Sunday, May 31, 2009

In Which the Celebrating Begins

Oy, peeps. I don't think I will ever be hungry. Ever again. Today was the start of birthday week, and I celebrated with my fams and lots of Mexican food and lots of ice cream cake. All delish, but can someone please pass the Tums?? Indeed. Luckily, yesterday I burned about 1000 calories working in the garden. And it was faboo. Check out the pics:

My first tiny sweet pepper.

Lots of miniature green cherry tomatoes, hopefully one day to be yellow.

Itsy-bitsy cukes, no bigger than my pinkie nail.

Waterlily in the pond.

Hydrangeas. Don't know if it will keep this color, but I like it.

More blackberries, turning color.

One of the first daylilies, a lovely butter cream color. In a few weeks, the yard will be full.

I was seriously excited to see some vegetables starting to do something in the garden. Maybe they will get to getting on this week as the weather is supposed to stay sunny for a little while.

Other than the garden porn, there's not much to show and tell. We had quesadillas last night for dinner, followed by a mixed berry cobbler with blackberries, strawberries and raspberries. Oh, hell yes. You heard me right. I bought some of the prettiest raspberries at Sam's the other day:

While I do not really like raspberry-flavored items, I love the fruit itself. And I feel the same way about peaches. Here is the cobbler, ready to bake:

Same recipe as last week, and I did not take a photo of it cooked because, well, it looks about the same as last week. And like last week, it was yummers. And as if I haven't had enough sweets, here is my ice cream cake from today:

Don't freak--the DQ has not gone goth. I altered the writing from my Christian name to Bunny. Good job though, right??

Anyhoodle, SOMEONE, or two, made a comment about all the recent postings on libations and wanted to know if B. had a problem with the wagon. That would be a "no." I had three beers and two vodka tonics this past week. I don't think that qualifies me for AA. I am just a "in spurts" kinda girl--I tend to repeat things for a while until I get tired of them and move onto the next thing. Right now, with the warmer weather, I am having a jones for cold beer and icy vodka. Just celebrating my joie de vivre, 'kay? Don't sweat me. It's all good.

Well, I have about a million things to do tonight including paying bills, washing clothes and finishing an article that is due tomorrow. The party never ends at Casa Bunny. Later, peeps! B

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Tale of Two Vodkas

So, yesterday, I went to the package store to purchase a new bottle of citrus vodka (see yesterday's BGR post). As I walked the vodka aisle, I noticed there was two distinct pricing options: "Brand" vodkas (Smirnoff, Absolut, Grey Goose, etc.) at $17++ or "No-Name" vodkas at $7 or so. As I looked at both, I thought, "Those snooty brand vodkas, they just think they're better, but I'll bet it's no different!" After all, Bunny is on a budget, natch, and has to count her pennies.

But, worried I would be sorry and sad to purchase a no-name, I decided to ask Mr. Package Store Man what the difference was, if any. "Well," he says, "The more expensive ones are made from potato, the cheaper from grain." Shut up! Seriously?? "So, the cheaper is basically white lightin', is what your sayin'?" asks B. "Yep," replies Mr. PSM.

Wow. Just when I think I know everything, I learn something new. And I must pass along to you, my loyal readers, so you too will be "in the know."

So which one did I buy? Well, having had an opportunity in my life to sample white lightnin', and knowing it can strip your esophagus of its lining as well as strip the paint off a house, I decided to go with the Brand, BUT a less expensive one. Moral of this cautionary tale? Sometimes brand really IS better. Unless you are painting a house.

Compost Confessions, Bold Beers and Tastee Treats

Dudes. I have a confession to make. Sit down, it will be o.k. Really. Ready?? Alrighty. Well, sometimes...not often, but sometimes...Bunny has a cooking disaster. And Bunny is really not so great about eating all the produce before it starts to go slimy. But the new good news? I can now COMPOST all thst stuff!! Who knew??? Yep, look at all you can compost:

Fruits and veggies. Bread (yes, even burned bread!). Coffee grounds and coffee filters. Paper towels. And the before mentioned dryer lint. And not only CAN you compost them, you SHOULD compost them. It is called "green material" and you are supposed to have a good mix of green and "brown material." It's all fascinating. Here is some interesting info if you are so inclined.

So now that I have shared my confession and resulting composting jones, I will share the news on the last of my New Belgium beer tasting.

This variety is called 1554 because it is supposedly made like some Belgium beer from 1554. It is labeled as an "Enlightened Black Ale." Let's go in for the close-up of the label:

More nice artwork, I say. This beer is definitely a DARK beer...the label says it has an "evocative chocolaty finish." Whoa. You had me at "evocative."

And, as you can see, it is DARK, like chocolaty molasses. Quite lovely with a definite hint of chocolate in the finish. Reminds me of Guiness, but better. Probably more of a cold weather beer for me since I like something a little lighter and less hearty in the summer months. But quite good. However, of the three beers I have tried so far (and there are more coming, by the way, says my local package store!), Fat Tire would def be the fave. I might buy 1554 again when the weather turns cooler. Mothership Wit is a "no" for me, though. That's just how I roll.

Yesterday, after Frozen Pizza Friday dinner, the hubs and I were going out for an evening ice cream treat (Dairy Queen offers a free Blizzard on your b-day if you sign up for their Blizzard club. Just sayin.' You can get ALL KINDS of free stuff if you just sign up for it, I am finding.) and I took this really cool (to me) photo:

This gazing ball is in the front yard, and the way the sun was hitting it, it just looked like it was glowing from the inside. The photo really doesn't do it justice--I had to WAY ZOOM IN so it was a little fuzzish. Anyhoodle, I thought it was pretty.

After picking up our ice cream treat from the DQ, the hubs and I headed over to a nearby park on our local lake to enjoy the breeze and the view.

Ahhh. How I wish I lived on a body of water. But I digress. This was a lovely view esp. since the past several years, the lake has been really down due to drought. Just last year, this view was a red mud hole. Seriously. But all the rain over the past 6 months has put the lake back at almost full pool.

This park has a lovely walkway along the lake front with nice swings so you can lazily enjoy the views. (That's the hubs, btw, not some random dude.) The breeze was light and cool. The water was quietly lapping. The treats were tasty. It was a nice evening. Yes, indeedy.

Well, peeps, it is supposed to be a spectacularly sunny day today, so I am off to play in the dirt and enjoy the weather. I will be back later with more pics of the garden, I am sure. BTW, I am liking the new shorter format. I hope you are, too. Hugs and kisses, B

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Free For All

Yo, yo, peeps--I am sliding into my b-day weekend and I am thinking there may need to be lots of self-medication of the vodka variety. Hee. No, really. I just got happy thinking about vodka. My new favorite cocktail is a vodka tonic made with citrus Smirnoff with a twist of fresh lemon and/or lime. Mmmm! Delish! (Thanks, S.S., for making me a drunkard!)

Anyhoodle, this morning I woke up to a pox on my face. Yes, I have these little pink bumps all over my right cheek and I have NO IDEA what they are. Yeah! I get to turn 40, be unemployed, AND look like shizz. My life could be a country song. I guess if they don't go away over the weekend, or get worse, I will be calling the dermo. Sigh.

Yesterday, I happened upon the cutest possible pic of KK sleeping on the deck:

Smart kitty that she is, she likes to sleep somewhere shady, so she sprawled out under a chair.

The funny thing is that I don't think I have ever, or VERY rarely, seen her stretched out like this when sleeping. She usually sleeps curled up in a ball-ish.

I have to admit that for a minute I thought she might have gone to kitty heaven, but she must have been super comfy and/or very tired.

She is the cutest cat ever. She makes cats o.k. (Sorry you can see my veggies in the reflection--I had to shoot these through the deck door glass so as not to disturb her.)

Last night, I made a new recipe--Spinach & Brie Chicken with Orzo Salad. It was quite good and, surprisingly, easy to make.

First, pound out chicken breasts thin (again, you know I am always on board with any recipe that requires a meat mallet!) , then brush one side of the chicken with dijon mustard, and layer on thin slices of brie and unthawed, severly rung out frozen spinach. Roll up the chicken, secure with a toothpick and stick in the oven. (Ok, don't judge--I know these look a little shitty, but it all comes out yum in the end...promise!)

While you are preparing the chicken, cook some orzo, and after sticking the chicken in the ovs, mix butter, lemon juice, tomato, parsley and S&P with the drained orzo.

When chicken is done, serves it over the orzo salad with a generous helping of parm cheese. Delish! Seriously, dudes, this was like 30 minutes start to finish. It was really easy and looks quite delightful on the plate--def a company-worthy dish.

Here is a cut showing the inside. Pretty! I can think of about 1 million ways to make this differently--Greek style with olive tapenade and feta, Italian style with roasted red peppers and basil--I will be messing around with the recipe, fo' shizzle. You can find the recipe here.

And, lastly, here's what happens when you bake and drink. Not pretty, peeps, not pretty.

Have a GOOD weekend, peeps--it's is supposed to be sunny and bee-you-tee-full the next several days so I see lots of gardening in my immediate future. Loves, B

Thursday, May 28, 2009

This Weather is For Crap. Seriously.

Y'all. I just don't know if I can STAND IT anymore. This weather. Oy. Grey. Rainy. Drizzly. Overcast. I have the SAD. And I mean feelings of unhappy AND seasonal effective disorder, all rolled into one. I KNOW I keep posturing about how much we need the rain, but I am here to announce that I am officially OVER THIS WEATHER. I am not saying "hot." I just need some sun. My garden needs some sun. My new composter needs some sun. The good news is next week looks sunny and warmish all week. Which is really, really good. Because I don't need this shizz on the b-day, 'kay??

Anyhoodle, I gots my list all done yesterday--I know you are proud. Then I stayed up way too late working on stuff. Sometimes nighttime is just the right time for me. I tend to be tired or inspired. Can go either way.

Since there hasn't been much going on at Casa Bunny, I will continue to share my food pics, because, really, that's about all I gots these days. I am SURE you are so tired of me blithering on about my loss of job, job search, freelance work search, etc. so I am trying to tone that down and make it more fun here at BGR. I will, however, continue to post big job happenings. After all, it is BUNNYgoround. And I am Bunny.

So Bobs gave me a few of these (he knows someone who knows someone who works for the company or something like that) and they have been in my fridge for a while, and about a week or so ago, I finally cracked one open. O.M.G. peeps! It's so GOOD. I am not sure you can see, but this flavor is pina colada and, by God, it tastes just like one. I have been thinking it would be great to add some rum then freeze it slushy. The downside? These things have about way to many calories. Which is why they are tasty, I am sure.

Here is the second offering I procured in the line-up of New Belgium beers. I did some intel and these beers are made in CO and have just recently become available in the GA. Whee! Again, love the wit and artwork of the label. Let's zoom in for a close-up:

Organic wheat beer brewed with spices, you say? Shut your piehole! How good must that be?

Sadly, not very. I have to say this flava' was the one I was most excited about, but it did not live up to my build-up. It is more, to me, like a weak pale ale. See the color? Yeah, sorta urine-y. Oh, well. Onto the next one--I will report back soon. Promise.

So last night, I decided to make Tuna Noodle Casserole again. You might remember I made this back over a month ago, and I thought I would try it again before it was too hot for comfort food. At least all this dreary weather is letting me get my final comfort food jones on. So, here's the breakdown, which I don't think I did last time:

Saute some diced onion and celery in butter. Niiiiiice.

Add the creamy ingredients--milk, cream of mushrooms soup, mayo (yes, but it's not bad at all!) along with the drained tuna.

Stir in mushrooms (I use fresh--those canned ones are like little bits of rubber) and parsley. Pretty!

Toss with the noodles. I changed it up and used small shells this time instead of traditional egg noodles. I am SO adventurous.

Pour all into a casserole and top with panko crumbs and cook until goldeny good. One note: I forgot when served this all looks sorta beige. That's the downside. I think last time I thought I might add some carrot for color but I forgot that part. It was still yummy and the hubs lurves, so all is good. It's super easy and fast. If you want the recipe, let me know--I actually sorta made my own of a couple of different recipes.

Well, I am off to exercise. All this hoggish eating isn't doing my fat arse any favors. Plus, I am going for a follow-up doc appointment today and when she asks if I have been exercising, I can truthfully say "why yes! just this morning!."

Be good or be good at it! Bunch

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hump Day Holla

Oy, peeps! Lots to do today. I am finding out that even when you are unemployed, holiday weeks throw you a curve. And I even worked on Monday! Anyway, let's review the short list of what needs to be done today:

1) Blog: Check

2) Exercise: I would rather have hot poker stuck in my eyes, esp. since I have a terrible crick (that is a muscle-y spasm-y thing-y for you non-Southerners) in my shoulder/neck, but I had a VERY BAD eating weekend (hey, you saw the cobbler!), so I need to jump on the gerbil wheel (better known as the treadmill).

3) Shower before noon: If I get on #2 next, I will make it. I don't see the sense in showering before since I sweat like the proverbial whore in church while doing #2.

4) Go to the grocery store: With coupons to take advantage of sales before they flip tomorrow. Hey, desperate times call for frugal homemaking. Who knew I would turn into a coupon queen? Actually, I sorta find it irritating to coordinate all that but I am doing it regardless because free A1 and salad dressing = a good thing.

5) Pick up new contacts: Because the ones my doctor changed me to a few weeks ago are like wearing large pieces of grit in my eye. Comfy, right??

6) Return mail order purchase: Yes, ordering on the Internet is convenient, but it seems I return 75% of what I receive. I am more a "seeing it in person" person. If it were not for free shipping, I would be pissed at myself all the time. (Confession Sidebar: I cannot spell the word "convenient" to SAVE. MY. LIFE. I have to admit I look it up every time I use it. There is a gap in my brain where the spelling for that word sits).

I also need to get busy on some work which is due Friday. At least I do not have to worry about painting, gardening or washing my truck because today is yet another gloomy, rain-soaked day. So, anyhoodle, I better get to getting, as they say. But before I go, I will leave you with photos of last night's dinner main course. We were tempted to go out, and discussed it at length, but in the end, I decided to go with cooking at home to save money and another shower in the pouring rain. So, I made burgers. Yes, I know I just made them, but the last one was so good it had me hankering for another.

I took some ground beef and generously mixed in the hamburger seasoning from W-S. I then grilled them up in my trusty IKEA grill pan, and topped them with a little Colby-Jack and started the bun with mayo (don't freak about the spread--it was light!) and spicy mustard (like the POTUS, I like my mustard spicy!).

Then I added romaine, sliced romas (it was all the 'maters I had) and grilled onions, supposedly Vidalia, but don't even get me started on that, because it makes me SO MAD that they called this a Vidalia when it was practically smoking it was so hot.

Final touch--the piece de resistance--was Wickles. What are Wickles you say? Well, they are a sweet yet spicy pepper ring:

They were a hostess gift from a friend and they are quite, quite tasty. Don't know if you can find these in your neck of the woods, but they are unlike the typical name-brand banana pepper ring you get at Subway. These are delish, less vinegary and more sweet but still with some heat. Plus, the artwork tickles me--little peppers hula-hooping with pepper rings! Hee.

Here is the final result. The hubs asked what I named it and suggested the "Everything but the Kitchen Sink" burger. It would also qualify for the "Two-Handed Burger" or "At Least Three Napkin Burger", but regardless of the name, it was yummy, hit the spot and, in the end, I was glad I chose home.

So I am off to tackle my list. We'll see you taters later! Bun

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Blackberries and Boulders

Dudes, in case you have not noticed, I have a "thing" about alliteration. As in a sickness. As in I cannot stop thinking that way. As in I use it lots. And I have no idea why. It just makes sense to me for some reason. Sing-songy sense. Anyway, that's how I roll here at BGR.

Back to the post....Surprised?? Well, I was. But I had the epiphany that as long as I am unemployed, I COULD do shorter posts more frequently. Seriously, I don't know if I am doing something wrong, but sometimes it takes like an hour to post. Esp. if I have lots of pics that need adjusting before posting. So I may try this whole shorter posts, more frequently thingy and see how that goes. But I ain't promising anything, 'kay??

Unfortch, this change means is I may not be able to keep with my former format, (Alliteration! Maybe we should start keeping count in each post? It could be a game! With prizes!) so I will just have to doodle with it and see what happens. If you have any suggestions or comments, let me know. I am here to serve you. Well, not really, but I do hope you like me enough to come back.

So last night, I finally cooked the cobbler. And, Lord in heaven, it was SO GOOD. And SUPER-DUPER easy. I used this recipe from Pioneer Woman (Yes, again! I TOLD you I have a powerful girl crush on her. What can I say??). Here's the 411:

First, the batter. Mix 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk, 1 cup self-rising flour and a stick of butter, melted. That's it. That's all. Simple-dimple. Pour batter into a greased casserole. (NOTE: I actually made a little more batter--1.5 of all--because I was worried I would need more for this size pan. What I made was spot on for the 9x12 size.)

These were the inspiration for the cobbler--the Publix had some of the most beautiful blackberries this week. I bought three containers. And they were ON SALE! I kick myself for not buying more. They were huge, plump, lovely berries. Let's go in for the close-up:

See??? Huge. Plump. Twice the size of my thumbnail. Maybe more. Berries to make your cobbler dreams come true. Sigh.

Next, take all the plump berries (or whatever fruit you choose) and generously "dot" the batter. Generously. As in lots. The more berries, the better.

Throw it in the oven and cook 'er up for about an hour. Oh yeah, sprinkle the top with more sugar before you do--you won't be disappointed as it makes a hard-ish, brulee-type glaze. Should look goldeny good when done.

Serve up with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Or both. Seriously, peeps, so SIMPLE and DELISH. Cannot wait to make a PEACH one when peaches start coming in.

So that was last night, then this morning, we had our stone for our front "steps" delivered. Delivered stone, you say?? Why, yes, because it weighed 2.8 TONS. That's right. It is some big 'ol stone, peeps. Here's the before:

After we finished the stoop, we needed a path and some "steps" to the new entry. So we put down a temp path of smaller stones (actually, the stones are missing here because the hubs had already move them before I gots out front with the camera, but you get the idea). Now, here is what we have:

Three HUGE-ASS field stones from Pennsylvania. Well, originally. But they have been on a north Georgia rock yard for a long time. Just waiting for us. Yes, we could have gotten steps, but this option was 1) more affordable, believe it or not and 2) way cooler aesthetically. Anyhoodle, we, along with the aid of little man with a front-end loader, gots them situated the best we could. What with them weighing like 3/4 of a ton each and all.

Breaking news: The hubs just came in and wants you all to know, that we WILL be washing the mud off the stones (have done so already, actually) and we WILL be landscaping around the stones with plants and river pebble and whatnot. Just in case you thought we were going to leave it a big 'ol red mud hole and all. Just want you to know. 'Kay?? (Sheesh!) So, stay tuned for more pics.

Now, we are off to Moe's for a FREE LUNCH. If you are in the Moe's club, they send you a coupon for a FREE LUNCH when it is your birthday. I am all about my birthday and I am all about a free lunch these days. My only issue is deciding between a burrito or nachos.
Later, dudes! B

Monday, May 25, 2009

Horticulture, Hummus and Hops

Oh, peeps, I feel so BLAH. Yep, though it is a holiday, I am not abound with joy. I feel crappy and cranky-ish. A nap may be in order. I'm just sayin.'

Anyhoodle, when I last left you, I was heading outside to work in the garden, and work we did. Here is a shot from our bedroom window, which, btw, overlooks the veggie patch:

I spent several hours pounding bamboo support poles in the ground for my peppers and stringing netting between poles for cucumber trellises. Y'all, I am SO worried about my plants. It has been so cool and rainy that my plants have done NADA. They are sorta growing, but not blossoming. Hellz, I thought I would be getting ready to pick my first 'maters any day now. Sigh. I mean, the first year I get my plants in the ground in ample time and then it's all crapola weather for veggie growth. But let's zoom into the upper left corner:

Here is my new composter, all ready to go. Yep. Hear that crunching sound? That would be me, I think. First, Birkenstocks, then growing my own organic veggies, then recycling plastics and gathering water in a bucket, now composting. BTW, did you know you can compost dryer lint? Yep. You can.

Saturday night, we went out to eat since we were both tuckered from playing in the dirt and, as we left, KK was sitting on the stoop VERY STILL. It was so funny, I had to take a pic:

She looks like a statue. And when we gots home, we had a treat waiting for us--parts of a baby bunny. Yuck. I am not all girly about many things but animal parts would be one thing I do not "do." Yo.

So, yesterday the hubs and I pretty much laid low--housecleaning, naps (shut your piehole--we WORKED IT Saturday), errands. Oh, our exciting and glamorous lives!

What I'm Cooking:
As noted, Saturday night, we dined out, and last night, I made hamburgers and those most excellent Ore-Ida potatoes. Here is the burger:

I liberally basted it with the Cracked Pepper A1 (BOOF at the Publix this week!) then topped it with a heaping spoonful of blue cheese. Is there anything blue cheese doesn't make better? Tas-tee.

Tonight, we are having frozen pizza, but I am finally going to make that blackberry cobbler after din. I also have spent the weekend in a culinary excursion involving crafting the perfect white bean hummus. Here is try #1:

This recipe was a la Martha who recommended stewing the beans with herbs and such, then pureeing. Two problems: I did not realize you should REMOVE the herbs until too late so the end result was very rosemary-ish. And it took too long to cool enough to eat.

I obvs got a little heavy handed with the olive oil topping but it was aw'ight. I give it a 6 on a scale of 10. I did LOVES the bread I served with it though--I cut up some multi-grain bread going stale-ish, brushed it with olive oil and toasted it to golden brown. Yums. And here is hummus attempt #2:

This recipe came from Pioneer Woman who I have a big 'ol girl crush on. Seriously. Anyhoodle, it was much more simple: dumped some beans in my blender cup, added garlic, lemon juice and tahini (See my big 'ol jar?? That was the only size they had at the Farmer's Market, so I have plenty. Plenty.) and a little water.

I just blended it in the cup with my stick blender, adding salt and olive oil near the end. Have I told you how much I LURVES my immersion blender??

The result was much better. I give it an 8 out of 10. I was a little heavy handed with the garlic and salt, so that will need adjusting, and it was a little thinner than I like, but this version was much closer to what I was seeking, and much easier to whip up. PS, the green and red flakes? Fresh ground pepper. And one more note on some good libations:

I bought this 22 oz. beer at the Publix because the label was so cool. Let's go in for a close-up:

Just like I judge a book by its cover and you by your shoes, I judge alcohol (well, at least wine and beer) by the label. And this? Is a cool label. I want to peel it off and frame it.

And it did not disappoint. Yes, it lived up to the label. What a lovely color and nice head! Delish!

What I'm Listening To:
Ok, I admit it. Boom Boom Pow by the Black Eyed Peas. I downloaded it to exercise to--it's got some mean bass!

What I'm Reading:
Finished The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian. Meh. It was ok. I was a little disappointed in the ending. I think I may have to turn to a light read next.

What's on My Mind:
It's going to be another busy week and I am grateful. And I need to finish revising my resume so I can start sending out some more. I have been slightly slack about that part of the equation. Better go get some kind of busy. Later taters! Bunch