Baked Apple Recipe

I had lunch with my friend Emily and her adorable daughter a couple of weeks ago, and when she asked what she could bring, I told her, “Something fruity for dessert.” I had no idea what mind-blowing healthy deliciousness she would bless me with. She could have just brought me an apple, and I would have been excited, but NO. She brought this:

Delicious, Clean Baked Apples and Oats

AND she was gracious enough to share the recipe with us! Thanks Em! Y’all. These were so delicious and shockingly healthy. They are gluten-free, sugar-free, and clean. I wouldn’t recommend eating them for every meal or anything, but who wants to eat the same thing for every meal anyway? To make a batch, you will need:

  • 6 apples
  • 6 heaping tablespoons rolled oats
  • 6 heaping tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit (This is optional, but if you happen to have dried cranberries or raisins or whatever else on hand, toss it in!)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • zest of an organic lemon or orange
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 6 tsp butter
  • 1 cup hot water

Wash apples and core them using a melon baller (there is a kind with a slightly serrated edge around the scooper, which works perfectly). Arrange them in a glass baking dish large enough to leave at least an inch in between them.

In a medium bowl, mix the rolled oats, walnuts, dried fruit (if using), cinnamon, salt, zest, nutmeg, and maple syrup. Blend all this goodness together in your bowl and stuff it into the cored apples. Then sprinkle the rest of the mixture in the bottom of the baking dish around the apples. The more stuffing you make, the more will be in the bottom of the pan, and it bakes up so tasty down there. Put a teaspoon pat of butter onto each apple on top of the stuffing (more or less if you want, and if anyone wants to experiment with using coconut oil instead, PLEASE let me know how that goes). Pour a cup of hot water into the bottom of the pan.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Then remove the foil, turn off the oven, and leave them in there for about 30 more minutes

Drizzle those bad boys with a little raw honey before serving. They are amazing on their own, but you could also serve them with plain or vanilla yogurt. If it’s an extra oatmeal-y batch, Emily says she’ll just dish up 2 or 3 of them with lots of the oatmeal part and there’s breakfast!

Feel free to play with this and let me know how it goes. If you want to make more of the oatmeal mixture, you can, but you may need to adjust the amount of water you add to the pan.

Enjoy!!

Easy Dijon Vinaigrette Recipe

I promised you the other day that I would give you a good vinaigrette recipe if you wanted it, and since I usually deliver on my promises, here you go!

The 21-Day Fix eating plan booklet has several salad dressing recipes in it. This is the only one I’ve tried so far, but the others look good too. I just made this one because I happened to have all the ingredients, and my salad was naked. In a jar (I used an empty salsa jar, washed out), combine:

  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Put the lid on the jar and shake. This will make you 8-10 servings of dressing. If you think that doesn’t seem like a lot of dressing for a big salad, trust me. The Dijon is so strong, plus the lemon and the vinegar. You really don’t need a lot of this to get a great flavor throughout your salad.

Pop the lid on your jar and store in the fridge until it’s gone. One warning: Sometimes, the oil can sort of harden in the fridge. I took mine out yesterday, and all the oil, mustard, and garlic had formed a glob in the middle of the lemon juice and vinegar. I tried to stir it with a fork, but that didn’t help, so I just let it sit out on the counter for half an hour or so while we went for a walk, and when we came back, it was fine again.

Enjoy!

Meaty vs. Veggie

I went to look at my prompt for today and immediately got “Ebony and Ivory” stuck in my head for some reason. And it’s funny that today’s prompt is what it is because my students asked me this exact question in class today: How do an herbivore and an omnivore cook together?

It comes up a lot when people find out I’m a vegetarian. One of the first questions they ask (after wondering what I eat and how I get enough protein) is, “Is your husband a vegetarian too?” No. No, he is most definitely not. That always invites the follow-up question, “Sooooooo…how does that work?”

It’s honestly not that complicated. I’ve been meatless for seven years, and I’ve known my husband for about seven and a half years, maybe eight, so for the vast majority of the time he’s known me, I’ve been a vegetarian. And we didn’t get together until two years ago, so we both knew exactly what we were getting into before we ever got together. Also, cooking together became a pretty normal thing when we started dating, so we had a good bit of practice before we got married.

Usually, it goes like this…

On Saturday, we decide what we want to make for the following week’s dinners. We pull from a lot of different sources, including a weekly meal-planning service we got cheap with a Groupon (emeals), but my favorites are Forks over Knives, Thug Kitchen (pardon the language if you visit the site), Food Network, and All Recipes. We also have several cookbooks and a recipe box full of vegetarian slow cooker ideas. We both have to agree that we either really want or are willing to try a recipe before we add it to the week’s list. If we’re both on board, I print out the recipe.

Doesn't the mullet magnet guy look like Sir Paul McCartney?
Doesn’t the mullet magnet guy look like Sir Paul McCartney?

Once we’ve picked our poisons, if you will (though you really shouldn’t), we make a grocery list based on what each recipe calls for and what we already happen to have. If we haven’t been very inspired by the recipes we’ve found and only have a few, we’ll make a stirfry one night or just sautee some veggies and pair them with pasta. ORRRR we’ll have “lazy night,” where we go out to eat or order Chinese or something. We put the meal schedule on a white board on the fridge so that whoever is home when it’s time to cook can see what’s on the menu and get it started. We stick all the printed-out recipes on the side of the fridge so they are visible while standing in front of the stove.

Most of the time, Will just eats a vegetarian dinner and has something meaty for lunch, and most of the time, he says he doesn’t feel like the meal is lacking anything, but bless him, he loves me a lot, so he may just not be saying it, though we definitely do have some recipes that he REALLY likes as they are (including our risotto and our tortilla soup). However, there are a lot of times when he says, “It’s good. But it would be a lot better with chicken.” We now have a bag of chicken in the freezer if he ever wants to cook some and add it to his meal. When we make stirfry, he might cook some chicken separately, and I might cook some tofu, and then we’ll just add our own protein to our own bowls.

Last night, we made pasta. We cooked a skillet of veggies for me and a skillet of peppers, onions, garlic, and sausage for him. He then added tomato sauce to his skillet, and I had plain sauce. He now has a jar full of meat sauce that he can use over the next couple of weeks. Making all of that at once was a little hectic, but now when he wants meat sauce with his pasta again, he’s all set.

That’s pretty much it. I usually eat the leftovers for lunch the following day, and that’s planned into my week on purpose, so we make sure we have enough for me to do that. He usually eats whatever he feels like eating for lunch, and we do our own breakfast things too because we have different morning routines and tastes. He doesn’t get as much steak as he’d like in his life, but he gets WAY more veggies than he was getting when he was single, and he recognizes that this is a good thing. I don’t mind him cooking meat, but if it’s beef, we have to set up an elaborate ventilation system so I can’t smell it.

Oh, and eating out or getting take-out is easy, and if he’s like dying for some meat or something, we figure it out. It’s really not so hard.

3 Tips for Healthy Eating

This is my prompt for today, but you’ve heard it all, I’m sure. Eat your veggies, stay away from fried foods and sugar and processed foods, don’t eat too many calories, don’t eat too many carbs, don’t eat too much fat, don’t eat too much meat, eat enough protein, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I realize that these tips may just be adding to the white noise that is the health and fitness industry, but they are three things that have helped me to enjoy food responsibly.

1. Spice It Up

Herbs and spices are fantastic. When we cook any of the “recipes” we just make up on the fly, they always include a plethora of dried herbs and spices. We have ALL of them. At this point, I don’t know if I want to include a photo of my spice cabinet or a gif from The Three Amigos. Oh you know what spices look like. Just imagine literally all of them. plethoraSo as I was saying…fat and sugar taste GREAT, especially when they take the forms of cheese, butter, and wheat (macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese sandwich, Red Lobster’s cheddar biscuits, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm). And when you’re trying not to eat such things, you REEEEAAAAALLLLY miss them. Putting a bunch of spices on your food won’t fill that void entirely, but it definitely helps. Most of our “recipes” end up having a little salt, LOTS of freshly ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, and basil. If we’re feeling extra sassy (and depending on what we’re cooking), we might throw in some paprika, chili powder, cumin, curry powder, and/or turmeric. And I don’t know if garlic falls into this category or not, but the more the better. Adding herbs and spices won’t make non-fried things taste like fried things, but it will still make them very, very tasty.

2. Make It Pretty

I like my food to be pretty. When it’s particularly lovely, I take pictures of it. I think people will probably get tired of that pretty soon, but I just can’t help myself. I mean look at this:berries and honey

I didn’t even want to eat it. I just wanted to have an endless photo shoot with it. It made me a little sad that I didn’t have a better camera, but then my gosh if it didn’t look delicious, so I ate it. AND IT WAS. That’s about a cup of Greek yogurt, a cup of fresh berries (raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries), and some raw honey. I added to it about 1/4 cup of Grape Nuts, and I can now say with all confidence that this snack is the reason Grape Nuts exist in the world.

I like my food (and my home, let’s be real) to have ALL THE COLORS. I want it to be a feast for the body, the taste buds, and the eyes. The only exception to this is Indian food, which tends to all be brown, but it’s so delicious, nobody cares. The prettier your food is, the prouder you are of having made it, and the more you want to eat it. saladAnd you know how you get lots of colors in your food? Lots of vegetables and fruits. Want a rainbow salad? Toss all of this together:

  • strawberries
  • carrots
  • yellow bell pepper
  • spring mix
  • blueberries
  • purple cabbage
  • garbanzo beans (sautee with herbs/spices)
  • goat cheese
  • homemade vinaigrette (I’ll share some recipes with you if you want them.)

I promise it will be beautiful and delicious.

3. Make a Plan and Stick to It

This is the single biggest tip I can give you if you want to eat healthier. Know what you are going to eat when. If you know you’re going to eat soon, you won’t be tempted to snack. And if you have healthy snacks planned, you won’t be (as) tempted to reach for the unhealthy ones. If you know what you’re having for dinner, and you’ve already bought all the ingredients, then all you have to do is make it. You might be tempted to be lazy and not cook, but I feel guilty when I buy fresh ingredients and then don’t use them, so use fresh veggies. They’re healthier than packaged food anyway, and you can let your guilt help you make good choices.

Sticking to the plan is really the hard part. Making the plan will be a bit labor intensive for the first few weeks, but you’ll get used to it once you figure out what works for you. I plan my dinners first because that’s the only meal of the day my husband and I get to eat together, so it takes a little more cooperation to decide what we’re going to make and what ingredients we need to buy. Once I have my dinners in place, it’s not that hard for me to work in all the other foods I need during the day. But sticking to the plan is another story entirely. It really is a meal-by-meal choice to eat what’s on the plan or to eat ice cream. I’m sure it would help a lot if I just threw out the ice cream, but since I don’t make health and diet choices for anyone but myself, I can’t really do that. Also, the guilt.

So far, though, I’ve been able to stick to my plans really well. It helps that I have a variety of foods every day, spaced out so I’m eating every few hours, and that they’re all delicious. I’m not like subsisting on plain rice cakes or anything horrible like that. Man, I’m glad I was never on a fad diet in the ’80s.

Tortilla Soup Recipe

Ok so even though it’s the end of our vacation week, I’m really excited that it’s Friday so I can give you this recipe! We made it the other night, and it was AMAAAAZIIIIINNNG (done in a sing-song voice for best effect)!!! If you’re a vegetarian on the 21-Day Fix, I would estimate that about a cup and a half of this soup equals 1 red, 1 green, 1-2 yellows, and 1 teaspoon. If you’re not a vegetarian, I would estimate that the same amount is 1 green, 2-3 yellows, and 1 teaspoon. I also added tofu to mine for an extra red container, and Will added chicken to his. If you’ve got a blue to spare, I highly recommend the avocado, and if you’re not on the 21-Day Fix at all, dude, go to Trader Joe’s and get you some Mexican Cheese. Go crazy.

Here we go. For this, you will need:

tortilla soup

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (any color is fine, but I like red)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 carton veggie broth or stock
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen, or I imagine grilled/roasted would be delicious)
  • 1 cup white hominy
  • 1 (4-oz.) can chopped green chiles
  • 1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and well-rinsed
  • 1 (15-oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained and well-rinsed
  • sliced avocado (optional)
  • Mexican cheese blend (optional)
  • cilantro (optional)

Ok, now it’s very easy.

  1. Sautee the garlic, onions, bell pepper and garbanzos in the olive oil until fragrant.
  2. Add the chili powder, cumin and oregano, and sautee for another minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes and broth. Bring it to a boil, and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the hominy, corn, green chiles and black beans. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
  5. Top it off with the any of the optional ingredients you want. Serve and eat!

Food Diary

I haven’t eaten meat in years. I couldn’t remember whether it was 2006 or 2007 when I went quasi-vegan, but luckily I have a blog to remember things for me. It was just after Thanksgiving, 2007. I had been toying with the idea for a while, but I didn’t know if I could really do it. I remember very clearly, though, taking a bite of turkey at Thanksgiving, putting my fork down, and thinking, “I’m out.” I just re-read my blog post about it, and in it, I said I didn’t know if it would last. The vegan part of it hasn’t lasted, but the vegetarian part has and will. I honestly don’t know what would happen to my stomach if I tried to eat meat now, but I don’t think it would be pretty.

People always want to know what I eat as a vegetarian, and it’s a fair question, though a bit silly in my opinion. I eat food, just not animals. If it never had a face or a heart, it’s fair game. That leaves:

  • fruit (anything but melons – I don’t like melons)
  • vegetables (except a few I don’t care for – cucumbers, eggplant, raw tomatoes, raw onions)
  • grains (bread, pasta, rice, cereal, couscous, quinoa, farro, bulgur – Yes, please.)
  • beans (Chili, anyone?)
  • nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.)
  • dairy (yogurt, cheese, butter, milk, ice cream)
  • ALL the herbs and spices

Y’all, that’s a LOT of things. With all of those as options, I can literally walk into 98% of restaurants and find something on the menu that I can eat (unless I’m in Gatlinburg, TN, but we won’t go into that right now). My only problem is that up until about a month ago, the majority of my diet consisted of things that my body turned into sugar – dairy and pasta. So much pasta. Delicious, delicious pasta. I was eating the amount of starch that I should have been eating protein and vice versa. A typical day would have looked like this:

  • Breakfast – Krave Double Chocolate cereal with unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • Snack – Fruit-on-the-bottom Greek yogurt
  • Lunch – Left-overs from the night before (generally some kind of grain and veggies, usually with beans, possibly with cheese or other dairy)
  • Dinner – We try a lot of new recipes, but most of them involve rice or pasta, beans, and veggies. We’ve also been known to order pizza or get Chinese take-out.
  • If I was still hungry after dinner, I might have eaten another bowl of cereal or some applesauce.

I know, it doesn’t seem THAT bad, does it? But what I’m learning is that not THAT bad is also not very good at all. And vegetarian or not, you can make good and bad food choices. Oreos are vegan. So are Twizzlers. And I have a whole book of vegan cupcake recipes, each more delicious than the next. That doesn’t make them good for you, especially when you make a whole batch and eat them all yourself.

So I’m trying something new. And I’m not doing it perfectly, but I’m working on it.

21-Day Fix Containers (not my ugly countertop)
21-Day Fix Containers (not my ugly countertop)

These are my food containers. They are color-coded so I know how much I should eat of what. Green is for veggies, purple is fruit, red is protein, yellow is starch, blue is good fats like nuts and avocado, and orange is not-so-good fats like salad dressing. When I got them, I thought, “Is this all I get to eat in a day?! No wonder it makes you lose weight!” But no. Every day, based on my weight, I get 5 green containers, 3 purple, 5 red, 4 yellow, 1 blue, and 1 orange. I’m supposed to eat all of them every day in 5 small meals, and there are days when I could eat that and WAY more, and there are days when I skip a container because I’m full. Like I said, not perfect, but I’m working on it.

This requires a LOT of planning, but that’s the hardest part. Once the planning is done, the eating is easy. I would say it’s even easier than trying to force yourself not to eat certain things by sheer willpower because you never have bad-for-you things in your plan. I make a chart of what I’m going to eat, and that’s what I eat. I’m never rooting around in the kitchen looking for something to eat. I’m never tempted to just swing through the Taco Bell drive-thru because I have food waiting for me at home, and usually it’s vegetables or fruits that will go bad if I don’t eat them, so I feel obligated to go home and eat them. Otherwise, I’ve wasted money on good food that went bad while spending even more money on bad food.

If you’re super-curious, here’s my first week on this plan (and for those who don’t know, Shakeology is a protein shake to which I add fruit and/or almond or rice milk):

21-Day Fix Week 1

I’ve color-coded it for my own benefit, so I could easily count how many of each container I had planned into each day. Again, not perfect, and some days got tweaked as I went, but not bad for my first go.

If anyone has tips, tricks or recommendations for how I can get more non-dairy protein in my life, I’m all ears. I’m eating a lot of plain Greek yogurt at this point, and I’d like to eventually cut back on that, but the struggle is real, especially if, like me, you can’t eat that much soy in a day (or any soy at all like some folks).

NaBloPoMo Table of Contents – October 2014

Well I’ve enjoyed blogging daily so much over the past month that I’m going to do it again! I don’t know what BlogHer’s official theme is for October, but I’ve chosen the theme of health. I’ll write more about why tomorrow, but I thought it was a nice follow-up to September’s theme of healing. Again, I’ll update this post daily with links to new posts, so if you stumble across this page any time after October 2014, you can access all of this month’s posts from here.

Wednesday, October 1
Why this topic now?

Thursday, October 2
Describe a day of your normal meals.

Friday, October 3
Recipe Friday! – Tortilla Soup

Monday, October 6
What scares you about healthy living?

Tuesday, October 7
Give 3 tips for healthier eating.

Wednesday, October 8
How do you deal with discouragement?

Thursday, October 9
How do an herbivore and an omnivore cook together?

Friday, October 10
Recipe Friday! – Easy Dijon Vinaigrette

Monday, October 13
Give 3 tips for improving your workouts.

Tuesday, October 14
How important is community when it comes to fitness?

Wednesday, October 15
What are your favorite and least favorite kinds of exercise?  Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Thursday, October 16
How does good nutrition relate to exercise?

Friday, October 17
Recipe Friday! – Spicy Greek Yogurt Cauliflower Recipe

Monday, October 20
Describe some creative ways to get active.

Tuesday, October 21
After I exercise, I feel…

Wednesday, October 22
How do physical health and emotional health interact?

Thursday, October 23
Make an exercise mix!

Friday, October 24
Recipe Friday! – Sautéed Chickpeas

Monday, October 27
How do you maintain self-discipline?

Tuesday, October 28
How do you overcome failures and set-backs?

Wednesday, October 29
What are some unexpected benefits of a healthy lifestyle?

Thursday, October 30
What are your health goals for November?

Friday, October 31
Recipe Friday! – Baked Apples

Risotto Recipe

And now a break from our regular programing to bring you something delicious. I posted a picture of my dinner on Facebook, and everyone wanted the recipe, so here it is. I can’t take any credit for it. We got it from a weekly meal planning thing we have, which, for the most part, serves more as weekly meal inspiration than actual planning, but this recipe is SO SO SO good. I only had to tweak it a little bit (tweaks included in recipe below). Bon appetit!

Risotto with Roasted Cauliflower and Walnuts

risotto

  • 2 large heads cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (32-oz) carton vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 6 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup toasted, coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Place a large roasting pan in oven; preheat oven and pan to 450 degrees. In a  large bowl, toss cauliflower with oil, salt, and pepper; transfer to preheated pan and roast for 20 minutes or until golden and tender, turning once.

Toast walnuts lightly; set aside.

Bring broth and 3 cups water to a simmer in a saucepan. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; cook onion in butter 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; add rice, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in wine; bring to a boil, and cook until liquid evaporates, stirring constantly. Add broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly after each addition. Continue adding broth mixture and cooking until rice is al dente (about 20 to 30 minutes total). Remove from heat, and vigorously stir in Parmesan cheese.

Toss cauliflower with walnuts, basil, lemon rind, and red pepper; serve over risotto.

Co-Cooking

Will and I cook really well together, and this recipe is perfect for it. You can definitely do it alone, but it’s really easy to do together as well. I chop the onions while Will preheats the pan in the oven, preps the broth, and melts the butter. Then he makes the risotto while I do the cauliflower/walnut mixture. It’s super easy, and for the most part, we don’t get in each other’s way. Happy cooking!

Awesome April Adventures!

Well, with just a couple of days left in March, I’ve been hard at work on my list of Awesome April Adventures. Thanks to all of you who made suggestions, the list is really quite superb. Now, they are numbered so I would know when I had enough for each day of the month, but the numbers do not in any way correspond to the dates on which I will do them. Some will clearly need to be done on a weekend due to the time they will require or the time they will require me to go to bed, but the others could happen at any time. Please let me know which ones you’d like to participate in, and I will get up with you to plan. Refer to the actual activity and not the number. You know I don’t do well with numbers. So excited, y’all! April is going to be awesome!

  1. Sidewalk chalk a driveway.
  2. Salsa dance party in my living room.
  3. Swing! (aka play on a playground)
  4. Story telling night.
  5. Four square tournament.
  6. Random dress-up night.
  7. Photo scavenger hunt.
  8. Iron Chef: Cookies (bake cookies using ingredients found in the kitchen).
  9. Beach trip! (complete with sand castle contest).
  10. People watch – make up stories about the people.
  11. Public craft night (invite passers-by to join in).
  12. Picnic.
  13. Make a friendship bracelet/mail it to a friend.
  14. Stargaze.
  15. Kickball game.
  16. Field Day!
  17. Segway tour.
  18. Rock/Wall climbing.
  19. Progressive dinner.
  20. Offer to do people’s caricatures in the park.
  21. Send a silly package.
  22. Spend a day in a podunk town just looking around.
  23. Finger paint.
  24. Bake cupcakes and give them to my neighbors.
  25. Let a child pick out an outfit for me at Goodwill. Wear it to work.
  26. Buy a plate from Goodwill, paint it to commemorate my Awesome April Adventures, and display it on my mantle.
  27. Set up a free face painting table downtown.
  28. Ride a horse.
  29. Go somewhere after hours.
  30. Ride the carousel at Pullen Park.

ICE DAY!!!

I’m not calling it a snow day because there is absolutely no snow outside, but apparently there’s enough ice on the roads for Wake Tech to close. I’m not arguing. I wouldn’t have been upset if I’d had to go to work today – it’s only the 2nd day of class, so I’m not ready for a break yet – but I will pretty much never argue with an unexpected day off.

And I’m proud of Raleigh for having learned its lesson when it comes to ice. When I moved back to NC from NY six years ago, it was right around this time. I blogged about it very briefly here. You don’t have to read it. The important part is that I went to Greenville to buy my car, and when I was driving it back to Raleigh, the same thing was happening that happened yesterday/last night – ice. And it took me NINE HOURS to make a trip that should have taken an hour and a half. It was crazy. It took people 8-10 hours to get across town, kids had to sleep in the gym at school, teachers had to stay there with them, people ran out of gas, people had to stay in hotels because they couldn’t make it all the way home from work, there were wrecks all over the place.

And all because nobody took the weather seriously. They all thought, “Oh, it’s just going to snow a little. We can handle that.” But now they’ve learned their lesson. Ice don’t play. If it’s icy, you stay home. You stay home in your jabambas, and you eat cinnamon orange rolls by the fire.

Done and done. And I think L-Josh and I have invented a new mixed drink. We call it Bourbonade. We haven’t actually made it (because we don’t have half the necessary ingredients, most notably the bourbon), but in our minds, it’s bourbon, sugar, water, and a squeeze of lemon…on the rocks. We came up with it through a series of imaginary conversations with our new neighbor, Jackson.

Because he has such a southern name, we always pretend to invite him over for southern-sounding things in a really thick, sugary, Georgia accent. Or maybe Alabama. Sometimes we invite him over for mint juleps, sometimes for lemonade, sometimes for bourbon. Well, today we combined the lemonade and the bourbon invitations and invented Bourbonade. I think it just might work.

Feel free to experiment with your own Bourbonade recipe and report back. And if you want to come over and sip a Bourbonade by our fire, we’ll be here all day. You’ll have to bring the bourbon and lemon, but we’ve got plenty of sugar and ice.