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The Misadventures of Mrs. B

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The Misadventures of Mrs. B: 2011-02-13

Cook. Writer. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Klutz.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Red Dress Club: Until Someday Comes

Another post focused on writing instead of food! Weird, huh? Today I'm happy to once again be participating in The Red Dress Club's weekly writing meme.  Thanks for all of the wonderful responses last week - I wasn't as "social" as I would have liked to be, but that's because we were out of town.  This weekend watch out - I'm gonna be all up in y'all's business.

Today's prompt: Write about finding a lost article of clothing in the back of a drawer or closet.  How was it found, what is it, why is it so meaningful?

Saturday. Laundry day. I find it easiest to just barrel through as fast as I can, single-minded, before inertia sets in and I “discover” a movie on TV that I’ve seen a million times but need to watch just…once…more.  Before you know it hours have passed and I’ve sat through yet another “Rocky” marathon with nothing but an overflowing hamper to show for it. Gotta stay focused.

I finish matching up what seems like a million pairs of socks and open the drawer to dump them in when I see it.  A small lump of light blue fabric in the back corner.  How long has it been there? Months? Years? I don’t even remember exactly when it ended up in my possession, but I’ve kept it all this time.

I reach for it and pull it out, smiling sheepishly to myself.  Yes, now I remember.  I’d been visiting one of my oldest friends, a girl I’d gone through high school with. She was the first of my girlfriends from that time of my life to have a baby. Talk about a shock – seeing the girl you giggled with late into the night, who you sat around and dreamed up your fantasy wedding with and swooned over Antonio Banderas with (you know, back when he was still hot) now sporting a baby on her shoulder and spit-up stains down her back.

At the time of my visit she had recently given birth to her second little boy.  Little guy #1 was running around with the sort of boundless energy all toddlers have and I was playing games with him. The big event that afternoon was “hiding” an article in plain view for him to “find” it and return it to me. Amazing how the simplest games can entertain a child for hours.

When I got home that night I was searching for something in my purse and I found it. A little present my buddy had given me.  I'd left my bag sitting wide open on the floor and he’d evidently gotten it into his head to hide something for me to find but then forgot all about it. A tiny pair of his baby brother’s socks.

A few years later I examine those socks once again. So small. I hold them up to my nose and breathe deep. They still have that glorious scent of extra gentle detergent – fainter now, but there nonetheless. I run my thumb over the unfathomably soft cotton and I smile to myself.

Why did I keep them? Why did I tuck them safely into the back of my own sock drawer and never tell a soul about them, not even my husband? I don’t know for sure.

Okay, that’s a lie. My heart knows better. I told myself that I was saving them for “someday”. For the day my own little baby would need them. Until then they would stay a secret, an ever-present symbol of my heart’s desire. I had forgotten about their existence but not about what they stood for.

For now I will put my little treasure back in its place and shut the drawer. There it will stay until someday comes.

 Thanks for reading! Any and all constructive criticism is welcome.  For the record, the specifics of the story are fictional - the only socks in my drawer are mine (well, maybe there's a pair of my husband's in there, too...).


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Writer's Workshop: A Vacation to Remember

Mama's Losin' It
Prompt #1: A Vacation to Remember

Rumspringa is a Pennsylvania German term which means "running around", and it is used to describe a period of time for Amish youth from the age of 16 until they decide to be baptized into the Amish church or to leave the church and the Amish way of life forever.  During this time, the teenagers can pretty much do whatever they want in order to ensure that when they decide to become baptized, they are making the most informed decision possible.

Recently we watched a documentary entitled "The Devil's Playground" which told the stories of several such teens and their experiences.  It's fascinating and at times downright shocking to see what some of these kids will get into during their "time off".


This past weekend, Rob and I took a short trip to Amish country and stayed at a bed & breakfast just outside of Lancaster, PA.

It was a fantastic mini-vacation.  We relaxed for the sake of relaxing.  On Saturday we actually took a nap.  Yes.  A nap.  For, like, 3 hours.  Because we could.  That's one thing we never feel like we can attempt when we go to Disneyworld, for sure - everything's scheduled, there's always something more to do, you can maybe take a quick snooze if you play your cards right.  But in Amish country? Zzzzz....Bliss.

We had some really important, probing conversations, such as "What would happen if the government banned all fast food restaurants?".  We discovered a quaint little place called "Pancake Farm" and wondered if they, in fact, grew pancakes there.  Alas, we never found out, since they are closed on Sunday.

Most importantly, we did something we hadn't done in a while.  We did it again and again throughout the entire weekend.  Seriously, we were unstoppable.

We laughed.  

We laughed at everything.  We were silly, we were goofy.  Everything was funny to us.

One of our biggest running jokes focused on rumspringa.  We decided that we would just wreak havoc all over the place and shout "Ruuuuumspringaaaa!" at the top of our lungs while doing so.  And we came up with all sorts of crazy scenarios that sent us into fits of hysterical laughter. 

Oh, did I rear-end you because you cut me off in the parking lot? Rumspringa!

Did I tell you off because you're being all chatty and annoying while I'm trying to eat breakfast which you forced me to get out of bed at 8 AM for, B&B owner? Rumspringa!

Did I punch your lights out for walking back and forth, repeatedly, in the room above me? On a hardwood floor? Wearing heels? At 7:00 in the morning? Rumspringa!

I think we even decided to legally change our last name to Rumspringa.

And no.  We hadn't touched a drop.  It was just one of those magical times when you're drunk on laughter and silliness and the simple joy of being together.


We were at my favorite Amish smorgasbord on Saturday night.  I love the place.  It is Heaven to me.  Simple, homecooked food prepared expertly by people who know how to fry a piece of chicken.  If I could marry a restaurant, this would be the place.

The only drawback for me is sharing a long table with a bunch of strangers, as the food is served family-style on big platters.  I don't mind eating with my entire family or a big group of friends.  It's when I have to sit with strangers that I feel uncomfortable.  And besides, who wants to look like a pig at one of these places? My family and friends already know I'm a over good food.  But here, we all have to "share" and "be polite".  Psssh.

Anyway, we were seated first and wondered who we would be sharing our table with.  Soon another couple joined us.  And I knew from the get-go, just by hearing the way the wife talked about their numerous past experiences here, that they could very well foil my plans for gluttonous overindulgence.  I didn't want to have to break any fingers in pursuit of that extra slice of pie (seriously, I am so hardcore - I only eat there, like, once every 3 or 4 years).

In my distress, I texted Rob from across the table.  Throwdown

His reply?  RUMSPRINGA!!!!

Oh, homemade bread and apple butter.  You complete me.


Rob pointed out something to me last night.  Evidently our trip made a lasting impression with him and he's been thinking back on it quite a bit. 

To him, it symbolized that apart from all the stress we've been through in the past year, all the depression and anxiety and general insanity we've weathered...we still have "It".  It's still there.  We may not be able to tap into it as much as we would like, but the reason we're together in the first place stands strong. 

We were able to shed all of that excess baggage for a couple of days and get back to the basics of our marriage and our friendship.  We cut loose.  We lived without a schedule.  We overate (<-- understatement) and threw all caution to the wind.  And then we went back to our "real life" together, with a fresh point of view and the determination to tap into that silly side of ourselves more often.

It was a very important mini-vacation.

It was our rumspringa.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Foodies!

There comes a time in any blogger's life when she feels as though she needs to give a shout-out to the bloggers who inspire her.

This is one of those times.

I follow a lot of foodies.  A lot.  A whole lot.  I also follow many people who don't focus exclusively on food but whose recipes, photography, and general attitude towards the craft of creating good food inspire me.

Paula at Bell'Alimento is one of those bloggers.  I pester her constantly.  I'm always calling her names like "temptress".  I complain that she's leading me down dark roads, what with her drool-worthy photos of delectable dishes.  As if that wasn't enough, she now has an entire site dedicated to her obsession with Nutella (seriously, don't click on that if you're on a diet).  Paula, I love you, you're a sweetheart, but you're killing me.  Just so ya know.

Another such fantastic blogger is Katie over at This Chick Cooks.  I first noticed Katie when we linked to a lot of the same foodie blog parties - I was always stumbling across her lovely photos, her delicious looking recipes, and was always impressed.  Finally it occured to me that - duh - I should just become a follower of her blog so I could keep up with the craziness - she's a very prolific blogger with lots of awesome looking goodies, and I wouldn't want to miss one.

Then there's Kristan of Confessions of a Cookbook Queen - another blogger I pester.  Not only does she create some of the most outrageous bits of heaven I've ever laid eyes on (not to mention crazy stuff like Angry Birds cupcakes), but she's completely hysterical to boot.  It's much easier for me to not die of jealousy over someone else's talent when they're funny and relatable.  Kristan manages this quite well.

Alissa over at 33 Shades of Green isn't exclusively a food blogger, but I've had the pleasure of linking up with her Tasty Tuesdays blog hop and let me tell you, this girl can cook and photograph up a storm.  She's also a crafty gal, which I envy the heck out of.  Visiting her blog is a delight and an inspiration every single time.

There you have it.  Just a small handful of my favorite food gals.  Who are your favorite bloggers?


Monday, February 14, 2011

Bacon Brussels Sprouts

If there was one vegetable I hated as a kid, it was Brussels sprouts.

Wow.  It's like I just heard dozens of people saying "Duh" at the same time.

Okay.  I know I wasn't alone in this hatred.  Lucky for me, we rarely ate them.  Still, the few times we did have left me scarred for life.  Boiled beyond recognition, puke green in color, bearing a faint odor of...well, stank...they were not exactly favored fare.

And it stayed this way.  Until recently.

It was only recently that I learned that Brussels sprouts don't have to be disgusting.  They don't have to be overcooked to the point of mush.  They can be infused with flavor.  

Bacon flavor.  Yes, friends, I was sold.

I wound up using Paula Deen's Brussels sprouts recipe as a starting point, and made my own alterations as I saw fit.  You know me - I always have to edit a recipe to my own liking.  I didn't see a reason to cook 2 pounds at once since I knew I'd be the only one eating them, and I changed the preparation instructions a bit as well.  For instance I knew, having received advice from some wise bloggers, that allowing the cut sides to sit in the bacon fat and carmelize would be the way to go.  I removed the onions/garlic from the pan prior to adding the sprouts in order to increase the surface area and decrease the chance of dealing with stinky burned garlic.  And it just seemed right to me to leave the sprouts in the pan after the broth evaporated in order to sort of re-brown them. 

1 lb fresh brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and sprouts sliced in half lengthwise
1/4 pound bacon, diced (around 5-6 slices, or more if you're a glutton like me)
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
2 tbs butter

Heat large frying pan over medium high heat.  Add bacon and cook until crisp.  Remove bacon using slotted spoon, leaving rendered fat in pan.  Set bacon aside.

Reduce heat to medium.  Add shallots and garlic and cook for around a minute, stirring frequently to prevent burning.  Remove with slotted spoon and set aside.

Add sprouts to pan.  Turn all cut side-down so as to allow carmelization.  Cook for several minutes, checking periodically to ensure proper browning without burning.  When sprouts have carmelized, add onions and garlic back to pan and pour chicken broth over top.  Allow broth to cook down completely, leaving pan uncovered, and occasionally move sprouts around to ensure even cooking.  

Once liquid is evaporated, allow sprouts to sit cut side-down again for several minutes in order to encourage further browning.  Add butter, and plenty of salt and pepper.  Stir gently to combine.  Remove from heat and serve with bacon pieces on top.

And that's it, friends.  So simple and yet so good.  The carmelization is marvelous, and I really believe that allowing the cooked sprouts to brown again added another level of flavor.

Plus.  Bacon.  Yeah.  Suffice it to say I sat there and picked at these babies the entire time I was taking pictures of them.  Then I ate them all week long.  And it was amazing.  I think I'll add more shallots next time, or just regular onions.

Make this dish.  I promise you, if you aren't already a Brussels sprouts convert, you will be.  And you'll wonder how you managed to spend so much time away from them.

Were you forced to eat Brussels sprouts as a kid? Do you think you'd enjoy them more if prepared this way?

Sharing with All the Small Stuff, Fudge Ripple, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, 33 Shades of Green Miz Helen's Country Cottage Designs by Gollum, Simply Sweet Home & Tidy Mom - stop by and see what's going on with all the other talented bloggers who link up there!