May 22, 2012

Learning My Roots

Since my senior year in high school, I have been wanting to learn more about my ancestry and find out as much as I can on the history that has lead to me. When I first started, all I did was go to and sign-up for a free trial. During those fourteen days I did my grandmother's family as the base (because they were the only ones I could remember the details about) and went all the way back to Aquila Chase (my 11th great-grandfather), born in 1580 in England. At the time I didn't look much into the people in my tree, that is until this past week. 

Turns out the son of Aquila Chase, Aquila Chase Jr. (my 10th great-grandfather) was one of the first settlers in Newbury, MA. He was a mariner and is credited as the "first Pilot at the mouth of the Merrimack River." His life story is an interesting one!

Fast forward a few generations to Mary Jane Chase (my 3rd great-grandmother). From what I learned, I'm lucky to be here. She was arranged to marry Horace Leeman Hudson but wasn't too keen on the idea due to their age difference. Thankfully she went along with it for her parents wishes, at least that is how the story goes. 

And speaking of Horace Leeman Hudson, turns out he was a Union soldier during the Civil War. Reading through his records and other stories from the war has been quite eye opening. I remember learning about the Civil War in school but never thought I had any family that actually was apart of it.

All of what I have learned about my family has made me so proud to see how far my family has come, and this is just one branch! I cannot wait to see what the other branches have in store!

May 15, 2012

Turning Italian

As a treat I decided to try and make a version of Eggplant Parmesan I had seen a few days ago on "Mad Hungry with Lucinda Scala Quinn" tonight. I even made some homemade tomato sauce that was simple and delicious! Tonight's meal was such a big hit I thought I would share it with ya'll!

Tomato Sauce (adapted from Cuisine Magazine)
Yield: ~5 cups

  • Ingredients
    • 4 lbs of roma tomatoes, quartered
    • 1 onion, chopped (I used yellow)
    • 4 cloves of garlic (I have the kind in the squeeze bottle so I used 4 tsp. of that)
    • 1 tsp. of red pepper flakes
    • 1 tsp. of sugar
    • 2 tsp of salt
    • 1/2 cup of olive oil
    • Seasoning (the recipe said fresh basil, I didn't even have dried basil so I just used some dried oregano and it was still delicious so just use what you like).
  • Directions
    • Preheat the oven to 450 F
    • In a large dish (I used a dutch oven, but anything would do. I don't recommend metal though since the acidity of the dish might cause damage to the metal.) combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, sugar, salt and olive oil. Toss it like a salad to make sure the olive oil coats everything.
    • Roast in the oven for 35 - 40 minutes until tomatoes are soft (I had mine covered the whole time and it came out pretty soupy. I think when I do it again I will uncover it for the last half or third to help thicken it up.)
    • When done roasting, mash it all up with a potato masher keeping it somewhat chunky. And then season to how you like it. Easy right?
Eggplant Parmesan Stacks (adapted from "Mad Hungry")
Yield: ~12 stacks
  • Ingredients:
    • 3 Eggplants (cut into twelve 1/3 inch slices each, 36 total)
    • Tomato sauce
    • Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
    • Parmesan cheese (I used Kraft's "fresh")
    • Mozzarella (I used shredded)
    • Olive oil
    • Salt and Pepper
  • Directions
    • Brush both sides of the slices with some olive oil and then season one side with some salt.
    • Grill eggplant for 8-10 minutes flipping only once. (I used our outdoor grill but a grill pan would do the trick or a fry pan for that matter).
    • While grilling mix together breadcrumbs, parmesan and a splash of olive oil (about a tablespoon) together (2:1 ratio). I used about 1 cup of breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup of parmesan but probably could have used a little more. If you have extra pop it in the fridge and you can used it with some chicken. 
    • Once grilled it's time to assemble the stacks. Lay 12 slices down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Add a spoonful of the breadcrumb mixture, a spoonful of tomato sauce and some mozzarella. Add another slice of eggplant and repeat. Do that one more time. 
    • Carefully but the sheet of stacks in a 350 F oven and bake for 20 minutes till the cheese melts. When done season with some pepper (optional) and serve. You won't be disappointed!
If you try this let me know what you think! Happy eating!

May 1, 2012

Oddfellows Burger Kitchen

So this past weekend my mom came down to visit and take back a bunch of things I had packed-up (it always amazes me how much crap I accumulate each year!). For awhile I had been trying to talk her into going to this burger joint in Ames that has a "kooky-retro" atmosphere called Oddfellows.

I cannot even begin to capture how much love I have for this place. I just wish I had went there sooner. 

Oddfellows is known for The Oddfellow Burger (a bacon cheeseburger with a glazed doughnut as the bun) and The Oddfellow Drink (a one quart mason jar with an alcoholic blue concoction. So you get a feel they cap the limit at 2 per person). Needless to say I tried both (keep in mind that this was 11:00 a.m. on a Sunday).

It was so good!! I got a side of their mac 'n' cheese as well. And you think that the glazed doughnut would make it disgusting but when the sweet mixes in with the bacon and burger along with the slight spice from the jack mouth is watering just writing about it.

My mom with a "safer" choice in burger, The Swiss 'Shroom. It was huge and had an almost bisuit-ish kind of bun. We also got an order of Oddfellows' onion rings, which weren't what we expected. They were almost like a shredded onion string that were lightly battered and extra crispy.

So here is our "Sunday Breakfast of Champions!" My eyes are rolling to the back of my head just thinking about how delicious all this food was (did I take that too far...probably...).

To cap off the experience, my mom and I shared the Banana Cream Cheesecake. It was the perfect blend to two of my favorite desserts, banana cream pie and cheesecake with a grahm cracker crust. Heavenly!

So if you are ever in the Ames, IA area and want a great, unique eating experience be sure to check out Oddfellows Burger Kitchen (I'm going again for graduation). You will not be disappointed!

(I also want to thank all of you for your kind words on last weeks post. Just writing that poem really helped, but seeing everyone's encouraging comments made the "haunting words" even less powerful. Thank you!)