Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Birthday Party Circa 1987

Does this five-year-old look excited for her birthday party or what?  It's hard to tell in the picture, but my party dress is adorned with a smiling bunny rabbit.  This would have pleased me to no end, as bunnies were the be-all and end-all at that point in my life.  Since then I've moved on to somewhat more adult interests, but my love for birthdays remains unchanged.  Tonight John and I are going to a cooking class at Draeger's as part of the celebration.  I promise not to wear white tights, but no promises on the bunny dress.

Monday, September 27, 2010

First Flight

The lesser known Wright brother was John Wright who took his first flight by way of hang glide.  His flight was off Jockey's Ridge, a few miles away from where Orville and Wilbur flew.  Orville and Wilbur's jealousy of John's much-more-normal first name caused them to refute John's claims of his first flight.  Luckily an archive of never-before-seen photographs of John's first flight have been uncovered.

Not too many places teach you how to jump off giant sand dunes, but Kitty Hawk Kites has a hang gliding school.  

Clearly, John was their first student.

From down on the ground, I couldn't really figure out what they were teaching him, but they made lay on the ground to practice.  Since he was the first student, after all, they had no idea what to teach him.

This is, presumably, the pep talk.  

And he's off.

Last few steps on the ground, and ...

He's up!

Still up.

And sadly, the first flight ended in the first crash.  

Sorry, Mr. Wright, that looks pretty rough.  (Be glad I didn't insert at Mr. Wrong joke here.)

The poor instructors get the task of carrying the glider up the dune after each flight.  Err, but since this was the first flight, this was his first time ever doing it!

The world's second flight was much more successful.

The instructor could hardly contain him.

Go, John, go!

Look at him stick that landing!


Good thing he could teach Orville and Wilbur a few things before they had their first go.  Thank goodness the true history of the first flight has finally been documented.  All is right in the world.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Taste of What's to Come

Another Sunday has come and gone, and I haven't managed to write the blog posts I've been meaning to write.  As Catch and Release is wrapping up, I figured I could at least give you guys a taste of what is to come on ye olde bloggie soon.  First off, many many pictures of the young babe above.  My dad was nice enough to scan a million of my baby pictures and send them to me, and they will soon be featured here whether you like it or not.  (You'll like it.)

And soon I will finally get around to posting about John's hang gliding adventure.  The gliding parts and the crashing parts.

The glowing Anika and her husband, Justin, visited this weekend.  I stole the pictures off her camera that I was too lazy to take.  Oh the joys of friends with a D300.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chocolate Cobbler

Do you believe in fate?  Sometimes I think I do.  If I hadn't been where I was in the summer of 2006, I never would have met John.  If we hadn't been in Chicago at Anika's wedding in November of 2008, John might not have applied for a job at Google, bringing us to California.

Similarly, fate brought me this recipe for chocolate cobbler.  Chocolate cobbler, people.  How could I not make this?  If I hadn't been surfing the internet reading the blogs I read every day, I never would have met this chocolate cobbler.  Fate, people.

The recipe mixes up easily and then you layer it in a somewhat peculiar way (ending in a big swig of hot water on top).  Trust the process.

The top forms a moist cake, and then underneath is a rich, gooey chocolate gravy that you can slop all over the cake.  Yes, chocolate gravy is a thing.

To balance the richness, I strongly suggest a huge mound of vanilla ice cream to accompany your chocolate cobbler.  Don't you love when fate makes sure you have ice cream on hand?

This recipe brought to you by fate.

Chocolate Cobbler
From Tasty Kitchen

1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons cocoa powder, divided
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups hot top water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, stir together 1 cup flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, and 3/4 cup sugar.  Stir in 1/2 cup milk, 1/3 cup melted butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla.  Mix until smooth.  Pour the mixture into an ungreased 8-inch baking dish.  In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 4 tablespoons cocoa powder.  Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the top of the batter.  Pour 1 1/2 cups hot tap water over the top of the second layer and do not mix.  Bake for 40 minutes until the center is just set.  Let stand for 2 minutes and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and plenty of chocolate gravy.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ugly Green Fruit

John and I have a new favorite stand at our farmers market.  We refer to her as "The Lady."  Not only does this stand have the best fruit in the market (and for the same price as the lesser-than fruits), but she also hands you your peaches with a side of advice.  She tells it like it is, which is refreshing to hear, especially coming from someone selling something.  She will frankly tell you which one of her options is the best right now.  She will tell you how many days to let something ripen on the counter, and will chastise you if you put certain things in the fridge.  She is also unbelievably sweet, like her Ugly Green Fruit.

We've been visiting her stand first for about 3 months now.  Last week she asked us "Have you tried my Ugly Green Fruit?"  We said we hadn't, and she insisted we try a piece she cut right in front of us.  As our eyes widened at the sweet plum, she told us it is her favorite fruit, and it's growing in the experimental section of her farm.  John is a convert and considers it his new favorite too.  He's eating three at a sitting, and, frankly, gets upset if I even so much as eye on of "his" little gems.  These plums aren't just sweet, though.  The sweetness isn't overwhelming, and is accompanied by more depth of flavor than you usually find in most fruits.  I almost consider it a cross between a Granny Smith apple and a plum.  I wish I could tell you to immediately go buy some, but unless you live in Mountain View or visit me in the next two weeks, I'm afraid you'll just have to satisfy yourself with my description.  Luckily for Anika, she will be here right in time.  Smart girl.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

La P's Wedding

Labor Day weekend John and I flew out to North Carolina for Laura and David's wedding.  I've known La P (now I guess La F) since I was 9 years old.  We were on the same soccer team from then on, mostly with her dad as our coach.  She was always better than me, but I didn't hold that against her.

Since it was Laura's wedding, of course it was in Chapel Hill.  She's a die-hard UNC fan, so it was only natural.

After the beautiful ceremony, we got to do a send-off with bubbles.

It fit Laura's bubbly personality perfectly.

I was happy that it allowed me to get some pictures of the happy couple in daylight!

I'm not sure whose red Camaro this was, but they drove off in it!

Three best friends reunited for the first time in a couple of years!  Needless to say, we had a great time together.

Bags and Becca were there too.  Becca is expecting, as you can see by her lovely glow!

The bride stopped by to visit our Virginia Beach crew.  I love big group shots at weddings.

Everyone at my table had a great time at the wedding.  Nothing like seeing a close friend marry an amazing and deserving guy.  Congrats Laura and David!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


John and I had a great week in the Outer Banks and tomorrow it's back to the grind.  When I told my coworkers where I was going, lots of them had never heard of the Outer Banks.  I should have just asked if they had seen those "OBX" stickers on the back of SUVs.

The beach was full of cute dogs like this one to remind us that Maddie was stuck in the kennel.  Poor thing.  Can't wait to see her tomorrow though!

My dad managed to capture our first walk down the beach when we arrived.  It was nice to have the sand between my toes.  The cool beaches in California are usually better experienced with a sweatshirt and tennis shoes.

Throughout the course of the week there were many toes washed at this hose.  You would think that by the end of the week I would have gotten proficient enough to actually get all the sand off by the time I crawled into bed.  Maybe I need another week of practice...

This is my "Do not disturb me, I'm reading The Passage" look.

My dad took pictures of the sunrise almost every day, but this is the only one I actually saw.  Nothing like a view of the ocean sunrise to make it worth waking up for.

Later this week I'll post about John's hang gliding experience and our beach family photoshoot.  One of these days I'll post about food too.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Out of Office Auto Reply

I'm sorry, were you trying to reach me?  I'm out of the office and have absolutely no intention of getting back to you any time soon.

You see, I have no space for my blackberry in my beach bag.  

This condo here doesn't have a desk, and even if it did, I wouldn't be sitting at it.

While I sit in this chair reading The Passage I don't want to be distracted by emails signed "Best," "Sincerely," or "Thanks so much."

So if you need to reach me, please find me in The Outer Banks Beach Club #2A.  I am more than willing to discuss work while I munch on a juicy peach while listening to the waves crash.  Otherwise, I'll see you on Monday at the office.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tomato Crouton Casserole

Tomato season is coming to a close, so it's time to make the most of those last beauties.  The weather is getting a bit colder, so it's nice to have a warm, comforting dish that utilizes those last fresh tomatoes.  This tomato crouton "casserole" can work as a fancy side dish or a main dish with a nice salad.  I actually just ate the whole pan by myself since John was out of town.  That was a bit of overkill, but hey, your opportunities are endless.

I used sweet purple cherry tomatoes, though you can use really any kind of fresh tomato you have on hand.  I'm a big fan of the smaller tomatoes, though the larger ones would hold up a bit better when cooking.   

This dish has three stars - tomatoes, bread, and parmesan.  A nice thick round of French bread works great for this recipe.  You cut off the crust and then snack on it while making the rest of the dish.  Or instead you can save it because the recipe you make the next day requires bread crumbs and you have run out.

Carbs + Tomatoes + Cheese = Win.  There's a reason this combination has lasted for years.  

The key to this dish is to keep the croutons as croutons and not as soggy bread.  To do this, I upped my bread content in the dish, cooked the croutons until they were pretty crispy, and used a larger baking dish so the casserole was spread relatively thinly across the dish.  And if you get those croutons to stay crisp, you might just be eating the whole pan yourself too!

Tomato Crouton Casserole
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, crusts removed
2 pounds tomatoes cut into 1/2 inch dice (or just cut your cherry tomatoes in half)
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup basil cut in thin slices
1 cup freshly grated parmesan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a very large saute pan over medium high heat.  Add the bread cubes and toss until coated with the oil.  Cook cubes until crispy on all sides - about 5-7 minutes.  Meanwhile combine the chopped tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt, and ground pepper in a large bowl.  When the bread has turned into croutons, add in the tomato mixture and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.  Remove  from the heat and stir in the slices of basil.  Pour into a medium sized baking dish and top with the grated parmesan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes until the top browns.
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