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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Banana Walnut Cranberry Cinnamon Waffles

Knock, knock. Is this thing on?

Hello, friends. It has been some time. Almost a year, in fact!

I'm planning to begin blogging again. I've missed it, that's for sure. But in addition to posting food recipes, I'm going to be using my blog to also document my running and fitness regime, and new discoveries on excursions around my new locale. I explore often and I have some fun and exciting personal goals in store for the next 14 months. I definitely want to document this journey. At the moment, I'm not sure if I should start a new blog altogether, or just reformat this current blog. We'll see what happens.

Things have certainly changed over the past year. Ron and I moved from Minnesota to southern California this past summer. We live less than a 20 minute drive from DISNEYLAND. For such a Disney fan, it's been pretty damn amazing. We can now shoot up the street for a quick ride on Pirates of the Caribbean -- and then be back an hour later. Even more fun, Dinah now accompanies me as a running partner! She still has her quirks and spontaneous freak-out sessions, but she has developed such a personality and is such a little love-bug. And in the food category, I've made quite a transition. I now border between being a Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian and Vegan. It's been pretty incredible (and sometimes frustrating) to try new recipes and discover plant-based eating that is suitable for both myself and my carnivorous husband. Even more incredible is the honest look of satisfaction that is often on my husband's face when eating said plant-based recipes. Ron is still a full carnivore and after a year of hits and misses, we've worked out a pretty consistent dining routine that works. Phew.

Also, a word: I promise not to turn my blog into my own personal soap-box. I live my life a certain way for me, and I would never want to impress my views upon someone else solely because I have them.

I made these waffles the other night in preparation for my runDisney Dopey Challenge weekend training run. (Remember those fun and exciting personal goals I mentioned above?) I've been entering some seriously high mileage weeks and appropriate sustenance is key. These waffles, aside from being an amazing fuel source, were absolutely divine. The oats and walnuts provided some hearty texture, and the cranberries added just a touch of sweetness. I considered adding some maple syrup to the finished product but they were so flavorful that they were perfect as is. The recipe is vegan but you can easily make it non-vegan.

Banana Walnut Cranberry Cinnamon Waffles
recipe adapted from Baketivities
Yield: about 5-6 waffles

  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed very well
  • 1 1/2 cups soy or almond milk (or regular 1% milk, for non-vegan)
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  1. In a mixing bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  2. Stir in rolled oats and walnuts.
  3. In another bowl, combine banana, milk, maple syrup, and oil.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in dried cranberries.
  5. Let batter sit as your waffle iron preheats.
  6. Pour batter 1/2 cup at a time into waffle iron and cook according to iron instructions. Grease waffle iron between waffles, and keep waffles warm in an oven set at 200 degrees. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Vanilla Praline Pumpkin Pie

Well, if you haven't noticed, I've been hesitant to return to my blog. An apology is now in order, and I am sorry!
So, when I last posted, we were about to move. The move went fairly smooth thanks to the tremendous help of my parents. A potential disaster with a 7 month old puppy and a 7 year old cranky cat was diverted, and all of the thanks goes to my mom who sat in the backseat of the Element for over 20 hours to control the kids! Our return to Minnesota has been glorious. We've been introducing Dinah to the lakes (we can't keep her out of them!!), running and biking on the trails, eating at our favorite restaurants, visiting with our friends, and working. In September, I began working in a seasonal position that involved a lot of travel. I traveled locally to places in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. But I also had the chance to head to Miami, New York City, Boulder, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Boston, and Seattle. I'm not going to lie: it was very difficult to be back in Seattle, I was sick, and the timing of the recruiting events, and memories of one year prior, made my visit extremely hard. But in some weird way, I think I found some sort of closure while I was there. 

A number of people have asked me why we returned to Minnesota. So many people are confused as to what happened. Strangers (who have inquired about where we got Dinah) have given me funny looks when I tell them that we just moved back to the cities and Dinah was from Washington state. "Why? Why would you leave there? It's incredible. It's amazing!" I've also been referred to as "the only person I've ever met who hated the Pacific Northwest." Despite these anticipated questions, we are truly happy about our decision. It's so good to be back by our friends and closer to family. Our quality of life has improved. And we're smiling again. Real smiles, not fake ones. And laughing.

For whatever reason, blogging was not high on my list of priorities as we settled in to our new surroundings. But I realized how much I have missed my blog, and after meeting a fellow blogging friend from Virginia (Hi Elizabeth!) on the road this past recruiting season, I was inspired to start back up. I've missed it, I've missed the variety in our dining, and what better a time to start than the holiday season! And by posting this amazing pumpkin pie! (I know I promised a different post for Texas Cavier... eventually it will come. But as I have left months go by, and seasons have changed, and temperatures have dropped, I felt that a warm and comforting holiday pie would be a better return post.)

There are some things I miss about Seattle. Truthfully, the food is probably the highest on my list. The Seattle dining scene, the plethora of farmer's markets, and the quality of grocery stores are out of this world. I was reminded of this when I was back in the city, so I returned to my old stomping grounds - my most favorite cafe of all time - to pick up some soup, and the latest cookbook. This recipe for Vanilla Praline Pumpkin Pie is adapted from Macrina's first cookbook, and I already know that it will become a staple at our Thanksgiving table. Ron, the resident pumpkin-pie hater, said that it was incredible. As the resident pumpkin-pie lover, I had to agree.
Vanilla Praline Pumpkin Pie
from Kitchen Treaty, adapted from Macrina Bakery's Maple Pecan Pumpkin Pie
Yield: one pie, 8 servings
Cook time: 1 hour 20 minutes   Total time: 1 hour 50 minutes

Pie Filling
  • 1 pre-baked pie crust, cooled
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 cup fresh pumpkin puree (note: you can also use 2 cups canned pumpking or 2 cups fresh pumpkin puree instead of a combination of both, however, I'd encourage you to mix!)
  • 2 Tablespoons sour cream
  • 5 Tablespoons lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped plus 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place pre-baked pie shell on a lined baking sheet to catch any spills.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin purees and sour cream. Whisk in the brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, cloves, and flour.
  3. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth, then whisk in the buttermilk, half and half, and vanilla bean paste.
  4. Pour filling into the pie crust. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 50-60 minutes, or until the center of the pie is just set and no longer jiggly.
  5. Remove the pie from the oven but leave the oven on.
  6. In a small bowl, combine all of the topping ingredients. Gently spoon the pecan praline topping over the top of the pie. Do not press.
  7. Return pie to the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes until the top if set and golden.
  8. Let pie cool to room temperature. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream or ice cream.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Where am I?

Well, I find it ironic that my last blog post was about my annoyance with moving. And here we are again, less than two months later, and I'm surrounded by moving boxes. The movers are booked, hotels are booked, and I've closed utilities on two Seattle houses and started utilities at our new place in Minnesota. Yep, we're moving back to 2 days. I am beyond excited - ridiculously elated - and I can't wait for Ron and I to be back "home" surrounded by our friends and closer to our families.
Obviously, as I haven't posted in several weeks, life's been... colorful. Thank you to my family and friends who have stood by me throughout this past year, offering words of encouragement, support and love.

I am excited to start blogging again. I am grateful for my family and friends who have reminded me that they enjoy reading my blog. I recognize that I cook more and eat better when I am blogging, so I promise to return to my posts and maintain consistency once we are settled.

And Kelly, the first recipe to be posted will be the Texas Cavier. This delicious recipe is courtesy of my friend and loyal reader, Emily, and I can't wait to make it again!


Monday, May 21, 2012

Kugelhopf (aka Morning Buns)

I think one of the worst feelings is starting something and realizing that it was a pretty big mistake to start. I'm not talking about these morning buns. These were awesome. But I am talking about what led to me making the morning buns. . .
As mentioned in a previous post, Ron and I are no strangers to moving. We've moved many times during the course of our relationship. And we just finally realized that we hate moving our stuff around. That wine cooler we bought and used for our Christmas party in 2007? Yea, we haven't used it since and I don't recall it being used that night. Yet it carts around with us in it's gigantic glory just because we never got rid of it. Because we've moved so much, we've also become very careful not to buy things that will take up even more space the next time we move.

Our new house has a pretty large lawn. And shortly after we moved, I started complaining about the fact that our grass was horrendous. In Washington, it's a liability issue for a landlord to leave a lawnmower for the tenants so this was the first time Ron and I were responsible for mowing the lawn. "Please just let me buy a lawnmower, Ron." "No, Ashley. I do not want to make that investment. We have a 11-month long lease." (Oh, I guess I should mention that we're moving in less than a year. Woo hoo!! *sarcasm*) "But Ron, I love mowing the lawn. I've mowed the lawn in every single house we've ever lived." "No, Ashley."

So, I searched for landscaping and was quoted a few times at $50 per visit. Annoyed, I realized that we'd be investing hords of money just trying to keep the lawn looking decent. I searched for lawn mower rentals. Nothing. I did the whole "Ask your neighbor to borrow their mower" thing but everyone in the vicinity uses landscaping services. I was getting frustrated and the grass kept growing. Now, I know we're relatively new to this marriage thing. But Ron and I have been together for eight years. In my defense, he should know by now that if I complain about something more than five times, I'm going to find a way to do it myself. And for crying out loud, our lawn was ridiculous! It was embarassing. I couldn't find Dinah when she was outside because the grass towered over her. So I drove to Home Depot. I saw a lawn mower for $150. I bought it.

Here's where the whole "pretty big mistake" thing comes in. The lawn mower was $150. In other words, the lawnmower was cheap and had the bare basics of lawn mowing gidgits and gadgets. It was easy enough to put together but it went downhill from there. In Washington, the ground is not firm. They lawns are quite soft and the grass grows on moss. As I have never mowed a lawn in Washington before (and naturally, I did not do any research before driving to Home Depot), I did not realize that a cheap push mower would be quite difficult to push. Not to mention, our lawn was literally one foot tall. Every three feet, the mower would get jammed and stuck, turn up moss and spit out a ton of dirt. Two hours into this ordeal, Ron had already found out about the mower - no need to get into the details but it involved a desperate plea for a wrench (and a subsequent trip to Ace Hardware to buy one) - and I knew that because I had caused such drama, the damn lawn was going to get mowed one way or another. So I discovered the only way to mow the lawn. I walked backwards and pulled the mower the entire time. About 5 neighbors were out watching me. It was embarassing.

Which brings me to this recipe for Morning Buns.

Ron, too, tends to mention something once, twice, thrice... and it hangs on his mind until he does it. The past few days, our coffee trips have frequently discussed the Morning Bun that Ron should have purchased for breakfast but for some reason did not. So at some point during my 4-hour long lawn-mowing adventure, I realized that because I went against what Ron said and bought a lemon of a mower, I was going to have to do something pretty damn special to make up for it. Hence, the search for a copycat coffee shop Morning Bun recipe. I found the perfect recipe and was ready to deliver him with a delicious treat as soon as he got home that night. But in my excitement and haste, I neglected to read the recipe in full. A big Ashley no-no. You can only imagine what words were spoken when I read those words I so often see after starting a recipe unprepared - Put the dough in the refrigerator and let it rest overnight. At that point, I decided it was time to throw in the towel for the day.
The lawn-mower situation is now far behind us and eventually these Morning Buns were finished. It is a recipe that requires waiting time but fortunately there is not a lot of hands-on time. The steps are really easy so it's definitely worth the wait. I've come to realize that for delicious breakfast pastries, rushing through the recipe or whipping up quick breads is not always best. And these Morning Buns are case in point. I was blown away by how delicious these were and will most certainly be making these buns again. The dough was more like a croissant dough and as one of Ron's co-workers exclaimed "They are better than a donut!" These buns were best right out of the oven because of the butter-cinnamon-sugar bath. However, I opted to melt small amounts of butter when needed instead of drunking the entire dozen at once. This way, Ron had his Morning Bun freshly dunked before work for a few mornings. If you're not able to eat them all at once, I'd advise doing the same because they keep better. They lasted for about 3 days kept stored in a tight container. Enjoy!
Kugelhopf Morning Buns
from the Kitchn
Yield: 12 buns
Kugelhopf Dough
  • 2 Tbsp warm water
  • 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup milk, warmed
  • 1 3/4 cup flour (divided into 3/4 cup and 1 cup)
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large yolk
  • 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
Sugar Coating
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  1. Stir the water and yeast together in a small mixing bowl until the yeast dissolves, then stir in the milk. Add 3/4 cup flour and stir until it forms a smooth batter. Cover the bowl and let this poolish sit for at least 20 minutes or up to 60 minutes. You'll see lots of bubbles appear on the surface.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, yolk, and almond extract. Stir into the poolish.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the remaining cup of flour, sugar, and salt. Pour of the poolish-egg mixture into the flour and stir until it becomes a shaggy dough. Put the dough hook attachment on and knead the dough on medium-high until it is smooth, about five minutes.
  4. Reduce the speed to medium and start adding the butter in blobs, waiting until the blob is nearly incorporated before adding the next. Once all the butter has been added, increase the mixer speed back to medium-high and knead the dough for 10 minutes. The dough will come together in a ball, look glossy and jiggle.
  5. Turn the dough into a clean bowl, cover, and let rise for an hour and a half, until doubled in size. Put dough in the refrigerator and let it rest overnight, or up to two days.
  6. The next morning, turn the chilled dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough to roughly 10" by 8"m or 1/2" thick. Use flour as needed. Brush the dough with melted butter, leaving an inch of un-buttered dough at the top. Sprinkle the buttered areas with the sugar. Roll the dough up and pinch at the seam to close.
  7. Using a pastry cutter, cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Spray a muffin tin liberally with non-stick spray, including the wells and surface of the tin. Nestle each roll into a well, pressing gently to make sure it settles in the bottom. Cover the tin and let the rolls rise for about an hour, until they're starting to peak over the tops of the wells.
  8. Fifteen minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  9. Uncover the rolls and bake for 25-30 minutes. When rolls start to turn golden brown about halfway through, tent them with foil. The rolls are done when a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  10. After the rolls have cooled, melt the butter in a small bowl. Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a second bowl. Dip each roll into the butter and roll it in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  11. Enjoy with a fresh cup of dark-roast coffee!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Grilled Pizza

The weather has been amazing lately. For the past week and a half, there hasn't been cloud in the sky. It has been crystal blue and the temperatures have ranged from 65-75 degrees. Every snow-capped mountain has been visible in the skyline and the tulips and cherry trees are in full bloom. Accordingly, there has been little indoor activity. I'm walking, running and biking all over town. As I write, I'm out on the back deck with a clear view of Lake Washington and the Cascade range.

I am very surprised by the weather in Seattle. As we closed out the winter season and entered spring, I found myself saying "Wow, that really wasn't bad." Ironically, everyone I have talked to in Seattle said that it was the worst winter they've had yet. What?! I have to wonder what they are talking about. Then again, I do come from dreary Pittsburgh so perhaps I am more prepared for clouds. But I can honestly say that the weather in Seattle is not what people make it out to be. And it definitely beats Pittsburgh in the weather category.

I do think that a lot of my surprise had to do with the fact that I prepared myself for the absolute worst going in to the winter. After everyone's comments, I was convinced that from October until April I would see nothing but dark grey clouds and rain buckets would be pouring on my head. I was honestly terrified and before winter started, I began giving myself sun pep talks. But it did not turn out to be bad at all. Sure, there were cold, blustery, windy and rainy days. But I think this is akin to a fierce snowstorm in Minnesota. I was pleasantly surprised by how kind Mother Nature was to Seattle. When we had rain, it would quickly follow up with sun. There's a lot of sun, actually. Most days, Seattle was 50 degrees with a fair sky. (More like 40 degrees with the water.) I saw the sun nearly four to five times a week and watched the sun set behind the mountains almost every day. I'm not kidding. I was keeping track for a while. There was a time in February when I didn't see a cloud in the sky for over two weeks.

But even though the winter wasn't bad, the past week has just been such a treat. I think it's because I'm back on my bike and able to soak in the fresh air on two wheels. Yesterday, Ron and I biked along Lake Washington and grabbed ice cream by the marina. It was awesome. It reminded me of our glorious bike rides along the Grand Rounds in Minnesota. We've also been spending a lot of time eating outside. With all of this amazing weather and with summer right around the corner, the grill has been re-introduced into our weekly dinners. I was craving something different from my usual plank grilled salmon and veggie kabob meal. When I saw this recipe for grilled pizza, I knew we had to give it a go. It was so unique and delightful sounding.

It was a bit of work and required some prep but the finished product was incredible. It was chewy in the right places, crispy in the right areas and had just a hint of charcoal taste. I do advise that you read through the recipe, plan accordingly and prep your ingredients before you head to the grill. The pizza dough is very easy to work with because it's so thin... but that also means that it cooks up super fast. It took us one pizza casualty to get it right but the pizza makes four rounds so if you mess up, you'll have plenty left to feed the hungry crowd. We'll be making pizza on the grill a lot this summer for both meals and appetizers at bbq's. I highly recommend using the best and freshest ingredients (fresh mozzerella, tomatoes, basil, etc.) you can. It's easily adaptable to whichever pizza you prefer. We made a pepperoni and mediterranean pie (cubed fontina, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives and feta). Our pepperoni was brushed with olive oil, topped with fresh mozzerella and sliced pepperoni, sprinkled with some thinly sliced fresh spinach, shredded Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh herbs. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

Grilled Pizza
from Cuisine at Home
Yield: Four 12-inch pizzas
Time: 15 minutes + 3 hours rising for dough
Pizza Dough
  • 1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • One 1/4 oz package active dry yeast
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce (5 cups)
  • 4 lb Roma tomatoes, quartered (8 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, or less
  • 1/2 cup snipped fresh basil
Pizza Dough
  1. Combine water, sugar, and yeast. Proof until mixture turns foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Mix flours and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough hook.
  3. Add oil to proofed yeast mixture; then pour into flour mixture. Knead dough on low speed (or by hands) for 10 minutes.
  4. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl, turning dough to coat surface. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours.
  5. Punch dough down and divide it into four balls, pinching the bottoms closed. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for another hour.
Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, salt, pepper flakes, and sugar in large baking dish. Toss tomato mixture with olive oil.
  3. Roast until tomatoes soften, 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and mash with potato masher, keeping tomatoes as chunky as desired.
  4. Stir in basil.
Grilled Pizza
  1. Prepare toppings and set aside. Have them set up near the grill before you start cooking your pizza.
  2. Roll out dough on a dry work surface dusted with flour. Shape it into a 10 to 12 inch circle.
  3. Preheat one side of grill to medium-high, the other side to low. (If you do not have this setting, place a baking sheet nearby to transfer dough while preparing toppings.)
  4. Transfer dough to the hot side of the grill. To transfer the dough to the grill, lift it by the edges with your fingertips and drape it directly onto the hottest part of the grill. The high, direct heat will quickly firm the crust. If your grill has hot spots, use tongs to move the crust around so it doesn't burn.
  5. Close lid and cook 2-3 minutes. The crust will bubble and grill marks will appear underneath.
  6. Before adding toppings, flip the crust over to the cool side of the grill. (If you do not have a double burner, move the crust to the baking sheet before adding toppings.) Quickly brush the crust with olive oil.
  7. Add toppings. Keep quantities light so they will cook quickly. Return the pizza to the hot side of the grill to finish cooking. Pizza is done when cheese has melted. Remove pizza from the grill using a pizza peel or the back of a baking sheet. Enjoy!

Friday, May 4, 2012

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

I'm just going to come out and say it. . . Dinah is a turd. She is a very cute turd. But boy oh boy, she is bad. Well, I guess I should rephrase that. Dinah is not bad, she is a puppy. She's just doing what puppies do. But holy crap. Puppies are bad! I'm pretty sure I am partly to blame. But I also blame Ron. He was intent on getting the puppy who whined and screamed and yelped while all of her other littermates slept calmly in the corner. However, it should be known that Ron and I are only 30% to blame combined; Dinah herself makes up for the other 70%. She is a fiesty bugger and I am convinced she is the reincarnated version of the ornery Madison (or as my Dad used to refer to her - the hound from the Darkside) and cunning Salem mish-mashed together.
I should note that I am slightly annoyed with Dinah right now so I obviously don't think these things of Dinah all the time. Dinah is an absolute joy and I love her so much. But she just tore a giant hole in my favorite running shorts and sprinted away with a rather sizeable piece of my right thigh in her mouth. And no matter how many times I yelped or pretended to be a dog or ignored her or whatever else the positive reinforcement training teachers tell us works, she still thought that my right thigh was an awesome chew toy to play tug-of-war with. In the middle of the street. In front of the new neighbors. This was almost as bad as the time she ripped my pants down in the middle of a crowded park and exposed my bloomies! (I'm kidding. I don't even know what bloomies are. So no bloomies. But she did let the park-goers see what color undergarments I was wearing that day.) Sadly, I don't have enough fingers to count how many times this has happened to me since Dinah came into our lives. But I thought we were over the ripping pant and human flesh stage so I mistakenly opted to put on my exercise gear earlier than usual this morning. Human error. But Dinah is now 15 weeks and this behavior needs to be nipped, fast.

Raising a puppy is hard. It is so hard. Oh my goodness is it hard! And I seriously have no clue what I am doing. I'm new to this parenting thing. I should add that it is obvious that Dinah is a dog, so who knows what I am in for when human babies enter the picture. However, parenting is parenting. And most days I fail at it. There was a while there when Ron would come home from work. I'd be slumped on the kitchen floor, hair a total mess, dressed in the same clothes I had on when he left for the day. It was not pretty. I also think words like "[y]ou were less stressed out when you were studying for the bar exam" were thrown about a few times. And in all honesty, I was. At least I got law. At least law let me sleep. And leave the house to go for as run! I could read it and figure it out. Dinah, not so much. Right now, I know she does love us, she just has an odd way of playing. She is the most socially-oriented dog I have ever met and instead of playing with other dogs, she plays with humans and by pouncing on her sister Cali. We need to figure out how to teach her to distinguish because when she is 65 pounds, she can't just jump on humans and eat their legs!

I think the key to teaching her these things is to shove massive amounts of treats in her face. This is the only way Dinah learns. Dinah is obsessed with food. Obsessed with her kibble, her dog treats, her Scooby snacks, any type of dog food. She can be tearing through the house and as soon as you say 'sit' and she sees that there is a possibility of receiving a treat, she will come to a screeching halt on her butt. She recognizes words that bring her really yummy goodies. She's remembered some key words since she was 7 weeks old! For instance, the word 'cookie' is one of her favorites. Last year, I watched my professor's dog. Gibson Prince, a lovable goldendoodle, would get six cookies before bed. And I loved how excited Gibson got when I said the word cookie. So, when it was time to start training Dinah, I called her kibble 'cookies' as if thinking it would trick her into realizing it wasn't just blechy kibble. So now Dinah comes sprinting for a cookie when the word cookie is spoken.

This has never been a problem.

Until yesterday when I decided to make cookies. Ron is coming back from a hectic work week in Minnesota so I wanted to surprise him with a recent request for White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cookies. I started up the oven and got out the baking supplies. . . Dinah was there, in an instant, at my feet, freaking out. Now, I've never admitted this outloud because, well, I just haven't. But when I cook or bake - and I am alone - I talk outloud like I am hosting a cooking or baking show. I also sing. Loudly. Sometimes I even create lyrics about the ingredients I am using. Yes, haha. Now let's move on. So, you can imagine what happened when I kept "telling the camera" what type of "cookie" I was making for Ron. It was an interesting baking experience - Dinah managed to cause a few cookie casualties - but the end result was amazing.
White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
from Ghirardelli White Baking chips package
Yield: 5 dozen cookies
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups unsifted flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups (one 11 oz bag) Ghirardelli Classic White Chips
  • 1 1/2 cups Macadamia nuts, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cream butter and sugars together until fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, and beat well.
  3. Blend in flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. Stir in white chocolate chips and nuts.
  5. Drop by teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Hello. I am here. I am alive. I am cooking. And things are calm. Settled. Finally.
Dinah is now 15 weeks old, 20.5 pounds and likes to pounce on her sister Cali!

Actually, scratch that. I should probably not post this blog as I am sure that things will be shot to shit now that I declared that all is well in the Reed household.
All was not calm for a few months. You might have noticed by the fact that the pancakes have remained on the front page for a very long time. (Mom and Regina, Sorry about that.) But instead of going into a plethora of details I will just say that for the first time in 10 months - certainly for the first time since moving to Seattle (and since losing Salem and Madison) - perhaps for the first time in 4 years - I am able to smile again. I feel normal, like myself. I'm rejunivated. It's like a new life has been breathed into my soul! And honestly, it's incredible to feel content and at peace.

It has been a little less than two months since Dinah Rose joined our abode. She is a delightful challenge and the fun we have with her makes up for any of her puppy crazies. But she is a redunkulous amount of work and most of my time is spent chasing her around to avoid any additional emergency vet visits - Like the time she ingested an entire non-edible nylabone.

It has been two months since I completed the bar exam and moved into the unsettling world involving no paid responsibilities and the mental battle that came with. It's amazing how much time submitting one single resume can take. It's amazing how much you can doubt your abilities when you have 6 consecutive weeks to think about it. So most of my non-Dinah time is spent talking about how detail-oriented I am and why someone should hire me. But despite the fact that my job-hunt has been difficult, I have since learned wonderful news: I passed the bar exam and I will soon be a licensed attorney in the state of Minnesota.

However, we have since learned that we are staying in Washington. There were several emotionally charged discussions but we decided to do what is best for us. We also opted to leave our current lease two months early due to the fact that our neighborhood became very unsafe, our townhouse shrunk in size and our neighbors enjoy to listen to their television on level 50. Last weekend, Ron and I moved into our new home in Kirkland, a small suburb on the eastside of Lake Washington. We still have a unique waterfront and a view of the skyline but without the Seattle city grime or traffic. We are within a short bike commute to the main Microsoft campus and the city of Redmond - the bicycle capitol of the Pacific Northwest. I took my road bike out the other night for the first time since August. The views were amazing, the air was crisp but most importantly, the pavement was incredible. I love Kirkland. Love it. And I love our new home. It feels like a home, not a hotel stay. We have twice as much space as the place in West Seattle. We have neighbors who greeted us with cookies and goods from their CSA. We have a quiet, comfortable and safe neighborhood.

For the record, I effing hate moving. I'm sick of it. And I don't want to do it ever again. I've lived in 14 different places since 2001. That is not okay. We also have too many things. The next time we move, I am leaving these things behind.

So, yes. Things have been busy. While this is not an excuse for leaving pancakes as the post for the past several weeks, it is my reason because I have simply not cooked. And I planned to leave the pancakes up for another day while I broke in the new kitchen today with something delightful to post tomorrow... but my mom just said to me on the phone "At least explain what you are doing!! People are wondering why all they see are pancakes!!" So, there you have it. Between chasing a puppy around, searching for a job, wasting my life away in Seattle traffic while searching for a house and transporting Dinah to puppy day camp, packing up the house, visiting with my sister and mom when they came to visit, moving again (thank you mom for all of your help!!) and trying to find some sort of calmness, Ron and I have dined on nothing but take-out soup for over a month. I figured taking a picture of the take-out container (with a side of crackers) was not really what you wanted to see.

But as stated early on in the post, life is now calm. I will bake today! I will post this weekend.