Growing up, my family referred to ourselves as the Griswolds when it came to family vacations. Like the movie family, we were (and still are) a goofy, loving bunch who set out on vacations with the best intentions but often met with some hilariously disastrous events along the way. We even drove around in a sweet station wagon that we nicknamed the Family Truckster. We’ve gotten lost in a state park and on a bridge. We’ve left the tailgate down on the truck with all of our luggage in the truck bed, running over a suitcase and scattering fishing poles along the highway before realizing our mistake. We’ve stayed in a house infested with bats and (possibly) ghosts, which my uncle still swears weren’t there before we arrived. While staying in that same house, my little brother had a fall in the bathroom that resulted in a fairly serious dental injury and my other uncle ended up in the ER for a whole bunch of stitches after cutting his wrist open. Needless to say, we weren’t invited back there for a few years.
Now that I’ve long ago moved out of my parents’ house and no longer take vacations with the whole family, I was pretty certain I had left the vacation bloopers behind me. Ah, but doesn’t life tend to surprise us? As I found out this Christmas, I still have a little bit of Griswold left in me: About half way through the four-hour drive to my parents’ house on Christmas morning I had a sudden thought that I wasn’t sure if I had remembered to put my overnight bag in the car when I was loading up the trunk. As it turns out, I had remembered to pack absolutely everything except for my bag. It was way too late to turn around at that point, so I spent our two-and-a-half day trip wearing my Christmas outfit and borrowing whatever else I needed from my mom and my sister-in-law. Oh, the fun never ends! (more…)
Posted by Katie (A Fork in Hand) on December 30, 2013
I think it’s safe to say that we are firmly entrenched in the season of change here in upstate NY. Just in the past week we’ve seen a 40+ degree temperature swing, rain, frost, blazing sunshine, and hurricane-force winds. Just your typical fall (or spring, for that matter). But this year, in addition to the crazy weather changes, I also have some crazy life changes going on. Just about a month ago I found out that I’ve been accepted into nursing school. I start classes in January! Woo hoo!
Needless to say, I’ve been doing a fair amount of scrambling around lately to get things in order before school starts. Besides all of the paperwork, immunizations and phone calls, I’ve also started to collect some quick and easy recipes in anticipation of those days (weeks?) when I simply can’t pull myself away from my books for more than 15 or 20 minutes to make something to eat. Since I’m kind of the reigning queen of the 2-hour dinner preparation, this has been no easy task for me. However, I’ve learned a few things already in my recent attempts at efficient cooking that are already helping me to shorten up my time spent in the kitchen just a little bit. (more…)
Posted by Katie (A Fork in Hand) on November 2, 2013
Last weekend I ran my first road race in about 3 and a half years. Not only was this my first race in quite some time, but it was also the first race I’ve competed in since moving here to the Great White North. During my previous life as a desk jockey in sunny Sacramento, I spent a lot of my free time training and racing. But with the wacky schedule we’ve been living since the day we arrived here, I had quickly given up any hope of being able to wake up early enough to make an 8am race start, let alone find enough time to properly train for an event. It actually took a morning spent watching Chris compete as a last-minute member of a triathlon relay team to realize that, while I certainly won’t be able to compete the way I used to, I can certainly squeeze in an event or two during the racing season. Not being one to waste any time, I signed myself up for a 14K the morning after Chris’s race. Six weeks later I crossed the finish line faster than expected and with a huge smile on my face. It feels so good to be back! (more…)
Posted by Katie (A Fork in Hand) on September 30, 2013
This summer has been too much fun. What I mean by that is that we’ve been managing to squeeze so much fun into our very limited non-working hours that it’s making these warm, carefree days fly by much too quickly. We’ve had family visits, tasted one-of-a-kind beers at the Belgium Comes to Cooperstown beer festival, floated around in the lake, and ridden our bikes all over. At this point either the fun has to stop or we’re going to need to find a way to slow down time. I really hope we figure out the whole time-slowing thing soon though because I have no intention of ending my fun. So if anyone knows a physicist who could help me out with that…. (more…)
Posted by Katie (A Fork in Hand) on August 16, 2013
This right here, this is summer. A crazy simple fruit crisp cooked outdoors on the grill. Ideally it should be eaten outside, either for dessert or for breakfast, and you should be wearing a sundress or shorts or a swimsuit while you eat. You should devour the entire thing yourself without a bit of guilt, or share it with someone you love straight out of the baking dish. You should top it with a little yogurt, or maybe a little ice cream. You should savor every last drop of sweet, juicy fruit with a smile on your face and the warm sun on your skin. Because this is summer. (more…)
Posted by Katie (A Fork in Hand) on July 16, 2013
Chris and I, we’re bar people. I say that not because we’re in the bar business (which we are) or because we like to spend our rare bit of free time enjoying good beer and good company in a few of our favorite bars (which we do). I say this because 99 times out of 100 when we go out for a meal you’ll find us seated at the bar rather than at a table. Why this preference, you ask? Well, for one it’s just a lot more social and fun. We get to chat with the bartender and with our fellow bar-dwellers, sharing jokes, stories, and sometimes even our food. But the best reason of all to sit at the bar, and the reason that I recommend you start sitting at the bar sometimes too, is that a seat at the bar is where you get all of the good inside info. Sometimes it’s a crazy drink that only the staff know about, other times it’s an upcoming event that you would never have known about otherwise, and often it’s a tip about somewhere else to eat and drink. Always listen to these tips. People in the bar/restaurant industry always know the best places to eat and drink. It’s our life, after all. (more…)
Posted by Katie (A Fork in Hand) on June 22, 2013
I insist on baking a cake for each of the birthdays in our household. I usually make something in the banana bread genre for Zoey, something ridiculously chocolate for myself, and carrot cake for Chris. With Chris’s birthday coming up, I was all set to try out a new carrot cake recipe when I realized we would be spending his special day camping and it would be quite a feat to get his usual multi-tiered, cream cheese frosted birthday confection from our house to the campsite in one piece. I suppose I could have taken the easy way out and served his birthday cake the night before his actual birthday, but that’s just not my style (i.e., I like to make things more difficult than they need to be). Instead, I drew some inspiration from birthdays past (way past) for the most easily portable and shareable birthday cake of all – the cupcake! (more…)
Posted by Katie (A Fork in Hand) on June 7, 2013
Ah, summertime! After the longest winter ever recorded (in my mind, at least) we’re finally seeing some sunshine, warm temperatures, and most importantly of all some fresh produce. I’ve been taking full advantage of the plethora of leafy greens, juicy berries, and every other edible plant I can get my hands on. You might think this would mean you’d be seeing more blog posts detailing all of the fun things I’ve been doing with strawberries and spinach. Unfortunately, you would be wrong in that assumption, as summertime also means much more time spent at work and very limited free time. As much as I’d love to have a little more leisure time at my disposal, my summer schedule does force me to prioritize and to be much more efficient in order to squeeze in everything I want/need to accomplish during my day. And after too many slothful winter days spent curled up under a blanket, being uber-productive for awhile feels pretty good. (more…)
Posted by Katie (A Fork in Hand) on May 23, 2013
A few weeks ago, along with the rest of the northern hemisphere apparently, I set out on my annual spring cleanse. This year, more than ever before, it was so very needed. Our winter, like many of yours I’m sure, was cold, harsh and seemingly unending. Spring has been a terrible tease for the entire month it’s been around, giving us a few days of warmth and sunshine followed by a week or more of wind, freezing rain, and occasionally snow. And just to add insult to injury, I managed to catch the nasty late-winter virus that had been going around, the effects of which hung around for several weeks. All of this had left me feeling stagnant and drained, in body, mind, and spirit, and in desperate need of a system-wide reboot. As challenging as a week of restricted eating can be, I came away from the experience as I usual do: feeling lighter, energized, and with some fresh insights into my eating habits.
As you might expect, a week of eating not-a-whole-lot doesn’t usually leave me with much in the way of inspiring meals to write about. But all is not lost, as I do have a lovely, warming tisane to share with you today that I found to be just the thing to get me through the first few foggy-headed, stomach-growling days of my cleanse. This is a tonic that I often turn to when I’m feeling under the weather, but I find it’s also a beverage that is just perfect for the transitional time between the cold, harsh winds of winter and the balmy, sunshiny days of summer. It will help to stoke those digestive fires that may be smoldering a little low after a few months of heavy winter foods. And even better is that it’s one of those magical drinks that seems to cure whatever ails you whether it be stomach upset, headache, congestion, or fatigue. I’m a big proponent of food as medicine for countless reasons, and with “medicine” as tasty as this I think it’s easy to see why. If you need further convincing, check out the many benefits of the four simple ingredients I used here: (more…)
Posted by Katie (A Fork in Hand) on May 2, 2013
1 in 2 American children will receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at some point during their lives.
Currently, 1 in 5 American children struggle with hunger.
I’ve spent a good portion of the past week reading about, researching, and thinking about hunger in America and these are the two statistics that I can’t seem to get out of my head. I live in one of the wealthiest nations on this planet, yet half of my country’s children will lack a basic human necessity for some part of their lives. I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around this.
I have been so fortunate thus far in my life to have always had my basic needs met many times over. I’ve lived on the east coast and the west coast, in the suburbs, the city, and the country and no matter where I settled I have always had access to nutritious food at a cost that was affordable to me. This is not the case for far too many of my fellow Americans; just shy of 50 million, to be exact. Even more upsetting is the fact that right now our Congress is proposing $135 billion cuts to the SNAP program (formerly known as the food stamp program), the very program that is helping the men, women, and children in these food insecure households. These cuts could eliminate between 9 and 13 million individuals from the program.
How have we gotten here? Well, there are a lot of factors at play: an unlivable minimum wage, unemployment, and agricultural subsidies that result in processed food costing less than fresh, wholesome food to name a few. But from my point of view, a large part of the problem is that there just aren’t enough of us who care anymore. Back in 1968, the film Hunger in America exposed the reality of children dying of starvation right here in our very own country. The resulting shock and outrage of the American people led to the creation and strengthening of the very same assistance programs so many people rely on today, and virtually wiped out hunger in this country. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line the outrage Americans felt over seeing extreme poverty and starvation in this wealthy nation turned to outrage against the hungry themselves for daring to use the government assistance programs that are funded by our tax dollars. (more…)
Posted by Katie (A Fork in Hand) on April 8, 2013