Two Years

The first thing most people think of when thinking about my dad is most likely his sense of humor.  He’s the most funny person I have ever known.  And, really, probably the most funny person I will ever know.  He was incredibly dry and sarcastic and almost painfully witty.  Part of his genius was the mystery of never being certain that he was indeed joking.  Being funny was something that seemed to come naturally to him.  And really, with the exception of the last year or two of his life, it rarely seemed like he used sense of humor as some sort of self-preservation mechanism or to mask insecurities.  (This is something that I could use some lessons in.)

Some of my best memories of him are from Sunday mornings.  We’d wake up early and share the paper while drinking coffee and watching hunting/fishing shows or Old Westerns. He would read the paper, I would read the comics.  Then we’d go through the ads and point out items we thought the other one needed to buy. One of our classic bits was when I would ask if he needed an iPhone, to which he would respond “Now what the hell would I do with an iPhone?” I would point out he could use it to keep tabs on his 41 Facebook friends, or maybe even get a Twitter account.  And then, of course, “What the hell would I do with a Tweeter?”  Which would lead to us going back and forth about what he would Tweet.  It just so happens Steve Leach’s Twitter topic of choice would be bathroom happenings.  We could spend an entire morning riffing off of each other.  Then Mom would be a little bit mortified, but mainly amused and just go, “oh! You two!”

My dad was my comedic… match?  role model?  I wouldn’t say equal, but there was definitely something special about how funny we were together.  Even if I was the butt of a lot of his jokes.  He loved sitting by me at more conservative weddings.  He would just have this smirk on his face, like he found pleasure knowing that I was going crazy while the embarrassingly large portion of my brain devoted to wedding etiquette and the part of my brain devoted to feminism duked it out.  When I informed him that I’d voted Democrat in the 2004 Presidential election, he took my dinner away and “redistributed” it.  He warned me that in 10 years I’d probably be a Republican.  (Not only was HE the one who switched his registration, he was also the chair of the Hamilton County Democrats by 2008.)

Those who knew my dad know that in addition to being a grumpy old man (a self-proclaimed one, at that), he also had the biggest heart.  One of his greatest passions was giving back to his community.  He took pride in being Aurora’s “Biggest Athletic Supporter”.  He was always the first to donate to fundraisers at the school and spent many weekends volunteering at youth wrestling meets or teaching Hunter’s Safety.  I don’t think I could count the number of times he read books to my class in elementary school or spoke in my business classes and volunteered at FBLA functions in high school.  He gave out water bottles to the band and all sports team.  When I very briefly considered doing sports stuff, he sponsored my softball team.  My blue Leach Insurance shirt sure looked good out in right field while I was doing cartwheels and picking grass.

He especially liked to get involved in the activities of me and my siblings.  When my sister was in golf, he lead the charge to get donations for golf bags for the girls team.  When I was auditioning for piano scholarships, he drove me all over the state and even made friends with some of the faculty.  In 2006, when i started to get politically involved, he was right there with me.  He made phone calls, wrote letters to the editor, asked farmers to put up yard signs, and — I know this is hard to believe — even started quite a few fights on conservative political blogs.  I once asked him if he was worried that coming out as a Democrat was going to hurt his business, to which he replied, “Sal.  I learned a long time ago, you just can’t give a sh** what people think.  Plus… I might be a Democrat, but I’m no GD liberal.”  As I told my dad two years ago, this is was the most special experience I shared with him.

Tomorrow, May 20th, marks two years since I said goodbye to my dad.  I will be honoring him by participating in “Omaha Gives!”, which is a 24-hour charitable challenge to benefit nonprofits in the area.  I will be making a donation to Donate Life Nebraska.  Something I’ve noticed when talking to people about organ donation is that people don’t realize just how easy or how important it is to register.  Organizations like Donate Life Nebraska get that information out there.  If you can’t donate, it would mean so much to me if you’d register to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor.

To donate: www.omahagives24.org

To register as an organ, eye, and tissue donor: www.donoregistry.org

To educate: www.donatelifenebraska.com

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Here we go again

Listen, you guys… I know it’s been, like, 10 months since I last posted.  I know that if I had gotten pregnant at the time of my last post (I didn’t), I would already have a cute little baby.  In fact, I’d probably already be planning its first birthday party and might have switched this joint up to a mommy blog.  Thankfully, I do not have a baby and will hopefully never have a mommy blog.  (I do have a new baby niece, though!  Abigail Elanor was born in February and it should come as no surprise that she’s perfect in every way.  I will also take this moment to mention that Emily M. is now Emily J.  Woohoo!!!!)  I did, however, have quite the year.  As I’ve mentioned in past posts, my dad was very sick with liver disease.  This past year he took a turn for the worse and passed away in May.  Three months ago, Tuesday, to be exact.  Also, my favorite uncle passed away in February from a very short, but very intense battle with esophageal cancer.  And my dog died.  From old age.  He was, like, 15 years old and I already thought he was dead a couple months earlier.  So, that one’s not as big.  I’m just trying to prove that I have enough material to make a killing in the sad country song industry.

I’ve wanted to get back to writing, but every time I try to start a new post I go to a weird and dark place.  I don’t think the general public is ready to see that.  Maybe once I figure out how to make an actual frown with my face, I’ll release the inner darkness.  For now, I just wanted to give y’all a quick update.  I thought it would be awkward if, in the middle of a post about cupcakes or “The 20 Best Taylor Swift Songs to Run To” (hello!  I think I have my next post figured out!), I just casually mentioned my dead dad.

These past three months (heck, these past three YEARS) have been the hardest of my life.  Some days I think I’m doing okay, other days I call his cell phone ten times just to hear his extremely healthy sounding voice on his outgoing message.  Once I get to a better place, I might try to write some amazing and sentimental tribute to my dad.  But for now, I’m going to leave you with this picture of my dad because after going through hundreds of pictures of him over these last few months, this is the one that I think captures who he was the most.  I think those who know him would agree.

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My dad, the original honey badger. He just don’t give a sh**.

And this one’s pretty great, too.

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Holy Cyst, Batman!

I’m sorry it’s been so long since I last posted.  I’m sure you have all been worried sick.  I’ve just been going through some weird health stuff.  Between that and starting school, blogging hasn’t really been my top priority.  I want to give you fair warning, that this post probably crosses the line of too much information, and I suggest that if you’re sensitive to the women’s reproductive system or are a male without sisters (and maybe, in my case, my brother), you might want to turn away.  I will not be offended.

In July, I had my yearly check-up and after I described some issues I was having and had my blood drawn to discover I was extremely anemic, my nurse practitioner decided I should have an ultrasound done.  The ultrasound showed that I had a very thick endometrial lining and this grapefruit sized cystic mass growing inside of me.  Then, I had to meet with a doctor to decide a course of action.  She decided I needed an endometrial biopsy to make sure the lining was normal, and a CT scan to find out what exactly the cystic mass was and where exactly it was coming from.  Since I’m no longer on my parent’s health insurance, I had to wait for the CT scan to be preauthorized.  In the meantime, I had the biopsy done and those results came back normal.  After about 10 days of waiting, I was able to have the CT scan done.  They discovered it was a 9 cm ovarian cyst.  Maybe that’s actually tennis ball-sized?  Either way, it’s still significantly larger than my ovary.  In fact, it’s actually bigger than my uterus.  TMI, I know, but it’s kind of interesting, right?  I decided that I’m going to have laparoscopic surgery to remove the cyst (instead of just waiting to see if it shrinks), which has a relatively easy recovery.  They’ll also probably take a peek directly into my oven to see what’s up with that.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to recover and make it back to normal life after a few days of rest.  It’s possible that part of the cyst is solid, which would mean I have to have an actual open surgery.

My well-documented addiction to WebMD has made this a very stressful – yet educational – time for me.  There was a week (which felt like a month) where I was convinced I was one of the very small fraction of pre-menopausal women to have endometrial cancer.  See, I tend to have weird health issues.  I have absolutely no sense of smell (the exception to this being cigarettes and gasoline) because I was hit in the nose with a softball as a child and have a deviated septum.   At 15, I was most likely the youngest person ever to need a colonoscopy.  A couple years later I had to have my FIVE wisdom teeth removed.  I’m sure my friends could help me brainstorm more, but take my word, I have been to many appointments where the professional has stated “Wow.  I have never seen this before.” This is usually followed by them calling in their colleagues to check out whatever freak thing is going on with me at the time.  So, when I have any of the symptoms of an illness that is unlikely – but possible – for me to have, I just expect the worst.  I know this all makes me sound like a bit of a drama queen.  Trust me, I can be one.  I did come to a very dramatic self-diagnosis, but had a weirdly non-dramatic reaction.  I would say I was probably more apathetic than dramatic.    Then, after the results came back normal, I just grew impatient with finding out what it was and how we were going to treat it.

This all has also made me very impatient in the fitness/weight loss department.  Probably starting in the end of June/beginning of July, I had been getting SO tired.  Whenever I would run or Jazzercise, my limbs just felt so heavy.  I was worried that maybe I was getting burnt out on all the exercising I had been doing.  I also thought maybe I was starting to get lazy, since I had reached my goal of running the 5k.  I had no motivation to work out and really just wanted to sleep all the time.  Then, after discovering the cyst, I was paranoid to do any exercise because I was pretty positive I was going to pop it.  My doctor cleared me for running, but I’m not allowed to do any jumping.  Jumping could cause the cyst and my ovary to get twisted up together, which would be very bad.  Sooo… regular, high impact Jazzercise is out of the question for me.  However, I’m going to try out the Body Sculpting Jazzercise classes in Lincoln so I can still get some strength in along with the cardio from running.  I started running again and it has been good.  I forgot how therapeutic it is.  I actually ran in the rain for the first time last week.  While running in the rain did not turn out to make me high (click here if you are not familiar with this story), I do have to say that running in 60 degree cloudy weather kind of did.  Also, I would much rather run in pouring rain than 100+ degree heat, so long as I’m on pavement and not gravel.  It’s been nice to get into a workout routine.  The weight hasn’t been coming of like I want it to, but I’m hoping it will once this all gets worked out.  My mom just keeps telling me to keep doing what I’m doing and ignore the scale for now.  I know she’s right; I’m just not a very patient person.

 

Lessons I’m learning throughout this whole process:

  • Barium Sulfate is kind of disgusting.
  • When the CT tech suggests that you may feel like you wet your pants once the contrast IV starts, you will feel like you wet your pants.  You may be thinking “Oh… I’m special.  That won’t happen to me.  And if it does, I’ll be able to tell the difference.”  You won’t be able to tell the difference and may start repeatedly saying to yourself, outloud and uncensored, “ Sally, chill the Eff out, you did not pee your pants.”
  • Ice cream after your yearly pap is a great tradition.  You’ve earned it.  However, if you’re trying to lose weight (and have to have a pap, ultrasound, biopsy, and CT scan over the course of a month), you may want to think of a different reward system.
  • If your legs are so heavy that you don’t want to work out, and your cramps are so bad that you suspect that the second coming of Jesus Christ will be born in your toilet, see a doctor.  Seriously.
  • Stopping Jazzerise cold-turkey WILL cause withdrawal.  One of the main symptoms of this specific withdrawal is willingly putting three Pitbull Songs on your running play list.  In certain circumstances, you may find yourself replaying “Shake Senora” over and over again.  Seek help immediately.
  • Talking on the phone in a public place about how annoyed you are with this thing growing inside of you and how you can’t wait to get it removed will cause passerby’s to assume that you are talking about a fetus and in turn give you the stink eye.  The best solution to this is to just not talk on your phone in public places.  (This is actually a very good approach to cell phone etiquette, even if there’s no chance of people assuming that you’re having an abortion.)
  • My friends and family are absolutely amazing and supportive and incredible in every way.  I am very, very lucky.

Completely random story…. A couple weeks ago, I saw a real-life badger when I was running.  It wasn’t a honey badger, but I could tell it still didn’t care.  I think I ran faster than I have ever run before.  What fun wildlife have you seen while out running?

Warning:  Video contains extremely inappropriate language.

 

 

 

July Foodie Penpal Reveal!

Hey All!  Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted.  It’s just been a crazy couple of weeks.  (I’ll do another post to fill you in on that later.  I promise… maybe.)  This month I signed up for a really fun program called Foodie Pen Pal.  You get matched up with a completely random person and have to send them fun food products.  Then, someone else gets matched up with you and sends you food.

-On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treatsThe spending limit is $15The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you can choose to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
– Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian residents & UK residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. So, I’m going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/ Canada!

I received a package from Emily (I KNOW, another Emily!  I told her this was a good sign.) over at The Vegtress.  Shortly after we received our assignments, we started emailing and getting to know each other.  She’s an actress and a vegan out in California (lucky!) and was just so sweet.  I mentioned that we don’t really have too many options when it comes to “health food” in Aurora, so she sent me all kinds of awesome snacks.  Everything I received was perfect for a quick snack and it didn’t take me long to devour it all.  I can’t wait to get back to Lincoln so I can head to Trader Joe’s and refill on everything!

Thanks, Emily!!

Contents:

  • Glories Sweet Potato Chips – These were my absolute FAVORITE.  I love sweet potato chips with all my heart and these were no exception.  I have to admit, that the bag was gone within 24 hours of it’s arrival.
  • Love Grown Granola – One of my favorite things for breakfast is Greek Yogurt with granola and fruit, so this was perfect.  It was a lot heartier and filling than the usual generic brand I buy, so I felt very spoiled.  I’m also a big fan of measuring out servings of granola into zip-loc bags and keeping them in my purse for snacks.
  • Mrs. May’s Almond Rice Stix – These (like everything else) were absolutely amazing.  It would not have been hard for me to sit down and just eat the entire bag.
  • Mrs. May’s Black Sesame Crunch – I had never had anything quite like this before, but I loved it!  My only piece of advice is check the mirror when you’re done eating to make sure you don’t have sesame seeds in your teeth!  This was more of a savory snack, and was perfect on my weigh-in day when I needed to eat something but didn’t want to eat something heavy right before.  I’ve actually been craving them a lot this week and get sad when i realize I ate them all.
  • Clif Mojo Bar (Mountain Mix) – This truly was like trail mix in a bar form.  (which – believe me – is a very very good thing)
  • Odwalla Chewy Nut Bar – Another great bar.  I love keeping bars on hand to eat before an impromptu work out or if I need something to tie me over between meals.  My strategy toward the bars Emily gave me was “ohhh… I’m just going to try a bite, then I’ll have the rest after my run.”  Then after the bite, I thought I could eat half.  But after I ate half, I figured I might as well eat the whole thing.  Kids… Do not follow my example.
  • Larabars – These are really the only non-Snicker based energy bars you can find in Aurora.  However, Emily sent me some flavors we don’t get at the Aurora Mall.  I love them so much.  The Cappuccino one was especially amazing.  I’m always surprised at how filling they are for such small bars.
  • Starbucks VIA Instant Coffee – I’m convinced this is the best invention ever.  I love coffee, but I’m horrible about making it.  My coffee pot is really slow, so if I remember to make it I usually only get about a cup.  These were easy, fast, and they tasted amazing.
  • Ginger Chews – Since finishing the chews that were in my package, I have bought – and eaten – two entire packages of these.  They’re amazing.

I’m participating in Foodie Pen Pal again, and am already so excited!  If you would like to sign up, CLICK HERE!

Also, be sure to check out Emily’s blog:  HERE!

Random Acts of Baking – Part 1

For my birthday, Emily M. bought me a whole bunch of neat baking related things (she knows me well!).  One of them was the Magnolia Bakery cookbook.  Well, I left them in Lincoln for almost a month but finally got them back and have spent the last few days trying to scratch away the itch to bake something.  I’m not talking cake mix with a can of pop baking.  I mean with actual eggs and flour and butter.  I finally, with the help of Em, decided that I would bake stuff and then just drop it off for random people.  I’m going to try to do this at least once a week.  We’ll see how it goes!

Since Emily M. gave me the cookbook, I thought she should be the first recipient of my Random Act of Baking.  I also thought it was fitting to make the signature vanilla cupcakes and frosting from Magnolia Bakery.  Now, I’ve never been there, and I’m sure mine don’t compare, but  I think they turned out pretty well!

Happy Independence Day!

This week’s weigh-in was MUCH better than last week.  I lost 4.6 pounds which cancelled out last week’s gain of 3.8 pounds and still left me with an additional loss of .8 pounds.  I’ll take it!  That brings my total loss with WW to 29.2 pounds.

Goals for the week:

  • Run at least 4 days, going at least 4 miles on one day – I’m becoming a bit of a wimp when it comes to the heat and humidity.
  • Track every day – I had a good week as far as weight loss goes, but I hardly tracked.  I do much better, and feel more in control, when I track.
  • Finally complete the Jazzercise attendance challenge.  I’m seeing a lot of double Jazzercise classes in my near future!
  • Learn to shimmy – Pitbull keeps making me shimmy in Jazzercise.  I can’t do this.  It’s almost as awkward as Baby trying to do really anything in the first half of Dirty Dancing.  And, to be honest (we all are girls here, right?) I’ve spent a lot of money on sports bras and went through a very painful surgery in order to eliminate my “shimmy.”  I’ll keep you posted on how this goes.
  • Try out Aqua Zumba.  I’m always intrigued when I drive by the pool and see the sign.  I LOVE being in the water and it sounds so much fun, so I think I have to try it.

I hope you all have a great holiday!  I’ll be spending it with my family AND I found a recipe for a healthy (or – at least- low calorie) 4th of July cake.  Pictures will be posted soon…  As long as it turns out well.  🙂

In honor of Independence Day, I have to leave you with maybe the most moving speech by a fictional president.  (I’m convinced President Bartlett is real and The West Wing was actually a documentary, so his hundreds of amazing speeches do not count.)

Also, consider it your lucky day because you’re getting a 2-for-1 special!  Bill Pullman got me thinking about Newsies which got me wanting to watch this video.  You are welcome.

How I Jason Segel became my Funny Valentine (and also, homemade pizza)

I wasn’t going to post anything about Valentine’s Day.  My day was pretty uneventful.  I went to school, came home, talked to Emily M., talked to my mom, wrote a paper, made a pizza (Italian Sausage and Pepperoni), drank a portion of a glass of cheap red wine, and fell asleep to Secretariat on Netflix.  When I woke up this morning and checked all my forms of social media, I saw something too similar to be a coincidence, so at the urging of Emily M., I decided to post about my Valentine’s Day, after all.

Those of you who know me, know about my not-so-secret crush on the actor Jason Segel.  My first exposure to him was on Freaks and Geeks.  I think my friend, Savanna, and I probably were about half of the people who actually watched the show when it was on air.  We each had our own crush on the show.  Hers was Daniel Desario (played by a young James Franco).  Mine was Nick Andopolis (played by a young Jason Segel).  Nick Andopolis taught me how to approach unrequited love.   There’s one episode where he speak-sings the song “Lady” to his girlfriend, Lindsay.  It’s one of those cases where he’s way more into her than she is him, and she feels super awkward about it all.  At the time, I didn’t quite get that part of it.  I just saw it as the ultimate act of love.  I started practicing routines to different songs.  It seems like they were all to Marvin Gaye songs.  Not any of the gross ones.  Usually just “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.”  You guys, for real.  I was (am) a Smooth Operator.  Luckily, I never had the guts to go through with the “ultimate act of love.”  Nick and Lindsay broke up so he wrote her a song called “Lady L” but before he could sing it for her, Ken (Seth Rogen) smashed his guitar.  I feel like the entire show kind of did for me what Ken did for Nick.  I mean that in the very best way possible.

I first saw Forgetting Sarah Marshall when my dad was having surgery in Omaha.  It was right after I had worked on a campaign, so I was living at home.  Both of my parents were gone, and I was home alone worrying the entire first day.  Then I decided to pour a glass of Johnny Walker Blue (Sorry, Dad) and order FSM on pay-per-view.  I pretty much laughed straight through from beginning to end.  Anyone who writes a Dracula puppet musical is okay in my book.  I mean, it is truly one of the most amazing things ever.  With each scene of that movie, I fell more and more for Peter Bretter.  I starts out as having an enormous amount of pity for him.  He does, after all, get dumped while he’s naked.  Then things just get hilarious.  Maybe someday I’ll just do a post on my favorite scenes from Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  I have an embarrassingly large amount of that movie memorized.  According to iTunes, I have watched the digital copy of FSM 16 times.  For now, I’m just going to let you guys watch probably my favorite scene from the movie.  This is kind of what happens when I make up songs.  Except usually I’m not around my piano.  Also, I’m a lot nicer to myself.

A little over a year ago my dad was diagnosed with liver disease and it was a really hard and scary time for me.  I felt like I was doing a pretty good job of keeping my emotions in check.  With school and stuff, I didn’t really have time to get emotional or depressed so I just kept every thing in.  At about the same time, Marshall Erickson (Jason’s character on How I Met Your Mother) was dealing with the loss of his father.  After the episode of his funeral, I just lay in bed and cried for hours until I finally fell asleep.  This was the first time I had really let myself cry, uninterrupted, since my dad’s diagnosis and it was exactly what I needed at the time.  The next day I felt like 500 tons had just been lifted off my chest and I was able to get on with life.  The acting was just absolutely amazing in this episode.  I still tear up whenever I see that episode.  It was definitely worthy of an Emmy or Golden Globe.  At least a nomination!  Jeez Louise, Hollywood.

I honestly could go through every movie or TV show on his IMDB page and give some anecdote as to why I think he’s great.  I think (or, in order to make myself feel less crazy, hope) that pretty much everyone has that kind of celebrity crush.  Obviously, nothing will come of these crushes.  If celebrity crushes were meant to be, my next birthday would be spent with my three best friends and Dr. Spencer Reid (for the sake of argument, fictional characters can be included), Rachel Bilson, and some odd breed of Leonardo diCaprio, Paul Rudd, Adam Brody, and JC Chavez (Seriously, Emily P., who exactly IS your celebrity crush?).  Any way, I have never thought in a serious way, “OMG, I’m meant to be with Jason Segel.”  Logically, that’s silly.  I’ve pretty much been able to write off any similarities between Jason’s characters and my life (with the exception of the Freaks and Geeks years, when I truly thought he was my soul mate), as coincidence.  That is until this morning when I woke up to see what had happened on all forms of social media the night before and found this from Jason Segel’s Twitter:

I’m not sure if you remember, after all the rambling.. But, you guys, that’s EXACTLY what I did on Valentine’s Day Night, minus the potato chips.  So… although he might not be my true soul mate (at least not in the romantic sense), I like to think that maybe he’s like my own comedic guardian angel sent here to make me laugh when I’m said and make me feel less pathetic about things like having a weird passion for speak-singing and watching Secretariat alone on Valentine’s Day.

I suppose after all of that, I should share information about the food.  This is a food blog, after all.

I use my mom’s recipe for pizza dough.  She usually make a big batch of the mix to keep in the freezer and it’s super handy.

Donelle’s Pizza Dough Mix (makes about 22 cups)

5 pounds wheat flour (for those of you who live in Aurora, the Grain Place sells whole wheat flour at Espressions Coffee Shop.  I think that’s what my mom usually uses.  You can also buy it at pretty much any grocery store in Lincoln)

3/4 cup sugar

4 teaspoon salt

1 cup instant nonfat dry milk

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Put in a large airtight container.  Label.  Store in a cool, dry place.  Use within 8 months.

I lost the actual recipe for the dough, but this is what I’ve been doing:

3 cups Pizza Dough Mix

1 cup (maybe a little more) water

1 package quick rise yeast

1/4 cup (maybe a little more) oil (really any kind.  I usually use vegetable.  My mom uses peanut oil.  Last night I used olive oil)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit.  Put three cups of pizza mix in a large bowl.  In a smaller bowl, dissolve a package of yeast in a cup of warm water.  Stir together mix, water/yeast, and oil.  Sprinkle a flat surface with pizza mix and knead the dough until it forms a ball.  Put ball of dough back in large bowl and cover with a dish towel for about 20 minutes.  On a greased, sprayed, or oiled pan, roll out the dough and let sit for 5 minutes.  Spread pizza sauce and your choice of toppings. Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes.

When I started making the pizza last night, I had every intention of posting about it.  I have been trying SO hard to create a good pizza and it just never works out for me.  The main problem is that I have just a truly awful oven.  It’s really small and overheats anywhere from 50 to 150 degrees which causes inconsistency as far as times and burning goes.  I should just ask for a new oven, but my landlord bought a new one before I moved in.  It’s never worked properly, but I feel weird asking for a new one.  Any way, things were going my way last night and I was ready for the perfect pizza.  The dough had risen properly, my oven was within 50 degrees of the desired temperature, and to make things even better – I had fresh mozzarella left over from when I made lasagna not too long ago.  I browned the sausage (I used ground sweet Italian sausage.  I think next time I will try the hot instead of mild), layered the pepperonis over the sauce, sprinkled the sausage over the pepperoni, and cut the cheese to arrange over the sausage. [note: As I was doing a quick proofread of this I realized I had actually used the term “cut the cheese.”  I was going to change this, but then realized everybody who loves me also loves a fart joke, so I kept it in.  Also, before handling fresh mozzarella, I put it in the freezer for maybe 10 minutes.  This makes it easier to cut, grate, or slice.]  It never occured to me that I should check to see if there was anything different I needed to do to make a pizza with fresh mozzarella instead of grated mozzarella.  That was a big mistake.  When I went to rotate my pizza (if you have a regularly functioning oven, you don’t need to do this) at the halfway mark, i noticed the pan was filled with liquid.  After a quick Google, I realized that since fresh mozzarella is wet, when you put it on a pizza the water gets released.  So I poured the liquid into the sink and put the pizza back in the oven.  The dough was a little soggy, and there were places that the liquid had burned onto the pan, but I have to admit the pizza was amazing.  It really was the best pizza I’ve ever made in my apartment.  The sausage and pepperoni worked great together.  The dough was perfect.  It just all turned out amazing.  Next time I’ll probably try to follow instructions on how to do the cheese.  Google sent me here:  http://www.ehow.com/how_8288916_put-fresh-whole-mozzarella-pizza.html.  Also, I sprinkled Italian seasoning and parsley on top of the cheese and chopped up a few cloves of garlic to cook with the sausage.

Please excuse the old bananas... I'm making banana bread tomorrow!

 

Admit it, your Valentine's Day would've been more fun had you consumed boxed wine from a TMNT glass.

I’m going to try to be more consistent with my posting.  So far, it’s been pretty random.  I’m also going to try to make my posts more polished.  I’ve noticed I use a lot of parenthesis and ramblings and I KNOW my sentence/paragraph/grammatical structure is not always proper.  Hopefully if I get on a more regular schedule and my posts aren’t so sporadic (Thank you, Cher Horowitz), I can be the blogger I’ve always dreamed of being.  Happy Belated Valentine’s Day, Everyone!  Also, I might try to steal my parent’s digital camera back so I can have slightly better than iPod quality pictures.

I Went and Started a Blog

I finally did the unthinkable and jumped on the Blog Bandwagon.  I know, I know… I’m at least 5 years too late (probably even 10?), but I feel that you all could benefit from my culinary expertise.  [cue eye roll]

Who in the world am I?

I am a (seemingly eternal) college student from Nebraska who loves to cook!

Why in the world did I start this blog?

In addition to all the narcissistic reasons one starts a blog, especially a blog related to their talent (or lack thereof), I think I just wanted to share my experiences in the kitchen with you.  You – of course – being my mom and The Emily’s.  I love trying new recipes and experimenting with old ones.  I also love feedback.  If someone out there has a secret to get pie crusts to roll out perfectly on the first try, I wanna know about it!

What in the world am I going to blog about?

I think I’ll probably just blog about the food I make.  If you’re looking for a serious commentary on the day’s events, you won’t find it here.  Unless, of course, I bake something related to it.  Once I find my coveted donkey and elephant cookie cutter set, we’re all in trouble.  And hello, what could be better during Pride Week (you know, besides equality) than rainbow cupcakes in a cone decorated with Skittles?  Okay, I’m getting carried away now.  There will mainly be easy, cheap, healthy(?) recipes with some mediocre pictures edited to look all hipster-ish with a fancy iPod app.  Actually, scratch that, I pledge to keep my Blog hipster free.  The one exception, of course, is the name.  I’m sorry, guys.  When I came up with the blog idea a little over a year ago, I was going through a huge Iron & Wine phase.  And, I mean, come on.  Such Great Bites… That’s just clever, right?  RIGHT???

How in the world am I such an expert?

Well… Admittedly, I’m not.  I have, however, had the privilege of growing up around many culinary experts (whether they know it, or not).  I can’t think of a family member or close friend who hasn’t taught me some extremely valuable lesson.  I also consider Nigella Lawson, Paula Dean, Ina Garten, and Martha Stewart to be among my very best friends.  So, you know, they give me a lot of personal advice.