Monthly Archives: November 2011

I love the way my husband gives. It’s always from the heart and it is always without abandon. Whether it’s his time or his money he gives what he wants regardless to what we have in the bank or to how many hours a volunteered task may take. Some people may view this as being slightly reckless or maybe even a bit ridiculous and in the past I have been annoyed with commitments he’s made that have taken time away from me. Despite my occasional annoyance I feel like this gift to give is one of my husbands greatest strengths. A life filled with giving is one that is fully lived. I’m not talking about giving out of obligation, nobody wants to receive anything that doesn’t really want to be given. I’m talking about putting your self aside and at the risk of having nothing left giving what you want to the people that you love.

This Thanksgiving I was in charge of the desserts and for a girl who has happily made an entire Thanksgiving meal for loved ones that shouldn’t have been a problem right? For a dessert fan it would have been no problem, but like I’ve said before sweets really aren’t my thing. I appreciate them and I do love a good slice of chocolate cake once in a while, but if it was my choice I would almost always finish off a meal with one more glass of wine. All that said I was slightly intimidated that Thanksgiving dessert was my responsibility so I tried to comfort myself with the notion that I would make some of the pies and buy a few as well. After telling Ryan this plan the look on his face told me how he felt about it, “Really babe? Store bought pies? This holiday only comes once a year and we can eat those pies anytime we want.” He was absolutely right and he knew I was capable of making enough desserts for my family to enjoy. What I was afraid of was something not coming out perfectly seeing that sweets are not my strength. Regardless of my fear homemade was what I wanted to give my family this year, so I let go of any insecurities I had about crust making or fillings. In the process of this giving I stumbled upon my new favorite thing, buttermilk pie! It’s custardy texture and slight lemony tang was a welcomed surprise among the usual favorites of pumpkin or berry pies.

When we give what we feel compeled to vs. what we think we can manage the profit is always greater that what we were led to give in the first place. I am thankful my husband called me out on this and his giving nature stopped my sometimes fearful one. At the cost of getting something wrong I have developed a new found confidence in pie making and discovered a prized new pie to add to future holiday dessert tables.

Are you ready to cook because I am ready to talk about Thanksgiving! Maybe we can even chat about Christmas! Kidding, I’m a one holiday at a time sort of girl and Thanksgiving just happens to be my most favorite holiday of them all. How could you not love a day that’s dedicated to mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, turkey and it’s perfectly acceptable to pour gravy over all of it! Don’t even get me started on how I feel about Thanksgiving dessert.

So what are we going to do on this special, wonderful day of giving thanks and pumpkin pie topped with fresh whipped cream? We are headed over to my parents house and I am so excited to be cooking dinner with my mom and sister this year. Between the three of us we’ve got this Thanksgiving meal totally under control! My sister is in charge of the turkey and rumor has it nobody can cook a bird like Susie. I’m all about the desserts this year and I can’t wait to tell you which pie we loved best. Last but not least my mom is taking care of everything else in between and even though she’s assured us cranberry sauce and green beans will be on the table, my mom doesn’t usually like to be confined with cooking just the traditional sides. When it comes to cooking Thanksgiving dinner my mom is a bit of a wild card and she’ll also whip up all sorts of amazing things that she’ll think up a few days before. Seriously, this is how my mom works. One year she decided she wanted to BBQ ribs for Thanksgiving so she did and they were the best stinkin ribs ever! My mom is totally magical like that and we don’t dare question the method to her madness…I mean creativity! We just sit back and let her cook because we know we’ll happily eat whatever it is she decides to make.

Can I tell you about the mashed potatoes she’ll whip up? We don’t even call them mashed potatoes, we call them party potatoes! It’s a recipe my mom discovered (and tweaked to her liking) a few years ago and after the first time these decadent potatoes graced our holiday table we never went back to eating normal ones again. Cream of mushroom soup, cream cheese and cheddar cheese, I am super thankful for this wonderful potato dish.

I am also thankful for my supportive, messy, hilarious family. I am thankful for our health, for the ridiculous amount of love that there is between us and I am even thankful for our fights because you only argue with the ones you love. I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with football in the front yard and plates of turkey smothered in gravy all day long! I hope you can snuggle with your loved ones to watch Home Alone for the millionth time together and I really hope you are able to sneak in a nap before your Thanksgiving day dessert!

One of my favorite restaurants in Sacramento has to be Tapa the World aka Tapas. My mom introduced my dad and I to this place the night my sister had her first baby. It was an incredibly memorable dinner for a few reasons; first off the three of us were still beaming as we had just come from my sister’s delivery room and we were all so excited to welcome a new beautiful little girl into our family, secondly up until this moment it had been years since I had sat down to have dinner with both of my parents at the same table. I think I was 13 when they got a divorce and yes that was a very hard thing for my family to go through. Despite the divorce and the handful of ugly days after it, I feel like my parents never really fell out of love with each other. This is just my opinion of course and if you haven’t caught on yet I’m one of those super optimistic, glass half full types.

But here’s what I’ve noticed; in all of the years that my parents have been separated they’ve never fully walked away from each other. One could argue that they’ve stayed close because of my sister and I, but I think we are just a small part of it. It seems to me that love doesn’t care if you don’t share a last name, or if you have a stack of papers with the word “Divorce” on them. If the love that two people share is real (and I believe my parent’s is) nothing will be able to keep those two people apart. Don’t get me wrong, plenty things try; pride, hurt feelings, self-centeredness, but I’m pretty sure I’ve learned more about love in my parent’s divorce than if they had stayed married. So what if their commitment to each other hasn’t always been a traditional one. The strong bond between the two of them is undeniably-there and they have an understanding of each other that only love can provide. Because of them I have learned real love is almost impossible to throw away and it is always worth the fight that love sometimes requires.

Back to the dinner! The last thing I remember about that night were the garlic mushrooms my mom ordered for us. I think I might have eaten the whole dish! A person tends to do rude things like that when out to dinner with their parents but I couldn’t help it, they were incredible! Bite sized mushrooms drowning in a white wine broth and tons of fresh garlic. Pair these mushrooms with a basket full of fresh bread and you’ll have yourself a slice of garlic heaven! I’ve been ordering and eating this dish for years and I finally decided to make them myself given the fact that we no longer live around the corner from this lovely restaurant.

These mushrooms would make a great appetizer for Thanksgiving or a very special side dish for a weekday chicken dinner. Just make sure to eat them with someone you love, because only true love will be able to concur the kind of garlic breath these mushroom will provide!

Growing up I never gave much thought as to what kind of life I would have as an adult. I never aspired to be the mother to four boys and I never thought I would be stoked to be driving those boys around in a minivan. I never thought I would end up being the kind of girl who prefers the country over the city and I never, EVER imagined I would find myself in Austin, Texas working in the box office at a music festival called the FunFunFun fest!

For the past three years my husband’s (along with two other partners) company handles all of the ticketing for this amazing festival. What exactly does that mean? Well, prior to the festival tickets are purchased online, these tickets are either shipped to festival goers or picked up a few days before the festivities begin. When the festival actually starts tickets can then be bought at the box office and that’s where I (and Patti) come in. Of course there is more to this operation than I am aware of (apps for the festival to be made, late nights at the office mailing out tickets…), but if you’re interested in any of those details you’ll need to talk to one of the boys (or girls) over at Ground Control a.k.a Groundctrl.

Once a year for an entire weekend I get to be apart of this incredible team called Groundctrl. We all get up early in the morning to set up before the festival begins, we work in the mud, the dust, and every single festival goer has to go through one of us before they get to head over to the orange stage to enjoy an awesome set from Slayer. When it’s over we stay up late to celebrate that days successes’ and to swap stories/photos of amazing bands we were able to see. At the end of the trip this group of people looks more like a close knit family rather than just a fan services company and I am always incredible proud to be apart of this team.

So even though I never dreamed I would be selling thousands of tickets to fans of the FunFunFun fest, listening to Henry Rollins officiate a wedding at the yellow stage, or sitting back stage with Patti to sip John Daly’s and enjoy Frito pies, I am so incredibly thankful life constantly leads me to all of this year after year!

We all completely understand broccoli. You can steam it, saute it, throw some cheddar cheese on top of it and call it a day!

Potatoes, what can’t you do with a potato? Smashed, baked, fried… I’m convinced that the potato is the worlds most versatile vegetable.

Tomatoes, I cook with them on a daily basis. I love fresh cherry tomatoes in a salad and canned diced tomatos for a sauce. Even on their own with a little salt they are wonderful! The tomato is a vegetable I probably eat every single day.

Squash. Besides carving silly faces in them and roasting the seeds inside, what the heck can a person make with a squash? Have you ever noticed that there are a million different types of squash out there? First they are put into one of two categories, winter squash or summer squash. Then the list of each goes on for days, spagetti squash, acorn squash, carnival squash, and sweet dumpling squash just to name a few!

I was sick and tired of not knowing how to use these abundant mysterious veggies (or are they a fruit?) So I picked up a butternut squash (the only squash I am somewhat familiar with) and set out to incorporate it into one of our weeknight dinners. It sat in my fruit bowl for a good week until it hit me, when in doubt roast it out! So that’s exactly what I did and then I added those roasted golden nuggets to some pasta sauce. Did everybody eat it? Yes! Did I feel like champ for figuring out how to use this pretty fruit? (vegetable?) Sure! But the most exciting thing for me is having a new simple weeknight dinner to add to our menu with the still slightly mysterious butternut squash.