Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Iron Bowl

(I forewarn you. I got a little wordy with this post. Football gets me all fired up these days!)

Ahh....the Iron Bowl. I don't even know how to describe the rivalry between Auburn University and the University of Alabama to someone not from the South (or more specifically Alabama). It's practically a holiday. Everyone watches this game because everyone has their team. I would say about 99% of Alabamians are either Auburn or Bama fans (that other 1% are most likely transplants). It's a huge deal and is always at the end of the football season.

This year it was a super big deal because Bama was ranked #1 at the beginning of the season (coming off a national championship win last year) and Auburn had an undefeated season and was ranked #2 coming into the game. Since Bama's chances at a repeat championship were out of the question, I'm sure they would have liked nothing more than to knock us out of the running as well. Needless to say, there was a lot riding on the game, and it would be Auburn's last big hurdle before a chance to play in the championship game.

We decided to share this momentous occasion with other Tiger fans and watch the game at the Auburn bar. The game was at 2:30 the Friday after Thanksgiving, so we eagerly got there around 1 to get good seats. The bar wasn't even open yet! I'll admit, I've closed down a few bars in my day but opening one was a first! Within a few minutes they opened the doors and we (including other zealous fans) rushed in to claim our prime spots. The bar gradually filled up until it was time for kickoff.

Then the unthinkable happened...Auburn was terrible! Our defense was nonexistent and our supposedly amazing offense with Heisman hopeful Cam Newton couldn't even manage to get a first down. Alabama scored 21 unanswered points in the first quarter. It was disheartening. After such a strong season, I couldn't believe it would come down to this. Thankfully I don't live in Alabama anymore. Bama fans would be talking about this defeat for years. Somehow Auburn managed to score a touchdown and hold Bama to a field goal before heading to the locker room for halftime. I can't even imagine what kind of pep talk/irate screaming went on during those 20 minutes.

Whatever adjustments the coaches made down there must have worked. Auburn came out in the second half a different team! Auburn's defense was able to capitalize on some Alabama fumbles and slow their movement down the field. The Bama defense was still pretty tough, so Auburn had to switch to more of a passing game to make plays. Everyone in the bar was thrilled. It was great to see the Tigers do so well, but it was such a dismal first half I was prepared to accept defeat in the end. At least it wouldn't be a blow out and would quiet all those Bama fans a bit. But Auburn kept on scoring and kept on stopping Alabama. They only allowed them a single field goal in the second half. 

Never in a million years did I think it would be possible, but Auburn ended up winning! I couldn't believe it until the final seconds but we skirted by with the win of 28-27. Incredible. The bar was absolute mayhem. There was singing, cheering, chanting, high fives, hugs, and more War Eagles! than you could count.

The celebration continued outside to 3rd Avenue where a fan stole some toilet paper from the 515 bathroom to roll the little tree on the sidewalk in front of the bar. Our own little Toomer's Corner! (He even had to climb on the neighboring police truck to retrieve his roll a few times)

It wasn't quite like the scene in Auburn {image from Auburn's Toomer's Corner after the Iron Bowl via} but we did our best. The game definitely brought us through the whole range of emotions and I'm glad to see it ended positively. Maybe I won't stop talking about it for years :) The win against Alabama was enough to bump us up to #1 in the BCS rankings above Oregon. We take on South Carolina this Saturday for the SEC Championship. If all goes well, we'll be traveling to Arizona for the National Championship in January! Wish us luck!

War Eagle!!

Turkey Day

This year I spent Thanksgiving at Kurt's apartment with him and his parents, Erik, Silvia, Silvia's sister Patricia, and the Martig's dog Oxford. We had a fried turkey and loads of good food. After much deliberation, I decided to bring a salad and brownies.

Not ones to waste anything, the Martigs generally fry up some potato chips in the leftover turkey oil.

Kurt made a delicious roasted potato and beet dish. I don't generally like beets but it was very good and seemed really easy. I think he found the recipe via Martha Stewart :)

Oxford ringing the dinner bell! Let's eat! 

It was a lovely day with lots of good food and company. Thanks to the Martigs for all their hard work to make it happen!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Wedding Day

The last stop on our Southern journey was in Pensacola, Florida for my friend Courtney's wedding on Sunday. We left Auburn semi-early (well, maybe not early enough) with Jessica and her boyfriend Eric, picked up some donuts, and hit the road headed for the coast. Thanks for the ride, Jess and Eric! 

The ride was over three and a half hours, so we decided to wear grubby clothes in the car and change into our wedding garb once we got closer. Wendy's was our best option. This one was half restaurant, half gas station. We have standards, you know. Doesn't Kurt look like he loooves weddings?! :)

The cutest little chapel near the water. Unfortunately, we cut our time a little too close and missed Courtney's big entrance into the church. We slipped in during the ceremony and sat quietly in the back. It was such a small crowd, I hope we didn't cause a scene! 

The church and reception site were both right near the bay. I would have loved to run and dug my feet in the sand but time just didn't allow. I miss the beach!

The Auburn crowd + Kurt (our honorary Tiger). Isn't Courtney's dress gorgeous? She had it made specifically for her by a recent fashion school graduate here in NYC and saved loads of money! Good tip!

There was music playing during the reception but not much dancing. However, the bride shared a sweet dance with her father. What you can't see is her mother sobbing in the background. I'm not sure she was prepared for this day as well as she thought! It was sweet. The bride and groom shared their first dance to Etta James' "At Last". They stole my song! I love that one :)

Cute cake. I feel like no one does traditional cake toppers anymore, so it is always interesting to see what people choose. I'm so happy for Courtney and Daniel! They took a honeymoon to Costa Rica before they head back to Mobile, Alabama to begin their married adventure together. Congratulations!

The Loveliest Village on the Plains

These two images were not from our football weekend. I think I took them during my last year at Auburn. I was so excited to bring Kurt there and to go back myself! I hadn't visited since I graduated in May of 2008!

Back to reality, our journey began when we left Birmingham early Saturday morning. Joey and Kurt rode in front and Jen, her little brother Robby, and me in the back. I got the pleasure of riding in the middle seat for our two hour drive. I enjoyed my vantage point immensely. Don't let anyone tell you anything different.

One of my most highly anticipated events of going to Alabama: a trip to Chick-Fil-A! Our early departure time made it possible to stop there for breakfast on the way out of town. I love their chicken biscuits so much! Mmmm...I'm dreaming of them now. Why can't they come to NYC?! Please?!

We finally made it! Auburn traffic quadruples on game days, but it is fun to see all sorts of people pouring into town for one, collective purpose.

Fante tailgate central. We met Joey's parents at their tailgate spot and set up camp before the game. While many things change, some things pretty much stay the same. This was Joey's tailgate spot while we were in school and it was great to be back! The crowd was a little smaller :( but still a great time hanging with the Fantes. I'm so glad they let Kurt and me tag along. We had a fun day!

I took Kurt on a tour of campus. We stopped at the Architecture building, good old Dudley Hall where I spent many a long nights in studio.

My old dorm, Broun Hall.

Some real tailgating :) It was spread all around campus just as I remember. I'm glad Kurt got to see how it is done in the South and will spread the good word back to certain school in Ohio.

We have crazy fans too! You better believe his horn plays the fight song :)

Majestic Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Kurt also got to experience one of Auburn's great game day traditions. The players walk from their bus (they stay in a hotel the night before games) parked near the athlete's dorms to the stadium through a crowd of cheering fans who want an up close look.

He got to see Heisman hopefull, Cam Newton...

and our coach Gene Chizik. Kurt was sad he did not get a glimpse of his new crush Gus Malzahn though :(

It took us a little while to find tickets for the game. I was afraid we weren't going to make it in the stadium! Thankfully, we finally made a deal and got in there! Look closely at the center of the field and you will see Nova after he finished his War Eagle! flight around the stadium.

One of my favorite stadium experiences is the fly over. Occasionally, Auburn would have jets from a nearby airfield fly over Jordan-Hare just as the National Anthem reaches its culmination. It's amazing. The roar of the engines really gets you pumped up for the game. I think my favorite part of our day was when Kurt turned to me after the fly over and said, "that was terrifying!" 

The team takes takes the field!

War Eagle!

Georgia got off to an early lead but Auburn came back and finally won! It was a high tension game and some Auburn players were removed from the game towards the end for unsportsmanlike conduct. I still believe the Bulldogs started it. It just doesn't seem like a very Auburn thing to do :)

Woo hoo! War Eagle!

The ultimate Auburn tradition is to roll Toomer's Corner with toilet paper after a win.

The aftermath. It was a great day and I'm glad Kurt was able to take in the full Auburn experience!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

They Can't All be Winners

After yesterday's soup success, I was feeling like a cooking bad ass. I was on a roll and wanted to try something else. I've always had this obsession with lemon shortbread cookies (after reading through recipes, it must be the approximate stick of butter per cookie that makes them so yummy!) but had never made them and wanted to give it a whirl.

I think maybe it was my sous chef who steered me wrong. The recipe I found didn't sound difficult and required limited ingredients. I didn't even have to buy eggs! 

An entire stick of butter (and I halfed the recipe), sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest.

Flour and salt.

When I mixed them together, I expected to get a dough-like consistency. Instead, it ended up like slightly clumpy flour and was very dry. I read and reread the recipe, expecting I had missed some major source of moisture. Nope. Nothing. The recipe then called for you to shape your mixture into a block and refrigerate for a few hours. I could see this venture was heading south quickly and if I continued to follow the directions, I would only end up with a pile of slightly chilled flour. Here's where I went rogue:

I decided to pack about half of my powdery dough into a mini muffin pan and hope for the best.

I just couldn't bear to toss the rest of the dough, so I thought it would be a brilliant idea to squeeze the juice from the lemon I had zested into the bowl to firm up the dough. It helped a bit and I was able to scoop some spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet.

In the end I guess it could have been a lot worse. The muffin style cookies are kind of like shortbread bricks (I think I packed too tightly) and the globular cookies are super lemony. They both taste like shortbread but are in no way ready for public consumption. I think I will leave Lemon Shortbreads to the experts at Harry and David!
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