a tentative hello; hummus

After taking a couple weeks apart to reflect and think, Kitchen and I decided to give things another try.  I thought that I should go for a fool proof recipe for my first steps back onto her tiled floors.  And I probably should stay away from anything that has pumpkin or apple as an ingredient.

The answer: Hummus!

This hummus recipe is one that my sister-in-law Rachel found on allrecipes.com and then modified.  This was also the perfect excuse to buy a food processor: something I’ve wanted for years.  I had a couple of Target giftcards that had been hanging out in my purse for quite a while.  This was a great purchase to use them for.

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups canned garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • a little less than 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pinch paprika
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
Directions:
  1. Buy or find in your cupboard the above ingredients.  I will save you the google and tell you that Tahini is sesame seed something.  It can be found in the ethnic food section of your grocery store.  I was shocked that Target had it.  Good job, Target.  I also hear that you can substitute peanut butter if you want. 
  2. Now take a look at the things you bought.  At this point it is ok if you think, “Why did I buy parsley?  Was I misreading paprika?”  You can take a picture looking confused with the parsley.  Later you will blog about it and re-read the ingredient list and see that your parsley purchase was totally legit. 
  3. Put the garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, salt, garlic, and water in the food processor.  Now process. 
  4. You are done.
  5. Feel free to top with olive oil, paprika, and parsley before serving.
  6. Enjoy with your favorite dip-able hummus items.  This could be something like pita bread, carrots, or crackers.  The sky is the limit. 
You can find the original recipe here.
Thanks Rachel for the modifications!
Advertisements

a little case of kitchen envy

I think I figured out the reason that my kitchen and I aren’t getting along lately.

You know how you shouldn’t say things behind someone’s back?  Well, I think my kitchen must have overheard the things I was saying about my friend’s beautiful kitchen.  And then she decided that if she wasn’t my favorite kitchen, then I wasn’t her favorite baker named Laura.  But really, can you blame me?

my kitchen.

my dream kitchen. aka my friend Jill's newly remodeled kitchen. aka my kitchen's arch nemesis.

We had a little heart to heart.  It went something like this, 

“Kitchen, I know you are feeling sad right now.  I realize that I probably said some things that hurt your feelings.  But sometimes we have to face a hard truth.  You are not as great as some other kitchens.  And you never will be.  But that is not your fault.  I do love you just the way you are.  You might have ugly orange window treatments.  You might have dishes that were just washed piled up high with no butler/housekeeper to put them away for me.  You might not have any counter space.  But you know what?  We have still had some good times together.  Remember the time we dripped cheesecake on the bottom of the oven and it smoked for years and the smoke detector kept shouting, “FIRE!  FIRE!”  every time I turned on the oven?  Remember the time we made homemade oreos and people loved us for them?  Remember all the cupcakes?  Remember the time we almost died from accidentally OD-ing on chipotle peppers?  Remember the time we bonded for nearly 72 hours straight making jungle themed baked goods?  We have a shared a lot of smiles and a lot of tears.  You might not be as pretty or as spacious or as shiny and new as other kitchens.  But at least we have each other.  Don’t let go of that.  Because someday I will be letting go of you.  You are a rental, remember?  We need to embrace each moment we have together.  Never give up.  Never surrender.  We’re all in this together.”

And then I bought her flowers.  Whether or not we are ready to move on, to forgive and forget, no one knows.  Time will tell.

I think she likes them.

In the meantime, I will continue to cheat on my kitchen whenever possible, visiting other kitchens that still like me.

the kindness of strangers

Each year in kindergarten we learn about communities.  One focus of our unit is an action piece: how can YOU help the community?  In the past we have done a food drive.  The kindergartners collect the food from the collection bins around the school, graph how much food each grade brought in, etc. but let’s be honest.  It was WAY more teacher work than kid work.

This year we decided to try something new.  We partnered up with the organization 363 Days to make sandwiches that will be handed out to the homeless in Minneapolis.

I loved it for a couple of reasons.

  1. The kids where I teach – they don’t have much.  Yet they wanted to give what they could.  What a great lesson to learn at a young age.
  2. The kids got to actually MAKE the sandwiches that will go to the homeless.  So empowering for them.  They were super excited to help the people in the community who don’t have money to buy their own food.
  3. We partnered up with older classes to help our little fingers – so lots of people in the school were involved.
  4. Watching kids try and make meat and cheese sandwiches with giant gloves on their little tiny hands was a bit hilarious.  They of course took the whole thing super seriously.

We collected donations of food supplies and money from the students.  We divided up the shopping list and several K teachers went to the store to buy absurd amounts of meat and bread.  My friend Beth shared the following story of her experience at Cub Foods.

I was in line at the check out with an obscene amount of bread.
As I started to place all of the loaves onto the conveyor belt the little girl ahead of me said:
“Mommy, look at all that bread she is buying.  She must really like sandwiches.”
After I finished laughing I told the little girl that the Kindergarten students at my school were
making sandwiches for homeless people in Minneapolis.  The mother explained to her daughter
what a neat idea it was to make food for people who cannot afford to buy their own.
After she and her daughter finished checking out, the mother turned to me and handed me a Cub
Foods gift card which ended up covering the cost of all of the bread.
Amazing…. 🙂

Playing Photographer. a favorite game.

This past weekend was so great for so many reasons.  Two of the reasons are that on Saturday and Sunday I got to play photographer for a family that I love and for a sweet little newborn baby who is the son of two of my best friends from high school.

Perhaps someday I will share with you some pictures of the family I photographed, so that you can say, “Wow, Laura!  I really like these pictures a lot!  Will you take pictures of my family?”  to which I will reply, “Yes!”  But that won’t happen for a while, because I don’t want to give away their family Christmas cards.  I will tell you that spending the afternoon with them made my heart so happy, as did seeing their beautiful family pictures!  They are a huge blessing to me.

So without further ado, I would like to share with you a preview of the pics I took of this sweet little baby boy.  I love him.  He is precious and tiny.  You will love him too.  Steph and Jonathan, here are some of my favorite pictures from Sunday.  I will bring you by a complete CD with the rest of the pics soon!

and last, but not least, my favorite one of the day.

Welcome Jeremiah!  We are so glad that you are here!

Scarf Tying Parties

I have a few friends named Laura.  I don’t know if you knew that.  We are in kind of an exclusive club.  I’m sorry if your mom and dad gave you a different name.  You can’t be in our club.  That is just part of life.

Sometimes we have “Laura Events”.  And by that I mean once we went out for dinner.  We walked away with a new goal: go out to eat together somewhere they call your name.  Awesome, right?  Yes, we know how to have fun.

For our first (impromptu) Laura Party, we learned a new way to wear our scarves.  And then we practiced.  I have a slight addiction to pretty scarves.  It may or may not be a problem.  That being said, I’ve got like three ways I wear them.  So when I saw this video, I was excited.  Could there really be 22 more ways to wear a scarf???  Yes, yes there could.

So pop some popcorn, sit back, relax, and watch this informational movie.  

Now you have some fresh inspiration for how to wear that scarf I undoubtedly gave you in efforts to begin your scarf addiction too, whether or not you thought you were into wearing scarves.

Personally, I will need to have a practice scarf tying party.  I envision watching each clip, pausing the tape, and practicing in front of a mirror.  It is going to be awesome.  Please let me know if you want to join in the fun.  Because nothing says fun like accessorizing with friends.

Pop Quiz

Let me paint you a picture.  Actually, let me paint you three pictures, and your job is to figure out what these three scenarios have in common.

Picture #1

After church on Sunday, five 20-somethings head out for to eat.  They eat brunch at the Good Day Cafe.  Brunch is uneventful, yet delicious.

Picture #2

A group of people sit out on a screened in porch for a couple of hours.  It is a cold day, so each person is wrapped in a blanket, or at least has a blanket wrapped around his or her lap.  Several are clutching warm mugs of hot cocoa, and one has a small puppy on her lap.  This may look like a scene from a movie of when the elderly get wheeled outside for some fresh air.

Picture #3

It is a birthday.  A group of people head to Sky Zone, a trampoline warehouse in Plymouth.  They put on (one with extreme difficulty) their special jumping shoes, and hit the trampolines.  It is a giant area with square trampolines connected by a mat to separate each person’s jumping around.  Some people get great height, doing flips and literally bouncing off the walls.  Others are content to jump around in their personal square, loving celebrating a birthday.

Quiz: What do these three scenarios have in common?

A) They are all scenes from movies I saw this week while celebrating MEA.

B) They are parts 1, 2, and 3 of my roommate Tiffany’s birthday party.

C) They summarize my Sunday afternoon, when I went to brunch with my friends, visited my grandparents, then stopped by a student’s birthday party.

D)  They clearly have nothing in common.  You can’t fool me.

And the answer is: B!  If you guessed that these are all ways we celebrated Tiffany’s birthday, you are right!  We did our best to act our age, then practice for when we are older, then enjoyed reliving our youth.

I would totally recommend Sky Zone if you have kids, or if you like jumping.  Apparently they also have dodgeball and work out classes.  That is what the rumors tell me, anyways.

I have no pictures of our awesome day for you, because I am a slacker and didn’t take out my camera.  But I’m sure that I painted you such quality mental pictures that you didn’t even realize there was a distinct lack of photographs!  You are welcome.

Happy Birthday, Tiffany!  I’m glad that you could arrive in Florida for your birthday, just like I did for mine.  I think that should probably be our new thing.  I love traditions.  Especially when they involve the beach.  Have a great trip to the Dominican Republic – I am praying for your team.  Thanks for being my roommate, and joining me in keeping the heat off until Thanksgiving, rescuing me from baking breakdowns, eating my cupcakes when they turn out, sharing iced coffee, using the remote so I don’t have to learn the channels, going for walks with ice cream in hand, saying ridiculous things and also have serious conversations, giving me hair inspiration even though I could never get my hair to do 92% of the pretty things you do with yours, and being my friend 🙂  You are great! 

Welcome Baby J!

My good friends Steph and Jonathan just had their first child – a handsome little baby boy.  I’m so excited for them as they set out on this new adventure in life called parenting.

I have known Steph and Jonathan for over ten years.  We all went to high school together, and Steph and I went to Bethel together as well.  We became friends in biology and English class, bonding over both the fact that my church “stole” her church’s youth pastor, and that we both wrote essays about wanting to teach kindergarten, listing virtually the same reasons as each other.  Clearly we were meant to be friends.  We have spent time studying God’s word together, laughing together, and having great conversations about life.  And going on many ridiculous adventures.  I’m scared to know how many cumulative hours we have spent on the phone together.  She is one of the sweetest and most encouraging people I know and is going to be SUCH a great mom.  Little Jeremiah is a lucky boy.

We became friends before the era of digital photography. So let's pretend this picture is from 1999 instead of 2005

Jonathan and I have been friends for years as well.  He and I had a photo competition taking engagement pictures for our friends Mike and Sara.  He taught me everything I know about playing MarioKart, and is a talented musician.  He loves Jesus, he loves his wife, and he loves his son.  He will be a terrific dad 🙂

Jonathan's Winning Photo

My winning photo

I visited Steph and Jonathan in the hospital after their baby boy was born, and it was so great to see them so full of love and joy for their new son.

It is crazy to think that our friendship has taken us from this: 

To this: 

To this:  

Isn't he a cutie!! I hope to be invited over to take more pictures someday soon (hint, hint)

I can’t wait to see what God has in store next for us all 🙂

Cousins Dinner

A few years ago, my grandparents started hosting dinner for us cousins who live in the area.  It was a fun way to get to connect with one another and hang out more than we had in the past.  Over the years, our group has grown as girlfriends, fiances, and spouses have joined the mix.  We still love going to dinner at Grandma’s, but we also get together for dinners just us cousins. 

We are hilarious and fun, so cousin dinners are always a highlight.

You have pretty much no hope of attending, unless you find a way to marry into the family or get us to adopt you, but I would be willing to let you live vicariously through us just this once.

This is one of my favorite cousins pictures, because it is where Kaia first realized that David is tall. And no, it is not the first time they met.

One our of favorite past times is playing telephone pictionary.  We know that if it is a girl with triangle shaped hair, it is my sister Rachel, with her bad awesome perm from 5th grade.  A boy with creepy eyes and facial hair is David, modeled after his mii.  Fauxhawk and goatee is Steve.  And so-forth.  Popular subject matter includes Half Chicken (if you don’t know the story of how weather vanes came to be, I’m happy to tell you anytime), Christmas ghosts, the donkey from the nativity, and a dog that looks like a deer.  Why we write about these things, I cannot explain. 

Another thing to know is that if a cousins dinner is happening, there is a 95.6% chance the weather will suck.  That is just the way it is.  We usually party in blizzards.  Bonus points if Laura hits a semi on the way home.  (ok, no one was happy when that happened, but I’m just saying it happened). 

We generally eat delicious food.  The delicious food may or may not go together.  For example, a couple years ago my grandma gave each of us an amazing cookbook with all of her favorite recipes in it.  Naturally, for that cousins dinner we all made something from the cookbook.  Buffalo chicken dip is always a crowd pleaser.  As is fruit snowmen on a skewer.  We tried to plant one in the snow to grow a new cousin, but that didn’t work out for us.

Our cousins dinner last week was different from the rest.  We had pleasant weather, a cohesive meal, and did not play telephone pictionary.  We did however play Balderdash.  The best game though, was Watch the Baby Chase the Dog.  Fiona warmed up to Bear pretty quickly, but Bear did not warm up to Fiona.  He wasn’t aggressive.  He was just terrified.  He hid under the table, under chairs, behind people, etc.  She chased him around the island and through crowds of cousins.  Hilarious and a half.  It was suggested that Rachel and David have a kid to help wear out the dog.  But apparently that isn’t a good reason to start your family.  Maybe they can open a nanny business instead? 

All of the food was delicious (except for that broccoli I told you about yesterday).  I would like to highlight Rachel’s recipe for amazingness.  Maple Mustard-Glazed Chicken.  We also had bread, nasty broccoli, tator tots, homemade applesauce, homemade hummus, and for dessert: cookie dough eggrolls with ice cream and crushed candy on top.  Rich doesn’t begin to describe it.  Tasty and fun might start to describe it.  I am so lucky to have such an amazing family – too bad the rest of the cousins won’t move to Minnesota so that they can partake in the fun and we can partake in their company.  We’ll just have to work on another family wedding so we can all be reunited sooner rather than later. 

On a Break

So, the kitchen and I are on a break.  Do you remember how Ross and Rachel were on a break?  It is kind of like that.  But actually a lot different.

I don’t know what happened, but the kitchen seems to hate me.  I thought we were getting along well.  We were sharing, laughing, enjoying one another’s company, when out of the blue, THIS happened.

Pumpkin Truffle? I think not.

I should probably tell you that is a good one.  And none of them looked like this

What the Whole Foods recipe told me Pumpkin truffles would look like.

I could have recovered from this truffle fail if

A) it wasn’t happening on the heels of my Apple Pie Cupcakes Mental Breakdown Disaster of the previous week.

B) if my too-good-in-the-kitchen-sister-in-law hadn’t made it sound so easy when she passed the recipe along to me

C) if when I tried to go to Michael’s to get a candy mold (in efforts to stop trying to dip truffles but mold them into being instead) if the candy molds would have been in stock instead of sending me on a wild goose chase around the suburbs

D) if I hadn’t been on a deadline

E) if I hadn’t been making them to serve at a dinner party with strangers

F) if I hadn’t wasted an entire beautiful fall day failing in the kitchen. 

“What when wrong?” you might ask.  The answer is that after forming the pumpkin mixture into balls, when I tried to dip in in the white chocolate coating, the ball formation fell apart – melting into the white chocolate and creating a pumpkin-chocolate swirl.

I tried calling and leaving a desperate plea for help on Rachel’s voicemail.

I tried using candy molds instead of dipping.  That kind of worked.

I tried using a variety of fall colors of candy melts to disguise the ugly.

By the end I was so bitter that I threw away the rest of the pumpkin filling and baked pumpkin snickerdoodles instead.  

I served some ugly truffles to my sister and she said they tasted good.  So I took a deep breath, packed up both the ugly desserts and the potentially tasty cookies (and threw in some candy corn as a last resort back up), and headed out to my dinner party.

“Was it worth it?” you might ask.  The answer: No.  The other guests brought a dessert, so I never even took mine out of the bag. 

“Will you ever enter the kitchen again?” you might ask.  The answer: I tried last week to cook up some delicious broccoli for a dinner with my cousins.  The result: Nast.  I warned people not to eat the broccoli because it wasn’t good.  I said, “Eat the delicious bread that I made from scratch  bought at Panera instead.”

So people, it is official.  The kitchen and I are on a break.  If I ever try to re-enter, please stop me, and remind me to walk away.  I am still allowed to wear cute aprons, but only for fun – not for anything kitchen-related.

yum.

p.s.  You might be wondering what I did with the leftover questionable desserts.  The answer is four-fold: 1. I dropped some off at the g-parents.  2.I packaged them up in cute fall packaging and gifted them to a friend who told me she didn’t think I could be a train-wreck in the kitchen.  3. I served them at a baseball watching party.  Rachel giggled at each and every one she took out of the box.  4.  I served them to co-workers.

Yes, I am an awesome granddaughter, coworker, and friend 🙂

If you would like to prove you are the better baker, here is a link to the pumpkin truffle recipe, and here is a link to the pumpkin snickerdoodle cookies. Godspeed.