Sweet Sweet(Vegan)Dulce De Leche

Some things go together. They just do. Peanut butter and chocolate. Miras and Lolas. Summer and sitting on blankets listening to outdoor concerts. Yoga and twisty poses and tears. (This happened last night, it did. I’d heard of people crying in yoga, and tonight I was one of them. Thank God it was  hot yoga and my tears were indistinguishable from the sweat pouring down my face.) Winter and furry boots. Cold mornings and hot coffee. Apples and caramel.

Apples and caramel. Mmmm. That’s fall, right? I remember going to the Feast of the Hunters Moon as a kid in the fall and eating caramel apples. I always had a really hard time taking that initial bite. The caramel coating the apple the way it did made the whole situation very sticky and overwhelming. But I loved that combo. I still do. The tart juiciness of the apple and the sweet sticky caramel.

I love caramel in general. (Are you counting how many times I say caramel in this post?) I could eat it straight out of a jar with a spoon. And recently I did just that standing over my kitchen sink, completely shamelessly. See, until recently I had battled with caramel and never won. Regular caramel is more or less sugar with some water that’s heated up til it’s liquified and crystalized. I could never pull the sugar and water comob from the heat fast enough. Nobody likes burnt caramel. Trust me.

Dulce de leche is traditionally sweetened milk and sugar heated up. It’s like a super creamy awesome caramel. Plus, if you cook it a little longer, you end up with chewy caramel candies. Oh heaven. I was ready to conquer this bitch.

Oh wait. I’m lactose intolerant. Bring in the sad trombones. Waah waah.

NBD. Google to the rescue. Found: One awesome, amazing, easy recipe for dulce de leche WITH BOURBON (extra bonus!) that your friends probably won’t even realize is vegan. Result: Jar of sweet goodness to spread on bread, apples, and baked goods … that is if you can actually stop eating it straight from the jar.

The trick with this recipe comes in the cooking time after  you add the salt and confectioners sugar. (That’s powdered sugar, FYI. Make the mistake of using regular sugar instead of confectioners sugar once, and you won’t make it again. Swear.) If you want the dulce de leche to be a smooth pourable sauce consistency, cook it for less time here, about 10 minutes. If you want more of a candy consistency, cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

Oh yeah, and use a bigger pan than you think you’ll need. You don’t want this business boiling over and into your burner. This will only cause fires the next morning when you make your oatmeal.

So, let’s go! Indulge in fall-time combinations!

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The Girls I Love

I have some pretty amazing girls in my life.

My Mira dog loves car rides. Pure bliss. She may have enjoyed the car ride more than our destination, a park in town with mountain bike trails. Us girls walked through the woods while Michael tore up the trails on his new cyclocross bike. You know how dogs are supposed to attract cute guys orgirls? Well, Michael’s bike seems to do a better job of that than Mira. It got a cute Irish guy to come over and chat up Michael after his ride. He ignored Mir, who was conked out in the grass. I’d take Mira over a cyclocross bike any day.

Lola kitty has an uncanny ability to make any item into a toy. The bathroom trash can is basically her toy box. We’re not phased when we find used cotton balls and Q-tips scattered around the house anymore. Lola got lots of amusement out of the box that Michael’s new bike came in. (Yes, that damn cyclocross bike again. Trust me, it’s popping up just as extensively in my life as it is in this post.) She played hide-and-seek with us from behind it for awhile.

A lot of my ladyfriends have started blogs as of late. I would like to invite you to take a look.

Seriously though, they’re all awesome and all really different, which is one of the things I love about my friends, they’re unique!

That’s me, Tim, and Samantha at a Black Keys concert this summer. Samantha and her dude, Tim, blog over at 104days. There are 104 weekend days in a year, and Sam and Tim write about how they spend theirs. They do seriously cool stuff like visit Cape Cod, do the Warrior Dash, watch buildings explode, and camp. Oh and Tim skateboards and plays with his motorcycles a lot, too!

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This picture is a throwback to 2003, the first summer Bette and I organized drill team at Green Cove. We dressed up as pink princesses the day our campers performed the drill team. After this summer, dressing up in pink dresses became a somewhat regular occurrence for us at camp. If you are a horse person you should add Bette’s blog, Riding to B, to your daily reading list. If you are not a horse person, you should add it to your daily reading list. Bette has been riding horses basically ever since she could walk. She events, teaches lessons, trains whichever horse she is riding at the time, and helps to care for a barn of horses. She’s currently training a cute guy named Gus. Sometimes she writes about random things, too, like movies or weird fashion, and usually with a horsie twist. She’s a funny girl; check it out.

Days 24 – 28 – Photo time!

I was out of town this past weekend. We drove to St. Louis to visit some of Michael’s family. No time to update the blog. Had to get creative with being creative! Oh my goodness do I love Instagram. If you have an iPhone, download this app. Between discussing Dick’s (and what it’s like to be inside one) with Michael’s aunt, uncle, and cousins, eating ice cream, playing kickball, and meeting grandparents, I was happy to have an easy way to be creative with my phone.

Day 24


Ted Drewes in St. Louis – delicious and apparently highly sought considering the lines custard.

Day 25 

I was missing my girls on Saturday. I took this picture just with my regular phone camera last week. On Saturday I played around with the various lenses on Instagram.

Day 26

We may have gotten a little turned around trying to leave St. Louis on Sunday, but I’m glad we did, because our detour took us right by the Arch!

Day 27 I made a pair of sandals, but I’m not satisfied with them just yet so no picture to show.

Day 28 I did some creative writing type work for the magazine. Yay work creativity!

And now you must do something for me. Go to HomeFries and download the Joy the Baker podcast. Do you know who Joy the Baker is? She lives in California and has a website where she writes about food she makes, her cat, boys, flashing people, and all kinds of other hilarious and awesome topics. HomeFries a project she’s started with a friend. The site has four podcasts, one of which is Joy’s. She’s joined by Tracey of Shutterbean, whose blog I only started reading recently. Anyway, Joy and Tracey talk about blogging, baking, and other random stuff like Pinterest (did you know I’m obsessed with Pinterest these days?) and work pool parties (a terrible idea!). Check out their podcast. It’s LOL good.

A 27th birthday

The last six months I dreaded January 20. I dreaded turning 27. It would tip me on the close side of 30. And oh 30. That’s a real grown-up age. Hell no.

But 27 came and went and I feel no different. No older, no wiser. Well scratch that, I feel much older and wiser now than I did even four months ago. (I don’t want to be negative about the past, but there was a heavy weight bearing down on me for the majority of last year and I’ve felt so incredibly light the last few months. I think I’d forgotten what happy for more than a few days in a row felt like.)

So how did I celebrate? I know you are just dyying to know. I had dinner at my parents’ house. My mom made Oma macaroni. We got a birthday cake from Parcha Sweets, a new and wonderful bakery here in Indianapolis.

Last weekend my friends took me out to dinner to celebrate. Jen and Samantha made the most wonderful caramelized pear and ginger cake. Perfect after our fancy-schmancy dinner at R Bistro.

In non-birthday news, little miss Lola is happily bouncing around the house minus her cone…and one eye. Meow!

TOW Lola Rings in the New Year with One Eye

I’ve been busy. It’s 2011 after all. But not too busy to ring in 2011 in the most enjoyable and dramatic ways possible.

Enjoyable way to ring in 2011.

With a best friend.

Watching friends hug.

With confetti!

Also with lots of shots and beer, which make getting up at 10 am the next day to make cheesy grits at your parents house difficult.

And now, dramatic way to ring in 2011.

Your cat loses an eyeball.

That is no lie. As of Thursday night, my Lola kitty has only one eye. The Mira dog had a moment of insanity during which she felt she needed to protect her giant bag of dog food from the vicious and hungry Lola. A small scuffle ensued, Momma Julia yelled at Mira and waved her hands, Mira backed off, and Lola was left with a punctured eye.

One visit to the 24 hour emergency vet clinic (at 11pm, because I use that 24 hours!) and a large vet bill later, Lola is one eyeball short of blind and wearing a cone around her head. She sure as hell knows how to party.

No worries though, kitty is doing amazingly well. She seems to hardly realize her new handicap. And there are no hard or weird feelings between her and Mira (thankfully!!).

I’m going to put this photo after a break, in case you are a squeamish sort of person. Lola’s left…eye…hole(?) is sewed shut. There’s a bit of oozing going on in the photo also which has since stopped.

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Cheesy Enchiladas with Gravy

Oh I have been slacking again. But here’s the thing. I traveled a lot this past week. Well a lot for me. My job normally requires no travel, but when it comes to this time of year, I hop on lots of planes to deliver prizes for our art contest. Lucky for me this year I didn’t have to travel alone (which I think sucks balls). Jen and I traveled to L.A. and Alyssa and I went to New Jersey/Philly. Much fun. Though I could never do the work travel thing regularly. It’s seriously exhausting. And all the sitting on planes made me super dehydrated. Poor chapped lips.

There were also two more concerts the last two weekends: Guster and Band of Horses. I’m going to post some pictures and go on and on about how much I love Guster later this week. Just so you know and have something to look forward to.

Oh and, AND, big news – Mira and I got a new roommate! I adopted a sweet little kitty on Saturday.Her name is Lola. She’s quite the talker. I think she likes to sing to herself as she runs around the house or plays with her feathers on a stick toy. She and the Mira dog are getting along quite well all things considered. Lola isn’t scared of Mira at all. Mira does not want to eat Lola. On the contrary, she desperately wants to play with her, and cannot understand why Lola sprints away when she chases her down the hall. My only current problem is placement of kitty food. Adam says if we tell Mira no every time she tries to eat it, she’ll learn.

Now, I have a very, very good dinner for you. Cheesey Enchiladas with Gravy filled with whatever your heart desires. I added a variety of vegetables. I think some shredded chicken would be tasty as well. Add some jalapeños, maybe olives if you’re into that, zucchini may even be good! I think what I really like about these is the gravy. I’m not a huge fan of the red enchilada sauce. The gravy in this recipe packs some heat, so be warned and dial down the chile powder and hot sauce if you’d like! Overall, a good weeknight meal. Takes about 30 minutes total time to make. Continue reading