Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

Wow.  Ok, I owe you an apology.  Well, if I had any followers, I would... regardless, life has gotten in the way, and this blog was the first thing to get cut from the to-do list.  Sorry.

That said, I thought I would take a quick look at last year's goals - I say goals, because I didn't really set any resolutions - actually, I didn't really set any goals, either, I stole them from Runner's World.

No, not mine. I don't consider myself a runner yet. But here's what Runner's World has to say about it...

Simple explanation:
1. Think like an athlete, not a dieter.  -  Failed.  While I did more running in 2011 than I have ever done before, I can't legitimately call myself a runner yet.
2. Nix late-night snacks.  -  Epic fail.  Especially while on duty at the station.  Surprisingly, my weight stayed steady, even when I wasn't running.
3. Take notes (aka food journal).  -  Hmm, I don't even remember this one.  Obviously, didn't do it, either.
4. Plan ahead.  -  I did plan ahead, but not to the extent I should have.  Especially with meals.
5. Eat breakfast - every morning.  -  Umm... I had a bigger lunch?  Ok, ok.  Fail.

Wow, 2011 wasn't nearly as good as I had thought it was.

I had an eight hour drive today to think of the past, the future, and a whole lot of nothingness.  Here's what I came up with for 2012's goals:

1.  Look back less.  No looking back at lost love, lost friendship, lost opportunity.  Everyday should focus on the future.
2.  Cook more.  This blog was started as a cooking blog, and I am ashamed at how little it has happened.  No time like the present to start cooking more... and blog about it!
3.  Run my marathon.  Which includes staying healthy ALL YEAR, so that I can train through the summer, and be adequately prepared for it this year.
4.  Lose twenty pounds (or so).  Honestly, I'd love to lose a good forty pounds or better, but let's start slow.
5.  Cut my frivolous expenditures.  I have a pile of unread magazines in the corner, an entire bookshelf of unread books, and more than a few watched-once DVDs.  Time to cut the fat.

I wish each and every one of you a positive, fortunate, dream-filled 2012.

What are your goals for 2012?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Apple Dumplings Maddness

Wow, I think I have finally recovered from my semi-comatose state caused by last weekend’s festival activities!  While I don’t know any official numbers, rumors have it that nearly 120,000 people were in town on Saturday alone, and I know the ambulance company deposited over $20,000 for the two-day event.  I’d say that’s success, huh?!

Preparing the stand for sales.

As I have for the past three years, I spent most of Saturday night baking more dumplings for the Sunday crowd.  I volunteer to do this so that others may rest and get some sleep… and so that I don’t have to be up early to be at the stand.  Yup, I’m selfish like that.

Baking went smoothly.  I snapped a few pics, to get your mouth watering.  Why would I want your mouth to be watering?  Because… ta-da!  I have the recipes for the apple dumplings!  Unfortunately, I did not obtain permission to post said recipes.  No dumplings for you!  Sorry… I tried, they didn’t want to give it up.

Ok, it may look good to you, but I am sick of these...
Syrup making was non-stop all weekend!

Exhaustion was common.
However, I DID get permission to give out the syrup recipe.  Why is this important, you ask?  Well, because not only is this syrup good on apple dumplings… it’s also fantastic on pancakes, waffles, or to just take a steaming cup and sip it down.  Don’t judge.  Recipe to follow in a separate post.

And the best part of baking overnight… I get to use their restaurant-quality kitchen to cook for myself!  It takes about two hours for a batch of dumplings to bake completely, which was perfect for me, since I had a few recipes I wanted to try out.

First up – Pumpkin Butter, from Julia at the Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body blog.

I won’t repeat the recipe here, since I followed it to a T.  Didn’t want to mess with something that seems perfect to begin with.  And oh my, was it ever!  Soon as it was done, I made up two pieces of toast and smothered them with this beauty.  Perfect snack for 0200!  And now, five days later, it’s nearly gone.

My second recipe was for breakfast.  I tried Chelsey’s Overnight Oats recipe, from Clean Eating Chelsey, although I made some changes as I went… and while I had to wait until morning to try it, I must say – it was a perfect start to the day after spending all night slaving over the ovens!

Ok, so we only had HUGE pots at the station... still worked.

The comments I got from leaving this in the station fridge were priceless!

Overnight Oats

1/3 Cup Oats (overflowing)
1/2 Cup water
2/3 Cup Almond Milk
2 Tbsp. Vanilla
1 Tbsp. Chia Seeds
1 Banana
2 Tablespoons Cinnamon (since it was laying around)

Served with:
1 heaping scoop of creamy peanut butter
2-3 second swirl of local honey

1.      Pour oats, water and almond milk into sauce pan.  Heat on high.
2.      While pan is heating, add vanilla and chia seeds.  Stir.  (Note to self: don’t tip pan, or chia seeds will stick to sides of pot)
3.      Unpeel banana and slice real thin into pot.  Add cinnamon.
4.      Wait for pot to boil.  Let boil for about 30 seconds.
5.      Whip banana into oats using fork for about 1 minute or until consistency desired.
6.      Pour into airtight container.  Cover, and place in fridge overnight.
7.      In morning, add 1-2 Tbsp. water and whip with a fork to loosen oats.
8.      Place in bowl, add honey, extra cinnamon, blueberries, peanut butter, etc. as desired.
9.      Can be heated or eaten cold.

Another tip – if you make both of these recipes, the pumpkin butter is simple heaven mixed in with a helping of the overnight oats!  That’s been my breakfast twice this week.

So tell me, how do you like your oats?  And until then, get those knives up!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Baking success and failure

Last weekend, I did something I haven’t done in a long, long time… I baked!  Truth be told, my freezer was starting to be overtaken by frozen bananas, so this baking experience was more to reclaim my freezer than anything else.  But any excuse works, especially if it turns out with something yummy.  The bread turned out PERFECT, although, I think after I let it cool, wrapped it and put it in the fridge (per my mom’s recipe…), it deflated a bit.  Odd.  Still tastes good, so I don’t mind so much.  My pictures didn’t turn out well, but since I’ve got more bananas, I plan to make another loaf (or two or three…)  Pictures and recipe to follow!

I also wanted to try out a bread machine.  My grandma had given me hers years ago, when she moved into her current apartment, but at the time, I was busy with classes, probably going through the divorce or something else like that, and the machine got pushed to the back of the storage cupboard.  So I pulled it out, did a little research to “healthy-ize” an old recipe, and gave it a shot!  And at this point, I need to decide whether to be honest or not. :-)  Ok, truth be told, the bread turned out like a solid brick.  Literally.  When I turned the pan upside down, it slid out and nearly cracked my countertop.  Not good.  I think I know what I did wrong – the cooking settings aren’t real clear when it comes to anything other than plain white bread, and I think I chose the wrong setting.  I will try again before passing judgment on bread machines…

I haven’t really mentioned it before, but the last two months have been pretty packed with fundraising efforts at the ambulance company.  Every year, the small mountain town I live in has a big arts and crafts festival, and the ambulance company sells homemade apple dumplings with a diabetic-coma inducing sugar syrup and ice cream.  It has become so successful that we pay for our annual mortgage payment off of this two-day event.  I am going to try to get the recipe for the dough and syrup, but if I can’t, I’ll be sure to at least post a few tips and how-to photos for you all.

And as an update to my running… as most remember, I have been training (not so consistently) for the Marine Corps Marathon.  Between the summer heat, some cracked ribs, and some ankle issues I’ve had on and off, my training has been… well, pathetic.  In the best interest of my health and well-being, I resignedly decided to defer my entry until 2012.  It just wasn’t safe for me to try to increase my mileage and speeds to the level I would’ve needed to.  But alas, I am not giving up on running, just taking a little longer to get to my goals.

For now, that's it, but be on the lookout for my apple dumpling post... coming soon!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

10 Personal Questions

I had a decent weekend in the kitchen, but I haven't had time to write it all down, so until I do, here's something "canned" to get you by... sometimes I wonder if I share to much with you... hmmm.

10 Personal Questions

What do you have on your bedside table?

On top:  My alarm clock, my cell charger, a Rosary, a pistol (I take home protection into my own hands… literally…) and a picture of a close friend.  Under, on the shelves:  Assorted books, a Bible, and the lockbox for said pistol.

Do you have a tattoo?

Two, actually.  One is an Native American symbol that represents peace, tranquility, and is often used in funeral ceremonies to represent the land after death.  The other is a custom design incorporating the Maltese Cross (firefighter symbol), the Star of Life (EMT symbol), some flames, and some angel wings.  I need to get my EKG added to it, though, to represent being an ALS provider now…

And don’t get me started on designs in progress!

Do you believe in abstinence prior to marriage?

I did not practice abstinence.  My ex-wife did.  There was a lot of issue with that difference.  She didn’t like that I wasn’t a virgin, I had trouble trying to get her to relax and explore herself more.  I am not condoning meaningless sex, but if it’s with someone special, then I believe it adds a new dimension of closeness to your relationship.  I do think teens should wait until they are with someone they care about, and not just whomever they are dating.  Sex is special, even if you don’t wait until marriage.

What is your worst habit?

I am stubborn, bullheaded – Irish and German in one person.  I live for the moment, usually at the expense of the future.  And I am infinitely insecure about who I am as a person… although, I am making strides in the right direction with that.  And I have a very long fuse that burns extremely quickly, with a bad temper behind it.

How do you handle finances in your relationship?  Or, how would you like to handle money in your future relationship?

My ex and I didn’t have any set rules – we each had our own accounts, and were responsible for set bills.  But we didn’t divide equally – while I made 60% of the income, I was responsible for 85% of the regular bills, so I always felt like I was falling behind, while she was stocking money in her bank account.  When we divorced, it became clear to me how unequal things had been.

If you could change your name, what would you change it to?

No clue.  Besides, I was recently told that the name Jason is sexy.  I’m cool with that… 

Where do you want to go on your next vacation?

Oh my.  I have a typed list that is five pages long of the places I want to go, things I want to see or do.  So it’s really hard to decide upon one.

What is one political cause you feel strongly about?

Our failing welfare system.  Why is it I have to take a drug test to get a job, but the millions on welfare don’t have to take one to get free money?!  And stop rewarding jobless people for having more kids – it’s more cost effective for them to get pregnant and live off of my taxes than it is to find a job.

Have you ever stolen anything?

Yes.  Not proud of that.

Tell us something embarrassing about yourself.

Curious George is my favorite “famous person”.  He lives life as if it’s his last day, and always looks for the positive, the fun, and the creative in everything he does.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

For Kelly

I apologize for being away so long.  Life has gotten in the way, and I've had no time to write.

First, my grandmother was hospitalized last week.  Back pain, chest pain, and overall pain.  In the end, she'll be fine - but she's been in and out of the hospital for the last eight days now, and it's very draining... and as the only medically trained person in the family, I get all of the medical questions - what's this drug do, what are the side effects, how should she do this, etc. etc. etc.  One word.  OYE.

THEN, to make things in life even more chaotic and depressing, my best friend, Kelly, shipped off to the U.S. Air Force on Monday.  So the weekend was spent hanging out with her, talking, and helping her pack and throw away things because her family isn't all that great and would just toss it all without her.  Needless to say, Monday was not a happy day...

It's been an odd week, actually.  Not too many of my real friends know that Kelly and I are as close as we are.  So while I am feeling extremely lonely and abandoned, I can't just go up to someone else and start talking about it.  I would get strange(er) looks, questions I don't want to answer, and honestly, it's none of their business - just accept that she liked me more.  Or at least I like to think so.

But as lonely as I might be feeling now, I also have this immense sense of pride in her, too.  Kelly is bravely doing what so few are willing to do anymore - she is dedicating the next few years of her life to protecting our government, our safety, and our freedom.  She is making a sacrifice for all of us, even though most Americans don't have the slightest sense of patriotism anymore.  It's all about the personal benefit.  But not Kelly.  She's something special.

So to honor her, here are a few of my favorite pictures of her...

This is actually a very "typical" Kelly pose! haha

Thank you, Kelly, and to all of our service men and women.  I am proud to call you a friend, and cannot wait to see you again!  God bless, be safe, and know that we all love you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Heroes. We all have them. Admit it, you know you do.

Some are the cape-wearing type, some are the realistic, mom-and-dad type. But not mine. I’ve got to be different…

My hero is goofy. My hero is a klutz. My hero can dirty the cleanest kitchen in seconds. And my hero loves his job…

My hero is none other than the Swedish Chef, of Muppets Show fame.  Ok, so maybe he's not really a look-up-to type hero, but he's aweful fun to watch.

How can you not love him? Talking to pumpkins.

Fighting with lobsters.

Creating culinary works of art with reckless abandon.

Inventing creative ways to utilize new tools.

And come on, who doesn’t love singing produce?!

*  *  *  *  *
So who (or what) is your hero?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Things on my mind

Things on my mind…

1. I want a house, but for different reasons than most. I want a house so I can have a kitchen that is mine, that doesn’t have a washer and dryer in it. I want a house so I can have a dog. I want a house so I can host a BBQ party. I want a house so I have a place to do all my hobbies. I want a house so I have a lawn to mow. I want a house so I have a place to feel at home.

2. I follow too many blogs and podcasts. My Google Reader hasn’t been empty in over a year now, and I always seem to be playing catch-up. I’ll read all of one blog, then move to the next, and by the time I get to the end, the beginning is full again. Same with my iTunes. There’s not enough time in the week for me to listen to all the weekly podcasts that I am subscribed to. Fortunately, they span a good range of topics, and if that topic doesn’t entertain me at the moment, I just let it sit until it does.

3. Words with Friends is too addictive. I’ve just been playing random opponents, but I have about five games going on right now. It has become the Angry Birds replacement…

4. I hate that my sister lives on the other side of the country. And while I’d like to admit that it’s 100% because I love and miss her, if I am completely honest, I would admit that I’ve grown used to her living thousands of miles away… the true reason is that I miss my niece. I don’t want to be that silent relative that she only sees at Christmas. I had too many of them growing up, and unfortunately, I feel like I missed out on that “close family bond” that other kids had.

Sweat Vittoria, at one month old.  How can I not miss this?!

5. I waste a lot of food… but not a lot of money. See, it’s cheaper to buy a bag of apples and let one or two go bad than it is to buy individual apples. So while I don’t always like that I am throwing out food, I know that I am saving money in doing so. This is another area where I wish I had a house – I could compost all of those foods… but I don’t think my apartment-neighbors would appreciate me composting on my balcony.

6. I am addicted to Twitter . Whenever I have to go an extended amount of time (oh, anything past an hour or so…) I start wondering what everyone is doing. Just another product of our detached society.

7. There’s a certain young lady who I am crazy about – but who has no interest in me. Considering we’ve never truly me and she already hates me, seems I should just find someone else to dote on.

8. I really need to decide what I want to be when I grow up… err, when I get older. While there are parts of me that enjoy being an architect, it doesn’t hold the satisfaction that it once did. Being a medic has been a wonderful experience, and every night I work, I go to bed knowing I have made the difference in somebody’s life. But I’m not sure if that’s what I want to do, day in and day out. I have contemplated going to culinary school, but let’s be honest, I can’t afford it and going back to school in my mid-thirties scares the living crap out of me. So I have no clue what I want to be when I get older…

9. I’d really like to make this blog more than it is… but for the life of me, I don’t know where to take it. Right now, I seem to just ramble a lot, but it’s hard for me to cook much in my tiny cluttered apartment. And again, knowing that nobody reads it makes it less enticing to put much effort into it. <shrug> We’ll see.

10. My parents are on their way out to see me right now. It’s become a tradition that every year, they come out to visit me and we go to the Maryland Wine Festival. All of Maryland’s wineries set up big circus tents, and one you pay the admission and get your tasting glass, you get to walk around and taste all of the different wines. Live music, carnival-style food, and lots of wine… so long as the weather holds, it makes for a good day.

Ok, off to read another cookbook…

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


After spending the entire night on the medic unit at a police standoff, I came home early this morning, called my boss to let her know I wasn't coming in, and crawled into bed.  Seven hours later, I awoke like a zombie... so please excuse me if this doesn't make sense.

I've been giving a lot of thought about the future the past few weeks.  After attending the CIA Open House, meeting my beautiful niece for the first time, and trying to balance out my life on a daily basis.  And let me tell you - my life NEEDS some balance!

I'm still not really sure what the future holds... I know I want to attend the CIA, but I'm not sure if I want it for me, or if I want it for a career.  I have a habit of wanting to obtain all of the classes, certifications and tools of the trade for a certain hobby, but once I have all of that, I get bored and move on to something else... obviously, I cannot quit my job, take out boo-ko-loans and start life over for a mere hobby.  See my dilemma?!

I'm not sure where I am going with this, but then again, since I have no followers, I'm not sure it even matters.  But I feel better now that I've gotten it out there...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

San Francisco

San Francisco was wonderful!  And while I could waste your time with some pointless words about the things I saw (which you could read about in any travel book...), I think I will just let my camera speak for me...

Vittoria and Uncle Jason - the reason for the entire trip.