Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Peachy Heaven in a Ramekin

OK, look. I know how charmed my life is. Most days I have time to hit the gym and make a nice meal for dinner, with time left over for a glass of wine and some TV. But tonight we outdid ourselves.

My husband crock potted a turkey in a bbq sauce he made himself. It was perfection on a roll.

After we let that settle in our tummies for a while, I decided to do something I've never done before: I made a recipe we saw on TV. See, we have a newly found food crush on Alton Brown (we're watching him right now!) and last week we watched one that was all about peaches. Coincidence? I happen to have a crisper tray full of peaches!

But what's this? I need a ramekin? I didn't have any, so I went out and bought some!

So here you go. Possibly the best dessert I've ever eaten, and definitely the best dessert I've ever made.

You put in there butter, brown sugar, peaches (mmmm!), crushed crystalized ginger (this is the key to this dessert), then a buttermilk cake mixture.  It's super easy and it does NOT need ice cream.  Check out the finished product:

Oh, um, what's this you say?  Two people, 4 empty ramekins?  Well, what can I say?  It just wouldn't be as good reheated!  We owed it to the Peach Upside-Down Cake to finish it tonight!  

Monday, May 18, 2009

We now return to our regularly scheduled vacation blogging

Nope, I haven't forgotten the vacation blogging. Events have overcome, but here's some more pictures!

We left Playa del Carmen and took a drive ALL the way across the Yucatan, through the jungle, on a little tiny, rough road through tiny towns where a lot of the people didn't even speak Spanish, but Maya. We purposely chose to take the back roads to get a better sense for this part of the country, but once we committed to that route, we both admitted that we were scared. Thankfully we only got stopped once by the Mexican military (huge guns much?) and only once by the Mexican police. Yowza.

After 4.5 hours of stressful driving (without a functioning radio no less!), we finally arrived at Uxmal (pronounced 'oosh mal'). Uxmal was the only reason we braved this long drive, and it was worth it.

(can you see Ryan all tiny against that thing????)

Uxmal is known for being one of the more beautiful, and amazingly preserved Mayan sites. And, because it's in the middle of nowhere (seriously, jungle and nothing else), there were very few tourists, so we could climb on EVERYTHING.

The only bad part of this trip was a slightly crabby husband (he hates long drives, but he quickly got over it when we saw the amazing ruins) and my stupid inability to adapt to a humid climate. I was so purple in the face by the end of our time here that when we walked out people stopped and were giving me a look like they were trying to decide if they should call an ambulance.

That night we stayed in Merida, the capital of the Yucatan.  This is an appropriate time to mention how scary the drivers are in the Yucatan.  We ran into a guy from Mexico City who told us how 'crazy' the Mayan drivers are.  We were so glad we'd had about 5 days of driving before we had to brave Merida because it was hella scary.  Not to mention, our 'hotel' was impossible to find.  

But, we stuck with it because we had a "Presidential Suite" with a "rooftop terrace" reserved.  For $80!  I know, right?  Not so fast.  Wanna see our "rooftop terrace"?  It was less 'terrace' more 'rooftop'.  

We were so scared when we got there that we almost just drove straight to Chichen Itza.  Boy are we glad we stayed!  Merida is magical at night.  We had amazing food, and even though it was the middle of the week, the people of Merida were out in the parks looking at local crafts, visiting with each other, looking at public art, and enjoying a huge outdoor concert.  It was amazing.  The most hysterical part was that we were the only blondes that we saw all night, no one spoke a lick of English (Merida isn't as much of a tourist destination), and we were taller then everyone by at least a foot.  

Next post (or, you know, whenever I get to it) will be about Chichen Itza (we saw one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World!), and Cancun (and swimming with the dolphins!).  

Completely unrelated to our vacation, check out my Photo Club assignment photos.  The assignment was Using Light Creatively or something like that.  What do you think?  Just some fun with light.  

(see ghost me and ghost puppies?)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Millions of Peaches, Peaches for Me

Every May there is a Peach Festival at Schnepf Farm in Queen Creek, just south of the city I live in.  I've only ever been to the festival once before, about 3 years ago with my mom and dad, before she knew she was sick.  Little things like that mean so much now that my mom's gone, so I really wanted to go to the festival again.  

One of the things that sucks about being married to a firefighter is that sometimes I have to decide whether to miss doing something I really want to do, or just go alone.  Luckily, this weekend two lovely ladies, this fair little girl and her mommy, were excited to pick peaches too! 

Not only did we get to bite into juicy, perfect peaches right off the trees, we got a hayride, tried all kinds of fruit inspired goodies, walked around this huge farm, and had peach ice cream for breakfast!  I'd say that is a good morning.  

Schnepf Farm is so gorgeous, and I would kill to photograph a wedding here.  The fields are amazing (check out the sunflowers!), there are gorgeous tree-shaded pathways, fields and fields of fruit trees...  I would have the most fun with a bride and groom at sunset here. 

Now...  what to bake with all these peaches...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I *heart* Obama

Don't you love technology?  I'm watching the ASU commencement on the laptop at the same time I'm typing this.  

If I haven't mentioned it lately, I love our pres.  I tell ya, he's so endearing and I think he's just what we need right now. 

I mean seriously....

I mean come on, even if you don't like the man's politics, how can you not love this guy?  He just seems like a decent human being and I, for one, am glad we finally have a guy who can string together words to make a coherent sentence.  It's great to finally have someone in the Oval office who gives the US a good face for the rest of the world.  I've traveled abroad enough to know that the US isn't particularly loved in other countries.  I think Obama is a good starting point for changing that perception.  

Oh, have I mentioned that Obama was at my old high school a few months ago?  In Bush's two terms in office, I can only remember him coming to AZ once.  Obama has been in Arizona twice.  He feels accessible and I'm so happy to be an American these days.  

Friday, May 08, 2009

Mothers' Day

Mothers' Day.... feels like a kick in my already hurting heart. They whole point of the holiday is to get you to think about, and appreciate, your mom. My mom was wonderful. We were friends. Good friends. She was the model of what a mother should be. And she's gone. And I appreciated her.

Every time I turn on the TV this week there are commercials about moms. In the mall: helpful signs with ideas of what to get your mom. The grocery store? Mom. Newspaper? Mom. Internet? Mom. Inbox of my email? Mom.

I was lucky that I had a mom who cooked dinner for me every night when I was growing up, she took picture-taking adventure days with me, we emailed while I was in college every day, we hiked together, shared recipes together, talked every day about our what was going on in our lives.... My mom was so great. 

I miss my mom, and some days I still cry, but this weekend, the weekend that's to remind people about your moms? It was never for me. I know that I always appreciated my mom. She was amazing and I knew it.

So please, if you have a mom, realize what a gift that is. Remember to tell your mom every day of the year that you appreciate all that she's done for you.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Another week, another beach

My vacation is getting further and further away, but my skin is still peeling so it wasn't THAT long ago. But still, my tan is already fading and I'm just feeling so bummed. We looked forward to that vacation for months, and it was so much more amazing then we expected, and now it's over. What a let-down!

I do have more pictures, but I'm writing to you right now from a hotel room next to LAX. I'm in LA for a class for work, and I'm in the picturesque neighborhood literally right next to the runway. Lovely. I managed to stay awake for my whole first day of class, and it's a whole lot more interesting then I'd expected. Usually engineering classes are super dull, but our teacher is totally entertaining.

When we got out of class, I discovered that there is actually a trolley that goes from a stop in front of my hotel, right to the beach! So for the second time in less then a week, this Arizona girl dug her toes in cool sand and watched the waves. This water is WAY different then the Caribbean. California's water is gray and cold to the Riviera Maya's gorgeous water of every color blue you can imagine. But the Caribbean has nothing on California's amazing golden light before sunset. I've decided the reason California wedding/portrait photographers get so much attention is because they're given this gift of magic light every day. We don't get that in AZ.

So for the next few days, I plan to see at least 2 more golden sunsets on the pier with my book, then it's back to real life and the return of vacation blogging.

(cell phone pic, but we do what we can!)

about me

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    Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

    I'm Amanda. I'm an engineer in an industry full of men, a professional wedding and family portrait photographer, a firefighter's wife, a traveler, and a dogMa.

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