Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Granny's Split Pea Soup

My grandmother is 93 years old. She is an amazing human. In the past year and a half she suffered and survived a stroke and a hip fracture. She can’t do much on her own, but she is still so fucking smart and sassy. Anyway, it has been years since she whipped up any food…but it is still her recipe.

My grandpa (her husband) died December 20, 1992. (Just now realizing it was 20 years ago…) Every year, the week before Christmas, my family gets together to honor his memory while eating pea soup and an unreasonable number of rolls. (Basically instead of using spoons we sop up the soup with bread…its fucking weird…) I usually make dessert too…apple strudel…test recipe coming soon.

This recipe is kind of time consuming, but low maintenance, and will make your entire house smell like delicious pea soup. It is amazing for leftovers…freezes well. Enjoy!

2.5 Cups of Green Split Peas
One package Smart Bacon or an equivalent amount of some smoky protein
1.5 Cups chopped onion

¼ Tsp Marjoram
1 Cup Diced Celery

1 Cup Diced Carrots

Cover peas with 2 quarts cold water and simmer gently for 5 minutes

Remove from heat and let stand one hour

Meanwhile, cook up the smart bacon, cool and crumble. I like to do it in the oven…

Add onions, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, and marjoram to the soup.

Bring to a boil, cover and let simmer 1.5 hours

Stir occasionally

Add Celery and Carrots, slowly simmer uncovered 20 minutes

Add Smart Bacon, cook 10 more minutes.

Serves 6-8.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Apple Pie

Apple is the only kind of pie I have ever made...Here's how.


1.5 Cups Flour
3/4 Cups Earth Balance
Pinch 'o' Salt
Ice water

Make sure everything is cold. Cut the flour, butter and salt with a pastry knife.

Cutting with a Pasty Knife...
Ready to be formed into a ball/disk

When well combined and somewhat crumbly add just enough water to make a ball.

Form a disk, place on a well floured surface and roll it out so it fits in your pie plate.

Flip the dough over your rolling pin and place in your pie plate. This is the easiest way to get it in there without tearing. If your dough sticks to the counter use a super thin spatula to free it...don't freak out, just take your time and all will be fine. If holes are formed use the extra dough to patch it once you have it all settled in the plate.

Create an edge. I like to pinch a rim, my granny always pressed it with a fork. Put it in the fridge while you work on the filling.

Patches in the top left, little love in the center.

An Assload of Apples (I usually pick up 8-10 Mixed)
Lemon Juice
1/4 Cups Earth Balance

Wash your apples...or don't. Who am I to pretend I do a good job of washing produce? If you have a rad peeler, use it. If not have fun using a knife or hand peeler...Sucks, but PIE is worth it.

Sweet Peeler...
Looks like I added a Pear too...

Use the side of a box grater or a super rad thin slicer to slice the apples into a large bowl. If you have no box grater and no slicer, you MUST take the time to thinly slice the apples. If not you suck and should be embarassed. Chunky apples in pie is LAME.

Thinly sliced.

Remove your pie crust from the Fridge. Preheat the oven to 350.

Add 1/4 cup of sugar, sprinkle generously with cinnamon, few shakes of nutmeg, TBL or so of lemon juice to the bowl of apples and combine.

Put a thin layer of apples in the bottom of the crust, dust well with sugar, sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg, and place a few dots of earth balance.

Repeat with a layer that barely reaches the top of the crust.

Create another layer that mounds up above the edge of the pan, and top with the remaining apples.

If you have not stacked the apples in such a way that it seems insanely ridiculous you have not added enough apples.


3/4 Cup Quick Oats
Handful Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Flour
1/4 Cup Earth Balance (Maybe more...)
Ground pecans or walnuts are a good addition...

Cut the ingredients with the pastry knife. Should be crumbly, but easy to squish together...Can't have the topping rolling off the giant mound of tasty apple-ness you just stacked. Press the topping on the pie.

Cover a cookie sheet with foil, place the pie on the sheet and put it in the oven.

Bake at 350 for about an hour. Check every 10-15 minutes. If the edge crust or topping are getting too brown place a piece of foil on top for the remainder of the baking time. If the crust is too brown and the toppping is ok, put a band of foil around the edge. (You'll need to use hot pads, don't burn yourself, idiot.)

Let it cool for a bit, and then eat it...or let it cool all the way...I always heat up my pie...I am civilized afterall. Share.

Dessert. Slice 'o' Pie, Cinnamon Bun, Pumpkin Cashew Cheesecake, and Thumbprint Cookies

Monday, November 12, 2012

Missed Opportunities

Living life without regrets is not an easy thing to do. You can beat the “what if”s to death, and tick off your “coulda, shoulda, woulda”s but in the present you have only what you have. It is easier to fall into this behavior when you find yourself dissatisfied with your current situation. I find it is similarly good to reflect on bad times in the midst of celebrating victories. The places you have been make you who you are today; for better or for worse.

Professional Opportunities:

In late 2010 I was living in Chicago, in a shitty relationship and looking into returning to the Pacific NW. I interviewed for and was offered a position on the spot that would provide me the chance to move back to my “homeland.” After much weighing of pros and cons I decided to stay in Chicago. Shortly following my decision I received a huge bonus and a sizeable raise. Timing is so important; I cannot emphasize this point enough.

As I lived my life in the Midwest I continued to experience unrest. I started applying and working to find my way back to Portland. I found many interesting opportunities and was offered one at a large company. A huge company is not a type of place I had ever worked, but I was convinced the change of pace would be valuable experience. I have found that it was somewhat valuable…It taught me more lessons about what things to avoid and the types of people that I do not work well with than about anything accounting or business related.

After 8 or so months in the position I felt wholly restless. I was not learning at a pace that satisfies my need for knowledge, this all in conjunction with being told that my job was being shipped to a shared service center…AKA OUTSOURCED! Excellent; already dissatisfied with my situation, the atmosphere changes completely.
Ahhh, Rhodesian....
I dabbled in applications, resume updates, and cover letter composition. My saving grace came in the form of recruiters. I had 3 highly motivated, well trained, and generally amazing people working on my behalf. It is their job to provide their clients with qualified, motivated, well prepared candidates; that’s how these joints make their ca$h. Being a valuable candidate is the best weapon. (I’d like to think I would be something sharp…or a Rhodesian fighting stick…perhaps…)

Best. Recruiters. Ever.
In the end…that’s today…I got a job offer and I get to move on from my current situation. The curious part is the new job is on the same property as the position I turned down in late 2010. Coincidences are amazing. I could have taken the position in 2010, but missed out on so many other things. That one decision could have changed so many things about my current daily life; now I see, professionally, I will end up right where I believe I should be without disturbing what comprises the other parts of my life. If you spend every day dreading work, wishing you were anywhere else, you need to make a change.

Personal Relationships

Looking back at the people I considered to be my best friends over the years and comparing them to those I spend the most time with currently, very few of the original remain. That is what happens when you grow up and figure things out for yourself. Although you still have things in common with those people, we develop into more dynamic characters and require variety.

Transitioning from college life to “the rest” of your life, the varying speeds at which people change is amazing. Some of my best friends got married right after school, some are in long term committed relationships spanning 6-7 years, others have had kids, and many are still in transition. We are all familiar with the, “you’ve changed bro” mentality. Of course these people changed. They don’t live in dorms and shitty apartments anymore; they have jobs, and wives, children and pets to take care of. That is their life, the path they chose, it is, most importantly, what makes them happy.
5 Years. Reuniting.

There will always be chances to reunite and relive the glory days. Everyone loves to reminisce.

Romantic relationships…if I had made different choices in my last year of college I might be married and surrounded by a gaggle ‘o’kids. If I had made different choices and never moved to Chicago I have no idea where I would be…If I had stayed longer in Chicago…Who knows?

Table for One
I had been in relationships almost non-stop from the time I was 16 until 25… Currently this area of my life has undoubtedly fallen by the wayside. I have amazing friends and family, tons of activities and work…I dated a few people; these experiences pretty much confirmed the idea that I will spend the rest of my life being the “cool, single aunt,” because if what I experienced is an accurate representation of what the male population has to offer as mates, I’d rather be a spinster. 

As far as personally-relatable opportunities I did not take advantage of (pun intended) I’m not sure how many exist. (Probably zero.) I have moved beyond the idea of fantastic fairytale love; it is out there, but it is not everlasting. I’ve felt it fade, I’ve seen the aftermath, its like a crash diet. Very few people are exposed to positive and realistic examples of true companionship; television, movies, divorced parents, excessive promiscuity…The images and ideas we are presented with concerning this area of our life are fucked. Maybe one day I’ll be lucky enough to find a person to share a tax return with, but not if it means unwillingly sacrificing parts of myself.


Racing My Bike
Pretty much anything you wouldn’t put on your resume goes in this area. Beyond work, family and friends these are the activities which make you a well rounded and interesting individual. Like finding out that scrawny guy from your work is a mixed martial artist and competes in cage fights.

There is no reason to miss out on everything you want to do. The personal relationships you participate in should positively contribute to this area of your life.  Do not think work is a good reason to miss out on valuable non-work related, non-revenue generating activities. I’ve recently discovered the idea of the “Triple Bottom Line.” This idea takes into account more than money. (People, Profit, Planet) If more humans included it in their decision making process, our quality of life would be astronomically better.

Racing Boats
Having money is not the same as having happiness. I just accepted a job that came with a title downgrade and a pay cut; does it seem like I give a fuck? Hell NO! This opportunity is going to afford me time to do other things, work in a relaxed environment, and achieve goals beyond the cubicle walls. It is important at the end of each day for me to look back and know that I did not waste any time. Each thing I do should generate some sort of revenue, whether it have ca$h or intrinsic value. Commit to your life beyond ca$h.