Friday, May 29, 2009

Fridays Five Favorite Things - Ice Cream Flavors

Can you really pick just one? I can't. It depends on my mood and who makes it, but no matter the flavor ice cream is always a favorite of mine...

  1. Ben and Jerry's chocolate chip cookie dough: Mmmmmm... I must have been about ten when my mom and dad came home with a "surprise." We didn't have a lot of junk food in my house growing up, so when we did, it was always so exciting. I remember my parents opening the grocery bag and handing us our very own B&J's carton. I had never had Ben and Jerry's before, nor had I had chocolate chip cookie dough in my ice cream. I was in heaven. I truly think this is my favorite ice cream of all time.

  2. Creole Cream Cheese - I don't know that you can find this outside of New Orleans, but if you ever see it - GET IT! It is so rich and so decadent. I love the slightly sour flavor of the Creole Cream Cheese. I bet with a few blueberries and some graham crackers mixed in, it would be even better!

  3. Creole Creamery's Apple Pie A La Mode - I think apple pie is one of the best comfort foods around, but I have to say I'm not too keen on the "a la mode" part. Something about how the ice creams melts all over the pie ruins it for me. Well, the easy solution to this is to put the pie into the ice cream instead of the other way around. Mmmmm... What a brilliant idea!

  4. Chocolate Peanut Butter - I have to admit when I was little I didn't like chocolate. Not in anything. I used to pick around it in chocolate chip cookies (kind of defeats the purpose, I know). Of all things chocolate, I especially didn't like chocolate ice cream. My dad's favorite was always Baskin Robbins' chocolate peanut butter. I don't know why, but one day I tried it. I've never regretted it, nor have I looked back. I think the saltiness of the peanut butter is just what you need to cut the sweetness of the chocolate. As much as I love this treat, I imagine I'd be at least five pounds thinner had I never known how yummy chocolate could be, especially when mixed with peanut butter.

  5. My sister's ice cream (any flavor will do) - At the steakhouse, my sister does a few daily ice cream specials. They are made daily with whatever are the freshest ingredients that they have. For example, last summer they got a few extra flats of blueberries, so the ice cream of the day was blueberry cheesecake. Mmmmmmmm... When we're in town, we make a point of stopping by the restaurant and I love to end the meal with a big scoop of whatever ice cream they have that day. Last time we were there, it was Bailey's Irish Cream ice cream. Fab! Honestly, my very favorite is the vanilla bean. There's something about the simplicity of homemade vanilla bean ice cream that makes it the perfect finish to a wonderful meal. The absolute best part of ordering ice cream at Dickie Brennan's is that Stephanie serves it in these little edible bowls. They are divine. It's like they took creme brulee and made it into a cookie and then served it with vanilla ice cream. So delish!

Gosh, now I really don't want my boca burger on a 100 calorie roll for lunch. If only the ice cream man delivered to my office...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Trendy Wednesday - The Headband

I am obsessed with the show Gossip Girl. I would say it's a guilty pleasure, but the thing is - I don't feel guilty admitting it. At first, I thought it was the all girls private school connection that drew me in. Although Constance (the ficticious Upper East side prep school featured in the show) and my high school, Mount Carmel Academy, couldn't be more different, so I'm not sure that's it. I suppose the truth is it's the gossip, the glamour, and the fashion.

The most intriguing fashion trend to come out of this teen drama is the headband. It's intriguing to me because at my high school our uniform code was so rigid that a broken or out of place name tag got you a demerit. There really wasn't much you could do to infuse the duo of the white Peter Pan collar shirt and brown check skirt with personality or charm. So on any given day, you'd find 900 girls running (actually they'd be walking in quiet single file rows) through the halls of Mount Carmel with as many types of ribbons tied neatly in their hair. You'd find pink and blue gingham, pumkin orange and brown polka dots, and of course the classic big white bow. You'd have baseballs for the softball team and soccer balls for the soccer team. I suppose the biggest fashion statement you could make would be not to wear a bow at all.

I guess this is what I find interesting about Blair Waldorf and her managerie of headbands. In a place where the uniforms are couture and the handbags are Chanel, her headbands are what the creative directors at every fashion house from Fendi to J Crew
have copied. Because whether you're wearing a brown check skirt or a brown houndstooth suit, you want something that makes you feel a little bit special. And is there anything more
special than cream organza or pink chiffon?



Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tasty Tuesdays: Adobo Flank Steak with Summer Corn and Tomato Relish

It is coming to that point in the summer where farmers' markets are everywhere. We even have one in our neighborhood now from 2-6 every Saturday. It's fantastic. I adore farmers' markets, because I think it's just so wonderful to be able to cook with such fresh and flavorful ingredients. In our house, we do a lot of grilling during the summer months. I should rephrase that Mark does a lot of grilling, and that I do a lot of chopping, basting, marinating, and skewering. I will typically pick up the freshest ingredients that are at the market and head home to wash and chop what we'll need for the week. This makes a grillable meal easy and quick to prepare.

Right now, our farmers have been coming with baskets full of beautiful yellow corn and mounds full of sun ripened tomatoes. Last week, we ate the tomatoes with a squeeze of lemon juice, a dash of olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly cracked pepper. They were fantastic, and so simple and easy to make. We will be grilling the corn in a paprika, cumin, brown sugar rub. The sugar caramelizes on the grill and forms a nice crust on the corn. Yum!

The recipe for this week is a crowd pleaser! The flank steak is nice and smoky and spicy, and the pairing with the sweetness of the corn and tomatoes is perfect! You can marinate several flank steaks in this marinade and double the relish and it would be perfect for your next BBQ.


Adobo Flank Steak with Summer Corn and Tomato Relish

5 servings (serving size: 3 ounces steak and 1/2 cup relish)
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 whole cloves
1 (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 (1 1/4-pound) flank steak, trimmed
Cooking spray
2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears)
1 cup chopped seeded tomato
1/4 cup chopped bottled roasted red bell peppers
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh thyme leaves (optional)
To prepare steak, cook the first 3 ingredients in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat for 45 seconds or until toasted. Place the peppercorn mixture in a spice or coffee grinder; process until finely ground.
Remove 1 chile from can; reserve remaining chiles and sauce for another use. Place peppercorn mixture, chile, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and the next 4 ingredients (vinegar through garlic) in a blender; process until smooth, scraping sides occasionally. Combine vinegar mixture and steak in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal and marinate in refrigerator 24 hours. Remove from bag; discard marinade.
Prepare grill or broiler.
Place steak on grill rack or broiler pan coated with cooking spray; cook 6 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Cut steak diagonally across the grain into thin slices.
To prepare the relish, heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add corn; saute 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from heat; stir in tomato and remaining ingredients except thyme leaves. Garnish with thyme, if desired.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fridays Five Favorite Things - About Summer

  1. Boat trips and boat drinks - There is nothing better in this world than sitting on a boat with a fruity drink in your hand soaking up rays and listening to Bob Marley. What is it about Bob Marley? I hear one note of one of his song's and I'm ready to leave real life behind and move to the Bahamas with Mark. I imagine we'd live in a colorful little hut on the beach and rent sailboats at unreasonable rates to unsuspecting tourists.

  2. Sundresses - I love a good sundress. They are light and airy, feminine and flirty. They come in an array of colors which is just the right cure for the gloominess of grey wool turtlenecks. Do you ever notice that the happiest looking girl in a magazine ad is not posed in a velvet blazer and a scarf? No. She's running on a beach in a coral linen sundress with a floppy straw hat. Sundresses = happiness!

  3. Long days - My least favorite thing about winter is going to work in the dark and coming home from work in the dark. Your whole night is gone before it even begins. But in the summer, I can leave work in the sunshine and be home with enough light out to feel like I have the whole night ahead of me. Mark and I will stroll through the neighborhood, cooler in hand, and make it to the pool in enough time to enjoy a few drinks and a swim. Those few extra hours of daylight make me feel like you can strike the right balance between work and play.

  4. Sno-balls - mmmmmm... There is a long standing argument in New Orleans over who makes a better sno-ball - Plum Street or Hansen's. It's one of those arguments like which holiday is better Christmas or Mardi Gras. It's fruitless because either one is a good thing. Plum Street is where my family went. I would get stawberry shortcake with condensed milk, my sister would get some variation of chocolate, my dad would get a malt, and my mom would get cream ice cream or nectar cream. I always thought that those were the "big-girl" flavors and one day when I grew up that's what I'd order. Funny thing is, when we would go in college, I don't think I ordered anything other than either cream ice cream or nectar cream. A girls gotta grow up sometime.

  5. Cabbage ball - The single greatest sport played in this country (well, maybe just in New Orleans). It's a short base, underhand, fast pitch, version of softball, but way way cooler. Every girl growing up in Lakeview started playing this game the first Tuesday of the summer after first grade. And they played every Tuesday and Thursday after that until they were too old to play any more. We loved this so much it's hard to describe. My dad and Mr. Russell Nunez were our coaches for as long as I can remember. Our team name was the Bannerettes, and we were a powerhouse. My sister pitched and the Nunez girls played first and third. Gia (our sponsor's granddaughter) was the catcher, and I played second base. Year after year after year we'd take our places on the diamond and fall into the rhythym of pitch and catch. We left it all on the field every night we played. It was the only way we knew to do it. We've all grown up now, but I guarantee you that on the first Tuesday of every June, each of us wishes that we were walking onto the blacktop at St. Dominic's school yard getting ready to play a game called cabbage ball.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mad Men

Mad Men is probably one of the greatest shows on tv right now. The story lines are great, the sets are fanciful, and the costumes are to die for. And if you think as a professional woman you're having a bad day at the office, you can just watch an episode and see the pitiful way working women were treated and feel a hecku a lot better about your job. Most days, I watch this show and thank God that there have been great women who paved the way for those of us entering the workforce today. How far we have come...

And then there are days like today. Today, the LA Congress killed a bill, Equal Pay for Women Act, that would have ensured that employers pay equal compensation to employees no matter the sex. Killed it. I don't know what disturbs me more, that such a bill would even have to be brought to the floor in 2009, or that such a bill failed. Opponents stated "Louisiana's small, family owned businesses are under attack!" Yes, Billy Bob - look out for the overworked mother of two, she's coming to get you.

It's madness, and it's maddening.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Trendy Wednesday - The Gladiator

Has it really been nine years since the movie Gladiator first hit the big screen? I feel old! I had just started dating Mark when I saw the preview for this movie, and I told my roommate Sarah "That's one movie I won't be seeing this summer." It could not have been more than two days after I had made this declaration that I got a call from Mark asking if I'd like to see a movie. If he could have only seen how giddy I was that he was asking me on a real date - up to that point we had been to a med school formal and a cocktail party. As fun and glamorous as I thought those things were, I was ready for a date that didn't involve tuxedos and beef tartar. I was daydreaming about seeing whatever was the latest chic flick when I found myself agreeing to two for one pizza and the ten o'clock showing of what else - Gladiator. It turned out, among his many talents, Mark could pick a movie! To this day it is one of my favorites. I think it is in part that it was truly a spectacular film, and it is in part the sentimentality that comes along with it being the first movie we saw together.

How does that relate to the hottest trend in shoes - well I thought that the warm and fuzzy feelings I get when I think back to that movie would by now have transferred to the trend. Sadly, it hasn't. I have to admit, I don't really like the gladiator. Even on Gwyneth Paltrow, my style icon, I find them to be slightly distracting and somewhat unflattering. Here, where she's wearing a beautiful feminine Grecian gown, all I can focus on are the chunky black straps that look like centipedes crawling up her legs. It makes me wonder, if a shoe can make Gwyneth look like she has cankles, would I be crazy to try it? And try I have. I have searched and searched for months to find the right pair. A pair that combined the masculinity of the gladiator with the femininity of his muse. I opted not to look for a pair in black because I think the color combined with the bulkiness of the shoe are much too dramatic for summer dresses. Finally, after all this time, I have found a pair that I really like. I think that the platinum shade will be muted enough not to draw so much attention to the ankles, and it will be dressy enough to pair with fun, flirty sun dresses.

They say Rome wasn't built in a day, and I guess neither was my affinity for the Gladiator.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Black and Gold Superbowl

The days following Katrina were so long and so dark. With every phone call and every news update we waited anxiously to learn what was the latest tragedy to occur within the flood walls of our dear city. I remember a day in early September when I was sitting in our temporary apartment in Houma and Mark walked in with a terrible look on his face. He asked me to sit down and said he had bad news. "They are moving the Saints to San Antonio." I wanted to cry, but there were no tears left. We had been mourning the death of our pre-Katrina life for weeks now. It sounds insensitive to be so distraught about something as frivolous as a sports team, but for me - for all New Orleanians - the Saints are New Orleans. We had lost so much already, it was one final reminder that New Orleans no longer had a place.

In the end, the team awarded us four home games in Tiger Stadium. The only good thing to come out of that, with a team as bad as the one we had, was people finally had something other than FEMA and their thieving contractors to talk about at work. They were simply pitiful. And when we walked out of Tiger Stadium that last day, I really believed it was last time we'd see the boys of the black and gold.

We started to hear rumors and rumblings about a renovated stadium, and then we heard that Drew Brees chose us as the place where he saw his future. Honestly, it was the first time since the storm that anyone had shown a glimmer of faith in our dear city. He will go down in history as the greatest Saints QB of all time (sorry Archie) for his undying trust in our team and in our people. And then what do you know, we sign Reggie Bush. And all of a sudden the energy and excitement that you felt everyday in this city before Katrina started coming back. Not for good, but for the brief seconds when you believed that the Saints and the city could do it. That we could get through the torture of Monday through Saturday if they could just give us Sunday.

August 25, 2006: The Superdome re-opens. Of all the days of my life, this is truly one of the most special. I have never been so proud to be a New Orleanian than the moment we walked through the gates of that stadium. 70,000 people who were once strangers were now friends. We were there to witness the rebirth of a franchise and the rebirth of a city. U-2's remake of the Saints Were Coming unleashed the passion our city has for this team. It was more than a game, it was an escape from the sadness and void we all tried to ignore. It was what we all tried to find in every crevice of the city - normalcy. We were home in the dome. We were hugging and kissing the people in our section like you would members of your family. The last time we had seen them we thought we'd meet again for the home opener in two weeks - it had now been an entire year. The game is a blur of amazing moments, but the best of them was when Steve Gleason blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown by Curtis Deloach. The people around us were shaking their beer bottles and spraying it like champagne on New Years Eve. We left that game covered in beer, sweat, and tears. It was truly the start of something great.

That magical season where the team came so close to making it to the big game you saw athletes that willed themselves to win, not for themselves, but for us. They gave us the greatest gift we could have received (aside from better levees and proceeds from our insurance companies) - the hope that if you fight hard enough and long enough you will see the fruits of your labor. And at that time living in New Orleans was a labor of love.

February 3, 2013 - NEW ORLEANS WILL HOST THE SUPERBOWL!!!! The owners just made the decision after years of work on the bid. We did it! We will get the opportunity to showcase our great city on the grandest global stage in the sports world! And we all know there is nothing we do better than host a party. With the Saints locked up in New Orleans until 2025, the only way this day could be more perfect for our city would be if the Saints made it there. I can't even begin to imagine the hysteria that would take over if that happened. There are so many people who are responsible for making our bid the winning one, but in the end it is the people of New Orleans who deserve all the credit. It took heart, determination, persistence, and most importantly, love to bring New Orleans back. And according to the sports world, it's official - we're back!

Who dat, baby. Who dat!

Tasty Tuesdays: Spiced Nuts

Two years ago I hosted my first Thanksgiving ever! My in-laws and my brothers in law stayed with us and I made a feast. To prove that I am indeed a CPA, I created an excel schedule that started at the time we planned to eat and backed into the times I needed to start each dish. It's a bit OCD, I realize, but you don't want to prepare the turkey day meal that people still talk about years down the line as "the one where we had to order pizza b/c the turkey burned and the stuffing was dry." Anyway, I was looking for an easy to prepare snack that I could keep around the house to feed the masses while I was cooking. I thought about passed appetizers, but I didn't want to have to prepare basically two meals in one day. I thought about a cheese board, but Thanksgiving dinner for ten people gets pricey so I wasn't looking to spend $80 on cheeses from around the world. And that's when I decided to make EMERIL'S spiced nuts!

I find that sometimes the smell a certain dish creates doesn't always live up to how it tastes. For me it's movie popcorn and the roasted nuts that you can get at sports venues. The smell of those foods makes my mouth water, but in the end I always walk away disappointed and wished I had just gotten peanut M&Ms instead. Well, these nuts will not fall into this category!!

The combination of the brown sugar, cinnamon, cumin, and red pepper is amazing! These nuts are sweet and spicy and salty all in one. Your guests will continue eating them just to try to figure out what flavors they are tasting. I recommend a mix of pecans and walnuts because they hold up nicely. I like to prepare them about ten minutes before people are set to arrive. This allows the brown sugar enough time to glaze, but it also ensures that the nuts are still warm and toasty.

Not only do they make a great snack, but they are also a perfect hostess gift. You could certainly chop up the mix and add it to a batch of cooked rice. To cook the rice, add 1 tbsp of butter to a hot skillet. Add two cloves of pressed garlic and brown. Add rice and cook for one minute, then boil as normal. When done, add chopped nuts. You could also add them to a salad. They work well with a pepper jelly vinaigrette! They are versatile enough in flavor to add that extra kick to any ordinary dish.

Easy as pie and tasty too. The perfect recipe for a perfect snack!

Bam! (I had to do it!!)

EMERIL'S Spiced Nuts

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups unsalted mixed nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, and almonds
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Mix spices and reserve.
Heat the nuts in a dry skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to toast, about 4 minutes. Add the butter and cook, stirring, until the nuts begin to darken, about 1 minute. Add the spices, the sugar, 1 tablespoon water, and the salt and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens and the nuts are glazed, about 5 minutes.
Remove the nuts from the heat and transfer to a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, separating them with a fork. Let the nuts stand until cooled and the sugar has hardened, about 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Seasons of Love

That is the title of one of my favorite songs ever. Not just from a play, but ever. I love that the song makes you stop and ask the question "how do you measure a year?" Is it sunsets or midnights, report cards or speeding tickets, laughter or strife. However you decide to measure a year, you have five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes to do it. 525,600 experiences, emotions, opportunities to be a part of, to feel, to take advantage of. It makes you really think about time and how it passes and what we do with it.

This morning I woke up to a chilly house. I figured I had just turned the A/C on a ridiculously frigid temperature, but I awoke to find that fall has come to Beaufort - in May. And the blissfully breezy weather made me wish my summer away. I am ready for Fall, I thought. Ready for the smell of leaves burning, ready for the taste of pumpkin pie and roasted turkey, ready for the sights and sounds of Saints football! I was ready for it all. Let's just skip past the laborious days of summer and jump to beautiful crispness of late September. Let's walk through the neighborhood and spot pumpkins on the doorsteps and the subtle change in the leaves on the trees. Let's just wake up to September!

And as pleasant as it sounds at times to jump right past the heat of July and the anxiety of hurricanes in late August, to do so, I'd be skipping past the moments of my year. I'd miss the pride I feel at the Memorial Day parade, the joy and warmth of our community at the Fourth of July events in our neighborhood, the the fun and excitement of Waterfest. The thing is I measure my year in the memories we make. I see our life as a never ending scrapbook of the experiences we share and the people we share them with. And in the end I want all 525,600 memories of my year.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fridays Five Favorite Things - Beach Vacations

I'm sure if you read Conde Naste this month, you may not see some of these beaches listed on their "world's best beaches list." But when you look back at your favorite beach vacations, it's not about where you are, but who you're with that counts.

5. Montego Bay, Jamaica - The June following Katrina, Mark's three brothers and their girlfriends came along with us on a Happy Graduation Trevor and a We Made it Past the January following the Worst Disaster in US History trip. Even the most positive and upbeat New Orleanians needed a break sometimes. And what a break it was. We spent five days getting to know each other better, betting on who could eat the most quesadillas (Trevor wins!), searching for and finding the discotheque, and sipping the strongest strawberry daiquiris outside of New Orleans city limits. I can't wait to do another Allen family vacay soon.

4. Mission Bay, San Diego, CA - My family spent a week one summer at the most amazing resort in San Diego. The place we stayed was made up of a bunch of quaint cottages that lined the shores of an island in the middle of Mission Bay. We spent our days playing put put on the greens course that was on the property and we spent our evenings walking on the beach watching people sit around these fire pits. It was one of those vacations you hope to recreate because it was just so perfect.

3. The Baccara, Santa Barbara, CA - I was lucky enough to nanny for an amazing family with two precious little girls. One summer we spent two weeks on the CA coast. One of our stops was at a breathtaking resort called the Baccara. I had never in my life stayed at a place so special. And although we were there in June, it was chilly and slightly overcast outside. It didn't make for great weather for the children because the water was cold and there was very little sun, but I thought it was amazing there. It seemed like the kind of beach scene that you read about in an old novel, like Rebecca, when they describe the grayness of the sky and the soothing sound of the ocean coming ashore. When the children had gone to bed, I would light the fireplace and sit on the balcony and read. We weren't there for long, but I count it as one of the most amazing places I've ever been.

2. Nassau, Bahamas - I've been three times, twice when babysitting and once on my honeymoon. One of the things I found most difficult about nannying was that I had the opportunity to experience the most beautiful places, but I couldn't share those experiences with the people I cared most about. Since we were honeymooning in December and Mark really wanted to go to the beach, I wanted to go back to Nassau so that he could experience all of the things I had. It was such an unforgettable trip. The beaches were beautiful and not very crowded. Sometimes it felt like we were there all by ourselves. It was the perfect way to start our little life together.

1. Biloxi, MS - Probably not the beach you thought I'd pick. For as long as I can remember as a little girl we spent our vacations in Biloxi. To me, it was the most glamorous, most special beach in the world. Everything seemed so much better there - the grocery stores, the movie theater, the Baskin Robbins. Every year we got to get a double scoop ice cream cone. Rainbow sherbert - that's what I always chose. I can still picture the swirl of fuchsia and orange juices running down my hand. There was an innocence about Biloxi. It was a time when vacations didn't require much other than a bottle of 50 sunblock and a beach towel. We'd wake up when the sun did and swim until we could no longer stand the sight of the raisins that had become our fingers. And nothing made the trip more fancy than one final meal at Mary Mahoney's Old French House. My mom and dad would take us in our prettiest dresses and we'd have a meal fit for royalty. My favorite was always the little salad they gave you with the "red" dressing (come to find out its French dressing). And although I have been back to Biloxi several times since then, it has changed. Gone are the little hotels and motels and condos that were dotted along Beach Bvld. They city has made room for the Beau Rivage and Hard Rock Casinos. It's progress over preservation which is a good thing in all regards, but it makes it harder and harder to remember what it was like before all that. I have found though on the few occasions I've visited that one step through the door of Mary Mahoney's and you'll never forget what life used to be like when Biloxi, MS was the only place you'd ever want to be.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Red, White, and Blue Angels

There is a story in Beaufort that while filming Prince of Tides, Barbara Streisand became annoyed with the noise of the fighter pilots flying overhead. She called the CO of the airstation and told him she was tired of hearing that noise. His response - "Ma'am, that 'noise' you hear is the sound of freedom."

After living in the flight path for the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort for two and a half years, I have grown quite accustomed to the thunderous boom of the fighter jets that fly above our house. When we first moved here, I heard that beautfiful sound and got chills. It was so humbling to realize that we had moved here to be a part of something so much greater than ourselves. As time has passed, I find that I don't even notice them anymore. Kind of like the the little girl in The Polar Express who after several year stopped hearing the sound of the bell from Santa's sleigh.

Well just before lunch, i was sitting at my desk and I heard the most wonderful sound. A sound so loud and so powerful I knew it could mean only one thing... The Blue Angels are here! With the air show this weekend, the Blue Angels have been flying around downtown Beaufort. If the sight of their royal blue jets with US NAVY written in bright yellow doesn't make you proud to be an American, nothing will. The sound alone makes my eyes well with tears.

It's funny how we react emotionally to certain things. Sometimes all it takes for me to feel patriotic is to see a USMC sticker on someone's car. Sometimes it is an 18 year old Marine recruit waiting in line at the exhange who tells his buddy "I've been waiting for 13 weeks for this Snickers bar" that makes you realize that this little boy, this stranger, would die for you. And sometimes it is the sight and sound of a an angel that reminds you that it takes great and brave men and women to experience the kind of freedom and security we have in this country.

Well if that noise I hear is the sound of freedom, let freedom ring!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Trendy Wednesday - The Bib

Are you thinking - she's finally caught baby fever? Well, I'm not talking about that kind of bib! I'm talking about bib necklaces. The first time I spotted one of these beautiful creations was at this year's Oscars. I just realized that that made it sound like I actually attended the Oscars (which would be a dream come true), but what I meant was I saw it while watching tireless footage of the Oscars on tv. You know where you wake up at 8:00 am and watch all day footage of E!. You watch the last four years of red carpet coverage and you learn about what is in the presenters' gift bags. You practice your acceptance speech because you know one day you'll be discovered in a mall and when you win the Oscar for your debut performance in a major motion picture you'll have to try to remember all the little people you want to thank. Ok, maybe that part is just something I do. Regardless, I love the Oscars! It might be my favorite day of the year!

Anyway, Amy Adam's bib necklace was a beautiful combination of rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. Her dress was amazing, but I couldn't stop looking at her necklace. It was one of those pieces you hoped would come out of the tv and fall on your lap. Spectacular! Here is a pic...

I just think that bib necklaces are the perfect piece of jewelry. Especially for summer when you're wearing simple strapless dresses. They draw attention up to your face and to your decolletage, which is a beautful part of any lady. They have a ton of options out there, but the one I fell in love with and purchased recently was this piece from Anthropologie...

I was at the store in New York and I had just placed a few things at the register when I saw this it on the girl who was checking me out (it was in a beautful sea green that is apparently no longer in stock). I couldn't believe I had missed this it when I was brousing through the jewelry section. Well, I couldn't leave without it! I have worn it several times and it is always complimented. I've put it with three different strappless dresses. I also think it would be great with white jeans and a simple white button down. I haven't been brave enough to wear it work though. I don't think the CPA world is ready for the bib necklace.

No matter where you wear it or what you wear it with, I am certain that the bib necklace will be a smashing success!

I want to thank the Academy (or really just Amy Adams) for making them a great trend for this spring.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tasty Tuesdays: Watermelon Mojitos

I've always wanted to be the girl that walked up to the bar and said "I'll take a vodka martini up and dirty." You know the person who has "their drink." The thing is all of the traditional bar drinks that sound so cool when you order them taste so bad to me. I'm more of a wedding cake martini or cosmopolitan, extra cranberry, kind of girl.

A few summers ago my family went to Miami on vacation and my dad ordered a mojito. He let me try a sip and before I had finished one taste, I knew I had found it - My Drink! I love everything about the mojito. It's refreshing, smooth, sweet but not too sweet, and minty. I love how the tartness of the lime and the cool flavor of the mint blend together to create the perfect combination of summery flavors. And the thing is you can enjoy it during the day and in the evening. I don't know but the thought of drinking an old fashioned at noon in July at a courtyard brunch makes me hot.

Ordering mojitos should come with a warning: "Bartender will roll eyes." I have found that while I love drinking them, I hate ordering mojitos. There's something about all that muddling that makes any bartender ornery. One friend in the industry said that when they tell you "we're out of fresh mint" it really means "order a real drink." You have to look past this the only negative to such a delicious little treat.

Perhaps the best feature of mojitos is how many variations of them you can find. Cherry, key lime, blueberry, coconut. Its starting to sound like a snoball stand isn't it? My favorite is the watermelon mojito. I made this recipe last summer for our Fourth of July parade and they were a big hit. Although I'd prefer fresh lime juice to concentrate, for a crowd the concentrate is easier (and it does put the slushy in slushy watermelon mojito). Cheers...

8 servings (serving size: about 3/4 cup)
5 cups cubed seeded watermelon
1 cup sparkling water, chilled
3/4 cup white rum
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 (6-ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate, undiluted
Mint sprigs (optional)
Lime slices (optional)
Arrange watermelon in a single layer on a baking sheet; freeze 2 hours or until completely frozen.
Combine frozen watermelon, sparkling water, rum, mint, and limeade in a blender; process until smooth. Garnish with mint sprigs and lime slices, if desired. Serve immediately.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Girls Rule!

I don't at all think that boys drool, but I do indeed think that girls rule! There are few things that inspire me more than impact women's groups have on a community. Whether it is the example that the members set as professionals, activists, mothers, or friends, I am always touched and empowered by the amazing women in these groups. Every so often I am at an event where I am in a room with hundreds of women who have made a conscious choice to work for the betterment of their communities. They have chosen to add one more thing to the already full plates they carry so that the world we share can improve. Every time I get goosebumps thinking about the impact that we as women have on each other and those around us.

Saturday I volunteered at a luncheon called Lilies on The River which raises money for Hope Haven, an organization that provides services to women and children who have been the victim of sexual abuse. Our Junior Service League provides all of the "woman" power to help orchestrate the event. Working with these women to coordinate such a beautiful luncheon is such a privelege. They are the most selfless and amazing ladies I know.

It is no coincidence that the luncheon takes place the Saturday before Mothers' Day. Standing with all of these women as we tossed lilies into the river in honor of the special ladies in our lives makes me so appreciative of all of the women in mine. To my friends who I have watched parent, I am so grateful to have such amazing examples to learn from. To my mother-in-law, I am so grateful for the job you did raising such the amazing person that I have the honor of spending my life with. And to my mother, I am so grateful for all that you have done for me. I can only hope to be half of the parent that you are.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Four on Fridays

Between the middle of April and the first of January my office closes at four o'clock on Friday. I know it's only an hour and a half, but I swear, I feel like I'm cheating the world when I lock the door behind me and drive out of our parking lot. It's like in this hour and a half, I'll accomplish all of the errands that couldn't wait until 5:30. I'll be able to go for that run that I imagine myself taking in my head. I'll pick up the last minute grocery items we need. I'll call my cell phone company to figure out why I can receive emails but can't respond. I'll do all the things I tell myself I'd do if I just had a few more hours in the day.

But in actuality, I know what I will do. I will check the mail and find in there my weekly escape into the magical world of celebrity gossip - People magazine. I will go upstairs and turn our a/c on low so that it's perfectly comfy when I'm snuggled up in a velvety blanket. I will open a cold Coke Zero and become consumed by the glitz and glamour of celebrity life. I can't tell you how incredibly relaxing this is.

It's totally foolish, I know. To be interested in these people who we actually know nothing about. Mark is constantly reminding me that I am a part of the problem of the multitude of garbage that flows daily from our televisions. And although I realize that it's true, I just can't help it. I justify it by saying that at least in People there are book reviews and music reviews and stories about brave and generous Americans. But let's be honest, I'm just in it for the gossip.

By the way, don't you ever wonder who "a source close to the family" is? I mean really - what gives. Can't they be a tiny bit more specific than that?


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Lights, Camera, Action...

Ahhhhh!! That is the sound of me shouting in excitement. About six weeks ago my sister, the pastry chef at Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse, was asked to interview for a spot on a Food Network reality competition based on New Orleans. Her teammate would be the restaurant's sous chef Alfred. So they went for a screen test and read for the camera and interviewed with a few producers from the network. They thought they'd be hearing back in late April, and without word, we had assumed they hadn't been chosen.

But.......... Today they both got a call at the restaurant and were asked to be the participants! They will begin filming next week! She seems a bit nervous. Unlike me, who I will admit loves to be the center of attention, Stephanie shys away from the spotlight. Well, not any more! A star is born.

We are just so proud of all the hard work she has put into this budding career. They would have been crazy to choose anyone else. Maybe we'll open that bakery after all. I decided last night that I think it should be called "Sweetie Pie."

I'll post more when we know the details!!!

Something Fishy's Going On

So. I'm making a seafood dinner Saturday and I had to plan ahead and get some things picked up from the grocery and ordered at the Seafood market. I hadn't been into a seafood market in a while, and in fact, I've never been to the one in Beaufort. I forgot how great they are. Unlike the grocery store, you have so much interaction with the people who are helping you create a great meal. I chatted with the guy for a while about what fish could withstand the heat from a cast iron skillet and which one would have a sweet flavor that would compliment the sauce. He was so friendly and so knowledgeable. Don't you love it when you meet someone who takes so much pride in what they do and in the product they sell.

He looked over my recipe to make sure he knew exactly what I was after. Unfortunately, the redfish would have bankrupted our little family. He suggested we go with tilapia because it was fresh, in stock, and already filleted. I was a little sad, because it just didn't seem exoctic and interesting. The recipe calls for catfish, but I think catfish can be risky. Sometimes it has that real muddy taste. For what we need, the tilapia will do. Maybe next time I'll be a little more adventurous.

Here's the menu:

Cast Iron Skillet Barbeque Shrimp

Spinach Salad with Spiced Pecans
Tabasco Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette

Pecan Crusted Gulffish
Creole Meuniere Sauce
Spiced Pecan Popcorn Rice

Lemon Pie with a Raspberry Coulis
Vanilla Whipped Cream

Eek! I get overwhelmed thinking about it.

All the recipes come from the Mr. B's Bistro cookbook. I have a feeling nothing will compare to actually eating there, but I'm going to give it a go.

Mmmmmm... Now I'm hungry

Monday, May 4, 2009

I Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans...

We had such a wonderful trip home last weekend. This was the most perfect Jazzfest we've had in quite some time. The weather could not have been more beautiful. We walked there along a street called Grande Route St. John and decided that's where we'd like to live when we move back. The houses are pretty, the people are friendly, and the area feels alive. The smell of the gardenias and the Confederate Jasmine that grow along the wrought iron fences is intoxicating. When we got inside the gates, we were just so ready to eat some yummy food and hear some great music. One great and interesting dish we tried this year was Ya-Ka-Mein. It is a noodle based brothy soup that is made in the kitchens of the African American residents of New Orleans oldest neighborhoods. There is a great chapter on this treat in the book Gumbo Tales that has some neat history on its origins, but for now I'll just say it was delish! We also had the cochon de lait po-boy and some meat pies and an alligator pie. We felt like we were the crawfish equivalent to Bubba from Forest Gump. We had crawfish sacks, crawfish Monica, crawfish bread, crawfish streudel, and boiled crawfish. Everything was amazing!

My favorite performance of the weekend was Trombone Shorty. He is just so amazingly talented. He plays the trombone, the guitar, the trumpet, the drum, the harmonica, and he sings. Incredible! We also really enjoyed listening to Spoon, Jake Smith Band, Earth, Wind and Fire, Wynton Marsalis. It was great. Sunday we did the unthinkable and braved the massive crowds at the Acura stage and waited for the great Dave Matthews. My favorite performance of the day was "ants Marching" with the extra long violin sequence. Amazing!!

It was just the perfect weekend. We spent great time with my family. They were even patient with me when I went on search for the perfect pair of sunglasses!! We caught up with great friends that we hadn't seen in quite some time. We ate, we drank, and we were merry. It's hard to ask for anything more.

The only bad part about the weekend was leaving. I have to say I was quite sad to go this trip. I wanted to stay and be a part of the second weekend of festivities too. There's something about festival season in New Orleans that draws you in to the magic of the city and makes you want to be there so you don't miss a single minute of the action.

When the sky goes down on that Sunday evening and you realize you won't experience all that is Jazzfest for more than a year, you find the walk home almost somber. Like everyone is going a little slower to keep the memories from this year fresh in their minds. I'm sure its the food, and the art, and the music that keeps us going back year after year, but sometimes I think its the smell of the jasmine and the walk along the Bayou and the faint sound of a horn playing in the background that I look forward to the most.

And although we'll have to wait a year until the next Jazzfest, we'll be home in a few shorts weeks and I think the Creole Tomato/seafood/zydeco festival in the Quarter should do just fine.


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