Saturday, April 16, 2011

Career Awesomeness!

I love my job.  Plain and simple :0)  I will complain, feel stressed, vent, and probably sound like a whiny baby, but I love it still.  Just to explain a little about my job, I am the Assistant Supervisor of a group home for disabled adults.  I came into this work thinking that I would be able to teach the people I work with lots of things, and while that is true, it is more true that they have taught me.  The two biggest things that they have taught me are to slow down/have patience, and that there are many many ways of getting things done.  Or I should just say, everything doesn't have to be done my way :0)  I can be a bit of a control freak about things that don't really matter.  For example, my husband is loading the dishwasher, and I desperately feel the need to "correct" him because he is not loading it the "right" way, lol.  What I should be doing is kicking back and thinking how wonderful it is that my husband is doing the dishes.  And although Jeremy may say that I am still a control freak, lol, I think I have made big strides in changing this about myself!!  These guys have taught me that what matters is the end result, not the process. The process can and has to be different for everyone.  The point of my gushy little work blog is to celebrate the fact that we recently had a state licensing audit.  It gets pretty stressful, going over an entire years worth of work, and watching the state comb through it.  Yikes.  But, I am overjoyed to report that we had no citations.  NONE!!!  That is not something that happens very often, and it is definately a first for me! I have been through audits many times before as a counselor, but this was the first time as part of the administration team. It's one thing to be responsible for your own work, but quite another to be responsible for the work of others as well. Working in a group home is a team effort to the max.  I can't say that we are perfect and that there aren't things that we are working on changing, but I can say that as far as the audit is concerned, we were perfect :0)  And that makes me EXTREMELY proud to be part of that team!!!!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Making my own Ricotta!

I fully understand that making my own ricotta cheese on a saturday night should not be the highlight of my week, LOL.  With that said, I had alot of fun doing it, so who cares if I am one of the most boring people in the world!!!!  What is important in my life is to make myself as drama free as possible :0) 

The ingredient list is surprisingly small and the process is actually extremely simple!  So here we go... 

8 cups Whole Milk, 1 cup Half & Half, 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt, 1/4 cup lemon juice
You will also need a large nonreactive pan, candy thermometer, cheese cloth, strainer

Line the inside of the strainer with a rinsed cheesecloth and set over a large bowl. Rinse the inside of your pan with water, then clip candy thermometer to the side.  Add milk, half & half, and salt.  Over medium high heat, bring the milk up to 180 degrees, stirring occasionally.  This should take about 15 minutes.  When it reaches the right temperature, turn heat down to medium low.  Gradually add lemon juice and gently stir for about one minute or until small curds form.  Remove from heat and strain through the cheesecloth.  Allow to drain at room temperature for 1 hour, then take cheesecloth and cheese out of strainer.  Twist top of cloth to further drain ricotta. Put in an airtight container and refrigerate. 

1.Bringing the milk, half & half, and salt up to 180 degrees.

2.Lemon juice added and the curds are formed.

3. Poured through the strainer

4. Draining at room temperature.

5. Twisting cheesecloth around cheese.



My favorite way to eat fresh ricotta.  Spread it on some fresh bread, a little bit of salt and pepper, some sliced tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil.  Yummy :0) The only thing it is missing is fresh basil.  I can't wait to have basil growing on my deck again this summer. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cheesecake cures boredom!

I am supremely bored tonight.  So, why not cook and stuff my face with homemade cheesecake?  I'm not usually a baker, but tonight I decided I couldn't live without cheesecake. So I took down a cookbook that I have not used yet.  I got this cookbook from one of the hundreds and hundreds of books that were in the HUGE garage sale that Karen B. had. 
I am not sure who actually bought or owned the cookbook, but I am guessing that it was either Karen's or Aunt Fran's!  

First step is the crust.  I am extremely conflicted about the crust part of this cheesecake.  Normally I am not a crust girl, unless it is my Mom's pie crust or a good east coast pizza crust.  I always wonder what the point to a crust on cheesecake is when the good stuff is on the inside.  But, thats what the recipe calls for, so I'm going for it. And it has an entire stick of butter in the crust.  Nothing can be wrong with that, LOL!
Then comes the cinnamon graham crackers and sugar.  I really need to get a food processor, but I never seem to justify spending money on it when my hand crank tupperware one works just fine! 
The recipe said to cover the bottom and sides of the pan with the graham cracker crust.  I am compromising since I usually don't like crust and doing the bottom and a little bit of the sides. 
 Now comes the best part of cheesecake.  CHEESE!!!!  Look at all that cream cheese and sugar, no wonder this is my favorite cake! I have always said I can live off of cheese and bread alone!
Into the oven it goes.  I think I lost all of my heat taking this picture though, so I'm sure that I will have to add a few minutes cooking time.
Disaster Averted.  I am sitting on the computer and Jeremy asks me if my cheesecake is burning.  I say of course not.  Not only because I don't burn things, haha, but because it had only been in for ten minutes. Okay, so maybe I have burned things before.  But, it doesn't happen often, and it is usually myself and not the food :0)  I have a little cold, so I can't smell much of anything.  I am glad he said something though because the butter was dripping through the springform pan and onto the bottom of the oven, smoking, of course. So had to open the oven take out the grate and wipe off the bottom of the oven, then put a pan under the cheesecake.  I am GRATEFUL the fire alarm didn't go off!!!  But, there went more of my oven heat :0(.  Definately going to have to add cooking time.
Now for the second controversy of this cheesecake recipe.  It has a sour cream topping.  Now I have nothing against sour cream.  But, once again, I don't see the point of topping such yummy cheese with sour cream!!   But, thats the recipe so here I go.  The topping is a mixture of sour cream, sugar, and almond extract. It gets added to the top after baking, then baked again for ten minutes.
I have to say that I dipped my finger into the topping and really did enjoy the taste of the almond.  I'm really interested to taste it all together.  I may convert to being a fan of cheesecake toppings, but I think I will still prefer no crust.  So the cheesecake is now cooling in the fridge!!!!   The only question I have is..........

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Okay, here I go.

So, I am not sure about whether I will enjoy actually blogging.  I became a member because I wanted to follow "The House on the Hill".  I love reading Kathy's blogs :0) 

Now for the real problem.  I don't think that I have enough going on in my life to actually blog about. I work, cook, read, watch TV, listen to music, play with my dog, and spend time with my husband.  Although I have kind of taken a break from my guitar, I love playing it.  None of which makes great copy!

For now, I guess I will start by saying that I grew up in Long Point, IL.  I still love that little town and miss the simplicity and familiarity.  I went to Woodland High School, then to Dominican University in River Forest.  I majored in Sociology/Criminology.  After college, I married my high school sweetheart and love of my life, Jeremy.  Although we have been married for just 5 years, we have been dating since I was 15.  I have been with him for over half my life.  I remember telling him in 8th grade that we were going to get married.  He laughed and told me I was crazy for thinking that, we are only in 8th grade, lol.  Anyone that really knows me, knows that he basically challenged me to marry him that night :0)  And I am thankful every day that he set my stubborn crazy head on that course.  

July 23, 2005
Jeremy's job then handed us a surprise.  We packed up and moved 14 hours away to New Jersey.  Now I am working as an Assistant Supervisor in a group home for disabled adults.  I could talk about how much I love this job for far too long, so I will move on.  Will have to do another blog on my job.

This is the farthest either of us has been from family in our lifetimes.  I do have to say that I love it here, but its hard not to get lonely too.  There is definately never a shortage of things to do.  Close to the beach, the mountains, and the city.  The only way it could get better is if I could share this with family!

I remind myself all the time that I am so lucky to be part of such a large family.  Not everyone has that experience and it is something I could never imagine going without.  Even though we are scattered, I am still luckier than most.

So, I think that is me in a nutshell, sortof.