Wednesday, March 30

How about a quick game of catch-up?

I know things have been a little quiet on the blog the past few weeks (save for Shawn's newly inspired bunny comics!) but we've both been keeping busy (...no, not just watching squirrels!). Lets break things down into a list, shall we? I love lists! Especially when they have yummy pictures thrown in too!

- Shawn started working again! He's working the deli counter at the popular local deli/restaurant about a half mile down the road. It's conveniently close to home and not to mention, the extra paycheck certainly helps.


Idle Hand Bars - original recipe from here, but I'll post my revisions soon.


- Despite Shawn going back to work, I didn't have much time to myself the last two weeks because I worked some extra shifts to make up for the couple of days I stayed home recovering from a cold. All work and no play makes Marine exhausted - hence, less time in the kitchen and on the internet, more time on the couch.


Homemade chicken caesar salad - yummy!


- I also never quite recovered from that cold... the new weather patterns brought that runny nose and dry throat right back around! Allergies were never a problem for me until about three years ago; now I'm affected each time the temperatures rise and drop dramatically. February - May are the worst on my sinuses.... not to mention September - October when the temperatures get fussy again. My nose can't take much more abuse!


Homemade pulled pork sandwiches on homemade whole wheat rolls. More about this soon!


- I've actually been working towards some of my goals for the year! I'm in the middle of reading Life of Pi (it was a slow start but now that I'm more than just a few pages in it's getting easier to sit down with at the end/beginning of the day - the two times my mind is at it's quietest). I've also stumbled upon a few patterns I'd like to try for my sewing goals... one purse pattern and a simple a-line skirt pattern; I just need to go buy some decent fabrics now to start the actual sewing process.


Whole wheat cheese straws, using Deb's recipe but substituting the flour.


- Here's a bit of a random question: do my fellow female-readers have any recommendations for skin-care products? I've been using products from Origins over the last few years but my skin tends to adapt and I need to switch it up again. Basically anything that will even out skin tone and also keep acne at bay (seriously, I'm almost 24 years old... why am I still plagued by acne?!). Any recommendations are appreciated!


- One final thing: Shawn and I recently discovered pauladeenridingthings.com, so I had a little fun with it the other day....




(See them in their full size glory over at our flickr)


Thanks for playing catch-up with me! Here's hoping April will be a little more eventful on the blog posting end of things. Get ready for some spring ingredients and more squirrel photos!

Tuesday, March 8

Breakfast Frenzy

I intended to post these photos last week... before I got sick and food became an afterthought. That never happened though so here they are now for your visual pleasure - a frenzy of eggs, potatoes, and bacon... enjoy!









Monday, March 7

Good Ole Granola

Lets start this week off on a lighter note, with deep breaths and clear nostrils, in spite of last week. And in my opinion, there's no better start to a morning than a big bowl of granola with a little bit of plain yogurt and honey thrown in....



Granola is super easy to make - it's just a combination of dry ingredients with a smaller percentage of sweet, wet ingredients. In the pastry kitchen I worked at, I learned the basic granola equation.

Ok, lets back-track a little - even though I've been actively baking for 3+ years now, it wasn't until last year that I really started messing around with the math aspect of baking and understanding the science behind everything. Just as is true of any equation, you need to understand the basic elements before you can start switching things around... I've only recently begun switching up ratios in recipes instead of just switching out ingredients. It's been a lot of fun and although my 'experiments' don't always turn out as planned, they're at least still edible and I'm learning new things in the process! Anyways, back to the granola equation. About a year ago the pastry chef I was working for broke down granola for me into four parts and percentages... bear with me here.

First, you have your dry ingredients. These should comprise of:

50% rolled oats and 50% combination of other dry ingredients

...including but certainly not limited to: cereals (puffed rice is common), nuts, seeds, shredded coconut, and of course some sort of brown or natural sugar if you're so inclined.

Now, the dry ingredients only make up one portion of the granola equation. You also have to add some wet ingredients in there - those are what make everything brown and crisp up so nicely. Your wet ingredients should comprise of:

50% oil and 50% liquid sugar

For oil it's generally preferable to use a neutral-flavored oil such as: canola, safflower, or vegetable oil. And liquid sugar would be anything sweet but not dry, try: maple syrup, molasses, honey, agave nectar, apple sauce... something of those sorts. (I think peanut butter technically counts as a 'liquid sugar' too.)

Still with me? There's one more part to this equation - how much of the dry ingredients do you use and how much of the wet ingredients do you use? A good standard to go by is:

5 cups of dry ingredients to 1 cup of wet ingredients


So if you really want to break it down, your granola should be:

40% rolled oats
40% other dry ingredients/mix-ins
10% oil
10% liquid sugar
___________________
100% granola


Also, keep in mind that mix-ins like nuts and coconut can be baked, but things like dried fruit and chocolate should only be mixed into the granola once it's been baked and cooled completely... otherwise, you'll just have a huge mess on your sheet pan, and no one hates a mess more than me! (I'm not kidding - ask my family and coworkers... I'm super obsessive compulsive when it comes to my kitchen space.)


I store my homemade granola in an re-used store bought granola container! It just makes sense.


So there you have it! Was that too much to take in for some simple granola? It makes sense to me, so I hope I explained it in a way that makes sense to you too. Granola is so versatile! But if you don't want to think about it as much as I do, here's the recipe for the granola I made myself last week - keep in mind that it's not overly sweet because I like to sweeten my granola as-needed, so add a little extra brown sugar if you have a sweet tooth.

Basic Granola


Ingredients:
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons peanut butter
5 tablespoons canola oil

1/2 cup raisins

- Heat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Mix your dry ingredients together in a large bowl and mix your wet ingredients in a separate small bowl.
- Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until everything is well coated and combined.
- Spread the mixture out onto a sheet pan and bake for about 35 - 40 minutes, or until everything is nicely golden and mostly dry. (Sidenote: I also stir my granola around with a spatula every ten minutes or so to ensure even baking.)
- Let your granola cool completely before mixing in any dried fruit or chocolate. Store your granola in an airtight container and it should keep for a while! Mine doesn't last very long though because I like to snack :)

Saturday, March 5

Miserable Musings

I'm sorry for the down-trodden title of this post, but the last few days really have been fairly miserable here at the IveSeenSomeThings Headquarters. You see, I came down with a cold just about a week ago, and I'm only just now beginning to feel 'better'.



It all started with an ear-ache that turned into sinus congestion and then a runny nose that worked its' way down into a sore throat and phlegmy cough... for a day or two there I couldn't figure out which was worse to deal with: the congestion or the cough; in fact, I'm still not really sure because they're both about equally frustrating.

I worked through it the first few days but then on Friday I lost my voice and had to take the day off, and then today my voice wasn't much better so the boss-man told me to stay home and get better. The two days off to lay around and recover really did help (along with the other cold-remedies above...) my voice is still raspy and coughs abound, but in comparison to the past few days, I'm feeling much better.



Today was the first warm day we've had all week, so we did a little spring cleaning... we cracked open the windows and sanitized the whole apartment with sprays and wipes, changed the sheets to something a little more colorful and 'spring'-like, and we rearranged the furniture in the living room, again.



We didn't decide to rearrange the furniture on a whim though... there's one more part to this whole miserable week - after already losing our tv to unknown circumstances a few weeks ago, Friday morning Shawn's computer decided not to start up. After much frustration and fussing-around he's narrowed the problem down to the hard drive, but since he doesn't want to erase what's on his current one (hm, lets see: all of the music that he has made, all of his digital art, all of his photos from the past 3 years- basically, everything...) we need to see about getting a new hard drive.



In the mean time, we're now down to our third and final technical entertainment option: my laptop. Hence, we re-arranged the furniture to make it easier to hook up the laptop to the monitor without sacrificing 'computer' use. (And yes, that is the uselessly broken television on Shawn's desk in the corner, not a gigantic computer monitor.) Consequently Netflix also loads way faster on my laptop than it did on Shawn's computer, so Yay for that!

Decidedly, we actually really like the new living room layout. It's much cleaner than our previous set up and it's actually cozier too. Plus, we're kind of thinking it'd be nice to eventually get a new tv and keep this set up as is and put the tv in it's original location (where the printer is now). Then we can throw some beanbags behind the couch and Shawn can play video games while I watch Scrubs at the same time... oh, to dream of days to come. (And I'll remind you that although it may not appear as such, we do more than just sit around and watch tv all day... I swear!)

So this miserable week is coming to a much less miserable end, with temporary solutions (primarily cough syrup and computer monitors) and some colorful bed linens, hopefully next week will be a little nicer to us.

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And now for something completely different! (& incredibly delicious):



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