Lobstah Mac & Cheese

I may have done this recipe before but just bear with me.  My mac & cheese is pretty darn good. But add lobster to any recipe (maybe not chocolate cake) and it’s way better. By the bye…you can likely sub in crab, or shrimp, or mixed shellfish if you prefer that to lobster.

First, we used 5 lobster tails. It doesn’t HAVE to be tail meat. Claw meat is fine too. But, you want about a cup of seafood. If you use pre-cooked, then skip the cooking section for the lobster. HA!

Lobster Mac & Cheese

5 lobster tails, uncooked

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

2 cups milk

2 cups shredded cheese (I used white cheddar and swiss this time…shred your own, really)

1 lb of pasta, cooked to al dente (really, let it be a tiny bit chewy because it will cook more)

salt, white pepper, ground mustard, onion powder (a pinch of each)

Panko if you desire

First, cook the lobster tails. So, in a pot of boiling salted water, submerge the tails and bring to a boil. Boil for 12 minutes or just under done. Remove from water, shock in an ice bath for a minute or so, then remove from water and let cool on the counter or in a strainer.

Melt the butter in a 2 quart saucepan. Add flour and stir until no lumps remain. Continue cooking until the roux is just lighter than peanut butter. Slowly incorporate milk, stirring to keep smooth. Add salt, pepper, ground mustard, and onion powder. Cook for around 7-10 minutes on medium-high heat until the white sauce begins to thicken. (At this point, it’s super to have a 2nd pair of hands help) Add cheese in sections stirring to melt. Continue until all cheese is incorporated. Shut off heat, and move off burner.

Grease a 9 x 12 baking pan. I use a ceramic cake pan, but metal will work too. I also grease with cooking spray, I’m too lazy to butter a pan.

In the greased pan, combine pasta and cheese sauce. At this point it’s up to you whether you add the lobster to the cheese sauce, add it to the pasta, or add it separately. I like to make sure we get a little lobster in every serving so I add it at the end and ensure there’s some in each inch of the pan.

After you add the lobster, you can cover the top with panko, or not. Arguments arise as to whether that’s the “normal” way to do mac & cheese or not. Up to you. Do what you want. Jim likes the added crispiness of it with panko. I don’t care either way.

Bake in a 350 oven for 30 minutes. Sometimes I get all crazy and bake it for 20 minutes at 400. 350 for 30 works fine. You should see it bubbling a bit and it turns a bit golden brown.

Oh, and cover it with foil or don’t. Again, I haven’t seen a HUGE difference in flavor either way. If you cover it with foil, you’ll want to remove the foil 2/3 of the way through the cooking time so you get a crispy top.

And there you have it. It really does keep well, and leftovers are fantastic.

Enjoy your lobster!

LobMacNCheese

 

 

 

 

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Pita is Not Scary

So, I’ve tried making pita before and they turned out great.No special recipe…just googled “pita bread recipe” and used a Bobby Flay recipe that I found. The first attempt was white pita…organic all around and it came out great. This time, I Googled “whole wheat pita recipe” and picked the very first recipe. I used all organic ingredients and enhanced the flour with 3 heaping tbsp each of oat bran and wheat germ. What resulted was the perfect quantity of dry ingredients to make a tender dough and enough left over for bench flour. Came out with 8 puffy pitas and I really like the results (there are 7 left…quality control, you know…)
Baking bread of any kind is therapeutic for me. I love the sense of accomplishment that comes from blooming yeast, mixing just the right amount, kneading until.perfectly worked, proofing to a beautifully doubled dough, cutting, shaping, and then baking…it is like no other experience. I like to make sweets, and cooking is fun, but bread….well, that is so different. 

Lots of people fear the yeast experience but not I. Yeast is my friend and while I have had “less than successful” bread experiences, my wins far outweigh my losses. 

I post on instagram with the hash tag #nofearbaking and share my photos to both Facebook and Twitter. The reason I use #nofearbaking is because of just that. I enter into the realm of yeast bread with no fear. I take recipes from the wild and wooly Internet and tweak them to my liking. You may gasp and mutter, “baking is chemistry…you must be precise” but to that I reply, “Pshaw…” Well, not EXACTLY. I tweak intelligently most of the time.

How? Well, take the pita recipe. It indicates I will need additional flour (a.k.a. dry ingredients) for kneading and rolling out my dough. So, the 6 extra tablespoons of dry ingredients gave me jus about a teaspoon of left over flour. Enough for a good dough and bench flour. It worked. 

Also, the recipe called for honey. While I have lots of honey in the house, it’s all raw honey that doesn’t pour so well. I wanted to make it easier on the yeast so I subbed organic agave for honey. Truth be told, I’d like to try the recipe with some nice fragrant wildflower honey next time to see if it might just give a hint more sweetness. Everythingstill tastes perfect, but I would like to try the honey.

The only drawback to pita is the 500 degree oven. I love how fast they bake, but yowza that’sa hot oven. Especially when it is 70 degrees outside.

My new bread passion is pita (followed by, in a close 2nd) pretzels a la Alton Brown. I go through phases. French bread was a passion for a bit. Anadama bread another one. I will never run out of passion for yeast bread baking. 

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In My Own Little Corner of the World

I like to say that I am often accused of being Pollyanna because I try to see the positive side of everything. 

In the past 18 months, I’ve found it hard to see positives in our world, for WHATEVER reason. And, I’ve too often worried that my thoughts and opinions posted on a nameless social media site would offend my friends in such a way that they would, in fact, no longer like me. (Yes, I can be THAT insecure sometimes). Maybe I’m a snowflake, maybe I’m an empath, maybe I’m just too damn sensitive. Or maybe I have so much shot resting on my shoulders now-a-days that I am unsure who I really am. Walk a mile in my shoes before you judge.
So, here is my final word on all that…

If you harm puppies, kitties, horses, birds, goats, chickens, otters….name an animal. If you hurt them, I don’t like you. That is my sole stump to st

If you don’t fall in that category then you might be my friend. 

I have opinions on worldly things but they are none of your damn business. They are mine. 

Sorry to be so cold, but I am not able to carry this weight anymore and I need to find peace. 

Posted in Daily Fat Fight | 3 Comments

I Got My Wish

My husband frequently tells me, and everyone else that he has loved me for 40 years, and that I am the girl he always dreamed of. So…

I met Jim in 1976. We sat next to each other in band. I was a bad oboe player and he played clarinet. 

Why he fell in love with 7th grade me, I will never know. I can tell you I was an awkward, not overly popular band dweeb that spent her spare time practicing the piano, going to Girl Scouts and studying. I spent my summers at Tanglewood rather than going to summer camp or the beach (until Kim started inviting me to go on vacations with her family….she came to Tanglewood with us too). I wasn’t into make-up or fashion. I wasn’t athletic or even very graceful. Still shy on the graceful thing. 

We were in band together from 7th to 12th grade…then I went off to college, and well…we saw each other on holiday breaks and summer. 

During my wild ride to California, somehow, we kept in touch. No clue how that happened.

I lost touch with a lot of people in the New Jersey years. That’s a story for another time…however during those “lost” years, I always wondered where he was. 

When I moved to the Carolinas, I had long lost touch with Jim, but every once in a while, if I ran into someone from “home” I would ask if they knew where he was at. Honestly, I got some of the CRAZIEST responses  to that…he was a skinhead, he was a scary biker dude, he was dead….all kindsa crazy things. Nothing I could confirm though.

Enter Facebook back in like…2007 or something. I got a friend request from a high school band-mate that was followed up by a message which went something like this:

“You’ll never guess who is in my band…”

Yup. I messaged this friend my phone number and said, “Tell him to call me.”

We talked on the phone for a year or two or maybe more. Or less. One day, he was telling me how the plumbing work had dried up and I said, “Well, come visit for a couple of weeks and recharge your batteries…..”

We’ve been ecstatically happily married for almost four years. I wonder if I had just been blind for all those years. I mean, could I have been staring at my

 soul mate for all that time and not realized we were meant to be together? My guess is yes.

All in all, I got my wish. My true love. My rock star. My soul mate. 

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A Day In the Life

Preemptive  warning: this was written with two thumbs on my smart phone.

Lots of you know I’m a pretty social-media kinda gal. And you might know that I’m not really an overly verbal political person on social media. My “political” posts are about animal cruelty and not so much about social injustice . I’m that kinda gal. Puppies and baby goats.

Believe it or not, that’s not what this blog is about.

In the past week, I have had some very challenging days. Emotionally challenging, physically challenging…career-challenging. To say I have been on the “careening down the 150 drop of a roller-coaster” over and over every day might be a slight understatement. 

NO, it had nothing to do with the election. 

So, at the end of this week where I have questioned a lot of things that are going on in my life…..work, faith, commitment, family, friendships…I needed a funny. Guess I will keep my humor to myself from now on.

I don’t ask my friends to think like I do. And I would think they don’t ask me to think like they do. If someone posts something I don’t agree with….I scroll by. Twitter, Facebook…hell, LinkedIn. I don’t agree with each of you. Really, I don’t. And I don’t expect you to agree with me.

I do expect a little bit of decency. I didn’t mestage you when your political post bothered me. I didn’t comment when you attended a rally that went against my personal beliefs. I politely scrolled past.

Not that it should  make a difference but, I do have a lot on my shoulders right now. I’m not asking for pity or sympathy. I am, however, thinking that before you (and I have a few people in mind, but I’m really generalizing) judge me…..on ANYTHING…..walk a mile in my shoes. And by that I mean live the life I am living right now. 

Know what is a huge smile inducer now-a-days? When my mom tells me she loves me and she is blessed to have a daughter who would take such good care of her. That is REAL. That is my life. That is something to be proud of and smile about and maybe post on Facebook.

I would take 1000 of those moments over any of this vitriolic political bullshit y’all seem to be wrapped up in. 

If my stuff is so offensive, click the button.

Posted in Daily Fat Fight | 2 Comments

Overactive B♡llsh!t Meter

Have you ever had one of those days? Today is one for me. I’m not sure what exactly totally blasted me over the top but here are some culprits:

1. Driving home from lunch. No fewer than 5 drivers are CLEARLY texting, Facebooking, emailing….WHILE DRIVING. How can I tell? The van is higher than most cars. I CAN   SEE YOU NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO THE ROAD. What’s worse is, in the past week….just one week, not multiple weeks, just one….we have witnessed three wrecks on 17 (I think coincidentally Southbound) between the NC/SC state line and the southern end of Little River. Fewer than five miles. One of those accidents resulted in TWO medivac helicopters removing the injured from the scene.

2. The election. I’m over it. She’s a liar and a murdered. He’s a foul mouthed chauvinistic pig. This is what we came up with America? Really? 

3. Another traffic aggravation. Heading to Publix (the back roads because 17 was shit ass up from the accident) aND a fire truck comes up behind me at a traffic light. I am not in his way but he has to pull out onto a 4 lane highway. His lights and sirens are blaring. Most cars have come to a stop but 4…yes  FOUR.. cars CUT HIM OFF AND SPEED THROUGH THE INTERSECTION. I pray those individuals never need a fire truck in a hurry because I am thinking karma is a big fat bitch there.

4. I think I’m overly grumpy today but is there a specific reason people can’t be aware of their surroundings in  grocery store? Maybe it was just my day for aggravation but I try to be courteous and not block the aisles while I shop. I’m sure I’m not he only one like this…wait, am I the only person like this?

….and this is not to mention the horror story Jim and I heard of a poor couple who just returned to their condo after Matthew only to be dissed by their insurance company and price gouged for fixing some hurricane damage. 

What is wrong with the world? Please, someone tell me that things will get better. Please. 

Posted in Daily Fat Fight | 3 Comments

What’s Giving Tuesday All About?

Last year, I went on and on about Giving Tuesday. Not much response…but let’s think this year and forget the past.

What is Giving Tuesday? If you google Giving Tuesday, you’ll see lots of things. But check this site out: https://www.givingtuesday.org/ Giving Tuesday is the nonprofit response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Those days are ALL about spending – and by spending, I don’t mean spending to give back. I mean retail, capitalistic, me-me-me mentality. I’m not saying do spend on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Not at all. I’m saying…save a few bucks back and give. Give on Giving Tuesday.

You might know that I work for Blackbaud. We are the #1 software provider to nonprofits world-wide. And, for that reason, nonprofits are very close to my heart. Well…one or two in particular are VERY close to my heart. Greyhound Pets of America Charleston has hold of most of my heart, for sure. And they’re who I want to talk about.

For 13 years, GPA Charleston has been finding loving forever homes in the coastal South Carolina/Georgia area for retired racing greyhounds. As an organization, we’ve probably placed…300 dogs…maybe more, maybe less. And most years we fly under the radar, existing and surviving on adoption fees and local support at our events. We don’t do an annual appeal. We just hope. But this year, we’ve got an expense…we have a seizure dog. And by seizure dog I don’t mean occasional mild seizures. I mean…grand mal, and fairly regularly. His name is Sigma. He is going to be an expense for the rest of his life…we may find him a comfortable semi-permanent foster home but we will provide for him so that he will never go without his meds or checkups. That could mean about $200 per month. Some months less, some more.

Think about what you pay for expenses per month. Telephone, utilities, mortgage, food…we pay those too. And vet costs (times however many foster dogs we may have at any time), and heartworm, flea control, food, treats, toys…collars, muzzles, leashes, microchips…

You probably know all this. What I’d like you to know tho…is that this year, we need you. We need your $5, $10, $15 donation. We need that. And, this year when you give…maybe tell Pay Pal to charge the fee to you – your $5 may be $5.35, or something like that. That $5 is tax deductible. It might mean you don’t get a Starbucks for a day or two. It might mean you bag lunch one day. Can you do that? I can. I will.

Giving Tuesday is November 29. Go to your calendar right now and mark that day as the day you’re going to donate $5 to Greyhound Pets of America Charleston.

Donate Now – look for the PayPal link on the left side of the page

Or send money to adoptcharlestongreys@yahoo.com. Or mail a check to GPA Charleston, PO Box 14533, Charleston SC, 29422

Giving is what #GivingTuesday is all about.

gt

Posted in Animal Rescue, Crazy Random Thoughts, Greyhounds, Journaling, My Thoughts and Musings | Leave a comment

My Guilty Pleasure

Yeah, sounds pretty dirty, huh?

Some of you know this already so it will kinda be a repeat…maybe someday I will tell the whole story but here’s some of it.

I’ve got this whole life I lead that is all corporate (sorta) and “normal”. I work 40-60 hours a week, I own a house and a car…well, two houses a van and a car but who’s counting…and I’m as “ordinary” as everyone else. I live on a golf course (ewww….what an awful idea by the way) and I like to grocery shop and cook.

But, if money were no object, I would travel all over to see my favorite bands play. I’ve been a lot of places to see concerts. Really I have. McAllen TX. Grand Rapids MI. Some odd place in Minnesota. Kenosha WI. Erie PA. Old Orchard Beach, ME. Phoenix AZ. Las Vegas. Los Angeles. Sacramento.

So…yeah, that’s kinda where this story is going. I have a lot of bands I like, and I’d go see most of them anywhere but somehow, I always come back “home” to Tesla. I can’t describe it. And, I admit I’ve had a soft spot for Tesla for more years than I care to say.

When Jim came to “visit” 7 or 8 years ago, I was already “street-teaming” the only Charleston show I’d ever seen them do. I told him about it and asked if he liked Tesla and he was lukewarm. Yeah. Go figure. I just knew if I bided my time, he would learn how fantastic they are. Now he’s got a Tesla tattoo (I don’t even have one of those!!) and he’s out in Sacramento hanging out with some of the best people I know that I’ve never met…my Tesla friends. Our Tesla friends.

A long time ago, on a message board far far away, a handful of Tesla fans said it…and we say it still. Tesla fans are the best people we know. We love the band, and most of the time, we love the other fans that love the band (hey, even the most functional family is slightly dysfunctional, right?)

I’ve got friends that I only know because of Tesla, but I’d like ’em anyway…some are lifelong friends that I see on a regular basis (Spark) and occasional basis (Wanda & Rhonda, Shane, Steph) and some I have still never met…you know who you are. We share our lives outside of just that “guilty pleasure” of rock ‘n roll.

Oh. Story. Once, a few years back, I was informed that I needed to stop listening to “that rock ‘n roll” and listen to Christian music because I was now entrenched in a deep relationship with Jesus Christ. For a bit, it totally vexed me because I am really not ME without that rock ‘n roll blood coursing through my veins. A very wise friend told me that God made me, and made me to be who I am…and that my love of rock ‘n roll was ME. And that’s okay.

So, getting a shout out from Jeff Keith on Facebook live (thank you Jeff Loux) may be a guilty pleasure…I’m proud to say I love my rock n’ roll guilty pleasures. Seriously.

jk

 

Posted in Crazy Random Thoughts, Daily Fat Fight, God, Journaling, Music, My Thoughts and Musings, Rock 'n Roll, Stupid things people say | Leave a comment

Wondering

So I have begun wondering over the past few years about when the view of our personal future changes. In other words, when do you make that switch from “upwardly mobile” to “hanging on ’til the end”? And how do you deal with that?

My life and career has centered around the company I work for (poor sentence structure, sorry)…for many years. Let’s just use an ambiguous term of “many” here. And I am frequently asked where I see myself in __ years. I may be short-sighted, or just complacent but I don’t have that vision anymore. I used to struggle with the answer because I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. Now I struggle because I see retirement in my future and I’m gonna guess that’s not the answer most forward-thinking companies look for.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have any intention of slowing to a crawl as my “days are numbered” or shelving projects because I have lost interest. I love what I do. It’s challenging and exciting. Most days it’s not depressing to go to work (although it is increasingly difficult to get UP for work). I love writing, and I love my co-workers, and I love the industry we work with. I do feel strongly about education and I believe in the power of a nonprofit organization to change the world. I think that the little bit I contribute to my company’s success is an important little bit because if you’re not learning, you’re not alive. So, I don’t think that I’m winding down…not at all.

I do worry, though, because I see myself sitting here (or in a slightly nicer version of my office as it stands now) working for the same company, learning more about the business we are in and learning more about my craft. I don’t see myself climbing a corporate ladder or reaching to be a manager or a director, or a vice president. I don’t see that.

Funny…as I typed that last sentence I realized I’ve been a president of a “corporation” for a few years and I walked away from that drained and beaten down…my own fault, I know but it happened and it was real so…

What do you think? Where are you in your corporate cycle or just career cycle? Do you look UP the ladder, laterally, or down? When you’re asked those ever-painful questions of “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” are you able to pinpoint a place and reply? Maybe I am just waiting to see what I’ll be when I grow up…if I grow up.

sprout

Posted in Crazy Random Thoughts, Journaling, My Thoughts and Musings | 10 Comments

Tartan

I think that will be my next dog’s name.

A long time ago…let’s say at least 30 years ago…my mom had this book SOMEWHERE that showed all the tartans registered in Scotland. And I used to love looking at it because I’m a sucker for plaid. I had a kilt as a kid that I totally loved. No clue what happened to it but at some point kilts went out of fashion, and then (surprisingly enough) came back into fashion. And, I believe that was around my high school years. I somehow convinced my mom that I needed another kilt. I’m wondering where that sucker is right now…is it still hanging in my closet in Summerville?

Anyway, the point of this wasn’t so much about the kilt but the book. I can see it in my minds eye. Page after page after page of tartan plaid. Dad always liked Black Watch. I was more fond of the reds, russets, and purples (again…SHOCKING). I think I knew I was part Scottish. But, I totally couldn’t remember which last name in my mom’s heritage was the Scottish last name.

Did you know that the tartan book is now an ONLINE thing? Yet again….SHOCKING…Google search tartan and  you’ll see there’s a tartan registry. So what did I do? I started entering family names from my mom’s side…the ones I knew. Well, I admit, I really knew that Curtis was the French Canadian, so I had to go with my nana’s maiden name. Elliott.

tartanimageprototype

 

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