Archive | December, 2015

Wedding Wednesday: Speeches, Surprises, and Signature Drinks

30 Dec

Thanks to everyone for their very kind words about the two previous editions of this multi-part wedding series. For those just joining, you can check out pre-wedding stuff here, and the ceremony here. Today, we’re covering my favorite parts of pretty much all weddings: speeches, surprises, and signature cocktails.

But before we get there, I need to do a major hat tip to MamaKef and HomebrewKef, who spent whole weekends crafting some awesome cocktail hour props:

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MamaKef was the brains behind pretty much this whole operation, and we’ll do a whole post on the amazing details she churned out of Wedding Central. In the meanwhile, enjoy these posterboard polaroids:

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KimmieKef used this opportunity to show off her ability to always find the best light:

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While BabyKef and Jimmy2.0Kef redefined American Gothic:

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All of these photos were fueled by the kind bartending staff at the Key Bridge Marriott, who were serving up our signature cocktails (sign beautifully arranged by PurplePenKef):

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Now that the party had started, it was time for some fun. We asked JetSetKef and WokeUpLikeDisKef to emcee for us, and they did not disappoint. They had this great Amy Poehler-Tina Fey thing going on, and they totally killed it!

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Likely the best part of their spiel was when WokeUpLikeDisKef introduced her mother as a “Cameroonian Booty.” Whoops! #sorrynotsorry

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And JetSet caused his own controversy by mis-quoting MamaKef during his introduction of her– JetSet claimed that MamaKef’s most frequent exclamation during our childhood was “Jesus Christ!”… MamKef later corrected the record by testily pointing our that she does not use the Lord’s name in vain like that… her favorite phrase had been “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” MamaKef is not one to exclude a member of the holy family.

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Luckily, everyone else made it in without incident:

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These two will be known collectively as WhipKef and NaeNaeKef

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With the hook from “Notorious” blasting, we made our entrance:

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And then switched gears for our first dance, “That’s How Strong My Love Is” by the one and only Otis Redding.

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And then it was time for speeches! MamaKef kicked it off with a great welcome speech

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and then MrKef’s dad gave my husband a roasting to remember

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A father-daughter dance was not really HomebrewKef’s cup of tea, and I am not really into the whole daddy’s little girl bit, so I made a little speech about what my dad really means to me, instead–gotta give props to the guy who taught you that “you can only spend a dollar once.” I’d say more about it, but I don’t have the time to cry right now.

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And then it was time for my surprise! I had been secretly amassing home videos and family pictures to do a little slideshow for my family. I am the product of a hilarious, intense, inspiring village and I wanted to recognize them all on this special day. MamaKef probably wanted to kill me 47 times in the run-up to the wedding because she kept asking me to do things but making this movie was taking up all my time so I was late on all her tasks… whoospies. Anyway, here are the fruits of my labor–I think this was my favorite part of the wedding!

 

Before anybody got any ideas about dry eyes, MrKef and his mom pulled on everybody’s heart strings with their dance to “Three Times a Lady.”

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And then it was time to party!

Stop by next time for tons and tons of party pics!

Amazing photography provided by: RMN Photography
Venue and gracious coordinators of logistics: Key Bridge Marriott
White dress the bride could live with: BHLDN
Perfect party music played by: DJ StereoFaith

 

Gingersnaps For Pinterest Flunkies

23 Dec

The lights are shining, the carolers are singing, and (this year) the lords are still a-leaping in shorts and a t-shirt on the running paths–Christmas is truly a magical time of year. If you’re like me, the shining lights and happy music act like a deceptive elixir: suddenly you’ve convinced yourself that you are a Pinterest queen and that you, too, can put together a strawberry, banana, and grape to make a snack that looks just like a Grinch with a Santa hat. Further proof that all that glitters is not gold: your version of those little snacks just look like fruit kebabs and the weather in January will still be miserable for running, even if it’s 70 on Christmas.

Today’s recipe goes out to all my people who are awesome bakers but just can’t give a damn about presentation–the bloggers who post great recipes without staging professional-level photo shoots, the parents who just send Twinkies to school without spending all night making them look like Minions, and the at-home chefs whose creations never get the biggest ooh and ahh when the buffet gets unveiled, but whose dishes are always gone the fastest once guests start digging in.

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This recipe is 100% fool proof. They taste great and look perfect each and every time. MamaKef has been making them for two decades and they have never not been superstars at the cookie exchange. Did I mention they take less than 30 minutes start to finish and require just one bowl? Leave Pinterest to your neighbor–2015 is all about the tried-and-true, no-frills-necessary gingersnap.

(But if you are actually a Pinterest Queen, whip up the insane green gingerbread cookies from yesterday, shape ’em into Christmas trees, and enjoy all the oohs and ahhs 🙂 — you earned them!)

Gingersnaps For Pinterest Flunkies

Ingredients

  • 2 c sugar (coconut sugar subs perfectly)
  • 1.5 c canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c molasses
  • 4 c all-purpose flour (I used Cup4Cup and they lost a little of their snap but were still so delicious.)
  • 4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Additional sugar for rolling

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicon mat (if you have neither, leave your pan ungreased). Mix together sugar and oil in a stand mixer (or a large bowl with electric mixer) for about 1 minute. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add molasses.
  2. In a separate medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Slowly add to sugar/oil mixture and mix until you have the dough comes together- about 1.5-2 minutes.
  3. Shape into 3/4-inch balls and roll in sugar. Arrange about 1.5 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookie springs back when touched gently. Cool on wire racks.

Delicious GF Gingerbread Cookies With a Few Bizarre Secret Ingredients

22 Dec

It’s another one of those days where I have about 15 seconds before I’m 15 minutes late to something, so here’s the quick and dirty: QueijoKef sent me the most intriguing recipe last week– gingerbread made with matcha, chestnut flour, and avocado.  I am a known sucker for weird ingredients I will never use again (nutritional yeast, anyone?),  but even I gave pause to chestnut flour when I couldn’t find it at Whole Foods. My curiosity got the better of me, though, and so I ordered the damn chestnut flour from Amazon (not even Prime-eligible… quelle horreur!)

After I pondered how humanity ever survived without two-day shipping, I got right down to work. These cookies are easy and they are AWESOME–the sweet rice flour makes them crispy on the outside, the chestnut flour provides a soft, earthy inside, and the ginger flavor is very much star of the show. QueijoKef received a BlueApron-style package from me over the weekend and she’ll provide us feedback from her independent review, I’m sure.

Once I saw the beautiful green color, I had great ambitions to use the cookie-shaping press WokeUpLikeDisKef gave me for Christmas last year to shape the cookies into wreaths and Christmas trees, but (per usual) my impatience won out and I just pressed the damn things into discs. Also per usual, I also didn’t bother to take a nice picture. Luckily, the good people who created this wonderful recipe did:

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Since I’ve already described their amazing cookies and shared their pretty photo, I might as well just send you right over to their Web site to get their recipe, shouldn’t I? You can find these amazing little green devils right here.

Tomorrow: 20-minute gingerbread cookies you probably already have all the ingredients for.

Cooking Up Kefi 2015 Gift Guide Part II

14 Dec

Hanukkah is already almost over, there are less than two weeks until Christmas, and we will be airing grievances around the Festivus pole before we know it– here’s the second half of the 2015 CuK Gift Guide in case you still have some loved ones to check off your list (for the first half, click here).

For the runner who hates winter but loves winter running gear:

Oiselle Lux Gloves. Although I have been an advocate of the $0.99 CVS cotton gloves for YEARS, I must say a pair of wicking wool gloves would be an amazing gift for the out-in-all-weather runner in your life.

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Running vests are perfect for those days cold enough for another layer but too warm for a running jacket. I can’t choose between this super comfy-looking LL Bean Vest and the highly-reflective, all-weather Brooks version

… I hope you’re more decisive than me!

Is stuffing stockings with socks the Turducken of holiday gifting? If so, you better get on trend and give the gift of dry feet to your favorite runner. I love these Balega socks (confession: I stole my first pair after using them to try on running shoes at Pacers… sorry, guys!) and have been running in the same 3 or 4 pairs for 3 years or so– high quality and definitely worth the price.
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For the Voracious Reader Who Loves Character-Driven Novels

All The Light We Cannot See. Like pretty much every other critic who reviewed this book, I was hesitant to read another WWII story, but this novel is such a fresh take on lots of classic themes, I could not put it down! allthelight

For The Person Who’s Resolving to Bring Lunch Instead of Buying it in 2016

Lock N Lock Storage Sets— CafeKef and ChampagneOnlyKef gave MrKef and I a set of these as a shower gift and we love them- never find your salad dressing has leaked into your work bag again!

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For the Nurse Who Wishes She Could Wear Yoga Pants to Work

Figs is a new brand of super-soft scrubs with a Toms-esque “buy one give one” model (which I have a lot of feelings about but will refrain from sharing in order to maintain the holiday spirit). It’s a woman-owned company, which is evident in this super thick waistband that looks as comfortable as it is functional. Hallelujah.

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For the Person Who Loves Food but Can’t Do All the Gluten

As I mentioned the other day, Italian food ain’t really my thing. HOWEVER. Cappellos grain-free pasta is 100% amazing. I love this Paleo-friendly pasta, and I bet the gluten-free eater in your life would, too!

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If you know anyone who wouldn’t appreciate one of Baklava Couture’s Artisan Gift Baskets, you should probably unfriend them now. I mean, really:

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And, if you ask Kat really nicely, she will hook you up with gluten free baklava and other Greek goodies!

For Your College Roommate, Who Loves Flair

I can’t explain why I love these Kate Middleton socks  so much (or the other supercute styles they have!), but if there’s anyone in my life who NEEDS them, it’s QueijoKef.katesocks

For Everyone About that Black Girl Magic:

The T-Shirt that started it all is back… if you reserve it. Sign me up for a large, please!

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Finally! An way to measure which of your friends’ are OFFICAL card carriers

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I can’t imagine that anyone who loves to accessorize with head wraps wouldn’t LOVE any of these:

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For Your Smartest Friend, Who Will Not Engage You if You Do Not Understand Intersectionality

Who doesn’t need a soy candle made up of white feminist tears? Sadly, SummitKef will have to wait for hers, as these are so popular the creator had to put a hold on her candle operation (but check out her Etsy store for other tongue-in-cheek statement gifts).

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Wedding Wednesday: The Ceremony

9 Dec

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Last we left the wedding updates, our families had stormed Alexandria in red dashikis, I had slept for about 2.5 hours the night before the wedding, CafeKef finally had luscious lashes, and we had posed for 17,091 family photos. To read all about that, check this out.

Back when MrKef staged an amazing engagement surprise, it was already pretty apparent that we wanted different things in a wedding. My dream nuptials included an “engagement party” that was–surprise!–actually a wedding. No expectations, no rules, no problems. If it had been up to MrKef, on the other hand, he would have had 500 people, flying doves, and fancy floral centerpieces galore. So… there was negotiating to be done.

All this to say, when 150 people showed up and were milling about in the next room (and when all I could hear was MamaKef nearly having a coronary keeping any of them from seeing me), I was feeling very nervous and very much like I wanted to skip over the whole stand-in-front-of-everyone-you-know thing and get right to the dance-all-night bit. But, the show must go on, and so the procession began.

MrKef chose the beginning of this instrumental version of “Let’s Get Married” for his, his parents’, and the wedding party’s processional.

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Of course, cheers erupted for MrKef as soon as he entered the room, and any lingering worry that we would have a stuffy, sterile wedding went right out the window of the 14th Floor.

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I chose Ray Charles’ “Hallelujah I Love Her So” to walk into. All the informal ceremony cheering in the world couldn’t keep me from looking like a deer in headlights as I walked into 300 eyes staring at me. Not having to do that again is reason enough to stay married forever!0572

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Our officiant was PurplePenKef, who’s been a great mentor and friend to me and MrKef over the years. She created a truly memorable ceremony that was heartfelt, unique, and kept everyone laughing:

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It was important to us to include our parents in the ceremony, so we each chose one to speak on behalf of our respective families in order to pledge their support, advice, and opinions (as if either set of parents waits to be asked to provide those!). This was a great excuse for me to out MamaKef on her obsession with the deer population of Orange County, NY.

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SoulFoodChefKef read a short excerpt from Hilary T. Smith’s Wild Awake:0605

People are like cities: We all have alleys and gardens and secret rooftops and places where daisies sprout between the sidewalk cracks, but most of the time all we let each other see is is a postcard glimpse of a skyline or a polished square. Love lets you find those hidden places in another person, even the ones they didn’t know were there, even the ones they wouldn’t have thought to call beautiful themselves.

And then BabyKef read from Captain Correlli’s Mandolin:

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     Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. because this is what love is.
Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any fool can do.
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Those that truly love,
have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.

And then it was time for PurplePenKef’s “homily.” She had been hilariously holding this over our heads for the better part of the year, but instead of roasting us as we deserved, she made the loveliest speech, using one of her favorite (!) crafts, quilting, as the metaphor. I would share a short excerpt, but I keep tearing up reading it over and over looking for a stand-alone portion, so it’s really better that we just keep things moving.

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And then it was time to say some vows! Neither of us felt tied to the traditional vows, nor did we particularly care to write our own. Luckily, we stumbled upon this set of vows which we both really loved. Someone, somewhere on the internet attributed them to Quakerism, but I have not independently confirmed that with two reliable sources. I will post them here in the event one of my readers is on the lookout for some heartfelt-but-not-cheesey-or-new-agey vows:

Today, I make you my family.
Loving what I know of you and trusting what I do not know,
I will turn to you in every joy and every struggle.
I will build a life that makes you proud,
and I will honor your dreams, wherever they may lead us.
I will share my adventures with you,
and I will make my home wherever you are.
I promise to cherish and delight in your spirit and individuality,
to face life’s challenges with patience and humor,
and to nurture our growth.
Whatever is placed before us,
I will be right here by your side for the rest of my days.

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And with that, we were presented as Mrs and Mr Kef for the very first time to all our friends and family!

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Next time, on Wedding Wednesday: speeches, surprises, and signature drinks!

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Amazing photography provided by: RMN Photography
Venue and gracious coordinators of logistics: Key Bridge Marriott
White dress the bride could live with: BHLDN
Perfect party music played by: DJ StereoFaith

A Tough Arms & Abs Circuit

9 Dec

I was short on time this weekend but didn’t want to skip a workout, so I consulted the millennial Magic-8 Ball, searched for an arms & abs circuit, and got to work. I figured I had enough time to get through the circuit twice, but about half way through the first round I knew once would be enough! I’m going to keep this one around until I can get through it twice… although by that point there may not be any more Kefi to cook up.

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Anybody have any good at-home circuits to share?

SuperFast One Pan Tortellini Gratin

7 Dec

In general I would say I am a pretty open-minded eater (the absurdity of my assumed dietary restrictions notwithstanding…), but there is one territory I almost never venture into: Italian food. Blech.

To be clear, it isn’t Italian food… it’s Olive Gardenization of Italian food in America (see also, Carbone). Rest assured, if I were in Rome I would do as all the Romans do and eat everything in sight. But instead, I am surrounded by people whose claim to authenticity includes the mispronunciation of “risotto.” Alas. (I would be remiss if I did not mention that I will ALWAYS eat the delicious Italian food of the original Bl’Italians, CafeKef and ChampagneOnlyKef.)

So anyway, when a tortellini gratin showed up in our HelloFresh box this week, I was less than thrilled. But, when it was the last recipe left and MrKef got home hungry from another long day of lawyering, I dutifully preheated the oven, despite all my misgivings.

Here’s the thing: this man ate every.last.bite of this damn gratin.  And because it is so incredibly easy to make, I felt like I should eat some torta di umiltà and share the recipe, knowing that I am definitely going to make this again, and again… and again.

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Definitely not my picture– thanks to HelloFresh for the recipe and picture! #HelloFreshPics

Tortellini Gratin with Kale for Two

Ingredients

  • 1 small head of Kale, stemmed and shredded
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c milk (2% or whole)
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1/4 c Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/4 c pesto
  • 1/4 c panko
  • 2 tsp vegetable stock concentrate
  • 9 oz Tortellini
  • Olive Oil

Assembly

  1. Preheat the oven to 500F (or turn the broiler to high). Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a medium sauce pan over med-high heat. Once hot, add the garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add shredded kale and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Stir the milk, stock concentrate, water, and pesto into the garlic/kale until combined. Add the tortellini to the pan (they do not need to be submerged). Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes. The sauce will become thick and the tortellini will soften. If your pan is ovensafe, great–proceed to step three. If it’s not (ie: it has a rubber handle), transfer the kale/tortellini mixture into a small baking dish.
  3. While the tortellini cooks, mix together panko, Parmesan, and 2 tsp olive oil in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the panko/Parmesan mixture over the tortellini.
  4. Bake in the oven for 1-2 minutes, or until browned and bubbly. Serve warm.
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