October 23, 2009

Recipe Roundup

Here's a few links to satiate you over the weekend if you are feeling like having a little cooking extravaganza.

Some Recipes That Have Rocked My World This Week:

Chana Masala (via Orangette) - A spicy tomato and chickpea stew. Sounds a little left of center; however, is totally easy and will absolutely rock your mouth. I think Garrett's response was along the lines of "OMG can we eat this everyday?"

Quinoa with Butternut Squash, Bacon, and Walnuts - As if I needed more confirmation that the magic ingredients in any recipe are bacon and walnuts. Delish. Oddly this recipe came from the free Raley's Something Extra magazine. Who knew a free supermarket marketing magazine could provide such culinary delicacies?

Oven Roasted Vegetables with Crispy Parmesan Topping - Again with the Raleys recipes? I know! But this was a delight. I used a combo of the last squash from our garden, an eggplant that needed to be used, and zucchini in lieu of Winter Squash, but it that crusty topping was magic!

Some Recipes I Am Thinking Of Tackling This Weekend:

Easy Homemade Cheese Bread - I'm sorry, did you say easy, cheese, and bread? I'm in.

Steamy Kitchen's Swiss Onion Soup - Again, it's really all about the bread and the cheese, isn't it?

Zucchini and Goat Cheese Pizza - This is kind of a Summery recipe but I picked this mostly becauseI've had it bookmarked for so long and everytime I look at the picture, my mouth waters -- and, ya know, that usually bodes well when recipe browsing.

Clearly, I am craving some cheese, people. Frankly it is the main thing from keeping me going vegan. Well, cheese and butter. Okay and bacon. Oh jeez, this is not looking good for me. Let's change the subject, shall we?

So what are you cooking this weekend?

October 22, 2009

Where to go? What to do?

Sadly, this morning I got out the white out to update our home calendar where we post all of our comings and goings. We had purchased tickets to head up to Portland for a long weekend in a few weeks for our Anniversary, but with all the instability surrounding Garrett's job and just the general funk that we have both been in, neither of us really felt like travelling, so we cancelled them. Kind of a bummer, but definitely indicative of my mood as of late. It is crazy when you think about it, because generally there is not much that can quell my wanderlust, but something about a trip in a couple weeks just doesn't feel right.

But all is not lost, and I actually don't mean this to be a whiny post at all so don't fret. What this means is that between the credit we now have for our Portland tickets, another $100 Southwest credit that I had lying around, and the $200 Southwest credit I got for recently getting off a too-full flight down to Anaheim -- we basically have to figure out where the hell we are going to go because this Southwest money isn't going to just spend itself. And that, my friends perks that wanderlust right back up.

So...where do we go?

Well, first of all we aren't planning to go anywhere until probably February or March. Hopefully things will calm down and get a bit normalized by then, so we are looking to do some late Winter/early Spring travel. Topping the list is perhaps a weeklong trip to Seattle and then maybe up to Canada. But also, I can't forget that Portland still excites me so I want to make that trip happen at some point. Oooh, but what about Chicago? That is one of Garrett's favorite places, so it is definitely on the list (though I am guessing it will be cold as all get out!) Austin, TX? How fun! Boston? So much to see! Georgia? Southern Comfort! New Orleans? Denver? New York? Do we wait until Summer and rent a cabin by a lake up in Wyoming or Montana?

WE COULD GO ANYWHERE....ack! The decision sort of paralyzes my little Libra brain.

So what do you think, peeps? My favorite thing in the world is to research potential vacation destinations. Where do you think I should start looking?

October 19, 2009

The Banana Bread to End All Banana Breads

Generally I am not a picky eater although I do have a few food opinions about ingredients that just shouldn't go together. For example, in my opinion, chicken on pizza is criminal. Cheese with fish? Disgusting. And surprisingly, fruit with chocolate (except maybe strawberries) just doesn't really do it for me. I don't really have OCD tendencies where I feel that my food shouldn't touch or anything like that, but some things are just not meant to be mixed.

All this is to say that when I initially read this recipe for banana bread with chocolate chunks, I furrowed my brow a bit. It seemed like two great tastes that should taste great together, but I just wasn't sure, you know?

That is until I tried it!

This is the most moist and flavorful banana bread with a crispy outer crust and a soft, tender middle. The chocolate chips sprinkled throughout only increase the decadence, and made me forever a believer in the combination of chocolate and banana! It freezes nicely wrapped in foil, but if you are anything like me, I doubt it will even last that long.

*Baker's Note*
Though I chose to go the chocolate chip route, I am sure that you could omit those and you may still have the best banana bread ever. If you try it sans chocolate, let me know!

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chunks
adapted from rachaelray.com

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 bananas, mashed (1 cup mashed banana)
1 cup chocolate chunks (I just used semi-sweet chocolate chips because that's what I had around)

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F .
Grease and flour a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan (or use baking spray, such as Baker's Joy brand).

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, sugar, baking soda and salt.
Mix in oil, bananas and eggs.
Stir in chocolate chips (do not overmix!) and pour into prepared pan.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean about 70 minutes.
Cool loaf in pan.

October 16, 2009

Football is Life

For those of you who don't know, my father passed away in 1998 very suddenly of a heart attack. He was very well known in the town I grew up in, partly because he was a chatterbox (in the best way!) and partly because he ended up playing football in the NFL. He was a real hometown hero in that sense, and even though he has been gone a decade, I still have strangers (when they realize who my father was) share the craziest memories they have about what a great man he was.

This weekend my dad's high school football coach is being recognized and a fundraiser is being held to raise money to build a bust of him in the local stadium. He is a bit of a legend in Fremont, and was a very influential person in my father's life and I wrote this letter in tribute for the ceremony this weekend.


Growing up, everyone in Fremont seemed to know my father, John Woodcock. When I was young, I didn’t think anything of it, it was just the norm. As a teenager it annoyed me because, well, let’s be honest, what doesn’t annoy a teenager? But as an adult, now that he is no longer here, I am grateful for the memories that others choose to share with me. Professional football made my father well-known, but it was his heart, his drive, and his dedication that made him a success. And these weren’t just qualities he was born with.

When I think of my dad I feel incredibly fortunate. Even though he was only in my life a short time, he had a tremendous impact on the way I see the world. Growing up he was not as lucky to have such an influential father in his life. Raised by his mother in a house with three sisters, he certainly knew more than most about what it was like to be a woman. This of course worked out well for my mother in the end, but ask anyone who knew him and they would certainly tell you that he was also an incredible man. Much of that has to do with his involvement with the Washington High football program, and more importantly Coach Ingram.

My mom said, Coach Ingram was not only a mentor to my dad, but he was a father figure in a way that is so uncommon today. She said Coach was like E.F. Hutton, and when E.F. Hutton spoke, everyone listened. During her years at Washington High School when she dated my dad she said Coach must have had eyes in the back of his head as he seemed to know all and see all. He always had the scoop on every guy that ever played for him and knew their strengths and weaknesses. He taught them to strive, to be something more then they were. Whether it was to be quicker, stronger, faster, or smarter he pushed them to be focused on their game.

Back in the day, my dad would tell me, football ruled at Washington High School and it was a great time to be a Husky. He loved playing in the “old stadium” to a capacity crowd, and hearing the marching band at halftime. It was a legendary time and they had a legendary coach. His players were as disciplined as they were tough. There was no “jaking” – a term used to call out someone who wasn’t giving it their all – and there was no room for quitting. You can bet there was no sugar coating on Coach I’s team. If you weren’t performing, you weren’t playing, and he held everyone to the same standard. It was all about the team and there was no individual showboating allowed. Terrell Owens wouldn’t have made it a day playing for Coach Ingram.

Even after my father graduated and was no longer playing for Coach Ingram, he still came back to train with him in the off seasons of his professional career. It wasn’t easy for my dad to come back to Fremont after a long season and start the rigorous training all over again, but it was this that my dad always appreciated and credited Coach Ingram for -- he kept him in shape, grounded and focused year after year. His expertise and advice went way beyond the high school years and extended into his adult life where they formed a friendship. Coach I became someone my dad wanted to succeed for.

Today I know that feeling well. In my own life, I often think of my father and hope that he would think of me as a success. He taught me well and I know that some of my father’s most valuable lessons came straight from the Coach’s mouth:

• Always give 100%. The minute you don’t someone else will come along who is better, faster, or stronger than you. Always be humble and always be learning.

• Be Coachable, not defensive. There is nothing worse than someone who can’t accept constructive criticism. Take feedback with gratitude because it only makes you better if you listen to it.

• But most notably – Always do what you said you were going to do. Personal integrity isn’t just important, it’s all you have.

They are rules to live by, and I am proof that they don’t just apply in football but also in life. I am the product of my father, but so much of who he was and how he was shaped is all Coach Ingram, and for that influence, my whole family is grateful.

I was a cheerleader at Mission San Jose in the 90s and although we loved to show our school spirit, our football team was never what you would call dominant --but my dad never missed a game. He couldn’t have been more supportive. In his heart he was a Husky through and through, but he also knew that he had to do what was best for his team -- and at that time “his team” was my mom and I -- and that meant showing his MSJ pride. I think sometimes it must have pained him to have to sit on the sidelines and root for the Warriors, but true to form he always did what he said he was going to do – and I don’t even think Coach Ingram could fault him for that.

Holly Woodcock

October 14, 2009

What A Difference A Year Makes

A year ago today I turned 30. Instead of freaking out, I decided (as I often do in stressful situations) to throw a party, of course! I wish I could be one of those fabulous women who tells you that throwing a party always makes them feel energized and totally less stressed out, but it ohmygawd it doesn't. They are a ton of work, good lord! What throwing a party does do, however, is make delicious cocktails within arms reach. And that is not a half bad way to celebrate a scary transition, you all.

But how does one follow that up?

Well, in my opinion you don't. This year I'm choosing to ring in my birthday with a much quieter kind of celebrating and so far it has been enjoyable. I'm actually having a very productive day at work (I know, ho-hum) and tonight will be a quiet dinner with Garrett and some serious lounging/snuggling. To me, that sounds just perfect! This year marks 31. I am fully ensconsed in my thirties. And you know what, it feels nice. This year I kind of just want to exhale and marinate on that for a second.

As you may (or may not) recall, last year the week before my EPIC! 30TH! BIRTHDAY! EXTRAVAGANZA! I was also moving. (And that's not stressful at all, noooo.) My roommate of 6 years was moving back down South, and I was going to live alone for the first time. Eek! On the plus side, I was moving into this cute little studio which to this day, might be my single favorite piece of occupied real estate. But I was still picking up my life and transplanting it. It was fun and new, but oh man, was it exhausting.

This year, however, I am totally settled. I wanted to have the experience of living alone before Garrett and I moved in together, but after about 6 months of that I was ready to shack up, so we did. This birthday is not marked by any sort of migration (THANK GOD). Garrett and I have set up our first little nest and continue to love the ease of living together. Though life has thrown us some curve balls in the past few weeks, we are trying to remain open to any and all possibilites. And you know what? That has been totally exciting. Someone told me once that during your most uncertain times, that is when your life is full of the most possibility -- and I am trying to embrace that idea.

So this year, even though there is no party, and no brand new place, no fanfare and fireworks, no bands playing in the garage or jello shots being passed around -- I am just as happy as I was last year...perhaps, happier. Steadier, may be a more accurate description. I have settled into my thirties and feel a calm sense of accomplishment about that. Though life is still filled with craziness, I know at the end of the day I have 31 years of life experience that will get me through any mess of situations -- and although it may not sound as exciting -- it might be even better than a jello shot buzz on a cool night!

October 13, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things for Fall: Cooking and Reading

I went to the library last weekend, and since then I have been absolutely obsessed with Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth. The kind of obsessed where it is constantly in my purse in case I have to stand in line somewhere or wait for something, I’m reading it while waiting for my toast to pop out of the toaster -- maybe I can squeeze in JUST A FEW MORE PAGES. It's weird because I generally shy away from collections of short stories, prefering books with more action and character development, but this book really moved me. It also made me realized I am the world's worst storyteller. I've told you before but whenever I am really into a book Garrett always asks me what is happening in the book and seriously, my summaries of this book have made it sound terrible and boring but it has actually been AMAZING! I woke up at 5am this morning to finish it because I just had to know how the final story ended. I’m a little sad that it’s over.

Speaking of reading and the library, I picked up The Devil in the White City on audio book while I was there and it has also been quite the unexpected delight. It's kind of a historical thriller and I feel seriously efficient when I am listening to a book as I'm running errands and things. It's another book I picked up that I wasn't sure I'd really be into, but have found really entertaining. Audio books feel like such a treat to me, and I'm glad the Carmichael Library has a good selection. Hooray for trying new things!

I’ve been trying new things in the kitchen as well lately so I thought I would post a few that were worth recommending. Most notably:

Pumpkin Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting -- Oh My God these are to die for. Die, die, die. So good.

Red Lentil Dal -- hearty, warm, simple weeknight supper. And hey, it's vegan! (You know, if that matters to you). The flavors are delicious and you can tweak it to be as spicy or mild as you want by adjusting the cayenne and jalapeno. I could eat this everyday!

Chilled Peanut Soba Noodles -- this is a good base recipe and then I add at least green onions and red peppers. You could really add any produce or herbs you had lying around. It is so good and easy to prepare.

Since we are talking cooking and book crushes -- Have you read Molly Wizenberg's book A Homemade Life? Obviously her blog is a staple in my reader but I wasn’t sure I would care too much about the book, but I was totally wrong. Hmmmm…this is becoming a trend isn’t it? Anyway, it’s a very charming memoir filled with stories of her life which include recipes for a million fabulous sounding dishes that I never would have thought of – like roasted cauliflower with salsa verde. Here is a link to the recipe (though not from the author herself) and let me tell you – you want to make this!

I don’t know about you, but fall makes me want to make soup, nest, snuggle, and roast everything! And of course be curled up with a good book on the couch waiting for dinner to be served. Today is the first super rainy day we have had in a while and I can't wait to go home and cook up some stew and start my new book! It's the little things...

October 07, 2009

Scenes from Anaheim (or wherever, for that matter)

I have to travel a fair amount for work for these seminars that my company puts on in different parts of the state. I play hostess the entire time and because I have been doing it for a couple years now, I have noticed a pattern. Every single time I go through the same phases. It is usually a 4 day/3 night affair and it doesn't matter if it is Las Vegas or Los Angeles, it always shakes out a bit like this:

Day One -- Okay Holly, you can do it! Flying is not all that scary. Just hold on. Distract yourself. Read all 17 of those magazines that you justified buying in the airport because you were "travelling". ZOMG! are (insert celebrity) and (insert celebrity) really breaking up???

Night One -- Woo hoo! Hotel bed all to myself. I'm taking a bubble bath! Reading my new book! Grabbing something totally unreedeming for dinner! Yes! A GIANT KING SIZE BED, and all to myself? MWAHAHAHAHAHA

Day Two -- What the hell, why am I up at 4am? Where am I? Oh, right. God, why is hotel coffee never good? You know what is good though? My mad hosting skillz, yo! Am the best hostess EVAR! Everyone put on your best happy face. I'm the smiliest person you will ever meet. If you aren't enjoying yourself, talk to me -- I can fix it! And I do it with a smile. Woo!

Night Two -- Jesus, that was exhausting. I wonder where I can go and just frown for a few hours. My face hurts. Man, do I have eat out again? Holy hell room service is expensive, yes, you have to eat out again. So it's about 7pm, this hotel room sure is getting old. I miss Garrett. Maybe there's something good on TV? Hmm...Hannah Montana? Shrek? The News? Oh, The News again? Gee, something in Spanish? Something else in Spanish? Why the hell don't any hotel rooms have Bravo, MTV, or The Food Network. DUUUUDE. Ok, maybe I'll read.

Day Three -- What the hell, why am I up at 4am again? This does not bode well in the long term. ACK, seriously? Hotel coffee? Kick it up a notch, will ya? Ok, day two of hosting will be fine, but seriously, my face hurts from all the smiling yesterday. Attitude for day two -- Yes, you can still come to me if you aren't enjoying yourself, but seriously, if you are going to give me a ten minute diatribe about why you can't use a blue highlighter and need ONLY a pink highlighter, today I may not be so patient. Hmmm, I wonder what Garrett is up to?

Night Three -- Ok, I can't take one more night of this hotel room. Tonight, I must go out! Good thing I know someone in this town or I might have slit my wrists in the dirty ass bathtub by this point. And what is it with hotels NEVER having enough hot water. Seriously, the only thing worse than a luke warm shower at 4 am, is a luke warm bath after a long day. NOTHX. And I guess I can eat out one more night. Maybe tonight I will find something healthy. All I have to do is get through tonight and tomorrow I'm OUTTA THIS JOINT! Finally, home to my house and my man!

Day Four -- What the hell, why am I up at 4am -- oh wait, I'm up so I can pack my stuff. Wooo, I'm going home today! Good riddance, because I'm over this giant lonely bed. And if I have to eat one more restaurant meal, or hotel catered lunch, or breakfast from Starbucks, I really might just die. Home Cooking: It's What's For Dinner. Thank God. Why, hello airport, we meet again. It's nice to catch up on all 17 magazines I purchased (Yes, in addition to the 17 I purchased on the way down. Um, because I'm travelling, remember! I mean, hello, I will be on the plane at least 60 whole minutes, right?)


And that, my friends, is why I am not cut out for a career in travel. You know, unless I can bring my man and it is to a city that doesn't consider Joe's Crab Shack a "good seafood restaurant".


Related Posts with Thumbnails