April 16, 2012

nutella, en francais

I was first introduced to nutella in my sophomore French class. My teacher, Madame Meinhardt, let us have aptly-themed food parties once a semester. To this day, I credit her with my love for the language. She would turn on a custom-made "en francais" neon light in her classroom and for 20 minutes or so, would tell us a story all in French. Somehow, I was able to understand her and I came to love the sound of her voice. Although she was American, she was so chic in that perfect Parisian way.

So yes, nutella. It's delicious. My favorite way to eat it is spread on top of a good French baguette. I came across a recipe for the homemade version. I never even considered making it because I assumed it would be overly complicated. Well I'm here to tell you, it's not. In fact, I would classify this as very, very easy.

The hardest part about this recipe is getting the skins off the hazelnuts after you roast them. This is how I do it: spread the hazelnuts out evenly on a pan and roast at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until they appear golden and start to smell nutty. Let them cool for a few minutes and then rub the nuts between two clean towels. The friction of the towels will take the skins off. Discard the skins and set the nuts aside.

Recipe from theKitchn
Makes about one cup.

1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and peeled (see above for instructions)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt
4 T canola oil

Put the hazelnuts into a food processor. Blend for about three minutes, or until the nuts form a semi-course butter. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth, stopping at least once to stir so that everything incorporates well. If refrigerated, the nutella will last at least two weeks. 

April 11, 2012

lessons from living away

It's April? Apparently I fell off the blogging wagon. Sorry about that. I wish I could say I've been really busy doing something important, but the truth is I've been busy doing nothing in particular.

I just returned from a surprise 48-hour trip home to Missouri. I bought my ticket about a week before and decided not to tell anyone I was coming - well ok, I told a few people. It's hard to pull off a surprise all by yourself. One of my best friends had a baby a few days before. It was the first time I wasn't at the hospital to support my friend and meet the newest addition to her life; and it was a fact of living away that was hard for me to accept. So, I booked the next reasonably-priced flight I could find.

Seeing my friend as a mama for the first time was priceless.  I got to spend an entire, uninterrupted day with my mom and my sister. It was the first relaxing trip I've had since we moved.

The distance is still hard. I love my new city so much; it would be even better if it were closer to home. I'm not great at balancing everything, but I've learned some lessons in the last nine months:

1. Sometimes you just have to show up. Huge life changes don't happen often and I'll never forget meeting little Clara for the first time. I remember meeting Stella #1, Stella #2, Thomas, Reese, and Dane like it was yesterday.
2. You can't be everything to everyone, although you can drive yourself crazy trying.
3. Living away means missing out on the day-to-day. But the lasting relationships in your life won't suffer that much because you pick up right where you left off.
4. I have two homes now, and that's not bad. It's like double the goodness.

Happy birthday, baby Clara.