Monday, December 21, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Combine: 16 ounces fresh cranberries (that's one bag plus some) rinsed and picked over; 2 cups sugar; 1/2 cup fresh orange juice; 1 tablespoon orange zest; and a tablespoon of fresh grated ginger. Put all that in a sauce pan, and heat over medium heat until the berries pop open, about 10 minutes. Skim the foam off the surface with a spoon and discard. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate, covered, up to 3 months. Apparently, you can freeze it too, though we have never tried that.
This is an adaptation of a Sheila Lukins recipe from Parade. It's really hard to screw up.
We buy cranberries when they're cheap and keep them in the freezer.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
We are playing are annual Christmas game - no, not "Replace the Sound Operator for the Christmas Eve Service which is in SEVEN DAYS OH MY LOVING GOD HELP ME" - but instead, "Who Would You Cast in Miracle on 34th Street if you were making it This Year?" I always try to work in serious method actors like Daniel Day Lewis and John C. Reilly.
Every year, I suggest making the Shelhammers a male couple. Those refined, well-dressed men with their bow ties and hats, who speak so precisely and work in retail management - it's not much of a stretch. So I'm forever trying to figure out what man should stand in for Mrs. Shelhammer - you know, the lady whose husband has plied her with triple-strength martinis to get her to consent to have Santa move in? It's my favorite part. This year, I am stumping for Steve Carrell as Mr. Shelhammer who works at Macy's. I haven't decided who the other Mr. Shelhammer should be.
Eric always tries to cast West Wing people. Well, that's just silly.
As for me, I am a writing fool and a knitting fool, and tomorrow I will be a cooking fool as well. Oh - and a Cricut-ing fool, too, like last year. We (I) cut paper shapes, and people use them to make ornaments for the sanctuary Christmas trees. (Plus I cut a bunch of stars and snowflakes for our house.)
Last weekend, Ian seemed to have made HUGE leaps forward in terms of being not merely obedient but actually agreeable. This week, in response to all our praise and irrational exhuberance, he has made Barishnokov-worthy leaps in the other direction.
It's the most wonderful time of the year.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Ian and I sat around in our pajamas all day watching TV (we're resting up for a party tonight.) (Ian is currently resting by smashing his forehead into my shoulder. Excuse typos.)
Anyway. ABC Family (which retains a decided lead in the wtf race, since just about every program, promo and even sponsor I see on the channel makes me say "WTF is your programming philosophy, mission statement, target demographic...i just totally don't get it." ) was running a slew of Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas specials, including Nestor the Christmas Donkey, Rudolph's Shiny New Year, and the bizarrely fascinating Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July.
Here is Wikipedia's plot synopsis. (You may be wondering if this is one of those instances when Wikipedia was pranked, like the person wrote that Senator Ted Stevens was 108 years old, or the Wonderpets! entry that is all about your mamma. Because that couldn't actually be the narrative of a children's program right? RIGHT? Maybe a Dickens novel (specifically Bleak House) or perhaps an unproducer Lars Von Trier screenplay.
Long time ago, the evil wizard king Winterbolt has caused havoc upon the people who have entered his domain. He is then punished by Lady Boreal when she places a spell that puts him in a deep sleep.
Years later, Winterbolt is awake. In her final act of magic, Boreal transfers the last of her power into Rudolph's red nose, which will stop glowing if it is ever used for evil. Winterbolt learns of this and plans not only to dispose of Rudolph, the only power capable of stopping him, but also to reclaim his territory from Santa Claus. To achieve this, Winterbolt plans to take advantage of Frosty and his family. At the same time, Rudolph's ice cream man friend Milton arrives and tells Rudolph and Frosty that he plans to attract the heart of Milton's girlfriend, the high-wire act Laine Loraine.
Winterbolt offers Frosty magic amulets that will keep his family from melting and enable them to attend a Fourth of July Circus in which Rudolph is to star, but they will only be protected until the end of the event. Santa agrees to pick up Frosty and his wife Crystal before the magic wears off, but Winterbolt has his ice dragons blow up a blizzard to prevent Santa from arriving on time. Winterbolt also recruits an evil, unintelligent reindeer named Scratcher to try to get Rudolph to turn, or at least appear evil in the eyes of his friends. With the blizzard keeping Santa from getting to them, time was not on the side of Frosty and family. When Scratcher arrives, he forms an alliance with Sam Spangles during the parade.
Scratcher, taking advantage of Rudolph's kindness, steals money from the circus and sets up Rudolph to take the blame. Rudolph agrees to appear guilty after making a deal with Winterbolt, to extend the powers of the amulets Frosty's family wears for an infinite time in exchange. Frosty's family, friends, and the circus' owner and Laine's mother, Lilly Loraine, are upset when Rudolph lies to them about how he stole the money and his nose stops glowing. Only Frosty knows the truth and wants to restore Rudolph's glowing nose. Winterbolt takes advantage of Frosty as well by lying and agreeing to do it in exchange for Frosty's hat, with intention to use the magic powers of Frosty's hat to create an army of snowmen. Rudolph manages to steal back the hat, and his nose regains its glow.
After Rudolph returns to the circus with Frosty's hat, Winterbolt attacks which ends with him turning into a tree when Lilly throws her iron guns onto his scepter destroying it. Once Winterbolt is vanquished, Scratcher has not been seen again, and Sam is arrested, all the spells he has cast are negated and Frosty and his family are in danger of melting once again. However, Jack Frost, the villain from the previous Frosty's Winter Wonderland (but in the "animagic" form from another Rankin-Bass special called Jack Frost), arrives on Big Ben, who's Rudolph's whale friend from the previous Rudolph's Shiny New Year, to rescue his former enemy and family as they are whisked back to the North Pole by Santa, but Rudolph stays behind to help the circus out of debt. The special ends with a rendition of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", sung by the entire cast.
Well! How was it, trying to follow that? That was a summary. The author chose not to mention that:
1. Milton the ice cream man delivers his ice cream from a hot air balloon.
2. Winterbolt the wizard learns of Rudolph's magic powers by talking to an ICE GENII, which is a mountain of ice with stelagtite teeth and glowing eyes.
3. Along with his fierce and deadly TWO-HEADED ICE DRAGON, which moves in slow motion (watching it brought to mind the earlier stop-motion animation in films like 7th Voyage of Sinbad)
some villianous personage (I assume the wizard, I was a little addled by this time) has at his command GIANT FLYING SNAKES which can fly over, warp around you, and then fly off with you in their coils.
4. Frosty and Rudolph sing an extended version of "Why Am I Such A Misfit?" There are a great many musical numbers to break up the relentless driving action.
5.The lady who runs the circus is Ethel Merman. In a cowboy hat.
Whales? Armies of Snowmen? Sam Spangles, who is in fact indistinguishable from Professor Hinkle, the magician in the animated Frosty the Snowman? Ian noticed that one.
Anyway, I sat there with my jaw on the ground, through this, and Rudolph's Shiny New Year, which features Ben Franklin and a cave man. By that point, I had kind of given up.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Sunday, December 06, 2009
2. My bad attitude: I did absolutely nothing but complain all day long to anyone who would listen.
3. My black cardigan: we're reunited! OF COURSE it was at church the whole time I was looking for it. It's just, you know...black. Anyway, I've got it back. Yay.
4. knitting project: frogged. BUT the yarn survived the process better than I expected, and will be something eventually. But not exactly what I thought it would. And not for Christmas.
5. Phineas and Ferb all-weekend-long marathon: Disney does not actually have enough episodes of this cartoon to run it exclusively for 48 hours. AT ALL. Nonetheless, we watched a great deal of P&F this weekend, and sat through a couple of episodes twice, and I still think it's the best thing on TV. Plus this uses my superpower - identifying cartoon voices. Still the champ. (Though I would never have gotten Riff Raff without reading it on the internet.*)
6. church today - excellent. Excellent message, SHOCKINGLY excellent participation in the art project.
*from a comment on Amazon: "But series creators... must be big-time Rocky Horror fans because the voice of P & F's clueless dad is none other than Richard O'Brien, one of the "Rocky Horror" creators as well as "Riff Raff" in "Rocky Horror". Performing other voices in various shows are Rocky Horror alums Tim Curry and Barry Bostwick"
Friday, December 04, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Set a huge pot of salted water to boil.
Heat up a cast iron deep skillet or dutch over on the other burner over fairly high heat. Into that, drop 2 slices of bacon and stir them around to keep them from sticking. Once they are very floppy, and some bacon grease is rendered, drop 3 cloves garlic, smashed, and about one-third of a huge sweet onion, thin-sliced. Cook that until the onion starts to get soft. Drop in some sliced mushrooms. Keep moving the stuff around the pan. (You can add some butter or olive oil if it seems to be getting too dry.) Add salt and pepper. If it seems like just a little too much - that's the right amount.
Take you kitchen shears in your hand, point the tips down into the pan, and clip the bacon into small random pieces, right there on the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat a little (from about 9 to about 6.)
At this point, your pasta water should be boiling like crazy. Cook about 8 oz of pasta (I used whole wheat fettuccine) in the water until it is ALMOST as 'done' as you like it. (Don't forget to stir the bacon mixture. You don't want it to stick irreparably.)
Is it almost done? Good - now throw half a bag of frozen peas into the water with the noodles and put a lid on it.
Back to the bacon pot. Lower the heat again, to about 2. Splash in some cream or whole milk and stir. Drop in some grated parmesan - say a quarter cup - and stir until it's smooth.
Drain the pasta and peas. Turn off all the burners, mix the pasta and peas with the stuff in the cast-iron pan.
This is really, really delicious, and takes very little time or technique.
Friday, November 13, 2009
This recipe is a cake I grew up with – it was a staple at class parties and church suppers, usually with no icing. The recipe is in plenty of places; I noticed it’s even in the most recent issue of Martha Stewart Everyday Food, where it mentions it’s in a new cookbook called “Mad Hungry.” It’s called Busy Day Cake there, which is a good name, and cooks.com calls it vinegar cake - but to me, it was always Crazy Cake. (Until today.)
This recipe has a ton of advantages. You mix, bake and serve it in one dish, so all you have to wash today is a measuring cup and 2 spoons. It’s vegan, it’s natural, it’s very cheap. But the reason I made it today – we were out of eggs. I felt that taking the little darling to the supermarket would be, um, pushing my luck. It’s definitely a ‘pantry staples’ dish.
Crazy Cake can turn out heavy, but the one I made today was quite light and flavorful and had nice textures - chewy outside, tender inside and a little touch of gooey at the center.
Heat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a pyrex cassarole or an 8-inch square baking pan, whisk together:
1.5 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and half teaspoon salt. You can also throw in a little cayenne pepper, chili powder or nutmeg…I thought I was being all clever and sophisticated, but I couldn’t taste them.
Make a well in center of dry mix and pour in 6 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, and 1 cup cold water. Stir till smooth. This is when I threw in a couple handfuls of semi-sweet chocolate chips. These are a great addition, but some sunk – if I had thought of it earlier and put them in with the dry ingredients, it would have been better. Bake until a chopstick inserted in center comes out clean. In a square pan, this will be about 40 minutes. – with the cassarole dish, which was deeper and smaller, it took about an hour. You're supposed to let it cook completely, but it's really good while it's still a tiny bit warm.
Bonus tip: Best Icing Ever, I am completely serious:I improvised some buttercream the way I always do – cream soft butter (regular, not unsalted), add a drip of vanilla, and confectioners sugar by the spoonful, scrape down the sides of the bowl, keep tasting…but today, I threw in a chunk of cream cheese. Whip until fluffy. This is more definitely the best icing I have ever made, and it may be the best icing I have ever eaten.
This was on Lifetime last night, during Project Runway (which I am kind of...over, sad to say. It's been a beautiful relationship, but we've grown apart.) The black and white and the intercutting is just so ravishing. I don't know if I'll like the film (I admired Rob Marshall's work on Chicago, but I'm concerned that he's returning to those same ideas...exactly those same ideas.) but certainly do like this.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
but this one is also good:
Anyway, a little cairn cozy for you on this gross rainy day.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
I made pie crust, more noteably, which I had never done before. I found a butter pastry recipe in my beloved and completely unbound Easy Basics for Good Cooking.
Put 1 cup of flour in your food processor.
Add 6 tablespoons of cold butter and a small amount of salt.
Pulse the food processor a few times. In much less than a minute, you'll have a bowl of even, uniform tiny lumps of buttered flour.
Break 1 egg into the food processor, and pulse a couple more times until it comes together into one smooth lump.
Wrap the lump in plastic wrap and stash it in the fridge for a while. (The recipe calls for one hour, but I had it in a lot less than that.)
I filled this with 3 chunked apples and 2 handfuls of frozen cranberries, tossed with sugar, cinnamon, allspice, a splash of apple cider, and a spoonful of cornstarch. Ian helped me gently place the top crust on, and was very happy to poke holes in it. Baked at 425 until the top was brown and crispy, the filling was bubbly, and you can pierce the apple with a table fork. Like 40 minutes or so. (I had to cover the top with a piece of foil for the last part of the baking.)
I thought I had rolled this crust out way too thin, but it came out great! It took a lot for me to not STAND THERE AND EAT THE ENTIRE PIE.
I also made a great apple dessert last night, which I'll tell you about some other time.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
EDITED TO ADD: These were a huge hit at the Guy Fawlkes festivities, and also with the babysitter. I'm thinking the second pan will get a similar reception at the potluck Sunday. Recommended.
And, no, we haven't made pretzels yet, and it doesn't look like it's going to rain tomorrow, which means that there will probably be a limited amount of kitchen time.
I have a video to put together, but my laptop does not have a big enough brain to handle it. (This would be a REALLY bad week for the servers at work to crash, incidentally. They've been kind of dodgy lately, randomly refusing to print docs and other occasional hiccups that we've been working around. Anyway, not this week, please, is all I'm saying.)
Knitting news: I am almost done with the famous entrelac stroller blanket. I had plans to work on it at various times this weekend - car trip, kid's nap, now...but I've made a lot of progress and feel like the end is in sight. If I can just remember how to do the bind-off triangles...
playdate news: If the week shapes up the way the national weather service seems to think it will, we may have one more backyard party on Friday, before daylight savings time ends.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Friday, October 09, 2009
Another Day, Another Monster is an excellent blog by a woman whose name I totally cannot find because the computer is cloggy and I am lazy. The woman makes snarky comments to accompany her photos of her pretty excellent little amiguri monsters, of which she creates a new one every day. I found this through the Lion Brand blog
[as most of you know, Lion is a brand of yarn, available at a discount at all your better Ben Franklins and Hobby Lobbys. I am a completely unconvincing as a yarn snob, so I'll admit that I have knit several of my fav projects with Lion Brand yarns, such as the much-aligned Homespun.
I just Googled "Homespun is the Devil" to see if I could find some examples of such maligning to share with you, but SHOCKINGLY "Homespun is the Devil" is a Googlenope.
BUT NOW IT WON'T BE! Now I'll be a unique hit on Google, should anyone ever try to Google that phrase again.)
(Anyway, I digress. Many people hate Lion Brand yarns; while they aren't my favorite, I find many of them quite serviceable, especially at markdown prices.]
MY POINT IS that this blogger apparently works at the Lion flagship store in NYC, and I was pleased to see Lion promoting a blog that is written in a normal venacular, including the occasional mild curse word. Go Lion Brand! Go boldly through these squeamish times. Yay.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
But tonight I looked into the fridge and said "I can do better."
Better Quick Chicken Paprikash:
Heat the oven to 450, and at the same time warm some olive oil in a cast iron skillet on the stove top. Take 5 boneless chicken thighs - salt and pepper them and brown them - about 4 minute on one side, 3 on the other.
During those 7 minutes, wash a pint of grape tomatoes, and squish them (I guess you could cut them in half, but I just used my fingers.) into a baking pan with olive oil.
When the chicken is a little brown on both sides, remove the pan from the heat, and remove the chicken from the pan. Put the chicken pieces on top of the tomatoes in the baking pan and pop that all in the oven.
Slice half a large sweet onion and several cloves of garlic. Throw those into the stovetop pan - it will still be pretty hot and oily. Return that to heat and cook until the onions are soft and brown. Drop in some slices of red pepper and some sliced mushrooms and cook some more. (You may need to drop in a bit of olive oil or butter with the mushrooms.)
Take the pan out of the oven; assuming the chicken is done, put the chicken on a plate and cover it (with foil or another plate.) Pour the rest of the contents of the baking pan (oil, tomatoes, juices) into the stovetop pan and stir.
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
a tablespoon of paprika
a tablespoon or more of those chopped hot peppers they put on hoagies
and a quarter to a half cup of heavy cream.
(You will want to shake that cream before you pour, in case it's separated.)
(You will want to make sure the little cardboard carton is really totally closed before you shake it. Maybe pinch the foldout spout.)
It's all bubbly now - slip some of the chicken into the sauce (it's probably won't all fit) and turn down the heat, and simmer it a little while - like 6 minutes or so, which is how long it takes to make egg noodles.
Seriously, this is good. Don't use canned tomatoes when there are fresh ones around. And seriously - hoagie peppers.
AND it took 36 minutes from walking into the kitchen.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Is this mean? I didn't MAKE it, but it did make me laugh (and, Lord Christ, could I use a good laugh.) when I saw it at Andrew Zimmern's blog.
Edited this way, it's funny (and vulgar, of course.) Watching the show itself is quite surreal, a great example of the little-known genre, Cooking Shows of the Absurd.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Ian and I did another of our favorite activities - the Bug Safari - and saw our first woolly bear - which is to say, my first of the season, Ian's first of his life. But the real highlight: we bagged a gigantic praying mantis, such a dazzling shade of green. He seemed to like us (perhaps Stockholm Syndrome?) and let me wear him as a glorious fashion accessory for quite a long time. Style note: spring green looks great with turquoise! Who knew?
(Ian and Eric also tried him on - he headed straight for Eric's beard, putting an end to that fashion collaboration, and then risked his life by tickling the back of Ian's neck.)
We nestled him among the grape leaves near the front porch.
I made this for dinner, which seemed a little "eh" when I served it, but which grew on us as the meal went on. I think it's a good platform for experimentation.
If you're kind enough to vote for the whole Mitchell family, be aware that my brother's blog is Beer in Baltimore, NOT beerinbaltimore.com.
Thanks for taking a moment to do it - I'm not in the habit of bothering people about things like this.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
(Can a person have a crush on a blog?)
Recipe from The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler by Lisa Barnes
Makes 48 2-3 inch pretzels
This recipe is milk free, nut free, and vegetarian. 2 pretzels have 80 calories, if you're interested. It's a good to make with older kids who can roll and shape dough, paint on egg, or sprinkle salt!
1 1/2 c. warm water
2 packages active dry yeast
2 T. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
coarse salt, poppy seeds, or sesame seeds for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 425 F. I used a baking sheet with a silicone mat, but you could also use parchment paper on the baking sheet.
Put the yeast in a large bowl with the warm water. Stir until yeast is dissolved. Add the sugar, salt, flours, and one of the eggs. Stir with a fork to combine into a dough. Turn out onto a floury surface and knead until it is elastic (maybe 2-3 minutes), adding a little more flour if it's very sticky.
Tear off small pieces of the dough and roll into any shape you want (classic pretzels, circles, hearts, twists). You know what would be cute? Xs and Os -- they stand for "hugs and kisses" AND you can play edible tic-tac-toe!
Place an inch or two apart on your baking sheet. Brush with the second egg (beaten) and sprinkle with whatever you want to sprinkle them with.
Bake 8-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with your favorite mustard.
Jeanette is the complete bomb of the blogosphere.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
My brother, Sandy Mitchell, writes a blog: firstname.lastname@example.org He writes lots of other things too - magazine and newspaper articles, nonfiction books.
But his blog is notable this week because:
within two days, it was
1) nominated for a Mobby, the Baltimore Sun's award for Maryland's Outstanding Blogs
2) selected for a Best of Baltimore award by the Baltimore City Paper!
No matter how much you love beer, we promise you it's not as much as this guy. For the past year and a half, Alexander Mitchell IV has been keeping us entertained and informed with his Beer in Baltimore blog, a frequently updated collection of short thoughts on beer--more nuts, bolts, and flavor than philosophy--news postings, and links. Sure, he dotes on Max's a bit much, but that's to be expected, and more importantly, this is a guy that just doesn't stop thinking about beer. We guarantee you'll get a whole new appreciation for it, too.
It won for "Best Drinking Blog" in the Nightlife category.
I am very proud - I've been a City Paper devotee since my college days (OMG, that's almost 30 years!!) - so much so that I sought out the Balt City Paper even when I lived in suburban DC and worked in the district.
I know his blog is good, and now a few thousand other people will know too.
Incidentally, I too have been nominated for a Mobby. I have no illusions about winning - the list includes a bunch of blogs I read regularly, and they all do good work and deserve the award more - but it's an honor just to be nominated.
Voting starts Sept 28.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Apologies by Proxy
Saturday, September 12, noon-2 p.m.
In front of MINÁS, 815 W. 36th Street Baltimore, MD 21211
HAVE YOU BEEN WRONGED?
ARE YOU OWED AN APOLOGY?
IN THREE MINUTES, TELL US THE TALE AND WE WILL GIVE YOU YOUR OVERDUE APOLOGY
The concept behind “Apology By Proxy” is simple: In three minutes or
less, you tell the tale of an event regarding which you feel you are
owed an apology. We then give you that apology. You keep your apology
for when you need it, and, when you are ready, you pass the apology on
to someone else who needs one.
Apologies have been given by proxy:
for drama queen roommates
for schoolyard bullies
for the U.S. healthcare system
for a dry cleaner slut
for the NY art world
for family businesses
for being lied to at work
What began as a small piece of performance art has shown itself to be
a powerful tool for change and learning. The sudden moment of intense
intimacy with a complete stranger can be overwhelming. The apology is
genuine and, through some mysterious force, it works. Tears were shed,
hugs were given. “I’m Sorry” proves to be a potent phrase.
The Apology desk is often approached on a lark with an attitude of
gaiety, with stories that have often been honed, over the years, into
humorous tales, although the original hurt is still there. While
receiving the apology, the layers of concealment fall away as the
words “I’m Sorry” wash across the face of the apologee. Events can be
10, 20, even 30 years old, and still the apology that never came is
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Source Credits: Photo. "delicious beer" by Tim Boyd, http://Timboyd.com/info. Nicked off flickr and used through a Creative Commons liscence 2.0.
Don't freak out. I made him a corrected one.
2. While plowing through videos for this week's no singing, no dancing service, I found this, which sums up some of what I've been going through this year:
3. The famous macaroon recipe:
Preheat oven to 325, move racks to center.
Line a cookie sheet with foil or parchment, and then grease that well. Seriously. These things are unbelievably sticky.
In a bowl, combine:
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
14 oz flaked coconut
a scant teaspoon of salt
a slug of vanilla extract.
That's it. Check the weights and volumes on your cans of milk and bags of coconut. Don't forget the salt. You can throw in some chocolate chips if you like.
Drop by spoonfuls onto the foil. Bake for 8 minutes, then start checking on the cookies. I like the brown chewy carmelized parts around the edges, so I always make small ones and leave them in as long as I can stand it without actually burning them. (They're safe to eat unbaked, so how long you cook them is strictly a personal taste thing.)
When you think they are pretty close to done, remove them from the over and slide the foil or parchment, with the cookies on it, onto a cooling rack. (If you leave them on the pan, the heat from the pan will send them over the edge from delectable to inedible.) Once they cool, they're pretty easy to peel off the foil. Usually.
Make a zillion cookies, because I make really small ones. (More brown surface area.)
To make these a grown-up cookie, don't add the chocolate chips. Flatten the spoonfuls a little so the size and shape are somewhat uniform. Once the cookies have started to cook, melt some chocolate chips with some butter in the microwave, and dip the cookies in the melted chocolate.
I have only ever used cheap sugar-sweetened coconut from the baking aisle for these - I can only imagine how dreamy they would be with good-quality, less-sugared coconut.
4. Baked Zucchini bread yesterday afternoon. It's a massive hit. My friend Sarah brought me HALF of the largest zucchini in world history (plus some other homegrown delights) and I made 3 big loaves.
Recipe variations: I substituted whole wheat flour for half the all-purpose flour, was quite generous with the shredded zucchini, and since I found I had no orange zest, threw in some canned crushed pineapple and a dash of lemon extract.
5. Made pineapple sorbet for dessert.
recipe: put canned pineapple juice in your ice cream maker. Flip the switch. The end.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
When someone is leaving church staff for greener pastures, we usually do a couple of things - we arrange to pray for them in Sunday services, and we usually have some sort of party/meal/something.
Well. On Thursday, my co-workers and most of their spouses/kids/grandkids pretty much kidnapped our departing youth pastor and took him to the beach for a picnic (plus all that beachy junk like building sand castles, swimming, poking dead stuff, reapplying sunscreen.) The weather was beautiful, and the trip was quite grand.
(Until I locked the keys in the minivan after dark, but that's a different story. Even that worked out fine, actually.)
My contributions to the picnic were (oh, guess:) .....right, desserts.
1. Brownies (from a mix, nothing to get excited about, which is not to say people didn't enjoy them - in fact, they were the first thing to disappear.)
2. Macaroons, but baked in one huge square. I didn't know if these would work out, but the top and bottom did brown up nicely. (Recipe another time, I promise.)
Flapjack: This did not come out - they didn't hold together at all, so people scooped up handfuls and kind of poured the loose chunks into their mouths. (This works okay on the beach; it would not be so great in someone's carpeted living room.) I do believe the linked recipe is wrong. It needs more sticky stuff. This (when it's good) is the favorite dessert of The New Guy; a traditional British baked good comprised of rolled oats, butter, and cane syrup. I wrote about my earlier misadventures with flapjack on this blog, but I'll be darned if I can find it now.
4. Shortbread: This came out great. I followed this recipe except I spread the whole recipe-worth of dough/batter into a square pan. After chilling and scoring, I baked it at 350 for about 30-40 minutes, until it started to turn just the lightest, most delicate shade of brown.
I tasted a bite, and decided that it was so good it needed some chocolate - so I melted about a quarter cup of semi-sweet chips, a tablespoon of butter, and a scant teaspoon of instant espresso powder.
[Melting chocolate in the microwave: put everything in a bowl and nuke for 30 seconds. It won't look any different. Remove from micro and stir with a fork for 30 seconds. Nuke and stir again as needed. It's hard to screw this up.]
I spread that in a thin layer over the baked, cooled shortbread.
It was super. Even after it got some sand on it.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Me: I don't have any of your cds in the car right now - would you like to hear the music I've been listening to?
Ian: Yes, I would.
I cue a cut from M.I.A. Kala.
Not this one, actually. The Mango Pickle song.
I glance into the back seat when we stop at the light. Ian's eyes are WIDE, and he is gripping the armrests of his carseat. He is smiling - it's the same face he made the first time he had solid food.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Ian: can we listen to The Candyman?
Me: I don't have the ipod, but we can sing it.
Ian leads off:
Who can take the sunrise?
Sprinkle it with glue?
Cover it in...um, marigooooolds..too?
The candyman can, cuz he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good!
And the world tastes good 'cuz the candyman thinks it shooooooooooooooooooooooould!
Ian: Did you hear what I did, Mom? I was mostly singing the one version, but that was the ending of that other version! I just threw that part in. For fun. Just for fun.
Ian continues: In this version, the first part of the bridge is really loud.
me: how loud? Give me an example.
Ian: THE CANDYMAN MAKES
EVERYTHING HE BAKES
SATISFYING AND DELICIOUS!
TALK ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD WISHES!
you can even eat the dishes!
See, that part's very quiet! Almost whispering.
Me: You are an awesome singer.
Ian: Yes. I am.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
We finally hit the farmstand (yes, the one I've been reading about since February!) when it was open!
Within, say, 2 miles of my house.
these are lemon cucumbers. I have no idea what they taste like or what one might do with them. But I believe Heidi at 101cookbooks does. So I bought some.
don't know why these sentences are coming out underlined. Just ignore it. That's what I'm doing.
Oh, okay, if you insist.
Cherry Tomatoes! It's whats for dinner!
Our haul, for $10 - 2 Zucchinis and one yellow squash, a pint of lemon cucumbers, a pint of sungold tomatoes, and the two cutest little cantaloupes in the history of organic farming. So dinner was cantaloupe (appetizer, and Ian asked for more for his main course), corn and green beans (not local, from Delaware, left over from our trip to the beach) and piles of perfectly ripe raw cherry tomatoes with nothing, not even salt.
I hope they're open tomorrow.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Chop some likely-looking vegetables - I had these in the fridge:
a pint of grape tomatoes, halved;
half a large Vidalia onion, sliced medium-thin;
some peppers (I used about half a red and half a yellow pepper) chopped;
and some white mushrooms, cut in large pieces.
Put them all (with their juices) into a baking pan (mine is 9x13 pyrex.)
Drop in a big spoonful of chopped garlic, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Douse the whole business with olive oil, and toss it all together, and chuck it in the oven.
Put a pot of water on for pasta.
After 10 or so minutes, the tomatoes and onions will start to get soft. Give it a stir.
After another 7 or so minutes, start the pasta. I used about 6 oz of multigrain Barilla.
The veggies are done when everything is soft and touches of brown have started to appear; the oil will be deep gold, mixed with the sticky juices that the vegetables have released. Stir, let sit for a moment while you drain and plate the pasta.
Great with or without cheese (Eric had grated parm; I had a little goat cheese, which was so lovely.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
empty Tupperware (or easily-emptied Slurpee cup)
exceptionally tall husband
Things That I Can Only Imagine Would Be Helpful etc etc:
pants which come all the way down to one's ankles
shoes which are NOT basically BOARDWALK RUBBER FLIP FLOPS. (I don't care how much I paid for these things, or how comfortable and supportive they are, or even how lucky I am that I have a job to which I can go 98% barefoot every day. They are FLIP FLOPS and one should THINK TWICE while approaching blackberry thickets.)
sufficient time for picking before the enthusiastic toddler needs the bandaids.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Monday, July 06, 2009
Blue Dragonfly ; Azure Hawker ?, originally uploaded by tibchris.
I woke up this morning and spent a few moments - it felt like half an hour, but I imagine it was less than 3 seconds - figuring out where I was and what day it was. This was a process of elimination - it's ot Sunday, is it? Check...Not Tuesday? Check. No, Monday, first day of a new camp for Eric and a day when, weirdly, nothing is expected of me except to hang with the kid.
I've been really focused on work lately (FINALLY, after a near-disasterous period of chronic distractibility and a few weeks of family/socializing time...) and so this whole day just felt like a bonus, an extra day in the week.
Ian and I trotted off to Lake Elkhorn, where we took a short walk, saw about a zillion dragonflies (mostly small and blue, a couple gigantic red ones) plus ducks and barn swallows but happily no snakes. (Howard County trails all have ENORMOUS posters with pictures of snakes on them, since they had a couple poisonous snake bites within the last few years. This cuts into my enjoyment of the outdoors significantly.) Ian also got to spend some time in the giant sandbox (no snakes there either) while I knit in the shade (also happily snake-free.)
Very, very pleasant.
Being at the lake, and seeing the houses that look out over the lake, gave me lots of ideas for how to make our backyard more livable. I expect the barely-80-degree weather did, mostly...last summer's heat, humidity and God help us, those trendy new Asian Tiger Mosquitos definitely made me want to stay far away from the back yard. (Plus, um, snakes, though nearly every snake I've ever seen at our house has been around the front foundation plantings.)
Anyway, I have had good luck in the past announcing my wishes on my blogs - my very first blog entry, on LiveJournal, mentioned that I needed cargo pants and some genetic material (which is to say, a chance to get knocked up) and I eventually ended up with both.
So I hereby announce to the universe: I would like some outdoor seating - just simple park benches, and some daylillies and hostas for the border. Oh, and a couple pots of bamboo for the deck.
I would like to get all those things for free.
And I would like more 78-degree bonus days this summer.
Sunday, July 05, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
(from a comment from a woman named Sheri on How Chow, where I gather with other lovers of unusual groceries in my local area and bloviate. (Prov 18:2.)
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
"I’ve been practicing some important phrases, too:
Excuse me, stewardess, please make sure there is no turbulence.
Excusez-moi, hôtesse de l'air, s'il vous plaît assurez-vous il n'y a pas de turbulence.
I thought I said no turbulence. Now I require a bucket of red wine and some horse tranquilizers.
Je pensais que je l'ai dit pas de turbulence. Maintenant, j'ai besoin d'un seau de vin rouge et quelques chevaux de tranquillisants.
Do not laugh at me. I have an anxiety disorder.
Ne vous moquez pas de moi. J'ai un trouble anxieux."
from Alice Bradley's blog Finslippy
2. Wish I’d said that:
In Religion Dispatches (which I read nearly every day) Benjamin Weiner points out where Gary Trudeau falls short. He’s right, but the really fabulous part of this essay is the use of “metonymize” and “clusterfuck” – “a beautifully multi-cultural clusterfuck”, in fact – in THE VERY SAME SENTENCE.
"If we had to wait for your thirteenth movie for you to make one with a girl at the center, couldn't you have chosen something -- something -- for her to be that could compete with plucky robots and adventurous space toys?"
from Linda Holmes' terrific pop culture blog for NPR.com, Monkey See.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Great taste and a sense of humor.
She also created these.
extremely indirectly via priscilla
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Last Thursday, she posted her list of 8 Self-Care Essentials: "It’s time to think about what you need to stay healthy and sane on a day-to-day basis. "
You've probably discerned these for yourself, if you check in here from time to time.
1.Sleep. I am just – literally, in the past 2 weeks - learning the joy of sleep.
2. Chemicals. For the time being, at least, I need to ingest a few chemicals, to balance out the ones that my brain makes too much of, or absorbs too little of, or...something. I’m not totally clear on the process. Here’s what I know: my brain was trying to kill me. Now it’s not. To hell with stigma. Bring on the pills.
3.A face-to-face conversation with my husband. About something other than laundry and schedules.
4.Reading time. A magazine, a library book, the Style or Food section, SOMETHING that’s not an email.
5.Food which is actual food. Like sleep, I neglected/ignored/did not believe this was necessary for about 45 of my 47 years.
6.Time to cook a meal and wash up/get things back in order.
7.A bit of news – real (NPR) or fake (Jon or Stephen, although this may threaten #1.)
8.Singing with my kid. And occasionally, without him.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
This article in the NYTimes (Sunday magazine section, several weeks ago) included a recipe for pizza crust by my favorite food writer, Jeffery Steingarten. (By the way -- that picture of him? In the last link, the author page? PRAY TO GOD that anyone ever takes a picture of you that is that flattering. Use it until you die. Require that a paper use it in your obituary. JS is a wonderful writer, a clear thinker, a man of unbounded enthusiasm, and very smart. But he does not look like that.)
EDITED TO ADD: This pizza crust is decidedly superior to my earlier pizza crust. If I invite you over for pizza, you do not need to be afraid!
Pizza quality will improve even more if I can find our pizza stone! I forgot that we even had one!
PS - I am grateful for a family who want to eat my experiments, no matter how questionable they look.
Anyway, I made pizza dough today. I often make pizza dough on Mondays, and it never quite pleases me (though I seem unashamed to serve it to people both inside and outside my family) so I am trying the linked recipe to see how that goes. We'll bake, eat and critique tomorrow.
My dear friend Beth is writing for Suite 101 - her first post, a recipe, appeared today. I have never made this - in fact, I've never even tasted it! But I am going to try it - it's made from pantry stuff I have around (except for the ground beef), and the kid likes beans.
Speaking of beef, I got some bargains while grocery shopping today, and now I have to figure out what to do with a pork "filet". (It's long and skinny. It's like a pork log. I think I might have called this a tenderloin, were I doing the labeling. But perhaps that's not technically correct.) Off to google "pork" (oh good Lord.)
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life..and see if I could not learn what it had to teac
Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1854)
I am going into the woods to...what? Talk about ministry? Come back out with a plan for 2010? Knit? Work our asses off for 3 days and come back exhausted, yet strangely renewed?
We're retreating, and will have all the comforts of home, if your home held 10 adults and had toilets and showers and one telephone on the wall of the coat closet.
I am bringing beer.
One of my comforts, when things in life are tough (at the moment, they aren't, particularly) is that there seems to be little danger that I will come to the end of my life and discover that I have not lived. That I just visited this planet.
More and more I think this is the question I was put on earth to keep asking:
"Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?"
Jonny Baker had me thinking about that today. He proposes that planning worship - curating worship - is nothing less than creating a world, and we should consider what kind of world we would create.
I think I would most want to create a world where people have time and space and brain power to do THINGS THEY ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT. Work that is diverting and also significant. Real conversations, not just pleasantries. Making things. Seeing things. Laughing. Not so much driving (except that even driving is a great backdrop for some of the most real conversations. Yesterday, as we were finishing up our errands, Ian said to me "Let's stay. Let's just stay in the car."
"Just drive around?" I asked.
"Yes," he said. "Just stay in the car and drive some more. Just sit in the car."
And I thought, kid, I have spent so many hundreds of hours just staying in cars, doing what we're doing - talking, listening to music, looking out the window - that I know just what you mean. "I'd like that," I said.)
I would like to create a world where no one has to wonder if they are really alive.
Friday, May 08, 2009
delicious, filling, used up leftovers and produce odds and ends. I may make soup every Friday.
Improvised whole wheat cheddar biscuits = FAIL
Massively salty. Otherwise, not that bad. Plus we get to use these ridiculous little butter knives.
How I made the soup:
Warm a splash of olive oil in a dutch over (high heat.)
Slice 2 small onions and chop 5 stalks of celery, and drop into pan. Salt and pepper them generously. Stir occasionally.
Cut 3 carrots (or like 10 baby carrots) into thick slices and drop into pan.
If the pan seems too dry and the onions are sticking, add a splash of some liquid (I used broth, water or wine would be fine.)
Add the shredded meat from about half a cooked chicken. Stir. (Add any leftover cooked veggies you would like to see out of the fridge – I had a braised leek, which added a lot of flavor, and some sliced of potato.)
Sprinkle in a little (probably less than a teaspoon) McCormick’s Montreal Chicken Grilling spice. (YES it has sulfites, don’t judge me.)
Add 32 oz of chicken broth (that’s a box of Swanson’s Natural Goodness.)
Add fresh green beans (2 cups?) Lower the heat to medium.
Add a few handfuls of pea pods (what are these things called, anyway? I love saying pea pods, for some reason.)
Simmer until the beans are as tender as you like them.
This soup is flavorful (from the onions, which pretty much carmelize) spicy (from the spice mixture, which is awesome, chemicals and all) and has lots of texture and interest from the zillion servings of vegetables. It’s forgiving, cook-time-wise, so you can prep the produce and chicken as you go, as opposed to having to have all the beans strung and the chicken shredded before you turn on the burner. This allows you to improvise throughout, and also helps with the cleanup, eliminating all those annoying little bowls of mise en place.)
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Fresh Pea Salad
(from Heidi Swanson's wonderful 101 Cookbooks which is the primary reason I am slightly less fat than I used to be. Still just as Funky, though.)
How to mess it up: Instead of a seeded serrano chili in the dressing, use a habenero.
A giant pressed sandwich. I did not mess this up. It was really good.
Take one baugette. Slice it as if it is the world's largest hot dog bun. Use your fingers to pull out the places where the fresh bread has wadded up.
Assemble a sandwich using, in any order:
roasted red peppers (dry them off just a little)
fresh mozzerella (in slices or little blobs, drained)
tiny little slivers of cured meat (in this case, Lebanon Bologne)
a little smoked provolone (because they had it at the farmer's market)
I might had had a tomato, too, although who buys tomatoes in April?
drizzle with a tiny thread of olive oil. Squish together and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and find a way to fit it into the fridge.
Before the picnic, wrap it in foil and find a way to fit it in the cooler.
My way involved bending it in the middle.
Serve at the picnic with salt, pepper, and the insanely spicy salad dressing that nearly killed you when you tried it on the pea salad. It goes really, really well with the sandwich.
Utz Kettle Cooked Potato Chips. These cannot be messed up, as they are the most delicious chip on earth. If we're going to poison ourselves with junk food, by God, it had better be worth it.
Cardamom Iced Tea with honey in sports bottles. I did not mess this up either.
And the birthday cake: Pound Cake with Strawberries and Whipped cream.
Wash, de-leaf and slice a box of strawberries. Put them in a tupperware container with a splash of balsamic vinegar and about a quarter-cup of sugar. Keep in fridge for the day, shaking occasionally.
Make a sour cream poundcake.
Cream together 1 cup butter and 2 cups sugar. Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, a 7 oz container of plain yogurt (we had Fage, yippee) and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
Okay, here's your chance to mess it up: add one egg and one cup of flour and mix completely. Do this twice more, until you have added 3 eggs and 3 c. flour.
There, you just messed it up. The recipe actually calls for TWO eggs at a time. For a total of SIX eggs.
The recipe also says to "pour" the "batter" into a greased and floured loaf pan. Dude, even when you use 6 eggs - I'm guessing this would be true if you used a dozen - this is by no stretch of the imagination "batter" and it will never, ever pour. It's okay. Really. Transfer with a spatula and a huge spoon.
Also, this cake is too big for my largest loaf pan. It overflowed, even without the 3 more eggs. You could easily make 2 decent-sized pound cakes from this recipe.
Bake at 325 for about 75 minutes.
This is delicious. The number of eggs does not matter at all. Sure, it's 'substantial', but that makes it excellent for absorbing the strawberry juice and contrasting with the whipped cream.
Also on this picnic, try to fly kites, regardless of the wind situation.
Take a large saucepan. Put in 1/4 cup milk, 1 cup sugar, 1 and a half Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, 2 Tablespoons peanut butter (supercrunchy if you have it) and a half a stick of butter.
It works better if the butter isn't frozen.*
Stir that mess together and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil.
Boil for 90 seconds without stirring.
Remove from heat. Stir in 1 and a half cups rolled oats (old-fashioned oatmeal, your box may say. The stuff you use for cookies. The stuff you cook on the stove top for 5 minutes. That oatmeal.) and a swig of vanilla extract.
Drop by spoonfuls (or whatever sort of lumpy shape you like) onto a piece of foil. (I didn't use a cookie sheet, just laid the foil on the counter.)
Don't eat these until they cool.
The next time I make these, I will add some salt, since, in my opinion, all cookies need salt. And use even chunkier peanut butter, because the peanut pieces are nice.
* Frozen butter does not encourage even heating of all the ingredients in the fudgey stage. If you're not careful, you could even burn some of it.
And then all your Facebook friends will say you are awesome.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
greetings from the biggest fiber event in the world.
Ian rocked it and then some.
I did not buy one gram of yarn.
I did buy myself one present = a needle gauge pendant - this form, but made of teal aluminum, not sterling like this photo. I very rarely buy knitting tools. I really have much more stuff than I need already. (And I'm not really the pewter sheep brooch type, though there were some pretty nice ones at the fest.) But I fell for this months ago when I saw it in a magazine, and when I saw one in person, I splurged.
Come on. I'm on a yarn diet, not a gauge diet. Have a heart.
Friday, May 01, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Here is a recipe I've been making for a really long time. I saw it in the Times, a Wednesday food section, and I had it tacked to the corkboard in my kitchen for years. Now I have it memorized (though I rarely trust my memory for recipes, since, as my recent birthday cake slip-up* indicates, I'm not that precise even when I have the text in front of me.) I believe (guessing, from the notes in my kitchen notebook) that I clipped this recipe about 1997 or so.
I made this tonight for friends, which was a bit of a risk - it's got very strong flavors, and I can imagine someone finding it inedible. Happily, both the shrimp devotee and the more hesitant friend loved it. Even Ian ate a bite!
I usually eat this with white rice, but was too lazy for rice tonight - I bought a baguette, which we made very short work of. We had green beans and asperagas, which was also well received. (I cut up some cucumbers for this kids, and that made me realize that some kind of cucumber side dish would be really good with this, to contrast the salty and sharp flavors. )
In related food news, Ian and I had a tremendously successful first trip to the Grand Everyday Fresh Mart in South Laurel. Large selection of very nice produce at low prices, first of all, which is what I was looking for. (Seriously - Driscoll strawberries for 2.19 instead of 2.59, grapes for .99 a pound instead of $1.99. Large (don't know the official designation, but they were BIG) shrimp for 4.99/pound )(cheaper if I had been prepared to deal with the heads, which I was not). Live crabs and lots of fish on ice, which, along with making me what to cook them, make the trip much more exciting for Ian. The prices are competitive with the PanAm Latin American market, but it's much bigger and the produce looks nicer. Like the PanAm, it's pretty chaotic, but that suits me fine.
*The cake mistake - I have a lovely recipe for pound cake, from this excellent book which I totally recommend. Yes, it's got some jello salads and some things which require cans of mushroom soup. So don't make those. Duh. The things that are good are really good, including the sour cream pound cake recipe, which is what I made for Eric's birthday Friday. I used yogurt instead of sour cream, and where the recipe calls for 6 eggs, I only remembered to put in 3. It's still absolutely delicious. It's just a little more, um, "substantial".
Friday, April 24, 2009
Disappointment: her Etsy shop is out of them, so there are no pictures there to reign in the imagination.
Tomorrow, if I get a chance, I will post the recipes for Eric's birthday cake and for the picnic fare that will proceed it.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
* Half a gigantic onion, thinly sliced
* 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs. minced from the jar.)
* i lb dried chickpeas, soaked about 18 hrs and rinsed
* several baby carrots, sliced into small chunks
* ¼ cup raisins
* 1 tsp. ground turmeric (shocked to find I had this in my cabinet)
* 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
* 1 tsp. ground cumin
* ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
* 2 tsp. honey
(I used Really Raw honey, but didn't see any of the usual miscellaneous bee parts - Eric must have eaten them all in the top layer.)
* ½ cup plain Greek-style yogurt
The night before:
pick over the dried chick peas, rinse them in a colander, and put them in a large pot with 6 or so cups of water. I left them on the counter overnight, but transferred them the fridge before I left for work.
When you plan to cook them:
Take soaked chick peas out of fridge, rinse them one last time, cover generously with cold water and set them to boil until you can crush one with a little effort. It took about 30 minutes here. Raw chickpeas taste a little like raw chestnuts, which I don't recommend either. Cooked chick peas taste a little like roasted chestnuts, and retain some of their springyness. Stop cooking them before they get mushy.
(The original recipe called for canned chick peas, rinsed, which would make this a 20-minute dish, and I'm sure that would be fine too. I'm just a dried bean snob. And cheap.)
Heat oil in dutch over over medium heat.
Add onion and garlic, and sauté until onion slices are soft.
Stir in cooked, drained chickpeas, carrots, raisins, spices, honey, and 2 cups water.
Cover and simmer 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Keep an eye on it - I had to add about a half-cup more water at the 11 minute mark.
Serve, with a spoonful of yogurt.
Benefits from some salt and pepper.
THIS was a total winner, didn't take long, was definitely not technically challenging, and all with staple foods! We had everything except the yogurt already around the house. It's really delicious.
The original recipe is from last October Vegetarian Times. As I said above, it's even faster and easier.