Monthly Archives: May 2012

Hazelnut Heaven!

One of my summer goals is to share more recipes via WriteCreateClick, hence the “Create” aspect.  I also hope to share some photo tips and maybe even do a summer “photo a day” feature, hence the “Click”.  Bear with me & please chastise me if I fail.  I find that motivational.

I love to cook because the act of taking a list of ingredients & successfully turn it into something yummy & perhaps even visually appealing is almost like a high to me.  And much cheaper & safer than drugs.  I think, originally, the anti-drug slogan was to be “JUST SAY NO! DON AN APRON!”  Maybe not.  Summer brings out the chef in me more than any other season.  I think this is because I don’t have interruptions in my day like carpool, baseball practice, games, etc.  The Buttrys love to chill & not be tied to a schedule.  It also stays lighter longer so it seems like Chuck gets home early even when he really doesn’t and we can either cook out or cook in the kitchen.  We really enjoy cooking together, but last night, he had had an especially good work day & been promoted so I thought I would surprise him with a home-cooked meal.  He loves pork chops so that’s where I started. I had recently purchased some La Tourangelle Hazelnut Oil & that was the jumping off point into new territory.  I ate hazelnuts by the pound as a child & had been thinking it would be nice to reintroduce them into our cooking & snacking habits. The La Tourangelle website has some great recipes for all of their products & you can search the recipes by product for ease.

Chuck loves salad, so I started with this.

It’s super-simple.  I started with an Organic Baby Spring Mix from Kroger.  Then I chopped up fresh strawberries, eating a few along the way.  Then I made this dressing, which is really just heavenly:

Whole Grain Mustard & Roasted Hazelnut Vinaigrette

2 Tbsp whole grain mustard

1/2 small shallot, minced

1 Tbsp sherry cooking wine

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

6 (yes, six) Tbsp Roasted Hazelnut Oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

(I was lucky enough to find my Hazelnut Oil at TJMaxx. Also available at Fresh Market)

Mix the mustard, minced shallot & vinegars well.  Whisk in the oil and adjust the seasoning.

You could add some finely chopped fresh hazelnuts to the salad if you like a little crunch.

Yield:  4 servings

For our entree, we had this:

Hazelnut Crusted Pork Chops 
1 cup hazelnuts, finely chopped (I put in a ziploc, covered with dishtowel & whacked them repeatedly with a meat tenderizer…)
2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp thyme, chopped
Zest of one orange
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp Roasted Hazelnut Oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
4 pork loin chops (2 if they’re large)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  (I put corn on cob in to boil at this time, for our side.)
Mix all the ingredients together (besides the pork chops) in a bowl and pour out onto a dinner plate.  Press the pork chops into the crust making sure they are coated. (I coated both sides.)  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit with a meat thermometer.  (I did this and after 30 minutes, it read exactly 140 degrees).  Super EASY!
Yield:  2-4 servings depending on size of pork chops.
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Who? What? When?

I need to blog more.  I know this.  Some days it’s just easier to think the thoughts in my head & not get them down on paper. Some days, I think of something to post & an hour later, couldn’t tell you what it was.   A year & a half ago I started taking two medications for depression.  An unexplained, out of nowhere depression.  (You can read about it here if you haven’t followed me long.)  At first I took one & then when it seemed to be lacking something, added the other.  And together, those two medications have done wonders for me.  I don’t feel I can be without them & be a good wife, mom & friend.  However, about 9 months ago, I really started to feel like I was constantly in a mental fog, forgetting to do stuff, not remembering that I had already done other stuff, repeating the same stories to Chuck & my friends, losing my train of thought ALL the time,  reading a book and then realizing I couldn’t tell you what was in the first chapter if I was tested on it – you get the idea.  So, of course, being Noelle, I went to WebMD and diagnosed myself with early Alzheimer’s, dementia or a possible degenerative brain disease that would end my life in less than a year.  Because that’s who I am & what I do…. Now, normally I would go to my doctor, explain to him that I was likely dying, watch him smile his sweet smile and let him talk me down from the cliff.  But this time, I decided to just deny it for a while. Surely if I played some memory games or worked crossword puzzles or memorized all the Oscar-winning movies, you know, stimulated my brain, I could convince myself that it was just something that came after hitting the big 4-0.

A few days later I photographed a senior & the mother told me how the child had been suffering from depression but had not been able to stay on her first medication because she couldn’t focus in school, couldn’t remember things, had virtually no short-term memory necessary for success on tests & assignments, etc.  It was a tough call but ultimately they decided she just couldn’t take it.  It was the same medicine I take.  (And I’m choosing not to name it because different meds, especially anti-depressants, affect people differently & I don’t want to discourage anyone from trying a specific medication if their doctor thinks it might help get them off the floor of the shower and back into life again.)   I went home and read everything I could on the medication & its side effects & came to the conclusion that this had to be what was happening to me.  Right now, I’ve decided to just live with it and I think the benefits outweigh the fog, but I have to admit it’s getting really frustrating.  A few weeks ago I was at lunch with friends & they brought up the movie, “There’s Something About Mary”.  I knew I had seen that movie but I couldn’t for the life of me think what it was about or who was in it, or even where I saw it or who I was with.  That is just not me.  Thankfully my friends couldn’t think of Cameron Diaz right away either so I didn’t look like a total freak.  It’s hard for me because I used to be the queen of pop culture & Trivial Pursuit & now I’d almost be embarrassed to play.  I’m hoping eventually the memory issues leave & if they get worse, obviously I’ll do something different.  I haven’t left the kids anywhere yet or forgotten their names but I did have to make a conscious effort to remember their birth weights the other day.   That was previously burned on my brain.  Thank God I’m not Michelle Duggar or I’d be screwed.  Three kids aren’t that hard to keep up with in the grand scheme of things.  My phone and it’s notes & reminder features are now my best friends.  Just be patient with me if I seem a little scattered.  But the best news is that a year and a half later, I feel happy, content and ready to have a fun, relaxed summer with my family.  And I even have those new teeth to show off when I smile 🙂

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Travelin’ Man

(This post was actually written a week ago.  What can I say?  I’m slow to hit the “post” button!)

I have no right to complain.  Really, I know.  In the grand scheme of things, Chuck doesn’t travel too much.  In the fall, it seems like he’s gone for nights on end & of course, that’s a busy time for me with work, a busy time for the kids to bring home viruses, bacteria & blood-borne pathogens & it happens to be one of my LEAST favorite times of the year.  Sometimes in the fall,  I complain A LOT.  But in the spring, it’s like travel is almost welcome.  It’s a chance for Chuck to get away from the office environment & the chaos of home, even if he IS technically still at work.  It’s nice outside. Sometimes he goes to really cool places.  I get a break too, from little things like his snorting, hacking and incessant refusal to let me watch quality tv programming like “I Shouldn’t Be Alive” or “Ice & Coco” or “Flavor of Love”.  (He acts all intellectual, like those are MINDLESS!)  So….going it alone is kinda fun.  Until day 3.  One thing I know for sure is that whoever came up with the idea for Prohibition did not have a spouse who was gone more than 2 days.   On day 3 everything changes, as it did today.  Right.On.Cue.

I stayed up until 2:00 a.m.  (I know.  I’ll own this.  But it was so QUIET. And my book is good.)

I had unsettling dreams about unsettling people that I can’t stand.  (Sorry, God.  I’m working on it.  In my spare time.  QUIT LETTING THEM HAUNT ME.)

The kids wouldn’t get up.

They were cranky.

The dog wouldn’t come in.

He was cranky.

The hamster died before Chuck even LANDED in Chicago on Monday, so animals weren’t faring very well at 6704.

The damn dishwasher broke, which I finally accepted after attempting to wash the dishes in it SIX times in 2 days to no avail.

Ryder was parked behind me & we were already running a tad late.  She was not up.  Her keys were underneath her.

I had shitty “Words With Friends” letters.  (I know. That could be why we were late, but I can’t do EVERYTHING for them, people. I, too, have priorities.)

Brooks had given me a list of things he needed for a project due Friday & this was the first I was hearing about it.

Brooks wants to PAINT glass marbles for this project, which he bet me $100 he could do.  And he will win.  The little $%!# always wins!

So, you get the point.  I had planned to stay home all day and clean the kitchen & clear some excess crap out for Goodwill but now I have to drive carpool, come home to shower & then I have errands to run.  At least the house will be calmer, right?  Perhaps briefly.  Honestly, it seems like I get out of the shower, put in a load of laundry, edit a few photos and the back door opens at 2:45 & in walks Brooks.  I’m not there to witness his arrival, though, because I have to leave a few minutes before he gets here to head out to Wyatt’s school and be in the first round of cars in the carpool line.  We drop off our carpool charges, come home, grab something fast to eat and head for the ballpark where Brooks has a 7:30 game.  Thankfully, a few innings into the game, Chuck’s plane lands & he makes a beeline for the ballpark.  I hope it’s because he missed me & is dying to help out.  I know, however,  it’s because Brooks is pitching and he wants to try to see some of that before he is taken out.  Either way, he is here & I feel like I can go on.  Or at least hang on until May 11th when I hop in the car, head for Dallas and do the same thing to him.  Lucky for him, I’ll be home on Day 3!