When picking up my new iPhone 4 (squeeeeeeee!!!!), the uber helpful and friendly Apple Store Genius lady mentioned her favorite new camera app, Camera Plus. Since I am helpless in the face of my addiction, I downloaded it as soon as I skipped out of the store. Now bloggities, I love PSMobile for photo editing, but it pales in comparision to the rad effects available on Camera Plus. And I seriously love Hipstamatic for some cool cool lenses and film, but with the editing capabilities in Camera Plus, I can replicate those looks and it works twice as fast.
Last summer Brent planted some hibiscus plants in our backyard. He found them on clearance at Lowe's and planted them in the dog heat of summer. My hopes for their survival were low, but they not only pulled through but grew into GIANT plants with GIANT dinner plate sized blooms. Me and the plant had a photo session yesterday morning and I will use it for a brief demonstration of Camera Plus' awesome abilities.
Here's the original picture. Well, not the original, because I cropped and rotated the orientation 90 degrees to get it this way.
Next, I started playing with the effects. See 'vibrant':
How's that for color pop?
Now see 'so emo':
I can almost see Edward presenting dark and twisty bloom to Bella.
How about a little 'grunge':
I don't get as much Kurt Cobain out of this as I get Grandma's Attic. Still love it though, the scratches are awesome.
Now for some 'Ansel':
Perhaps not the best example of Ansel, but you get the idea.
Besides these effects, there's about fifteen or twenty more choices including 'faded', 'hipster' and 'antique'.
I haven't even gotten around to showing you the various borders including 'instant' (think polaroid), 'grit' and 'vignette'. Also, it has scenes which change the lighting tones. I'm in luuuuurvvveee!!!!!
I just realized this post came across as a sales pitch. I WISH they'd given it to me for free, but honestly, 2 smackers is worth it for the hours of play I've gotten out of it so far. My poor DSLR, in all of it's powerful, beautiful glory, actually has dust accumulating on it. I'm definitely hung up on the iPhone camera apps right now.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit; mist a 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray. Place pretzels in a bowl of a food processor and process until finely crushed. Add sugar and melted butter and pulse to combine. Press pretzel mixture into baking dish and bake for 8 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack until completely cooled.
Make filling using an electric mixer on medium speed, beating cream cheese with sugar until well blended. Fold in yogurt and vanilla. Spread over cooled pretzel crust, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2-3 hours.
In a large bowl, dissolve both packages of gelatin in 2 cups boiling water. Let cool until mixture begins to get syrupy, about 15 minutes. Stir in strawberries and blueberries and pour over cream cheese layer. Chill until firm, at least three hours or overnight.
Cut tart into squares and serve with whipped cream.
First off, you should know that these beans have nothing to do with Baltimore. Nor are they baked. But the recipe is a family favorite dating back thirty years or so and the first place a member of my family ate it was in Baltimore, Maryland. So go figure.
As with a lot of old family staples, it didn't quite taste the same the first time I made it myself. My mom and Grandma must do something different than the written recipe calls for because I had to double the sauce to get it to taste as I remember. I think it's because I drained and rinsed the beans before adding them to the crock pot. I don't like bean juice at all, so I will probably continue doubling the sauce. Anyway, Brent likes the BBQ flavor, so the more sauce the merrier as far as he's concerned.
Baltimore Baked Beans
Source: Brunton family dinners and pot luck suppers
1/2 pound bacon
2 pounds hamburger
1 chopped onion
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/3 c brown sugar
1/4 c ketchup
1/4 c bbq sauce
2 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp mustard
1 can each pork and beans, black beans, kidney beans and butter beans
Fry the bacon until crispy. Drain on paper towels and when cool, chop or crumble. Reserve 2 tablespoons bacon grease and use it to saute the onion until translucent. Set aside. Wipe pan clean of grease and brown the hamburger, seasoning with salt and pepper, until cooked through.
In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (except the beans) to create the sauce. Here's where you can double it if you're feeling kinda saucy.
Drain and rinse all the beans except the pork and beans, and pour into a crock pot, along with the bacon, onion, hamburger and sauce. Stir to combine and cook on low until warmed through and flavors have melded.
I follow a couple hundred blogs using Google Reader. Most of them are written by ladies and gentleman that are just like me, amateurs with an interest in making good food for their families and trying to take pretty pictures of said food. Some of the blogs, however, are really amazing. Beautiful photography, complicated recipes and writing styles that far surpass my own.
The moral of the story is with these fancy blogs, that I never attempt their delicious-looking recipes. Many times, the ingredients are too exotic and/or expensive to justify the purchase for (potentially) one dish. But mainly, I'm intimidated by the sheer awesomeness of these superior food bliggity bloggers.
Earlier this week, a recipe came around on the fantastic blog Use Real Butter that I could not only handle, but that I knew my family would like, hence this Thai Cucumber Salad was recreated in my own kitchen. So head on over to URB if you want to see some beautiful food styling and landscape photography, 'cause we all know you ain't gonna find that kinda quality picture takin' in this joint.
2 T rice wine vinegar
½ t salt
4 T water
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 cups cucumbers, roughly peeled, gutted and sliced (1 english or 3 persian)
¼ red onion, sliced thin
¼ cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
¼ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Combine the first five ingredients in a small sauce pan over high heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Let come to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and allow to simmer for one minute. Remove from heat and let cool. Place the cucumber, onion, mint and cilantro in a medium bowl and pour dressing over it, toss to coat.
The second week of June, we took a trip to central Arizona. Caleb yet again was a wonderful airplane passenger. When he wasn't playing or eating Cheerios, he was napping in my arms (and what mama doesn't love that?).
We also took him swimming for the first time! The water was a little chilly, and there were several other little kids playing in the water so he was really distracted watching them, but he seemed to like it. We've taken him several more times since then and each time he's had more and more fun.
We had a great time, I'm so blessed to have a wonderful family :)
Banana bread is one of my favorite treats. My grandma makes it in a metal coffee can, so her banana bread always has circular ridges all the way around it, and the slices are round. I don't have any metal coffee cans so I had to make this recipe in a normal bread pan, boring, but probably a prettier picture.
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 medium bananas, sliced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, stir together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla, mixing well. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt, then stir it into the butter mixture until smooth. Fold in the sour cream, walnuts and bananas. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake at 350 for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Brent's parents have the best outdoor kitchen area. There's a gas burner right beside the grill, and all this is set on a large bar/countertop with lots of area to spread out to visit, cook, etc. For Memorial Day we decided to fry some onion strings and with the outdoor burner, we didn't have to stinky up the inside of the house with the hot oil smell.
I wish I had a picture of the HUGE pile of onion strings I made, but I honestly believe I would have been physically injured if I had put blog pictures between the hungry masses and the hot fried onion goodness I was dishing up. Instead I had to settle for a picture of a handful I was able to grab and sneak off with.
PW isn't kidding, just when you think you've made enough of these, go ahead and double what you've already done. They are THAT good. I used a cast iron dutch oven and a fry thermometer to keep my oil temperature as constant as possible. Also, wear an apron if you are wearing a new shirt (this is probably obvious to most of you experienced friers out there).
2 cups Buttermilk
2 cups All-purpose Flour
1 Tablespoon (scant) Salt
¼ teaspoons (to 1/2 Teaspoon) Cayenne Pepper
1 quart (to 2 Quarts) Canola Oil
Black Pepper To Taste
Slice onion very thin. Place in a baking dish and cover with buttermilk. Soak for at least an hour.
Combine dry ingredients and set aside.
Heat oil to 375 degrees.
Grab a handful of onions, throw into the flour mixture, tap to shake off excess, and toss into the hot oil. Fry for a few minutes and remove as soon as golden brown. Drain on a paper towel and salt to taste.
Mom and I prepared all the food for Caleb's birthday party ourselves. Of course, Caleb had his own cake and we knew that once he was finished with it, nobody would want a piece for themselves, so we decided on a Key Lime Cake for the adults to enjoy. It was a small party with family and friends and everyone, especially Caleb, enjoyed themselves.
Caleb got some awesome toys
And chatted with some friends
It was kind of a big day, so after a bath to get all the cake and frosting out of his hair, he took a little nap.
And while he was napping, the adults had some Key Lime Cake.
1/2 cup lime juice (from about 25 small Key limes or 4 large regular limes)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the first six ingredients well. Add the eggs, oil, orange juice, lemon juice and vanilla.
Divide the batter evenly among the three pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Teast for doneness by lightly touching the tops of the layers or inserting a toothpick. Cool the layers in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.
While the layers are still hot, mix the lime juice and confectioner's sugar and pour it over the layers on the racks. Pierce the layers with a fork to allow the glaze to better soak in. Allow the layers to cool completely as you prepare the icing.
Cream Cheese Icing
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
1 (1 pound) box confectioners' sugar
Cream the butter and cream cheese. Beat in the confectioners' sugar until the mixture is smooth and easy to spread. Spread the icing between the layers, on the top and sides of the cake.
So I'm currently procrastinating on an important task. Instead of completing said important task, I'm cruising the Internet and watching old episodes of Grey's Anatomy. I had some wonderful friends in to visit this weekend and they snapped this picture of my beautiful son.
Caleb was glad to have guests around so he could show off how good he is getting at pulling up and standing. Every day his muscle control and balance improve, I love this new stage, but goodness do I feel a little sad thinking how quickly my baby is growing up. Which brings me to my next point...Caleb turns one year old in four days. Many family members are coming in to celebrate with us. I am incredibly excited for Caleb and I've enjoyed remembering how amazing Caleb's arrival was for us. I'm sure this is going to be an emotional week for me, but I'm going to keep that emotion to myself and just show Caleb my excitement, this is HIS day to shine!
He liked making friends with our airplane neighbors, in fact, the shiny bald head of the man sitting in front of us on the flight home was (unknowingly) reeaaaaalllllyyyy interesting to him. We were laughing so hard at how hard Caleb was trying to reach out and grab that shiny thing.
He also really liked looking over the back of our seats at the people behind us. Thankfully everyone around us was really nice, even when he belched a LOUD belch right in their faces. One of the ladies even tried to give him a sucker (really lady??? sorry but he's only 11 months old, he can't have any candy).
We had lots of beautiful weather, and since Caleb loves being outside, he loved every minute of the festival. There was a big off road bicycle race going on also, it was cool seeing all the riders in their gear lounging around the square. There wasn't hardly any food though, or maybe we just never found it. Lots of neat local crafts though, I got a wooden kitchen spoon whittled out of a piece of local wood, I can't wait to use it.
For some reason, the three of us were never all able to look at the camera at the same time. We're going to have to practice, because this random picture is the best family picture we got the whole weekend.
And the cutest (to me) and most hilarious (to me) picture of the entire weekend:
Of course I laughed my arse off when I saw him like this, so he kept doing it :)
Since we had a good excuse, we decided to take a weekend trip to Prescott, Arizona. We had a fun day exploring the town and the weather couldn't have been more perfect. In fact, I was so worried about keeping Caleb's skin protected from the sun that I completely forgot to protect my own. I have a little sunburn on my shoulders to show for it but it was great walking around in the sun with no wind, or thunderstorms, or any of that typical Oklahoma spring weather to hamper our good time.
I'm trying to keep Caleb on Okie time since our trip is so brief, thank goodness for in-room coffee pots. This morning we were up WAY before the free continental breakfast bar was open.
Oh, and I have to brag on Little Man. I couldn't have asked for a better first flight from him. Other than tired arms from holding him for so long, our trip went fantastically! Here's to a return trip that's just as successful!
Last night I discover that I had left an important item over at my in-law's house. Being the kind soul he is, my father in law offered to bring it over this morning and leave it in my garage so I'd have it tonight. Awesome, problem solved.
So this morning as I leave for work, I see said item already in the garage, evidently my father in law had gone to work early. And not only that but he'd brought in the empty trash can from the curb. Bonus! Thank you!
However, we have two big dogs. They like to bark at pedestrians. They like to bark at birds in the flower bed. But this morning? Yeah, no bark. No warning an intrudor had breached the perimeter. Just two dogs crashed out on MY bed, waiting on me to turn the light off so they can go back to sleep for seventeen more hours.
So dogs, here's your warning. Even though you are totally awesome with Caleb and let him pull your hair and take your toys, you are now on super double secret probation. You are DOGS! You are supposed to BARK when someone enters the house! Next time, you betta represent!
Seriously, is there anything more precious than baby hands? I remember holding Caleb's hands in my own when he was a newborn. They were tiny, fragile, and absolutely perfectly minature recreations of adult hands. (I'm sure that some of you are reading that sentence thinking, "well, duh", but don't underestimate the wonder a new mother feels over learning her new baby).
Boy have those hands grown in the past eleven months! I can recognize family features in Caleb's hands. He has Brent's thumbnails and he has my dad's palms. It's so blaringly obvious to me that I actually get nostalgic for my dad about it if I think about it too much. I think God gave me a daily reminder of my dad when He made Caleb's hands, and I'm thankful for that.
Caleb can now use his hands for so much! He is able to fit blocks together and he is learning to put shapes into his shape-sorter box through the lid. He has been feeding himself for quite awhile now and loves almost any type of table food. And as always, he loves to place his pointer finger in his mouth. You can almost always catch him with it in there, not sucking on it, not really chewing. Just hanging out with his finger in there.
Caleb now has a new skill to share...he can pull up not only to his knees, but now to his feet! He used to only feel comfortable doing this while crawling on me, now he can do it on furniture. He's still a little wobbly so I haven't gotten a good picture yet (I'm busy watching like a hawk in case he slips), but I can't wait to photograph it!
This afternoon from 1:00 until 3:00 in downtown Medicine Lodge, Kansas, my mom's sorority, Beta Sigma Phi, is hosting a dessert tasting event in at The Leisure Time Center on North Main. Many of the sorority ladies are bringing their favorite homemade desserts to share over good coffee and good conversation.
Tickets to the event are $10 and proceeds benefit The Leisure Time Center and Horizons Mental Health Center Children's Services.
Also, cookbooks containing all of the contributed recipes are available for sale. I've been flipping through it for the past couple days and I can't wait to make several of them myself. Many of the recipes are for yummy sounding, summery desserts, and I can't wait to taste about fifty awesome sugary treats on this fine Sunday afternoon! If you are interested in purchasing a cookbook, please leave a contact and I will give you the information.
One of my mom's food contributions at the tasting is for this awesome strawberry cake. It's a staple dessert in her recipe armory, but this time she baked it in her ribbon shaped cake pan in honor of a dear friend of ours who is currently WINNING her fight against breast cancer! Congrats PS on your awesome test results!
1 box white cake mix
1 3 oz box strawberry flavored instant gelatin
10 oz package of frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed, 1/4 cup reserved
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1/4 cup water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the wet ingredients and mix until smooth. Pour into cake pans and bake 20 minutes or until they test done. Cool in pans for 10-15 minutes then cool completely on a wire rack.
Mix the frosting ingredients until smooth and spread between the cake layers, on top and sides.
Last night I tried out the Blogger feature that allows you to email a post from a phone. However, the picture didn't post correctly which sucked because it was really cute. So, I did a little research today and I discovered 'there's an app for that' so now we're cookin' with gas!
And here's a picture taken last week that I'm posting as a test to see if the BlogPress app really is worth the $2.99 I paid for it. (well, and I'm posting it because it's cute).
Caleb wants to say hello to all of you nice interwebzers who still read this sadly neglected little blog.
There is even less cooking going on in the house now than there was in my first trimester. Caleb eats regular baby food, yogurt, chicken nuggets, steamed veggies, Cheerios and bites of whatever else I toss together (which isn't much). But we are having FUN playing and growing and enjoying the spring weather. I apologize that cooking has currently, temporarily, taken a back seat to baby-time. Hopefully any of you still following me are as satisfied by cute baby pictures as you are by recipes!