Friday, August 27, 2010

Back To The Future

I was going through posts on my blog today.  I'm really trying to be better about updating it.  Last summer when I was an intern, our apartment had horrible internet connection.  I spent about an hour writing the following post and lost connection when I tried to publish it.  I thought I had lost the entire thing.  Well, I came across that post today.  It wasn't lost, just hidden in the draft section where you edit posts. I thought about deleting it, but I'm just going to post it. I think it's fun after being here a year to see what I thought about Hormel when I first started.  So enjoy this blast from the past!

Hello all from beautiful Austin, Minnesota! (a hint of sarcasm may be included)..

But, while Austin might not make the cut for the most exciting of towns, it's been really good here so far. After my first full week of work I think I'm really going to like it. I'm getting to help with some really cool projects they have going on, and I really like the people I work with. Everyone at Hormel is so friendly and helpful. They are always willing to answer my questions and explain what's going on. My roommates are really nice, and so are the other interns. It's really nice because they plan events for us to do and we all live at the same apartment complex so we can all hang out together. The only downfall of the job is that I'm probably going to gain 50 pounds this summer because there is always food around! I won't ever need to buy groceries because I'm never hungry by the time I make it home. So I've been running extra miles to cover it!

In other news, I made a flying trip home this weekend for my cousin Matt's wedding. While I was home, I stopped by Grandma Betty's to visit for awhile. While I was there Clayton discovered a little lizard that had wondered into the house and was screaming about an iguana in the house. Of course we all thought he was full of it until it came running out and sure enough it was a lizard! I didn't even know we had lizards around home. Janette, Justin, Clayton, and I bravely tried to catch it and we failed miserably! So it's still in Grandma's house somewhere......

But, I was so glad that I was able to make it home even if it was a short trip. Since Matt and I are the same age we grew up doing a lot of things together, but since I've been in college I don't get to see much of him. Matt and Lori have been dating since high school so this has been a long time coming. Congrats Matt and Lori!!

That's it for now. My defense is one week from Wednesday, and my boss set up a practice defense for me at work on front of the entire R&D group! Gulp! Wish me luck!!

*The Lizard - it may look small but it was very scary :) *

*Dad and Rob stopped planting just long enough to go to the wedding and take this picture*

*Lori & Matt*

*The slideshow had a picture of us like this when we were probably 5 and Grandma wanted to re-enact. The old one was much cuter. Lol!*

*Trevor - Best looking guy at the wedding*

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Move over Betty Crocker!

Since I've living on my own for the past year, I really feel like I’ve been channeling Betty Crocker, or probably more like Grandma Betty Smith, (and it's not so much channeling as it is calling her and asking her what to do- Thanks Grandma!). I’ve branched out and tried cooking much more than I did in college. I attribute this to the fact that I have more time now, and I also cook a lot for Cody. He gets to try out my new dishes I invent. However, he will eat pretty much anything.  I could make him a cheese sandwich, and he would declare it the best cheese sandwich he’s ever had. The first thing I made for him was lasagna, and when he came over he was confused as to why the lasagna was not frozen and there were mixing bowls involved. Poor kid, he didn’t have a Grandma Betty. Anyway, I’m proud to say there have been many successes, very few failures, and nothing that has been truly inedible. I’ve been really impressed with my ability to make stuff up on the fly. I’ve also made conscious efforts to eat more vegetables. Much to my family’s disbelief I’ve even started to eat green beans. I’ve also grilled a lot of asparagus. However, many of my failed dishes have to do with some sort of vegetable….

Some of the failures include:
  • Green beans – Maybe it’s because I still don’t really like them, but I can’t ever cook them to where I think they’re right. The texture is always off.
  • Stuffed green peppers – These weren’t bad, but not that good. I went through a “cream cheese would be good in everything” phase, and I thought that if I filled a hollowed out green pepper with some cream cheese, cheddar cheese, ground beef, and a bunch of spices it would be really delicious. It was just really weird, and I need to look up an appropriate recipe for stuffed peppers and try again.
Luckily, the success list is much longer!
  • Cuban pork sandwiches – my mouth just waters thinking about it. I’ve really come to love mustard and pickles lately.
  • Pie Crust - although it still needs some tweaks
  • Baked Pasta - This is frequently called Rachel’s Surprise because I usually end up using leftover meats/cheeses/whatever is left in the fridge, but it’s always been yummy!
  • Mayonnaise bread – this sounds completely disgusting but believe me it is the most delicious cheese bread I’ve ever sank my teeth into. I started out trying to recreate cheese bread I have had before (Corineah if you read this, I was trying to make your bread). I couldn’t remember the ingredients. so I just guessed. It started with cream cheese, because it seemed like that should work (plus it was during my cream cheese phase). It was good, but just not quite right. Thanks to The Pioneer Woman I came across this recipe and found the missing puzzle piece was mayonnaise! Who woulda thunk? Make it if you have a few extra calories to spare…..
  • Whiskey cream sauce – another Pioneer Woman recipe, but I tweaked it some, and it’s soooo yummy on a nice, thick ribeye steak.
  • Alfredo sauce – so delicious and yet oh so bad for you
Wow it really sounds like I’ve just been loading up on calories doesn’t it??
  • Banana cream pie – I don’t know if I’ve ever had banana cream pie, but it is Cody’s favorite so I attempted it for his birthday. He said it was good. I think it could be better.
  • Enchiladas - again thanks to Pioneer Woman.
  • Shrimp pasta - Maybe my most favorite dish lately. Just cook up some shrimp in some olive oil and then toss with peas and pasta.
  • Beef Brisket - in my crock pot
The list goes on. My most recent successes happened a few weeks ago. I had a lazy Sunday and decided it was the day I would tackle homemade rolls. I had only tried this completely on my own a few times, and the previous tests had not turned out well. This time I was determined to be triumphant! Cody had also never had ham and noodles so I made those as well. The food was as good as my kitchen was dirty….

I bet Betty Crocker never made as big of a mess as I do though, and she probably remembers to take pictures of the final product. Making bread and noodles was an all day affair, and by the time both were ready to eat I was much too hungry to be bothered with pictures. I also demonstrated just how much like my mom I am. I had flour everywhere, complete with two flour handprints on my behind. Thanks for teaching me that, Mom. The rolls were definitely a success this go around. The only thing I would change next time is that I made them much too big and they spread into more of a loaf than a roll so they didn’t raise as high as they should have. This did not stop the two of us from eating 4 pans (small pans) in less than a week. I definitely ran a few extra miles that week!