Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Lot of Food for One Single Gal

This weekend was a treat. Literally. I got together with 11 of my fellow bloggin' buds this past Saturday for a Freeze-O-Rama fun time! (click the icon to see the whole crew)



You may be asking - as all of my friends and family have already done - what the heck is a Freeze-O-Rama?   A genius idea if you ask me.  Twelve of us got together to cook masses of food.  We were tasked to cook enough food for twelve other people and then share with everyone at the end.  I decided to cook a dish I fell in love with this summer.  Kale Pesto Pasta.  I got the recipe from my friend, Jaimie, (the amazing cook) after I asked her to find an easy kale recipe for me. I had the leafy vegetable coming out of my ears after growing it in the garden this summer. Anyway...back to Saturday.

Because the stovetop was full most of the day, I decided to cook my entire dish in an electric skillet.  At first I didn't think this could be done, but don't be fooled folks..it can! and it was!

 I first had to cook down the Kale.


Gotta have garlic!

Walnuts - lightly toasted in the skillet.

Then, I blended the kale, walnuts, salt, garlic and parmesan cheese (sort of looked like the rumen of the fistulated cow I saw in my animal science class)  sorry if you lost your appetite...


Then it was noodle cookin' time!  That's right - in a skillet!  Eight boxes in a row.

Finally, I divided it all up into 12 portions!


Even though I don't have an immediate family to feed as most of my fellow bloggers do, I still received all the food from everyone else.  It sort of felt like Thanksgiving!  Take a look...

Now that's a lot of food for one freezer!!!!

My solution...feed the family I do have in Indy.  Aunt Mary, friend Linda, and sister Haley!
I took the food over to Mary's house, and we filled our bellies with fresh shepherds pie, sausage cornbread bake, hamburger soup, kale pesto, and pumpkin muffins.  The funny thing is..this didn't even seem to make a dent.  I was thankful they helped me and happy to share!  As for the rest of the food...

  Anyone want to come over for dinner?


___________________________________________

Here is the full recipe:


Pesto
¼- ½ cup chopped walnuts
1 ½ -2 teaspoons salt
½ pound lacinato kale, stems removed, coarsely chopped (1 medium bunch should do)
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup olive oil
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Ground black pepper to taste
Whole grain pasta of choice
Add chicken if desired


Toast chopped walnuts in a dry, heavy skillet (such as cast iron) over high heat, stirring constantly until they start to brown and become fragrant. Alternatively, place on a baking sheet and toast at 325 degrees. Keep an eye on nuts – they burn quickly and will get bitter!

Bring about two quarts of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt, then add kale. Cook, uncovered, until tender (10 minutes) Remove from pot and drain.


In a blender or food processor, add garlic, walnuts and drained kale and whiz until well combined. Pour in oil in a steady stream, and pulse until combined. Add ½ teaspoon salt, pulse, then taste. Add remaining ½ teaspoon of salt if necessary.

Spoon pesto into a bowl and stir in cheese and pepper.


For ½ pound pasta, use 2-3 tablespoons pesto. Keeps really well in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to a week.


Freeze already-made pasta dishes in glass or plastic baking dishes and cover with aluminum foil and plastic wrap.

Makes about one cup of pesto.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Want Some Christmas Cash?

Hey Friends and Followers!  Check out the $35 giveaway hosted by my fellow blogger GalintheMiddle!  I know for a poor girl like me, this $35 from csn stores.com will sure help with some Christmas shopping!  Happy entering!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Playing in Photoshop

Here are some photos of my Goddaughter.  I have recently learned some neat photoshop tricks thanks to Miss Cris over at Goodeness Gracious and also from Thecoffeeshop blog.  I am a new fan of photoshop Actions!








Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fun on the Farm

A couple of weeks ago, I had fun with Maize...



and a Maze...


And so did my sister, Haley!



We were visiting a farm nearby called Kelsay Farms located just south of Indy (check out their site to see a ariel view of their amazing Maize Maze..so SWEEET that they change it every year!)  Thanks to the ladies at Two Maids a Milking for allowing us to come share in some fall fun on your farm! I'm so glad we heard about this!

Individually, Haley and I are pretty goofy people to begin with, but get us together and we are one crazy duo.  We would prob do anything someone asked us to and if it causes an immature scene, we will probably be even more apt to take part! This is why I love her.  We don't need kids to act like kids. Did I mention, I'm glad she is in Indy?

During our time on the farm, we became farmers..

Acted like children...



and hurt our rear ends at the bottom of a slide.


We also wished we were these kids...

If you haven't been to Kelsay Farms, you should probably skip that wedding you have this Saturday and go!  The pumpkins, corn maze scavenger hunt, baby calves, pumpkin bowling, corn sandbox, peddle pull contests and straw climbing tower are perfect if you want to pretend you're kids again. They are open every weekend in October, which means only two more weekends to go! So fun!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Over the Edge for Special Olympics

This past Saturday, I was able to experience a rush of a lifetime!  Three weeks prior to Saturday, I decided to try to raise $1,000 for Special Olympics so that I could rappel down the side of a 17-story building.  Thanks to the support and donations from friends and family, I was able to raise $1,625 for this wonderful organization!  Added Bonus: Rappelling.


Saturday was quite the rush, I must say. I was very nervous as I was eating my breakfast across the street from the building I would soon be rappelling down. I'm glad mom, dad and haley made sure I was always thinking about something else. And thanks Dad for telling the homeless man and other passersby all about how I was going to "jump off" that building in a few hours. haha. When I arrived, the Indy firefighters and rappelling crew first allowed us to rappel off a 3-story parking garage, so we would understand how to work the harness and what to do in case of an emergency. The whole process of staging and getting ready took longer than anticipated, so I had to wait an additional 1 1/2 hours after my original start time. My cheering section stood strong with necks cranked upwards, however, waiting for me to descend. They were great!


My cheering section taking photos

Barnes and Thornburg Building Downtown

When I arrived to the top of the 17-story building, my anticipation was mounting and I just wanted to go! The view was nothing but blue skies and a few other building that were taller than the one I was standing on. They told me there would be a photographer there to take our pictures as we went over, but he was nowhere in sight. I was a little disappointed, but then a staff member checking our names off took out his personal camera and took about 10 pictures of me up on the roof. I was humbled by his willingness to do this and make sure the pictures got to me. I can't wait to see them!

I don't really remember what those firefighters on top of the building were telling me as they were strapping me in. Maybe it was because I was standing a foot away from the edge with nothing but a carabineer attaching me to the roof?? Or maybe because my cheering section, who had seen my red shirt started cheering sooo loud and yelling my name. The firefighters said I had the loudest spectators by far!

So, they had me kneel down and scoot backwards until my feet were hanging over the edge of the building. "Ok Hannah, just fall backwards nice and easy," was all I heard. My heart was racing the entire time, even though I knew I was safe. They had me hooked up with a radio, safety harness, backup cable, and a little seatbelt-like thingy that would catch if you traveled down too fast.


Coming Over the Edge

The building had a 40 inch lip, so they encouraged us not to try and swing towards the building, but to just travel straight down and enjoy the ride. I was a little disappointed I couldn't push myself off the walls (I really wanted to look like one of those professionals, you know!), but it was probably good because, I was able to twist around and get a good view of everything, ground included. It took me about 10 minutes to get down to the ground...safe and sound.








I also put together a video from the day!  Click below.



video


Who's up for it next year?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Deep fried goodness - Just can't get enough

Last night was a treat!  Literally. After a lovely dinner at my friend's, Jaimie and Shauna's, new apartment, conversation led to the State Fair - partly because it has been consuming my life for the past few months.  And partly because the fabulous fair food is always a good topic of conversation. The deep fried cookie dough, we agreed, was amazing.  Feeling inspired and thanks to recent technology, Shauna's boyfriend, Will, looked up a recipe for deep fried cookie dough on his cellular.  We already had the cookie dough - so we needed the "deep fried."  Flour? check. Sugar? check. One large egg? check. Baking Soda? check. Club soda? hmmm... Will this work...

Sure! We had all the ingredients, so we were off.  Since I was the only one who grew up with a deep fryer in the group, it felt a little like home.  Every Sunday growing up, we would cut biscuits into fours, throw them in the fry daddy, and smother them in powdered sugar.  I miss those little doughnuts...So this literally made my night!

We rolled the cookie dough into balls and threw them in the freezer.

  
 We made the batter. 

Heated up the oil on the stove to 350 degrees.  Good thing we had a meat temperature checker!

 

 Into the pan they go!

Look at that oil!!

Top off with powdered sugar. Deep fried goodness. They actually tasted just like Fair!

Some candid photos!




The aftermath....a little gross...but soo worth it!

The recipe:
For the dough, use your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and roll into balls.

Batter - we did half this recipe and it made about 16 balls.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg (or 1/4 cup pasteurized eggs)
1/2 cup seltzer water or club soda, plus more if needed
Vegetable oil, for frying

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking powder. Add the egg and half the seltzer and whisk well to combine. Add more seltzer as needed until the batter is thick and the consistency of heavy cream.

Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer to 350 degrees F. Dip the chilled dough balls in the batter and carefully place them into the hot oil. Fry a few at a time, turning them over from time to time, until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes total. Drain on paper towels and serve while still warm.

Happy cooking!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Great Prayer

Heard this today while at the State Fair.  2010 AgriVision Award winner, JoAnn Brouillette repeated it and I really liked it.  Thought I would share.

Disturb us, Lord - a prayer by Francis Drake

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity

And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Japenese cheese KISS and a cup of tea with the executive director

“Each day begins with a big cup of strong black coffee!” These were the words spoken by Cindy Hoye, Executive Director of the State Fair, after being asked what a typical day looks like when those 17 days of fun are in full swing. I had the special privilege to interview Cindy during my blogging visit to the fairgrounds last Monday. Energetic, humble and fun would be three words to describe this dynamic woman who has been working for the State Fair for the past 23 years.

Her position as executive director is a very important job, yet Cindy transfers the credit of the Fair’s success to those doing the little things to make everything happen. Some of these people include the parking crew, electrical crew, and the busy bee volunteers out there every day making sure the pieces of the puzzle fit together to make the fair happen. “In the grand scheme of things, the front line volunteers and crew are the most important people on these fairgrounds right now,” she says humbly with a sureness that makes you just want to get to know her more!

Right now the fair is being bombarded by pigs of every shape and size, which is appropriate as it is the Year of the Pig this year at the Fair. Cindy looks back to one of her favorite State Fair memories, which ironically involves a couple of these 4-legged beasts….It was a few years back, a couple had just purchased a few hogs at the fair and were driving them off the grounds in the back of their old pickup truck. “I like to say the pigs loved the Fair so much, they didn’t want to leave, because they hopped right off the truck. If you can imagine the expressions of the fairgoers seeing a group of people trying to corral two pigs running around the grounds and Binford Blv., it was definitely a site to see!” They even had the Indianapolis Police Department running after these pigs to get them back on the truck! Now, I wish I could have seen that!

We shared a laugh and then I found out a little bit more about Cindy:

Favorite Fair Food: "Too many! Grilled Cheese, pork ribs, ribeye sandwich.."
Coolest person to meet at the Fair: Morrie Williamson, the man who started the Pioneer Village on the grounds. "He epitimizes what the fair is all about, and still to this day contributes ideas to make the Fair better each year!"
Being a city girl, how did you get involved in agriculture? "I was involved with 4-H as a kid and showed rabbits.  After that, I bought a steer and showed him, then got hooked on 4-H and Marion Co. Extension.  I'm a 'wanna be' ag person and the fair is a perfect place to live that."
What is your favorite part of your job? "Seeing people - our guests - happy about this place.  Recently, I had a woman stop me and ask if I were part of making the fair happen.  I answered, yes, and she just thanked me and thanked me for such a great time.  This is what it's all about."

...................................
To my pleasant surprise, Cindy told me we would be visiting a few places during the interview! Off we went…

It was fun being “in” with the "cool kids" for one day!

Here are a few of the adventures we went on…

Cheese Sculpture
Cheese sculptor Sarah Kaufman, a friend of Cindy’s who actually stayed with Cindy during her time here, created a 7-foot wide cheese sculpture on site. This is the sixth straight year for the big cheese display.

Japanese Exhibit in the Expo Hall

The new "Bridges to Japan" exhibit in the Grand Hall, shows Indiana State Fair visitors what the Japanese culture is all about, as well as the many agricultural connections between the state and Japan. We had a chance to watch fairgoers take part in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

KISS - Backstage
Cindy took me backstage of Grandstand to see the crew putting together the KISS concert for that Monday evening. It was interesting to see the hospitality room –complete with zebra striped table cloths, the underground production room beneath the stage, and the people who help get the stage ready for a performance.





































John Royer (left) the “sound guy” as he referred to himself, has been working for the Fair for 27 years and explained to me the concept of Live Sound Mixing. The two kinds of sound mixing he explained were Front of House, which is the sound the audience hears and Monitor mixing, which is exclusively for the performer's ear. So basically, the audience hears something totally different than the performers. He explained that the monitors can be very selective for the performers. The guitarist may just need to hear the drummer to stay on track, so his monitor is controlled so that he only hears the drummer. The proper monitor mix can minimize time delays on large stages to help synchronize the performance. In addition, the monitor mix can overcome the level of the House (audience) sound which can be confusing for performers to listen to on the stage. Interesting!


Overall, interviewing Cindy was such a great opportunity! I'm so happy she took the time and effort to show me around and go beyond "normal interview style" to give me a deeper look into the makings of the State Fair. Thanks Cindy!
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