Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Remembering Gammie

I've been away from the blog these past two Wednesdays because of the loss of my Gammie.  She was 93 years old and lived a long and "beautiful" life that created 32 souls.  She survived four children, 12 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. All she ever wanted was for us to be close, and as a testament to her legacy we took the weekend to celebrate her life together — just as she would have wanted. I was so blessed to have my Gammie as long as I did and for her to have fostered such a close and loving family.  

Personally, my Gammie was also the inspiration for my Ninth Ward oral history project.  The stories of her childhood in the Lower Nine captivated me and inspired me to record the community in full.

Her life was exemplary and she taught us to have a sense of humor, family first, to tell big stories, to be a loyal friend and to be strong and stick together. We will miss you Gammie, but never forget your wonderful life. 

My grandmothers had a sweet friendship and
I was so lucky for my family to have this closeness growing up. 

Gammie in Washington, DC in the '80s.

Gammie married her childhood sweetheart in 1942,
here they are at their 40th wedding anniversary. 

Gammie and her daughters, daughters in law and granddaughters. 

Gammie on the levee in the Lower Ninth Ward with my sister in the late '80s.

Gammie recovering a blanket from her Chalmette home after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Gammie's wedding day, 1942. Sadly, we lost most old family photos to Katrina.

Our last pictures with Gammie as a group, 2012.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Favorite Valentine's TV on Netflix

I made a pretty comprehensive list of Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday shows currently streaming on Netflix. For Valentine's Day, I decided to pick my personal favorites. 

I have already made my love for Valentine's TV known — especially Galentine's Day, the amazing lady-centric, friendship celebration created by Leslie Knope. My college roommate and I even hosted our own Galentine's soiree way back when. 

So here are my favorite Valentine's (and Galentine's) TV gems, currently streaming on Netflix: 

30 Rock

Up All Night, Season 1
Favorite Moment: We first meet flower guy!
St. Valentine’s Day, Season 3
Favorite Moment: Salma Hayek ... Oh and John Hamm-some is there too! 
Anna Howard Shaw Day, Season 4
Hey Baby What’s Wrong?, Season 6
Favorite Moment: Ikea Angst

The Office 

Valentine's Day, Season 2
Favorite Moment: The Kelly and Ryan Drama begins!
Blood Drive, Season 5
Favorite Moment: Stanley's attempt to get a cookie ... Even though he didn't donate blood.
PDA, Season 7
Favorite Moment: Jim and Pam get drunk at lunch. 

Parks & Recreation 

Galentine's Day, Season 2
Favorite Moment: The World is introduced to Galentine's Day!
Operation Ann, Season 4
Favorite Moment: Whenever (throughout the series) Leslie compliments Ann
Seriously, check out

Via Pinterest

Most Honorable Mention: 

The Simpsons 

I Love Lisa, Season 4
It's not on Netflix but when Ralph loves Lisa, I may cry a little. 
The "I Choo Choo Choose You" card hits me right in the feels. 

Via Pinterest.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Nutella Red Velvet Cupcakes & Love

Nutella Red Velvet Cupcakes 
With a hazelnut crunch! 

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour 
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder — I think you could add a dash more, depending on preference. 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup greek yogurt with a splash of lemon 
1/2 cup buttermilk (or milk with 1 teaspoons cream of tartar* — I used milk and tartar) 
red food coloring, you will be using a lot to get that red velvet color! 
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract 
8 oz hazelnuts, ground but not in a powder (I actually used 9 oz) ... This is what gives it a Ferrero Rocher style crunch! 

How to blend milk and cream of tartar
Add tartar to the milk and let stand for 5 t0 10 minutes
Stir and see curdles 

Cream sugar and butter. Blend in eggs. Then blend in yogurt, buttermilk (or tartar mixture) and extracts.  Gradually mix in dry ingredients.  Slowly pour in hazelnuts. Now stir in food coloring until reaching desired color. Bake 18 -20 minutes at 350. Apply frosting and decorate

Nutella Buttercream

 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (not melted)
 3 cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar, sifted, regular won’t ruin it  
 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
 1 tablespoon almond extract
 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons milk.  The +2 tablespoons are ready to use only if the mixture needs thinning.
1/4 cup + 1 tbs nutella (or to taste!) 

Blend all ingredients until reaching a butter-y icing texture! 
I then decorated the cupcakes with a valentines theme, using pink, red and gold sprinkles. The gold sprinkles got a lot of buzz on instagram yesterday. I bought the sprinkles at Safeway in DC! I have also seen them at Associated Grocers food stores in the South. But, if you do not find them at your regular grocery, they are usually in stock at Hobby Lobby and often Target!  
I applied a half inch of icing to the cupcakes, even getting into the corners of my Valentine's wrappers, and then dipped the cupcake into a bowl of sprinkles ... Voila, more crunch!

A Little History of Love
Some Valentine's Facts 

So I like Valentine's Day ... but not for the romance. I never understood why some people pigeonhole Valentine's to equal romantic love. Which is why I love love LOVE the concept of Galentine's Day — celebrating your girlfriends and not concentrating on romances or lack of romances. Can't we all just enjoy the pink and red and share a cupcake with a friend ... Actually, get your own cupcake. This one's mine! 

Some people feel bitter because of this romantic aspect. And, I completely understand that. And these people, myself included, find this gimmick mean and based on selling crap on grocery store endcaps. So, let's cut through the garbage and look at some funny non-romantic Valentine's facts, as we consider all of the people we love, not just one of them. 

- In addition to keeping track of lovers, St. Valentine also is the saint of epilepsy and beekeepers ... Bee Mine? 
-  Chaucer may have invented the holiday, as no record of finding a mate on the day exists before his 14th Century poem
- There have been multiple St. Valentine's. Including a lady, St. Valentina! Her day is in July, so you can chose to celebrate on her day instead! 
- Apparently the idea of celebrating romantic love on Valentine's dates back to the 1840s ... But candy is a more recent edition to the holiday. Cadbury, the Easter guy, is also responsible for the heart shaped boxes. His Victorian invention of "eating chocolate" in heart-shaped boxes had a dual purpose, you could keep the box. They were durable, not the cardboard stuff we have today. And some collectors still seek them out! 
- "The National Retail Federation estimates that U.S. consumers will spend $18.6 billion on the holiday." - credit.  I think most would agree cookies and a paper heart would do! 

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