Welcome to Adventuring with Karen

Good morning! Here I am starting a new blogging adventure! I used to blog frequently when my children were small but as they have grown we have gotten busier and I have spent quite a bit of time driving places and not writing.

I am Karen. Mid forties, mom to two, wife to one, 3 pets, a Diet Coke habit, and a messy house. Most of the time I don’t ask to talk to the manager unless it is really necessary. And c’mon, if you are not asking for the manager are you really living?

Over the years I have thought a lot about what I would like to do with my life. I have taught college classes for 10 years but the college I was teaching at closed in Tennessee. I have been subbing for 5 years…always an adventure and I have just started my third year as an instructional coordinator for a non profit. I love to travel and to share my finds with my friends, friends who have said I should either be a tour guide or open a bakery. Well, my daughter thinks I should open a bakery. So here I am sharing our adventuring with you!

I am hoping to just basically share life with you. My family is in the Nashville area so many of the things I post will be about the general area. It is the “It City” at the moment. However, we do love to travel so I will share the weird and fun things we find along the way.

I hope you will enjoy adventuring along with me!

Everyday Dorie: Choose Your Own Adventure

This week was another week of choosing what we wanted to cook or bake from Dorie Greenspan’s “Everyday Dorie”. Since I am so far behind I chose two options from the list of already completed recipes. For dinner I made Salmon Burgers p.174. For dessert Apple Custard Crisp p.276

I didn’t actually tell anyone what I was making until my hubs walked in the kitchen and said “what is that smell….in a good way?” ” What are you doing to that beautiful piece of salmon?”

The recipe said to put the salmon in a food processor and pulse a few times. My food processor has been on the fritz for quite some time so I sliced and diced the salmon and then chopped it with my Pampered Chef chopper. It worked out well for what I needed. I tossed in all of the ingredients, mixed them up and put the salmon mixture in the fridge to let the flavors meld.

While that was resting I made the streusel for the apple crisp and also put that in the fridge to rest while I chopped all of the apples and mixed up the ingredients for the crisp.

When I pulled the salmon out of the fridge to shape into patties I also pulled out the streusel, topped the apples, and put the crisp in the oven. The salmon patties came together really well. I did add bread crumbs and cooked a little longer than suggested but otherwise stuck pretty close to the recipe. To my surprise my family really liked these salmon burgers! I was also surprised that I liked them. I didn’t have high hopes but ended up thinking they were quite tasty. I made these small so I ended up with eight sliders.

We waited for the crisp to cool just a bit before digging into it. We opted for cool whip as the only ice cream in the freezer was a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Netflix and Chilled…which none of us like very much, hence it actually still being in the freezer. The cool whip was perfect though and everyone declared that they would one hundred percent eat the apple crisp again! Overall another excellent week of cooking through Everyday Dorie!

If you would like to see what everyone else cooked this week check out this link!

You can also cook along with us by purchasing Everyday Dorie. Check it out!

Bandersnatch

When I was in college I took “World Lit to the Renaissance” with Diana Glyer. She had recently moved from Michigan to teach at Azusa Pacific in Southern California and was shocked that the hills got greener as we headed into winter instead of brown. If you live in California you know those crushed brown velvet hills go emerald with the rainy season. It has been awhile since I was in college but this is one of the classes that stands out in my mind. Professor Glyer had an absolute joy and enthusiasm for the class she was teaching and she absolutely passed that passion on to us as students.

Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings was released in 2016. I think I actually purchased it about two years ago and it has been on my shelf for awhile. I love to read but definitely go in spurts with what I am reading. I have read quite a few books from Reese’s Book Club lately and while some of them have been great others have not been my cup of tea.I have read Diana Gabaldon’s entire Outlander series twice, I have read all of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books, and I have read the first two books in the Name of the Wind series by Patrick Rothfuss (waiting on the third). We have been visiting colleges this over this last school year and a couple of the Christian colleges we visited basically have a C.S. Lewis shrine set up in their libraries. Devin Brown (a prolific C.S. Lewis writer and professor) at Asbury spoke at the academic scholarship competition and had a book signing. My daughter and I picked up one of his books but it was relegated at the time to the same shelf just because the busyness of prepandemic life got in the way. I have had quite a bit of time to read this last month and decided it was time to dig into Dr. Glyer’s book.

The first page opens with two quotes:

“You see a minute goes by so fearfully quick. You might as well try to stop a Bandersnatch”

Lewis Carroll (in Through the Looking Glass 1871

“No-One ever influenced Tolkien – you might as well try to influence a bandersnatch.”

C.S. Lewis (in a letter to a reader 1959

On those two quotes alone I was hooked. When I think of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis I think of their books and what their writing process must have been like but I really hadn’t thought about them sharing their work with others. Dr. Glyer’s book explores the collaboration between C.S. Lewis, Tolkien and their group The Inklings. Her information is from years of researching primary documents, diaries, rough drafts, letters, etc. Her words paint the picture of what collaboration with others can do. As I read I thought about the friends and mentors that have influenced me over the years and what kinds of groups I should be involved in to grow in my pursuits. Is that writing? Photography? Teaching? Whatever I am working on I should be surrounding myself with experts that can draw me up to their level and in turn sharing my passions with others.

As I was nearing the end of the book in a section titled “Exchange” a familiar name popped up. This section is about how everyone influences the whole. Dr. Glyer mentions Michael Lee and his take on jazz and exchange. “Jazz happens when individuals gather together.Jazz happens when the voice of the group becomes more than the sum of its parts. Jazz happens when the music starts to play the musicians.” When I think of Michael Lee I think of the rebellious piano player that saved the day at my wedding when our piano player did not show up. His influence in music has changed over 22 years but continues to influence the whole as a professor, mentor, and friend. You can see that Dr. Glyer has continued to be a friend, mentor and influence throughout her career just as the people she writes about.

In the Epilogue of Bandersnatch titled “Doing What the Inklings Did” to me one of the most important points was: Criticize but don’t silence. Understanding in your mind the difference between something you don’t like and something that is going no where is imperative to keeping a group alive. Dr. Glyer talks about Dyson who kind of shut down the Inklings by making it a hostile place for new ideas. He didn’t like certain things and didn’t seem to be able to understand why others might like those things. Remembering that in future groups would be helpful for me make sure if I have critiques that they are given in a way that doesn’t shut the person down in the long run.

Often, especially with popular fiction I read fast and enjoy the story but sometimes have to go back and reread to remind myself of the content. This is not fiction and not one of those books to just read. I wanted to sit with this one and ruminate on the relationships between the authors that have shaped so many others. I want to join the Cretaceous Perambulators on a hike. I want to join in at the Eagle and the Child for a raucous discussion. I want to take this to my book club and lead a discussion on it! You should pick up this book today!

(TWD) Shortbread Fans

Hi Tuesdays with Dorie friends! It has been quite sometime since I have baked along with you! Since we have been at home for the last month ( last time I filled my gas tank was March 17th) this was a perfect opportunity to bake something!

These shortbread fans were such a good choice for lockdown as there are few ingredients and they are pretty quick and easy to put together.

I have to say I enjoyed them… probably too much. My husband and I avoided white flour and sugar for 40 days so I dove into these and ate far too many. Initially my kids said they liked them as well but I just discovered a couple of small triangles left so they may not have liked them as much as some of the other delicious confections we have baked in the past.

If you would like to make these delicious shortbread fans you can find the recipe in page 189 of Dorie’s Cookies. You can also head over to this link to see how other bakers enjoyed this recipe!

EveryDay Dorie: COVid 19 Edition

This week for Cook the Books Friday our moderators had us choose what we wanted to make and post instead of voting and making the same thing since grocery shopping could be hit or miss. I chose Sweet and Smokey Roasted Carrots (pg. 214) and Miso Glazed Salmon (p. 179). They probably should have been made on separate occasions but I had most of the items on hand for both recipes. I was missing miso for the salmon but subbed extra soy sauce. I did look for miso at the grocery store yesterday but still have not been able to find it. Perhaps I will find it soon though for other recipes.

Pre roasting

The secret ingredient for the carrots is smoked paprika. So good! I did a survey a couple of years ago with a research firm about spices. I got paid so much to go in and talk about spices and I got a little extra if I picked the spices up early and actually made something with them. One of the spices was smoked paprika. Up until that point I had only used regular paprika. Since then I haven’t looked back!

I think I would like to try the miso salmon again at some point with the actual miso sauce even though my family really liked it with just the soy sauce. For salmon I typically use a lot of butter, garlic and lemon but it was agreed that this was a good option as well.

Marinating in their happy little bath

Overall my family liked both dishes and would eat them again if I made them. Both of these recipes are catch up recipes since I have been terrible at cooking along with anything over the last year.

If you would like to cook along check out EveryDay Dorie. She has wonderful recipes and amazing cookbooks! If you would like to see what others made check out the Leave Your Link Post at Cook the Books Fridays. There is everything from Banana Bundt Cake and Salmon Burgers to Lettuce Soup, Pimento Cheese, Butter Poached Corn and Grilled Dry Rubbed RibEye Steaks and Citrus Marinated Halibut to Cauliflower Tabbouleh.

How’s Your Apocalypse Going?

Just checking in to see how you are doing these days. Are you dressing up in costumes to take the trash out and hanging out in your PJs? Are you getting up everyday and getting ready like you are going to see the world? Are you helping your kids learn from home while working your full time job? Are you essential and hitting the streets everyday so the rest of us can stay well?

I’m sure everyone’s days look a little bit different. I have a ninth grader that we were already homeschooling so his days aren’t looking too much different aside from tutorial classes on Zoom. He is making his breakfast each day. This morning scrambled eggs and toast.

My senior though. Things look much much different for her. No prom, no wind ensemble or jazz band concerts, etc. We are still scheduled to go back to school at the end of this month so we wait in limbo to see if she will have a graduation ceremony or not.

For both my kiddos it is likely their church camp will be cancelled this summer. But we wait to see to see if that will be the case.

My hubs is working from home and we are very thankful that he is able to do that. I did ask if he needed to commute home the other day by taking a walk around the block. Aside from almost falling through a wall we just had drywalled he is doing pretty good with being home. His department had actually started working from home two days a week I think at the beginning of the year.

As for me, both of my jobs as a substitute teacher and as an instructional coordinator are tied to the schools so I am out of work for the moment. I am getting a lot of reading done. I have cooked a lot. Note to self…laying off white flour and sugar for lent during an apocalypse is a terrible idea. I’m not hoarding bacon people!

We have a friend who lost both parents to this virus and our hearts are breaking for his family.

I know this is such a weird time for all of us. Stay safe and healthy and wash your hands!

Where the Fire Falls

Way back when I completed my freshman year of college I went and lived in Yosemite for the summer. I was a roomskeeper at the Wawona Hotel and worked with A Christian Ministry in the National Parks (ACMNP). While being a roomskeeper was not my favorite thing, hiking and exploring definitely were my favorite things. I worked Tuesday through Saturday and had Sunday and Monday off. My ministry partners and I would spend Sunday leading services in the campgrounds and Monday hiking various trails. Some of my favorites were Cathedral Lake, Clouds Rest, Mount Dana, and of course Half Dome. There is something about Yosemite. It digs into your soul and does not let go in the very best way possible.

Where the Fire Falls by Karen Barnett is set in Yosemite in the late 1920’s. Olivia, our protagonist, is hired to create watercolor scenes of Yosemite which is the last place in the world she wants to go. Something happened concerning a family member and Yosemite Falls. This story line in the book was the most frustrating for me. There was not really an explanation of what actually happened and when the family member reenters the picture there is no resolution.

Yosemite Falls 1994

Aside from that I really loved this book. There was love, intrigue, and beautiful scenery I could see in my head. One place that is described in the book is the Glacier Point Hotel. This hotel actually burned down but you can still find photos of it on the internet.

Half Dome from Glacier Point 1994

Where the Fire Falls includes the camp workers pushing burning flames off of the falls and the calling between Curry Village and the top of the falls. What a spectacle that must have been! You can still see this wonder at Horsetail Falls in February. Of course, last year people destroyed vegetation and left trash everywhere. You can see a video here of the Firefall.

In the valley there is a little chapel. Karen Barnett describes it in great detail and it is a lovely little church. Our group got together several times with the pastor and his wife. I remember her telling me specifically that there was something about the water in the park that would make your hair grow like crazy. Apparently, when they first moved to the valley her hair was short and had very tight curls. Her hair was still curly but had grown so much and was so healthy. Imagine a little chapel and the backdrop is Half Dome. The majesty of the park is staggering.

On the Diving Board on Half Dome 1994

I have read many popular books that use profanity as a plot device. Is was a nice change to read a sweet story, set in an incredible place, that also included some characters looking for God’s lead in their lives. I highly recommend this book and will definitely check out other books in her “Vintage National Park” series.

Last of the Bunch Banana Bundt Cake

Way back in 2010 my friend Melissa asked several of us ladies to be part of a cooking club. We started the Spam and Anchovies cooking club with a ginger themed night. At the beginning the host would create the menu and each person would bring ingredients so we could cook together and learn new techniques. After awhile we decided to switch to a potluck style where the host still chose the menu and each person brought dishes from the selected recipes. Eventually our cooking club morphed into a going out to dinner club which was fine but can get expensive. Unfortunately our little group got busier and busier as life does and we rarely get to meet up anymore.

In January we had one of those rare kismet nights were the stars aligned and we got to get together. My friend Anne opened her home and welcomed us for a lovely dinner. Melissa brought a squash soup, Anne had several delicious appetizers, Kenna brought some amazing cheese and I took Last of the Bunch Banana Bundt cake. I had actually been planning to take that to our church small group but I am glad I didn’t as several people despise coconut.

I kind of love bundt cakes because they are not that difficult to put together and they come out looking so pretty because of the pans. This cake was no exception. I rounded up my lovely cake taker and schelpped it over to Anne’s. One of the reasons we don’t get to meet as much anymore is because we all live fairly far apart and with the increase in Nashville traffic it makes it more difficult to get places around dinner time. As you can see my frosting was a little bit runny but it was still tasty.

If you despise coconut like Tallahassee in Zombieland (it’s not the taste, it’s the consistancy) you might not be a fan of this cake.

But, if like Columbus, you like a good SnoBall, you might want to dig right in. I for one loved this and my Spam and Anchovies ladies liked it as well. I did leave some for Anne’s son and made sure to bring some home for my crew. They loved it but I have to admit my family has a bit of a sweet tooth.

If you would like to make this you can find it on page 251 of Everyday Dorie. And if you would like to see how the other bakers in Cook the Book Fridays did you can click here. Since we are stuck at home and you probably have a few bananas hanging out ready for baking anyway give it a shot! 🙂

March Books

What dear friends have you been reading this month? Since we are all quarantined I hope you have found some engaging reads!

I just finished An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. It made me feel very melancholy but it also had a satisfying resolution. This one was part of Oprah’s Book Club and I picked it up because it was on our library suggested reads shelf and looked interesting.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom was fascinating, challenging, tear jerking, and filled with hope. This was probably the best book I have read so far this year. I feel like I should know far more about Corrie Ten Boom than I do so I will likely read more by her soon.

Reese Witherspoon placed Conviction by Denise Mina in her book club a couple of months ago. I had it on my library wait list and finally got to read it. If you like true crime podcasts and Scotland you may like this book. It had some interesting twists and turns and in a couple of spots, especially on the road to Fort William, I could see Scotland in my head.

I read Crying Laughing by Lance Rubin because he was on Good Mythical Morning. This was a pretty quick read. It was pretty sad but had some good laugh out loud moments as well. If you know someone with ALS this would be a good read about a kid dealing with a parent’s diagnosis.

One book that I wasn’t as fond of was Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid. I loved the relationship between the babysitter and the little girl but everyone else was terrible.

Good Mythical Morning strikes again. I read The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek because we are fans of Rhett and Link. It was a weird book and I mean that in a good way. The main characters are Rex and Leif so I read it in their voices. It was a little Steven King meets fictional autobiography.

I just started a book that is set in Yosemite which is one of my favorite places on Earth. I am hoping it is fantastic. I would love to hear from you below about what books you have been reading!

QUARANTINE Blues

How are you feeling these days? I have to be honest up until this morning I have been doing just fine with “Staying safer at home”. I have been to the grocery store, I took a meal to a family, and have taken some short walks with my dog. I have my family in the nest and everyone is working on what they need to do. This morning though I woke up and just feel blah. I’m sure, like every other day this week I could get dressed but today I just don’t wanna. I don’t know if it is because it just won’t stop freaking raining or that I am feeling rather useless. My kids are working on school, my husband is working from home. I don’t particularly want to clean anything. I just feel down.

Perhaps, I will get dressed and find something to do. Bible study is done, breakfast has been consumed, making sure my kiddos are on track will commence. I am praying the sun comes out today. Maybe later I will feel better.

How do you deal with feeling blah on a day like today?

Adventures with Coq A Vin

Last night I made Ina Garten’s Coq A Vin. It was the recipe from Food Network and the first one that popped up on Google. I have actually been planning to make this for awhile now and had all of the ingredients on hand. I am not a drinker. Alcohol hurts my stomach and red wine typically gives me a migraine with just a couple of sips. But, as a baker and cook I have some alcohol on hand for different recipes. Brandy, Ameretto, Grand Marnier, but I don’t usually have wine. A couple of months ago when I started thinking about making this I was at Walmart and decided to buy a bottle of wine for this dish. This is big folks because I know it has been a couple of years since we could buy wine in grocery stores (not before noon on Sunday though) but I really hadn’t done that before. I took my bottle of wine proudly to the front of the store with the rest of my groceries to the one checkstand that was open.The girl checking my groceries was very sweet but she was not 18 so she had to call a manager…who was stuck at the self checkout and could not come over. We waited as the line got longer and the person behind me got more annoyed. So to save the sweet checker some hassle from the frustrated people behind me I decided not to get the wine. Was it a sign?

The plan for Coq A Vin was shoved to the back burner for a bit until one day my daughter and I ran into Aldi for a few things. Aldi sells wine! And Aldi and Trader Joes have the same owner so their wine is probably the same Two Buck Chuck as the wine friends in California would buy. I picked up a bottle of Winking Owl because it was red, it was cute, and it was five bucks. The plans for Coq A Vin were back on.

Here we are several weeks later and I, along with everyone else in the world, have all the time I need for a recipe that doesn’t take twenty minutes start to finish. I pulled out all of my ingredients, I chopped bacon and onions. I measured out brandy and chicken stock…I tried to open the wine. I am positive I have a wine bottle opener in my house somewhere. I have used it. I am pretty sure I bought it at Publix several years ago. Do you think I can find it? Nope. The first time I tried to open wine it was with a corn cob nob. It didn’t go well. My son has a multi tool though with a corkscrew included. Yay! I thought I was saved! I could not get that cork out to save my life. I gave it to my hubs who yanked and pulled and could not free the cork. I ended up getting a spatula and shoving the cork down into the bottle. I may or may not have discovered wine on my forehead later that evening…

I think the most difficult part of this was browning the chicken..and opening the wine. I didn’t let the chicken brown all of the way so it wasn’t crispy but that didn’t seem to matter to my family. They actually really liked it . The flavor was acceptable to everyone and the chicken was cooked perfectly…if not crispy. I threw some Birdseye steamed veggies in the microwave to finish off the meal. Overall a delicious meal that I will probably make again!

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