Dec 12, 2014

MID HOLIDAY UPDATE





I guess I better get my Thanksgiving pictures out into the world before the holidays are over or at least before Christmas.
We decorated our two Christmas trees the weekend before Thanksgiving. We usually wait until the Sunday after Thanksgiving and do it as a family, but our weekends this year are full and my two older girls have work schedules to work around. 

We were into the holiday spirit early this year.

Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, some of Art's family came and had dinner with us. 



Lola really tied one on that night! 


On Thanksgiving Day we went to my father's house and had dinner with my family. 
(I sure do miss my mom.)

My little family officially celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday. 
The biggest thing I have learned with my children growing up, working and no longer living at home is that the date on the calendar is just a number.
Their professions do not have typical nine to five hours...
nurses and flight attendants usually work on holidays.
We celebrate when we can.

That being said, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Both Brittany and Brooke had the weekend after Thanksgiving off.
Mr. E came with Brooke from DC and they spent the weekend here in Raleigh. 
(Mr. E is Brooke's boyfriend.)
Brittany's boyfriend, BF1, also was able to come and eat with us too. 
(He lives here in Raleigh.)
My aunt (mom's sister) also came. 









I have roasted a lot of turkeys, but this one was the largest and by far the bet one yet. 





After dinner we attempted to get the perfect Christmas card picture, but that ended up being a major FAIL!

Christmas cards will go out l.a.t.e this year and I am not so sure how they are going to turn out. 
bummer


The next day we took Mr. E to Homewood Nursery to look at all of the poinsettias.
They have greenhouses full of them.




It is the place to go to get into the Christmas spirit. 





The pups were exhausted after the two older girls left and Barrett went back to school on Monday.
Literally, I don't think they moved!









We struggled to get back into a routine.

Barrett has been so busy at school.  
She is exempt from all of her exams for the semester so she doesn't have to go in next week and 
today was her last day of school! 
Unfortunately, she was bombarded with tests all this week. 

Bubbles and I sat on her bathroom floor and called out AP European History terms while she took a shower. 
It is called multitasking.






What will I do with my evenings when she goes to college next year? 
Am I going to miss this? 



Art, my wonderful husband, packed up a few shirts and a pair of khakis and went to Las Vegas for five days for a vacation conference.
The day he got home, someone at work gave him a very large cooler of fresh oysters. 
With it just being the three of us here at home.....we roasted and ate oysters three nights in a row.  




They were delicious!





The house is all decorated and I have put a good dent in my wrapping. 
Bubbles always loves sleeping under the tree, and this year he plants himself under the two cat ornaments to nap.




Charlie... 



is just hanging around waiting on Santa.......



or another piece of turkey..... and will be happy with which ever comes first.

Nov 12, 2014

ROASTED TOMATOES - TOMATO SAUCE - FREEZING TOMATOES



We have a friend that lives out in the country and has a farmer as a neighbor. This farmer has a booth at the State Farmer's Market and had a lot of tomatoes that were about to go bad.  Over the weekend the last batch of tomatoes had to be pulled because of the impending deep freeze coming our way on Friday.  

Our friend called Art and said he was on his way over with some tomatoes for us. 
"Some tomatoes" ended up being four boxes and then some. 

So what do you do with four boxes of ripe, beautiful tomatoes....







and a box of bell peppers? 



I decided to split up the process. I used two boxes of tomatoes to make a simple marinara. 
Barrett and I first peeled the two boxes of tomatoes.
To do that we dropped the tomatoes into boiling water a few at a time until the skins started cracking.
We then removed the tomatoes from the water and let them drain and cool on dish towels.
Once cooled, we pulled the skin off each tomato and put them into bowls. 




We then cut up the tomatoes and placed them in large soup pots along with salt, pepper,
chicken broth.....


and tons of garlic.




We cooked all of this for hours until the tomatoes fell apart. 
We added some of the chopped peppers and continue to simmer for several more hours until it was reduced and thick.  





We let our sauce cool and then divided it into gallon freezer bags and laid the bags flat in our freezer that is in the garage.



The next day we tackled the other two boxes of tomatoes.  
I make an awesome homemade tomato soup by roasting  tomatoes in a low temperature oven for half a day and then transferring them to the stove into a soup pot and adding broth, cheese and other good stuff.
We decided to do the first step in the tomato soup recipe.


We cut up the two boxes of tomatoes,





two bulbs of garlic,




tossed it all heavily in olive oil, salt and pepper




and spread everything out onto sheet pans.
I roasted the tomatoes on 325' for about five hours, moving them around every thirty minutes. 
I don't know if you have ever roasted tomatoes, if you haven't you should.
There is nothing like the smell of the tomatoes and garlic in the oven. 
It makes a very sweet rustic base.
(A lot of times, this how I make tomato sauce to go on top of pasta and fish.)






On a few on the pans, I added some baby carrots and onions. 
This just adds more flavor and depth to the tomato soup. 






After all of the tomatoes were out of the oven and cooled, I put them all into bowls to make it easier to ladle into freezer bags. 





I now have a shelf in my freezer stacked with tomato sauce and roasted tomatoes.

Bring on the snow days!  
I am ready and you are invited! 





 I didn't take pictures of what I did with the peppers, but the next day I made three baking dishes of stuffed bell peppers. I stuffed them with ground turkey, brown rice, garlic, parm cheese, mushrooms and diced tomatoes. 
I froze them in freezer/baking dishes -  triple wrapped in foil. When I am ready to bake them I will top them with cheese. 


















Nov 8, 2014

Brittany is 25!







My first born turned 25 on Thurdsay!



Brittany Nicole
was born on November 6, 1989
at 5:04 PM.
It was a Monday.
She was due on November 11.

Her dad worked in Raleigh, where we live now, while we lived in another town.  He commuted an hour and a half each way to and from work Monday through Friday. He used to leave our house at 6:00 AM every morning and get home after 7:00 PM every night. 
He took his job in Raleigh while I was pregnant and we knew we were going to move there, but we did not want to move until she was born.  
I was working as a kindergarten teacher and November 3rd was my last day at work.


Sunday, November 5th, something got a hold of me and I did nothing but clean.
I was cleaning, organizing and throwing away things like a mad woman - an oblivious mad woman. 
Art and I were young and stupid and did not realize this was a sign that something great was getting ready to happen.  

That night/early morning,  I woke him up about an hour before he was supposed to leave for his commute to work and told him that I thought something was wrong 
(my water had broken during the night).
It took us awhile to realize what was going on. 
This was before the internet, "What to Expect When You Are Expecting" and texting.  

After calling my doctor and coming to terms with things, we left for the hospital.......still very confused about dates and the timing. 

About eight hours later our seven pound six ounce baby girl was born.  


Here are a few pictures of her celebrating her birthday through the years:






















Funny thing is now she is living on the other side of Raleigh and she is the one doing the commuting. She commutes and works in the same hospital she was born in and is working in the NICU.
She works the night shift and unfortunately had to work on her birthday.
So how many people actually get the opportunity to be in the place they were born on their birthday - and actually on the same floor - taking care of babies? 
I thought that was a pretty neat thing for her.  


On Friday we celebrated at home! 
She came home (not to her apartment) after her night shift and dozed on the couch instead of going to bed. 
(night shift is brutal on a routine)

We went to Stanbury to eat.
There is a great article that pretty much sums the place up here.
The place is quirky and eclectic, and the food is very good. 

BF1 was there of course! 



Some things on the menu are a little out of my comfort zone at Stanbury, but my family, especially my Brittany, is more adventurous than I am.
(I am not a picky eater except when it comes to meat.)
We got four appetizers for the center of the table. 

 grilled caesar salad



pig's head
(this is actually like a crab cake, but is made with "crispy pig jowls", served with lentils and a duck egg)

The lentils were delicious!  



We also got the braised spare ribs with  brussel sprouts and the fried oysters. 

 For our entrees:

Barrett ordered the quail



Art got the massive pork chop with apple slaw.
(It was delicious!)



Brittany and Brandon both got the rib eye.



I got the scallops. 



The check was delivered to the table inside a vintage church cookbook.  





We headed home to let Brittany open her gifts. 
BF1 came home with us. 



Brittany was so tired, but she hung in there. 
Brooke wasn't able to come home from DC, but she and BFE sent Brittany this wine, cheese and snack basket. 
You would have to know Brittany to understand just how exciting it was to get her very own gift basket. 
When Art brings home baskets like these from work she makes the biggest deal out of them. 




She was excited! 



Brittany has always been so animated!
She was so excited to get movies/DVDs.





Barrett had her college interview at Wake Forest University Friday morning and when she and I got home Friday afternoon she whipped up Britt's cake from scratch.

It was a dark chocolate cake with a sour cherry whiskey filling with some heavenly vanilla frosting. 
It was awesome. 
(Barrett is a keeper and some guy out there is going to be very very lucky one day!)


























Happy Birthday Sweet Brittany!