Monthly Archives: October 2011

Flashback Friday :: Texas Skydiving 2009

I found this thing that I had written in May of 2009 after taking a trip to Texas for my friend’s birthday.  Sometimes I forget… “Oh yeah!  I’ve jumped out of a plane once.”  Here’s the story of how that came about.

TAKING THE PLUNGE….10,500 ft.  San Antonio, TX.  May 2009
Let me start by saying that I am not an extreme sports type of gal.  I’m really not interested in engaging in activities that might leave me toothless, render me unconscious, or break my bones…but for some reason, jumping out of an airplane at 10,500 ft., potentially going splat and consequently ending my life seemed like a fine idea.
At the beginning of May I decided that I’d like to sky dive.  To me, it’s just one of those things that I’d love to experience, but would probably have some hefty hesitation if I were a mother….or just older and wiser.  So, I made the decision to jump out of an airplane, but I thought…hmmm, baby steps…bungie jump first!
The NEXT day…Niki called to ask me if I’d come visit her for her birthday Memorial Day weekend and would I consider skydiving.  All I did was shrug my shoulders, look quizzically up and around to the Universe and say “Yes. Yes to both.” Niki squeeled with delight (which is just what The Niki does) and I booked my flight to San Antonio.  The whole “bungie jump baby steps” idea flew out the window because it was just too perfect that she called the day after I had the idea.
A couple of weeks went by and then the day before I was leaving for Texas, I was watching a cartoon called Toot & Puddle with the kids that I Nanny.  Toot & Puddle (for those not in the know) are two best friend “roommate” male pigs who love to travel.  What were Toot & Puddle going to be doing on this episodes adventure???  You guessed it…SKYDIVING.  After seeing this cartoon, I thought “there’s no way I’ll die.  The Universe WANTS me to jump out of a plane!”
Toot & Puddle Image Source
Saturday was the big day.  Niki was so excited and bouncing off the walls.  There were several of us girls jumping, so she requested that we all wear pig-tails in honor of her birthday.  My hands had been shaking since I woke up that morning.
When we arrived at Skydive San Marcos, I was feeling so nauseous and my shaking hands had amplified from a 3 to an 8 on the Richter Scale.  Then, I heard a noise…I looked up and saw a group floating down on their parachutes and I instantly felt better.  Everything calmed down inside and I knew that it was going to be okay.  We went in to register and wait for our turn to suit up. 

The Universe may have said to me…”Sure. Do it…you’ll be fine, Kiddo.  It’ll be good for you!” BUT…Mother Nature had other thoughts.  She decided to torture us with major storms…just when it was our turn. Twice. 
Day 1: Got to register, but never made it back to suit up
Day 2:  Was able to get in my suit (where I looked liked freaking Christmas)
and then…NEVERMIND!  Another storm.
So…on Memorial Day at 8:30 a.m. (after the 300 miles we drove over the weekend to get to the jump site three days in a row) we suited up, went through our 30 second training (thorough, huh!), entered the plane and got ready to jump.

Day 3:  jumping girls

I should pause here to give thanks to Mother Nature.  Had she not stopped us the first two days, I might have been a total wreck, shaking and wanting to vomit.  Instead, because of the baby steps I took each day…going a little further in the steps of preparing to jump each time…I was completely calm and fine.  I had worked all my nerves out in the two day preparation and then in the disappointment each time we had to cancel.  So when it was time for me to exit the plane, I was cool as a cucumber.
I did have a brief “Oh fuck” moment as I squatted at the opened door, but then there was the “123! ” and no turning back.  My tandem jumper and I did a flip out of the plane then a free fall for 60+ seconds….and that was the BEST PART.  You know that gross feeling (when you’re riding a roller-coaster) that all your internal organs are flying up into your throat?  I had expected that during the free fall, but didn’t get it all.  It was such a cool feeling and being able to see the grid of Texas pastures filled with cows and horses below me was really fun.
The opening of the parachutes were a jolt to the nerves.  We did some spinning tricks and then I took over on the handles of the parachute while my instructor prepared us for landing (which, scared me).  But what really scared me were the suicidal thoughts I had for a split second.  What if I just let go?  Would it be that bad if I died?  Would I be missed?  This is probable;y worth investigating sometime :-/  
My landing was a total disaster and leaving me miraculously unscathed.  I didn’t run hard enough and tripped, which sent me tumbling to the ground with a very sizable man strapped to my back.  No bruises or broken bones.
Side note…I did go up in the plane with pig-tails, but landed with a very attractive knotted bird nest on the side of my head.

 

That evening, I headed back home to Florida in a plane I would not be jumping out of.  It was a very fun Memorial weekend filled with old and new friends, a truly spectacular diet of chips & queso, breakfast tacos, steak and countless margarita’s, and a very amazing skydive that was well worth the wait.  xoxo, Jenna.

Blueberry Pie: gluten/dairy/egg/corn free for Food Alergies

Have I ever told you how much I love butter?  … and dairy … and eggs?  OH…and gluten too?  I do. I’m a cook and a baker who has a very sensitive palette.  I know when something is made without those wonderful ingredients that I just mentioned.  I can taste the lack of fat and calories an starchy goodness.  It’s either a gift or I’m a snob.  When I bake I go hard with all the good stuff.

Enter, Nicolle.  Nicolle has SEVERE food allergies.  Throat closing, anaphylactic shock, has flat-lined twice in her life type of food allergies.  Throughout our friendship, I have monitored the size of her throat and watched her down a bottle of Benedryl on several occasions.  I have even, in a pinch, built a barrier with my own body to prevent a spilled beer from coming in contact with her skin.  When you love someone living with the constant threat of being hospital bound, you become very vigilant and protective of them.  One day at an outdoor eatery, my girlfriends and I whipped around and grilled some women at the table behind us for the ingredients on the bottle of some sort of aerosol that they sprayed. Nicolle became worried of the slight raspberry smell.  Raspberries = Allergic.  They were quite annoyed with us and in hind-sight we were probably really intense, but when concerned, sister friends pounce.

Pot-lucks amongst friends.  Awesome, right?  Cooking for friends.  I love it!  Cooking for Nicolle?  Scary as Hell.  She always provides things she can eat at a fun gathering and if others bring something that contains either dairy, eggs, wheat, raspberries…and now corn, she comments on how beautiful it looks or smells and then stays the hell away from it.  Cross contamination is a big deal.  At our recent girlfriend get-together, I really wanted to attempt a dessert that she could enjoy along with the rest of us.  Where do you turn for delicious recipes that are Nicolle friendly???  Cooking for Food Allergies Everyday and Gourmet.  

This book was written by Nicolle’s Mom, Libby Avery.  I have never tasted a single thing that she’s made where I’ve missed the buttery/eggy/gluten goodness.  The woman is a marvel.  Below is her fantastic recipe for a stellar blueberry pie without dairy, eggs, wheat or corn(starch).

This wasn’t my prettiest pie, but the taste was beautiful.  Recipe below 🙂  
Xoxo, Jenna


PREPARE THE CRUST:

I used a mix by Namaste Foods that I found at Whole Paycheck.  It’s very different than working with a regular pie dough.  It’s so flaky and fell apart easily.  I had a difficult time creating a decorative top crust (which I really like to do) and was left with making a crumble top.  The bottom crust was easy to mold into my ceramic pie pan (I would recommend this…especially when using this type of dough.)  I normally eat around pie crust because, unless it’s the bomb, I’m just not a fan.  However, I really liked THIS crust and ate it all.  I might try to perfect it for future baking because it was really good.

FILLING:
5 cups fresh blueberries
1 large bag of frozen blueberries
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 to 1/2 of a fresh lemon (depending on the sweetness of the berries)
2 tbls. tapioca starch (this stuff is awesome by the way)
2/3 to 1 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of the berries) I used 2/3 c
pinch of salt
INSTRUCTIONS:
Blind bake your pie crust to the recommended temperature (I think it’s 400) for 10-12 minutes.
In a medium suce pan, add all of the fresh berries and 1/2 of the contents of the frozen.
Also add the cinnamon, nutmeg, tapioca starch, lemon juice, sugar and salt.
Heat on low to medium low, stirring occasionally until syrupy.
Turn heat to medium high or high and bring to a boil while stirring until the mixture becomes thick.  If you don’t think the mixture is thick enough, mix tapioca starch in a separate bowl with some cold water and gradually add it to the boil until desired thickness.
Remove mixture from heat and stir in remaining frozen berries and fill your blind baked crust.
If you have remaining pie dough or want to make a new batch, you can make a lattice top or any other decorative top crust.  {{{THIS DID NOT WORK FOR ME AT ALL}}}
FOR MY CRUMBLE TOPPING:
Crumble up remaining dough with hands or in a food processor along with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of salt.  I just eyeballed this and did a few raw dough nibbles to see if the spices were enough.  Crumble your topping over the blueberry mixture.
Bake your pie for 30-45 minutes (at same temp as your blind bake) until bubbly around the edges.  Keeping an eye on your outer crust.  If it starts to look like it’s browning too much, remove from oven and gently wrap the edges with tin foil.  This will help keep it from burning.