Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Real Life

I've spent a lot of time lately on Katie's blog. I've been a reader of her blog for quite some time, but lately I've found that I relate to her more than ever. She's just moved across the country with her husband and her brand-new baby boy, and she's adjusting to a very different environment. But the main reason that I've become more interested in her blog is that she is not only a knitter, but also a baker. I wasn't very interested in baking before I moved to Chicago. The idea interested me, but actually baking something involved trying to use my mother's kitchen, which stressed her out far too much to be worth it. While I knew that I was looking forward to cooking meals, I was surprised by an overwhelming urge to bake when we arrived in Chicago, where I had my own oven. Since then, I've been experimenting with a couple of cookie recipes, and gradually attaining baking supplies on our very tight budget. My collection of baking paraphernalia consisted of two cookie sheets and a mixing bowl.

Until today, that is.

My friend Angela, who has been living in Chicago for a few years now, is moving to New York and getting married. She offered us an air conditioning unit and some furniture a while back, which we gratefully bought from her at an excellent price. However, as I sat in bed last night, looking at recipes and lamenting my general lack of proper baking/kitchen supplies, Angela sent me a Facebook message. Ben and I dropped by her place again today, and by this afternoon, my kitchen table looked like this:

I died. Look at it all. I now have two cake pans, a mini-muffin pan, a whisk, cheese grater, TWO potato mashers (one of which I bet could double as a pastry cutter), that gorgeous old blue pot, and so much more! Plus, she gave me a kettle, which means I can store the coffee maker that I was using to heat water for tea, and we can use that prime spot on top of the fridge for the toaster she gave us! Best of all--I got a hand mixer!!! I spent the afternoon reorganizing my cabinets, and tomorrow I'm going to do some baking with my new supplies, including a batch of cookies to thank Angela for her kindness. I also picked up some essential baking ingredients at the store today, so my cookie/cake repertoire is going to grow.

So, anyway, Katie's blog is full of both knitting AND baking, so it's been a pretty awesome place to read about two of my favorite creative outlets. I found her "recipes" tab last night, and I am really excited about making pretty much all of that deliciousness. Plus, now I have the tools to do so! Yay!

Though her blog, I was led to Joy the Baker, which is an awesome baking blog, with a freaking ton of recipes. I spent a lot of the afternoon on her blog (I got *nothing* accomplished today that didn't have to do with cooking) and wound up finding several amazing things, like this pizza recipe that I'm making as soon as I buy yeast, and this post from yet another amazing blog, Helen Jane.

I think this blog post changed my whole line of thinking about my blog. I was already on the verge of a change, but this really pushed me over the edge. She's totally right--there are so many blogs that are about how people want to be, or how people should be, instead of how people are. I think that's been the big hang-up for me with blogging--I am a person who worries tremendously about how I'm perceived, and that's led to some huge blocks while blogging. I've left out anything that could make "weird" or...whatever. I've struggled to write because I've put so many blocks on what I could write about. I stressed about sticking to the knitting theme, about whether or not people even read this blog--but it doesn't matter. I write it. That's what matters. Real life is what matters. And today, for the first time in a long time, real life is totally satisfactory to me. My favorite blogs are written by people who share who they really are, so that's something I'm going to be trying to do from now on. I gave the blog a little makeover, too, because it was looking a little dreary to me. I also changed my username to my actual name--I used to have things to hide from, but I think that being genuine is the key for me now.

So, after I got my cabinets organized and looked at some cookie recipes for tomorrow, I cooked a very special dinner. Ben and I have two very good friends who moved to Alaska right before we moved to Chicago, and we miss them like crazy. When we used to go hang out at their house, they'd cook a giant batch of Chicken Alfredo. I'm only willing to call it by that title because A) It's what they called it and B) They technically started with an Alfredo sauce base. However, after that, it completely strayed from the path of Alfredo-ness. Josh and Teni like very, very spicy food. So do we, so we let them go hog-wild with the cayenne pepper. Also, they always used bowtie pasta when they made the dish, so you wind up with a big plate of ooey gooey pasta deliciousness in an orange sauce. The uneducated would assume that it began with a tomato base, but one bite makes it clear that it's orange from the sheer amount of cayenne pepper. We're all from New Orleans (except Teni, who's from Alaska,) so we're used to the spices, but it's a little intense even for us, and not for the faint of heart.

Anyway, Ben and I have been missing the two of them a lot lately, so Ben suggested that we make some Chicken Alfredo for dinner. So, using some of my new kitchen supplies, I whipped up a big huge batch of the delightful spicy bowties, and a batch of sweet tea--because we always drank sweet tea with it at home.

Mmmmmmmmmmm. So good. I cooked it to Josh's spice level, just to make us feel totally at home. It was fantastic, and just like at home in New Orleans, it made a ton of food, so we have leftovers for days. WIN.

On the knitting front, I've gotten nothing accomplished on Esperanza in two days--I spent all of last night reading recipes and blogs, so I'm going to skip off now and indulge in a couple hours of knitting before turning in. I'm trying to get myself back to getting up early, because I love it so much and I am most creative early in the morning. Also, since I have so much music learning to do, I can get it done without using the whole day, which leaves lots of time for knitting and baking! Although I didn't get to schedule my classes during orientation due to drama with my undergraduate school, (sigh) I do know what classes I'm going to be taking, and I'm not in class until after noon three days out of the week, and I'm done early, which means that Operation Barista still has a serious chance of success! I'll resume applying once I'm actually registered for classes. I'm hoping to work in the morning, which will give me a couple of hours free in the evenings to cook dinner before rehearsals. I'm very excited.

P.S. Speaking of excited: I haven't had pizza since we moved to Chicago (which is both ironic and very, very sad.) I am making that pizza soon, and it's going to be AMAZING.

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