Friday, August 30, 2013

Acts of Kindness Too

Today it’s my pleasure to post the second installment in the Acts of Kindness series.

In July I received a phone call from a woman who had found my son’s wallet and wanted to be sure we got it back intact. After posting about it on FB, people started telling me their own stories of acts of kindness they’ve experienced. I knew these stories needed to be told. So I asked for submissions and got so many I had to break them out into three separate posts. This is the second one. If you missed the first one, it’s here: Acts of Kindness Series.

Acts of kindness - bakinginatornado.com

Here are more of the stories submitted to me. Again, in their own words:

~In December of 2009 my father passed away. I flew to California to be with him, only hours before he passed, and was alone the entire three days in LA taking care of his burial details. I am a country girl, raised in an extremely small town, so this was a horrifying experience for me being alone in the city, especially dealing with my dad’s passing. On my last flight back to Savannah, it was late, and a very small plane. The stewardess came through with the beverage cart and there was a man sitting a few seats in front of me who asked for a beer. He was unable to get one because they only accepted credit cards and he apparently only had cash. At this point, beer sounded pretty darn good to me, so when she go to me I ordered one and asked her to give the man a beer too. She kept asking me if I was sure I wanted to do that and I told her most definitely. She gave the man his beer, told him it was from me and he then attempted to give me cash. I refused his cash, of course, and just told him to enjoy his beer.
Our plane landed and when I got off the man was standing waiting for me. He, once again, attempted to pay me. I again refused. I explained to him that my father had just passed away and I felt that it would have been something he would do, so not to worry about it. Now mind you, this man was older, it was two days before Christmas and, I kid you not, he looked like Santa Clause! He explained to me that his mother had just passed away and he was traveling to Savannah to take care of the funeral arrangements. We exchanged “I’m sorries”, and he one last time tried to pay for his beer. I told him no, just to take care and be safe. He asked me if I had children and I replied yes. He then told me if I wouldn’t take the money for the beer then to get my kids something for Christmas from him and slid something into the pocket of my carry-on and walked away.
A friend of mine was waiting to pick me up at the airport and I proceeded to tell him the story of the man that looked like Santa and the beer. He was like, what did he give you? I said I didn’t know, I hadn’t looked. He was eager to know so I reached into my carry-on and grabbed out what the man had given me. It was a $100 bill. My mouth hit the floor! Of course I could not accept this gift! $100 for an overpriced $8 beer on the plane?!? No way. Well, as late as it was, the airport was pretty empty. I was standing at the baggage claim and looked everywhere for this man. He literally vanished! Needless to say the kids got a very special present from “Santa” for Christmas and, in tradition, they get a special gift from him every year now.
Shelley Jackson

~My husband was home for R&R during his 2nd deployment. We went out to this little restaurant to enjoy his last night before he was to be sent back. A couple was sitting beside us and were talking about our kids and just enjoying talking to them. Asked my husband if he was military. It’s a big military town where we were at the time and he said “yes I’m home for R&R, I go back tomorrow”. We all ate and talked and then we asked for our check. The waitress came and said it was already paid for. And the couple said they paid for it. They told us to enjoy his last night and they wanted to thank him for his service. It was really nice that they did that.
Cassandra Meadows writes @ Dates 2 Diapers

Chocolate Confetti Cheesecake Bars | www.BakingInATornado.com

Chocolate Confetti Cheesecake Bars

~When my Son was about 6 months old, I went to a different Walmart than usual to pick up some formula. When I got to the register, they told me that they didn’t accept WIC there. Seeing as I didn’t have enough cash to cover it, I was going to put it back and leave. The lady behind me in line said “Let me pay for it”. I said that I couldn’t possibly let her do that because it was too much money. She said “you need it, right? I want to buy it for you. Just pass the favor on to someone else someday.” And she bought me $60 worth of formula. I actually cried in the middle of the store, I couldn’t believe how kind she was!!
Tasha writes @ Patience Juice

~After finding out a woman who had recently lost her husband at 42 with no life insurance needed her electric bill paid, I did it because I have been very blessed. I did not identify myself and I received a peace that is so hard to explain. Random acts can be just a smile or a hand up but I believe you receive more than they do. I hope everyone will try it. How wonderful our lives would be!
Author wishes to remain anonymous

As with the last post I want to mention what a pleasure it’s been to collect and publish these stories.

Bakinginatornado.com


Chocolate Confetti Cheesecake Bars
                                                                        
©www.BakingInATornado.com
                                                

Printable Recipe
 
Ingredients:
1 stick butter, melted
1 ¾ cups flour
1 cup sugar
¼ cup baking cocoa
½ cup toffee bits
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2TBSP multicolored nonpareils
2 TBSP multicolored sprinkles
 
Directions:
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 X 13 baking pan.
*Mix butter, flour, sugar cocoa until well blended. Add the toffee bits. Your mixture will be dry and crumbly.
*Press 3/4 of this mixture into the prepared pan. Use a little more if you need to, but make sure you have a good bottom crust. Set the rest of the mixture aside.
*Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.
*Beat the cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, egg and vanilla. Carefully swirl in the sprinkles and nonpareils. Swirl in only twice or it will change the whole color of the batter instead of swirling into the batter. Pour over cooled crust.
*Sprinkle with the other half of the crust mixture.
*Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the center is set.
*Cool before cutting. Store in the fridge.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Daily Meal

Look up. No, not at the ceiling. Not at the sky either. At the top of my blog. Notice anything different? Something that looks like this:

The Daily Meal

It was a gift, a new hat. I was offered either a hat or footwear and I chose the hat. After all, I’ve got plenty of shoes. Wait, did I just say that? Whatever, I chose the hat. I actually asked if they had anything in blue, you know, to go with the color scheme of my page a little better. In retrospect I guess that was a little rude?

Despite the little color snaffoo, I’m happy to have this new accessory and I’d like to tell you about it and why it’s there.

Let me start by saying that bloggers get emails couched as offers very often. The senders are creative in hiding their motives, but once you read between the lines, they’re mostly companies willing to do me the favor of putting a link to their web site on my blog. Or they’re willing to provide me with a guest post free of charge, which turns out to be a link filled advertisement for their product or site.

I’ve rejected each one. This is how I feel about my blog: it’s mine. The content, love it or hate it, is a reflection of me. I write or approve every word, every link, I make all my own graphics and take all my own pictures (sorry about that last one), I even approve every comment before it publishes. Control freak? OK, I’ll own it. But I don’t owe anyone anything here and no on owes me anything. That affords me the autonomy to write what I please. My blog may not have a clear identity, but it’s my identity crisis and I wear it proudly. And it’s way cheaper than therapy. And yes, I do know. Don’t ask.

BUT:
I was recently contacted by The Daily Meal, whose editorial director is Beard Award winner, Colman Andrews. They wrote to say that they look at food destinations online and “both Colman and I enjoy Baking In A Tornado. You are invited to become a member of our Culinary Content Network. Our goal at The Daily Meal is to be about all things food and drink. We realize that to do this we need to create great content AND showcase as many other wonderful articles, recipes, reviews and videos in this space as possible. That’s why we have tapped you.”

HUH?
First thought: I’m being punked, right? Because if they’re about all things food and drink, what do they want with me? I wrote back and explained why this just isn’t a good fit.

My blog posts are not about food. I write about all different aspects of my life, mostly in a sarcastic tone. I include food pictures because (cooking and) baking relieves stress for me. I add recipes because my first readers asked for them. But my recipes are more “everyday” and my posts are not foodie posts, they reflect my philosophy:
My life is not about food but is enhanced by food. And my posts are not about food but are enhanced by food.

 Grilled Marinated London Broil - bakinginatornado.com
Grilled Marinated London Broil

GUESS WHAT?
They were OK with that: You keep blogging and writing your content the way you regularly do (you know your audience) we have no requirements about how much you post. We never replicate your content on our site.  We provide either a picture with a link back to your post or a link directly to your blog. There are approximately 200+ members and the network will be closed once we reach 300 members. We are intentionally keeping the Network small and exclusive.”

They went on to explain that they showcase members, provide opportunities for promotion, offer the ability to act as their ambassadors on all-expenses-paid press trips, allow me to pin to their 17,000+ follower pinterest account and so much more.

After much back and forth, googling, checking out the web site and the reputation of those involved, refusing to do anything they ask until I reach a comfort level and STILL not scaring them off, I decided to enter into my first affiliation.

I WANT YOU TO KNOW:
This affiliation costs me nothing and pays me nothing. I remain autonomous, answering only to me.

If you want to check out the links on my new hat, I think you’ll end up on a site that you’ll really enjoy. I know I do, it reminds me of a magazine in fact. There’s food, stories, pictures, recipes, reviews and so much more. It’s an interactive site too, you can submit a recipe, a review or a story or leave a comment on something you read there. When you do head over be prepared, you could get lost there for hours. But please, at some point, come back here and tell me what you think.

Bakinginatornado.com

 Grilled Marinated London Broil
                                                                        ©www.BakingInATornado.com


Ingredients:
Top Round Steak – approximately 1 ½ inches thick and about 1 ¾ lbs.
1/3 cup soy sauce
¼ cup brown sugar
2 TBSP honey
1 TBSP hoisin sauce
¼ cup dried onions
2 cloves minced garlic
2 TBSP vegetable oil
1 tsp ginger
 
Directions:
*Mix all marinade ingredients and pour over the steak. Marinate all day or overnight.
OPT: I often make the marinade when I purchase the steak, put them both into a gallon freezer bag and freeze. I let it marinate as it defrosts the day before I’m going to serve it.
*Grill steak, turning once, on a greased grill until done according to your taste.
*Allow to rest for 5 minutes.
*Slice against the grain.



Friday, August 23, 2013

August Fly on the Wall

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 15 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

Fly on the Wall - Baking In A Tornado

When you’re done, click on the links below for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In A Tornado
Just a Little Nutty
Follow me home . . .
Stacy Sews and Schools
The Sadder But Wiser Girl
Menopausal Mother
Moore Organized Mayhem
The Insomniac's Dream
The Momisodes
Spatulas on Parade
Dates 2 Diapers
Sorry kid, Your Mom Doesn't Play Well With Others
The Rowdy Baker
Trashy Blog 
Barbara & 1923 

Welcome to Fly on the Wall, the new car edition. Anyone who follows me on FB knows that I got a new car last moth. I had a car. I loved it but it was taken away from me. You can read about it here: Make an  Appointment.

I stuck it out as long as I could, but clearly my car was not going to be returned to its rightful owner. So I finally told my husband to go out and get me a car. And he did.


Fly on the Wall - Baking In A Tornado


Me: Tell me it’s not red.
Husband: It’s red. And I’m not painting it.
Me: We already have 2 red cars, now we have 3 red cars. The neighbors are gonna think we’re nuts.
Son: Um, Mom, that ship has sailed.


Fly on the Wall - three red cars - bakinginatornado.com
Who likes red?

We go to pick up the new car and bring it home and, because I’m smart and I think ahead, I bring the spare remote control garage opener so I can get in when I get home. I drive home, pull into the driveway and, all proud of myself for thinking of it, grab the remote out of my purse. Nothing. I can’t get in. Yes, I brought the remote. Did I check the battery first? Nope.

Fly on the Wall - Baking In A Tornado

The way to set the radio stations in every new car is a little different. But I spent the time and got them all set. About a week later when I finally managed to get the car again, I’m driving and I turn on the radio. First station is not set where I had it, obviously the boys changed it. OK, on to the second and not mine. Third, fourth, fifth even sixth, not mine. They couldn’t leave me ONE stinkin’ station of my own?

Fly on the Wall - Baking In A Tornado

The car has buttons programmable to our garage doors. I sent my husband out to the garage to program the button at least for the double side of the garage. Whatever he did didn’t work. Son came home from work and the remote in his car suddenly wouldn’t open the garage door. He got out of the car and went to the keypad on the outside of the garage. That didn’t work either. I went and tried the button for that garage door in the third car and that no longer works either. So now we have 3 cars and NO ONE can get in the garage. Perfect.

Easy Cheesy Potatoes - bakinginatornado.com
Easy Cheesy Potatoes


I’m excited that I can once again run out to the store if I run out of an ingredient without checking anyone else’s schedule. So the first morning after we bring the new car home, I go out to the garage to find that my younger son has taken my new car to work. OK, I’d like to get a chance to drive it, but no big deal, I’ll take my old car.

Second day I go out to the garage to find that my younger son has taken the new car again. And my other son has taken my old car.

I go in the house, call my husband at work and say “I need a car”. I hear his phone clunk as it falls and him yelling in the background “what happened to the one I just bought you?”

Fly on the Wall - Baking In A Tornado

We had to clean out the garage to get all three cars in. My husband filled the new car (it’s an SUV) as full as he could and took a trip to the dump. He had told my younger son to take the other car to work. My son comes home and the new car is pretty dusty from the trip to the dump (which is on an unpaved road). He walks into the house, indignant:
Son: “who made such of mess of that car?”
Me: “are you all aware that it’s MYYYY car?”

Fly on the Wall - Baking In A Tornado

My neighbor saw me standing in the driveway holding keys and looking bewildered. He came over to see what was wrong. I told him I had lost a game of musical chairs, AGAIN. He looked at me like I was nuts (so my son was right). But the situation is this; when the music stops, I’m always the one standing there without a (car) seat.

Bakinginatorando.com

Easy Cheesy Potatoes
                                        ©www.BakingInATornado.com
                                                                                                                                               
 
Printable Recipe
 
Ingredients:
6 medium sized new potatoes
1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar, divided
3 pats butter
½ cup half and half, divided
Salt
Pepper
paprika
 
Directions:
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use one pat of butter to grease a 2 quart casserole dish.
*Slice all potatoes into ¼ inch slices. Put half of them into the casserole dish. Cover with half of the shredded cheddar, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
*Break one pat of butter into pieces and scatter chunks over the cheese. Pour in ¼ cup of the half and half.
*Repeat all layers. Sprinkle top with paprika. Cover tightly. If your casserole dish doesn’t have a cover, use heavy foil.
*Bake for one hour. Uncover very carefully as steam will be extremely hot.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Did She Call Me A Rodent?

There’s a new kid in town and he’s going by the name Squirrely. He’s a blogger award dreamed up by Menopausal Mother and he just showed up recently. Imagine my surprise when he dug a hole and started burying his nuts at my place. Wait, I may need to rephrase that.

Since this award is brand new and I’m in the first group to receive the  . . . um . . . honor, I believe this places me in the realm of virgin. And as such I had a lot to learn. For instance, apparently being compared to a rodent and having your “home” nut infested isn’t enough. I’m now obliged to prove myself worthy of the title of “squirrely”. Now there’s some words I never expected to use in a sentence together.

Squirrely Blogger Award

So here’s where we add embarrassment to the mix. I need to divulge 7 to 10 quirky facts about myself and then name 7 to 10 rodent-like bloggers good sports pass this award on to:

Some Quirky Facts:
*I’m super sensitive. So it might not be the best idea to . . . I don’t know . . . call me “squirrely”, for instance.

*I put everything away as soon as I’m done with it so my house is always picked up. Visitors frequently comment on how clean my house is. Just so you know, neat is not necessarily clean. Ha, fooled ya.

*I stopped my subscription to the daily newspaper because I was spending too much time correcting the grammar and spelling in my head.  And I just don’t need the extra work.

*I secretly find joy in pretending I’m sleeping when I know my kids are going to nag me about something I’ve already said “no” to. Of course now my kids go around telling everyone that all I do is sleep.

*It’s just not a Red Sox game unless I’m screaming at the TV.

*If you can’t throw it on the grill, I’ll rarely cook it in the summer. I’ve even been known to make my husband shovel the deck so I can use the grill in the winter. I say that this is quirky, but it’s really evil genius. ‘Cause I do the dishes but my husband cleans the grill.

Grilled Cuban Chicken - bakinginatornado.com
Grilled Citrus Chicken

*When I know something and my kids can’t figure out how I know it, I tell them I have ESPN. Because I want to insinuate that I have ESP, but I don’t have ESP, and I do have ESPN and I wouldn’t want to lie.

*I can’t wear clothes. Well, I can wear some clothes, but most things feel “itchy” to me. I can mostly only wear cotton and nylon shirts. I can’t wear any sweaters unless I wear a shirt under them. So if you gifted me a sweater and I don’t wear it, it’s not that I don’t like your gift, it's just that the thought of wearing it makes me shudder.

The 7 bloggers who will never speak to me again because I’m publicly calling them squirrely:


Addendum: Because life can sometimes be ironic, just as I had finished this post I got a new award from Karen of Dinosaur Superhero Mommy. Oh how this award fits in with the Squirrely Award. Because this one has me saying some more words I never thought would end up in a sentence together: Thanks for the boob, Karen.

Side Boob Award | featured on www.BakingInATornado.com


I'm passing this one on to only one person. I think it's fitting that I hand this boob to the woman who thinks I'm squirrely, Menopausal Mother. Take that! No, literally, take it and then please tell me that I didn't just put a boob on my blog.

As always, I have my own rules for tagging: play along if you like but being tagged is a compliment not an obligation.

Bakinginatornado.com

Grilled Citrus Chicken
                                                                     
©www.BakingInATornado.com
 
Printable Recipe
 
Ingredients:
4 bone in, skin on chicken breasts
¼ cup lime juice
½ cup orange juice
¼ cup lemon juice
1 clove minced garlic
2 TBSP vegetable oil
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp  coriander
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp chili powder
Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste (just a sprinkle)
 
Directions:
*Mix all marinade ingredients together and marinate for at least 4 hours and up to a day.
*Grill for about 20 minutes per side or until the juices run clear.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Take 2 – August Secret Subject Swap

Welcome to another Secret Subject Swap. This week 13 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Secret Subject Swap - Bakinginatornado.com

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado
Dawn's Disaster
Black Sheep Mom
Indian American Mom
Home on Deranged
Coach Daddy
Just A Little Nutty (Guest Post)
It's Yummilicious
Dates 2 Diapers
Rocks, No Salt Mommy
Crazy As Normal
IBD, Daddy and Me! 
That Suburban Momma 


My subject is: If you were on the show WIFE SWAP. what rules would you incorporate? It was submitted by: Dates 2 Diapers. Here goes:

I’m not really sure if the intent was for me to list the rules I’d leave for the woman cursed with living with visiting my family, or the rules I might bring to the house where I was vacationing imparting my wisdom. Since I don’t know anything about the situation I’d be entering in this scenario and what they may benefit from, I’m going to share what I might leave behind for the sucker stuck here other participating wife to follow.

Dear Wife Swap Victim Swapper:
Welcome to my home. I hope you’re happy and comfortable during your stay here. But don’t get too comfortable, you’ve got a whole lot of work to do. I fully expect you to live up to your part of this deal and whip this family into shape.

I know that for the first part of your time here you’re supposed to follow my rules. But this family is challenging independent, so I’m going to try to keep the rules to a minimum because you’re going to need all the time you can get for working your own magic. The last few are rules, but let’s start with some helpful recommendations:

*If you want to eat anything while you’re here, I recommend you hide it. Really well.
*Same with car keys. If you want to go anywhere you’ll need to hide those as well.
*If the kids are out somewhere and you want to talk to them, you’ll need to text them. They are unaware of what that sound is that the phone makes and don’t know that they can actually answer it and talk to people.
*If you ask the boys to clean their rooms and they say they’re clean, I recommend you actually look. I would not recommend entering, however, even if your tetanus shots are up to date.
*You’ll save yourself a lot of aggravation if you think of the boys’ curfew like a baby’s due date. They may come early, they may come late, but the chances that they’ll come when you expect them are pretty non-existent.
 *When it comes to meals, chances are unless you’re making Pizza or Burgers they won’t like what you make. You can take it personally or not, up to you, but there it is.
*Familiarize yourself with the bar in the living room. And I've left you a recipe for an "adults only" Cosmo Poke Cake.

Cosmo Poke Cake | www.BakingInATornado.com

Cosmo Poke Cake


And now for a few actual rules:
*You’ll need to bake daily. Hordes of teenagers will descend on the house once you can smell the chocolate baking so I recommend you wear your track shoes. And a helmet.
*Be sure to take pictures of what you bake. You’ll need to write a blog post when you’re done. You’ll thank me, blogging = venting and venting = survival.
*Last rule: No swapsies backsies.

Secret Subject Swap - run - bakinginatornado.com

Good luck. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

Baking signature

Cosmo Poke Cake
                              
©www.BakingInATornado.com


Ingredients:
16.25 oz Box White Cake Mix
4 eggs 
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water
½ cup vegetable oil   
                                             
3 oz box cranberry jello
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup vodka
2 TBSP Triple Sec
Squirt of lime juice

1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup orange juice
3 TBSP powdered sugar

Directions:
*Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 X 13 pan.
*Beat cake mix, eggs, sour cream ½ cup water and oil for two minutes.
*Pour into prepared pan and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the center springs back to the touch.
*Cool completely.
*Using bottom of a wooden spoon, make approximately 40 holes in the cake. Make the holes of different depths but not all the way to the bottom of the pan.
*Stir jello and 1 cup boiling water until the jello dissolves. Stir in the vodka, triple sec and lime juice. Slowly pour over the cake allowing the holes in the cake to fill with the jello.
*Refrigerate one hour.
*Beat cream until soft peaks form. Stir in the orange juice and powdered sugar. Continue beating until firm peaks hold.
*Frost cake. Cover and store in refrigerator.