Thursday, March 8, 2018

Positivity, please!

I just realized that I posted this on Facebook but forgot to post it here. Any and all supportive and healing thoughts will be most appreciated!

It's been a little quiet here, and I'm sorry about that. Things have been a little difficult here in Kimberland, and I'm having to slam on the brakes on plans and projects yet again. What I'm about to tell you is hard, but I believe in the power of positivity and love from others, and I'm hoping you can help me with that.
I know... Over the past 10 (!!!) years, I've asked for your prayers and support for a number of different things. You've always been the most amazing audience, and I can never thank you enough for always coming through.
But if there's one time I really need your love and support, it's right now.
Two weeks ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
It's aggressive. It's definitely taken hold, so we're trying to work quickly to make sure I start treatment in the next few weeks. It is definitely treatable, but it will be a long, challenging road to recovery.
I'm determined to fight this with everything I have, but I'm not going to lie - I am terrified. I know that there are many survivors out there, many within my own family; but I'm so scared of all the unknowns, the scary treatments, the complete 180 my life has done that I just have to accept so that I can focus on my treatment. You all know I've been dealt plenty of hard hands over the years, and I've made it through them all, but this? Hoo boy... this is the biggest demon I've ever had to fight.
What I'm asking of you, dear readers, is to pray for me. If you prefer to think good thoughts or do some sort of interpretive dance, do that instead. I'll take anything at this point, as long as it's positive and encouraging, and reminding me that I WILL pull through this. Naturally, I know that I can do this; it's just that there will be days when I will feel discouraged, and a little good thought or prayer from a few of you would help so much.
As far as the blog goes, I'm not stopping that! Don't be silly. Like I told you in January's posts, I wasn't going to put too much pressure on myself as far as posting schedules this year, and that works for what's going on right now. And during this scary period of my life, I want as many things as possible to remain normal. So, while I may not be able to do as much recipe development or posting as I'd hoped this year, it doesn't mean that there won't be any updates. Even if it's just keeping up on social media and offering tips and amusement here and there, I will be around. I need it. It will help me hang onto feeling like me. But my top priority must and will be my health and wellness.
So, please be my cheerleaders. Root for me, pray for me, believe in me - just don't give up on me. I'm not giving up on me; I still have too much to do and see and love and taste and hear and feel. I'm not done here just yet. It will be a hard road, but I will get to my eventual destination. And with your love and support, I know I'll get there even faster.
Thank you, and I love you all for being the best readers any blogger of any kind ever had in the history of ever. ❤️

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Tip #16: Fresh New Year, Fresh Start for Your Kitchen

Ahhh, the first week of the New Year. A time of hope, of new resolutions, of valiant efforts at self-improvement and turning over a new leaf.

Despite our best intentions, sometimes those efforts are short-lived, especially once the reality of what it takes to accomplish that resolution sets in ("You mean you have to go to the gym regularly to see results?!"). This is part of why I prefer setting goals over resolutions: far less negative connotation surrounding the word and concept, and a lot more room for positivity and improvement.

But there are some goals and resolutions you can stick to if you start with a clean slate. One of the most popular resolutions people set at the beginning of the year is to be more organized. Lord knows I'm one of these innocents who thinks that I will instantly become Goddess of Organization once the clock strikes midnight on January 1st. And I delude myself even further into thinking I'll stay that way the entire year, which is sad but kind of adorable.

I realized that part of why I don't succeed at this is because I don't start off with the aforementioned clean slate. Turns out that you really do need to do the purging before you can do the organizing (HA! Go figure, lol). I try doing both at once, end up frustrated and lose interest. Some years, I do get a head start on things by throwing a cleaning party for myself on New Year's Eve. I get dolled up as if I was going out, turn on some good tunes, and scrub my little home until it's sparkling clean. It's a wonderful to wake up on New Year's Day to a clean, organized place.

But even that doesn't involve the Grand Purging of ALL the Things, which is what I'm going for this year. And since I know I'm not the only one who strives for a neater home and more streamlined methods to keep up that New Year Clean feeling year round, I thought we could go on this little journey together. At least when it comes to the kitchen.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year, Happy Usable URL!

Well, hello there, party people.

Happy New Year! Can you believe it's already 2018? It floored me to realize that everyone born in the year 2000 will become legal adults this year. But I'm also floored by the fact that my pores are still relatively invisible for my age, so I guess I'm doing okay.

Before I get into my next post of Tip #16 (and truth be told, I don't even know if that's the right number, but it's my mom's favorite number, so it seemed like a good place to start), I want to share a few updates. The first of which is just a giant THANK YOU for your continued patience with me and PGEW during these past 3 years or so. Between the URL fiasco, the loss of many of my posts from 2011 on, and health/personal issues, it's been a struggle to keep up with my baby blog. But to my amazement, YOU'RE STILL HERE. You're still reading, and following, and engaging, and asking for recipes, and it just chokes me up to know that I still have this much support after so many years of being "unproductive". I put this in quotes because I know I haven't been unproductive in my life. It's just that as a blogger, you can feel extreme pressure to churn out posts on the regular to keep everyone happy, and then when life gets in the way and you can't produce, you feel guilty. That's something I worked on a great deal last year - overcoming that guilt of not pleasing everyone all the time, especially here. Your continued support always gives me a boost, and helps me remember that yes, people will still be there, even when I can't be a blogging machine. I wanted to thank those of you who remind me that it's okay to take time for me; sometimes I need the outside reminder.

As most of you know, last year was extremely difficult, but I made it through and lived to tell the tale. Now that I've successfully completed the first several months at my job, I feel more able to address the issues of last year's attack through therapy, so that will be one of the many challenges I face in 2018. I'm looking forward to it though; I'm tired of feeling so afraid about everything, and having nightmares and flashbacks all the time. It will be nice to work through all this and get back to feeling like me again. Through the support of good friends, and determination to lead a "normal" life on my part, I've gotten closer. But I'm not quite there yet. I will get there eventually, and the continued support from my friends, and little things about life in general will get me there.

One of those not-so-little things is my baby blog. Can you believe this kid is going to be TEN this year? (I know, right?!) While it doesn't seem like much progress has been made these past couple of years of slow posting, a lot of progress was made behind the scenes. Some of you who pay close attention on social media have already noticed, and I was thinking of announcing it sooner, but this seemed like a great day to share the news: My URL now points to a blog you can see.

*cue cheers and applause*

That's right, you can once again use to come to the blog! It took a lot of research and teaching myself all sorts of new things on the back end of the blog maintenance world, as well as the help from some great folks in certain forums, but darnit, I did it! Now, I was unable to snag the rest of the WP site's posts before making the switch, so essentially those posts are lost and gone forever (unless I can resurrect them from memory and Web Archive). But it's a small price to pay for having my blog back under my full control. I should never have given up the control in the first place, and that lesson has been painfully learned. But there's no need to dwell on past, especially on the first day of a new year. I've beaten myself up enough about all that's happened to my baby blog, and it's time to release that. It's good to reflect upon what was learned in order to not repeat the same mistakes, but moving forward and looking ahead is what's most important.

So, now what?

Well, I to be perfectly honest, posting will still be slow going. Considering the demands of an intense job, and the personal demands that will be made on me during therapy, the last thing I'm going to do is put extra pressure on myself by making promises I cannot keep. Some might say that I should just give up the blog entirely, but... no. I'm not going to do that. Writing this blog, cooking, and just creating in general is a core part of me, and I'm not about to give that up. But being realistic about my priorities is key, and as I mentioned in the few posts from 2017, I want to honor those without letting my readers down.

The best way to do that is to not make any promises about post frequency and amount. It builds you up and stresses me out, and then I feel guilty when I can't keep up, and it's just a hot mess. That's no way to blog. I'm going old school again, posting when it feels right, keeping up the social media, and just being me again. I think a lot of us OG food bloggers from the aughts did burn out because of that constant pressure, and I totally get why some of them have just moved on. But I also get what it's like to practice self care, and to honor authenticity in one's craft. Maybe I needed these extended breaks to get me back to what really matters: I just like doing this for the sake of doing it. Not for the online glory, or the perks, which are definitely fun. I just like cooking stuff and telling you about it, so that's what I'm going to do.

I will make one promise before I go, and that's mainly to keep myself accountable when it comes to this project and posting about it: Tip #16 is coming up tomorrow, and it will be all about a fresh start for your kitchen now that we're in a new year. It won't be some organizational gospel, but I do hope the tips I'll be sharing will help you take stock of what's in your kitchen so you can be prepared to make delicious, affordable food choices throughout the year.

Thanks again for all your support, old school PGEW fans! And to all you newbies, welcome! It's a roller coaster around here, but the food's good. Stick around. :)

Monday, October 30, 2017

Recipe Resurrection: Ghoulie Guacamole

Hi, everyone! 

There's a lot I'm still working through, so it might be a couple more weeks before a new recipe gets posted, but I do have several lined up for the cold weather months (stews, chilis, new desserts... the wait will definitely be worth it!). I did want to bring this one back to life, so to speak, as it's one that got lost in the Great URL Debacle of 2015. I share it every year around this time on Instagram, but it's more fun with a full recipe to refer to. Some of you may have already celebrated Halloween over the weekend, but for you Halloween purists, you still have time go grab some avocados and a squash to make this happen for tomorrow's festivities.

The original post date for this one was back in October of 2012, so this is another classic post! Please enjoy, and thank you for your continued patience with new posts remaining on hold. Juggling the new job and all the safety/personal issues stemming from the attack takes up most of my time, but I'm getting closer to having more available mind space to devote to my baby blog, so I'm looking forward to that. Don't forget that I do post regularly on social media, and there are the batch posts of lost recipes that will help fill in a lot of those gaps, so there's plenty to check out in the meantime. Enjoy!

Before I bombard you with a deluge of new egg recipes (I've been on an egg kick again, lol), I thought I'd share something fun for this Halloween's upcoming festivities. Halloween is one of my top three holidays of the year, and while the past couple years have been a bit underwhelming on the getting-to-do-stuff side, that doesn't mean I don't have fun with my food. Last year my mom and I had a great time creating little ghoulish desserts for a contest, complete with royal icing headstones, frightened black cats and the whole nine yards.

But I feel like there are tons of scary cupcakes, devilish desserts, and frightening drinks galore, yet lately, a lot of  Halloween-themed savory foods seem to be limited to mummies. Not that I mind mummies (in fact that's what I plan to turn my nails into as soon as I'm done with this post; I love DIY nail art!), but I think witches and ghouls should get in on the action, too. Perhaps it's because I've been catching up on so many Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters International episodes courtesy of the internet; or maybe it's because this is the first year in my life that I've actually considered dressing as a witch for Halloween. Either way, I'm just feeling particularly witchy this season, and I wanted to share some witchy fun with all of you.

So there it is, my little contribution to culinary Halloween fun. Using fresh, homemade guacamole and a nice acorn squash, this is perfect for any parties you might be having this weekend, or on the day of the blessed event. It's cute without being overly scary or gross, and you can always recycle the squash for other dishes, like my quinoa-stuffed acorn squash, or my Butternut-Leek Bisque.

While this is Photo Friday, I'll still throw the method & recipe in here for you guys, so you don't have to keep going to different pages on the site (but if you're looking for other PGEW guac ideas, simply click here, or here). Since squash sizes and appetites for guacamole vary quite a bit, I will not include price information for this one, as it will depend on how many folks you plan to serve and how quickly they'll eat this.

However, many stores in my area seem to be offering some killer deals on guac-ready avocados, and squash is in season BIG time right now, so you should be able to make this without dipping too far into your pocketbook. I used five avocados that I scored at Food Source for just $0.69/each, and ended up with a good pint or more of fresh guacamole. I was only able to find the perfect squash "cauldron" at the Co-op, but it was still only about $2, since they have all the glorious squashes on sale right now. When all was said and done, my awesome little appetizer cost just over $6. And as I mentioned before, the squash can be recycled for another meal, so you can stretch out that grocery dollar quite well with this one!
Okay, enough babbling. I have guacamole to eat and nails to paint before I start on the next post. Have a great weekend, everyone! : )

Ghoulie Guacamole

1 small acorn squash (about 4"-5" in diameter, tops)
5 medium ripe (but not overripe) avocados
1 Roma tomato
1/4 c chopped red onion
1/4 c finely chopped cilantro
3 T Key lime juice (regular limes will also work)
1/2 t salt
Pretzel sticks (for garnish and for eating)

1) Prepare the guacamole. Cut, peel and seed the avocados, and place in a large bowl. Mash them roughly with a fork, then add the chopped onions, tomatoes, cilantro, Key lime juice and salt. Mix well, continuing to mash the avocados as you go along, without over-mashing them (you want this to have some texture).

2) Carefully cut about 1"-2" off the bottom of the acorn squash, so that it has a flat base. Cut the top 2"-3" of the squash and carefully remove the seeds. Fill the center of the squash with guacamole, filling it past the brim so that it appears to "bubble over".

3) Arrange 4-6 pretzel sticks on the bottom of your plate to form the "kindling" (it's okay if they don't overlap like real kindling, as your "cauldron" will tend to topple over if you do). Place the cauldron atop the kindling, then place one pretzel stick inside the guacamole for "stirring" purposes. Serve with extra pretzels or tortilla chips, and enjoy!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Recipe: Baked Garlic Fries with Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce

Okay, so before I launch into this fun throwback-but-new-to-the-blog-itself recipe, I wanted to let you know that I have FINALLY found another flash card. *cue applause* I’ll make another batch of the Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice soon, and put up proper pretty photos of it in place of the sad phone ones. I’ll have the full Hearty Bowl post up by next week, too. Thanks for your patience! J

Today is National French Fry Day, and my first thought was, OHMYFULLONGOD, I HAVE TO SHARE THE GARLIC FRIES ON INSTAGRAM TODAY. (I shout a lot in my internal monologue, lol.) Then I realized that this is one of the few special recipes that never actually made it onto the blog, so sharing it would actually require posting it here first. So here I am, doing that.

This recipe was originally featured in my Parade Magazine column back in 2013. I don’t recall making it specifically for this food holiday, or if I just had a hankering for garlic fries, but whatever the case, I’m a big fan of this recipe. One of my favorite things to eat at a fair, baseball game, etc., is a big serving of garlic fries, the more chunks of fresh garlic on ‘em, the better.


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