Tuesday, August 26, 2008

For the beauty of the skies

I'm constantly amazed, dumbfounded(and I say dumbfounded because most times I stand around with my mouth hanging open and probably look pretty dumb)and awe-inspired by the beauty of the world around us. And everyday I'm usually struck by some miniscule thing that I see and it's usually something so simple that I probably missed it the day before but now it smacks me in the face. For instance, I was driving home today and looked up at the sun shining before me (not a good idea, i wouldn't recommend it, the ability to see is a gooood thing and staring directly at the sun generally is detrimental to seeing). Anyway, the sky was clouded over and a storm was looming so the cloud formations were dark and absolutely beautiful.

So I took a picture, which leads me to a goal:
I need to learn more about photography! I know how to set up shots and take great pictures composition-wise, but I know nothing technical about my camera except point and click and maybe a couple other things. Another thing to add to the list...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Maggie's Move to West Virginia

So for those of you fortunate enough to hear Maggie's newly developed West Virginia accent, I am sure you will agree with me that it is both hilarious and oddly natural to her at the same time. I do have to admit that the move here is going to be quite different for this little city girl from Ohio, but I know it will just be a wonderful time. There a lot of great things to do in the area: skeet shooting, possum watching, and the ever popular turkey gobblin' contests (held weekly at the fair grounds). There have actually been a lot of famous people that have moved here recently and it hasn't affected them at all so I know Maggie will be just fine. Here are a few of their pictures, I am sure you will enjoy them

Ice Creamathon

So one of the reasons that I absolutely love my job is for the random, silly, so-much-fun things that we do at work. For instance: I purchased an ice cream maker about 2 years ago and I have to say, I am pretty much a stellar ice cream maker. I like to experiment and make all kinds of delicious and unusual flavors. So, in those 2 years that I have been making ice cream, I've brought countless tubs of it in to share and my fellow associates are deeply grateful. The best part is that I have inspired about 10 more people to buy a machine and start making ice cream themselves. I like to think of it as an ice cream revolution.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with Nancy, one of the ladies I work with, and we thought it would be so much fun if everyone who had bought an ice cream maker made ice cream and brought it in for everyone to share. And so the Ice Creamathon was born. This week everyone will be bringing in ice cream on different days and there will be so much creamy goodness to go around it makes my mouth water just thinking about it!

So I came up with another idea: since I love making ice cream so much, why don't I share my love? I've decided everytime I make ice cream I'm going to post my recipe so that others out there with an unsatiated desire for cold, rich sweetness can try it (or not!). It'll be good for me to do this too since I always make up my recipes and never really remember what I do differently when I'm making variations. So here's my first official ice cream recipe:

Sweet Corn with Blackberry Swirl

1 c. cream
3 c. half and half
2 ears corn
2 pints blackberries
1/2 c. and 3/4 c. sugar
5 egg yolks
pinch salt
1 tsp. vanilla

I start by bringing 1 cup of cream and 3 cups of half and half almost to a boil. I normally wouldn't go this overboard with the heart attack in my ice cream, but hey, it's for work and I won't be eating it all by myself. If you wanted to save the fat and calories you could use just half and half.

Using fresh corn is KEY here! I only make this ice cream in the late summer/early fall when corn is most delectable--and Ohio has some deeelicious corn! I suppose you could use frozen corn if you really wanted to, but why waste so many calories on something so imperfect? I take two ears of corn and cut the kernels off and hack the cobs into a couple pieces.

I dump the corn and cobs into the hot cream, put a lid on it and turn the heat way down and let it steep for about a half hour. Think of it as making corn tea...
In the meantime I take two pints of fresh blackberries (frozen wouldn't be so much of a sin here as it would be to use frozen corn) and add 1/2 cup sugar and bring that to a boil over medium heat. I let it bubble away for about 15 minutes until it starts to thicken up and get saucy, then I strain the blackberries through a fine mesh sieve so that the annoying seeds can't get stuck in my teeth later. This is your swirl...stick it in the fridge for now.

Back to the cream and corn...You are now faced with a dilemma--chuck the corn kernels or leave them in? I've made this ice cream both ways and each is equally good. It just depends what you like: little bits of intriguing texture or velvety smooth? If you prefer texture, fish out the cobs and throw them out and leave in as many of the kernels as you like. If you prefer smooth, strain the cream and do whatever you so desire with the kernels.

At this point I add 5 egg yolks, lightly beaten. Now, if I was a REALLY good cook I would temper my yolks by stirring a little of the hot cream to the yolks and then adding all that back into the pan--this keeps the yolks from scrambling in the hot liquid. But I really am lazy most of the time and it seems like so much work to me, so I just say a prayer to the egg yolk gods and beat them in as fast as I can hoping that I don't get chunks of cooked yolk in my ice cream. My prayers were answered this time.

I also add 3/4 cup of sugar, a good pinch of salt and then cook everything together until it coats the back of a spoon (aka pull the spoon out of the pot, swipe your finger across it, lick your finger and look at the back of the spoon. If the line from your finger is still there you have successfully coated the back of your spoon). Be sure you don't let the cream boil, or baaaad things could happen to your ice cream.

Then I take the cream off heat and add 1 tsp. of vanilla. That's it! Now just pour the mixture into a container of some sort, cover and stick in the fridge until it's cold.

Now all you have to do is pour it into your ice cream maker and let it churn until it's lovely and thick (you are allowed to stick a spoon in there and try it while it's still churning...I mean, really, you have to see if it's the right consistency...).

When it's done I like to spoon it into a container in several batches and then swirl the blackberry sauce through each batch. I find that if I add the sauce while the ice cream is still churning it gets too mixed in, and if I add it to a totally full container of ice cream it doesn't get mixed in enough.
You'll probably want to let the ice cream freeze for a couple hours if you want it more scoopable, or if you love soft serve, dive in! Nancy gave everyone these cute little cups to bring their ice cream in...aren't they so cute?
Viva la revolution!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Meeting in the Middle...

So, I have a bone to pick with our lovely, stalwart, determined founding fathers of the great state of Ohio: why couldn't you have built some cities that lie somewhere in between Columbus and Morgantown that actually have some oomph? I'm not asking for much, just more than a movie theater and one restaurant. Is that too much? During our 10 month relationship (I can't believe it's been that long!), Bobby and I have discovered that there isn't much that lies in that vast distance between Columbus and West Virginia...and whatever it is that does lie in between we've been there, done that...several times.

We've discovered Cambridge, which is actually a very cute town with a charming main street. But all there is to do there is eat and go to movies. We've found Wheeling, which isn't such a cute town and all there is to do there is eat and not go to movies. Although Wheeling does have a casino if you're keen on being driven insane by the sound of thousands of slot machines ringing simultaneously and smelling like a cigarette.

And we've also visited St. Clairesville and all there is to do there is not eat and go to movies. Oh yes, and they have a mall, which even the Logan mall puts to shame. We met there today, and using the foresight that we have been so blessed with, brought our own food and had a picnic in the one shining gem in all of this great city--the park. Mmm...doesn't our spread look good?

We stumbled across the park a few months ago and it has become the beacon of hope to us when we meet in St. Clairesville. It's really nothing special, except that it is special because we enjoy spending time with each other there. We just ate our sandwiches, salad and fruit and talked and layed on the grass and napped in the sunshine for a while. It was serene and calming and let us forget about work and dental school and the craziness of life and just enjoy one another.

Hmmm....maybe I will hold a soft spot in my heart for these in-between towns after all.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

And so the 2nd year begins...

Bobby can't wait to get gloves on his hands, a handpiece in tow and a syringe full of lidocaine. Clinic guinea pigs beware! Just kidding....Bobby very capably starts his first clinic next week. He'll be pulling teeth (ouch!), giving injections (yow!), doing cleaning, fillings and the like. He's excited to finally start working on real patients rather than his classmates and really getting into the swing of this dental thing.

Let the cringing begin!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Virginia Beach (aka Our Engagementmoon)

We spent August 9-12 in Virginia Beach for a much needed break from work for me and a celebration for Bobby of surviving his first year of dental school. We stayed at a cabin at the Cape Henry Inn, an armed forces resort on Fort Story, an army base next to Virginia Beach. The cabin was cute and cozy (minus the bugs in my bed the first night, but Bobby valiantly rescued me from those) and it was nice to just spend a few days with each other.
We spent most of our time at the beach or watching the olympics--and yes, Michael Phelps is my hero. On Monday afternoon we drove around trying to find a fresh fish market (harder than you might think in a town that is situated next to an ocean) and had a fish fry with smores for dessert.
That evening we went to the beach to watch an absolutely glorious sunset and enjoy our first FHE together. After a sweet time talking, Bobby got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. So yes, it is now official--we're engaged! No, the earth is not in danger of imminent destruction, and no the end is not near...But yes, Bobby and Maggie are getting married!