January 13, 2012

One Month In

Posted in Culinary Explorations, Life as a Mrs. at 10:50 PM by goingbeyondzebra

Yes, it’s true. Mark and I have now been married for one whole month! I know, I know, on the grand scale of things that’s not a lot, but it has gone by so fast! We’ve been adjusting well so far as I can tell and life has been good, though of course we both have been learning a lot about marriage, about each other, and about ourselves over this past month. We are almost finished unpacking all of the boxes, and I am about halfway through the thank you notes! Not terribly impressive I know, but we are moving along, slowly but surely.

Over the past week or two I have attempted to try several new things, mostly related to cooking and hairstyles. Last Friday Mark and I faced our first attempt at homemade-from-scratch pizza. Everything was going great until it came time to stretch out the dough into nice, round circles. I pushed, I pulled, I did everything the instructions demanded, but the dough would not stretch. Every time I would start to get it into a circle, it would immediately shrink back up and convert into some sort of twisted, Cirque Du Soleil contortionist pose. It was like the demon dough from Hades. After about twenty minutes of me pounding, punching, and eventually throwing the dough in the kitchen, Mark decided it was time to step in as the relief dough-er. He calmly took over, only to have marginally better success than me, until we eventually had to throw that portion of dough away because it had been worked into uselessness (the recipe made three portions, thankfully).

Out came the second portion. I decided to try the fates again, and after many more minutes of frustrating non-success, I finally gave up trying to make a decently sized, round-shaped pizza and just started slathering on our homemade sauce (which turned out lovely, by the way), and piling on our toppings. It actually looked almost decent at this point. Then came time to try to slide the pizza off the wood we had been using and onto the pre- heated pans per instructions. I almost cheerily opened the oven which held our pans, and tilted the wood to let the pizza slide. Nothing happened. I reached down to try to push it along. Nothing happened. I tried to pull it down from the other end. Nothing happened. Frustration began to mount once more.

Finally I grabbed the pan (using a potholder, thankfully), slammed it on top of the oven, and tried to pick the pizza up and move it onto the pan, but only succeeded in tearing holes in our dough. At this point Mark sidled back over to me and we tried a two-person approach with no success. Finally, I told him “I quit! We’ll just make it some sort of calzone!” After which I slapped one side of the pizza on top of the other, picked it up (which produced a few new holes) and dropped it onto the pan. Thankfully I did has the presence of mind at this point still to pinch the ends together and tried to patch up the holes before shoving it in the oven. I then looked at Mark and said “you do the next one” before leaving the kitchen to regroup.

Our second pizza which turned out half-decent

At this point we had been attempting to do the “easy” part of pizza making for about an hour, and it was after 9:00 PM, so we were very hungry (the process of making the dough and sauce took about 3 hours overall, including the rising). Our last attempt at pizza actually almost turned out circle-like, and Mark had learned from our freshly acquired experience that we needed to put the stretched dough onto the pizza pan before putting on the toppings (who cares what the directions say?) and so the last pizza actually managed to look pretty much like a pizza.

They did cook pretty well and didn’t taste to bad overall. Though the sort-of calzone was a bit scary and looked like it might attack at any moment, or try to steal our first born (or maybe get into a fight with the cat). It was definitely a…ummm….”learning” experience. We are going to attempt to do them again tomorrow, we think. We’ll see what happens!

Two days later (this past Sunday) we hosted a mini-playoffs party for the youth from our church, so I decided this was the PERFECT time to try out a few new recipes I had found via a website called Pinterest. They were Buffalo Chicken Bites and Nutella Stuffed Cream Puffs. I did most of the preparations the night before, so really it was just a matter of cooking both of the recipes once I got home after church on Sunday.

Let me insert here that the apartment has an electric oven. I grew up cooking in a gas oven. For those of you who have not had to switch from one to the other, it can be a bit of an adjustment. Trust me. Moving on!

The buffalo chicken bites suggested lining the cookie sheets you used to bake them on with parchment paper for easier clean-up. However, we didn’t have any parchment paper, so I decided to use wax paper instead, a substitution I have made many times before with no ill results (in fact, many recipes that suggest using parchment paper often list wax paper as an alternative). I popped the bites in the oven, set the timer, then moved onto getting the cream puff dough ready to fry.

The last of the Bites, see, they turned out fine!

As I waited for the oil to heat, the timer went off and I opened the oven door to check out the bites. I was immediately engulfed in a cloud of smoke. Coughing and fearing the worst, I quickly removed the bites and checked for burning, there was none. I looked in the oven to see if anything had dropped onto the electric heating device. Nothing had. Puzzled, I shrugged and put the bites back in, as they still weren’t quite done cooking, and went back to the cream puffs.

A few minutes later I opened the oven to the same result. By now the apartment was beginning to cloud up with smoke, and to make things worse Mark arrived with the first youth guy. We opened the doors and windows, turned on the fans, and I rechecked everything in the oven, but it all seemed fine. That batch of bites was done by now, so I shrugged again and popped in the second batch, we needed the food.

By now I was sure the oil for the cream puffs was ready. I was in a hurry at this point and I made a fatal mistake: I didn’t check the temperature of the oil. Instead, I simply dumped in a few rolls of dough to get them cooking. They IMMEDIATELY turned a very unappetizing shade of black and added a fresh layer of smoke to our already fume-filled apartment. I ran the pot outside, dumped the mess on the ground, and left the pot outside to cool off. The cream puffs, I decided, would have to wait until later.

When I arrived back inside I heard the timer was going off for the last batch of chicken bites. I once again opened the oven to a cloud of smoke, but THIS time I realized something. The wax paper, it was smoking. Apparently, wax paper and electric ovens? Yeah, they don’t mix so well. Ah well, live and learn. The chicken bites were very good to eat, at least.

I did finish the cream puffs after the game was over once everyone had left, and they turned out delicious!


In summary, here are a few of the things I have learned over this past month:

Marriage is wonderful

It is worth the time and frustration to learn new things, even if they don’t turn out how you expect

Nutella is awesome, and can be eaten with almost anything (within reason)

A month into marriage, you can still feel like you are just “playing house”

Cats are awesome, but can also be demonic balls of fur that only want to play when you are trying to sleep

It’s good to live with someone who can help balance out some of your more intense emotions

Toilet paper rolls can empty magically fast

It’s a lot harder to fold and put away the last load of laundry than it is the first

The mail isn’t as fun to check when it’s mostly bills

It’s really nice not going to bed alone

It’s a lot harder to find the motivation to return duplicate gifts than you would think

Marriage is fun!

That’s all for today. Be looking for a new post soon relating some of my new hairstyle…er…”experiences” *coughdisasterscough* which has been an adventure all in its own. And soon, I may even write a post about our actual wedding (which was beautiful, by the way)!

Well, I hope this post finds all of you (if there are any of you left) very well and that you had a lovely holiday season and a blessed new year.  And may you all have a wonderful, going-beyond-zebra type of weekend!

Signing off for now,




  1. David Lyle said,

    Hey Robyn. Glad you guys are enjoying your new life together. For sure it is an ongoing and ever changing adventure full of fun and surprise and growth. Can’t make pizza? You’ll survive!

  2. Kat said,

    I love love LOVE this post! I was just wondering today how your first month was 😀 And of course I will read your posts indefinitely! 🙂 The pizza and cream puffs look REALLY good btw!

  3. Kathleen Dooley said,

    Great stories. Well written-makes one feel like they were there with you. Don’t wait so long until the next post! Love,

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