Posts Tagged ‘Things that smell nice’

Finding a happy place.

Friday, September 6th, 2013

I haven’t written in a hot minute, and generally I try to keep things upbeat on here. But I’ve have a bunch of things swirling around in my mind recently, and thought that it might be helpful to pick up the keyboard again. Just a heads up.

When I’m feeling sad and alone, when life feels too loud and bright and like its spinning out of control, when I feel helpless in taming things I try to go to my happy place. It’s a beach about and hour and a quarter from my house. It’s a place I feel safe and comfortable. Where I run into good people that I know who do good things. Where I can strike up a conversation, or keep to myself if I’m having a day that I want to be alone. I feel like it’s my home away from home. The best time to visit is between September and May when its cool and quiet, and most of the summer crowds have left. I surf when the surf is good. I walk the beach when the waves are flat. I take in the beauty of nature and relax into the calm of thinking only in the present.

I watch the gulls splash and bathe in the shallow shore water and soar overhead. And while they are normally little bastards who try and steal my loaded bagels, those birds make me happy to watch them doing their normal goofy seagull things. Watching the sets roll in over and over and crashing with the most calming regularity. Way better than any artificial white noise machine.

In September the air has started to cool and it feels like fall. Luckily the sun is still bright and warm and feels good on my skin. It takes me away from all the dark that has seeped into my life and that I am now stuck with the complicated task of figuring out how to replace it with goodness, and then growing from this whole thing.  All of the hurt and loss and guilt. Disappointment and that which I have tried to grasp, but have been unable to thoroughly understand. So I walk and think and stop to write; to get things out of my head; to keep them from bouncing around.

Collecting bits of scattered sea glass brings back a tinge of an old fond memory, which is now too painful to dwell on. What do you do with all of those feelings, or do they just fade and you have to suck it up and deal with them until they do?

A couple flying kites. The wind messing up my hair.  The creepy old shirtless man wearing guyliner, who asks to take a picture of me shortly after I’ve finishing crying behind my sunglasses and keeps making small talk about the Blondie concert he just went to.. These things bring me back into the present and remind me to keep going. To try to replace the bad thoughts with the good. There is no good result that will come from dwelling on things that I can’t control or change. My control freak self needs to just settle down in the sand, feel the wind in my hair, the sun on my face and sit back and take in the beautiful sets of waves rolling in and crashing over and over. Wonderfully consistent, steadily.

New Adventures: 12 of 30 – Learn how to braise a huge delicious monster hunk of beef.

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

I love meat. I’m actually currently on a quest to eat my way through the animal kingdom. I particularly love red meat. Beef. The meat of kings, heros and champions. (Although, I don’t actually have any real proof to back that up…) Unfortunately I suck at cooking beef. I can grill a steak up pretty decently, but Devon doesn’t eat meat other than poultry and fish, so I really don’t have a ton of opportunities to cook up some fileted cow. But oh my christ do I love eating that rich juicy goodness. So it’s been a goal of mine to learn how to braise beef. I love how, if done correctly, it just melts in your mouth, and hell, if I feel so passionate about the deliciousness of braised beef, then learning how to recreate that myself is a very important life skill that I ought to learn.

Luckily my big bro, Seth is a super awesome chef, who is totally experienced at this sort of thing. I provide a kitchen and raw ingredients, and he teaches me how to make magic happen. First things first. You gotta have a huge fricking hunk of meat. We went with a cut of brisket. Brisket is perfect for this type of cooking. Generally pretty tough, but breaks down nicely when braised. Lots of fat (FLAVOR!!!) and one of the most reasonably priced cuts of meat out there (without getting into the freaky-deaky offals).

Season liberally with salt and pepper. Then sear the meat on a super hot nonstick pan until crisp and golden brown on the outsides.

You’ll know that you’re doing it right when you smoke out your kitchen and make the smoke detector in your kitchen start screaching. (FYI: its at this point when your kitchen will start smelling like “OMFG beefy-delicious get-in-my-face-now!!!”)

After the meat is done being seared on both sides, take them off the heat to let them rest. In the same cooking pan start sauteeing a mixture of mirepoix. Then throw in some fresh chopped herbs, like rosemary, parsley, bay leaves, etc…

Then add some red wine and a bunch of of beef stock, and add back in the seared brisket. Pour yourself a glass of wine (because not only is it crucial to the cooking process, but also -hey!- you deserve it!) and pose for a picture.

Bring meat to a low simmer and then throw it in the oven for an hour or 2. Drink more wine. When you take it out of the oven it should look like this:

Take out about half of the liquid, and boil it down in a sauce pan (as shown). Try to reduce it by about half. Let the meat rest, but always keep it in the cooking liquid and veggies, because the beef will get dry out and get tough if its not kept happy in liquid. While you’re boiling down the sauce, you can roast an assortment of root veggies in the oven, and whip up some blue cheese mashed potatoes. You know, easy peasy. And slice up the brisket, slicing against the grain, and of course returning the meat to the cooking liquid to keep it moist and happy.

Put a pile of mashed ‘taters on a plate, top with a few sliced of the braised beef, throw on some roasted root veggies, and sauce liberally with some of the reduced juices, sprinkle some fresh herbs on top and BAM!!! The delicious, delicious result!

I ate so much that night, it was just obscene. But oh man, was this one of the best meals of my life, and now I (and you!) know how to recreate this magical meal of beefy goodness!

You can tell from my hair color (that has changed about 4 times since these pictures), that this all took place a few months ago.  But it’s still winter, and a fantastic time to make a great warm filling meal like this. Thanks to my big bro for just being awesome in general, and also, for being a really super chef, and sharing a few tricks of the trade with me.

12 of 30 completed!

 

Emerging after a long frost.

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011


IMG_1144

Originally uploaded by emmasart

The snow has melted, the earth has thawed and seedlings have started poking up all over. I’m finally able to start up my daily walks through the forest again. Today I went sans iPod and was kind of amazed by the peace & calm that came over me.

Just nature and myself. The sound of my breathing, the crunch of my feet on last year’s fallen leaves. Birds of all colors and sorts calling and singing. The rustle of brush that comes from chipmunks, squirrels and rabbits rooting around. The sound of a brook skipping over rocks as it empties into the pond. It smells intensely like spring.

I come to my favorite perch in the forest. An ancient fallen tree that rests half in the water, but that is still large enough to bear my weight when I walk out on it. I surprise about five turtles, who have been sunning themselves on the branches and they immediately hurl themselves into the safety of the pond. I sit down, straddling the horizontal tree. My feet floppily hang downwards, but are a bit short of touching the water. Staring out at the pond, the trees, the water lillies, absorbing the moment.

Grounding myself.

Via Flickr:
Wandering through the town forest.

Emma’s Favorite Things: Cake Wrecks Blog

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

This is my new favorite blog: Cake Wrecks.  Soooo many disasters. I’m no awesome cake decorator, but man, there are some real gems on that site. I’ve been going through the blog laughing my butt off and freaking Devon out in the process.

From cakewrecks.blogspot.com

From cakewrecks.blogspot.com

Check it out. I guarantee that you’ll find it hillariously delicious.

Beginning of a Garden

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009
Emma gardening

"Emma" gardening

First off, I love using photo shop poorly. Next. It’s spring time and I’ve always wanted to have a small garden to grow things to eat. I’ve experimented in previous rental houses with herbs, collards and flowers… I’ve also planted a blueberry bush that I harvested about 6 ripe blueberries off of last year, and we had a patch of wild stawberries that the squirrels harvested the night before each one was ripe.

Now that we have a huge yard, I’ve decided that I will actually have a real garden. We’ve decided to go with a raised bed version, so its not as permanent, if we decide to move its location. Also, hopefully it will make it a bit easier to keep kritters out… Ok, they can share, but they can not eat everything! hehe. My garden staff, aka. Devon, will build/help build a pretty simple one, that will be about 4 ft. by 8 ft, and it should be big enough to hold the few things that I plan on trying to grow this year.

They are: Collard greens, yellow summer squash, carrots, sugar snap peas, nasturtiums and possibly zucchini. I’m also thinking about doing some herbs like basil, cilantro and parsley in some containers. We also have a big apple tree in our back yard. We moved into the house too late last year to see if they were yummy or not. But yeah. I’m feeling a smidge domestic… Although, we’ll see. Devon and I still have to build the raised bed tonight…. and then I have to plant things… Oh yeah.. and then weed, and weed, and weed, and weed. Good times.

Is anyone else trying to growing anything this year?

Recipe: Curry and Yogurt Braised Chicken Thighs

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

This is a new recipe I came across from Food & Wine, that I altered a bit. It was absolutely delish, winning approval from D and my mom. It tasted just as good, if not better, than a curry from my favorite Thai restaurant. It’s pretty easy to make, relatively healthy, very satisfying and it looks beautiful when it’s plated.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup  canola oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 anaheim chile(green chile pepper), seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper—cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder (I used half 9 spice curry from Thailand, half McCormick Brand)
  • A little over 1 pound tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1/3 cup Greek-style plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish

Directions

  1. In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and lightly dust with flour, tapping off the excess. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook over high heat, turning once, until lightly browned, 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  2. Add the ginger, garlic, chile and bell pepper to the skillet and cook over high heat until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, corn, yogurt and water; stir until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over very low heat until the chicken is tender and the juices are slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the chicken with cilantro.
  4. Serve with steamed rice.

Emma’s Favorite Things: Green Bamboo Candle

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

I think I’m going to start a new series of posts on my blog. Screw “Oprah’s Favorite Things”. It’s ALL about Emma’s Favorite Things. I have WAY better taste than her anyways.

Now that we’ve got that cleared up. My first fav thing is going to be Green Bamboo scented candles from Yankee Candle.

Green Bamboo scent

A lot of the Yankee Candles smell terrible. Their pumpin pie spice scent is utterly nauseating & makes me want to barf. In general I steer clear of all of their “food scents”. Anyways. The green bamboo scent is really nice. Light & spring-like.  Which is especially nice when it’s February & its hard to imagine anything ever growing or being green.