Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Jen's Amazing Brussels Sprouts

These are seriously amazing, I know what you're thinking, but you are wrong. Brussels Sprouts are awesome - especially when made with bacon :)

2 - 3 pound of Brussels sprouts

1/2 pound bacon

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

olive oil

salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rinse the sprouts and trim the ends off. Put them in a big bowl and toss them with enough olive oil to coat them. Spread them on a large cookie sheet and sprinkle on a little salt and pepper. Roast the sprouts for about 45 minutes to an hour. They should get a little black around the edges. Don't worry about the burny parts. They actually taste delicious!

While the sprouts are baking, you can cut the bacon into little pieces and fry it in a pan. Strain it on a paper towel once it is crisp.

Once the sprouts are cooked to your liking, toss them in the big bowl again and add the bacon, Parmesan and more salt and pepper if it needs it. It's that simple.

Sweet Potato Souffle - an Erickson Family Tradition

This is direct from Amanda - I just need a place to keep the recipe as it took me 20 minutes to find this morning :)

The filling:

3 C mashed sweet potato*

2 eggs

1 C sugar**

3/4 stick softened butter

The topping:

1 C brown sugar

3/4 stick softened butter

1/2 C chopped pecan

1/3 C flour

1 tsp vanilla

* I use canned sweet potato puree from Princella. It comes in a syrup. There used to be a non-syrup variety but I've been unable to find it. I have also tried this with other sweet potato purees as well as from scratch and none of them turned out as well. Drain the potato puree well.

** If you use the Princella with syrup variety, sugar the filling to taste. There's sugar in the topping, don't forget! I've been cutting the filling sugar back over the years but I don't know where I ended up last time I made this. Probably less than 1/2 cup.

■Mix the filling in a blender or by hand and pour into buttered 2qt casserole dish.
■Mix the topping and work by hand until soft and crumbly. Cover the filling with the topping, lightly pressing the topping into the filling.
■Bake uncovered in 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes until lightly browned and bubbly.
■Serve warm with dinner!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dusting off the cobwebs

Tap...tap...tap...anybody there? Time to do a little spring cleaning around's been an interesting few months behind the curtain. Overwhelming to say the least and we all ended up doing some Minnesota style hibernating.

But I don't live in the mid-west anymore, and the flowers are starting to bloom and it's time to start thinking about planting things around here. Ready for the clunky lifetime-movie worthy transition? I need to do a little internal up the windows, let the stale air out, shake out the dust and start breathing. I have no idea if anyone will even read this...but I need to write here, get some things out of my head where they've been bouncing around for the last 6-12 months.

It's funny, I know I've mentioned this before here, but I SUCKED at keeping a journal/diary when I was younger. I always wanted to, but never kept it up. They are full of entries similar to this one I'm writing now: restarting after a long break. "Dear's been WAY to long since I've written. ('cause you know, Diary missed me) I really want to do better with this, I promise I'm going to do so much better this year. Like, I am going to write at least 2-3 times a week cause I have all this stuff going on with Choralation/Ole Choir and {enter musical theater show name here} and {enter boy's name here, easy bet it was a Mike or a Matt, my dating history contains a disproportionate number of guys with those names} who I really like, and my parents are driving me crazy. So Diary, here's the goal, I'm totally going to keep this UP TO DATE".

Um, yeah. I don't have a pattern or anything. Hey, that would be fun! Maybe one of these days I'll post old diary entries from high school and college. Those wouldn't be embarrassing at all!

I set a goal at the beginning of the year, I've gotten in a cooking rut so I want to make 52 new recipes by the end of the year. I would love to keep track of them here so I can reference back. I've done 7 so far...real posts to follow.

Also, I'm doing my surgery (finally) this summer. I have an appointment next week to set the date, . It's almost an understatement to say that at this point this surgery will change my life. The last 6 months have been brutal in terms of increased pain and decreased mobility. But more than that, there have been slow and subtle changes over 10 years, things that have changed the trajectory of my life in many ways. I have no idea what the next year will bring, but I'd like to capture some of that "real time", without the filter of hindsight or the "bigger picture" 6 months down the line.

Those are the things I hope to put out there (here) again. Who knows though, hopefully it won't be another 6 months before the next post, but it is possible :)

Friday, October 01, 2010

Graceful Agony

Someone told me recently that they were excited to know me in 9 months. While that statement seems odd on the surface, it was really a very touching thing to say. You see, I'm having surgery in roughly 3 months to replace this worn down, degenerating, broke-ass hip of mine. And she was telling me how excited she was to see what I was going to do once I didn't have to spend such an inordinate amount on time and energy on dealing with and attempting to manage pain.

I don't like talking about it at any real depth. It's very apparently there...the limp gets so much worse when the pain is worse, and I have had to reach a point where I'm comfortable talking about the big picture stuff, even if it is in a slightly removed fashion. But what it means to my daily life, the countless little compromises I have been making every day for almost 10 years, the countless big compromises my family has to make for me every day and the guilt that accompanies that, the depression, the isolation...I don't know, even the surface level shit feels too flipping dramatic, much less the "deep down stuff".

But recently I found a blog where a person FAR more elegant with her words was able to say so many of the things I feel. I read this there, recently and it struck me as an amazing way to describe a piece of my own "deep down stuff":

I miss the little things….. having the energy to get up and go, watching my son’s Christmas concert without having to worry about how hard the seats are, how long I will be sitting for, what price I will pay the following day……. It isn’t BIG things like ‘Oh I wish I could go skydiving still!” or “I really miss alpine skiing!”…. I really miss just NOT having to be aware….. I am hyper-alert every minute of every day, and it is TIRING! The first thing I think about in the morning when my eyes open is what I have to do just to get through the day…. I always have to be 10 steps ahead of the game….. if I have a coffee date at 5pm, I have to modify everything I do so I know that I will be mobile and functional by the time 5 rolls around….. I miss NOT having to think in those terms…. I miss not having to think of my pain every second of every day whether my pain is bad that day or not…. I always have to be 5-10 steps ahead…… it prevents me from living in the moment at times. - Graceful Agony

I don't have much to add beyond that...just throwing something on here that's been on my mind lately.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Two years ago was one of the most terrifying/wonderful days of my life. It sounds so cliché to say it like that - but it was such wide sway from one emotion to the next. From fear to joy all in the same breath, I don't care so much if it sounds cliché.

As many of you know, that day we headed into the last 45 minutes of the personal Lifetime Movie we had been living in. The part where the plucky pregnant heroine, who has been holding her little family together through the terrors of cancer and chemo, finally succumbs to the crappy part of the storyline where something is wrong with HER now. She is rushed over to hospital the same day they get their first post-chemo “All-Clear” from her husband’s cancer doctor…no time to celebrate before the next plot point. She’s in crisis with HELLP and the baby is in crisis just by virtue being 4 ½ weeks early with severely underdeveloped lungs.

But...thanks to the wonderful staff at a wonderful hospital, as well as the undying love and support of our friends and family, the story gets to be a “feel good” Lifetime Movie and not the super tragic kind. Thanks to the amazing research of some amazing doctors over the years and despite a very rough start, we are here two years later enjoying life with Sir Henry the Insane. My sweet little boy who is unbelievably happy, delightfully mischievous/crazy and incredibly loved. It’s so hard to see this picture from two years ago today…it’s always hard to see such a small baby attached to machines that way. But this is my beautiful little boy on the day he was born…

and look how far he’s come. Happy birthday little man.