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Archive for February, 2010

reunited

…and it tastes so good.

This past Saturday was the T.J. “Bose” Tanner Reunion. As promised, I slaved away to deliver several late-night, back-breaking, made-from-scratch dishes. I was not alone in this home-cooked effort. I was pleasantly surprised to see tons of home cooked dishes and only a few store bought selections. Way to go Tanner Family!  To give you all a little giggle, I took some pictures of Saturday’s culprits. (You know who you are, but we love you anyway.)
In true Southern fashion I made hand-rolled chicken and dumplins’. I have to say the broth turned out excellent this time around and I was even able to pick up a few extra dumplin’ makin’ tips from Mema.  She taught me to roll the dumplins’ super thin. (I mean SUPER thin, they were almost transparent.) She told me Papa’s Aunt Ola Maude use to make them super thin and always placed them in the refrigerator to dry out even more.  This yields a tougher dumplin’ that will hold together in the boiling broth.
The real taste test for these dumplins’ came when they were placed on the serving table of the reunion.  Those people have seen some serious eatin’ and have tasted the best of the best. While eating, I heard Uncle Ralph, the eldest of Mema’s six siblings, ask “Who made the dumplins’?” I think he was quite surprised to find that such a young family cook packed so much flavor in one pot! (blush) He is married to one of best cooks in the family, so to have his nod of approval meant so much to me.
Another amazing young cook in our family is my 11-year-old sister, Kameryn.  She made an adorable strawberry dessert that is sure to make anyone “smile”.
Of course we couldn’t bring something savory to the reunion with out dabbling in something sweet.  Mr. Blue Eyed Yonder and I made two delicious desserts using somewhat unexpected ingredients. Stay tuned for more details…

Posted 2/23/10, Topic: Blog

reunion

re-un-ion [ree-yoon-yuh n]
-noun
1. a gathering of relatives, friends, or associates at regular intervals or after searation: a family reunion.
Stokesville Baptist Church, circa 1908
It’s that time of year again, the annual T.J. “Bose” Tanner Reunion. Each year the descendants of Bose Tanner gather at the Social Hall of the beautiful and quaint Stokesville Baptist Church in Axson, Georgia. I have many fond memories of attending these reunions as a child, but if one memory has to stand out it is the FOOD! There is one thing the Tanners love to do – eat! Bearing vegetables, casseroles, cakes, pies and fried chicken, the lovely Southern ladies would fill the center 30-foot long table with all kinds of delicious home-cooked dishes. There is no other place that has played host to that kind of serious cookin’.
Sadly, as many of these sweet ladies passed away, so did the depth of home cooked dishes. One year, dare I say, a bucket of KFC made its way in. Oh lawdy, bring out the smelling spices I think I’m gonna faint!
So many things have changed since the days of yesteryear. We are all far too busy and barely have time to slow down and eat, yet alone cook a homemade meal from scratch. I admit I am guilty of the occasional drive thru, so convenient, so quick. However, I am a strong believer that for at least one day of the year the modern ladies of the family should bring it back to the basics; honor the slow-paced, hard-boiled, hand-rolled, gently-seasoned, cooked-to-perfection lady roots of our family. In a way, a nod to their tremendous efforts.
I am sure I will still see cakes in plastic grocery store containers, frozen biscuits and even the occasional KFC bucket, but I am committed to delivering traditional, made with love, home cooked dishes. So push up your sleeves and bust out the aprons, it’s gonna be a long night!
Who’s with me?

Posted 2/18/10, Topic: Blog

Melt

This year Mr. Blue Eyed Yonder and I celebrated our first Valentine’s Day as Mr & Mrs. Wanting to make this year extra special, Mr. Blue Eyed Yonder had lots of fun surprises and sweet little touches planned for the weekend.  He even special ordered SNOW for the occasion!
day 1: Friday
Grabbed a quick salad for dinner and had an impromptu snowball fight in the parking lot.  Snow much fun!  I definitely threw the most snow balls, but Mr. Blue Eyed Yonder wins for the best shot…right in the face! Ear, nose, eye and mouth.  Frozen fingers; warm hearts.
day 2: Saturday
Waking up with the sun (No, this is not a common occurance), we bundled up and decided to explore the winter wonderland outside.  We decided to make the 2-mile trek to the Waffle House for breakfast and take some pictures along the way.  I know this sounds silly, but it is actually a great memory I have from my childhood.  When it snowed one year, my Dad walked me and my little sister up to the Waffle House near our house. I always thought that was such a big deal. Now we will always have our own special memory of walking to the Waffle House on a quiet, snowy day.
Funny sidenote: I actually wiped out not 20 feet from our house. Teared up a little, but ended up laughing at how silly I must have looked!
Later that afternoon, a beautiful single red tulip on my nightstand. So sweet. We played 20 Questions in order for me to figure out where we were going for dinner. Once the restaurant was revealed, Mr. Blue Eyed Yonder told me each of their dishes are under 475 calories. I was skeptical, but have to say very pleasantly surprised.  Our meal was absolutely wonderful.  Using many fresh, seasonal ingredients, each dish had a burst of flavor and uniqueness about it.  The restaurant is also known for their “Mini Indulgences“, which are shot size desserts of all varieties.  We came back home after dinner to hang out before heading out to Whole World Theater (my little surprise for my Valentine). Like magic, an entire bouquet of red tulips had appeared on our coffee table.  He’s a sneaky one.
Some of the best laughs we have had in a long time came from the hilarious Whole World Theater.  It was a perfect compliment to our spontaneous, laughter-filled weekend.
day 3: Sunday
Who doesn’t like waking up to home-cooked breakfast? While snoozing on the couch watching the weather, my dearest valentine cooked the sweetest breakfast.  I have told him before how much I loved the sweet little things my mom did for us as children, such as heart shaped pancakes for Valentine’s Day, green pancakes for St. Patty’s Day, etc.  After refusing to let me help in the slightest (I didn’t put up much of a fight), he placed the most adorable plate of pancakes and bouquet of red roses in front of me.  I could have just cried.  He remembered my little stories of pink heart cakes and had made them especially for me.
Just when I thought the weekend’s surprises were over, Mr. Blue Eyed Yonder busted out champagne and strawberries after dinner. Not just any champagne I might add, it was the same champagne that we had on our wedding night. Melt.
Photos by CJ

Posted 2/15/10, Topic: Blog

light of my life

With Valentine’s in the air, I thought this gave me an excuse to be a little mushy.  Never did I imagine that I would end up with such a sweet, kind-hearted and selfless valentine as Mr. Blue Eyed Yonder. Designing a perfect match for me was no easy task, and some would argue quite impossible.  But what ever happened along the way, it molded the most perfect person for me. (thump thump)

When I saw this idea featured on Design Sponge, I just knew it would be perfect for Mr. Blue Eyed Yonder.  A small little gesture to let him know how much I appreciate all of the things he does for me. For working hard all day long, being a manly-man and taking on the tons of little projects around house and still finding time to let me know I am his #1. 
For a complete how to guide, click here.
I love this becaue it incorporates the reuse of some household items.  I had this bulb just hanging out in my utility closet. 
I was a little bit intimidated when hollowing out the bulb. I wore my sporty pink dish gloves for a little extra protection.
Once I pulled the solder point I gained a little confidence. Just be careful with the little shards of glass.
Solder point is out, now it is time to break the brass insulator.
Pulling out the filament was one of the final steps of hollowing the bulb.
Adorable little red heart “filaments” give it that precious homemade look. I love playing around with their shapes, giving them their own personality.

Posted 2/12/10, Topic: Blog

Lovin’ from the Oven

So, Valentine’s Day is almost here and do I have a scrumptious post for you! Me and Mr. Blue Eyed Yonder decided to take on a new challenge in the field of baking.  While Angel Food Cake is one of the easiest cakes to make straight from the box, we were curious to see how one would turn out from scratch. What’s in an Angel Food Cake anyways? How do you deliver that spongy goodness from the oven?


When any baking delima arises, we always consult the domestic villian herself, Martha Stewart. Here is what she had to say:

Classic Angel Food Cake

1 cup cake flour (not self rising)
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
1 3/4 cups large egg whites (about
     13 large eggs), room temp
1 tablespoon warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with the rack in the center. Into a medium bowl, sift together flour and 3/4 cup sugar four times; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and the warm water on low speed until foamy. Add salt, cream of tartar, and vanilla; beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. While beating, gradually add the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat on high speed until peaks are stiff and glossy but not dry, about 2 minutes (do not overmix).

Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Sift flour mixture over egg-white mixture in six parts, quickly but gently folding it in with a rubber spatula after each addition.

Gently transfer batter to an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Run knife through the batter to release any air bubbles, and smooth with a small offset spatula. Bake until cake is golden brown and springs back when touched, 35-40 minutes.

Invert pan onto its legs and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Carefully run a large offset spatula around the sides of the cake to loosen, then invert onto a wire rack. Cake can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

You heard her right, sift together flour and sugar FOUR TIMES.

Fresh eggs at room temperature.

Perfect strawberries for garnish.

Wisking egg whites until stiff.

Fresh from the oven.

Cool for 1 hour; watch the flowers bloom.

Slice, garnish and enjoy!
Now I must admit, while the pictures look quite perfect.  This poor little cake had a rough time of it.  Believing the best lessons learned are in your mistakes, here are ours: (dont’ laugh, you’ll hurt Mr. Spongy’s feelings.)
1. Eager to get things started, Mr. Blue Eyed Yonder added ALL of the sugar in the beginning. Not having enough flour and “superfine” sugar to start over we had to roll with it.
2. Accidentally buying pastry flour and later realizing it was whole wheat. Not great for the color or the texture. Oops.
3. Separating 12 eggs and busting a yolk on lucky egg 13. Needless to say we threw out all the eggs and picked up from that point in the process the next night with fresh eggs.
4. Removing the cake from the oven too soon. While most dishes continue baking after they have left the oven, don’t plan on this thing getting any firmer.  Make sure it springs to the touch BEFORE it leaves the oven. Or you can have a juicy cake like ours. Eww.
It was not easy to admit that an attempt at something new was a flop, but I think I learned more from baking this cake and making tons of mistakes than I would if it had turned out perfect.  Me and Mr. Blue Eyed Yonder had some good laughs and some “good griefs”, but a sweet cooking session none-the-less.
Just to make me feel a little better about my cake flop, here are some Valentine’s Cake Disasters. Wishing you all a very Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 
Nothing says “I love you” like a broken heart cake.

Posted 2/11/10, Topic: Blog

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