Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ten years ago, I went to see Garden State with this guy I kind of had a crush on.

Ten years ago, that same boy took me to see my first emo show at Stubb's in Austin - Taking Back Sunday. Fall Out Boy. and Matchbook Romance. I was decked out in my hot pink Dickie's capris (from Hot Topic, naturally) and beat up converse and I followed that boy deep into the crowd, where I was thrown back and forth by the mass of people around me, unable to stand on my own & completely lost in the new experience. It was about the time a crowd surfer kicked me in the head that I look back to see that boy reaching up to protect me. That was the moment I fell in love with the boy who would become my husband.


we always took after-show selfies with a disposable camera at each show. I shared a few concert snapshots from over the years here.

After that, going to shows to see live music became one of my favorite things about dating C. We saw so many good bands all over Austin. We burned CD's and made mixtapes (something we're still doing). Music became the common language between us. To some extent, it still is today.

We recently went back to Stubbs, almost ten years to the day of my first show there. Our ultimate favorite band, Brand New, was back in Austin after almost five years, and we weren't going to miss it for anything. So much has changed since that first show. Now, we had cell phones and Tecate in our hand. We weren't all up in each other's business, "sneaking" butt grabs and kisses the way only teenagers dare. But we were together. As the intro music started to play and the lights faded to black, the usual rush to the front began. As we were pushed forward by the power of hundreds of excited fans, we found ourselves back in familiar territory. The band came on, the music blared loud, and I could feel my body get wrapped up in the familiar sounds.



Brand New's first full length album ends with a ballad about teenage love... "Soco Amaretto Lime" was our go-to whenever we needed a singalong around a campfire, or while lying in the yard looking at stars. We sang it a million times with or without the music, it really didn't matter. It's a song that felt so real when I was 18, a little wishful when I was 20 and now just very nostalgic at 26.

I'm gonna stay eighteen forever
So we can stay like this forever
And we'll never miss a party
cause we keep them going constantly
And we'll never have to listen
to anyone about anything
cause it's all been done and it's all been said
we're the coolest kids and we take what we can get

Naturally as this anniversary was approaching, and I knew we'd be standing on the dirt at Stubb's watching Brand New, I wanted to put togheter something to mark the occasion. So I turned the song of my youth into a cocktail: a Bourbon Amaretto.



This cocktail is easy drinking. It's smooth and a little deceptive. But everytime I pour one, I can feel the rush of nostalgia come over me. I'm reminded of all the times over the years that I've made a memory with C. These past ten years have been both amazing and exhausting. It's tough growing up with another person and continuing to grow in the same direction. But somehow, we've managed. I can't wait to see what the next ten years brings.

You can find the recipe for the Bourbon Amaretto on Fueled by Cocktails.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

If you're curious what one solid year of work looks like, this is it...

Screenshots of websites I've built. Information can be found at Happenstance Media - amyrenepowell.com

I spent some time this week refreshing my website http://amyrenepowell.com/ and added a feature I was really excited to get going: a sortable portfolio of my web development projects.

While I share my web projects here from time to time, it's nice to have all of my work in one place so that possible clients can easily view work I've done. When I finally had the page put together, and stopped to admire it, I was shocked at how full the page was. I have even more projects I'm currently working on, so it's only going to keep growing. I love the work that I do. It's challenging, creative and there's always something else new to learn. Here's to many more projects to come.

You can view the full, interactive, portfolio at http://amyrenepowell.com/portfolio. And if you're in need of a little web work, let me know.

Monday, October 20, 2014



As the oldest sibling of four, I had a lot of firsts in my family. First teenager. First driver's license. First to graduate high school, then college. First to get married. And first to turn 21.

I'm not shy about my love of alcoholic beverages. You just have to click over to Fueled by Cocktails or browse my list of cocktail recipes here to know that. My family knows it too & I've been honored to share my passion of a good cocktail with them.

Part of sharing this passion (obsession?) is making sure my brother & two sisters celebrated their 21st birthdays... and this past weekend I checked the third and final sibling off the 21st birthday list.

Jessica: While Jessica was pregnant and/or breastfeeding through both her 21st and 22nd birthday, we finally went out to celebrate on her 23rd. We started at Max's Wine Dive, where we were gifted a half-empty bottle of champagne from the bartender, and had one of my favorite meals ever. We then went to Sixth Street in Austin, where I tried to get her to branch out past cheap beer and tequila. We watched the crowd at Coyote Ugly and had such a fun girls night, just the two of us. (My blog post from her birthday.)

Dana: I think I was planning Dana's 21st birthday way longer than I should admit. We made an all night affair of it, starting with dinner at a fancy restaurant and moving on to Sixth Street (again) during SXSW. We listened to a great 90's alt band, got lost on the dance floor dancing to an extended club version of Gangham Style and ended with amazing street food. (My blog post from her birthday.)

Clark: My baby brother turned 21 this weekend. We celebrated with the entire family at his request, eating his meal of choice: my grandma's chicken fried steak, squash casserole and mashed potatoes. After a few hours of family time, I took Clark over to the Dam Red Barn in Canyon Lake, Texas, at his request. In the warehouse-tunred-bar, we played a really bad game of pool, were given free cans of Mike's Hard Lemonade and drank more cheap beer on the porch while a Stevie Ray cover band played in the corner. We talked & shared stories in a way I haven't had the chance to do with him in a while. (Happy birthday, little brother. I love you.)

I know it's so easy to dismiss 21st birthdays as frivolous and possibly even dangerous affairs... but to me it's an opportunity to celebrate a new stage in life. My whole world opened up when I turned 21, and sharing that experience and feeling with those I love most was really important to me. Each experience perfectly fit each sibling - I made sure of it - and I'm so thankful I was able to keep up with this kind of family tradition through everyone.

And now I just have to wait 17 years for Danzig's turn... If he'll let me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

During each of Texas A&M's conference games, I'll be posting a brunch recipe and complementary cocktail for us all to enjoy. The recipes won't be your typical tailgate fare. I'm classing these up to bring a little extra fancy to our everyday lives. And really what's not to love? Brunch and cocktails is pretty much the best combination around. Get a group of friends together & celebrate your weekend! See all SEC Brunch posts.

Brunch Your Way Through the SEC: TAMU vs Alabama

One of the things Aggies love to hold on to is our shared past of famed coach Bear Bryant. While he reached his fame at Alabama, he also coached for Texas A&M, and we like to remind people of that. What I like most about him, though, are the stories and tales that surround him. To me, Bryant isn't so much a real person as a legend. And all legends have a collection of stories that may or may not be true, but are entertaining nonetheless.

Today's SEC Brunch is an ode to my favorite tale of Bryant. Whether it's true or not, it's great. And I wanted to share it with you today...

Once upon a time, the new Alabama head coach Bear Bryant was on his way to check out a possible recruit in South Alabama. On the way, he got hungry & stopped at an old cinderblock building with a sign outside that just said "Restaurant". He walked in to realize he was the only white person in the place, but went up to the bar and asked what they were serving for lunch. The owner told Bryant, "You probably won't like it here. Today we're having chitlins, collard greens and black-eye peas with cornbread." Bryant responded, "Sounds like I'm in the rice place," and ordered a plate.

While eating, Bryant and owner talked. Bryant revealed he was the new football coach from Tuscaloosa and was out on a recruiting trip. As he was leaving, the owner told Bryant the food was on him. Bryant tried to insist on paying, but the owner just asked for a signed photo instead. He didn't have any photos to give yet, but promised to mail one later, which he did the next day.

Many years later, Bryant was approached by a recruit who had already turned him down but had changed his mind. When Bryant asked him why, he said, "When my grandpa found out that I had a chance to play for you and said no, he pitched a fit and told me I wasn't going nowhere but Alabama, and wasn't playing for nobody but you. He thinks a lot of you and has ever since y'all met."

You can read the full version of that story here.

Black eyed pea with polenta and collard greens
Black eyed pea with polenta and collard greens
Black Eye Pea and Polenta with Collard Greens

This is my version of the dish Bear Bryant was served in that restaurant. This dish is southern with a modern twist. It's easy to make. And it goes perfect with a smooth bourbon drink.

Black Eyed Peas & Collard Green Polenta

Ingredients

  • 1 can black eyed peas
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes in puree
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 bunch collard greens, cleaned, de-stemmed and chopped (really, really clean them)
  • 1 pound bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Tube of pre-cooked polenta (18 oz.) - try to get a seasoned one like Basil or Sun Dried Tomato - cut into 1/2" discs
  • Small container of fried onions

Directions

Start by pre-heating the oven to 350 degrees. Next, pull out a large pan & start cooking the chopped bacon. Cook until crispy.

Mix the black eyed peas, tomatoes, cayenne, onion powder and salt in a pot. Bring to a boil & then let keep it warm until everything else is ready.

Just before the bacon is finished, put the polenta in the oven on a pan and cook for 15 minutes.

When the bacon is crispy, remove it from the grease with a slotted spoon. Let the bacon drain for a little bit on paper towels and then add to the black eyes peas.

Once the bacon is removed from the grease, add the garlic & red pepper flakes to the pan & stir until fragrant. Add the collard greens to the pan and stir until coated. Add 1/2 cup water and steam for 10-15 minutes with the lid on until the collard greens are fully cooked.

Now you should have cooked black eyed peas, cooked collard greens and heated polenta. It's time to assemble your plate...

Arrange the polenta on a plate; top with collard greens and then black eye peas. Sprinkle the dish with the fried onions.

And now make yourself a drink & enjoy.

Grilled Lemon Arnold Palmer
Black eyed pea with polenta and collard greensGrilled Lemon Arnold Palmer

Grilled Lemonade Arnold Palmer

I created a slightly new take on an Arnold Palmer to go with this dish. What makes it special? Grilled (homemade) lemonade. Mix with a little bourbon - or leave it out if you want to make it family friendly - and you've got yourself a really good, refreshing cocktail.

Learn to make your own Grilled Lemonade Arnold Palmer over on Fueled by Cocktails.

Black eyed pea with polenta and collard greens
Black eyed pea with polenta and collard greens

Happy brunching!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

During each of Texas A&M's conference games, I'll be posting a brunch recipe and complementary cocktail for us all to enjoy. The recipes won't be your typical tailgate fare. I'm classing these up to bring a little extra fancy to our everyday lives. And really what's not to love? Brunch and cocktails is pretty much the best combination around. Get a group of friends together & celebrate your weekend! See all SEC Brunch posts.

 Ole Miss

Playing two teams from Mississippi in a row allowed me to really dive into the Mississippi cuisine. While last week's Game Day Strata was good, it didn't represent the state very well. So I tried to make up for that this week by making fried catfish. My research showed that Mississippi cuisine isn't very unique, but there's catfish, biscuits & fresh garden vegetables. I used two of the three (no veggies this week, sorry).

I'm not a huge catfish fan, but I can enjoy some fried catfish every now & then. It was my first time cooking catfish myself & my cast iron skillet came in handy. And because we're playing Ole Miss (Hotty Toddy), I had to serve a Hot Toddy. Which was a great call, because it's rainy & in the 60's today.

Fried catfish & a Hot Toddy
Corn biscuits and fried catfish with a Hot Toddy
Corn biscuits and a Hot Toddy

I didn't make up any of my own recipes for this. I just found great components and put them together. There are three parts to this meal:

#1: Fresh Corn Buttermilk Biscuits

These biscuits were sweet and a great counterpart to the catfish. I'm not a great baker, which is why the biscuits turned out a little flat for me. But I have every confidence you'll fare better. The taste was solid & they were really easy to put together.

Find the recipe here.

#2: Mississippi Fried Catfish

Frying catfish has three steps: Batter the fish. Fry the fish. Let the grease drain. They cook quickly & are fall apart tender when done. If you lot it more spicy, add more cayenne to the batter. Don't be afraid to experiment a bit.

Find the recipe here.

#3: Lemon aioli.

The lemon aioli is the glue that holds the whole dish together. It melds the flavors of the biscuits and the catfish together to make it a complete dish. Don't be shy. Smother everything with the aioli. You won't be sorry.

Find the recipe here.

To assemble the dish:

Place the biscuits on a plate. Place the fried catfish on top. Pour the lemon aioli over the plate. Serve with hot sauce, lemon and a drink.

Fried catfish and biscuits with lemon aioli

Hot Toddy

I made a Hot Toddy to go along with the meal. I love Hot Toddies. And while there are many varieties and versions (did you know you can make one with Tequila?), I opted to go very traditional with this one. Bourbon, honey, a little bitters, lemon juice & boiling water. It's super simple & a great drink on a cool day.

View the Hot Toddy recipe on Fueled by Cocktails.



Happy Brunching!

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