrigerate, adding garnishes right before eating.

I loved this recipe because it gave me a sweet, warm, comforting dessert/snack without the sugar-high headache I'm prone to get when I start eating sweets and can't stop.

The Unexpected:

Dry Brushing

I tried dry brushing on a whim, and I absolutely love it! (Click here to see what I'm talking about). I'm not super-intense with it-- I spend less than 5 minutes brushing up my legs, up my arms, and around my back and torso before jumping in the shower.

I'm not sure it really does everything it claims to do (really, toning muscles and reducing cellulite?!) but it definitely makes my skin softer and makes me feel less dried out. It does make sense that brushing toward your heart would improve circulation a little bit, even if it's just a temporary effect. Either way, I'm hooked.

Coconut Oil

I put off buying it for a while, and I don't see myself cooking with it a whole lot, but I scooped a tiny bit into a bowl and put it on the bathroom sink while I showered and used it a moisturizer afterward. It doesn't smell coconutty and it's really smooth. A little goes a long way, and you have to walk around in an old housecoat to let it sink it, but it's been nice to use a few times a week with all the dry air around here.


I don't know if it's coincidental timing or something more, but my asthma has been practically non-existent (knock on wood) during my workouts this week!

Week 1 Verdict:

For some reason, it's been easier for me to "just say no" this week than to practice moderation other weeks. This is a shame, because I certainly believe in the principle of 'all things in moderation'; it's just been hard to put into practice this winter. My stomach-aches were noticeably better after the first 4 days, but my breathing has been the biggest change. I don't know what it is, but I'm loving the fact that my legs get tired before my lungs when I'm running now!

*A note on the vegan diet: I believe a diet full of local, real food is more sustainable than a vegan diet.  I don't think meat and dairy are intrinsically evil (especially not when you can trace them to a local, humane source), but my GI doctor suggested an elimination diet to try to find a trigger for my IBS and the diaphragmatic pain I still get from time to time. (I'd rather try this than spend a day getting a colonoscopy and upper GI, which was the other option.) This is not an attempt to lose weight; simply to feel better.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snow Day

Speaking of loving where you live... hello Midwestern snowstorm!

Last night around 5pm

Today around 4pm

As I type, the wind is whipping snow off the roof in torrents and every now and then the falling snow blows sideways. It's was a slow this morning, but we've had a steady accumulation all afternoon. It's just windy enough that some spots are more buried than others. Here's the view from our balcony as the day progresses. (Don't be thrown off by the snow in our planters. They're protected by a roof so they only get snow if the wind blows this way).






I'm glad I wasn't scheduled to work today; it'll be enough adventure getting to work tomorrow morning!Ross did get today off, though, so I had someone to go on an afternoon snow walk with. We said hello to our buried cars.

Then we headed to the walking loop nearby.

And still, the mail must go through (thanks Uncle Myril!)

Home again and ready for hot chocolate!