Monday, April 30, 2012

Recipe: French Toast w/ Pear Caramel Sauce

I always say that I prefer french toast to pancakes because the method is less complicated and fewer dishes get used. In theory, it is a much simpler dish in that it doesn't require measuring things, I suppose. But in all reality, the skill required for either is comparable. So I guess what I've been saying this whole time is that I'm a french toast kind of girl before I'm a pancake kind of girl. But the way that I do things is decidedly not easier at all because I have a tendency to just throw in one extra step to make it just a smidge more special. "Oh, it's just one more dirty dish! What's the big deal?"
And that's why my kitchen looks the way that it does, right now. My kitchen also looks the way that it does, right now because instead of cleaning it, I write about it on the interwebs.

This morning, my thought process followed this train:
I'm hungry. > There's a loaf of bread in the fridge. > I can't have just toast. > French toast! > Do I have eggs? > open the fridge > I have eggs! > This pear needs to be eaten. > I'll slice it up and eat it with my french toast. > I'll slice it up and put it on my french toast. > I'll slice it up and saute it with the teensiest bit of butter and sugar and then put that on my french toast! > I'll add an itty bitty bit of milk at the end and let it get caramelly and put that on my french toast!
And that's how I made breakfast.
 I am excellent at planning ahead.

And here we have, French Toast w/ Pear Caramel Sauce

For the sauce:
1 T. butter
1 bosc pear (thinly sliced)
1 T. brown sugar
a splash of that homemade vanilla extract that your friend Angie gave you for Christmas
a sprinkle of that Vietnamese cinnamon that you bought at The Spice Merchant and it made such an impression on you that you'll never go back to the generic stuff at Walmart ever again.
a splash of soy milk
(If you don't have these exact ingredients, you can probably make do with some relatively similar ingredients--I know for a fact that Angie only made a very small batch of that vanilla.)
Melt the butter in a small skillet. Toss in the pears and brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla and cook on high for a minute or so. Turn it down to med-low and let simmer and bubble. Stir it around and let the pears get all caramelized. Keep stirring, occasionally, to make sure that the sugar isn't burning. After you decide it's good enough (it's your food, after all), stir in a splash of milk (I used about 2 T., probably) and turn off the heat but let it sit there on the warm stove.

Meanwhile, make your french toast the way that you always do.
For the toast:
2 slices whole grain bread (mine was delicious and full of tons of seeds and nuts)
1 whole egg + 1 egg white
1 splash of vanilla
1 sprinkle of cinnamon
a splash of soy milk

Whisk up the eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, milk in a bowl. Soak your bread and then cook in a non-stick skillet on medium or high heat until the bread puffs up and you can flip it. I like to cook my toast on medium heat because it allows it to cook through the inside without making the outside too brown and crispy. It also gets fluffier. Serve it with the pear sauce and a cup of coffee and then watch your sugar intake for the rest of the day because this little treat is sweet.
Clearly, this serves one but I think the sauce made enough to serve over four slices of toast, so if you and your honey want a yummy breakfast or brinner, you need only expand the ingredients list for the toast.

Go forth and eat breakfast.

Are you a pancake person or a french toast person? How do you top your breakfast of choice?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Weekend for the Unemployed

Did I mention that I quit my job? I did. I gave a month's notice and I can't say whether or not it was intentional but I didn't get a weekend (or even just a Saturday) off that whole time. I'm not going to say that I was being punished for leaving my job but it has been a very exhausting time. It's not fun to be the person who has to work from 11-8 every Saturday. It's not fun to have Mondays and Thursdays off when everyone else that you know has Saturday and Sundays. It's actually kind of lonely. That's not why I left my job, by the way, it's just that's certainly on the list of things-that-I-don't-love-but-are-not-deal-breakers. That sounded a little more bitter than I really feel, for the record. So any bitterness that you feel is coming from the above paragraph, dial it back by about 30%. There--that's about right.
So, since I had to quit my job to get a weekend off, this is my weekend:

Friday: We really did say goodbye to Justin and I discovered the delicacy that is fried ice cream. But most importantly (although ice cream is delicious), we said goodbye to Justin. I love him so much and my excitement for his new, east coast life situation outweighs how sad I am to see him go by a ratio of about 3:1. I know that any sadness that I feel is pure, unadulterated selfishness and subsequently I can talk myself out of it. That's not to say that I haven't had my moments of feelings. We've been saturating ourselves with him lately, to be honest. We had a pretty excellent going-away Thank You party, last week.Trying to wring every bit of him out so that we can savor him--hold on to what's rubbed off on us for as long as we can but I think we all know that we can't do that. We have to let ourselves let him go. That's not to say that I didn't spend Wednesday night wailing into and soaking his t-shirt while standing in Kristin's kitchen. Because that totally happened. But this is adulthood. This is accepting change with open hands for the future for ourselves and the people that we loved more than we ever thought possible. Welcome to being twenty-eight, Libby. Sometimes you're still surprised when the inevitable happens.
But for what it's worth, I hope that Justin's parents, family, teachers, and other influences can see the kind of human being that they have all worked to help to produce. My friend Justin is honest and unashamedly himself and he welcomes and expects that from his friends, too. Justin has pushed me to pursue myself--to love myself--to know myself time and time again. And he gets down to the heart of every matter in a way that seems effortless. He sees people the way that God sees people and his heart is full and welcoming for more. If, one day, I ever go on to produce another human being I will have done the world a beautiful service to help to harvest a personality half as lovely as that of Justin Powers. So, to Justin's mom and dad (whom I have regretfully never met): I thank you for this gift that you never knew you gave to me.
To those who don't know Justin--don't worry, this reads an awful lot like a eulogy but the guy just moved across the country. He's good, don't worry.
 Saturday: Today. Oh, what a day. I crawled out of my bed at nearly ten am. That hasn't happened in years. It was glorious. Ryan and I drove to Wichita to spend the whole day completely void of itinerary. We knew that we really wanted to go visit the Museum of World Treasures and so we used it as a jumping off point.  There is a T-Rex there named Ivan. He is not a replica of some other T-Rex, he is real-live, fossilized (60% complete) tyrant lizard king. And that's pretty impressive, apparently. The slightly embittered "tour guide" who mimed our double decapitation told us that even the Smithsonian doesn't have a T-Rex (he said that Ivan was worth $10 million but if they offered him $12 million, he may consider parting ways). So, I guess it's a pretty big deal. We also saw two mummies. I am not going to act like this was not a big deal to me because it was a very big deal to me! It eeked me out big time. One of the mummies was a woman in her late twenties (plus thousands of years). Her hair was so pretty and well preserved. They braided it for her after she died. Evidently she had scoliosis. But I'm standing there next to this woman who was my age when she died and I couldn't help but relate to her. To think of her getting hungry or needing to use the bathroom or getting frustrated with her family or having crushes on boys. I felt that way looking at the shrunken head, too. Only that guy died in enemy hands--as made evident by the fact that his head was the size of a softball--so I tried not to dwell on him.
My favorite part was upstairs where they had letters and cards and photographs from notable historical figures. I very nearly squealed when I happened upon a letter written by Sir Isaac Newton or one from Darwin (who had very interesting handwriting). There was a "thinking of you" card from Mamie Eisenhower to her friend about how something had leaked to the newspapers and now she was getting letters from people who feel sorry for her and how that really pissed her off. A check made out to Judy Garland for $20,000. And my absolute favorite: a letter from Alfred Lord Tennyson to a friend with a very modern sentiment, "I've been meaning to stop by but I'm, like, totes swamped." It went on and on about how his publisher had ordered a revision of his book and so he would be "superintending" that, also he's going to Switzerland at the end of the week. I was proud of myself for making it through that letter and comprehending it. I couldn't read three consecutive words in the penmanship of John F. Kennedy. How that man ever got a point across in writing is beyond me.
That which we would go to the trouble of putting down on paper, these days, is very important news: wedding invitations, birth announcements, cable bills. But these letters were just common sense stuff that we communicate to one another in a text message. But these letters began with, "with deepest regards, I send my salutations." Oh, there is something lost in the language these days, brothers and sisters. Have we no regard for the written or spoken word?
Oh my gosh! I forgot to mention the letter that said (and this is a paraphrase), essentially, "So sorry to hear about so-and-so's accident. Jean had an accident recently when she was struck by a trolly. End result: a dead horse and heavy surgeon's bill*. Olivia sends her love to your wife. Signed, Samuel Freaking Clemens." To think that one day, someone opened up their mail box and got a friendly, casual, my-daughter-was-riding-her-horse-and-got-hit-by-a-trolly-but-nbd note from Mark Twain! Oh, the world, think of the things that you're documenting. Kind of makes you want to reconsider that, "Feeling tired. Guess I'll go to bed. LOL" Facebook status, doesn't it?
*"End result: dead horse and a heavy surgeon's bill" is not paraphrased--that's how he said it. Oh Samuel, how you enrapture me. 

So, after a few hours in the museum left us starving, we walked across the street to River City Brewing Co. I had the Red (my most recent, happy hoppy beer discovery). Ryan drank the Wheat. It was truly satisfying. We got stuck at a wobbly table that was close enough to the speakers that we got to dissect the lyrics of country music songs while we munched on our delicious noms. Truly a gratifying discovery. On the way out, we picked up a copy of this magazine which was, surprisingly, free for the taking.
"Hey, does this cover look okay? Something seems not quite right." "Yeah, yeah. Print a billion."
Then we just went wherever whimsy dictated. Whimsy instructed us to buy bulk spices and incense at The Spice Merchant, new drumsticks (not the ice cream kind) at Guitar Center, a fleet of new underthings at the mall, and a quick tour around Jacob's Liquor Exchange. Whimsy did not dictate that either of us buy new shoes, though we did put up a fight for it.

After a long and arduous day of looking at stuff, we drove home and retired to our separate quarters. Can I take this moment to talk about how incredible my boyfriend is that we can spend the whole day together, never run out of anything to say, never get short or annoyed with one another and then still not have to spend the rest of the day in one another's presence? I sincerely thought that falling in love meant giving up on one's introverted nature. Happy am I that he needs it, too.

Sunday: I woke up late, again. I don't know if you understand just how unusual this is for me. My favorite time to wake up is at about 6:45 am. I think that my body knows that it's currently (albeit temporarily) unemployed. Due to that mentality, I spent my morning lacing my coffee with my new favorite thing and looking at photos that were taken all month long.
This will be my new house in a few months. Did I mention that I'm moving? This precious little thing needs a lot of work that I am excited to provide.
My little brother's new dog, The Doctor.
I Heard A Lion monopolizes the kitchen (and Brian photo bombs) at Justin's Thank You Party
While I was internetting and sipping my coffee, I heard an explosion and suddenly remembered that you're supposed to poke holes in potatoes before you put them into a hot oven.
Just sitting here, keeping it real, listening to Ingrid Michaelson cover Gotye when in the background: a muffled ((boom)). *beat* *beat* *beat*
"Oh, riiiiight."
That was actually, really impressive. I'm not even mad about it. I think turning the oven off and hoping to remember to clean it out in a few hours was a good decision on my part. One of only a few that I have made this morning.
Then a few ordinary things: shower, dishes, laundry, and just generally straightening up as my apartment is going to be shown to a prospective renter, tomorrow. Katie came over and we watched Rachel Getting Married (which is my go-to rainy day movie). Yadda, yadda, yadda, and then we went to Brunos for magical pizza. I had been waiting for pizza all week long and this was completely worth it. But I'll talk a little bit more about that over at The Sentinel on Tuesday on my blog over there.

What were the highlights of your weekend? Did you take any pictures? Have you ever exploded something in your kitchen?


PS Don't worry about me, I start my new job on May 1st.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Genesis, Amos, Penelope

Three years ago, I came to McPherson to get to know my nieces and nephews and soon they're going to be moving to Jackson, Mississippi because I don't get to make the rules. Today, we walked to The Cake Lady and got messy sugar cookies, came home and drew with sidewalk chalk, paused for pictures near the flower bushes, pushed the stroller up and down the sidewalk half a gazillion times and then snuggled.
Genesis has an astounding vocabulary. When we were having our cookies, she said, "it appears that Penelope has demolished her treat."
Amos has a sensitive spirit like mine.
Penelope has adventure oozing out of her.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

More on Dale: Or, Sappy, Happy, Glorious Me

Methinks that I need to start dreaming bigger. Here's what Dale (my spring/ summer bucket list) looks like right now.

Go camping.
Make an herb garden.
Plant something gorgeous at the bottom of my stairs.
Organize my coffee area.
Have the friends over for tacos, sangria, and homemade horchata.
Finish Ryan's Christmas 2011 present. #worldsworstgf
Bake a loaf of bread (a real loaf of bread--not beer bread).
Read The Fault in Our Stars.
Sew a new pair of pajama pants.

"Make an herb garden" gets half crossed off because I started very small. I have, as of yet, kept a little oregano plant growing strong for three weeks now. The only reason that he is alive is because he is directly in front of my computer screen. Literally. Look at this.
Glass of water at the ready.
No excuses for droopy leaves (I know, I know, it looks a little crummy right now but I forgot to water him yesterday and it's been exceptionally cold. He's coming back around.) If I want to remember to do anything, it has to be right next to my computer. Presently, this is also where I keep my vitamins.
You do not understand what a victory is is to have kept a plant alive for this long. Also, how cute is that pot that I diy'd in less than five minutes(!).

"Bake a loaf of bread (a real loaf of bread--not beer bread)." Happened minutes ago. Minutes ago. And it was awesome. I mean look at it. Look at it!
Isn't she lovely? Isn't she wonderful? One in a million. Less than one minute old.
I was nervous that the yeast wouldn't proof or I'd put too much of one thing and not enough of another thing and it would be flat and dense and stupid. But, I'm going to go ahead and say that it's pretty darn good for a first try. Kneading and making a mess of my counter was intimidating but when the time came, it wasn't such a big deal. I was scared... of a loaf of bread. NBD, you guys. NBD. The inside is soft and a little crumbly (but that could be because I was hacking away at it with a steak knife as that's the only serrated cutlery currently in my possession) but I think that if I knead it more, it will develop a little more of that chewiness. In the end: totally pleased.

"Read The Fault in Our Stars" happened last week. It touched me deeply. It was a love story but it was more than that. It was a human story. About living and dying and living while dying and the uniqueness of each, indivitual's story. You know. I think that I learned that I never truly understood love stories until I found myself truly, irrevocably, and wholly drenched in unconditional, reciprocated love. Heart on my sleeve, sappy, happy, glorious me.
Hazel said, "I fell in love like you fall asleep. Slowly and then all at once."
That's so far.
How are your ordinary adventures?