Tuesday Tangents + Magnolia Table Cookbook Challenge

Hi everyone! We are enjoying some gorgeous weather over here today. The next few days are going to be in the 80s, with it possibly getting to 90 on Thursday(!), and I am going to try to get outside as much as possible with the kiddos.

So had a few random things on my mind (as per usual) I thought I’d share.

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1. My Hoke Poke obsession has reached new heights. I’m going to blame it partly on my cold, because my taste buds have been all muted and wonky, and the only thing that has really sounded good has been this bowl, because it has ALL THE FLAVORS. Also, Grub Hub just added it to their list of delivery restaurants for our area. So I may have gotten it delivered for lunch two days in a row….

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2. This one has started to turn into quite a runner, which is frequently problematic. I can’t even count the number of times my neighbors have witnessed the spectacle of me sprinting after Ryland down the street or into the woods, Bobby strapped to my front, George running behind us. She loves to make a mad dash from our front yard to our backyard or vice versa and especially loves to run toward anything remotely dangerous like barbed wire or into the street. Toddlers =non stop fun.

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3. This one finally drank some formula today after seriously dozens of failed attempts (he would make a face of abject horror and disgust and spit and sputter like we were feeding him cyanide). And thank goodness, because mentally I was starting to feel that trapped, panicked feeling that only a mom who breastfeeds a baby who will not take another source of nutrition can feel. Like his life literally depended on my boobs and their proximity. I’m going to write a full post on this soon, but we’re reaching the 6-month mark in our breastfeeding journey, and just like with Ryland I’m starting to feel like we’re nearing the end, at least for exclusive breastfeeding. I plan to keep breastfeeding for at least a few feeds a day for a few more weeks, and then maybe 1-2 feeds a day a while longer after that (mostly for the calorie burning benefit and the back up of being able to soothe him with my boobs if the shit really hits the fan) but despite the fact that some women do it for years, I just feel like I’m getting to the finishing point. There is no medical reason to stop. My supply is fine. But mentally and emotionally it feels like the right choice for me, and I refuse to apologize for that or pretend like there’s some other reason. Again, there’s so much I want to discuss so I will post in more detail soon!

4. I have developed a problematic and severe allergy to MEAL PLANNING. Ughh, even typing those two words out bring a rush of stress and anxiety. Does anyone else feel this way? I hate it, so, so, so much. I  like cooking. I like looking for new recipes. I like feeding my family. But for some reason, when I sit down to come up with a weeks’ worth of easy, tasty, and affordable recipes for two adults and a tiny human, my brain starts to itch and my eyes cross and it feels like it did in college when I had to take exams in my Calculus class. I don’t think I ever understood the pressure of being the person to not only cook a family’s meals but also plan for them. It stresses me out. I feel like I never do a good job and either overbuy groceries and have tons of food waste or under buy and need subsequent trips in the week. I just really hate it, you guys. Help me. Anyone have any tips to make this easier or more bearable? I’ve tried some of the apps but haven’t found any I loved yet. We’ ve also done Blue Apron in the past, but those meals require a little too much prep and work for someone who needs to cook while simultaneously caring for a baby and a toddler. I’m desperate here.

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Okay, so I am in LOVE with this cookbook. It’s gorgeous and full of recipes that sound so yummy. I think I also love it, because it’s SO Texan, and due to the fact that my mom and grandparents are all Texan, I’ve always considered myself at least part Texan 🙂 It’s just very unpretentious and traditional, plainspoken and simple, not at all concerned with food trends or what’s cool or hip. I’m pretty sure nothing in here is vegan or gluten-free or paleo or Whole 30. No crockpot recipes. This is almost all old-fashioned Southern food and again, very Texan. I was originally going to go full on Julie and Julia on this and try to make every recipe. However, upon a closer reading of the entree/dinner recipes, I realized that if I were to do that, we all might gain 50 pounds and develop heart disease (again, very Texan food, think lots of butter, meat, heavy cream, cream of mushroom soup, cream cheese, sour cream, Velveeta, etc, basically ingredients that I love but pretty much never cook with at home). So instead, I am going to try to make all of the baked goods/breakfast/dessert recipes (and as many of the others as our waistbands will allow ;). I started this past weekend with Jo Jo’s biscuits, sausage gravy, and lemon pie.

Let’s start with the biscuits:

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The White Lily flour is not called for specifically in her cookbook, but I’ve found it’s a crucial ingredient in a good biscuit. And I’ve only ever found it at Food Lion.

These were pretty labor minimal when it comes to biscuit recipes. The only hard part was grating THREE sticks of frozen butter, see what I mean about the heart disease?

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An obscene but delicious amount of butter.

I did diverge from the instructions in that I didn’t use a specific “biscuit cutter.” Instead, I did what I learned from my mom and what I think many a Southern cook uses for biscuits, a good old juice glass.

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I am a biscuit purist. I love biscuits more than is normal or healthy. So I am a harsh critic. And these guys were really yummy. Not quite McDonald’s yummy (that is a level of perfection that is almost impossible to attain, and I am dead serious, I’ve had the “fanciest” biscuits at the fanciest Southern restaurants, and McDonald’s wins almost every time). But really flaky and light and salty. And no extensive dough folding required, like in some recipes I’ve tried.

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To go with them, I made sausage gravy for the first time, which was way easier than I anticipated. You literally just cook sausage, then add flour and milk to the pan, cook until thickened, and then add back in the chopped up sausage. Voila. Doesn’t look super pretty but sure tasted good.

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And because I hadn’t raised my cholesterol enough for one day, I decided to make a pie to bring to my parent’s house for Sunday dinner. I chose the lemon pie because it felt spring-like and “lighter” than some of the other options.

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For some reason, lemon pies have always intimidated me, but this could not have been easier. The only “harder” part was making the homemade graham cracker crust but even that was super easy with a food processor. And the filling was basically just a whole lot of sweetened condensed milk mixed with lemon juice, egg yolks, and a pinch of salt. You bake it first then refrigerate it to set and then whip up some homemade whip cream to go on top. It turned out really nicely, creamy and smooth and just a little tart. This may become my new go-to recipe to take to dinners/gatherings for dessert just because it is SO easy and looks fancy (especially if you garnish it with lemon slices and mint like they do in the cookbook).

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So stay tuned and I’ll blog whenever I make a new recipe. My goal is once a week, but it could be more or less. I think it’s a good way to challenge myself to bake new things and try new recipes I would normally avoid. Despite my hatred of meal planning, I do really love to cook and bake for my family. I have so many good memories of my mom’s cooking when I was little, so many tastes and smells that remind me of her and childhood, and I’d love my kids to have wonderful memories of Sunday breakfasts or fresh baked cookies on the counter that they always associate with me. (Just have to note that if I didn’t like to bake I wouldn’t do it, I don’t think mothers or women have an imperative to be the bakers/cooks in their family in this day and age, I just happen to like it and find baking especially therapeutic 🙂 ) So yeah, I think it will be fun. At the very least we will all probably eat way too much sugar and butter as a result of this challenge, but life is short, right?

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