Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mandee's Cheesecake Fiasco...

Sometimes, it's just good to be reminded you're not alone.  I know that many of you have read some of my kitchen disasters, but sometimes it's just good to know that even people who are good, experienced cooks, can make mistakes... even really messy mistakes!

Enter my friend Mandee.  When we lived in Chicago, she and her husband Kyle lived downstairs from us and would invite us over to play games or to watch "The Office"... Mandee is a good cook... dare I even say, incredibly domestic and talented?  :)  The other day I was on Mandee's facebook page and ran across a  picture she posted of a cheesecake disaster.  I asked her to share her story with me and she did.  Cheesecake is a food that has long intimidated me, and in recent days I have been wanting to try a recipe that I had at a girlfriends house a few weeks ago (chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake - recipe hopefully to come soon!!)

I present to you, Mandee's Cheesecake Fiasco...  :)

For a while now, I’ve prided myself on being a good cook with some talent in the baking arena as well. Which is quite an accomplishment since the only thing I made for my first 6 months of marriage was spaghetti. Now, I’m no Martha Stewart, I know my place, but I thought I had “down-home-cooking” nailed. Even though my husband hates it when I answer, “yes, I followed a recipe … mostly!” I have to say 9 times out of 10 my substitutes and adjustments are pretty good. I even made a quite delicious tiramisu for my mother’s birthday, which is far out of my country-kitchen norm! So when my sister asked for a cheesecake for her birthday I quite pride fully announced that it would be no problem! 

I received a stand mixer for Christmas which as been my favorite toy in the kitchen for the past 5 months, but apparently I should be more cautious with new toys. Ask any close friends of mine and they will tell you with confidence that common sense has eluded me quite often, and the cheesecake batter all over my walls, counter and floor from pouring liquid in the bowl while the mixer was on medium-high will attest to the same. This should have been my first warning that I was headed down disasters trail.

Of course, if I had used common sense from that point on I probably would have ended up with a picturesque cheesecake to present to my sister on her special day but I found myself deficient once again! I finished mixing the batter and poured it into a spring form pan. It filled the pan right up to the top, but I figured cheesecake wasn’t like cake or cookies and wouldn’t expand. Well it does, and it also explodes ….

Mandee, your pictures bring a smile to my face... thanks for sharing your disaster!  I love hearing other people's stories!  And I also intend on learning from your story.  When I do finally try my chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake, I will make sure my springform pan is big enough... and that I've read the recipe carefully!!  :)

What about you, friend?  Do you have any disasters or successes you'd like to share?  I would love to hear your stories, see your pictures, and include them on this blog!  Maybe that'd help me post a bit more often!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Tribute to my Crazy, Caring, Coworkers

My coworkers keep asking me, "When are you gonna write a blog about us?"  But as you can see by my severe lack of writing in the past several weeks, I really can't just sit down and write unless I am inspired.  Well, yesterday, my coworkers really inspired me.  (And yes, there will be a recipe attached to this post, as well).

Most of you who read this blog know me, and you know that I am a person who values authenticity.  With me it stands that what you see is what you get.  Part of it, I know, is a generational thing (among us twenty somethings, "authenticity" is a total buzzword), and part of it is that I grew up in the midwest.  Something that I have been very judgmental about since moving here to the south is that I have had this conception that southerners are... well, fake.

When we moved here to northern Georgia, I struggled to find a job.  I was finally offered a pretty prestigious position at a local touristy restaurant/resort, and it offered great pay and the opportunity for advancement and was, in my mind, an "exciting job."  However, the work environment  proved my stereotypes to be true.  I had a hard time finding any authenticity among my coworkers, and in that environment, it was clear that "each man was out for himself."  It was a very stressful, agonizing place to work.  Most days I came home emotionally exhausted, feeling like I had to keep my guard up all day long just to survive the day.  And while I was at work with my guard up I felt... well, fake.

Not long after I started working there, another opportunity came my way to work as a nurse at a pediatrician's office.  I was hesitant at first, because I was still hoping to find something in my "field" and I wasn't sure how that job could fit.  But seriously, ever since I started working there, I've known that this is exactly where God wants me to be.

Now, obviously, when you're in a work environment with a lot of women, you are still bound to have cattiness and conflict.  Women are all very different in their approaches to things - we are territorial, easily offended, and very emotional.  My workplace is not by any means exempt from this kind of tension and conflict.  But never in my life have I worked alongside a more authentic, genuine group of women who at their core have the same core values and calling: to care deeply for our patients and to be a comfort and a light to them from the moment they walk through the door until they leave.  We all have our different strengths and gifts to work toward this goal, but in reflecting on each one of us as I was working yesterday, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are EACH there for a reason, and that together we work as one finely oiled machine.  Dysfunctional at times, yes, but when we are each focused on that one central goal, we are really, really good at what we do!

And, to be honest, my coworkers have shattered my stereotype of southerners... well, not ALL of the stereotypes (I love learning more and more about southern "lingo" and traditions), but the negative ones for sure!  :)

In no particular order... I want to encourage each of you with what I see as ONE of your many strengths, but the strength that stands out to me as your biggest contribution to our office, and specifically, to my life!

Nicki - You bring laughter and lightheartedness to our office even on the most stressful of days.  Not only that, but your personal nature makes each patient (and each of us!) feel like the most important person in the world.  THAT is a gift!

Sue - You are a comforter.  Whether it's on the phone or when you have direct contact with the patients, you have such a soothing and gentle way of dealing with patients and their concerns.  It's an attribute I do not possess, but I admire greatly.

Tina - You are full of wisdom.  You take time to THINK before you speak, and the things that you say very often penetrate the heart.  You have so much to offer so many of us, and you DO it!  I have learned so much about how I want to live my life by watching you!

Stephanie - You are a lifelong learner - and I don't just mean in school!  I love the way you are always willing to grow and seeking to improve yourself.  You have a very humble nature, and that is always one of my favorite attributes in people.  If you are willing to grow, you will go far!

Patty - You possess the gift of encouragement.  You are extremely selfless in the way you consistently affirm and encourage others.  You are always looking for ways you can serve and bless others.  Your selfless nature is something I strive to be like!

Kirsten - You are a great listener.  When someone is telling you what is going on in their lives, you can tell that you are listening not only with your ears, but with your heart.  It is very easy to talk to you because you make it clear that you care.

Elizabeth - You are very giving.  Even when you are having a hard time yourself, you seem to be entirely focused on how you can help someone else.  You are a blessing to everyone around you - even if what you're giving is a smile, it's always noticed and appreciated!

Anita - You are refreshing.  I admire your gentle spirit and calm disposition.  You have a way of making everyone feel comfortable and at ease, just by being around you.  You are full of gentleness, purity, and true beauty.  I know I could learn so much from being around you!

Trayce - You are so determined.  I see this both in the way you care for others and in the way you strive after your own goals and dreams.  It seems to me you will stop at nothing to find answers for people who need them, and you are constantly looking for ways to help.  God has given you the gift of steadfastness and perseverance.  I gain energy and faith watching you!

Marlene - You are full of joy and a great friend.  You genuinely want everyone to be happy and cared for, and it shows in your actions and your words.  Because of your attention-to-detail mind you are ABLE to care for many people this way.  I am blessed to call you friend!

So this is my tribute to my coworkers.  I love y'all so much - each of you with your little quirky ways (not that I'm one to talk - I may have more "quirks" than all of y'all put together)!  And even though we are all so different, I can honestly say that I love you ALL for your strengths and who you are!!  I am blessed to work with each of you - on the good days and the hard days.

And because y'all over there at work wanted it, I'm posting my scone recipe.  Just like the ingredients in these DELICIOUS scones, I love how when you put all us crazies together, you get one good tasting snack... now THAT's cheesey.

Scones A'La Heather  :)

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 egg
  • lots of yumminess, like craisins and white chocolate chips (although my new favorite combo is dried cherries, white chocolate chips, and chopped up pistachios...)
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the baking soda and sour cream... it does some funky reaction - set it aside while you mix the rest
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt. Cut in the butter (MUCH easier if the butter is a bit softened, but NOT melted). Stir the sour cream mixture and egg into the flour mixture until just moistened... I use my Kitchenaid Mixer...
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead. Roll or pat dough into a 3/4 inch thick circle. Cut into wedges (you can make your "rounds" and your wedges as large or small as you'd like), and place them 2 inches apart on the greased baking sheet.
  5. Bake 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until firm and starting to get a LITTLE brown around the edges.