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Ooops.

So, after being at school from 8:30 a.m. until 4:45 p.m., <with no classes, mind you> I decided I would come home and bake something with cranberries.  I love cranberries, and I wanted to do something with the bag of fresh cranberries that had been sitting in my fridge for about 2 weeks.

I chose Ina Garten’s Cranberry Orange Scones.  The reviews were wonderful, the ingredients were pretty basic, and it made a big enough recipe that Hunter and I could enjoy but I could still take a dozen or so to my class on Wednesday morning.

Turns out that my oven is WAY hotter than it says on the dial, and not only did the scones turn completely black on the bottom, but the parchment paper was literally black.  After a bit of research, I discovered that the parchment paper might be the problem:  according to this site, you can’t use parchment paper over 400 degrees (the temperature called for in the recipe above).  Thus, a too hot oven + parchment paper = black-bottomed scones.

NEWSFLASH:  This is my first post-marriage cooking disaster, and we handled it pretty well (considering).

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Overwhelmed Spinach Lasagna

Well world, today was quite the day, and I rebelled by skipping my last class to come home and watch last Thursday’s Grey’s Anatomy while baking a Spinach Lasagna:

You need:
Spaghetti Sauce
Lasagna Noodles, either precooked or no-boil
One box of frozen Spinach
One Egg
One 16 oz. carton of Reduced-Fat Cottage Cheese (you can use ricotta if you want)
Parsley Flakes or Italian Seasoning
Mozzerella Cheese
Cheddar Cheese

Make the Spinach-Cottage Cheese Mix:
1) Defrost frozen spinach and heat until stirrable.
2) Combine spinach with carton of cottage cheese, one egg, and parsley flakes to taste.

Cover the bottom of your pan with a thin layer of spaghetti sauce.

Layer with lasagna noodles.

Layer with Cheddar Cheese, then Mozzerella Cheese, then Spinach-Cottage Cheese Mix. Top with Spaghetti Sauce.

Cover with a layer of lasagna noodles.

Layer with Cheddar Cheese, then Mozzerella Cheese, then Spinach-Cottage Cheese Mix. Top with Spaghetti Sauce.

Cover with lasagna noodles. Cover with Sauce. Top with Cheddar and Mozzerella Cheeses.

Cover with Aluminum Foil and bake at 375 for 45 minutes.

Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes, or until cheese on top is golden.

Let sit for at least ten minutes before cutting.

Make sure you have someone who loves you to enjoy this with, because it is definitely uber-delicious and better when shared.

Busy busy busy

Hello world, quick update for you:  I am very busy. This week is completely insane.  I have 3 client meetings, 3 20-30 page papers to edit and give feedback on, assignments for each client, reading and classwork for each of my courses, laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, etc.  Goodness gracious.

So, tonight is chicken soup night, because it is the most delicious night of the week, and chicken soup makes everything better.

BEST CHICKEN SOUP EVER:

Put 1-4 chicken breasts (frozen is fine) into a pot, cover slightly with water, and cook on medium-high until they are cooked through.  (I use one partially frozen chicken breast for 4 hearty bowls of soup, and cook for about 12 minutes.)

Remove chicken and pour out water.  Set chicken aside.

Chop up your root veggies of choice.  Fill the bottom of your soup pan with 1 Tbs. Olive Oil (or your oil of choice) and your chosen root veggies.  Mine are:

1/2 a white onion, chopped.

3-4 whole carrots, peeled and chopped

2-3 stalks celery, chopped

Simmer veggies until soft and delicious.  Don’t forget to salt this layer for good flavor.

When the veggies are about ready, turn the pan up to high and let it get carmely on the bottom.  Just for a minute or two — don’t let them burn.

When the pan is nice and hot, pour in 2–4 little boxes of low sodium chicken stock.  It should sizzle really good.

Bring to a boil.  When boiling, pour in 1/2 box of angel hair pasta.  Boil for the number of minutes on the box minus one.  Then, turn off the heat.

Add salt, black pepper, red chili flakes, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and stir.  Sprinkle a bit of grated parmigiana reggiano if you have it fresh.  Otherwise, serve with Cheese Toast:

Take four pieces of bread.  Put cheese on top.  Toast at 425 until deliciously brown. Cheddar or Provolone are my favorites at the moment.

 

 

Updating the Life List:

1)  A smart phone.  So I can check my email everywhere. Thanks to the in-laws, I am now toting around a Blackberry Curve with Email from Verizon.  It is a burden and a blessing, but it helps me not feel so crazy when I do take that (very infrequent) Saturday afternoon off.

2)  A house.

3)  A new bumper for my ’98 Honda Civic.  And a new left front light.  This is probably never ever going to happen.

4)  A 4.0 GPA this semester.  But I’ll settle for 3.53.85 is not that bad, considering.

5)  A beautiful, seizure-free, friendly wedding.  With great weather.  And everyone I love. It happened.  It was beautiful, and seizure-free.  There were a few moments that I heard about later on, but the day was magical.

6)  A bright cherry red kitchenaid mixerThank you to my beautiful wonderful forever-after bridesmaids!!!

7)  To wake up feeling like leaving my apartment and conquering the world instead of like staying in bed and watching TV.

8)  A job that will let my soul rest easy, pay my student loans, and take my wonderful Hunter on vacation.

9)  Travel.  I want to travel…to see the world.

10)  To know God.  Fiercely.

11)  To love others passionately.

 

UPDATE 10/7/2010:  It seems like my more tangible goals were, for the most part, achieved!  However, the most important things — the things that make you who you are, and that I want to embrace for my whole life — are still a bit out of reach.  I’m learning to love others and to trust in my abilities, but I still freak out because I don’t have a job lined up and find myself relying on my own abilities instead of trusting in God’s timing.
But, I think it’s totally okay to do the easy things first!  I’m going to add a few more things to the Life List as this year progresses, but I feel pretty good about crossing these things off.

Updates

Well, it’s been kind of a big year.  Since the last post, I have done the following things for the first time:

1) Been married;

2) Lived with a boy;

3) Let someone else, who’s not my mom, wash my laundry.

4) Traveled to Mexico;

5) Taken a cruise;

6) Been admitted to the Bar (well, conditionally admitted as a student);

7) Accepted, interviewed, and advised organizational clients;

8) Interviewed for (and been rejected from) a Judicial Clerkship;

9) Made new friends;

10) Moved into a new state;

11) Changed my last name;

12) Taken on a bit more than I can chew, work-wise;

13) Learned that I can handle a lot more than I thought, and handle it well.

14)  Financially committed to taking the MARYLAND Bar and becoming a Maryland attorney.

I am continually learning that I am capable of more than I previously thought.  My confidence in my legal abilities and life-living abilities is growing.  I’m struggling in my faith, but I hope that it will grow as I move through this time of unknown – no idea where I will be working or what I will be doing ten months from today.  It is hard to be a Christian when Christians act so crazy all the time — but more about that later.

Love to all —

MB

Am I a writing snob?

I started reading Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and just couldn’t do it.  The contents were mildly entertaining, sure, but Pollan’s sentences battered my brain into a state of depression so deep that I shut the book and am not going back. 

“The great edifice of variety and choice that is an American supermarket turns out to rest on a remarkably narrow biological foundation comprised of a tiny group of plants that is dominated by a single species:  Zea mays, the tropical grass most Americans know as corn.”  
–Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma 18, Penguin Press (2006). 

 This one sentence, just a random selection from over 450 pages of text and footnotes, is a masterpiece of awfulness.  How many ways can we re-write the sentence to make it more readable?  Why doesn’t he take out his self-imposed “punctuation drama” and write for clarity? 

The American supermarket, of all its variety and choice, is supplied by products comprised of corn.  

Let’s add in a little “punctuation drama” to make this more Pollan-friendly: 

The American supermarket, of all its variety and choice, is supplied by products biologically comprised of one main ingredient:  corn. 

Oh, we want a little latin thrown in?  Why not put it at the beginning of the sentence, or the end, where words carry the most weight? 

Zea mays, the tropical grass known by most Americans as corn, makes up the vast majority of supermarket products. 

Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, is written in an oppressive and rambling style that makes my head want to explode.  Knowing that he is a successful journalist and award winning author makes me want to quit school and join a commune. 

** edifice:  a large or massive structure, in either the abstract (i.e. institution) or the physical (i.e. building). 
** punctuation drama is a term I created to represent the use of “fancy” puncutation (like colons, semi-colons, dashes, and the like).  It can make a sentence more fantastic, but often just makes a sentence awkward. 

Updates coming soon

I’ve been in the craze of the last month of school, followed by finals, so I haven’t been posting anything.  [Which you obviously already knew.]

Over the next few months, my heart and to-do lists will be wedding focused, so expect a lot of posts about these types of topics.  I’ll try to post regularly starting very soon.

Still have another day of studying legal ethics, but let me leave you with this link to a blogger following her own path toward a healthier, Christ-centered marriage.

Boring is beautiful

My good friend Mary just posted about how she thinks her life is generally pretty boring.  Which makes me laugh, because comparatively speaking I would LOVE to have her life instead of mine right now.  [Except for the whole kidney stones thing — ouch!] But the truth is, life is not really boring.  Life can feel that way when we get bogged down in our daily routines, but every moment, every millisecond something fantastic is happening!  Today, my friend Naomi gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.  This week my Tennessee Vols made it to the elite eight!  So many wonderful things are happening in our lives, but we forget to look for the wonder.
Tonight, Jews across the world are beginning the celebration of Passover.  This week builds up to the culmination of all that is Christianity — the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I am not in my usual place for the holiday:  my parents are church musicians, so I generally go to about a million services and concerts and recitals; hear the forgotten half of Handel’s Messiah; wake up incredibly early to candy in my Easter basket and a trumpet playing at a sunrise service.  I miss the tradition, but this year I’m going to try to focus on the meaning of the holiday instead of the festivities.  I’m going to try to focus on beauty and wonder this week.  We cannot understand the resurrection with our scientific minds; we cannot explain away the miraculous nature of it.  We must accept the devastation and the beauty as unexplainable yet wonderful.
Like the resurrection story, every day life is full of devastation and beauty, mixed together, often blurred in the mess of life.  With heartache comes triumph, but what about those other days — the days where it feels like nothing happens, and we are just trudging along with our mundane lives?  The days we spend waiting for something to change, or for the job offer to come, or for the grades to post?  These in-between days are essential to prepare us for the messy life days, and I am thankful for them.  Exciting days are wonderful, but staying up late and waking up early make me cranky and distracted.  Emotional highs and emotional lows set me off balance, and make my work and my life less effective.
As we prepare our hearts for the resurrection of Christ this Sunday, let us be thankful of these days in between.

Gunpowder refers to the way the tea is rolled . . .

The server at my favorite coffee shop is rude.  Rude to her co-workers, rude to her customers. For example,

————–

Today:

CUSTOMER A:  Is this decaf?

SERVER:  YOU DIDN’T ASK FOR DECAF.

CUSTOMER A:  I think I did.  I need it to be decaf.

SERVER:  WELL YOU DIDN”T ASK FOR DECAF.

————–

Yesterday:

CUSTOMER B:  The internet isn’t working.

SERVER:  It’s because you have a MAC.

CUSTOMER B:  It’s working for other people with MACs.

SERVER:  It only has problems with MACs.

CUSTOMER B:  Well, you can change the network settings to keep that from happening.

SERVER:  Well, I don’t know a lot about computers.

CUSTOMER B:  It’s really easy, all you do is —

SERVER:  I opened a coffee shop, not a computer store.

————

However, I love the coffee shop and keep coming back.  The coffee really isn’t that spectacular, but the music selection is amazing, the atmosphere is great for really thinking and working hard, and my wonderful friend “C.A.” meets me there to chat/study at least twice a week.  I like to watch the server work with customers, and I love how everyone deals with her rudeness instead of complaining, talking back, or changing their coffee-location of choice.  She never says “thanks for coming,” or “we appreciate your  business,” or “have a nice day.”  But the business must be doing well, because the shop is always full and people keep coming back.

If I were back in Tennessee, however, things would go a little differently.  I often like to imagine my mother in these situations, because she doesn’t take crap from anybody.  And she is MEGA SOUTHERN, which makes her assertiveness charming, just like mine.

Police Misconduct

Today I was accosted by a police offer. And by accosted, I mean mildly harassed for about fifteen seconds while I was driving my car.  Okay, here’s the story:

Driving home from work, I waited in the left hand lane with my left turn signal flashing.  The traffic was a bit heavy, so I had to wait until the light turned yellow and then turn as the signals changed.  This, by the way, is what every single driver turning left during traffic does every day.  For some reason, the police car about six cars behind me got tired of waiting, drove up beside me in the lane going the opposite direction, turned on his sirens and started talking to me.

I’m not sure how he expected me to hear what he said while his siren was on.

He kept talking under the sirens, and then drove away.  By then, the light had changed again.

Thank you, mysterious D.C. police officer, for making my awesome life a little better today.  I appreciate your irrational actions in stalling traffic today.

For kicks and giggles, let’s track back a few other awesome things that D.C. police officers have done.

Violating the DC Hands-Free Driving rule.

Arresting a woman for throwing a snowball.

Arresting a woman for dancing.