What I Learned Over Winter Break

by Sarah on January 7, 2011 · 9 comments

Alright, I promise…this is the last time I will talk about what I did on my winter vacation. I mean, I feel like I’m in elementary school and it’s the first week back to school and all anyone can think about is everything they did over the summer.

Oh wait, that’s exactly what this IS, except we just had winter ‘vacay’ instead of summer.

So, to close my winter (mis?)adventures* [and get back to posting recipes already] I present you with a list of things I learned over winter break.

*For now. They might strike again.

Because I like to make lists.

And this was the easiest way to present all the random pictures I found on my photo disc that I didn’t know how else to categorize.
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What I Learned Over Winter Break


I’m not the only one who collects recipes written in random places and on random pieces of paper.

(Please note this stuffing recipe is from December, 1994. And it’s on a paper towel.)
My mom has a serious cinnamon and nutmeg obsession.In fact, instead of salt and pepper, she throws cinnamon and nutmeg on everything (and has the shakers to prove it).

Persimmons (like pomegranates) last a REALLY long time.
My mom saved me this one from THANKSGIVING. And it still wasn’t ripe when I arrived home on December 18th. You hopefully saw it’s demise into deliciousness in a previous post.

Our dog, Zelda, is old….but adorable.
Homemade Chex Mix makes me really feel like it is Christmas…
…but every time I’ve tried to make it, it NEVER tastes like my Grammie’s…
…so this year, I (re) made the Sweet & Savory version–upon Sister Smart’s request*–featuring Golden Grahams and substituting Multi-Bran Chex for the suggested Wheat ones. (And adding extra peanuts.)

*Although at first she thought SHE was the one who had made it two years ago. After much discussion, she realized she had either hallucinated or just made it up. I knew then that reinventing history or making up stories and believing they happened might just be genetic.

PS- Multi-Bran Chex? Awesome.

That Sweet & Savory Chex Mix did not last long, proving that no matter what form is comes in…Chex Mix is the best crowd-pleasing snack ever.* [Even though I'll still make a case for hummus (among-us) at every party. :) ]

*Flashback to our family trip to Jamaica when my sister, sister-in-law, brother, and I consumed an ungodly amount of the Honey Nut Chex Mix while playing Scrabble. Three nights in a row.


Speaking of hummus…I think my taste buds have completely changed since moving to Texas. As I ate spoons of adobo sauce from the chipotle can while making my Holiday Hummus and realizing “I just didn’t think it was that spicy” I knew I finally could stand the heat, and would be allowed to stay in The (Texas) [Smart] Kitchen.If you run out of celery for Bloody Marys (because you used it all for roasting the turkey)……asparagus makes a nice stand-in.


Cracklin’ Oat Bran should just be called Crack.

My dad thinks I invented overnight oats. A direct quote from Papa Smart: “You know, you really need to copyright this or something. I mean, someone is going to steal your idea and put it on the internet.”*

*I’m just not even going to go there. I’ll let you think about what I might say to that.
Thus we found ourselves making them at 10:30 PM one evening because he really wanted to try them and needed a lesson. I, interestingly enough, realized I had not had overnight oats (or oatmeal for that matter) in probably three months*….and then almost forgot to put in a banana.

*I’m at peace with the fact that I am the anti-healthy-living-blogger as I say I haven’t eaten oatmeal. Let’s face it, my penchant for bacon, artificial sweetener, and Adam Richman marked me as a blogging outcast long ago.

To make the overnight oats, Papa Smart took a special trip to the store for plain yogurt, whereupon we discovered that there is such a thing as sweetened plain yogurt.
[and yes, it is delicious]

Hanson was on a random episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch when Sabrina was in college and Soleil Moon Frye was her roommate. Just, you know, in case you were wondering.

I should not be trusted to roll the Mexican Wedding Cake cookies in powdered sugar.My sister, however, is a master of cookie ball architecture.Dairy clearances follow me across the country.Somehow, the Boy Scouts have created the best light (!) microwave popcorn I have ever tasted in my life.Our local Wal-Mart sells this Alf’s Natural Nutrition delicious puffed brown rice cereal for $1.And my goll, I don’t know why, but it is just SO good.* [It also looks like I bought it at a general store made of wood.]

*”Good…for mixing with other stuff,” says Papa Smart.

Trader Joe’s actually makes something I don’t like.
Of course, Trader Joe’s also makes what I think might just be the best snack food in the world. [Yes, even better than Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Chips or Stacy's SimplyNaked Pita Chips.]I have spoken of the crazy obsession I had with these puffs before but we were reunited (and it did…it did feel so good), and I realized just how tasty these little bites of fake-cheese-covered-corn-puff-nuggets were. Especially on a cottage cheese bowl.You know what else is in ‘that there’ bowl? Coming in at number–oh gosh, I don’t even know what number lesson I’m on—is…

I’m not sure how I ever lived without herbs de provence.
Seriously, it went on EVERYTHING….including this butternut squash I roasted.(See? It’s heart-shaped. To express his own love for herbs de provence and happiness to be covered in it.)
Herbs de provence also made it into this random “soup” I put together multiple times that basically consisted of a can of stewed Italian-style tomatoes, a can of mushrooms, and whatever random vegetable I had roasted that day (delicata squash, parsnips, carrots…you name it).

Proving, yet again, that you shouldn’t knock canned foods out of contention for dinner. Sometimes they just need a little help.
I will be perfectly happy if I never have to shovel a sidewalk again.
Snow is not my friend. In fact, it causes me physical pain.
Apparently it is now “acceptable” to meet someone on match.com. This just means my grandmother is so worried about me ever getting married she’s willing to put aside her old-fashioned notions of propriety in order for me to find a man.

If I could find Diet Sun Drop anywhere outside of the Midwest, I would never be able to give up soda. Never.(Thanks to Papa Smart for driving two cases of it back from Wisconsin, just so that he could be greatly impressed at my ability to consume an entire can in 15 minutes.)

Decaf coffee is a really great way to wind down after dinner.[And if you live near a Harris Teeter, they apparently sell these mugs that don't get hot if you put them in the microwave!]

My tendency to buy new products* because I’ve never seen them, and then forget about them, travels with me.

*or have Mama Smart buy them for meWhat does sugar cane cola taste like? I may never know.

And finally….


I really need to stop slanting my camera to the left.
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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex@Spoonful of Sugar Free January 7, 2011 at 8:39 am

HAhA! I have so many comments to write on each of your little tidbits….oh you are too funny :)

1) Of course I keep a list of recipes I need to recreate
2) Your mom is super smart to put cinnamon and nutmeg on everything
3) I still need to try one of those heavenly persimmons you keep talkin bout
4) You have an adorable doggy!
5) I've never made homemade chex mix :(
6) Chipotle hummus is my favorite!!! Know whats really good? Cilantro jalepeno…
7)Who really invented overnight oats? Seriously, I need to thank him/her.
8) There is always a sweetened version of everything….sigh….
9) You need a lesson from your sis's cookie-making skills ;)
10) I don't have a Trader Joe's by Me :(
11) Shoveling snow is good exercise!
12) So this is what soda you were talking about…hmmm….
13) I'm drinking my delicious decaf coffee as I write…And I have that same mug!! Did you get it at target?
14) Life isn't as fun without trying new things!

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atastelife January 7, 2011 at 9:26 am

I am so tired of the word snow I could scream.
TJ is a dangerous play to let me visit…I must get those cheese puffs a to the sap.

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Amanda (Eating Up) January 7, 2011 at 10:05 am

I LOVE Boy Scouts popcorn. It's THE BEST.

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Tricia @ Saving room for dessert January 7, 2011 at 12:49 pm

I never knew about Boy Scout popcorn. I need to find a Boy Scout. I love herbs de provence and believe it should come in larger containers, and not be so darn expensive. Tell yo momma about banana breakfast smoothies with tons of cinnamon and nutmeg. MY FAVORITE breakfast of all time. No Trader Joe's in Fredericksburg :( but we do have Wegman's! I am ashamed of myself for not ever even considering asparagus in a Bloody Mary – duhh! What was I thinking????

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Maria @ Oh Healthy Day January 7, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Chex Mix and Christmas go together like Sarah Pember and nut butters (or hummus or persimmons). Can't have one without the other.

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Stefanie January 7, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Love this post! I just learned so much more about you! It's so funny that your Dad thinks you invented overnight oats–who even invented them? Beats me!

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Brittany @ A Healthy Slice of Life January 7, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Aw, parents are so cute! Mine think I invented green monsters- haha :)

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tehstotehara January 7, 2011 at 3:26 pm

First of all, dang, those bloody marys look a little more vodka-ey and a little less tomato-ey. Haha.

Also, Boy Scout popcorn is the best, AND you can order it online!

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Mary @ Bites and Bliss January 7, 2011 at 9:30 pm

I love all the lessons you learned!!! And thanks to this, I've now learned quite a few things too. I had no idea Cracklin Oat Bran actually tasted good..like "crack worthy"? I'll have to give it a try! Oh..and I got just as excited for the $1 brown rice cereal at WalMart, too. :P

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