Oatmeal Pancakes

OK, I’ll just put it out there. I’ve had a  hard month, the culmination of which, after three years of couples cooking, has me cooking for just one. There’s no hate, no anger, just a lot of sadness, and hopefully a friendship again in the future somewhere. Thank goodness I have amazing friends and family both here in Indianapolis and over the phone. I also have these sweet girls.

And Matt Nathanson, whose music has an uncanny ability to fit the lovey-dovey beginning of relationships and the heartbreaking end of them, too. And then there’s food. Saturday afternoon I stood over a mixing bowl, beating together butter and brown sugar for cookies, crying, and I literally muttered through those tears, “At least no matter how little sense everything else makes right now, butter and sugar will always make something delicious and magical.” It’s nice to know that I can combine ingredients in a certain way and know that they’ll be tasty. It is not nice to know that every time my cat visits the litter box, she’ll emerge stinking and desperately wanting to cuddle. These things are certainties.

OK, so enough about me and my wah wah wah life. THIS WEEK IS THANKSGIVING WEEK! I love this holiday. It’s the Pie Holiday. It’s the Food Holiday. It’s the Hang Out with Family and Just Eat and Be Happy Holiday. I’m sure you’re all planning menus, grocery shopping, and getting ready to start cooking up a storm. I’m going to try to document all the wonderful things my family and I cook and eat. I am not going to give you the few sweets recipes I have in my queue right now. Instead I give you: breakfast. Because you will need a good breakfast to prepare you for a day of cooking and family time.

Breakfast is my absolute favorite meal of the day. I love brunching with my lady friends. I love, love eggs with runny yolks that ooze in a buttery fashion all over toast and potatoes and greens. And I love fluffy, sweet pancakes and waffles. My dad makes the best waffles, but alas I have no waffle maker. My mom always made the best pancakes growing up, these quick and tasty ones from Betty Crocker I believe. I have sweet memories of standing on a chair by the counter, helping to mix ingredients for waffles or pancakes on weekend mornings.

So these pancakes are not the ones my mom made for us growing up. They’re full of oatmeal goodness that fills you up properly. I’ve been making them since the summer, when I topped them with strawberries, powdered sugar, and syrup, and I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to share them with you. Seriously, these are the best pancakes ever. I’ve been mixing cut up apples into them lately and smothering them in honey. Or mixing in some pumpkin puree.

So, OK, you should make these during your holiday weekend. In your robe. Lazily. With a cup of coffee.

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A Sugar Cream Pie New Year

Where were you 10 years ago? What were the decade’s top songs/artists/albums? 2009’s best music: Vote Now! Not going to lie, I got very tired of seeing these types of polls and articles pop up in my inbox and on my Twtitter feed. So here’s mine.

2009: Fine as a Swine
-I traveled to Las Vegas for the first time (!)
-I took over Jack and Jill magazine (!)
-I reached a quarter of a century and have had various small quarter life crises (…!…?)
-I came to terms with the term “broke” and made some lifestyle changes such as canceling cable and cutting shopping (not !)
-I visited camp under the guise of a work trip and got my flight paid for (!!!) hey I did write an article on my fave place in the world for the mag
-My dog was banned from my parents’ house (not !)
-I fell into more new music than I could have ever have dreamed of (!!!!!!)
-I decided to one day open a bakery in North Carolina with Bette and have a prostitution business on the side (!!!!) (anyone interested in a “cherry pie” aka a tall blonde with big tatas and a midget on the side?)

-I celebrated the two year anniversary of my return to Indianapolis (not !)

My New Year’s resolutions are as follows: put $100 into my savings account every month as car payments have ended, pawn off baked goods on unsuspecting coworkers in an attempt to lose weight, have formulated a move to North Carolina plan by the end of the year.
In 2010, more specifically Jan 12, Vampire Weekend comes out with their second album! You can listen here until then. I’ve got a couple more listens before I comment on it, but so far, so musically nice on the ears!

In 2009 I also made a sugar cream pie.
Here’s how that story goes. I love pie. I love making pie. PIE. Thanksgiving is the Pie Holiday. I wanted to make cranberry caramel almond tart for Adam’s Thanksgiving. Adam wanted me to make sugar cream pie. I’d never heard of such a pie, and quite honestly a pie consisting only of cream and sugar sounded bizarre. Adam’s grandmother, on the other hand, makes the world’s best sugar cream pie. Adam was setting me up for failure. Julia, make this pie that you’ve never made before, but that my grandma’s a pro at for my family’s Thanksgiving. I manned up, found a good recipe, tweaked it a tiny bit, and, with my sexy assistant Adam, made my first official state pie of Indiana. (That’s the sugar cream pie, if you didn’t get that….) His grandmother deemed it a very good sugar cream pie. I pass!

a grown up Christmas list

I love lists. There’s nothing quite like drawing a neat black line through items one by one, just ticking them off. So I have three quick lists for the end of the Monday before Christmas.

Things That Should Not Happen Again

-unbuttoning my pants on the way into the bathroom at work (that should happen after I’m in the stall)
-wearing skinny jeans on a day when my thighs feel as big as boulders
-snow and ice on my car in the morning
-the toilet in my apartment running constantly (aauuugh the noise and the water waste!)
-going to the bathroom at work without my shoes on
-falling asleep on the couch for the millionth night in a row (contrary to anything Adam might say, this is NOT fun.)
-standing in line for half an hour at the post office to mail a gift
-Christmas present shopping for five hours

Things That Should Happen Lots More Times

-a free Moosejaw sweatshirt with orders over $79
-wearing a cute yet flowy shirt on a fat day
-wrapping presents and putting them under the tree (FESTIVE!)
-making cheesecake
-ugly christmas sweater parties
-talking about buying Bonnaroo tickets in December
-penguin onesies from Target (which is what I should have worn to work today instead of the skinny pants)
-Christmas present shopping for five hours only if done with Adam
-wearing red and white striped Christmas knee high socks with white santa fur around the top
-The Flaming Lips live (particularly “White Christmas” and “Do You Realize”)

Things That Are Going to Happen Tonight
-mushroom marsala pasta with artichokes
-possible toilet fixation (well I do have a fixation with the damn toilet right now, but I meant the toilet getting fixed.)
-penguin onesie from Target

Merry Chrismakah

“Well, are you coming?” asks the conductor.
“Why to the North Pole of course! This is the Polar Express!”

Every Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember my dad read The Polar Express to me and my brother before we went to bed. Then we’d put out cookies for Santa and a carrot for his reindeer, and we’d crawl into bed. I have the entire book memorized and I adore it. I love all of the illustrations, though my favorite has to be the one where all of the children are drinking hot chocolate in the train car. The colors are so rich and warm that I feel like, even though they all jumped onto a strange train with a strange man, they are perfectly safe. One year when we woke up on Christmas morning, I found a worn bell that looked suspiciously like a sleigh bell on Santa’s cookie plate. My parents said they had no idea where it came from, but their best guess was that Santa had left it for me. I treasured it.

These days my parents continue The Polar Express tradition at the store. They have the book, a portable DVD player with the movie, and a little basket of bells sitting on a table near the door. With each bell they have written this message, “Our wish is that this bell will always ring for those who listen. That the sweet sound reminds us of the true miracles of the holiday season, be they of this world or not” along with this quote from the end of book,

At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. 
Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. 
Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all those who truly believe.

I don’t believe in Santa Claus anymore, but I have that sleigh bell that was left on our cookie plate years ago. It’s hanging on the doorknob of my apartment door. More than Santa though, I still believe in that magic and the miracles of this time of year. Maybe that’s why I can still hear my bell ring.

Tonight I’m having dinner with my family and Adam’s family. Then I’m going to go home and read my own copy of The Polar Express that Bette gave me two Christmases ago (which was one of the best gifts I have ever received). I don’t expect Santa or any make-believe magic like that; only the same safe feeling that I have when I look at that one picture in the book, and the magic of stopping to listen and hearing the bell ring. I hope you guys (the few of you who may read this!) have a happy holiday too!

All things holiday

Thanksgiving is officially two weeks away. This means I can officially start getting excited about the holidays.

I plan to:
~decorate my apartment in a classy but excessive manner
~bake pie pie pie
~have a cookie extravaganza in which all of my friends will get cookies
~receive the 12 days of cookies newsletter from Food Network again this year
~have a holiday tea party at work
~wear my candy cane knee highs
~make a holidays playlist on itunes and listen to it at work
~dress my dog up like an elf

My friends and I plan to (and these were discussed last night at the Rosebuds and Megafaun show):
~have a secret santa
~have a holiday party….erm many holiday parties
~festive martinis and cider and eggnog

Oh, Megafaun? They are excellent. Check ’em out. Here, let me just help you out. They’re from Raleigh/Durham!