Monday, August 9, 2010

Back "Home" Again to Indiana

At the beginning of July, we hit the one-year anniversary of our move down to Birmingham from Indiana.  We've pretty much settled into a routine, so it basically passed unnoticed.  But to be completely honest, Birmingham still doesn't feel like home, and I still don't know how, or where I fit here.

And now we're going back . . . .

We're heading out for our first trip back to Indy since we moved - at least for the kids and I it will be the first trip back.  I have to say, I'm more than a little nervous about it.  Don't get me wrong, we've planned a great trip, filled with all of our favorite things: Holiday World, Indianapolis Children's Museum, Indianapolis Zoo, Indiana State Fair, time visiting with dear friends, and worship at Redeemer Pres.

That's what has me worried.

We're going to experience the fun of living in Indy, but none of the more (ahem) challenging aspects of our life in Indy.  So what's it going to be like when we leave a place full of six years of memories after spending several days with friends doing fun things to head back to a city where friendships are still in the early stages, and it doesn't feel like home?  How are the Little Miss and Little Man going to handle it?  They are so excited about going back that they've been talking about it non-stop for the past week - even when we were at the beach!  Plus the girl who babysat them for over three years is going to watch them one night - and I know they miss her! How is it going to be for my hubs to go back and visit the clients he worked with for six years, and then come back to a new role where he's still charting his path?  And for me, I'll be visiting with some of my dearest friends, and then come back to a life where I could go all week and the only adults I have a conversation with are at Target, Publix, or at church on Sunday?

Well, there's nothing I can do but pray things will go well, and do my best to make things easy for the family. . . and have a great time during the visit. :-)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Asian Burritos

I got a huge, beautiful cabbage at the farmers market last week.  After a week of making my kids try cabbage, I can honestly say that they are not as big a fan as I am.   At least they weren't until tonight.

We had been enjoying ourselves outside today, when all of the sudden I realized it was time for dinner.  I didn't have a plan, but I had a fridge full of leftovers to work with - rice, grilled chicken, and - of course - cabbage.  An idea began to form . . . asian burritos!  (I know, not that different from lettuce wraps, but I was trying to please an 8 year old, and a 4 year old - I was desperate.)

So here is the recipe, with a couple modifications.  I was totally winging it, so you may need to alter the amounts a little.

2 grilled chicken breasts, diced into small pieces
1 red pepper, small diced
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
4 slices of pineapple, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 TBS corn starch dissolved in 2 TBS of warm water
8 large cabbage leaves
cooking spray

1) Coat a large skillet with cooking spray, and heat over medium high
2) Put cabbage leaves in pan (in a single layer - you'll have to do it in batches) and cover
3) Cook for about 1 minute on each side, until it is bright green, and has a few char marks (cooking the cabbage takes away some of the bitterness)
4) When the cabbage is done, place all of the leaves on a plate and set aside
5) Put another coat of cooking spray in the pan, add the diced pepper, and saute until softened (2-3 minutes)
6) Add the rice and chicken to the pan, stirring to combine
7) Cover with the lid and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally
8) Add soy sauce, pineapple juice and cornstarch slurry
9) Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally for an additional 2-3 minutes
10) Add the pineapple, and cook an additional minute
11) Take a cabbage leaf, put s large spoonful of the chicken-rice mixture in the center, and roll like a burrito

If you want to add some heat, you could add some red pepper flakes.



Saturday, May 22, 2010

Farmer's Market

I love Farmer's Markets.  I always have.  There's something quaint, and pleasantly provincial about them.  No matter how large a city you live in, a farmer's market makes it feel like a small town, at least for a few hours.  The familiar faces . . . produce stacked in the bed of a pick-up . . . cooking demonstrations . . . growers offering samples . . . everything about a farmer's market makes life seem a little less complicated.  Like you're being invited to leave your busyness behind, slow down, and enjoy the simple things for a while.

I tend to find a market I like, and then stay loyal to it.  There is something so nice about being able to talk to the person who actually grew the food you buy.  They can tell you all about it - when it's at its peak of ripeness; the best ways to prepare it, etc.  And if you are really lucky, and they think of you as one of their "regulars," sometimes they will set aside some produce for you, because they think you might like it . . . and they are usually right!

Our kids love going to the market too.  Their eyes get huge each week at the sight of all the booths.  I think they are somewhat fascinated with the growers, and the idea of getting food somewhere other than the grocery.  Last year, our daughter and I went on our own, but this year, my husband and our son have joined us.  (Although the cooking demonstrations tend to be a girls thing.)  For some reason, everyone is more willing to try new foods at the market.  Must be something about the farmers.

My market here in town opened last weekend - two weeks early, because the growers wanted to sell strawberries.  (Let me just say, that a fresh, perfectly ripe strawberry from a local grower is sheer bliss.)  We were there last week, and the produce was good (especially the berries) but the variety wasn't that great.  When we went back today, I was amazed at the difference a week makes!  There were SO many different things to look at, learn about, and buy!  I ended up with: sweet onions, summer squash, pit-a-pat squash, Chilton Co. peaches, green tomatoes, an organic cajun dry rub, honey flavored goat cheese, a mildly sharp cow's milk cheddar, and local honey (from a bee keeper who even brought part of his hive in a glass case).  

I also got to see the chef from Daniel George prepare homemade succotash (which I will definitely be making when the red tomatoes and okra are in season) and a watermelon and goat cheese salad.  Yum!  And the kids got to hear a local storyteller who, "didn't even need a book Mama!"

Now it's time to start planning how I want to cook all of this wonderful produce!  So far I'm thinking . . . bacon-lettuce-and fried green tomato sandwiches . . . grilled peaches with honey goat cheese, cinnamon and local honey . . . summer squash patties with a green tomato salsa . . . smoked boston butt with the cajun dry-rub . . . grilled onions . . . the possibilities are endless, and I'm giddy!  

Yes, I will post recipes, but one disclaimer: I tend to cook more by instinct than by exact measurements.  I'll try to get as close as I can, but I can't promise they'll be exact.  Plus cooking tends to be a very personal thing.  You may like more salt then I do, and I may want less sauce than you.  I'll try to make the recipes easy to modify to suit your tastes too.

In the meantime, get out and find your local farmer's market.  Take your family, and make a morning of it.  Enjoy life at a slower pace . . . at least for a few hours.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

You can go back again, but it won't be the same.

I have always considered myself a Southern Girl.  I was born in Kentucky, which I know was a border state, but my hometown was definitely southern.  I went to school at Auburn, and have lived most of my life in a variety of southern states (Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana and Tennessee.)  I love God, my husband, our kids, my friends, cooking, reading, gardening, having friends over, and SEC football. . . just like any good Southern Girl.

But there are a few things that keep me from being fully southern.  

I was primarily raised by my mama, who is from Ohio, and quite proud of the fact that she was born and raised above the Mason-Dixon.  To this day, she will tell you that if she could, she would move somewhere further north, like maybe Chicago.  

I married a guy who was born in Kentucky too, but he did most of his growing up in Florida, which anyone will tell you is not part of the "real South."  He doesn't hunt, fish, or go camping, but he loves barbeque and football.  He's a semi-southern guy.

My sweet husband and I have moved around a fair amount for his job.  In 2003 it took us from Alabama to Indiana for what we thought would be a two to three year stint in the midwest.  Nearly six years later, we found ourselves moving back to Alabama.  While we were thrilled to be moving back, we quickly discovered that our time away had changed us, and the things that fit us so well before didn't anymore.  Like it or not, this Southern Girl now had some Midwestern Girl in her.

So here I am, a Semi-Southern girl, trying to find my place, my way, and my life back in the South.