Thursday, March 31, 2011

Inside Looking In: The Universal Element

Katie's Note: Another guest post from my man. Here he offers an explanation of his compulsion to make fire. Enjoy!

“And I am he that searched out the source of fire, by stealth borne-off inclosed in a fennel-rod, which has shown itself a teacher of every art to mortals, and a great resource.”

I come from a different place, and now I live here; that's part of my identity. But I am a man, and I make fire. It’s something I have to do. Fire is both a force of nature and a fundamental element of society. Ancient man first began to form civilizations around the idea of fire. Fire was difficult to move and harder to start, so some people stayed home to tend it while others foraged and hunted. Then we made beer, and things pretty much progressed the way you’d expect from that point.

Every single culture on Earth uses fire to cook. Grilling, in one form or another, is the true universal common ground. If aliens ever visit Earth, chances are good that if they come from an atmosphere somewhat similar to ours they also will know about grilling. 

So this Inside Looking In post isn’t so much about the differences between the South and the non-Yankee area I come from that is technically further north than here (Jefferson State - I won’t say “Californian” because it’s terribly misleading, and the idea of secession gives me some local credibility). I’d rather talk about this one thing we have in common - fire. Specifically, today, we'll talk about fire in two aspects - one of cooking, one of eating. This can be easily accomplished with the use of hot sauce and chicken wings.

You can’t just go with the off-the-shelf wings sauce; you gotta mix your own. Here’s what I use

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Owl Be Watching You

Spoon Rest Owl from Pine Mountain, Georgia (courtesy of my Sister-in-Law Amber:))

Monday, March 28, 2011

Melodrama Mondays - The Sniffles

Disclaimer: This is a very snotty post, and I don't mean in the high-falutin rich person way.

Not all Mondays are bad. It would be foolish and cynical of me to pretend otherwise, and while I am both foolish and cynical, today was a not-so-bad day, even if it was a Monday and even with all the snot.
I may have mentioned that over the weekend I came down with a bit of a cold. Not a bad cold, just a cold. Sure, I had a trail of tissues all over the house marking where I'd been, but still no big deal. No big deal until I had to sit at the front desk at work and somehow keep my snotty, reddened, draining relentlessly runny nose to myself. Student after student came in. I would sniffle, snort, casually wipe it with a finger anything to keep the student from seeing that my nose had turned into a faucet for snot. Gross much? Yes, believe me, I grossed myself out plenty today.

There's really no subtle way to have a cold. The red-nose and the scraps of tissue in your pockets and desk drawers give you away pretty quickly to your co-workers. Not to mention the fact that you suddenly sound like a fourteen-year old boy with a retainer. With a cold, I swear I sound just like Urkel. Did I do that? I really, really wanted (and tried) to hide my affliction, because right now I know I'm just one of millions with sinus/allergy problems. Hell, the entire state of Georgia is yellow with pollen. But I didn't do a very good job. Co-worker after co-worked asked, "Do you have a cold, Katie?" What gave me away? The snot dripping from my nose or my sexy voice?


I'm sure everyone (co-workers and students included) would cringe every time I had to hand them something. Oh, great, snot girl just got her germs all over me. Woohoo! But it wasn't the kind of stay-at-home-from-work cold, and I couldn't really justify not going in for vanity sake. I can just see explaining to my boss that the reason I was out was that I didn't want to drip snot on anyone. Yeah, right. So, I bravely faced the day with wadded up tissue in hand! Tonight, I'm beginning to feel better, but there's still a pile of tissues on the seat beside me. I fear that tomorrow may be another snotty day...

In other news, I'm toying with idea of having a Featured Blog day at Chicken Noodle Gravy. I would create a questionnaire for bloggers to answer that relates to all things food. I kind of think it would be fun to find out what everyone loves to eat and what their region of the world considers a specialty. And of course, that person's blog would be featured as well with a write-up describing its flavor. I could create a button for people to use and everything. If I can fully flesh out the idea, look for a featured blog day to be popping up soon. And I may call on some of you to participate!

Happy Monday! 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Biscuit Chronicles: Attempt 1

I cheated. I kinda feel ashamed.

In my post An Introduction to: The Biscuit Chronicles, I claimed that I was going to start my biscuit-cooking extravaganza today and update every Sunday morning with the stories of my biscuit attempts. And while I'm still going to update on Sunday mornings, as you can see, I didn't exactly wait until this Sunday morning to actually cook my biscuits.

Yep, I'll confess. I cheated and cooked them last night. After a rainy Saturday cooped up inside ALL DAY (I cannot the stress words "all day" enough), with little to do but surf the interwebs and write, I was going a little stir crazy by about 5:00pm. I also have a bit of a cold, and I was absolutely sick of feeling bad and loafing around on the couch sniffling. So I got my lazy butt up and decided to do something. But what?

Laudry? Check. Picking up the various crap that ends up on all our tables and chairs after a week of working? Check. Cleaning up the kitchen until it's spotless? Check...well, kinda, my kitchen's never quite spotless, but you get the point. I had already done all of the things you do on a day spent puttering around the house. I would have loved to go outside and work in the yard, but alas...rain ruins everything.

I checked my watch. Hmm...about suppertime. I call out to Jeremy, "want shrimp etouffee' for dinner?" He enthusiastically yells "yes" from in the living room. Now, I should preface this with the fact that I bought 2lbs of frozen shrimp on our last grocery store trip. Just in this last week, we've had shrimp three times. Once at my sister's house: steamed shrimp. And twice here at home: shrimp and grits & a little dish I call shrimp Katie...a creation of my own mad mind. That's not to mention the fact that next weekend is my birthday, and in celebration, my family's fixing my favorite meal, a low country boil with what else? Shrimp!

Since I was beginning to feel like I might turn into a shrimp, I decided that maybe something different was in order. I searched my pantry cabinet and fridge. Some frozen chicken, boxed mac n cheese, canned greens. My eyes kept landing on the bag of flour I'd bought just for my biscuit experiment this morning. It was in the freezer. On purpose...not like the phone incident earlier this week.

Oh, why the heck not?! I got the flour out and decided that breakfast for supper was in order.

I'd already scouted out my first biscuit recipe. The White Lily Light Biscuit Recipe. It seemed pretty simple and only had three ingredients. My kinda recipe.

The ingredients:

3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter (or shortening)
2 cups self-rising flour

After adding my cold flour to a mixing bowl, I add my butter. According to the recipe, you're supposed to cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter (which I don't currently own). I used a fork until my mixture was nice and crumbly. Then I added my cold buttermilk and mixed minimally. The dough wasn't very cohesive, and it's not supposed to be. To keep things light and flaky, you work it as little as possible.

I turned the dough out onto a flour drizzled counter top and started pressing it down a few times. I didn't roll this dough out as the recipe called for, because I was nervous about over-working my dough. This part was a little difficult because the dough was so crumbly. I tried to use my hands as little possible, but in order to get things to stick together, I had to press down pretty hard. I pressed and folded in two rounds, then took one of my glasses and began cutting out my biscuits.

I put my biscuits on my preheated at 500 degree greased baking dish and slip them into the oven. Jeremy has been dancing by my side for most of this endeavor. To say the least, he's a little excited about these biscuit experiments.

10 to 12 minutes later voila! Biscuits are ready!

The Verdict:

These biscuits turned out tasty-licious. Seriously, their flavor would be hard to beat. So many of my past biscuit attempts have tasted too flour-y (yep, it's a word) or just bland, but these had an incredible amount of flavor for so few of ingredients. They turned out extra crunchy on the bottom, which was great, and the texture was light and fluffy, just as the recipe promised. And what's more? They turned out SO pretty! Just look at 'em!

 What I would do differently?

As much as I loved these biscuits and as tasty as they were, I'd probably do a few things differently next time I try this recipe. For one, I need to get a pastry cutter. The fork I used didn't quite do the job it needed to, so my butter wasn't very evenly dispersed.

Two, I might not preheat my baking sheet at this high temperature. The biscuits got extra crispy on the bottom, something I didn't care too much for.

Three, I'd work the dough even less than I did. I think I over-worked it. Something I'm infamous for with doughs. I think if I worked the dough a little less they would have turned out more tender. For the last two biscuits I cut out, I had refolded and pressed out the scraps from the first group of cut-outs. These two turned out looking like elephant man biscuits...bless their hearts. 

Call for recipes! If any of you fabulous readers have any biscuit recipes you'd like me to try out, let me know. If I use your recipe, I'll feature you (and your blog if you have one) in The Biscuit Chronicles post. Just shoot me an email at katieross83[at]gmail[dot]com.

'Til next time!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Button Jar

When I was a little girl, I was relatively quiet. If you know me now (really know me), that might be hard to imagine. I can barely keep my mouth shut. My head is full of thoughts and ideas and stories, and I feel the need to share it all with everyone. I've always been a little too open about things. I "over-share," as my husband says, but I just can't stifle the need to tell a story, any story, usually my story. 

As a little girl, I jabbered a lot. My parents would claim they've never known me to be quiet, and I suppose that's true, but when I wasn't driving them and my older sister crazy, I played, and I usually played by myself with a world of imagination inside my mind: voices (I still hear voices...ha!), characters, places. My games usually centered around make-believe. I would create long, elaborate tales that would be acted out by my stuffed animals inside, and outside, well outside, the world was my stage! One-act plays would transform me into a fierce warrior, a strong-willed princess, and most often animals: cheetahs, tigers, horses. I would gallop across the backyard with grace and ease, neighing loudly for the rest of the neighborhood to hear.

With such a vivid and over-active imagination, I rarely had trouble finding something to play with or do. At my Mawmaw's house on rainy days, I would turn into an angry bull, fenced in by dining room chairs laying on their sides. I would stamp and snort and entertain myself for hours. At my Meme's house, I would play outside, darting in and out of the fig tree in the back and timidly climbing through my grandfather's "workshops." Inside, there were even more treasures to be found!

One of my favorite and most vibrant memories of my childhood at Meme's house would have to be her button jar. It usually sat behind the couch in the living room, or at least that's where I remember it sitting. It always seemed so exotic and unique, a Mason jar filled to the brim with all kinds of buttons. As soon as I arrived at their house, I remember looking for it. If and when I got my hands on it, I would dump it out on a chair and dive in!

I remember picking up each button, lifting them to the light, turning them in my little fingers, taking in their texture and shape. My imagination carried the buttons to faraway places, where they became priceless jewels and artifacts. The button jar was a cache of trinkets and treasures, a delightful pirate's booty!

Meme was always quite the "crafter." My penchant for creation comes from many creative members of my family, and Meme is definitely one of them. Her button jar would be used for all sorts of crafty projects. Rugs, pillows, stuffed animals. Her eye was keen and artistic. She could easily transform bits of fabric and scraps of clothing into beautiful objets d'art. As a child, I had countless stuffed animals that Meme made me. Usually cats. She knew of my love of cats, and a trip to her house usually meant I'd bring home a new kitty cat for my collection. 

War-torn and bed-raggled but still loved.
I've been thinking about Meme a lot lately. She's going through a hard time; I won't go into any details, but suffice it to say that memories like these will always be kept close to my heart.

Friday, March 25, 2011

An Introduction to: The Biscuit Chronicles

So it's Friday, and in addition to doing laundry, cleaning house, and loafing around watching MTV True Life or Teen Mom episodes I've seen a million times, I try to use my Fridays off for something productive. Something good and never evil.  Today my good and not evil deed has to do with biscuits and my search for the perfect biscuit recipe. In order to progress this search to a new level, I've decided to start a biscuit project of sorts. To give a little background, below is an exert from one of my columns called "The Legacy of Biscuits."

The South is a region that is built upon a strong foundation of family and food, and the royalty of the Southern food family is the biscuit. All my life I’ve heard stories of biscuits. From the dainty soda biscuits my Daddy’s Gram would prepare with nearly every meal to the piles of lard biscuits that my Mama’s Grandma Tuggle would fix for her legendary Sunday dinners, I grew up with a respect for the Southern biscuit and its place on the Southern table.
The problem is that I haven't yet found my own biscuit identity. I love to cook, especially Southern cuisine, and if I can't establish a good recipe for one of the foundations of Southern cuisine, then I might as well throw in the towel and surrender myself to the fact that I'll probably never rise above simple things like chicken noodle gravy. So, I've decided to begin a search for my "biscuit identity," the biscuit recipe that will secure my place in the family's biscuit legacy. 

A past and poorly photographed attempt.

Beginning this Sunday, I plan to embark on what I'm going to call "The Biscuit Chronicles." *Cue dramatic music here. Please, folks, try not to get too's exhausting. Each Sunday morning, I will try a new biscuit recipe. I will document the ins and outs of each recipe, the ups and downs, the successes and failures. I'll hope like crazy that they don't turn out flat and hard as rocks, but I'll know that some batches will, and I just have to be okay with that. 

I will record The Biscuit Chronicles until I have found the perfect recipe. The biscuit of all biscuits. The one that works with bacon, gravy, sausage, and honey. The one that makes my husband react in a sincere and honest way (instead of the usual "Oh, I love anything you cook, honey" response).

Between now and this Sunday, aka Day 1 of The Biscuit Chronicles, I'll be searching for my first trial recipe. If anyone knows of a great recipe, or would like to share their own, please let me know. Really, you could be a part of history here.

By the way, it's Fab Friends Friday over at For the Love of Blogs, and in the spirit of the day, I'd like to recommend that in addition to reading my posts, you hop on over to the "Blogs I'm Reading" list to the right or my Link <3 tab at the top of the page. These are some awesome blogs that exemplify the kind of blogger I want to be some day :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Inside Looking In: "What's a grit?"

More than any other region in America, the South has a distinct flavor. That's not news to anyone, I suppose, but to an outsider, the unique ingredients can seem pretty exotic, maybe even confusing. Everyone is familiar with fried chicken, but pairing chicken with waffles is not as wide-spread, even if it is delicious. "Chitlins" are famous, but outsiders tend to focus more on the source more than the product, which makes them a kind of unfortunate ambassador of Southern food - and they're not nearly as common as people seem to think.

One of the more enigmatic food items, virtually unknown outside the Southern states, is (are?) grits. A person of northern persuasion might ask, "What's a grit?" To be honest, I don't know myself, and I've lived here for years now.

Grits are measured in estimates. This is one "mess" of grits.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Incredibly Sweet Blog Award

Hey, y'all! I know it's supposed to be Wordless Wednesday and all, but when have I ever been able to shut up anyway? I just wanted to share that fabulous Southern Belle Heather of Belle of the Desert and The Yotes Diva has honored me with The Incredibly Sweet Blog Award! Coming from such a talented blogger as Heather, this means quite a lot to me and has brightened my day considerably. If you haven't already, check out both of Heather's blogs. They're both fabulous, creative, and unique. Thanks SO much, Heather :)

As part of my award, I'm supposed to share five random facts about myself and introduce you to five fantastic bloggers. Random facts happen to be my specialty, so enjoy:

1) I used to be a cowgirl of sorts. I rode horses, worked several jobs at different stables, and most importantly, I shoveled lots of horse manure. My experiences with horses definitely shaped who I've become. I will always love horses. I guess I just never quite grew out of that "horse phase" all girls go through.

Horseback Riding in Blue Ridge, Georgia
2) I'm writing a novel. A coming of age story about a young girl who was blossoming into adulthood just as the Civil War broke out. There's a lot more to it than that of course, but let's just say it's a story about a strong-willed and beautifully independent young woman and the events that shaped her. Very Southern!

3) I had meningitis as an 18-month old. I would've died without my observant parents and incredible doctor. Thankfully, I have had no side effects from this horrible disease. I know each day is a blessing. 

4) I met my husband online (although not through a dating site). He moved across the country for me sight unseen. We've been together for nearly four years now. I fully believe that we are soul mates and that we were meant to find each other. That's the only explanation for the fact that I threw myself into our relationship without any doubts. He could have easily moved here and been a creep or a serial killer, but I felt it was right, and it was.

5) I have an unhealthy obsession with blackbirds, crows, or ravens. My favorite songs are Blackbird by The Beatles and A Murder of One by Counting Crows. My favorite writer is Edgar Allan Poe and one of my favorite poems is The Raven. One of my favorite movies is The Birds. I LOVE all birds, but blackbirds in particular are special to me. I can't say quite why. My friends say I'm "gothic" for stuff like this, but sometimes you just feel a special connection to something just because. 

And the following are five amazing bloggers who are incredibly sweet, funny, and entertaining!

 Tales of Learning, Loving, & Living
Narragansett No. 7 
One Mixed Bag 
Across the Pond 
our life in a click


Wordless Wednesday - Kitty Burrito

Kitty Burrito with extra cheese.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Melodrama Mondays - A Phone in the Refrigerator

Today, I put my phone in the refrigerator. Yes, it was that kind of day. I got fussed out by more people than I can name, including one right at the last minute of the day, and THEN on our way home, my husband and I and the car in front of us both got passed on a double yellow line on a curvy, hilly road. I'd just like to know what's so dang important that you have to take your life, my life, my husband's life, and the lives of all the passengers of an SUV into your own stupid hands? But whatever.

Back to the phone story.

We were getting ready for dinner, and I grabbed a bottle of...something that needed to be put in the fridge (how the heck am I supposed to remember exactly what it was? Remember, I'm the girl who puts her phone in the refrigerator)...and put it in the pantry cabinet, and my phone in the fridge. Now, this kind of thing has happened to me before believe it or not. I sometimes transform into a whirlwind of cleaning/straightening up magical-ness and may lose sight of what goes where in my hurry to get it all done. This happens a lot when we bring home groceries.

The putting away of groceries is nearly an athletic event for me. It starts with getting the bags out of the car. I carry as many as humanly possible without cutting off the circulation to my hands from the sheer weight of it all. I hate making more than one trip. Hate it. So I grab as many bags as possible, as does the hubby, and we make the trek up the garage stairs into the kitchen. By the time I get to the top of the stairs, I won't lie, I feel like I've run a marathon. Heavy breathing and wheezing ensues. A thin film of sweat has broken out on my forehead, but my task isn't near complete. After neatly carelessly dropping the grocery bags on the kitchen table in a heap, I race to begin unloading them. Curse the bag boy for his poor organizational skills (dry goods and meat in the same bag, really?!)! Everything is typically in jumbled order and disarray, so I just start grabbing. Yes, sometimes the milk ends up in the pantry, or the mac-n-cheese will somehow find its way into the fridge, but in the end, everything gets straightened out and finds its place. 

Which is just what happened to my phone tonight. As we were bringing everything into the living room to eat, because the table in the kitchen is solely for looks, I remembered that I still needed to fix our lemonade. I went back in, opened up the fridge, and ta-da! There my phone sat. For a moment, I imagine I was a little puzzled but that only lasted a moment. Jeremy trailed into the kitchen as I was lifting out the lemonade pitcher. "Do we have everything?"

I got down two glasses and filled them with ice. "Yep, everything but my phone. Can you grab it out of the fridge?"

Poor Jeremy. He just stood there looking at me. I imagine he wonders what the heck he's gotten himself into...a lot. I assured him I had a  perfectly good reason for keeping my phone in the fridge. He raised an eyebrow at me. "Oh really? And what was that?"

With as straight of a face as I could muster, I replied, "Because the bacon needed to make a call."

Yeah, I'm corny. We're two corny kids in corny love. 

Post Script - As I was writing this, my neighbor had their car radio turned up so loud that our house was shaking. I had to fight the uncontrollable urge to open my screen door and yell out "Hey, you crazy kids! Turn your damn music down!" I am officially old. 


Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Baby Question

So, the baby question has been one that has come up frequently lately. My husband and I have been married for over three years now, and I can't help but feel that everyone is expecting us to be expecting. Many of my friends have already had babies and are now working on growing their small families, and yet, here I sit, completely content with spending my days with Jeremy, my fur-babies, and my writing. Is something wrong with me? Is it horrible that I cringe every time the baby question comes up? 

Don't get me wrong. I think we want a family; although neither of us are completely sold on the idea quite yet. We're both a little selfish at this point, and I just don't think we're quite ready. Of course, when I say we're not ready, I get this response: "Well, if you wait until you're ready, you'll never have kids!" Ugh. Look, I get it. I get your point, and I totally know where you're coming from. But, this isn't some blanket answer you can use for everyone in this situation. Every couple in this world is unique, and the time sometimes really isn't quite right. It's not an excuse; it's just a fact. And by the way, I'm only 27 (about to be 28, yeah whatever), so we still have time. Right?!?

I'll be honest. Babies have been on my mind a lot lately. My nephew (my sister's first child) is about to turn two. My cousin's toddler is already almost two and a half. My husband's sister's beautiful baby girl is just a few months old. One of my friends from work just had her second little boy, and one of my other closest and dearest friends just announced that she and her sweet husband are pregnant. And I'm completely overjoyed by all of this baby love. It's a beautiful thing! Especially getting to spend time with my nephew and cousin's toddler. They both have such wonderful and unique little personalities, and it's so fun to watch them grow and become themselves.  I can only imagine how beautiful it would be to watch our own children grow each and every day.

But the baby question still stands and still goes unanswered. For every moment that I feel like, YES, let's have a baby, there's another moment where fear and selfishness take over and leave me feeling unsure and lost. And Jeremy provides no direction as he seems to feel the exact same way. 

Our babysitting stints lately have done nothing to make the answer any clearer for us. So many moments are beautiful: walking in the backyard, my nephew's tiny hand gripping my finger, his sweet voice giggling as we tickle his sides and feet, a goodnight hug and wave as his mama carries him off to bed. And in those moments, the desire for a baby rises up in me so quickly that I can hardly stand it. Then he looks up at me and says, quite bullheadedly, "No! No! No!" And I remember that he's on the verge of the terrible twos and probably has a poopy diaper and likes to watch Barney OVER and OVER and OVER again, and then I'm just not so sure. 

I keep wondering and waiting for that defining moment when I know that I'm meant to be a mother, that we're ready to begin this adventure, but it just never comes. When will it come? And how have other people known that the time was right, that such a life-changing decision was right? I realize these are questions we've all asked ourselves, and I realize that my feelings are probably quite normal. But this is the stuff I think about when babies come up, and in an effort to better understand those thoughts myself, I thought I'd write them here.

Just keep this in mind the next time you ask someone the baby question; remember that the response may not be the easiest one in the world to give.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Lunchroom Musings, or Pizza & Corn

I spent two days this week going into local lunchrooms for college recruitment. As an admissions counselor, lunchroom visits are one of my favorite types of recruitment. While some recruitment events may be a little on the boring side, going into a high school lunchroom and observing teenagers in their natural habitats is always entertaining!

What I wouldn't give to bring back those days of culinary perfection!

I wish I could say that I was an impartial observer in this venture. But alas, I was once a teenager, too, and my own experiences have probably colored my impressions. What follows is an attempt to document my observations of the creatures and goings-on of this unnaturally natural high school setting.

I'll start with the "teacher table." The head honcho, the big cheese, the leader of the pack, the princiPAL sits in the middle or at the head of the table. You can tell it's him or her by the way he or she sits. Confidently. The "I am a Leader" pose. He or she demands respect. A born school administrator. I imagine that as a child, this individual was always "Mother" in Mother-May-I. The male version of this rare species sits with his elbows slightly propped on the table beside his tray. He reminds me of a lion hovering over a kill. His eyes constantly dart up from the food in front of him, taking in his surroundings with a keen knowing and understanding. It's almost like he's waiting for something, for a food fight to break out or for a troublemaker to slip up. He's on the edge of his seat and ready to pounce on the next kid who jumps out of line.

The female principal is a little less predatory. She is equally confident, but perhaps a tad more discreet. Her confidence permeates not from her pose or the way she moves but from somewhere within. She is secure and eats her lunch assuredly. She is in no hurry and has no concerns. Her students will stay in line, or they will pay the price. They know that, and she knows that, so she doesn't worry about constantly watching them. If something happens, she'll handle it when it does.

The teachers around them enjoy their lunches and the chance to socialize. In a way, they've become their own clique. Chatting and enjoying each other's company. Adding to the din of the cafeteria. And boy, is there a din!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Inside Looking In - The Glorious Bounty of the Swamp

I interrupt your regularly scheduled food blog to bring you this special guest announcement:
Good food comes from many places. Swamps are most definitely one of them.

I'm Jeremy; Katie asked me to weigh in on here. Offer an outsider's perspective, so to speak. I was born in Oregon, but raised in northern California - not any part you've heard of, I'm sure. My whole life, until a few years ago, was lived in an area that ought to be Jefferson State. It's a great place with a culinary history of its own (so to speak), but the call of the South reached me even there.

Long, romantic story short, here I am, and I couldn't be happier. Southern food suits my stomach nicely. There are 700 ways to cook a pig, and I haven't had one I didn't like. But that's a topic for another day - really, the pig is a topic for either a doctoral thesis or a religious cult, more than there's time for now.

No, today I want to talk about all the good things that come a dirty place. Swamp food.

Eat me, will you? We'll see who has the last laugh.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Melodrama Mondays - The Pork Chop Scapegoat

Today's post brought to you by: my hatred for Mondays.

Since my Mondays (and probably everyone else's) are typically filled with lots of angst and drama, I've decided to start a series called "Melodrama Mondays," which will document the trials and tribulations of my encounters with this most dreaded of all dreaded days of the week. 

Today's Monday started out drama-free enough, but by the end of the day, I was ready to punch somebody, so I came home and took my frustration out on four boneless pork chops. I can safely attest to the fact that they are dead now. I made Pork Schnitzel, recipe courtesy of Deep South Dish. The recipe called for me to trim the fat and then pound the heck out of my pork chops. I used a saucepan and cleaver to do the deed, and while I imagined certain peoples' faces on the pork chops, I pulverized them to a pulp. Boy were they tender!

Here they are good and dead. Bet they'll never talk back to me again!

While I was preparing the pork chops, my kitchen sounded more like a construction zone, and my cats were convinced that I was going to turn my cleaver onto them next. They still haven't emerged from their various hiding spots. I've surely now traumatized everyone in the household and, accordingly, feel much better myself. I wonder if I'll ever get to the point when I don't have lousy Mondays? Nah.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Blog Guidebook

As I sit waiting for my nephew to wake from his nap (which has been close to three-hours long now...I guarantee you if we ever have kids they won't take three-hour long naps), I've been working on Chicken Noodle Gravy again. I'm super-inspired lately to make this a great outlet for my writing, and for it to do its job, it needs to look great, too. I'm not quite all the way there yet; I have a feeling this will be a work in progress for sure, but I'm definitely making some significant strides in the, right direction. 

The biggest change for today has been a new banner and a button addition, and neither of these would have been possible without the fabulous help of The Blog Guidebook.

Great advice, tutorials, resources, and giveaways!
Seriously, if you have a blog, visit this website. Heck, even if you don't have a blog, visit this website. The Blog Guidgebook is a "blog about blogs," and it's the kind of blog Chicken Noodle Gravy aspires to be. Everything from the look of the site to the actual content scream "professional" and "creative." It's absolutely lovely. AND it has a blog directory, which I plan to definitely apply to. 

 Anyway, I hear someone waking up, so back to babysitting. "Bee" back later!


Friday, March 11, 2011

A Family Affair at La Trattoria on the Square

Some restaurants just feel comfortable. From the moment you walk in, you're enveloped in a sense of home and family. La Trattoria on the Square in Carrollton, Georgia is one of those restaurants. Even its name suggests this restaurant's homey ambiance. According to the back of the menu, "la trattoria" refers to a type of eating establishment in Italy that is usually family-run and casual, and this La Trattoria fits its name to a tee. This unassuming and cozy restaurant makes great use of the space, which is pretty small but beautiful. Exposed brick walls, hardwood floors and ceilings, you can practically feel the history of the building as you eat.

The entire restaurant consists of no more than 25 tables. A tiny corner restaurant in a tiny corner building on historic Adamson Square: a stark contrast to the "Italian" restaurants many of us are used to with generic menus and stale atmosphere. Nope, there was nothing stale about La Trattoria, and this applied to the food as well.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Rainy Days and Sundays

I've spent the majority of the day...well, the weekend really...behind this computer. I think this was probably a mistake, because I spend most of my time at work behind a computer as well, and so much computer time can't be good for my eyes, or my fingers. But on cold, rainy days, like today and yesterday, I can't help but feel lazy and want to stay at home. It's in my genetics or something. And it's not like I've wasted my time at the computer looking for Vera Bradley bags on eBay or anything. Nope, I've actually been doing something productive: writing and working on my blog. 

Yesterday, I decided that I wanted to try to generate more traffic to the old blog. As a writer, I want people to actually read what I write from time to time...I'm weird that way. So I started looking for ways to attract readers. "Write it, and they will come" hasn't been working out for me so far.

Among other things, I re-designed the look of the blog to give it a more "official" feel. Jeremy helped me create my own background image, and voila! Chicken Noodle Gravy now has a more original and unique appearance. I also purchased my domain name. That's right, now belongs to me. Try to hide your disappointment. I know some of you were hoping to turn the domain name into a web resource for icky-sounding recipes, but you snooze you lose. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Donkey and My Acute Fear of Log Flume Rides

A personal fear rarely makes sense to anyone but the person who possesses that fear. For instance, I don't understand ailurophobia, which is a fear of cats, because I personally love cats. I'm the crazy cat lady, after all. So I wasn't surprised when tonight while having dinner at The Lazy Donkey with my husband and Aunt Claire, I was made fun of by both of them about my fear of log flume rides. 

Now, I did check to see whether or not there was a scientific term for a log flume ride phobia before writing this, and because there wasn't, I made up my own. As a victim of logflumaphobia, I have long-suffered with a nearly paralyzing fear of rides like Splash Mountain at Disney World or Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls at Universal Studio's Islands of Adventure. In fact, in the past I have totally avoided such rides due to an overwhelming wave of nausea and a case of the shakes every time I am even near one.*

Strangely enough, I haven't always been afflicted with logflumaphobia. At one point, the log ride at Six Flags was one of my favorites. I would beg to ride it! 
Look at the sheer joy! What happened to those careless days of childhood?
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