Welcome Home!

Well look at this, Feed Funny Me is now its’ own website! A dear friend of mine has such faith in my little slice of the internet that she gifted me my own .com! Soon you’ll see my own posts migrate over and new content show up! I started to blog as a way to be accountable and share both the happy and the contemplative and I’m honored that you all enjoy reading along.

One of my favorite things in life is receiving mail and as I was thinking about how I wanted to celebrate FFM’s first birthday…as well as my own I decided I wanted to gift my friends with mail! That’s right, real mail to your mailbox for you to enjoy and celebrate along with me! If you’d like to receive a letter, email me  your full  address (I promise, only I will see it) and I will send you mail! Let’s celebrate folks, there are fun things ahead!

A Simple, Absolute Jam

I realized I had some berries in the fridge yesterday that were past the point of eating fresh but in light of the current situation, I didn’t just want to toss them out. So hey, why not try and make jam and see how it shakes out and-woah! It was a de-light and incredibly simple to make! So if you find yourself with too many berries and not enough time to eat them as we quarantine for a bit, give this a try. It should work with any berry (I used ripe strawberries and blueberries). This isn’t meant to be a shelf-stable concoction (there’s not enough pectin or preservatives) but it sure is tasty the next day on toast!

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • ½ pint of strawberries that were almost past their prime, hulled and halved
  • Like 15 blueberries left from blueberry muffins a couple weeks ago, whole
  • A good squirt of honey (like 2-3 Tbs)
  • A little sugar (1/4 C-but more/less based on sweetness preference. You can always try the jam as it cooks to see.)
  • A splash of water to get things going (1/3 C)
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
    • Optional: any baking spices you enjoy. I added a smidge of cinnamon

Made about (?) a cup of jam. I should really take better notes…
 
Directions
Add everything to a sauce pan and set over medium heat, stir and break down the berries as things start warming up. Turn your heat down (medium low, it should still bubble a little, but not boiling) once you see the mixture start breaking down and turning into jam (!!). Continue to cook and break down your berries 10-15 minutes. Once everything is all jam-like, let cool and pulse through with an immersion blender to your preferred state (we like a little chunk). I didn’t notice any issues with seeds, but if this is something you’re particular about, you could strain everything. Once cooled, add to a glass jar with a lid and store in the fridge! I’m not sure how long it’ll keep, but you probably won’t have to worry about that-it’s too good to keep around!
 
Use on toast, sandwiches, ice cream, a spoon…

 

Spicy Pulled Pork Tacos? Carnitas? Tasty Meats?

While I’m not sure what to call this recipe I know one thing for sure is that it’s delicious no matter the name. I have adapted this recipe from several others that I’ve found over time (the original inspiration is from SkinnyTaste and this recipe is amazing). I have made this for several taco parties we’ve hosted and this tasty pork is in heavy rotation for weekly meals. I’ll be honest that I’m not sure how to adapt it if you don’t have an electric pressure cooker but I would assume you could do this in a slow cooker for 5-6 hours. The recipe below makes 8-10 (generous) tacos! This also freezes well!
 
Ingredients
4-5 lb. pork shoulder (leave the fat cap on)
1 can of chilies in adobo*
1 orange
1 lime
4-5 garlic cloves
1 tsp of Better than Bouillon roasted vegetable base
2 bay leaves
1 Tbs of cumin
1 Tbs of onion powder
½ tsp of oregano
8-10 cranks of black pepper (so like, a teaspoon?)
A pinch of salt to taste
Water**
 
*Here’s the deal, chilies in adobo is a wonderful culinary delight. Obviously I’m a house-renowned home non-celebrity chef so I have a lot of clout here.  But this little can packs so.much.flavor. But take my warning, they are volatile! If you want to go all in, pour the whole can in and call it a spicy night. This is what I do, so the spice factor of this recipe is based on that.  If you only add 1-2 peppers, you will need to adjust the water content below.
**if you use the whole can of chilies, then add 1 can full of water to the pressure cooker. If you use less, add more water to ensure you have enough water to pressurize the pork! The Better than Bouillon is two-fold in the recipe: it’s there to add awesome flavor but also to take the place of stock. If you prefer to use stock, do that in place of the water!
 
Mise in place:
  • peel and sliver garlic
  • wash, smash (roll around on the counter), and slice orange and lime
  • measure all dry ingredients into a bowl
Directions
  1. Piquer your pork with said garlic slivers. (what is piquer? It’s a fancy term for stabbing holes in the meat and shoving ingredients, such as garlic, into the holes)- set aside for a minute. Look. Some people would say to combine the dry ingredients and then rub them on the pork but I’m lazy and it just comes off so-you do you.
  2. Add all other ingredients into the pressure cooker (dried ingredients, chilies in adobo, water, half of the orange and lime slices, Better Than Bouillon) and set to sauté until bubbling- this will help your pressure cooker from up to temperature quicker. Turn off once bubbling.
  3. Add pork and roll around in the sauce, end with fat slab up
  4. Add the rest of the lime and orange slices on top of the pork
  5. Set on manual for 60 minutes and go do something else.
—60 minutes later—
  1. As the pressure cooker naturally releases, start phase two. You can totally skip this and allow the pork to naturally release, pull it out, let it cool enough to shred, add some of the left over sauce (you can remove the bay leaves and blend this for extra yum) and serve but here’s my part two:
  2. Turn on oven to ‘broil’
  3. Pull pork out once the pressure cooker releases set aside to cool
  4. Fish around for bay leaves and remove, remove some peppers if you’d like to control your heat level! And use immersion blender to blend sauce up. Yes, limes and oranges stay in. Lumps are okay (preferred for me).
  5. Shred your pork and put it on a rimmed jelly pan (this pan is about to get gross, sorry). You do remove the fat cap but, you can cut in some of this fat if you’d like because this step is basically frying your pork in the oven.
  6. Pour sauce over pork, moderately covered
  7. Slide pan into oven carefully (WARNING: DO NOT WALK AWAY. BROILERS ARE SNEAKY. I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE IF YOU BURN YOUR FOOD OR YOUR HOUSE!)
  8. Watch pan, you want to see brown crispy meats, but not burnt meats. You can flip meat once you see this happen to get as much texture as you want. This takes me about 5-10 minutes in my oven and depends how wet my pork is.
  9. Warm your tortillas while you watch the meats. (DO NOT STOP WATCHING THE MEATS.)
 
Serve with warm tortillas (I prefer corn), cilantro, sour cream, cojita cheese, and fresh lime wedges
 
Excuse me, I need to go eat all the tacos now. Let me know if you want to have a taco party!

Using All My Vacation Days in 2020

I’m finally settling into 2020 and starting to think about all the exciting adventures I have planned! Below is a quick synopsis of what it currently on the calendar and I’m curious-what events would you like to hear about and what pieces? The food? How to travel on a budget? Reviews? Other ideas?

 Food and fun is pretty much my mission (mixed in with self-compassion and growth) and I enjoy writing but I’m curious what would be interesting for others to hear about.
 
March Something I’ve wanted to do for a long time is see the Chicago River dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day. I know it’s a hot mess party at 10 a.m. but this is on my list of random adventures and it just so happens to line up with when we’re already planning to be in the city for a concert.
 
April Spring brings my favorite sport of all sports-baseball.  I’ll be heading back up to Chicago for a girls day of beer, The Cubs, and shopping. Want to hear how to get your best friend of 20+ years all to yourself and getting into some shenanigans in the city works out? Best hot dogs in Wrigley?
 
June My husband has a conference in West Palm Beach, Florida, and I’m going to tag along for a much different type of trip-one where I spend most of the time alone. Solo adventures are something that interest I’m interested in but at the same time, terrify me.  Come June though, I’m going to give it a go-want to follow along?
 
July Remember last year when I randomly asked my roomie for life to venture into the heat of the summer and stand in a two hour line for cookies? Well, we had so much fun we’re thinking of making it an annual tradition! Unsure where we’ll end up (suggestions that are drive-able in the Midwest?) but wherever we are, it’ll be a 100% hoot.
 
September Another random adventure that’s been on my list for a long time is to visit Minnesota. Far enough away to not been a quick trip and close enough we can still drive it without killing each other (fingers crossed) Minneapolis will have two new occupants for a week in the fall. But why? Because of the Minnesota State Fair and the Mall of America! And the sculpture garden!  And all the other wonderful things Minneapolis-St. Paul has to offer. I’m really stoked for this trip, you’ll hear about it regardless.
 
November And to end out the year on the best note possible, another visit to Florida. The best part of Florida. Do I really need to tell you what that is? No, not Gator World. NO NOT THAT GOLF COURSE.  We’re heading back ‘home’ to Walt Disney World for a few days. Want to see how and why two adults enjoy this trek so often (be fair here, I haven’t been in over a year now)? This trip may end up being two-fold: WDW with my hubs and also a few days spent before with my first college roommate and another friend from college getting our wizard on at Universal Studios! 
 
There will be random adventures for sure, but these are the ones I can say with some sense of certainty I’ll be enjoying in 2020. Let me know what tickles your fancy! I have a few past trips I want to share when I can get them written out (Wisconsin? Louisville? Cleveland, Ohio!?)
 
Also, stay tuned for something SUPER FUN next month. Not just my birthday but it is my birth month so…send cake!

Super Bowls! (AKA Cream Cheese Bowl)

Well, here we are folks. It’s Sports Bowl Day! AKA, the day we all eat blocks and blocks of cream cheese! This year I actually have a minimal interest in the game because someone from my alma mater is playing—and it’s for the same team my husband likes! It’s the only time we really get to cheer for the same time so-Go 49ers!
 
This year I’m still in charge of bringing the side snacks to our get together and I decided to go 100% predictable and bring two dip bowls that always please. While everyone probably has their own recipe for both of these, I enjoy seeing different takes so I can perfect my own recipe. If you have something fun that you do for either of these, please share!
 
Buffalo Chicken Dip
  • 2 cans of chicken breast, drained (or a whole well-shredded rotisserie chicken)
  • 2 8oz cream cheese, softened (I tend to do one original and one 1/3 less fat)
  • 1 cup of blue cheese dressing (you can use ranch dressing, or a ranch dressing packet and sour cream/Greek yogurt)
  • ½-1 cup of Sweet Baby Ray’s Buffalo Wing Sauce (Frank’s also makes a good one) *this is try and taste*
  • 1-2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I prefer to grate my own because the shredded cheese in the store doesn’t melt was well due to anti-caking agents) *you can play around with the cheese here as much as you’d like. There’s a lot of fat in this recipe so using something a little sharper helps balance through*
Add all of these into a slow cooker on low and let it melt and combine. Stir and watch that it doesn’t separate!
 
If you need to do this on a stovetop, I would mix the cream cheese, dressing, and wing sauce together over medium heat until smooth. Add the shredded cheese in batches (so it doesn’t separate) over a medium-low heat. Add the chicken last and warm to enjoy!
 
I serve this with tortilla chips, butter cracker rounds, carrots, and celery.
Chili Cheese Beer Dip
(This is pretty much the only time I enjoy American cheese)
  • 2 cans of chili (whatever type you and your guests enjoy-with or without beans, vegetarian, etc.)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes and green chilies (there’s a lot of fun ones out there, the fire roasted versions are tasty in this!) Drain but reserve the juice in case the dip is tight when it melts together. You can also use a variety of salsas here!
  • 1 8oz block of cream cheese
  • 2 cups of shredded/cubed cheese (whatever your style, but that American cheese log melts beautifully.)
  • 1 cup of beer (lager style)

Why the beer? The same reason for sharp cheese in the buffalo dip-it adds a dimension to flavor that cuts through all the fat on your tongue. It also helps thin the dip so it doesn’t immediately congeal.

You can also do this in a slow cooker but take note that you should still start the beer on the stove top. Pour the beer into a small sauce pan and allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes. This removes about 80-90% of the alcohol content, which is important if kiddos will be enjoying your food (or anyone else who abstains from alcohol). The rest should cook out as the dip comes together and sits out; leaving you with just the acid it brings to the mouth party. You can also add a little lemon juice if you’d rather not mess with beer (try and taste-you should notice a difference but not so far that you say, ‘why is there lemon in this?’). Yes, I do feel that acid is important-not everyone will notice it’s there or appreciate it consciously but I promise, their brains do!

 
If you do this on the stove top- after you’ve simmered your beer lower the heat to medium-low and add the cream cheese and melt, then the cubed/shredded cheese and melt, and then your chili and tomatoes. Warm through.  Add your reserved juice as needed.
And for dessert I’m taking it easy and bringing brownies for brownie bowl sundaes al a mode. 
 
There’s no real recipe here. I’m making box brownies (adding in some fun caramel chips), buying some vanilla bean ice cream and calling it a day. You can go ‘super’ fun with this and add whipped cream, sprinkles, chocolate sauce, cherries, etc. but I’m tired.
 
Added bonus: if you have a group of friends who are like mine and most of you are more interested in the food and commercials rather than tackles and touchdowns-play Sports Bowl Bingo!  I found these bingo cards at Target last year and we’ll use them to create our own cards of what we’ll hear and see during the big game. Hopefully it’ll help my witty banter this year (last year I had a set list of typical sports ball things to say at random times to provide the illusion of understanding what was going on). You can also do a quick search and find free printables on-line (some filled out even!)
 
 
 

Have fun and don’t forget the antacids!

Spongy

Early in 2019 I read a book that discussed the power of willing something into the universe and to do so, you needed to be open and looking for opportunity. I’m a little skeptical of ‘willing’ something without ‘doing’ something, honestly. But I did sit  with this thought and figured out that, to me, this really means being like a sponge and allowing yourself to soak up all the things around you. It means that you are open to ideas that normally you’d say no to.  And that spoke (loudly) to me-how many opportunities have I inadvertently said no to because of some form of fear? Fear seems to play a huge part in why I may shut myself in my proverbial shell before I even begin to explore (think of a Cortney turtle, or a Cortney armadillo! What? New [scary]thing? Nope. Zoopt. Cortney armadillo!)
 
I recognize there are people out there that have minimal to no fear factor and just fly blindly into new adventures but alas, I am not (yet) one of them. That’s not to say I don’t push my comfort zones from time to time but when I read How to Be a Badass last year I was in a place mentally that I could recognize just how easy it is to make excuses to stay nice and cozy in my comfort—and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I don’t want to let opportunities pass me by that ultimately, could be something magical. Or at least worthwhile. 
 
 So, I spent 2019 saying yes to anything that I did not have a valid reason to say no to. If my ‘no’ was because I was afraid, it was not a suitable rationale for me-only logical ‘no’s’ allowed.
 
 I had to first recognize just how often I ‘nope-d’ an idea before it even had roots.  It took a lot of work to  recognize those nopes! Once I could catch myself I could ask myself why. Why do I automatically want to say no to this? That was an eye-opening experience in itself that challenged me to have several heart-to-hearts with my own insecurities. “Well inner me, I don’t want to be embarrassed!” “And I don’t want to let people down!” Yeah, and recognizing where those fears generate from? Let’s just say this ‘not saying no’ thing was a rabbit hole of self-discovery.
 
Okay. So that’s all dandy but…how did I keep this up for an entire year? This sounds hard (IT IS) and like many Big Deals…something that could easily just be passed along after the book was finished.

I’m a visual person so I knew I needed a reminder to keep me open to opportunities and searching for things to ‘soak up’ whatever 2019 had to offer me. I  needed some sort of talisman to remind me to not automatically say no to those hard feelings- and enter…Spongy.
 
 
 
Spongy is a centimeter cube piece of (unused) kitchen sponge that I have carried with me every day. It’s green and is always in my purse or pocket.  Spongy is responsible for several major things I did in 2019 including:
  • Applying and accepting an adjunct instructor position (I also had Spongy in my pocket my first day instructing)
  • Taking up tap dancing (Spongy was in my bag, silently cheering me on during my recital)
  • Making and fostering several new friendships
  • Several random adventures (like going to Chicago on the hottest day of the year to stand in line for cookies… I could have used Spongy for a different purpose that day but it remained in my bag)
  • Blogging more with the high hopes that what I share can help others
  • Reaching out to have a few hard conversations with others that I had put off because, well, they were hard.
Some of the things Spongy brought into my life seem nuanced now. There are things that were ‘minor’ in the grand scheme of a year but being able to say yes more than saying no really created a year that I’m proud of. Spongy has helped keep me honest in my intention to grow and curate a life worthy of living. Sometimes it means mentally (okay, sometimes physically) running with reckless abandon into The Scary/Tough/Unknown thing but sometimes it actually means sitting back with my thoughts and working through them rather than pushing them aside and saying “no, I don’t want to think about that”. There have been tears. I think there may have been some cursing a kitchen sponge involved too-but ultimately Spongy has been the mascot I didn’t know I needed in life. Spongy and I will be working on balancing out some of the new from 2019 as we move into 2020 but I have no doubt we’ll continue to see new adventures together.
 
Have courage to suck at new things, friends. We’re all in this together-and I’m happy to provide you with a Spongy of your own if you need it. <3

October-December Reads Welcome to the New Year!

One of my favorite ornaments-books tied with twine.



Well, here are are! We made it through the odd 2019 (I have a theory that odd numbered years are far less superior to even ones) and we’re roaring (hah) right into 2020! I’ve spent the last two weeks being unsure of what day it was and forgetting what a vegetable is and can honestly say I’m ready for routine to start again. The Christmas tree is gone, ideas for the new year formulated, and I’m ready to run into January full of anxiety and hope!

I finished the quarter logging fewer titles but still about the same amount of hours read. Why? Because the first book up is a doozy. On paper I believe it’s around 750 pages, in audio it’s about 31 hours. Most of the books I read are somewhere between 5-8 hours and I can usually get through them in a week, so this book took most of the month of October to finish. (Also, mid-October to, well, yesterday? was pretty hectic and brain-frazzle-y so finishing anything was a feat.)

37. The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt (contemporary fiction)- This is a book divided- people have either loved it or hated it (I have found few in between). I ultimately enjoyed this book a lot. Yes, it has been made into a film recently (I haven’t watched it yet but I’ve heard that it didn’t translate well despite what I consider a solid cast). Some have compared this to works of Dickenson, it reminded me of Go Ask Alice– a story of a young person who becomes lost in a world they were thrown into by circumstances beyond their control. By the end of the book I can’t say I particularly liked any of the characters (except one-if you’ve read it feel free to take a guess) but I enjoyed the writing. B

38. Red, White, and Royal Blue, Casey McQuiston (teen LGBTQI+ romance?)- I needed a palette cleanser after #37 and this book was a ‘new to audio’ selection. It was a fantastic mix of humor and predicament! The characters were charming and like many, I too wished that parts of this story were real life. If you’re looking for a quick read, this is a good one. A

39.Before We Were Yours, Lisa Wingate (historical fiction)- And right back into some serious stuff, oops. This book takes a fictional look at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage that ran for the first half of the 20thcentury under practices that were just deplorable. (Sidenote, I’m preparing to teach a course on child welfare so this book hit me right in the feels.) Before We Were Yours was a heart-wrenching tale of what can be assumed as reality for far too many children who lived through the broken and corrupt tactics of child laundering. This book broke my heart with some saving grace-resiliency is a hell of a thing. A

40. Unfuck Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life, Gary John Bishop (self-help)Quick read with some nice reminders that waiting around to ‘feel like’ doing the thing is a waste of time. Waiting to feel motivated/creative/energized/ ready is a fallacy, so just suck it up and start. A

41. Waiting for Tom Hanks, Kerry Winfrey (nonfiction romance)- It’s really easy to accidentally read romance novels, ya’ll. I don’t fancy myself a romance novel ‘fan’ but I will say that they are good reads in between harder ones. Shrug. I chose this book because of the title (I can feel your judgment!) and it was a cute story. Was it groundbreaking? No. Did it have flaws? Yes. Was I able to escape into a rom-com and ignore my kitchen being unusable for two weeks? Absolutely.  So it did the job. B

42. Everything is Fucked: A Book About Hope, Mark Manson (self help)-I adored this book because it aligned well with my own personal philosophy on life. Manson made sense of some thoughts I’ve had lingering for a while and I found myself talking back to the book (“EXACTLY”, “OMG THAT’S IT!”, “THANK YOU” may have been yelled). However, this book pushes past Nihilism to look meaningfully at life in the most objectively way possible. Two side notes: if you are not in a place to look at life and question things, this may not be for you. I suggested it to a friend who said it was a difficult read (it can make you question things, so know your own headspace when going in) and two-if you follow Manson’s blog I’ve read that this book is more or less a collection of blog posts strung together. A

43. White Fragility,Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, Robin DiAngelo (nonfiction badassbook)- This book tore me down in a way that we* should all be torn down. To realize privilege past the obvious is hard-but necessary. I highly suggest everyone* read this and sit with the uncomfortable feelings it’ll bring up and then ask; Why? How? Now what? A+
*white people

44. Conversations with Friends, Sally Rooney (contemporary fiction)- A comment on Goodreads, “Conversations with Friends is another one of those books about not particularly nice people entangled in awkward relationships.”  It wasn’t the worst book, it was not the greatest book. It kept my attention just enough that I didn’t roll my eyes. C

45.The Witches are Coming, Lindy West (nonfiction, essays, badassbook)- I have been waiting for this book since the second I finished Shrill last year and it’s incredibly fitting that this was my last book of 2019 and that it was #45. I felt heartbroken and empowered throughout this book and reminded of the long road ahead, and the long road behind. The witches are definitely coming. A+

15 books over my goal-happy dance!! For 2020 I’m going to try and hit 50. I also want to try and find a list similar to thisthat pushes me to be more mindful about different genres. There are some I really don’t care for (mystery/thriller, true crime, basically anything that leaves me feeling anxious) but I do want to continue to experience others point of view. And I’m always open to suggestions!

A thought: I recently read that finishing a book just to finish it is a waste of time and that more seasoned readers practice a page 50 rule. Page 50 rule means that if you’re not engaged by page 50 and feel yourself wanting to quit-quit.  I have only found myself wanting to truly quit one book in the last year while others I wanted to finish just to see if it got better. To me, having any sort of drive is worth finishing the book but I am giving myself permission to ’50’ a book this year.

In 2020 we should have a new Jenny Lawson book and I can’t wait! Hopefully her book store in San Antonio will open as well so I can go and bask in the glory that is this very large cat.

Favorite books in 2019: In no particular order (these can usually be noted by an ‘A+’ review, these are the books I’d recommend to anyone who asked):
  • White Fragility
  • Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered
  • Good Omens
  • Shrill
  • Becoming
  • The Hate U Give
  • Lean In
  • Everything is Fucked
  • You Are a Badass

Cheers! Wishing you all a year full of equal amounts excitement and contentment mixed with growth and rest.

Tappa, Tappa, Tappa

Growing up I always wanted to take a dance class. I had two cousins who did and I remember practicing routines with them and going their recitals to watch with wonder (and maybe a little jealousy). In high school instead of traditional gym class I took dance-which was fun-but it wasn’t the quite the same.
For the last several years I have tried to take some class through our local park district. One year it was acrylic painting (and realized I probably should take drawing too), ceramics (pottery wheels are hard), and this year I decided to live out my childhood dream of taking a dance class.
 Our park district offers a “Beginning Adult Tap Class” that is for people 18 years and older, so my fear of being Billy Madison was relieved. I signed up, bought some tap shoes off of Amazon, and prepared myself for the great unknown.
The first class came and it was a doozy. It was definitely an adult tap class-I am the youngest person in the class by some years (and most of them are retirees).  I was amazed at how good everyone was for a beginner and being one of the only two new students to the ‘beginning’ class I stood out like a sore thumb. I was so far outside of my comfort zone that I wasn’t sure if I would really show up again the next week.
But I did, and have, shown up to every class since we started in September. Every Tuesday night I tell D that I don’t want to go, then I go, and I come back in a much better mood. I tend to really enjoy a buddy when I am reaching out of my comfort zone and this was one of the few times I had to go out completely unassisted. After a couple conversations with internal me about allowing myself to feel awkward (which sucks, let’s be honest. That’s why we push it away.) I slowly became open to the experience and I have to say, it’s been a fun one!
So fun in fact, that this week I get to live out one of my childhood dreams of having a recital! In a costume! In front of friends! (okay, I’m a little embarrassed by this, but I’m trying to embrace the experience.)
For some things, it’s never too late to try but it sure can be super uncomfortable to do so. When people found out that I signed up for tap classes I was overwhelmed by how many people said it was ‘awesome’ and that they ‘could never do something like that.’  And while hearing that made me feel a lot of things it also made me recognize my own growth. Being able to push past fear or insecurity (and have a lot of humility, because I am no Eleanor Powell here) is something I’ve been working on and maybe, I’m making progress?
Funny thing progress is-because it’s not like I feel less insecure or braver doing things outside of my comfort zone-I’m just starting to build up confidence that the juice really is worth the squeeze. The hardest part is facing the thoughts that creep in my head and being rational about with what is really going on versus the very loud internal dialogue that’s trying to ‘protect’ me from those uncomfortable situations-think the mom in Carrie here, you know, ‘they’re all going to laugh at you!’? That’s basically what your safety brain is doing and your trying to be Carrie and be all ‘I can do this AND I have magical powers that if someone laughs I’ll burn this whole place down! Okay, don’t go that far, but it’s a good analogy!  For me that’s the key to tapping into (hah) new adventures (not the burning down things, the pointing out my irrational Carrie’s mom I-just-want-to-keep-you-safe thoughts. Again, no telekinesis here.).
Is there anything in your life that you’ve wanted to do for a long time but just haven’t been able to-yet? Sometimes asking yourself what is standing in your way can surface some hard stuff, and I honor just how difficult and long that process can take. You may have to sit with things that are uncomfortable and you might have to wrestle with some unruly beasts but at the end of the day you have to ask yourself if your proverbial juice is worth squeezing.
Halloween Tap Dancing Hot Dog!

Grandma’s Noodles

I have several friends who love food and cooking just as much as I do. They are creative people who have brilliant ideas for dishes and a penchant for finding The Best recipe for whatever food you may fancy. When we talk about food recipes we tend to share websites or screen shots so that we can chat about what we may improve or try.  But often, we come back to the tried tales of dinner’s past. Our hearts and our stomachs pull us back through time until we’re standing in our grandmother’s kitchens stirring bowls or more likely, licking spoons. We see our grandmother’s looking at a 3 x 5 index card, or a worn notebook-not a website to be bookmarked later. “Here’s my grandma’s recipe, but I don’t know what she does to make it so good.”


Food is a hot topic with the holidays coming up and we’ve started to discuss what we’ll be making to feed our loved ones. Some of us now carry the torch of hosting, while others are still just junior executives in the kitchen. I am still  the latter and am entirely grateful that my grandma insists on getting up very early on the holidays and making two of my all-time favorite foods: noodles and pecan pie.

Let me explain noodles. You know how some dishes are region specific? Well, noodles seem to be one of those things that when I talk about them with folks from outside the Midwest I get a ‘what.are.you.doing.’ response. (On further investigation noodles on top of mashed potatoes may also be a thing in Amish communities, so I’m assuming this goes back to carbo-loading farmers. And some people add peas?!) These are not chicken and noodles, although they’re cooked in chicken broth and have chicken in them. It is not chicken noodle soup. 

These noodles are salt*, water*, egg* and flour* with a little yellow food coloring*, brought together and kneaded a little*, rolled out to the edges of the table*, cut, and added to chicken stock. You get the chicken stock by boiling an entire chicken until cooked. Add the noodles and pull the meat from the chicken to add back in. Put in that* crock pot on low and let them go to town until time to serve. Finished they sit in almost gravy, and they will congeal when they get cold.

That’s my grandma’s recipe. Those asterisks are things that I cannot define on my own.  This summer I spent a few hours with my grandma trying to transcribe what exactly makes her noodles, noodles. I now have two pages full of a recipe plus technique and know the history to the mixing bowls that she has used for 60+ years to make them.  I know that I will never be able to replicate Grandma’s Noodles and there is no website, no food blogger, or Michelin rated chef that could ever reproduce them. Objectively-they may not even be that great but they are my grandma’s noodles and the feed more than just my belly. The hands that execute the love into those noodles cannot be purchased at a local super market and that’s why I can’t just simply share her recipe and ensure that it’s The Noodles. (She broke my heart when she told me she adds a little yellow food coloring to brighten them up but I would have never thought to do that on my own.)

Oh, and you have to serve them on top of mashed potatoes. It’s a thing, it’s delicious, and if you know, you know.

(I won’t even get into the pie crust recipe. Grandmas make everything look so easy.)

In our world of access, what is being lost in the cracks? I recently came across this article that put into words my feelings about needing to capture the culinary history of my family (and perked my interest in some new careers, gastronomy program, anyone?) Not only is there something so important about having the food of our loved ones live on, there’s something to having it written down, in their own words-with all the little extra tid bits to help us long after we can’t ask them questions. Many food bloggers replicate this by adding story and answering comment feedback creating an electronic recipe box for many-but what about that index card I mentioned earlier that tells you what aisle grandma finds the ‘good’ brand of something? There much more to these cards- family stories, personal memories, it’s our way to find home again when you can’t go back.


I have a recipe box. It’s not full but it does have actual cards written by family members. My grandma’s salad dressing that I love, a friend’s Thanksgiving stuffing that I got sick of asking her for every year and finally wrote down, and some from our engagement party where we asked all the guests to bring a family recipe to share with the soon-to-be wedded couple.  The connection to those cards means the world to me and I’m going to make more of an effort to actually write down and use the recipes. I want to keep up the tradition of handing out actual cards rather than weblinks so that someday, my great nieces or nephews may lament over my cookie recipe-but still have access to it.

“You Read A Lot” Reading List July-September 2019

Recently someone said this about me. Someone actually said I, Cortney, read ‘a lot’. It made my day!

24. The Sun is Also a Star, Nicola Yoon (young adult fiction)-  This was a quick read about two teenagers whose lives collide in a beautiful but difficult way.  Young adult is really talking about some true life issues nowadays, not just teen romance and I appreciate it. B.

25. Scrappy Little Nobody, Anna Kendrick (autobiography)- I like Anna Kendrick and her story is just as endearing as she is. I wish we could be friends because I think she’s hilarious! A.

26.  Girl, Stop Apologizing, Rachel Hollis (self-help?)- I know. I knooooow. “Cortney, didn’t you h-a-t-e her last book?” Yes. I did. Has that changed? No. But she has such a following and so many people share their life-changing moments because of Hollis that I went ahead and gave this book a go and I will say I found at least a third of it not completely cringe-worthy. It wasn’t as plagiarized (kudos) but still drippy with privilege (however, she did somewhat (?) acknowledge this?) I did have moments of feeling ‘energized’ but that could have also been the coffee. C.

27. Good Omens,Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (science fiction?)- I decided to read this after the mini-series aired on Amazon Prime earlier this year and I loved it! (The cast was so good! My main man played the voice of God and that was enough to get my buy in.) I was pleasantly surprised that there was very few deviations from the book! I have heard that the other books in this series (I guess it’s a series) aren’t as grand, but I adored this one. A+.

28. Normal People, Sally Rooney (coming-of-age fiction)- The title doesn’t lie here, folks. It’s a love-ish story about star-crossed lovers who live somewhat normal lives? I think I read this based from a review in a magazine. It was fine, I didn’t care for either lead character but their development was solid. B.

29. Of Mess and Moxie, Jen Hatmaker (autobiography)- I chose this book based on the title and had no idea who Jen Hatmaker was. (Yeah, I often mean to actually look up these books/writers before I read them but then forget and just start the book.) Hatmaker is apparently kind of famous and has written multiple books and several are probably not my cup of tea (she seemed to have an a-ha moment at some point) I really enjoyed this book. I appreciated the honesty Hatmaker brought forth about privilege and the humor of being humble. A.

30. Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens (coming-of-age fiction)- I definitely didn’t know what to expect here and I wasn’t that impressed with it until about halfway through and then I was enthralled. Give it a go and give it time. A.

31. The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah (historical fiction)- This book stuck with me for several days after I finished it and while not an true account of anyone’s life it definitely had glints into what was possible in the lives of those living in Nazi-occupied France during WWII. The story itself is heartbreaking and will make you think about parts of war that you may never have dreamt of (if you’ve never lived in an occupied country). Hannah makes you think about the word hero and how complex that word really is. A.

32. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts., Brene Brown (professional development/self-helf)- I love this book. I love this notion. I love the idea that if we allow ourselves to become vulnerable the better people we can be-not just for ourselves but for everyone around us. I’m excited to read all of her works and tell everyone I know about it. Actually, if you have 3 minutes and want to learn something that will help you continue to be an awesome human, check out this little video based off one of Brown’s TED talks regarding empathy. A.

33. Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered : The Definitive How-To Guide, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark (nonfiction)-Okay, confession time: because I use most of my time to listen to audio files listening to books, I don’t get a whole lot of time to listen to podcasts so…I’veneverlistenedtomyfavoritemurderIAMSORRY. Whew. Now that I got that out  I can say that I checked out this book because so many people were raving about it and it’s NOT really about true crime (okay there’s somecrime in it) but really it’s a collection of stories from Kilgariff and Hardstark’s lives and includes one of my favorite topics-making new friends with people who are just as weird as us! Adored it, adding it to my list of books to read when I need a pick me up (currently on that shelf are Jenny Lawson’s books Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy, BJ Novak’s One More Thing, and Tom Hanks’ Uncommon Type: Some Stories). A+

34. Daring Greatly, Brene Brown (professional development)- So someone told me that given that I had read Dare to Lead before Daring Greatly, I may not be as impressed. They were right.  Daring Greatly offered some insight to back stories that I didn’t know however and I still benefited from this work. If you want to read one or the other, I suggest Dare to Lead. B.

35. Five Feet Apart, Rachael Lippincott (young adult fiction)- I wanted to read this before I watched the movie and I am interested in this story because my friend who has CF wrote about how it contrasts and compares to real life with CF. (You should also check out my friend because she’s awesome.) I enjoyed the story, I cried a few tears, I was reminded to get my flu shot to ensure that others around me stay healthy. A.

36. Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life, Annie Spence (nonfiction, humor)- This book is a great way to remember books you haven’t read in a long time, or to get some new recommendations. Peppered with humor and a great reminder of how important stories are to humanity. A.

I have surpassed my goal already this year! Confetti time!  The book I’m currently reading is quite long, so we’ll see how close I end up to 50 by 2020. Have you read any of these? What are you reading now?