Southern Pimento Cheese Spread

Pimento Cheese 1

Happy Memorial Day, y’all!  The Boy and I love to celebrate holidays, and by “The Boy and I” I really mean I love to celebrate holidays, and The Boy just typically goes with it.

To celebrate Memorial Day, The Boy and I will be taking a picnic to go fishing, and it’s a fantastically southern meal.  Naturally, when I use the description, “fantastically southern,” Pimento Cheese Spread is included.  It’s so delightfully wonderful and not at all good for you.

I have this theory, crackers were developed solely for pimento cheese spread, and my Southern Pimento Cheese Spread tops them perfectly.

Pimento Cheese 2

I love this stuff so much.  I may or may not have used it to top my hot dog at lunch time.

 

Pimento Cheese Title

Ingredients

3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I used finely grated, but any grate will work)

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 cup mayonaise

4 oz jar of pimentos (and juice)

pinch of cayenne pepper

3 shakes of hot sauce

salt and pepper to taste

Process

1. If needed, shred the cheese and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine mayo, pimentos (juice and all), cayenne pepper, hot sauce, salt and pepper

3. Toss in the cheese and stir until everything is combined.

4. Serve it over crackers, or on toast, or grill it like grilled cheese and fall in love with Pimento Cheese Spread.

You can download a printable here: Southern Pimento Cheese Spread.  I’m trying something new with these things.

Cinnamon Vanilla Caramel Pop Corn

Cinnamon Vanilla Caramel Pop Corn

Cinnamon Vanilla Caramel Pop Corn

 

So, one of my first friends out here in Colorado had a personal emergency and is going to be driving back to her hometown this week.  For her, that’s a 21 hour drive, and having just recently made that drive moving out here from Virginia, I figured I’d do anything I can to make the trip a little easier.

Naturally, I figured I’d make a snack, something to give a burst of energy on those long roads (especially the ones in Kansas).  My criteria?  It needed to be sweet, easy to munch on, and I needed to have the ingredients on hand.

I figured caramel pop corn would be the perfect snack, but I wanted it to be a little more robust than traditional caramel corn.  To be fair and honest, this recipe was the inspiration for my version.

I made a lot of pop corn, some for my friend’s trip, some for my store, and some for The Boy and I (which, subsequently didn’t last the night).

Snack time!

Snack time!

This is a very simple recipe, and it’s packed with flavor, but the cinnamon and vanilla can both be, “to taste”, so feel free to ignore the amount I added if you’d like to make it your own.

Enough stalling, here’s the recipe!

Cinnamon Vanilla Caramel Pop Corn

Cinnamon Vanilla Caramel Pop Corn

Cinnamon Vanilla Caramel Pop Corn

Ingredients

2 sticks of butter (yep, TWO)

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup honey

3 tsp. vanilla extract*

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking soda

6-8 oz air popped pop corn (approximately 1 cup uncooked kernels)**

 

Process

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

1. Pop your corn, remove any unpopped kernels, and set it aside in a large bowl.  I suggest greasing the bowl with cooking spray or shortening as this will prevent the caramel from sticking.  Grease or spray every item that will touch the caramel.  That’s a pro-tip for you.

2. In a large non-stick skillet or sauce pan, melt the butter on medium low.  Add the sugars, cinnamon, and honey to the pot, and stir to combine.  Turn the mixture up to medium – it will start to boil.  Once this happens, you need to be stirring constantly to ensure the sugars don’t burn.  Let the mixture simmer for 4-6 minutes until it is thick and smooth.

3. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the vanilla and baking powder.  This will create an awesomely violent reaction, but just keep stirring through it until it calms down.

4. Pour the caramel over the corn and stir to combine.  This step is easiest to do if you do it in batches – I did 3.  Don’t feel that you need to use all of the caramel, put a light coating over the pop corn, too much and it won’t get crunchy.  If you want to make something chewy, like caramel popcorn balls, stop here, use all the caramel, and shape the popcorn.

5.  Split the pop corn onto two baking trays.  Another pro-tip: cover those bad boys in tin foil so they are easier to clean.

6. Bake the tray in 10 minute intervals, stirring in between.  I did 4 rounds per batch, but you may need more or less.  Let the pop corn cool for at least 5 minutes, if it turns nice an crunchy, it’s done, if it stays kinda chewy, put it back in for another round.

7. Once the popcorn has cooled, you’ll likely need to break it up again because it will stick together.  You can serve it now, or keep it for 1-2 weeks in an air tight container or zip lock.

 

*I recommend using pure vanilla extract, it will give you a hint of depth from the alcohol in it.

** If you want to use microwave popcorn, I suggest Orville Redenbacher’s Organic Simply Salted because it will compliment the caramel the best.  Also, it is by far the most superior pop corn.

 

This stuff is seriously amazing.  The Boy and I already ate our batch.

 

The Boy and I consider this, "not eating the whole bowl".

The Boy and I consider this, “not eating the whole bowl”.

This entry was posted in Musings.

I don’t think you really know what a best friend is.

So, I read this article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robin-obryant/im-not-married-to-my-best-friend_b_5187365.html

And I read it because of the title; it drew me in.  Nice job, Robin, good writing.  I don’t usually do this; I’m not the kind of person to post things I disagree with online because I think that’s kind of silly, and I do not want to be one of those horrible people who just spreads nastiness in the world.  But, this one got me thinking and inspired me to chime in on the dialogue.  Which, I think as a writer, is a compliment, even if I don’t agree with the topic or arguments made in the piece.

Upon first reading the piece, I found it interesting and thought provoking, and generally thought she made some good points.  In my experience, they didn’t fit, but that was just my personal experience, so I was just gonna chalk it up to a funny piece about love and marriage.  But, then, I saw this part:

“I’m also going to need all of you people who say, “Thanks for the best 15 years of my life!” to stand in a separate corner and await your own punishment, because marriage isn’t easy, and it most certainly isn’t all happy.”

That part actually kinda ticked me off and is what inspired me to sit down for a few minutes and write another perspective.

First, let me point out some very important differences.  First, Robin O’Bryant met her husband at 19 in 1997 at a Church event, so they have been together for quite a long time.  The Boy and I, however, only met in October of 2006 and married in October of 2011, so we are very much in the honeymoon stage of our relationship, and that may be tinting my view here.  Additionally, they have children together, and we have dogs.  So, needless to say, their lives are quite different from the one The Boy and I share.  Also, her husband has spiky hair.  However, there are some very strong similarities in our personalities.  This almost exactly sums up The Boy and I:

“Zeb is my polar opposite. He’s an extrovert; I’m an introvert. He loves nature and the outdoors; I’ve wondered if I could get a PhD in Netflix. He’s calm, steady and always in a good mood. I’m creative, a roller-coaster of emotions and quite frankly — prone to hysterics.”

The general point of the article is that she is married to a man who balances her, but is looking for a girlfriend to be more in line with her nature.  This is exampled here:

“I want best friend who will tell me I need one more pair of shoes and a man who will remind me to save for my retirement account.”

and here:

“I want to call my best friend when I feel I’ve been wronged and hear her say, ‘What a b*tch! I can’t believe she said that to you!’ I want to be married to a man who says, ‘Who gives a sh*t what she thinks?'”

I think I just disagree on the foundation of what a best friend is.  For example, the above scenarios don’t really require a best friend.  I mean, really, they don’t even require a friend.  Someone you just met in the shoe department can do both of those things for you.  And, if you’re from the South, they probably have done that for you.  Seriously, southerners are all up in your business whether you asked for it or not.  Honestly, I think what she means is that her husband isn’t her girl friend.  Which is a relief.  If he were, someone, if not both of them, in that marriage is confused.

To me, a best friend is there for you no matter what, is close to you for a long time, knows more about you than damn near anyone else on the planet and despite that thinks you’re pretty groovy, and, above all your friends, is the person you’d most prefer to be around.  I have that friend.  She’s recently had a baby and I moved across the country, but she’s still the person I call bestie.  Does that mean The Boy isn’t my bestie?

Hells no.

Me & Grit - This is me pre Colorado, and her pre Baby, and both of us pre Husbands.

Me & Grit – This is me pre Colorado, and her pre Baby, and both of us pre Husbands.

The Boy is definitely my best friend as defined above.  I love a girl’s night, I love that Grit loves shoes and sunglasses as much as I do, I love that we get pedicures together, and I love, that despite the image I try to put out there, she sees straight through it.  But, in all honesty, I have a lot of really great friends, including my mom, Rocky, and Beffie, who do those things for me.  They make me laugh, they get where I’m coming from as a woman, and they share a lot of my passions and quirks.  But, The Boy is my best friend.

He may not love shoes and sunglasses, but he laughs at me when I buy them and only occasionally says, “But you already have so many pairs.”  He may not get a pedicure with me, but he’ll send me out for one, or sit in the chair next to me and make fun of people with me.  I can’t even pretend with him, he sometimes sees what I’m feeling before I do, and will make me laugh or distract me before I go completely insane.

She also says that she has never been passionately angry at her best friend:

“I have never been so angry at my best friend that I fantasized about throwing a lamp or other miscellaneous piece of furniture at her head.”

What?!?  Do you not care about your best friend?  Seriously, I have been this mad at the above mentioned friends at least once in our relationship.  Not because that lessens their value as a friend, but because they mean that much to me.  I adore them, and therefore they sometimes drive me crazy.  It’s the people I don’t care about that I just walk away from once they piss me off.  It’s the best friends I end up laughing with at the end of the day because we worked it out, or I just got over it.  Seriously, if you don’t feel this way about your best friend, maybe the problem is that you don’t love your best friend.  I truly hope that there are things about me that irritate my friends to no end because that means that they care about me enough to get past them.

I tried to define the term “best friends” to make my point, but none of the real dictionaries had an actual definition.  However, Urban Dictionary to the rescue.  So, here is the unreliable version of the definition most likely written by a girl in middle schol, but I think it neatly sums up my point:

Best Friends are very special people in your life. They are the first people you think about when you make plans. They are the first people you go to when you need someone to talk to. You will phone them up just to talk about nothing, or the most important things in your life. When you’re sad they will try their hardest to cheer you up. They give the best hugs in the world! They are the shoulder to cry on, because you know that they truly care about you. In most cases they would take a bullet for you, because it would be too painful to watch you get hurt.2 Girl best friends: They do all the girly things together, and no one says anything.2 Boy best friends: They do all the boy stuff together, and no one says anything.1 Boy + 1 Girl best friends: They do boy and girl stuff, and people say lots of stuff.

Please note, that this has been mildly edited for grammar.  Also, I left out the example because she wrote “will” instead of “we’ll” and I just could not abide by that.
I like my definition of a best friend better than Robin’s.  Simply because there are moments when she’d rather be with her girlfriends means her husband isn’t her best friend and they are?
“Zeb isn’t my best friend. Depending on the movie I want to see, I’ll ditch him in a second for my girlfriends.”
Nope, that’s not what makes a best friend.  That’s a friend, maybe a great friend, but that is not what separates them into the category to best friend, because again, you may do this for someone you just met.  For example, The Boy knows everything about me.  Everything.  I’ve never sugar coated anything for him because I know I don’t have to.  My friends, even the ones I would deem “best”?  Not so much.  I have a few very important details that generally get left out of conversation.
So, The Boy is my best friend.  I think this is funny.  Robin also says,
“But when things gets real, I don’t care if anyone is standing with me but him. He’s my partner, my equal and without a doubt, my better half. Zeb is the peanut butter to my jelly, the yin to my yang, the spiritual Xanax to my eight-ball of coke.”
Which makes me think her husband is her best friend, she just defines the word incorrectly.
Now, we’ve finally come full circle to the point that struck me enough to write this post.  For the sake of fairness, I am going to post the entire quote:
“I’m also going to need all of you people who say, “Thanks for the best 15 years of my life!” to stand in a separate corner and await your own punishment, because marriage isn’t easy, and it most certainly isn’t all happy.I’d rather say:I really appreciate you driving me to therapy every week. Thanks for not leaving me when I act like a lunatic.Thanks for acting like you thought I was sexy for the last 16 years even though I’ve gained and lost hundreds of pounds and my stretch marks look like a topographical map of the Rocky Mountains.”

First off, all of the things she’d rather say, are 112% accurate.  I agree with her.  Those are some of the reasons I love The Boy too.  However, it pisses me off that she implies that just because marriage is difficult that it’s not the best part of your life.  That’s ridiculous.  Childbirth is painful, but does that mean that the day you gave birth to your child was not absolutely the greatest day ever?
Marriage is the most difficult thing I’ve done to date, and that includes Dr. Paul’s writing courses.  But, every one of the years I’ve spent with The Boy (yes, even the one where he was in Iraq) are irreplaceable.  I wouldn’t trade any part of any of those years to relive another part of my life.  I used to think my first year of college was the best year of my life, and it was a great one, but it in no way compares to the years I have been with The Boy, much less the years I have been married to him.  Difficult or not, they’re the best, and don’t you dare diminish that.  The Boy and I put a lot of very hard work into making these years the best ever, and them being difficult does not in any way dull that.
So, there you have it, The Boy is absolutely my best friend.  I love him enough to want to strangle him when he gets annoying,  but then fall back into laughing with him almost immediately.  He has given me the most difficult years of my life, but by getting through those difficulties, I have also earned the best years of my life.  I’m not ashamed of either of those things, and I hope that everyone in a committed relationship can say the same, because being married to The Boy, my best friend, is amazing.

My Favorite Story

I talk about The Boy a lot.  Like, a lot.  I did it here, and here, and here, and a bunch of other times.  He’s my best friend, and I love him a lot.  We’ve only been together 7ish years (married 2ish) and so we’re still in that new love/honeymoon phase and I am not ashamed.  I love it.

Anyhow, I wrote him a poem, like I sometimes do, and I really like it, so I figured I’d make a post out of it since I haven’t known what to say for a while.  It’s sappy and adorable and if you know me, you know that I love books.  All of them.  I’ve had a dream about owning a bookstore, but, I’m afraid I wouldn’t want to sell any of the books.

So, here it is, my love poem to The Boy:

photo(1)

 

My Favorite Story

You have all the best qualities of great literature:

an adventurous spirit,

a heart of gold,

a passion for justice and honesty,

and just enough darkness to achieve realism.

Despite the cracked spine and worn pages from hours of study,

there is still something new to be found in each reading.

It is to you I go for an escape,

for an adventure to a new world

for a way of seeing myself differently.

Your familiar story, comforting scent, and the weight of your words

provide me with a peaceful solace

unmatched by any other.

You are my favorite story,

and I will always read you again and again.

 

The TV Version of The Boy

So, I watch way too much TV, despite my decision not to watch it at all.  In my defense, I am human and I have no friends at the moment, so I watch a lot of Netflix to help me get by.  When we first moved out here, The Boy and I would watch Game of Thrones like it was going out of style.  Now that we’re done with that entire series, we’ve moved onto Vikings.

I hope you watch it, despite the historical and cultural inaccuracies.  I’m kind of disappointed since this is made by the History Channel and therefore should be more historically accurate, but take what you get.  At least they get the names right.  But, the real reason I watch the show?  Ragnar.

Yum

Yum

For the record, this is entirely acceptable, because Ragnar totally reminds me of The Boy.  Not just in his stubborn nature, but look:

He's the one on the right, with the hair on his chin, in case you weren't sure.

He’s the one on the right, with the hair on his chin, in case you weren’t sure.

 

Here they are again:

 

Ragnar

Ragnar

The Boy (apologies - I can't take him anywhere)

The Boy (apologies – I can’t take him anywhere)

 

So, the story is fun, Ragnar is hot, and I’m loving the show.  The Boy hasn’t watched as far as I have, so, when I watch it and get annoyed with Ragnar for whatever reason (I won’t disclose the specifics to avoid spoilers) I tell The Boy that TV The Boy is pissing me off.  It’s now a thing, and I rarely refer to him as Ragnar any more, as he is now “TV The Boy” because they are annoyingly similar.

Let me again just drive that point home:

OMG, those eyes!

OMG, those eyes! (Yes, I know they’re likely digitally enhanced)

Stabby

Stabby

Ragnar

Ragnar

 

The Boy

The Boy

 

Ragnar, Again

Ragnar, Again

The Boy Again (His eyes are not digitally enhanced, but still beautiful.)

The Boy Again (His eyes are not digitally enhanced, but still beautiful.)

So, there you have it, I have a TV Husband.  Anyone else watch a show and get creeped out by how similar a character on TV is to someone you know?

 

Super Hot

Super Hot

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Love Doctor (again, NOT a Doctor Who reference – promise)

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I’m going to help others.  I was checking my Google searches and I found this one:

“What does it mean when you tell a crush you are a hot mess and his response is ‘how can I help?’?”

So, I decided to help this poor girl (or boy*) out.  And here’s the answer that comes from being alive for nearly 30 years, practically surviving adolescence and loads of crushes in my time:

I have no fucking idea what that means.

However, I do know that young love, though fleeting, is amazing.  Trust your gut, if you like him, go for it.  If he says no, it will hurt.  A lot, and even if kids are mean and tease you for liking him, know that confidence and acceptance whether he likes you or not will cause them to get bored with teasing you and move on.  Plus, if he is into you, you totally get the bonus of that precious rush of emotions that is young love.

Embrace it.  Do what I was always too insecure to do at that age, and risk it, because it’s totally worth it.

*If he’s gay and not out of the closet, it’s really best that you not make a move until you know for certain.  Young love is beautiful, regardless of gender, but openly loving a boy who is not certain or comfortable that he loves boys is a can of worms you should not open.  Trust me, find out for sure first.  High school is hard enough.

This entry was posted in Musings.

Happy Valentine’s Day. No, really, HAPPY Valentine’s Day

I love Valentine’s day, and not just because everything is glittery and pink and no one can judge you for it.  I genuinely love Valentine’s day and celebrate any opportunity I have to show The Boy just how much he means to me.  And trust me, that’s a lot.  You see, I’m broken.  That’s not something I advertise, actually, just the opposite.  I pretend to be thick-skinned, apathetic, and generally devoid of any and all emotion despite the fact that I am not like that at all.  I’m vulnerable, emotional, passionate, romantic, and, though I don’t admit to this in public, depressed.

I don’t like to talk about it, and it’s likely that if you ask me about it, I will shrug it off as something everyone deals with, but I know there’s a lot more to it for me, I just don’t want to face it.  But, The Boy has faced it and come out generally unscathed. (I said, generally).

A lot of people talk about how it’s probably a genetic condition, or caused by misfiring neurons, or unbalanced wizards hording all the seratonin from your brain, and in no way am I disputing that.  I fully believe and accept the science behind what happens in my brain, but I think it’s missing some of the more personal elements.  The elements that make it different for each person.  I think that some of us are predisposed by the afore mentioned genetical wizards to function differently (I will try to avoid the word broken, despite that being the way I feel so much of the time).

Each of us has a different experience in life.  That is why we have triggers, things that can bring on an episode, things that we will recognize as a potential episode causing event, and therefore, things that we will avoid.  This could be something like social interactions, or Nicholas Sparks novels (though I avoid the latter for an entirely different reason).  It doesn’t matter, but these things strike that match and the horrible consuming flame of mental disorder (whatever you may have) is burning and it can get out of control, and you don’t know what to do, and meds aren’t working, so you cope, you find something that will let you cope.  Maybe it’s a tick or compulsion that levels the situation and gives you control and a sense of security and normalness, or, maybe it’s a taller wall with better battlements to keep all the bad stuff out.

So, you learn from that.  You now have a new comfort tool like turning a locked door to ensure it’s locked even though you can clearly see it it locked and bolted, but you know that you just won’t be able to get any sleep unless you physically shake it.  Twice.  Because if you don’t, you’ll be upstairs, having anxiety attacks trying desperately to convince yourself not to be dumb, of course it’s locked, you locked it yourself.  But, you doubt yourself and start rerunning all the episodes of Criminal Minds and Law and Order: SVU that you’ve ever seen in your entire life until you go downstairs and jiggle the damn lock.  Twice.

Or, you put a brick in your wall.  My wall is mostly built of “don’t let them know you love them bricks”.  I had a really horrible experience with my first real love, another one with my first boyfriend, and an absolutely horrible time in middle school.  All of those moments created a brick.  This one to keep him from making me feel ugly, that one to prevent being embarrassed by my peers, and this one, for having the weakness of my love for him exploited maliciously.

So, you hide behind your wall, which makes you weird, and therefore you have more reasons to thicken and strengthen the wall and put archers at the top to really keep people away.  But, despite your best efforts, people come up to the wall.  They try to communicate to you through the wall, and some get through, and others don’t.  Sometimes, you really want someone to get through, so you work with them, build a ladder, or something, but it turns out, you aren’t speaking the same language.  And that hurts, because you wanted that person to be the person on the other side of the wall with you.  But, please remember, it’s ok that that person wasn’t, because someone out there is.

Sometimes, the people speak your language, and they help you, and you love it when they come visit your wall.  Those are often the people you surround yourself with.  Friends, family, colleagues.  The people who know your wall, and love you anyhow.  Most importantly, the people who respect your wall and let you invite them over at your pace and when you need them.

But, then there’s that person.  The one who acts like your wall isn’t there.  Like he can’t even see it because it doesn’t matter.  The one who walks right through it and sits down on the other side and talks to you in your language and acts like nothing’s a big deal.  The person who treats you like you’re normal, even when you’re having an anxiety attack in Target.  The person who makes you feel like you’re normal, even when you’re having an anxiety attack in Target.

That, to me, is love.  The person who doesn’t even realize you have a wall, or doesn’t care, and is willing to hang out with you on the other side no matter what.  Don’t mistake this for romantic love.  Yes, for me, personally, the most powerful of this is with The Boy, who is my hero, my partner, my life-long companion (not a Doctor Who reference, I promise), but I also have this relationship with my parents, so it’s not all romance.  It may be your brother, best friend, boyfriend, lover, next door neighbor, or even your dog, who reminds you every time he looks up at you with those sweet brown eyes, that there is someone on this planet who needs you, who is alive because you are alive, who loves you, no matter what.

So, this Valentine’s Day, go to that person.  I guarantee that everyone has that person, sometimes, when we feel so broken that we think the sun has gone out, we have trouble recognizing it, but I promise, everyone has that person.  Go to him or her and tell him you love him.  As a matter of fact, say this:

“Thank you for thinking my wall was nothing, I wanted you to know, that I love you, and cherish you, and that I am better because of you.  I know that may be hard to believe because of all those times I yelled at you for no reason or because you forgot to switch the laundry over and now it smells bad, but it’s true.

To prove it, I bought you this dancing dog with a light up heart that says, “I lub you” when you squeeze his toes and this box of chocolates.  Please ignore that I ate all the peanut butter ones – I’m depressed and chocolate makes me feel better.  Stop looking at me like that.

Now, let’s celebrate our love and our walls by watching Firefly on Netflix and drinking red wine out of our hand-painted Tardis wine glasses.  No, we can’t watch Doctor Who, Moffat writes that and I’m trying to feel better, not sadder, come on, get with it.”

On second thought, feel free to ad lib, but none the less, find that person who loves you despite all the crazy shit you do and tell him or her.  Valentine’s Day is about love, so go love.