Monday, December 2, 2013

Sweet Squash Casserole

I went out on a limb and tried a new recipe as my contribution to Thanksgiving dinner. It actually turned out pretty well. If you enjoy spiced apples, this is a great mix-up to add a little more flavor and texture to your dish.
First, I put about 2 cups of corn flakes through the food processor. The recipe only called for 1/4 a cup, but I added more for a "crunchier" topping to the casserole.
Then, I blended 4 cans of squash (you can boil 2 lbs of fresh squash if you prefer), 1/4 cup of butter, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and a pinch of salt and white pepper.

I then sliced up four Granny Smith apples into thin slivers, added 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter and sprinkled 1/4 cup of white sugar into the mixture. I stirred until the apples had become tender, and then spread the apple mixture out into a 3-quart casserole dish.

I then poured the squash mixture evenly into the pan over the apples.
After that, I mixed an additional 2 tablespoons of melted butter (I never said this was exactly dietetic..) with 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup chopped pecans and the cornflakes together.  

After sprinkling the topping evenly over the mixture, I placed the casserole in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Once it had cooked, I let it sit for about ten minutes before serving.

Although sweet and unfortunate for the waistline, this may be my new go-to dish for the holidays.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Greenway, Part Deux

I've set a new rule for myself.
If I spend the morning hiking the greenway (8 miles minimum) and return home to spend the rest of the day on the couch eating junk food and watching television, I can consider the day "productive".
Throw in some camera shots of my hike to encourage my somewhat evolving photography skills, and we've had a damn near action-packed multi-tasking day of production.
Six hours of Friends reruns nonwithstanding.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ole Miss Reunion

I had an amazing time in Oxford this weekend for the Ole Miss v. Missouri game. Although my Rebels lost the game, we didn't lose the party.
We got things started at the bars on Friday night..
And the good times continued into the next day, when tailgating in the Grove began around noon.. 
And the band played Dixie.. literally..
We had to make a stop at our sorority tent..

Everyone gathered around two hours before the game to watch the team walk down the Walk of Champions.

 Unfortunately, by halftime, we decided it was too cold to stay in the stadium (it was about 23* that night). So my roommate and I decided to walk back to the house.

Obviously I had to stop for a photo here..

And we made it back to the house in plenty of time to watch my Rebels lose the game.

Regardless of our less-than stellar record this season, I'm proud of my Rebels. And I am so thankful that I was able to visit Oxford at least once this year and re-live some of the best memories of my life with even better company.

Now it's time to start planning our next Oxford reunion..

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Back in the Public Eye

Oh, John Edwards.

Where do I start?

His marital indiscretions aren't really what bother me the most. All politicians have affairs. It's just a hazard of the trade.

But using campaign contributions to cover up his dalliances? That's taking politics to an entirely new level.

John Edwards is one of those individuals who has the ability to take the American Dream, and twist and distort it into something unrecognizable.

To make matters even worse, he lied about his indiscretions. Consistently.

Who wouldn't want this man in the White House?

And now comes the really exciting news.

He's riding back into Raleigh on his white steed, ready to pick up where he left off in the land of ambulance-chasing-bluecollar-preying-low-life personal injury law.

It seems the senator's reported $30 million nest egg just isn't enough to cover his $500 haircuts nor the mortgage payments on his $1.7 million beach house.

Just when we thought we'd gotten rid of him for good, he rears his ugly head and assures us that we haven't seen the last of him. No, far from it.

It takes some brass balls to return to a society that once helped you to work your way up the political ladder to a position that then spit you out and kicked you into the gutter.

Thanks for doing your part to uphold the stereotype of a hard-working Southern politician.

I'm sure that won't come back to bite us in the future.

So, on behalf of Raleigh citizens everywhere, I'd like to un-welcome you back to society, Mr. Edwards.

You certainly were not missed.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

History of the Ole Miss Dress Code

Everyone constantly asks why Ole Miss students and alumni dress up on gameday.

Of course our look is much better than the grungy t-shirt wearing, body-painted, thrown-together appearance that some other schools may encourage for football games.

But there's also a great deal of history behind our dress code.
In 1861, just after the Civil War had begun, the entire male student body (with the exception of four) and much of the male faculty joined together to enlist in the war, causing the university to close its doors temporarily.

These men became affectionally known as the "University Greys".

They embarked on a journey to meet up with a larger with a larger band of Mississippi soliders in Corinth, Mississippi and formed the 11th Mississippi Infantry.

Supposedly, upon their departure, each one of the University Greys donned a formal suit, insisting that as gentleman, they wanted to ride into battle dressed in their finest.

It has been said that the University Greys led Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Unfortunately, our boys suffered 100% casualties in that battle.

The surviving few returned to their hometowns after the war as local heroes.

To this day, Ole Miss keeps up with the honor and the legacy of the University Greys on football day by wearing their Sunday best.

Because we, too, intend on riding into battle dressed in our finest.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Barry Hannah's Legacy

My life has been a blessed one. I've been presented with countless opportunities to learn, grow, and explore my possibilities.

One of my greatest opportunities was presented to me in the form of a senior literature course at Ole Miss.

The professor teaching the course was none other than the infamous Barry Hannah.

It was considered, among the many literature fanatics taking up residence in Mississippi, an honor to sit at the feet of the such a high-esteemed writer such as Dr. Hannah.

Our class met on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, in a small room near the center of campus, stifled with stale humidity.

It was a constant challenge to arrive at least twenty minutes early, as the class roster was at full capacity, students clamoring to stake out a front-row seat for Dr. Hannah's lecture.

The class was meant to be devoted to film noir, but as apparently was often the case with Dr. Hannah's classes, the topic more than often progressed towards the aspect of becoming a better writer.

My notebooks, many of which I still have, were filled of colloquialisms and literary tips provided by the professor, rarely a mention of the intended subject matter itself.

He was a calm and inviting gentleman, the years of alcohol use etched into his weathered expressions.

Traveling alongside him was a rolling canister of oxygen, a direct contradiction to the soft pack of Marlboros he kept tucked in the pocket of his well-pressed button-down shirt.

To that end, he took his time getting to class, and almost always arrived precisely ten minutes after class was intended to begin.

Perhaps the most important advice I gained from him was that writing should never be adapted to an audience.

"You must stop writing knowing that your mother will read your words," he often instructed. "In writing for others, we lose sight of the message."

As the semester hammered on, I remember looking forward to my bi-weekly meetings with the legendary professor, never once missing one of his classes (which, for someone with an average record of less than stellar attendance, was a miracle).

By the time our sessions had come to an end, no one was ready to say goodbye to Dr. Hannah.

The last day of class, I remember everyone staying half an hour later than usual as we all soaked in the last of the great professor's words of wisdom and asked our own individual questions surrounding our own writing styles.

Over Christmas break, when grades were due to appear online, I signed in to the university website to view my own.

Next to "Film Noir", an "F" appeared.

I panicked. There was no way that could be right. I had earned A's and B's on all of my assignments in Dr. Hannah's class.

Frantically, I dialed up the registrar and was able to obtain Dr. Hannah's home telephone number.

I called him at once, hurriedly explaining the situation at hand after he picked up on the third ring.

He calmed me down and asked me what name I had been signing on my assignments.

At once I knew what the problem was. He had submitted his final grades as they applied to the formal names listed on the class roster.

Dr. Hannah knew me by my nickname, not by my formal one. He simply hadn't made the connection between the two.

He apologized for not making the correction, and assured me that he would amend my grade accordingly.

Three days later, the "F" still appeared in the system. I called him again, and he apologized again, more profusely. He assured me that he would contact the academic office the next day.

Two more days passed, and I grew even more frantic.

My final grade remained incorrect.

I had just completed my last semester in college. With an "F" in this course, I wouldn't be able to graduate.

I waited another day and called Dr. Hannah's number again. This time, it went straight to his answering machine. I left a polite (but obviously agitated) message asking for him to return my call.

Several days later, his number popped up on my caller ID. I answered it, and was greeted with the voice of an older woman at the other end of the line.

"Is this Mary?" she asked. "I'm Dr. Hannah's wife. I'm sorry for taking so long to return your call. My husband had asked for me to let you know that he was able to correct your grade with the English department yesterday afternoon."

With a sigh of relief, I thanked her profusely and asked her to thank her husband as well.

Calmly, the woman explained that Dr. Hannah had passed away the evening before.

I felt my heart drop.

From his death bed, this sweet man had actually made it his mission to make sure I graduated on time.

Instead of spending his last days with his family, my professor had made it his personal mission to tie up loose ends for a student he had only known for a few months.

I immediately offered my condolences and assured Mrs. Hannah that her husband had meant a great deal to the students whose lives he had touched.

To this day, I still remember the lessons Dr. Hannah taught me.

In his life, as well as in his death, this man was as much a hero to me as one of the characters in his stories.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Greenway Weekend

So I recently discovered how close my new apartment is to the Raleigh Greenway. And the timing could not be more perfect, considering I'm in the middle of my weight-loss obsession before flying down to Oxford in a couple of weeks.

Last Sunday my roommate and I hiked 7 miles on the greenway. Yesterday I woke up at 7:30 and hiked another 8. And then this morning I clocked in another 8 miles. Needless to say I had ample photography opportunities. And boy, did I take advantage of them. 

Here are a few of my favorites.