Easy as ABC…

Now that you have The Jackson Five playing background music in your head, I have a confession.  You know those silly/annoying emails that circulate every couple of years in which you answer questions about yourself?  Yeah, I’m one of those annoying people who not only fills them out, but sends them to nearly everyone in my email address book.  I’m a details kinda girl and I love collecting tidbits of information about people.  Who knows what you might learn about your friend that you’ve had since the 2nd grade or some great blackmail information on the annoying coworker 4 desks down?

A couple of months ago I saw a getting to know you post in the format below.  It’s been a long time since I filled one out (probably because everyone on my email list has a secret pact with each other to NEVER EVER send me another!).  Aaaaand it is different than any other that I’ve seen, so I thought I’d give it a go!

How is it different?  Why, thank you for asking: rather than answer questions, you simply list (although WARNING: I never list–I always have to explain!) 26 interesting things about you, each item starting with a letter in the alphabet.  While I’m horrible at explaining, I know that you’re brilliant and by the time you get to “A,” you’ll have it figured out!

One last thing before I begin: individuals did not make this list.  So if you are just reading this in search of your name stop right now and go back to work, uh, I meant lunch.  Don’t pout–invariably I’d leave someone out and then I have to endure years of guilt trips.  Ain’t nobody got time for that!  And honestly, how am I supposed to pick between Bubba and beer?  Although, actually that’s rather easy because I’m 250% sure that Bubba (aka my brother) would agree it should be beer.

Now, back to the task at hand.

The ABCs of Shez:

A is for Addy, my darling pupcicle (you know, in case you weren’t aware that I had a darling pupcicle whom I adore!)…and before you call me out on it, yes, I broke the “No Individuals” rule, but it’s the ONLY time I promise.

B is for Beer…mmmmmm….beer (I hope you heard that in a Homer Simpson voice!).  I don’t think that needs further explanation.  Plus you should have seen it coming.

C is for coffee.  Again, no further explanation is needed, especially those who have had the “pleasure” of seeing me in the morning before coffee–it ain’t purty!

D is for dogs.  Pupcicles are special because they bring so much love and joy into our lives–in so many ways.  Of course, it ain’t all sunshine and roses, particularly when you live in NYC and have to pick up poop for a very large dog.  But they make our lives whole with their amusing antics and unconditional love.  PS–if you’re wondering how much I love dogs, I picked them over dessert!  If that’s not love, I don’t know what is!

E is for Eso se que es, which literally translated is confusing so I like to go with the loose translation of “it is what it is” and whenever I say it, people look at me like “did you just say socks in the middle of my rant?”  No, but yes.  Anyway, it is a reminder that life is bigger than all of us and that any time you think everything is perfectly mapped out, the Fates will take the opportunity to intervene so they can laugh at you.  Thus to keep sane, I like to remind myself of three things: eso se que es, que sera sera, and Lord give me coffee to help me change the things I can, and wine to help accept the things I can’t.

F is for FOOTBALL!

G is for Grace.  By that, I don’t mean elegance or beauty or charm.  Did I mention I was clumsy?  Well, I am.  I come by it honestly (right Auntie K??).  As such, my Ome would always call me Miss Grace (as in, I am anything but).  To this day whenever I hear the word grace, I think of my Ome.

H is for Hamburgers.  Preferably ones with cheese and bacon and avocado and served with onion rings….but any ol’ burger with cheese will do! 😉

I is for Ice cream.  And anyone who doesn’t think it should be on EVERYONE’S list is just wrong.

J is for Jigsaw puzzles.  I love to put them together–although I haven’t put one together in a long time.  Why?  Well, whenever I find one that I love and makes me want to set up a card table and put it together, I remember that I live in a house with Princess Adelaide Grace, who is so named because like me, she is anything BUT graceful…

K is for Kaas (Dutch for cheese).  I couldn’t leave cheese off the list, thankfully the Dutch helped me out a bit.  And before you accuse me of using Google Translate to find a language where cheese started with a different letter than C, I will have you know that I was a Rotary Exchange Student to The Netherlands.  How does this relate to cheese?  I used to live about 6 miles from Gouda and would go on Thursdays to the cheese market…because…how can you go wrong with a cheese market???

L is for Laughter, because it truly is the best medicine–unless you have TB or malaria or something like that, then I would highly recommend medication.

M is for Molasses cookies, my favoritest cookies in the world!

N is for Nelson, as in Willie (and Waylon and the boys).

O is for Oven–I love baking and roasting and I can go without a lot of things, but an oven ain’t one of them!

P is for Peckish.  For most people, it means slight hungry.  But I’m never slightly hungry, so when you hear me say peckish know that it means “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse and chase the rider, but I don’t want you to think me gluttonous, so I’m going to just pretend that I’m kinda hungry and then either eat all of the snacks you foolishly set out or go back for seconds and thirds when we do eat.”

Q is for quixotic, which is just fun to say…quixotic, quixotic, quixotic!

R is for reading and don’t ask me to pick a favorite book.  I’m still trying to narrow my list down to 10 so I can post it on FB (and we’ll just pretend I wasn’t tagged to do it a month ago…sorry Becca!)

S is for Shiner…and failing that, Stella (and don’t tell me it’s cheating because I’ve already listed beer…it’s MY list!)

T is for Tolkien.  You thought it would be TEXAS! didn’t you?  I just wanted to share a line in a poem in Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, which completely sums up my life:  All those who wander are not lost.  I do hope, though, that you appreciate that I was still able to work TEXAS! into the T slot 😉

U is for umbrellas.  I totally have Mary Poppins to thank for my love of umbrellas.  Ironically, I hate using them in NYC.  People here are oblivious when using them and tend to poke other people in the head, repeatedly until I feel an urge to grab the umbrella out of their hands and give them a good smack with it.  I refrain, of course, but I know that I’m one huge rainstorm away from needing bail money.

V is for vino.  What?  It’s a word.  It is in my house….and that’s all that matters.

W is for wanderlust.  The reason wine is called vino in this list.  Traveling is truly my passion.  Even more so than eating and drinking.  Luckily, I consider imbibing in the local food and drink an integral part of traveling!  I was bit by the wanderlust bug when I went to The Netherlands (see K is for Kaas) right after high school–and I have no plans to stop any time soon and “I haven’t been everywhere yet, but it’s on my list.”

X is for Xi, which is one of my favorite words to play in Words with Friends.

Y is for Yoga, something I’ve recently started doing.  Who knew stretching and finding on your inner zen could be so draining?  Please don’t write in and tell me yoga is more than stretching and finding your inner zen.  I know it is, but when you’re watching others it looks so relaxing and graceful.  I’m here to tell you for me it is neither relaxing nor graceful, but I do enjoy blundering through class–even if I look like a bull in a china shop.

Z is for zazzy.  And yes, you have to say it like Sheldon.  And if you need further explanation, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore (if you’re worried about it, I can totally be bought with wine, beer, and cheese….but not crappy cheese–if you’re trying to bribe me, it had better be aaaaaaa-mazing cheese!).

And that’s me in a nutshell!

For the record, this was a lot more tedious than I thought it would be, so not as easy as the Jackson Five would have you believe!

Thanks for indulging me!

hey mom are you done with the stupid laptop yet?

hey momma are you done with the stupid laptop yet?

 

National Beer of Texas–Thirsty Thursday #3

In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. I know this is a day late, but please forgive my tardiness–it’s been a crazy week and the interwebs at Momma’s house are a bit dodgy. So without further adieu, I finally present to you: Thirsty Thursdays!

When visiting home, I always make sure I drink at least one (or ten) Lone Star beers–I mean after all, it is the National Beer of Texas!

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Thirsty Thursdays #2 Big Ass Beer

In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further adieu, I present to you: Thirsty Thursdays!

I think the glass says it all…

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My Bubba and Me!

This throwback Thursday isn’t very far back–about a year ago on a trip home (if you follow Epicurious Texan on FB, you totally would have seen the burgers from Alamo Springs Cafe).  Anyway, since tomorrow is his birthday (Happy Birthday Bubba!), I thought it only appropriate that this TBT include a pic of him 🙂  

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Mother’s Day

We interrupt our tales of Turkey and Greece to bring you Mother’s Day.  So, first and foremost: Happy Mother’s Day! to everyone out there who (biologically or not) is a mother.

Now, if your mom is anything like my mom, she has several signature dishes.  You know, the ones everyone requests; the ones she could make in her sleep, blindfolded, and with one arm tied behind her back?  Yeah, those dishes.  My mom has 3.  Now, if you know my mother, you might argue that she has two…but no, it’s actually 3.  The confusion, of course, stems from the fact that she hasn’t made her lasagna in probably close to 30 years–so even she might not consider it her signature dish.  But I remember it well–the ooey, gooey, cheesy, tomatoey deliciousness that exploded flavor in your mouth when you ate it.  Everything was fresh and amazing and it seemed to take her forever and so it was a very rare occasion when Momma would make lasagna.

What she does make frequently–and at everyone’s request–is her Chicken Spaghetti and her Dorito Gook.  Gook?  Yes, don’t ask–if you’ve had it, you love it and if you haven’t it just sounds weird and like something you’d never want to try, even though yes, yes you do.  But the Gook is not why we’re here.  It’s the Chicken Spaghetti (and celebrating mommas!) that bring us here today.

NO ONE on the planet makes Chicken Spaghetti like my Momma.  I’m not even going to argue this point with you, so save your breath and your emails.  The problem with Momma’s recipe is that the ingredients aren’t always the easiest to find when traveling the globe.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but it took forever to find a replacement for pimentos when living in Australia.  These days, I’m on a quest to make it a bit healthier by substituting some of the ingredients, like switching to whole wheat pasta.  Mine is still very tasty (IMHO!) and made with lots of love, but nothing will beat Momma’s.

A quick shout-out before I begin to Super Healthy Kids, where I found a simple and easy recipe for a substitution for cream soups.  And while it’s not low fat, at least I can pronounce all the ingredients!  If you’re looking for a gluten-free version, One Good Thing by Jillee has this one!

And now, let me present:

Chicken Spaghetti à la Shez

  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 10oz (1 package) of white button mushrooms, washed and diced into chunks
  • 12oz (1 jar) fire roasted red peppers (or you could use a large can of pimentos), sliced
  • 16oz  whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1/2lb grated cheese (I like to monterey jack)
  • 1 cup of cilantro + more for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Cream of Soup recipe:

3 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp flour

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup of milk

salt & pepper to taste

Make a roux by melting butter in a saucepan and whisking in flour until paste is smooth.  Add broth and milk, stirring continuously and cooking at a slow boil until mixture is thick.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Now, for the spaghetti: saute onions and garlic in olive oil in a stock pot for a couple of minutes until translucent.  Add chicken breasts and enough water to cover chicken by about 2 inches (I usually use about 8 cups).  Add salt and pepper.  Honestly, I never measure–a good sprinkling of each (I know, I know it’s not helpful, but honestly I never think to measure it out so I can share it with you).

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Bring to a boil and let it boil for about an hour until chicken is cooked thoroughly. Once chicken is cooked, carefully remove it from the pot (it’s hot, yo!) and place it on a cutting board to cool off.  DO NOT THROW AWAY THE WATER!!!  In fact, bring it back to a boil and add the pasta.

adding the tasty stuff!

adding the tasty stuff!

While the pasta is cooking, make the cream of soup recipe above and then add it to the pot (or you can use 1 can each cream of chicken and mushroom–just give the pasta 5 minutes to cook before adding them in).  Dice the mushrooms, slice the peppers, grate the cheese and adding them in as you go (put in the cheese last).  At this point, the chicken should be cool enough to handle (although maybe not, so be careful) chunk or shred the chicken and add it back to the pot.  Give it a few good stirs to incorporate all the ingredients and ensure that the cheese is nice and melted.  Right before serving add the cilantro (or you can use parsley, if you prefer) and give it one final stir before dishing it out.  Garnish with more cilantro (or parsley) and dig in!

mmm! mmm! goooood!

mmm! mmm! goooood!

Thanks Momma–I LOVE YOU!!

 

just us girls!

just us girls!

 

 

 

Remember the Alamo!

Happy Texas Independence Day!

Just a quick nod to home and panic not, I have Shiner Bock on hand for celebrating today!  I mean, what kind of good little Texan would I be if I wasn’t prepared for Texas Independence Day?  And before you non-Texans roll your eyes–yes, it’s a thing and yes, we celebrate.  Why?  Because we’re proud of who we are…and we never miss an opportunity to drink beer!

Now, I could easily launch into a dissertation about Texas Independence and the battles therein, such as the one at the Alamo, which served as a battle cry for the remainder of the war.  However, if you are a Texan you’ve known this information since the time you were in the 2nd grade and you’d only be skimming through, hoping for beer at the end.  And if you’re not a Texan, you’d probably only reading in the hope that there was beer at the end.  Alas, I don’t share my Shiner now that I live in a place where it isn’t always available, so today is definitely BYOB.

Before the celebrations begin, though, I’d like to leave you with my favorite quote from Davy Crockett in his concession speech for US Congressman in 1835

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Fishy Friday

When I was younger, I used to tell everyone that I hated seafood, except for shrimp, lobster, crab, oysters and mussels.  One day, Momma asked “So, you like seafood, you just don’t like fish.”  Oh. Right.  Yeah.  I don’t like fish.  Actually, no.  I hate fish.

Don’t write in and tell me how unhealthy that is for me.  I’ve actually branched out (in large part) to sushi and eat it a couple of times a week, but I digress…

My family loved to have fish fries.  And by that I don’t mean fries made of fish (a la fish sticks, which, I will eat only with an insane amount of ketchup, you know, so that I don’t taste the fish.  STOP JUDGING.  oh, what the hell–judge away!).  What I mean is a fish fry.  But plural, because we had them a lot.  What was served at our fish fry?  Catfish (usually caught by my mother, who LOOOOOOOOVES to fish), fries, coleslaw, and hushpuppies.  What would I eat?  Hush puppies and coleslaw (I wasn’t a big fan of fries either.  I was a weird child).  Once we only had fish and fries and I ate NOTHING.  It was traumatic.

Needless to say (but I’m going to anyway), as I got older I started appreciating fish more and after living in Australia for 3 years, I developed a fondness for fish & chips!

After what was (at the very least) a monthly protest of “eating” fried fish, you can imagine my mother’s shock when on a trip home, I requested it.  There’s a place in town called Catfish Haven.  And it’s pretty darn tasty.  Aside from the fish, they also have fried okra, which is something you CANNOT get here in NYC.  I never look at the menu, except to keep me occupied while waiting for the waitress.  I always, always get the 3-piece, extra crispy, with a baked potato and all the toppings.  Yes, I said extra crispy.  I need to feel that crunch when I bite into it.

Extra Crispy, Extra Delicious!

Extra Crispy, Extra Delicious!

Honestly, the best part of the lunch is going with The Girls:  Momma and her two best friends (and cousins) Jeanie Bel and Carole.  In addition to good food, there’s a lot of laughter, which provides something every great fish fry has to have: a sense of family and of home.

The Girls: Jeanie, Momma, and Carole

The Girls: Jeanie, Momma, and Carole

Lions and Bears and Hiking…Oh My!

So, it’s been fun this week with all my birthday posts.  I hope that you’ve been enjoying them.  When it came to picking topics, some were easy–the topics that is, not the people ;- ) others were a bit more challenging and in those cases, I emailed or texted the birthday people to see if they had any suggestions.  Most didn’t or were vague.  Emily, however, had a whole list and when I was reading her email, it made me laugh out loud and immediately relive some of my most memorable moments in college (Go Buffs!).  Here are some of the suggestions that Em suggested:

Funny story, let’s see.  There’s:

why not to take Sherry to the grocery when she’s on pain pills, why not to drink Mescal at a goat roast, why Sherry SHOULD NEVER (yes, she put that in caps!) be allowed to give up caffeine for Lent, the fire that wouldn’t die in Palo Duro Canyon and (can’t believe it was the same night) the hillbillies with axes cutting down the trees, a sad story about our Kansas trip for a wedding when John-John died, the many late nights studying at IHOP, drinking too much at Hummers and then going to IHOP (two totally different experiences: IHOP to study and IHOP b/c of drunkenness).

This, of course, got me to thinking about the capture of Fredtu (and what happened to FredOne), Akiko & Fredtu, Scary Movie night (and no, I don’t mean Scary Movie…I mean The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, The Amityville Horror, and everything by Stephen King, namely It, Pet Cemetery, and The Shining), but I started thinking about all of camping trips and the story that I’m wrapping birthday week up with takes place in Big Bend National Park.

I was a member of the WTAMU Geology Club.  Did I ever take a Geology class?  No.  I lived with Emily, who was a Geology major and El Presidente of the Geology Club.  So I was told I was joining and somehow I ended up as an officer.  One weekend we packed our things and the Geology Club took a short 7 hour drive over 420 miles from Canyon to Bend.

The first day we essentially set up camp so that we could have a full day of exploring the next day.  Exploring is right!  We did a significant amount of hiking through canyons, observing/discovering/learning about the geographic formations and how a river can significant alter the landscape (hello! just look at The Grand Canyon!), truly amazing, given that there were parts of the Rio Grande that were so shallow and narrow, crossing into Mexico wouldn’t have even gotten our knees wet!  As the afternoon wore on, our professor asked if we wanted to watch the sunset through The Window.

What’s The Window?  The Window, he explained, was a spot where two mountains converged and the sun set directly in the gap between them.  It’s magical, he said.  It’ll be fun, he said.

Here’s the description from of The Window Viewing Trail The National Parks Big Bend website:

Difficulty: Easy; 0.3 mile round trip.  This easy, paved wheelchair accessible trail circles a low hill with excellent views of the mountain peaks surrounding the Chisos Basin, and a view through the window. Benches along the trail offer a place to sit and enjoy a classic Big Bend sunset.

We drive to a parking spot nearby and there are two signs: one pointing the direction for the handicap accessible area.  The other read The Window Trail with another arrow.  What the handicapped accessible sign neglected to mention is that it was the viewing area to watch the sunset in The Window.

So where were we headed, you ask?  To. THE. WINDOW.  I would like to interject here, kids, that questioning is a good thing.  Why?  Because our entire group of college students just blindly followed our professor down, down, down a steep, rocky, winding trail.  Okay.  Fine.  We can handle this.  Down, down, down we walk.  The sun is now starting to descend and we can tell that this is going to be grea—WAIT A MINUTE!  Are we heading to The Window?  No, no, the professor insists, he’s sure the viewing area is around here somewhere.  A little further down, down, down.  Soon (and by soon I mean like an hour into our walk) we realize that we are, in fact, heading to The Window itself.  Even better view, he said.  Front row seats, he said.

Here’s the The Window Trail description:

Difficulty: Moderate; Distance:, 5.6 miles round trip.  This trail descends through Oak Creek Canyon to the Window pour-off which frames panoramic desert vistas. During wetter periods Oak Creek may be flowing, and must be crossed several times. Use caution on this trail: the top of the Window pour-off is slickrock with no railings, and the return hike is uphill.

Moderate…if you’re a hiker!  Path is narrowing and getting steeper and twilight is now descending upon us.  Did I mention the signs warning of bears and mountain lions?

hahahaha...we're all gonna be eaten...

hahahaha…we’re all gonna be eaten…

Oh yeah.  Like every 50 feet.  Serving as a reminder that we are getting further and further away from safety and further and further into the wild.  At this point, there’s a bit of grumbling and a bit of questioning.  But we push on further and further down and…now…we’re moving at a quicker pace.  Hurry or we’ll miss it, he said.  Almost there, he said.

The Sun is Almost In Place..

The Sun is Almost In Place..

We didn’t make it all the way to the bottom before the sun sank.  But we did find a great little ledge where we could all watch.  We were probably as close as we could get without climbing gear.  It was spectacular and serene and awe-inspiring to just soak it all in.  It was…dark.

DARK.  Oh yeah, that’s what happens when the sun sets.  IT GETS DARK.  So now here we are.  Standing in the dark…realizing that the only way back was up.  Up. Back up the trail we had spent the last 75 minutes hiking down.  Sigh.  ARE YOU @&%$*#)&$ KIDDING ME??? Back through the mountain lions and bears, who undoubtedly would be hungry and hunting at twilight.  I don’t care what anyone says, EVERYONE jumped every time we heard a twig snap or a bird flutter by.  Of course, we were all out of shape and trust me when I say that there were frequent stops on the way back up, up, up, up to the van.  Of course, a twig off in the darkness would snap and urge us to suck it up and keep moving.  After what seemed an eternity, (but was closer to 90 minutes) we were back a very familiar and welcomed sight: the van.

Since we were camping, I’m quite sure dinner included s’mores, but believe me when I tell you that we earned every. single. bite.

NOT a Big Bend S'more...but no matter where you have 'em, they're a campsite MUST!

NOT a Big Bend S’more…but no matter where you have ’em, they’re a camping/open fire MUST HAVE!

This s’more’s for you Em!  Happy birthday!

The Ruff Life of a Beach Dog

Continuing on my birthday week adventures, today’s post is in honor of Wendy’s birthday.

Wendy lived (until she got crazy and moved to Chicago) in Galveston three blocks from the beach.  For all you out there living under a rock or (gasp!) are unfamiliar with geography of The Great State of Texas, Galveston is an island in the Gulf (obviously.).  There’s a lot to see and do there.  Yes, I’m being vague because honestly, I was there to visit family.  This primarily entailed walking the dog on the beach, running (and by “running,” I mean driving) to Spec’s and Starbucks, and walking the dog on the beach (yeah, I know I said it twice).  Dog other than The Darling Princess Adelaide?  Yes.

Meet the lovely Lola.

Ruff Life

Ruff Life

Since Lola is the princess of Wendy’s house, she was until recently a beach dog–dutifully splashing about, chasing seagulls, and being friendly with everyone sitting on her beach.  During the summer (and when I was visiting) it seemed an afternoon or midday walk wasn’t complete without a stop in to The Beach Hut.

Of course, Lola only gets served water.  She is, after all, underage (even in dog years!).  Humans, however, have the opportunity to imbibe in a plethora of drinks: beer, margaritas, beer, margaritas.  I’m sure there are more–as I saw other patrons with other fun looking drinks–but well, that was the extent of what we ordered at our table.  The BH website (linked above) tells you all about their amazing offerings and events.

I’m now realizing that this posting is starting to sound vague so let me get to the point:

The best part: you walk up from the beach and hang out on the patio, drinking.  In theory, there’s food.  In fact, I know there is because I spent quite a bit of time watching Lola try to cajole the neighboring table into sharing their fries.

And c’mon….how’s that view??  It allows you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the best part of beach life: the serenity with a beer (or insert drink of choice here) in your hand.

The Beach Life!

The Beach Life!

So if you find yourself in or anywhere near Galveston take a wander down the beach…almost to the end and visit The Beach Hut.  You won’t be sorry.  Order a drink, kick back, and send me Lola a thank you postcard!