Change Is In The Air

Hi folks! I just wanted to give you the heads up that the look of my little blog will be changing shortly. It was one of my very thoughtful Christmas gifts from Brother Dean. The other was that you can now visit The Daily Cynema directly by typing:

dailycynema.com

***While the cite is in transition, the http://www.dailycynema.com URL isn’t function, but it works if you drop the “www” part.

I feel like such a big girl now that I’m dropping the .blogspot from my address. The blog content will remain the same (recipes, Parker photos, thoughts about running and cycling and other random musings), I’ll just have a customized look. Fun stuff!

In other news, the Irishman and I are obsessing over the weather. We’re supposed to do a quick jaunt to Asheville for my friend’s New Years Eve wedding, but we need to make sure that we can leave town by 6am on New Year’s Day to make it to Jacksonville in time for the Gator Bowl. On the one hand, I would hate to miss her wedding. On the other, I remember what it was like trying to get out of town with the last snow storm and certainly don’t want to be stuck in that for a day or two. Oh and when I say, “quick jaunt,” what I mean is that we’ll be driving 24 of the 56 hours that we’ll be out of town.

Parker and the pups will be living in Hotel de Parentals while we’re gone and enjoying the glorious weather while we truck up and down the east coast to attend a wedding, ring in the New Year and attend Bobby Bowden’s last game. Wish us luck!

Soul Cleansing

sunrise Pictures, Images and Photos

I went out for a run this morning after taking a little over a week off. Whenever I take any amount of time off, a small seed of self doubt sprouts and I start to wonder whether I’m losing conditioning, losing muscle tone and losing my mental edge. In other words, I needed to go out this morning to make sure that I was still in the game.

I tied on my shoes, strapped on my iPod and headed out into the cool morning air. My immediate feeling was one of relief. Nothing had been lost. I looked down the familiar stretch of road and settled in for an easy 4 miles. You know, the asphalt is such a familiar companion that it almost feels like a friend. Regardless of the city or the state, it pretty much feels the same under my feet and that is quite comforting, particularly in the predawn hours when you’re only companions are the trees and the road.

As the miles slowly ticked along, my muscles loosened and my mind wandered. The stress that I carried high in my shoulders slowly dissolved and without though, my stride lengthened as if my burden was lightened.

Each step of my run was like the passing of a rosary bead. Caught up in the grace and redemption of the run, I came down the home stretch feeling as if my soul was cleansed. There’s a certain lightness that those miles bring to me that I have never felt within the walls of a church. Thankfully, my ritual of the run comes more than just once a week because it is my peace between stretches of chaos.

Merry Christmas!

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Wishing everyone a wonderful and restful Christmas! My mom is in the kitchen cooking breakfast, Christmas music is flowing through the house, the AC is cranked high to give the illusion of a cold Christmas morning and Parker is systematically learning how to use all of his new toys.

The rest of us? Well, we’re plowing through a pot of coffee to compensate for Parker’s early wake up call.

Melomakarona

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Melomakarona are a delicious little spice cookie that’s dipped in a honey infused simple syrup and topped with chopped walnuts. Like the other recipes I’m posting this week, these are traditionally only made at Christmas. Greeks are quite particular about reserving certain dishes for specific events, which is sometimes quite unfortunate because I’m in love with a sweet dish that’s only made for funerals and memorials and my mother refuses to teach me how to make it when our family gets together during the holidays. Even though she has a Ph.D., the superstitions of her homeland are still alive and well.

Alright, let’s make these little guys. Our ingredients are:

1 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cognac o brandy
1/4 cup orange juice
3.5 cups flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of cloves

Syrup:
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 Tablespoons honey

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts for garnishing

Using a mixer, mix together the oil and sugar. Add in the cognac and the orange juice. In a separate measuring cup, mix together the baking soda,powder, cinnamon and cloves and add it to the mix. Now, slowly add in additional cups of flour until you can roll the dough into a seamless ball (without it cracking). I usually stop using the mixer at this point and start mixing by hand so that I can make sure to get the consistency right. This is the consistency and shape that we’ll be making.

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Truly, you can mold them into whatever shape you’d like, just make sure that they’re all the same size. Of course, this is the traditional shape of the cookies in Greece and, you guessed it, the only shape that we make them here. Once they’re all shaped, lightly score the tops with the flat top of a fork, which both slightly flattens them and makes criss-cross marks across the surface.

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Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Just like yesterday’s recipe, we’re going to allow the cookies to cool completely before proceeding.

Once they’re cool, let’s put the simple syrup together. In a sauce pan, add in the sugar, water and honey and allow the mixture to softly boil for 10 minutes.

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Turn the heat off of the syrup. Using tongs, we’re going to drop in 5 cookies at a time, allow them to soak in they syrup for about 30 seconds, and then put them back on the cookie sheet.

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After they’ve all been dipped, sprinkle the tops with the chopped walnuts. Using a ladle, spoon the remaining syrup on top of the cookies.

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Like the other cookies, these are meant to get better as time passes so while you’re definitely free to pop a couple into your mouth immediately, they’ll be phenomenal the following day.

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If you’re serving these to others or taking them with you, put each cookie in a muffin liner and put a piece of wax paper in between each layer.

Revani

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My absolute favorite part of the holidays are the traditions. In Greece, it’s all about the baking. We make cookies and cakes and sweet breads. My goodness is there a lot of baking, but that’s all right by me because I love being in my mom’s kitchen.

This year, Parker was old enough to get in on the action. Here he is reading my mom the recipe.

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When she asked him what the ingredients were, he recited the recipe for blueberry muffins. While Parker and I do make them quite often, that’s not what we’re sharing with you today. Nope, today, we’re making Revani, which is a simple syrup infused cake and unbelievably simple to make. Let’s get started.

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We need:

5 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup corn oil
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 cup cream of wheat
1/4 cup orange juice
3 teaspoons baking powder
zest of 1 lemon
dash of cinnamon

(for the simple syrup)
1.5 cups sugar
2 cups water
1/4 chunk of lemon

First, separate your eggs.

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(Notice that Parker is mixing his own batch of “cookies”. My mom and I just kept throwing random stuff in there to keep him occupied. We almost died when he tasted it and said, “Mmmmm”!)

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form and set aside.

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Now, beat your egg yolks with the sugar and slowly add in your other ingredients (wet ingredients first- oil, milk, OJ- and then the flour, baking soda and cream of wheat and dash of cinnamon).

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The final step is gently folding the egg whites in by hand. (I don’t have a picture of this because my mother works crazy fast and keeps forgetting that I’m trying to take pictures of it.)

Once everything is mixed together, pour the batter into a greased 9″ by 13″ pan and bake for 35 minutes in a 350 degree oven. It will be a beautiful dark gold when it’s done.

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Before we make the syrup, we want the cake to cool completely so let it cool for about 30 minutes before you start making the syrup.

To make the syrup, add the sugar water and lemon into a sauce pan and bring to a boil.

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Adjust the temperature so that it maintains a soft rolling boil for about 10 minutes. It will thicken to the consistency of corn syrup.

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Let it cool for about 5 minutes and then drizzle the warm syrup over the cool cake. Now this is the hard part – cover the cake with foil, put it aside and forget about it until the next day. It’s tormenting, I know, but trust me on this. Once the syrup is absorbed by the spongy cake, it becomes absolutely divine.

Fast forward to the next day.
You now have my permission to cut into this beauty.

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Simple, sweet, moist, delicious. I hope you enjoy!

Greener Pastures

In a span of 36 hours, we went from this…

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to this.

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My plans for this holiday season include the following things:

1. Work on my tan.
2. Make Greek Christmas cookies.
3. Drink beer, egg nog and wine…in moderation, of course.
4. Work on my tan.
5. See a movie. Or two.
6. Visit with family and old friends.
7. Workout.
8. Eat aforementioned cookies.
9. Polish off my tan.
10. Watch football.
11. Take lots of beach and sun pictures to make my January self jealous.
12. Relax.
13. Have fun.
14. Miss home.
15. Be Merry and Bright.