Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Same thing, new name.

I decided to change the name of my blog...again.  I wanted it to be something that described more of who I am rather than what I did.  Many of the things I have been wanting to write have been complicated and didn't really fit in with the "simple life" moniker I had given myself.  I have been thinking about it for a while and then last night, it hit me.  For years, I have described myself as an "urban hippie".  That is, a person who appears mainstream on the outside but has the heart and soul of a hippie.  The momma part is pretty easy to figure out I think.

So here it is, here I am. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

It's polenta, y'all!

Recently, my husband has fallen in love with grits. I, being a full blooded Southern girl, have always held the small grains near and dear to my heart. Surprisingly, we mainly eat them for dinner as a side dish to pork loin with some spinach or in a rendition of Shrimp and Grits.

This past weekend, Jacob was off for four days straight so by Monday we had used up our normal "weekend breakfasts" and decided on grits, cheesy eggs and sliced tomato.   We used Old Fashioned Speckled Yellow Grits from Logan Turnpike Mill in Blairsville, GA.  These take a little bit longer to cook than your normal grits and more water as well (I  used a 3 to 1 ratio- I don't know if this is correct- I lost the directions).  I also added butter and a little bit of half and half to add some more creaminess.

As per usual, there were plenty left over for a second meal.  However, left over grits aren't that awesome so I thought I would try something different and see if I could pan- fry them like little Southern polentas.  So I portioned them out into little ramekins with the intention of slicing them into rounds and frying them - kinda like breakfast sausage. It was going to be awesome--like a Southern version of the fried polenta that we served at Fogo de Chao.  I loved those things!

When I took the ramekins out of the fridge last night, I immediately knew that things were not going to go as I had originally thought.  When I had portioned out the grits, I immediately covered them instead of allowing them to cool and there was a lot on condensation - not good for frying.  So I tried to drain as much of the water out of them as possible and then sliced them into rounds. Then I placed them on paper towels to try to drain some more of the water out.  

You would think since I was born and raised in Georgia by two parents who were also born and raised in Georgia, then I would be a master at fryin' stuff up.  I'm not.  I suck at it.  I either put too much oil or not enough or let it get too hot or not hot enough. I try not to fry anything anymore. And not because it isn't good for us, but because I'm tired of the heartache and disappointment when I fail.  Oh - and the mess.  I hate the mess.

So I added some oil to a pan and allowed it to get hot and then began adding my grit patties.  The oil starts popping immediately so I know that A) there is still too much condensation left on the patties and B) it's too hot. The patties are sticking to the pan too much. So I break them up and just let them get brown - kinda like a hash

So for the next batch, I used less oil, turned the heat down and left them alone until they became unstuck from the bottom of the pan by themselves.  This is a method I learned about in my quest to make latkes for Hanukkah one year (I have yet to make some that I consider a success- edible, yes, but not near what my friend, Sarah's mother made the year I spent Thanksgiving with them and Hanukkah started the day after).  They browned up nicely but fell apart on the flip.  I tried patting them back into place with my spatula but to no avail.  Oh well. I will definitely try this again. But I will use a few different methods.  First, I will put the left over grits in a shallow pan and spread them to the desired thickness so that once cooled they can be cut like brownies. Secondly, I will allow them to cool completely before covering and refrigerating.  Third, I will limit the amount of oil and use the "slow and low" approach so that they can fully crisp up without burning. Last, limit the amount of messing with them in the pan.  This is a hard one for me. But, I think that they need to be fully cooked before flipped so that they don't fall apart.  Any other suggestions are gladly welcome.

So, in the end, we didn't end up with "Southern polenta" more like fried grits, but they were still good.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year!

Today is my Monday.  Jacob is back to work and I am home with the boys.  It was nice having him home for four days without any real agenda.  We celebrated his birthday on Friday with a trip to the Georgia Aquarium.  Apparently, it is free admission for Georgia residents on their birthday.  Simply show your state issued ID or birth certificate at the will call window.  It was the first time we had been since Bobby was small.  And it was crowded.  And Bobby had no interest in any of the tanks.  He liked the play zone and the Dippin' Dots.  Oh yeah, and the little thing that you drop coins into that makes them spin down the chute.  We played that for a while.  Sigh.  Maybe in another couple years, we will be able to go and actually look at the fish. I also forgot to put my SD card back in my camera, so I couldn't even get any pictures. 

We had our friends over for dinner that night and watched a live stream of Phish's NYE run at Madison Square Garden. For NYE, we streamed the show again, but this time it was just the four of us and we had a blast having dance party in the living room.  The boys ( Trey, Mike, Page and Fishman) pulled an incredible prank as they closed out the year with Steam and ushered in the New Year with one of my favorite songs, Down with Disease. 

The rest of the weekend was spent catching up on sleep, watching movies, and just being generally lazy.  We did  hit Lowe's and the grocery store on Monday and Jacob took care of a few minor home repairs while I de- Christmased the house.  

I am excited for the New Year, though.  I have entered a new chapter of my life and want to do things that I have always wanted to do but never had the time because of a job.  Instead of "resolutions", I have a list of goals and tasks that I would like to accomplish.

The first is to begin working on my requirements to become a childbirth educator.  Since having Patrick, I have felt a need to help other women become knowledgeable about their choices.  I have fulfilled a little of this need by volunteering for Atlanta Birth Center's Social Media Team.  However, I want to do more, be more.  I've considered becoming a doula, but I don't know if it would be feasible to actually attend any births with two small children.  So I decided to work on the childbirth educator certification and if I decide in a few years to doula, then the transition should be easy.

The second is to become more physically active.  My biggest excuse used to be that I didn't have time (and I didn't- up at 5:30am to get ready for work, home at 6pm then dinner, bath, bed).  But now I have time.  Bobby is at school 3 half days a week so hitting the park with Patrick tied up on my back should be something that I can accomplish.  I also want to start practicing yoga again.  I loved my pregnancy yoga class that I attended while pregnant with Patrick and the same studio offers an 8pm class pretty much every night of the week.  Jacob has agreed that he will get home by 7pm at least one night a week so that I can go. 

My third is to organize my house.  This was on my list of things to do before Patrick arrived and only about a quarter of the things I wanted done were actually completed.  First on my list is to clean out our office and convert it into a play area for the boys.  I would like to have a dining room one day.  

The fourth is to learn how to use my camera that my inlaws bought for us last Christmas.  I'm thinking of taking a workshop or a continuing education class at Emory or GSU. 

So there it is.  My goals for 2012. I think that putting them out there (even though no one actually reads this) is the first step to insuring that they actually get done. What goals have you set for yourself this year?

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