Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ridin' Solo...

Summer's officially over here. Yes. I know school started almost a month ago. And even though the calendar confirmed this fact last Friday. The weather here has still been in the high 80's.

Nope. Summer officially ended here yesterday. When we dropped BSD off at the airport. To go back to work. For the next few .............  

So, I'm ridin' solo.

If I really sat down and dwelled on it. I'm sure I could throw myself a nice big pity party. Complete with party hats. And gallons of ice cream. Right out of the carton. I'm sure everything around me will start breaking. And my neighbors will soon be turning off the lights. And drawing their curtains. When they see me coming. But hey. It's nothing new. BTDT.

Plus, the ballerinas are older now. Only 3 months older than the last time. But even that little bit makes a difference. 

LB has more friends now. More of her own activities. Less dragging around after her big sister to do.

She's even more helpful these days. 

BB is in middle school now. 

She's more responsible. She's even got this funny little class called Study Hall. So when she gets home there's a lot less nagging about getting her homework done.

And then there's her strange SS teacher this year. A teacher so strange she somehow manages to teach the boring crap so that BB actually knows it. And I don't have to spend all night teaching it to her myself. The night before the test. Amazing. 

Now I'm not going to lie and say it's going to be great. Easy peasy. There will be times when I'll want to crawl in a hole and cry. Times when I'll want to list the ballerinas on Craigslist. 

But for now I'm going to focus on the positives.
  • I have complete control of the computer again.
  • I have complete control of the remote control again.
  • I can go to the gym in the morning without feeling guilty.
  • I can keep the lights on and read all night if I want to.
  • I can eat cereal for dinner if I want to.
  • I can eat ice cream for dinner if I want to.
  • I can spend all day at TJMaxx if I want to.
  • I can spend all day returning things to TJMaxx if I want to.
Yep. S-O-L-O. I'm ridin' solo.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Garlic Chicken Tenders...

I'm a New Yorker. Born and raised. And even though I've technically lived in the south longer than I ever lived up north, I'm still a Yankee. Through and through. But slowly, some of these Confederate ways have seeped into my life. More specifically. My kitchen.

Growing up, the foods we ate were either sauteed, steamed or simmered. My dad owned every cooking utensil. All-Clad pans in every size. And Le Creuset dutch ovens carried home directly from France in his suitcase. But the one pan that you would never find in his kitchen was a black cast-iron skillet.

I have never bought one myself either. Instead I inherited one from my neighbor when she switched to a flat-top range and could no longer use it. That skillet sat in my cabinet for years before it finally got used. I didn't know what to do with it.

Until that is, I decided to try my hand at cooking up some good ole-fashioned, Southern fried chicken. We never fried foods growing up. I had no idea what I was doing. But the ballerinas love their chicken nuggets so I decided to give it a whirl.

And I have to say. I may be able to pass for a southerner now. I think I passed the initiation test. I can make fried chicken. In a black, cast-iron skillet. When you come to visit, you'll know you're in the right place when you see the Navy Jack flag flying. And I'm standing on the front porch welcoming you with a glass of sweet tea.

So if you want to get your southern on too. Here's what you'll need...

a black cast-iron skillet, of course

some fresh chicken tenders

Oh. You don't have one that fresh? Ok. This will do then...

If you have to, you can cheat. (just don't tell these women if you do)

Mix up these ingredients...
  • 1-1.5 lbs chicken tenders
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 cloves, freshly pressed garlic
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-2 Tablespoons cornstarch (secret Southern ingredient. Makes the chicken extra crispy)
  • 1 cup seasoned Panko bread crumbs (I use 1/2 seasoned, half plain Panko bread crumbs)
  • 3-4 Tablespoons McCormick's Grill Mates "Montreal Chicken" seasoning (or other equivalent spices of your choosing)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 quart oil for frying
Like so...
  1. In a small container with a lid, beat the egg, pour in buttermilk and use a garlic press to add 3 fresh garlic cloves. Whisk all together. Add chicken tenders. Seal, and refrigerate at least 2-4 hours up to overnight. 

  1. In a shallow bowl, mix together the flour, cornstarch, spices, bread crumbs and baking powder. Remove chicken from refrigerator. Roll chicken tenders in flour mixture until well-coated.
  2. Heat oil in your black, cast-iron skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). (This is medium-high heat on my stovetop.)  
  3. Carefully place coated chicken in hot oil. Fry until golden brown and juices run clear. About 4 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. 

We like them with a little bowl of ranch dressing for dipping. And to ease my guilty Yankee conscience, we add a side of steamed fresh broccoli.  

Gotta run. The phone is ringing. Caller ID says... Deen, Paula. hmmm....

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Fair Trade...

I've mentioned many times that BSD makes surfboards. Old news. But the best thing about this hobby of his is his desire to have nice photos of the boards he makes.

And since his skillz as a photographer are not as mad as his skillz as a shaper. He comes to moi. And when he does. I make him do things like this...

And this...

And this...

When what he really wants is just a photo like this...

or this...

or this...

Those last three photos are so much cooler to him than the first three. I, on the other hand, would have rather opened up the lens more. A little more DOF would be my preference. But after a few "vision" difference of opinion "discussions," I've learned to just close down the lens to showcase more of the board's details.

In the end, it's a win-win. He gets to show off his boards. And I get to have a semi-willing model. And I think he makes a pretty darn good model at that. 

The icing on the cake? When I say I need a new lens, he's right on board.

Note: This is not a surfboard. It's called a paipo. It's like a boogie board on steroids. Made just like a surfboard but meant for riding the waves on your knees or your belly. Someone from the west coast contacted BSD to make it for him.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Oh no, she di-int....

Oh yes, she did.

And, sadly. Because she did. She bought herself a one-way ticket back to the chicken farm.

BSD and I let the chickens out of the coop the morning before school started and we both heard it. It was really quite pathetic. We weren't even sure it was what it was. But it was.

We didn't quite know what to do. So we called up our new buddy, Chicken Ronnie. The chicken expert who sold us Henrietta. Chicken Ronnie said, "Bring her over." 

And so we did. And as soon as BB carried her out of the car. And Lola heard all the others. She did it again. And again. And again.

Yep. Lola found her voice. Unfortunately it was not the voice we expected. And we had to leave our favorite "hen" with Chicken Ronnie. The hen who won our hearts. But who was actually a rooster.

But we didn't come home empty-handed. Nope. We came home with two dozen farm fresh eggs. And a new hen. 

We were smart this time though. This time we made SURE to bring home a hen. Not a rooster. 

Meet Lucy.

Yes. I know. We're really a bunch of ding dongs around here. I think we just like making the trek out to visit Chicken Ronnie and all his animals. Heck...we've got a 50/50 shot that this one's a hen. We'll keep you posted...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fish Sticks

We did our fair share of thrifting this summer. Lots of fun finds to share. But one of my favorite scores was a pallet of old fence pickets. I'd been hoping to find some of these for a good long time. Ever since I spied some that were turned into fish.

Luckily, BSD is getting pretty darn handy with the woodworking tools these days. And he was able to make these....

From these...

Well...not all by himself exactly. Nope, we had a little help from our friends. In the form of a Fish Sticks and Friends Fiesta. 

We set out some tables. And some paints. And some drinks. Of course. And went to town.

The ballerinas and their friends got busy too.

There may have even been some input from a chicken or two.

And when the sun went down. We moved the party indoors. We wanted to serve fish sticks for dinner. But spaghetti and peach cobbler seemed a whole lot easier. 

 And a lot more fun too.
I love these little guys! They are so bright and happy.

Luckily, we still have enough pickets to make....oh, say another 200 or so. Anyone wanna come over for a Fish Stick Fiesta?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again...

Summer's over. I can't believe it! The first day of school went off without a hitch.

The Little Ballerina came home with two tickets for good behavior. She needs five to buy some stickers from the Treasure Chest. Hopefully she'll earn the rest before the end of the year.

The Big Ballerina survived her very first day of middle school. She found her way around the campus to each of her classes. She figured out the combination on her new locker. And she only cried for 10 minutes when I questioned her about the directions on her Pre-Algebra pretest tonight. Because she wasn't supposed to have ANY help. She's still mourning the break-up with her Safety Patrol belt.

As for me, my eyes are crossed. And I'm in the beginning stages of carpal tunnel from the five pound packets of papers the ballerinas each brought home for me to complete tonight. I'm already tired of making lunches. And once carpool driving starts, ironing their clothes will get kicked to the curb too. It's all about survival at that point.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hurrication Irene

I'm so far behind on this blogging gig. It's really quite depressing. There are so many memories I want to be sure to preserve here, but I can't find the time to do it the way I want to. Once the ballerinas go back to school, hopefully, I'll get a chance to sit down and record them.

But, thank you to those of you who checked in to see that we were ok after the "big" hurricane. Yes. We survived Irene. And the earthquake. Even though we were only 19 miles from the epicenter. It was a close call. But luckily, we're all still alive. Crazy world we're living in these days. Maybe Nostradamus is right? I'm starting to believe...

The Irene predictions were starting to get a little hairy. And we'd been talking about taking a little road trip all summer. So we joined forces with some of our best buds. And hit the road for a little hurrication.

After some major yard securing. And tree trimming. And coop relocation. We were ready to go. But the chickens had other ideas. Dixie decided, "Hell no, we won't go!"

Luckily, the story has a happy ending. That includes BSD stripping down to his tightie whities.  And diving under our deck. I'll spare you the rest of the details and photos. Although our neighbors had front row seats. As they were up on their roof. Doing their own hurricane prep. You can email them if you want the insider scoop.

Six hours. And one quick sanity break later. 

We made it to the mountain resort located ONLY THREE HOURS away from our home on the coast. Where we watched the hurricane happen live. On TV. Instead of outside our kitchen window.

We partied. And napped. We read. And played.

There was food for days. Good wine. And good music.

Endless rounds of Crazy Eights. Continual pick-up games of Bananagrams. And a tense game of Pictionary on the last night.

There was wine tasting.

And mini golf.  
Followed by a side jaunt to a quaint town. Where we got our junk on.

And our pizza on.

Found a fab indie book shop. And picked a few too many peaches.

Something about the country had us wondering if we could ditch our beach life and move. Maybe it was the ice cream.

Or the scenery.

Or the fact that we're chicken farmers now.

I'm not sure we're ready for such a drastic change. But it's nice to know we're covered. If we do decide to pull a Green Acres.

Top Five Things I Learned During our Hurrication:
  1. It's awesome to vacation with people who have better music on their iPods. And who can perform live.
  2. The spelling gene is passed down by the father.
  3. Our early bird personalities may be found annoying by those who prefer to sleep in. 
  4. My family is not going to strike it rich on Win, Lose, or Draw. We're more WipeOut material.
  5. Ballerinas have REALLY stinky feet.