Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lessons learned the hard way...

Today's post is one I dedicate to young people all over the globe...if you are in high school or college, then I beg you to read this. My hope is that perhaps this post will serve to help even just one person.

In September 1994, I began my freshman year at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. Going to UMPI was not my first choice. It actually wasn't even my second choice. Ever since moving to Maine my junior year of high school, I had dreamed of returning to NYC to attend college. It was not just a passing thought - it was something I wanted deep within my soul. But around the time my senior year that I began to start working on college applications and financial aid, my parents informed me that they would *not* help me with financial aid if I didn't go to school locally. I knew that I needed that financial aid help and so my hopes and dreams were tossed aside, and I enrolled at UMPI.

I begrudgingly attended  UMPI ...with my heart and mind not into it at all. The first semester I did fairly well, but as the year went on, my "give a crap" broke and I stopped caring and stopped going to classes...stopped doing my coursework...everything just stopped. I withdrew from UMPI in May of 1995 with failing grades. 

As a 19 yr old, I never thought twice about what ramifications that would have on me later in life. At the time, what mattered to me was getting the hell out of dodge and moving away from home and starting life all over on my own. And I did just that. 

In September 1995, I moved out of my parents home and 5 hours away. In 1998, I got engaged. In 1999, I got married. In 2004, I had my first child. In 2007, I had my second (and last) child. 

So all these years, I've gone on living my life, having several different jobs along the way, becoming not only a wife, but a mother. And at times during these last 17 years, I've had passing thoughts about returning to college someday. But that was it...a fleeting thought....

But the past year or so, the need to go back to school has weighed heavily on my mind and heart. The last couple weeks especially, I have felt this incredible need/want to return to school...to continue my education...to better myself...to be a role model for my children. (There is also this part of me that lately feels like my brain is turning to mush, and I need to learn.)

So yesterday, I took the first steps towards making this dream a reality. I sent an email to UMPI (yes, the very school that I wanted nothing to do with so many years ago) to see what I need to do to start school again. Today I've had contact with the Director of Admissions at UMPI - we've emailed back and forth - she's been very gracious to answer my questions and help me along. 

But here is the kicker - I may not qualify for financial aid because I didn't leave school on good standing in terms of my grades. I withdrew school in May 1995 with a 1.5 GPA. Gosh, that hurts and embarrasses me to admit, but I want to be absolutely honest here. 

The lady I've been speaking to today is going to talk to someone else (I can't remember who now and the email is on my other computer) and see what my best course of action is now. She said that we *will* make this happen. 

The thing is, there are no guarantees. And I can't afford to return to school now and pay for it myself. I need that financial aid if I am going to make this happen. 

And that brings me back to the beginning...why am I dedicating this to young people? Because I want to prevent another young person from making the same mistakes I did. It could greatly affect your future. Don't do what I did. I don't know what kind of hoops I'll have to jump through to make this happen, or if it will happen at all. College seems like fun and games but not taking it seriously can cost you dearly. Learn from me...

I'll update more when I find out what is going to happen....

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Nom Nom Nom

I promised pictures the next time I did ribs. 

And that was today! 

Karl's birthday is today and he requested ribs again, so of course, I happily obliged !

So without further ado...

Here I am adding the liquid smoke (this is the fat side btw) before I add the dry rub! 
This is after I have rubbed the ribs with my dry rub!
This is what they looked like about an hour into cooking! 
(Today they cooked from about 1pm till almost 6pm - slow and low. The bones came out completely clean. Very tender!)

The end result! 

Rib perfection! 

Eat your heart out! LOL! 
Nom! Nom! Nom!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

In the battle of ...

In the battle of woman vs. food, woman won!!!


Today I decided to try to making St.Louis cut ribs in the oven. Last week I had done country style ribs, but wanted to take it up a notch. 

I made a dry rub and massaged that on the two slabs of ribs and put them in the oven at noon. My motto is "low and slow"...so I put the oven on 200 degrees and put a foil tent over them, and let them cook. After 3 hours, I started brushing on bbq sauce. Over the course of the next two hours, I brushed on sauce every 20 minutes or so. 

By 5pm, the ribs were done and looked/smelled fabulous. They had such a nice build up of bbq sauce on them. The house smelled divine. 

But the real test was to come....

I made some corn on the cob and french fries to go with it...and then we sat down to eat. 

One bite and I was transported down south to the heart of bbq country. These ribs were a labor of love and it paid off in more ways then one. The bone came off totally clean - they were cooked to perfection - moist - flavorful - smokey - just bbq deliciousness! 

They were the best ribs I had ever had and I am not just saying that because I made them, but because they are seriously out of this world. I used to think I'd have to go down south to get good bbq...but I know now that I can have good bbq anytime and I can do it with an oven. 

Next time I must take a picture ...it will make ya drool, I tell ya! LOL! 

Today I conquered ribs and won!!! 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Food Aspirations

It is no secret that I have a definite love of food. I love to cook and bake. I love to try new recipes. I love to create new foods. I love to watch my family  as they experience something new that I made just for them. 

A week or so ago, I made *my* pizza - which consists of crust, thinly sliced tomatoes, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella (real mozzarella - not that crap that is mass produced.)

And it hit me as I was making it that the smell of basil is really kind of sensual. It's intoxicating. I love all things basil - especially fresh basil. I use it whenever I can. If you haven't cooked with fresh basil, you must. It's quite different then buying dried basil in a plastic jar. 


So yesterday I made ribs - usually when I make them I put them in the crock pot, cover them in bbq sauce and let them cook. But my crock pot broke, so I was reduced to cooking them in the oven. Why didn't we grill them? Well the answer is easy. We have a neighbor who makes being outside hellish - she's in every one's business and we hate to be out there. 

But back to the ribs - they were fantastic. I rubbed them first with some liquid hickory smoke - to help make up for the fact that they weren't being actually grilled. Then I made a dry rub consisting of brown sugar, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and chili powder and rubbed that on each rib. I put them in the oven at about 250 degrees and let them slowly cook. Once they were done - about 2 or so hours - I started basting them with bbq sauce. By the time they were done, they had so many layers of flavor built up - the sauce had caramelized a bit on the edges and it was incredibly wonderful. I had nailed it perfectly. 

I got to thinking about some other recipes that I'd like to tackle and perfect. 

1. Souffle
2. Beef Wellington
3. Eggs Benedict
4. Yorkshire Pudding
5. Sauerbraten

I will say though, that it's this love of food that hurts my attempts at weight loss. I've got to find a way to balance my love of all things food and loosing weight. 

9 Weeks

In just 33 short minutes, it will be 9 weeks since I had my surgery. 

In these past 9 weeks, the first three were touch and go. I questioned many a time what in the world was I thinking by having a hysterectomy. 

But the past 6 weeks have been pretty glorious. 

I won't lie - there are times when the heart still pangs for the child(ren) that won't be. 

But overall I feel amazing. 

I haven't had any pain in 6 weeks. 

I haven't had to load my purse with all sorts of feminine hygiene paraphernalia "just in case". 

I haven't had any massive pimple breakouts. 

I haven't had the major moodiness - the highs and lows that could make anyone' s head spin. 

No more planning my months around when I have my period. 

I am breathing a major sigh of relief. 

I am living life again. 

I am enjoying life again. 

My skin looks better. 

My nails are growing. 

My hair is shining. 

My mood is stable. 

Had you asked me 9 weeks ago tomorrow if I was glad I had the surgery, I most definitely would have had stammered to answer you. 

Today I can honestly say that yes, yes I am glad that I've had the surgery. 

Now I can tackle other areas of my life! 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Baja Chicken & Slaw Sliders

Another fabulous recipe from the August 2011 "Taste of Home" magazine.

Baja Chicken & Slaw Sliders
Prep: 30 minutes
Grill: 10 minutes
Yield 8 servings (I actually got 10 sliders from this recipe)

1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 tsp grated lime peel
1/4 tsp lime juice

1 cup broccoli coleslaw mix
2 tbsp finely chopped sweet red pepper (I used green since I already had some on hand)
2 tbsp finely chopped sweet onion
2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
2 tsp. finely chopped seeded jalapeno pepper (I didn't use this as I didn't want it to be too hot)
1 tsp sugar

4 boneless chicken breast halves (4oz. each)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp coarsely ground pepper
8 Hawaiian sweet rolls, split
8 small lettuce leaves
8 slices tomato

1. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, lime peel and lime juice. In another small bowl, combine the slaw ingredients. Chill the sauce and slaw until serving.

2. Cut each chicken breast in half width wise; flatter to 1/2in thickness. Sprinkle with seasonings.

3. Moisten a paper towel with cooking oil; using long-handled tongs, lightly coat the grill rack. Grill chicken, covered, over medium heat or broil 4in. from the heat for 4 to 7 minutes on each side or until no longer pink.

4. Grill rolls, cut sides down, for 30-60 seconds or until toasted. Serve chicken on rolls with lettuce, tomato, sauce and slaw.

These sliders are fabulous! You can really taste the lime in the sauce and slaw and it's such a nice contrast with the spices on the chicken.

The kids didn't try these - neither one is too keen on slaw type of veggies, so I didn't push it tonight. But Karl and I thoroughly enjoyed them! They will be going into my cooking repertoire.

This recipe gets two thumbs up from this mama!