Flooding Susie’s Inbox

July 21, 2010

Tonight

Filed under: Food, VeryVera — sashyjane @ 7:04 pm

Be sure to watch my former boss, VeryVera,  square off against Grillmaster Bobby Flay tonight at 9:00 p.m. EST on the Food Network! Battle Carrot Cake is going to be so much fun!

I’m off to a little party where we’ll watch the show with Vera and friends… I can’t wait to see if she takes Bobby down! Tune in!

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July 7, 2010

You poor blog!

Filed under: About Me, Travel, Twitter, VeryVera — sashyjane @ 4:29 pm

I have really been neglecting the blog lately! I just can’t seem to get my act together to write anything of worth. Poor thing is probably starving to death!

If you’re just absolutely craving more of me (and who isn’t? haha) please follow me on Twitter. I’m much more attentive there. If I knew how to put a Twitter button the side of my blog, I’d do it but I am not that tech savvy so here’s a link: http://twitter.com/sashyjane

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with one of my latest VeryVera articles.

Ever since I can remember, all I wanted to be when I grew up was a wife and mother. I assumed I’d be married right out of college and cranking out a baby every other year or so after that. Imagine my horror when I graduated from college without so much as a prospective husband and realized I’d have to provide for myself! I couldn’t see any advantages to being single. It seemed like a punishment rather than an opportunity. However, 4+ years out of college, my perspective is a little clearer. I’m no closer to marriage than I was at graduation but I’m actually happy with my life! My 21 year-old self would be horrified.

It’s taken me a while to get comfortable with the word single. I always assumed it had a negative stigma and connotation, as if there was something wrong with me. I didn’t want to be alone – I needed a roommate, I needed a best friend, I needed my sister to accompany me to events. I’d never think of attending a wedding or eating at a restaurant alone! But not too long ago, I had a bit of an epiphany: being single can be fun!

When you’re single, you can travel on a whim, decorate your house however you’d like and choose when you’d like to socialize and when you’d like to have some time alone. In the past year, I’ve made spur-of-the-moment trips to Trinidad, St. Louis, New York, Nashville, Tampa and I have a few more planned (maybe Chicago or Boston?) in the coming months.

While I’ve learned to be happy in my singledom, that isn’t to say that I don’t long for the company of other people. I’ll invite girlfriends for a dinner party and set the table with the good china, candle sticks, open a bottle of wine and really pull out all the stops. Once a week I’ll eat supper with my widowed grandmother and we’ll watch Dancing with the Stars. I have a great pool of friends, family and loved ones who are just a drive or call away who remind me that singleness doesn’t equal loneliness.

May 7, 2010

All Grown Up

Filed under: VeryVera — sashyjane @ 12:49 pm

Susie graduates tomorrow! After 5 years of working (and playing) hard, she’ll walk away with her Bachelor’s in Fine Art with an emphasis in Graphic Design!

Here’s an article I wrote about her for VeryVera this quarter:

I just love this time of year; especially in Augusta! The Dogwoods, Azaleas and Japanese Magnolias are all blooming and the whole city is reveling in the hustle and bustle of the Master’s tournament. It’s fun to sort of band together as a city to welcome people from all over the world.

Spring is especially exciting this year because my little sister, Susie, is graduating from college! This May will greet her with a BFA in Graphic Design from Georgia Southern University. I was just sharing with her how exciting it is as an older sister to see all the opportunities laid out before her. She could literally go anywhere in the world! That freedom is exciting for me but a bit daunting for her.

Almost everybody uses graphic designers. This webpage you’re viewing was created by a very talented team of designers. Each package you purchase at the grocery store was designed by graphic designers, each billboard you see, each logo you run across, they were all created by talented and artistic people.

Susie’s talent is undeniable (there’s no way I’m biased.) She took home three ADDY awards this semester, one for each piece she entered. I have no doubt that she’ll be snapped up by fun graphic design firm in no time. Her portfolio speaks for itself but once a potential employer gets a glimpse of her hilarious sense of humor and great style, I’m sure the job offers will come pouring in (like I said above, there’s no way I’m biased.) Check out some of her graphic design as well as some of her fine art here.

Susie and I have always had a very close relationship. Of course we fought as kids and teenagers and we still have the occassional squabble but I wholeheartedly consider her my best friend and to say I’m proud of her is a huge understatement. Congratulations, Cubby!!

Congratulations, Susie! Now, get to work designing a blog header for me. :)

April 27, 2010

And the winner is…

Filed under: VeryVera — sashyjane @ 8:42 am

#13 – Karen Otis who said: 

I like the caramel cake. I love your blog! Especially the castle from Saint Patricks Day!!! My maiden name is MacKay. My grandfather was Scottish so I would love to go to Scotland too! Maybe one day …in the meantime I’ll travel with you online!

Congratulations, Karen! Check your email for your official winner’s notice and reply with your address. Then enjoy the sinfully sweet Caramel Cake. :)

Thank you all so much for all of the great feedback. I wish I could send everybody a cake!

April 22, 2010

Happy Birthday to You!

Filed under: VeryVera — sashyjane @ 8:49 am

********** This giveaway is no longer accepting entries*************

 

Flooding Susie’s Inbox is one year old today! What better way to celebrate than with cake? I’m giving one of you lovely people a delicious VeryVera layer cake!!

The Rules:

  • Leave a comment with the phrase “LET ME EAT CAKE” and tell me which of the following confections (pictured below) you’d like to have. BONUS QUESTION: What kind of post would you like to see on FSI more often? DIY? Recipes? Decorating? Narrative? Let me know what you’re after so I can make this blog better than ever.
  • Enter once per email address until noon on Monday, April 26.
  • Winner will be chosen (at random) on Tuesday, April 26.
  • A delicious VeryVera confection will be delivered to the winner’s door!

The Goods:

 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Thanks for your support, your comments and for reading over the last year. Good luck!!

March 10, 2010

Well, How Do?

Filed under: Tater, VeryVera, Weddings — sashyjane @ 3:34 pm

Warning: This is a random mishmash of things.

I’m working on a new batch of articles for the quarterly VeryVera newsletter but in the meantime, please check out the FABULOUS newly designed website. While you’re at it, order a Bailey’s Irish Cream Cake.  I’m having to use a great deal of restraint to not drive over to the bakery and cram my face full of it right now.

Speaking of fabulous websites, I’m probably late to the game but I’ve been really enjoying Kendi Everyday.  She’s a fashionable marketing specialist whose photographer husband documents her adorable outfits everyday. What fun!

Poor sweet Tater had surgery yesterday to repair a ruptured ACL.  She’s supposed to take it easy for a month while she heals.  That shouldn’t be a problem. :) Sweet Potato

And finally, I finished the last of Beau & Brittany’s wedding suite this past weekend. It was so much fun (and some hard work too) to put together their Save the Dates, Engagement Party Invites, Shower Invites, Wedding Invites, Rehearsal Dinner Invites, Placecards and Programs.  It seems like just yesterday we were meeting for the first time to discuss colors and preferences and now their wedding is finally here! I’ll put together a little collage of their suite to post soon. Also, I’d like to thank Lenka, Rachel & Sarah for helping me stuff, glue, cut, tie, sticker and assemble a few of these projects.

December 19, 2009

There’ll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for roasting…

Filed under: Entertaining, Family, Food, VeryVera — sashyjane @ 10:59 am

In movies and TV shows, you always see the impeccably dressed matriarch slaving away in the kitchen for days to present her family with a magnificent feast at the impossibly glossy and beautifully set dining room table. The patriarch then stands and says a few words before rolling up the sleeves of his oxford shirt and cashmere pullover to carve the beautiful bird. The family gazes up adoringly at this patriarch as he slices off picture perfect slices of golden turkey that isn’t at all dry. The boys straighten their ties and the girls straighten their pearls. They almost always look like Ozzie and Harriet.

In my family, it’s quite a different picture. There are card tables and folding chairs scattered throughout the house, almost everybody is in jeans, everybody brings a dish or two and we set the casseroles and platters on the kitchen counter and each member goes through the buffet line, helping themselves to the bounty. Sounds a little more attainable, right? The only problem with the potluck style supper is that inevitably, everybody needs to warm their dish “just a few minutes” on the stove or in the oven.

Avoiding this problem is simple with a little preplanning when deciding which dish you’re going to bring. For example, prepare the yummy and oh-so-satisfying baked spinach and gruyere casserole or the savory and sweet rye and apple dressing, bake them at home and transport them in an insulated bag or cardboard box lined with towels. For as long as I’ve known her, Grandmama keeps a cardboard box lined with an old beach towel in her truck for just such occasions.

Desserts are always an easy contribution. Cheesecakes can be made ahead and refrigerated. Layer cakes can be iced far in advance and easily transported in a cake carrier. Brownies, cookies and pies can be prepared the week before pulled from the freezer the day before to thaw. Cranberry sauce is another easy way to contribute a holiday staple without getting underfoot in the kitchen. Daddy prefers the cranberry gelatinous cylinder while the rest of the family goes for the homemade cranberry-orange sauce. Either way, it’s prepped and ready to go ahead of time. In true Southern fashion, the green beans we eat at Christmas have been cooked to death and usually arrive hot. This leaves the kitchen free for the last minute dishes like the maple glazed carrots, gravy and roasted Brussels sprouts with pecans.

Even if your Christmas dinners look more like the Nelson family’s than mine, a little forethought and preplanning can save you or the host(ess) a great deal of stress and last minute prep work. And that’s the way to really enjoy the holidays.

Blue Potatoes Au Gratin
2 1/2 pounds blue potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup shredded Gruyere
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish or similar sized casserole dish. Arrange the sliced potatoes in the prepared dish. In a medium saucepan, saute the minced garlic in butter over medium heat until softened and fragrant. Stir in flour and cook for 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the cream until smooth and thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheeses. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour cheese sauce over the potatoes in the dish. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes until browned.
*from the Food Network

Rye and Apple Dressing
½ stick unsalted butter
½ loaf rye bread, cut into ½ inch pieces (about 6 cups)
½ loaf sourdough bread, cut into ½ inch pieces (about 6 cups)
2 onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, cut into ½ inch pieces
Salt and pepper
2 Granny Smith apples, cut into ½ inch pieces
3 c. chicken broth
1 c. fresh parsley, chopped
¼ c. fresh sage, chopped
2 large eggs, beaten

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a deep 3 quart casserole. Place bread on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden, 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery and ½ t. each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the apples and cook for 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the vegetable mixture, parsley and sage to the bread and toss to combine. Mix in the eggs. Transfer to the prepared dish and cover loosely with buttered foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden, 12-15 minutes.

Maple-Glazed Carrots
3 lbs. carrots, sliced ¼ thick on the diagonal
¼ c. maple syrup
2 T. unsalted butter
Salt and pepper

In a large skillet, combine the carrots, syrup and butter with 1/3 c. water, ½ t. salt, and ¼ t. pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, stirring once, until the carrots are tender and the liquid has reduced to a glaze, 12-15 minutes.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pecans
2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 c. pecans, roughly chopped
2 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss Brussels sprouts, pecans, oil and garlic with ½ t. salt and ¼ t. pepper. Turn the Brussels sprouts cut side down. Roast until golden and tender, 20-25 minutes.

All recipes and carrot  image from Real Simple Magazine

Article originally published here.

October 29, 2009

Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, Oh My! (how predictable)

Filed under: VeryVera — sashyjane @ 10:00 am

Feeling uninspired today.  What’s that? You want another canned VeryVera article? Sure! I’ll be happy to oblige.


Whip up some ghoulishly good breakfast treats with these Halloween Pancake Molds. Designed to create pancakes in the shapes of a jack-o’-lantern, ghost and bat, these molds couldn’t be easier to use. Just place them with their handles up on a preheated griddle, then pour in your batter. After the first side has cooked, remove the molds and flip the pancakes. The molds are finished with a nonstick coating, so they’re a snap to clean. The handles fold down for compact storage.

If you’re not the canned pumpkin kind of baker, you know what a pain it can be to scoop all the goopy seeds and pulp from the inside of a pumpkin. The sticky goo gets everywhere and doesn’t make your baking terribly appetizing. Enter the Pumpkin Power Scooper. The battery operated mechanism has a rotating head that loosens seeds and pulp from the pumpkin walls making it a snap to scoop the goop. Run the scooper along the walls an additional time to thin for carving.

You’ve just finished a huge dinner of turkey and ham and all the fixings. As soon as everybody can breathe again, you’re all ready for a little sweet treat. You spent the better part of the day slaving in the kitchen, trying your very best to recreate Grandma’s famous apple spice cake. Aunt Jane wants a little taste, Uncle Jim wants a big slab, Cousin Beth wants a medium sized piece and some ice cream. Instead of destroying your beautiful creation by hacking it into varying sizes, you knew this was going to happen. You thought ahead. You bought the S-XL Cake Pan. The silicone cake mold is 8.4″ diameter and 3.4″ high, so making Grandma’s bundt cake is a cinch but you can ‘pre-shape’ any cake into 15 separate pieces, in a variation of ‘sizes’.


If you’re serving one of VeryVera’s delicious Layer Cakes, you can still serve beautiful slices without worrying about that always ugly first piece. The Cake Cutter looks like tongs with a triangle on top while functioning as a cake cutter and lifter. Simply slide it down on your cake and then slightly squeeze the tongs and a perfect piece of cake is on its way to your plate. It takes the pain out of serving, cutting and dealing with cake that needs to make its way from Aunt Lucy’s milk glass cake plate to Dad’s dessert plate.

When we were little, Susie and I would be charged with collecting the pecans the two trees in our front yard produced. We’d then spend the better part of a Saturday cracking and picking each nut for baking or freezing. I sure wish we’d had the Cubist Nutcracker! Two cubes made out of beech, 3″ x 3″ x 3″, one with different sized indentations, the other without. How does it work? Simple. Place a nut in one of the indentations so it isn’t entirely hidden but pokes out a tiny bit. Place the other smooth cube on top of it. Gently give it a good whacking. What fun that would have been as kids! The nut is open, not in a million pieces and the actual kernel is safe and in one piece.

One of my absolute favorite things about this time of year is the comforting smell of apples and cinnamon (right after the smell of a fresh Christmas tree.) To have your house smelling like fresh apple cider any time, plug in a Crock Pot Little Dipper and mix up the following recipe.

Apple Cinnamon Potpourri Simmer
1 apple
2-3 C water
6-8 cinnamon sticks
1 handful of cloves
1 dash of nutmeg
the juice of an orange
a splash of vanilla
Simmer and enjoy! This recipe borrowed from Darby.
When you’re decorating Christmas or Hannukah cookies this year, manage the mess with Kids Cookie Decorating Kit. The easy-grip plastic bottles are a cinch to manage, especially for small hands. Assorted decorating tips let kids draw all kinds of designs with icing – words, borders, petals, stars and more. The kit includes three squeeze bottles, one straight-sided bottle and four decorating tips (round, leaf, star and basket). Recipes and instructions included.

 

 

Originally published at VeryVera[dot]com.

October 27, 2009

The Hostess (or guestess) with the Mostess

Filed under: Entertaining, VeryVera — sashyjane @ 11:45 am

Is it just me or has Fall become the new Spring? I’m looking at eight invitations to showers, weddings, parties and get-togethers on my bulletin board all scheduled for October and November. I’m sure the holiday party invitations won’t be far behind.

With each of those occasions comes the opportunity to present the host, hostess or guest of honor with a gift. When you consider the effort your holiday hostess has made, it hardly seems adequate to arrive brandishing a bottle of Pinot still in the liquor store bag. Instead of picking up a last minute gift and cramming it into a cheap dollar store gift bag or sheet of newspaper, put a little forethought into inventive thank you gifts. Better yet, keep extra gifts on hand that come preadorned with ribbon, a pretty box or paper.

Drawer liners are a useful and pretty way to say thank you without needing to run to the store at the last minute for more wrapping paper and tape. These by Soap and Paper Factory are pretty enough to present by themselves. Tuck a calling card into the ribbon and your hostess will feel appreciated!

For the foodie hostess, take any of the elegant gift packages from Bella Cucina like the Citrus Spread Duo. A combination of handmade Meyer Lemon and Key Lime Spreads will not only look pretty on your hostess’s countertop but will make a delicious snack while she’s unwinding after the party.

If your hostess is the note writing type (and what good hostess isn’t?) she’ll love a sweet little packet of notes like these tied with a simple satin ribbon. If you’ve got a little extra time, design and print your own custom stationery with the hostess’s name and coordinating envelopes with her return address on the back panel. Keep a spool of ribbon on hand for a quick wrapping job.

Keep an eye out for vintage kitchen or tea towels and on your way to a party, grab a few in coordinating colors and tie with a ribbon. Attach your calling card and you’ve got a unique and thoughtful gift in seconds!

For a classic gift that every party-giver can appreciate, pick up a nice(ish) bottle of wine but for heaven’s sake, don’t thrust it out to your hostess in its brown paper sack! Dress up your vino or bubbly with a cute but simple fabric bag. Whip a few of these up on your sewing machine ahead of time in different fabrics and colors and you’ll be ready for any party!

Originally published at VeryVera[dot]com.

August 25, 2009

Feeling Uninspired

Filed under: Food, VeryVera — sashyjane @ 3:15 pm

I’m not feeling terribly creative and I have so much work to do (both my legit job and private jobs) so I’m giving you a canned article I wrote for VeryVera.  Have I ever told you about that? I write articles quarterly for a mail order bakery/gourmet food company under six titles: Something New @ Vera’s, Gadgets & Gizmos, Season to Taste, Cookbook Corner, With Our Compliments and From the Editor’s Desk.  You should really check out the newly redesigned VeryVera website.  While you’re there, you should order a cake.  The Brandied Peach Pound Cake is tdf (to die for) PCH

and the Lemon Layer Cake is perfectly citrusy sweet. LL

If you’re not in the mood for sweets, VeryVera also makes casseroles, salads, sides and dips.  I could eat an entire pan of Vidalia Onion Dip by myself.   VID

It’s always fresh and delicious and all of the products can be shipped across the US straight to your door. So… without further ado, here’s this quarter’s Gadgets & Gizmos.

With gardens, farmers markets and roadside stands bursting with fresh fruits and vegetables, your summer recipes are guaranteed to be fresh and delcious. However, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. We’ve all been there: you gather up three baskets of plump, juicy tomatoes and by the time you get through half of them, the rest have gone bad. Why not use your produce to its fullest potential by cleaning, storing and even preserving some so the fresh, juicy flavors of summer last all year long?

Make your tomatoes last a little longer by pressing them in an Italian Tomato Press. The suction-activated bottom attaches easily to a counter or tabletop while you drop quartered fresh tomatoes in and crank the handle. The press seperates the pulp, seeds and skin leaving you with a smooth tomato base perfect for salsa, soup and sauces. Made of heavy duty acrylic and stainless steel, you never have to worry about broken mechanisms or difficult cleanup.

To enjoy the flavors of summer yearround, try canning your tomatoes, squash, zucchini and peas. Canning retains the fruits’ and vegetables’ nutrients and flavor giving you the most nutritious and healthiest meal ever. Try the Presto 23-Quart Pressure Canner. Ergonomically designed, it features the stay-cool black plastic handles and strong-lock lid with pressure regulator, dial gauge, and overpressure plug. The heavy duty stainless steel body comes with a canning rack to protect jars during canning and an accompanying rack that fits down into the pot to keep jars off the bottom so that liquid can circulate underneath.

Of course, if you’re going to can, you’re going to need some Mason Jars to store your fruits and veggies. You can usually find food-grade cases at grocery stores, super stores and craft stores. Make them your own by tying some twine or cute ribbon around the tops and attaching a cute label with the name of the goody inside with the date you canned.

For a fresh glass of carrot, tomato, watermelon, peach, nectarine or berry juice, run your fresh fruits and veggies through the Breville Compact Juice Fountain . The powerful 700-watt, 14,000 rpm motor makes short work of your basket of produce and the 3″ circular feeding tube easily accommodates a variety of fruit and vegetable sizes without having to pre-cut, slice or peel. The Dual centered cutting system with stabilizing knife centers produce over the cutters and finely grinds it into minute particles for improved juice extraction while the Stainless-steel micromesh strainer filters juice from pulp with ease. And best of all? The dishwasher-safe parts make for easy cleaning.

To use every last sweet bite of that fresh corn, pick up the Kuhn-Rikon Corn Zipper. This tool quickly, safely strips an ear of corn: A pair of extra-sharp teeth slides between the kernals and cob to remove several rows of at a time. Simply grip the barrel handle, rake the corn from end to end and watch the kernels drop into a bowl.

Love sliced strawberries but hate wasting time and effort removing the tops and hulls? Never fear. The Strawberry Huller is here! The little stainless steel gripper makes removing the strawberry tops and hulls a cinch so you get more strawberry for your buck while you save time prepping that bucket of fresh-picked goodness for your famous strawberry pie with homemade ice cream.

If you’re anything like me, when you peel a peach, cucumber, potatoes, carrots or any other number of fresh produce, you’re standing over the sink with a knife and more of it ends up in the disposal than on your plate. I bet I could fix that problem with one simple solution: a vegetable peeler. The Trio Peeler from Williams-Sonoma features a rotating handle that allows you to switch from soft-skin, heavy-duty and julienne blades. Use the soft-skin to peel peaches, heavy-duty for carrots and potatoes and the julienne blade for shredding vegetables for salad or soups. The peeler’s tip is perfect for removing those pesky potato eyes. And the soft-grip handle means the peeler won’t slip.

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