Saturday, August 31, 2013

At the Library

The bulletin board at the library had information for various activities coming up. It seems you can get checked for an STD at the library twice a month (Mr. ETB loudly asked if they have a librarian look you over, which got a giggle from the elderly librarian passing by) and go to speed dating events.

Make of that what you will.

Onion Dip

Somehow, Danny had never tasted onion dip. Mr. ETB made a passing mention, and intrigued, Danny asked if I would make some. Somehow, that felt like I'd overlooked an important part of American culture. I stopped to pick up some rippled crisps (because that's the only thing that will stand up to dip) and some soup mix. Looking at the ingredients, and the price, I decided I could do better on my own. And I did.

I think the kid would have licked the bowl if I'd let him.

You Will Need:

1 beef soup cube pulverized in a grinder, or bashed to hell with a rolling pin-your call.
A pinch of smoked salt
2 cups Mexican crema (You can use sour cream of course, but the crema was really good)
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes

Mix it all together, and let it stand in the fridge at least 30 minutes until the onions soften.

A Gigantic Ring Mould

I spied it from across the Goodwill-a gigantic, ten cup (at least) copper ring mould. Mr. ETB shot me a familiar look, half horrified, half resigned because he knew no baba or savarin will ever fill the coppery patterned beauty. No, this fucker is for Jell-O.

"But the holidays are coming" I explained, not that purchasing a gigantic ring mould needs justification.

"Which holidays?"

"All of them. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, St. George's Day, Birthdays..."

"You should make some Jell-O in it."

And that kids is why we're still together after twenty years.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Dead Easy Baked Whole Rainbow trout



Danny took this photo because he thought it looked attractive and he couldn't trust me to take a decent photograph. These damn kids today. I have to admit, it is a good photo.

By purchasing this rainbow trout whole, rather than filleted I saved six dollars per pound. For me, the slight inconvenience of sliding the fish from the bone, and removing the skin before serving is well worth it. Really, it took less than a minute of work. If you've never baked a whole fish, rainbow trout is a good place to start as the bones are large enough to spot, and tend to come away cleanly, and intact.

Preparing the fish was a breeze as it had already been gutted and scaled. Scaling a fish is no big deal, you just grab it by the tail, and scrape downward with a knife. Do this step over a sink. You can cut off the head and fins if it freaks you out, but I don't bother.

The recipe I'm giving here is not too complicated. No baking it on a laurel branch, or caking it in a case of salt. I won't even have you fiddling with folding parchment. No, as the tittle claims, this is dead easy to prepare and takes but a mere thirty minutes to cook.

OK everybody, who wants to bake a trout?

You will need:

A whole rainbow trout
Salt and pepper
1 lemon, sliced
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
1-2 sprigs parsley
A few thyme leaves
Butter
White Vermouth

Wash your trout. Lay a large piece of foil on a heavy baking sheet. Butter the foil generously-this will prevent the skin from sticking. Salt and pepper the inside of the fish. Fill the cavity with the remaining ingredients except for the wine. At this point, if you like, tuck a few extra pats of butter inside, though trout is a fairly oily fish and really doesn't require it. This is a sort of guarantee against it becoming dry if you overcook it-but you're not going to overcook it. You're going to do it correctly.

Dribble about an ounce of vermouth over the fish, and seal the packet. Bake about 30 minutes in a 475 degree F. oven. Start checking your fish at 25 minutes-cooking time will vary by the size of your fish, as well as your oven.

To serve:

After everyone has had a chance to see your impressive fish, use a knife to peel away the skin-unless you like it. Some people eat the skin. *Shrug*. Use your knife to gently lift the fish away from the bones. It should slide off easily. Your first few attempts will not yield perfect servings, and some pieces will fall apart. Don't despair. Stick the pieces close together on the plate, and no one will be the wiser, and if they are they won't care. If they do care, tell them to fuck off, and cook for people who don't care, and appreciate someone feeding them.

And that's that. Thirty minutes to a beautiful dinner. I made some potatoes and steamed broccoli to serve with it, but then remembered I had marinated olives in the fridge. A few ripe tomatoes, and torn basil leaves turned into a lovely first course I hadn't planned. Sometimes the best meals come together at the last minute.

 

Honey Fruit Cake

This cake has an identity problem-it isn't honeycake, and it isn't fruitcake. It is however, really delicious after a couple days of mellowing, so I'll go ahead and post the recipe. I omitted the nuts in the recipe, and added some chopped, crystalised ginger to the fruit. Danny took a look at the ingredients, noted the lack of spices, and decided it would be insipid (yes, he used the word insipid, I'm going to have to punish him for being smarter than his parents). I thought he might have a point, hence the ginger. Your call. I don't think a bit of cinnamon, or mixed spice would hurt.

The recipe comes from a cookbook I find generally reliable for kosher recipes. Keep in mind, because of the dietary laws, you can't mix milk and meat at the same meal, so many desserts are made with oil or margarine to keep them flexible. We never bought butter at home, opting instead for the gigantic yellow tub of oleo, which was fine as we didn't have anything to compare it to. My parents didn't keep kosher (mum loved her bacon sandwiches too much for that) but somehow buying butter was unacceptable. Like pork. Yes, I know it comes from the same animal, but she wouldn't buy pork because it was too trayief but bacon was OK. I think butter somehow fell into that strange ordering of her universe. Let's not talk about prawn cocktail. Anyway, my point is (yeah, hang on, I've got one, I was just coming to it) you could probably use butter if you prefer, though it will go stale quicker than a cake baked with vegetable shortening.

From Kosher Cookery, Classic and Contemporary by, Frances r. AvRutick

You Will Need:

A 10 inch tube pan (I used several small loaf pans without any problem)
2 tablespoons solid white vegetable shortening
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
4 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons bicarb
3/4 cup warm brewed coffee
1 1/4 cups honey plus and extra 1/3 cup for glazing later
3/4 cup chopped nuts (I omitted these)
3/4 cup chopped candied fruit (I tossed in some raisins as well)
Blanched slivered almonds for topping (skipped those too)

Grease the pan and set aside. preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Cream the shortening and sugar together (it will look like damp sand-mine didn't really cream in the way cooks would expect). Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each. Blend in the orange juice. Sift the dry ingredients together. Combine the homey and coffee. Add, alternating to the creamed mixture. Toss the fruit with 2 teaspoons flour, and fold into the batter along with the nuts. Pour into pan and bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully drizzle the 1/3 cup honey over the cake. Arrange almonds if using them on top. return to oven and bake another 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out dry. Cool before removing from pan.

Thrift Shopping My Own Cupboards


I'm not sure how this pitcher came into our lives, but it has been in the family as long as I remember. It is stamped, "Made in Israel" (in Hebrew) so it can't be that old (post 1948 anyway). Growing up, it sat on our piano, then on a knick knack shelf, then it moved to a box where I discovered it after my Mother died. I had it packed away for years, then it sat another dozen years atop a bookcase until finally, in this move I decided it was time to finally use the thing. I'd hesitate to use it as a pitcher for drinking as I have no idea what sort of metal it is made from (part of it looks brass, but I'm not sure of the rest) but I do think it would make a lovely vase for flowers. I love the detail on the handle, where the artist used his or her fingertips to indent the grip. In an age of mass-produced household items, a beautiful piece of craftsmanship like this deserves better treatment than collecting dust in a corner of  a room no one uses.

If I've learned anything from Antiques Roadshow, I know not to polish it up, in an attempt to restore it. I'm possibly mistaken, but I think it always had that dark patina, but perhaps it has been that way so long, I'd never seen it in the original condition.

In the course of moving house, I rediscovered many items I'd long forgotten and am making an attempt to get them out for use. I'll share them from time to time here.
 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Plum Butter

When I got to the grocer planning to order a case of prune plums, they already had them in back for me-just in case I wanted them. Now that's great customer service! That's also long term employees who know what they're doing. I scurried home with my thirty pounds of prune plums (that cost me 1/3 of the retail price, YAY!)and started cooking. As I mentioned in the last post, I made two batches of pie filling, and tonight I made plum butter. One pint exploded in the canner (boo!) but it left me with plenty to enjoy. Some years I make it plain, other years add cinnamon. This time around I added 1/2 teaspoon of mixed spice. My husband said it made the house smell like Christmas, which can't be a bad thing.

I still have quite a few plums left. I'll dry some, and make some glace plums for Christmastime, maybe some fruit pate. Otherwise, I'm kind of stumped for anything exotic beyond perhaps a batch of dumpling sauce. I've made plum orange conserve in the past, but unless Mr. ETB starts eating duck more than twice a year, I don't know what to do with it.

Of course, if they keep grabbing a handful of fruit (the plums are quite small) each time they pass the kitchen, I may not have anything left by morning.

I had someone return one of my Christmas pudding moulds today, which struck horror into my heart realising October will be upon us (I make my puddings mid-October) and I haven't candied any cherries yet. We still have excellent cherries around, so I'll need to get on that quickly. Moving house really disrupted the way I schedule my life, and it will be so nice to get back to a routine.

It is predicted to be 101 degree F. tomorrow.

Prune Plum Pie Filling to Freeze

Making pie filling ahead, and freezing it takes up less space than freezing entire pies-and the results are terrific. Use doubled freezer bags to pack it for storage, but please be certain you have cooled your filling completely first, as ice crystals will form.

I made two batches already today.

You Will Need:

4 1/2 cups sliced prune plums
1/3 cup water
3/4-1 cup granulated sugar (I use 3/4, but we prefer it tart)
3 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a large pan, bring the plums and water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook 3 minutes, uncovered.

Combine remaining ingredients, and add slowly to the plums, stirring constantly (but gently as you don't want jam). Cook 5 minutes longer over low heat, until the filling has a clear appearance. Remove from heat, transfer to a heat proof dish, and cool completely before storing.

Makes enough for 1 generous pie.

And the Brushed Out Curls Next Day


I snapped the picture after being out in the 99 degree heat with humidity of a million. It could use some pomade.


Outfit Particulars:

Dress: Brimfield Fair, circa 1992
Bracelets: Goodwill, K-Mart
Earrings: Retail K-Mart
Lippy: Loreal True Red
Foundation: Dermablend
Hair Flowers: Walgreen's Tiff & Tam (2/$3.00)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Get Off My Lawn


Yes, that is the water cycle on my shower curtain, thanks for noticing. Were going to get the Periodic table, but then Danny saw this one, and we had to get it.



I haven't been out of the house since Friday due to weather, and surgery-and look what I've become!

That feather duster cost $8.00 That's right, I paid eight dollars for a feather duster. So far, it hasn't lost any feathers, and does a swell job picking up dust instead of just strewing it around. Overall, I'd have to say it is my favourite feather duster. Sadly, I'm the sort of woman that would have a favouite feather duster.

Let's talk about the roller set. I stopped using a hairdryer ages ago, and instead do a set every three days or so. My hair hold a set really well, and after a quick pass with the boar bristle brush, I'm good for the entire day-no hairspray needed. I dilute Lotta Body setting lotion with 2 parts water, and keep it in a spray bottle for when I do a set. I don't have trouble sleeping on foam rollers, and I get to answer the door in the morning looking like I should be screaming at those kids with their long playing records and funny cigarettes to get offa my lawn.

Mr. ETB has hair much longer than mine, and wants me to give him a set so he can go to work looking all Peter Frampton...if Peter Frampton had weighed 250 lbs. and wore braces to hold up his trousers. Could be a look. Maybe.

Any Sweeter and We'd All Be Diabetic




I baked three different batches of honey cakes for the high holidays. They're ready to be handed off, frozen, shipped around the country, and a couple internationally. It was an insane amount of work, but Danny helped a great deal, and we got a good home economics lesson out of it. I'll post the recipes in a couple days after the cakes have had a chance to mature, because I can't really judge their result until they do. One recipe had me pouring warmed honey over the cakes halfway through baking. I thought it would be a terrible mess, but it was beautiful. Because I baked them in my mini pudding moulds, they really looked like sticky toffee pudding when they came out of the oven.

I'll try to get the update by the weekend so you have a chance to bake some for yourself.

Biscuit Crust Taco Pizza

This dinner took all of twenty-five minutes. After a day of baking three batches of honey-cakes (see next post) I really needed something quick, and easy.

Now, I have no business calling this, "taco" but it was the closest I could get to something with corn, chili beans, cheese, and sofrito-so Taco it is. I suppose you could fold the slices and pretend it is a tortilla.

Would you look at that? That my friends is the picture of a New World diet-corn, beans, and pizza.


Biscuit pizzas were everywhere when I was a child, but lost popularity. I don't know why, because it certainly doesn't get any easier. The boys loved this, and they're what I would call pizza snobs. I suppose comparing it to a yeast crust is pointless as they are different animals, but everyone agreed it would be just great to put this dinner into regular rotation. Consider it done, guys!

The crust recipe may be found at:

http://www.tammysrecipes.com/biscuit_crust_pizza

I rarely say this with things I just randomly try off the internet, but this was such a perfect crust recipe, I wouldn't change a single thing. Not. A. Single. Thing.

Here's what I did for the topping:

After spreading the crust with melted butter, I coated it in a layer of sofrito (I made about a gallon of it yesterday, so I'll be looking for ways to use it). I did a combination of parmesan and Swiss cheeses (really, don't judge) and while cheddar might have made more sense, this odd combination was well received. I added some drained, tinned chili beans with a bit of the sauce left on, and some tinned corn. That's it. Nothing fancy, but oh my gosh, did it ever come together into early 1970's women's magazine cooking glory.

Alright, get out of here, go to Tammy's Recipes, and make a pizza with this crust. Now. Don't pull that face when I'm ordering you to make pizza.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Today's Challenge-Find Danny's Room

Ready, set...let's go upstairs. Follow the signs.

 

 

 

 

 What? Tired already?

 Gasp! You read it?




 Are you kidding me? Didn't you follow the signs?

Heat Waves and Honeycakes

No end in sight-that's the forecast for the heat. We have humidity too, which is making it like a sauna. I feel bad for the kids sitting in un-airconditioned classrooms, or worse the ones being forced to practice sports in full kit by sadistic coaches.

Our central air (which is nice, believe me I'm not complaining) keeps up on the lower, and first floor, but gets a bit weak on the third. We have a large recirculating fan pointed at the stairway which seems to do the trick. We nearly gave that thing away when we moved (it is huge, and twenty years old) good thing we thought better of it.

Strangely, the kitchen doesn't get hot at all, which is lucky as I have honey cakes to get baked for Rosh Hashanah. They need to be baked well ahead of time to "settle" as they are "keeping cakes." Over the years I've tried so many different recipes that I no longer have a favourite. That's a problem because I have no idea which to use. With the holiday being so early this year, I probably won't do anything with grated apple, as they haven't started showing up in the stores yet (well, yeah the cold storage ones are, but why bother?). Last year I made a chocolate honey cake which while nice, wasn't exactly the sort of thing people had in mind for their holiday. It really comes down to whether you use ad-ins such as apple and dried fruit making it more of a spiced fruit loaf. The recipes that have you separate the eggs and fold in the whites have a spongier texture, the loaf variety can be as dense as  Parkin. I like them all! My family are no help whatsoever-they'll eat just about anything.

I have much less freezer space here than the old place, so I can't bake too many challas and the like to freeze ahead. They are a fast rising sort of bread anyway, but with school starting in the same week, I'd like to get a bit ahead on the holiday preparation. I'm so incredibly thankful I had the syllabus taken care of back in the spring before we moved. I have three large cartons labeled, "Schoolyear 2013-14" in which I thought to pack the actual books we'll be needing. Oh god, am I glad I did that-I can't find much of anything in this house, but at least we're ready to go with books, workbooks, science kits and the like.

Any honey cake experts out there have a recipe to share? Feel free to post them in the comments if you do. I tend to get quite a few Google hits each fall looking for "the world's best honey cake" and I always wish I could respond, "If I knew that, would I have 25 different varieties posted here?"

Monday, August 26, 2013

Internet Shopping

I saved myself money, and running all over looking for a blue sweat suit to make Danny's Halloween costume by purchasing direct from the manufacturer. It was so inexpensive, I bought two shades of blue just to be certain it looks "Woody Woodpecker enough" (there's a sentence I never imagined myself typing). I think we all knew that's what he'd be doing for Halloween, I'm not giving away a secret. I'll sew the collar on with some flocked white fabric, and give him a pair of my vintage white gloves. He already has the mask. So good, that's done-took all of five minutes.

Then, because I already had the credit card out (That's my reasoning) I hopped over to Asos to look at the sales and what do you know? Yeah, Renaissance style hair jewelry. Clips, and chains-the whole bit. And a dress, because you don't get your credit card out, log into your account, and come away without a dress. It is a very short dress, so I'll call it a "tunic" and wear it over leggings.

I have pretty good self control, even in the face of a bargain but being able to get what you want, in your size with a few clicks, and have it delivered to your door is technology I can really embrace.

Here's the dress.

http://us.asos.com/pgeproduct.aspx?iid=3263515&cid=5235&Rf-300=1920&sh=0&pge=1&pgesize=204&sort=-1&clr=Navy&action=signout

I have no idea what to do for my own Halloween costume, I mean when you dress like I do, every  single day is Halloween.

Pat's Pumpkin Bundt Cake





This recipe comes to us from my cherished, Jewel-Osco 100 Years of Fresh Family Favorites cookbook. I added the cream chesse-ish frosting because serving a plain cake around here would have them thinking I was angry or something. The wailing, "What did we do wrong?! No frosting?Please don't beat us mummy..."

This is the sort of thing you (I) bake when baking seems like a bit of an effort. It isn't quite as simple as the delightfully named, "Dump Cake" but it is pretty easy. I'm sure it was the most difficult recipe in the collection as it didn't start with a mix, or involve Cool Whip. Or 7-Up. Or Jell-O. "Poke Cake" sounds pretty awful as well.

I blame the fact that I even considered, let alone baked this cake on Brian Francis at Caker Cooking.
http://cakercooking.blogspot.com/

I also blame him for the Cool Whip and carton of orange sherbet sitting in my freezer, but we'll get to that in a later post. While this is bordering on a "bit fancy" as caker baking goes, the cookbook from which it hails has "Church Basement" written across it in robin's egg blue eyeliner. I can't wait to make "Lazy Pierogi" which is a noodles and a tin of  sauerkraut (and some other stuff) in a casserole.
 



Look deeply into the dark mystery of the Bundt Cake. I see terrible things. Terrrrible things. Mostly calories, but fuck off, I'm recuperating-I need those calories.

So, Pat's Pumpkin Bundt Cake (which is next to Patti's Ho Ho Cake) is easy to make because you pour an entire cup of salad oil into it (no creaming butter and sugar together here). The eggs need not be separated, and don't tell anyone, but I used a large bowl and tossed in all the dry ingredients at once (I'm a radical, I tell you). I never bothered to sift. I want that on my headstone when I die, by the way.

And all is well! The invalid (that's me) baked a cake, everyone sighed in relief that we're semi back to normal, and for the five minutes it took putting together, it came out sorta nice. I made a couple changes exchanging mixed spice for cinnamon (because the mixed spice was at the front of the cabinet, and I would have had to dig for the cinnamon) and I only had 1/2 a cup of brown sugar and was too lazy to stand and mush molasses into granulated sugar to make up the rest-so I used 1 1/2 cups white. Skipped the nuts too, obviously.

You Will Need:

4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups tinned pumpkin
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon (I used mixed spice)
1/2 cup chopped nut (skipped it)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (also skipped it-because I was out and it would take three minutes to drive to the grocery store from my house)

Grease and flour a Bundt pan. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy. Add the sugars, alternating with the oil. Mix well. Add the pumpkin and mix well. Add your dry ingredients. Mix well. Pour into pan. Bake 1 hour. That's enough time to set your hair, or read the weekly sales circulars.

To unmould:

Let cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Give the pan a good thwack on the counter. Unmould. When cool, ice as desired. I used about 3 tablespoons cream cheese, 2 cups icing sugar, and enough milk to make it (sort of) spread. I'm sure you could come up with something better.

Hey, everybody Mama made Cake!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

No Pre-1990 Literature for You, University Student!

I hesitate to provide a link, as it is quite depressing.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/25/american-universities-not-reading-classics

Not to sound obnoxious, but I read Pilgrim's Progress aloud, start to finish with Danny two years ago. We stopped often for explanations, asides, etc. but we got through it. If a six year old can do it, surely a first year university student can as well. The language is a bit odd to the modern ear, but the story is rather simplistic. My son refers to it as a, "Big old bag of religion", meaning heavy handed, and moralising-which is of course how proper religion ought to be. You need not subscribe to the message to understand the importance the book had at a time when very few people owned books other than a family bible.

Why must a student, "relate" (I despise that word in the current popular usage) to everything that is assigned? Surely they have free time to indulge in whatever they read for enjoyment ? I won't bother mentioning what I have in the curriculum this year, but I'm sure the kid isn't going to relate to most of what he'll be reading. For the sort of tuition these schools charge, I'd expect a "classic" or two (or twenty) finding a place on the syllabus.

I hated reading A Tale of Two Cities. My mother hated reading Silas Marner, Danny really disliked the Iliad. I also really hated Shakespeare. Yes, I read the plays, and the sonnets too. I hated them. I grew up in theatre, and I still hated them. All of them, even Macbeth which was the only marginally interesting one of the lot (I can feel the onslaught of hatemail coming). I've sat through more performances than I can count, have watched excellent film versions, but in the end, it is still Shakespeare, and nothing will change that for me...but I'm still going to teach it. I need not relate, nor enjoy it to understand the importance of knowing it. At the very least, it will avoid those awful cringe inducing moments like we saw during the opening ceremonies of the last Olympics in London where the American television commentators were trying to figure out what the reading at the beginning was about. That was painful. Yes, we'll be reading the Tempest, like it or not.

God, I have a university student living next door-do you suppose I ought to go slip a copy of Moby Dick into her mailbox as an anonymous favour?

I'm still a little shocked that authors do paid university tours. When I was at school, Mortimer Adler would show up for the yearly lecture to plug whatever book (or three) he'd written that year, but he sort of came with the place. I found him a bit of a jerk, answering questions by suggesting one of his books for further clarification. We never did anything to him, but I heard the students at St. Johns once tricked him with a revolving podium. That said, we were never visited by any top authors of the day that I'm aware of. We did however have a solid Western Civilisation requirement, for which I will always be thankful.

I fear the day these young people will be running things, and we're under their care. I look forward to being met with an annoyed stare, and a curt, "How does this relate to me?"

I plead with you, if the teachers won't assign them, take the radical step of checking these works out on your own, and reading them. Permit yourself to be challenged by something difficult. The relevancy approach may work in the US, but there's a world that you will be unable to engage with beyond popular entertainment and sport (not that these things are bad) and you will suffer for it. Cultural knowledge is important, and not possessing a degree of it is life limiting. It is personally limiting. Of course I am not promoting it exclusive of non-Western works-there's room for plenty of variety in a modern university curriculum. From my understanding, the non-Western classics aren't much read either-when is the last time you saw The Analects of Confucius on a Syllabus?

It really does break my heart how we've cheated this generation.

Two More Posters

 Click any image to enlarge


By day two of surgical recovery I had the worst case of vertigo imaginable. I couldn't get downstairs, it was so disabling. Couldn't eat either, so mostly I slept-something like twenty hours yesterday. I'm still fortunate not to have severe pain (fingers crossed) but I still get dizzy every time I change position, or look up. Oddly enough, staying focused on something like drawing helps...until I stop. Still, I'm world's better than yesterday, so hopefully I'm on the mend. By the way, those anti-nausea medications? They don't work.

Mr. ETB is downstairs making dinner. I saw him steaming green beans, and chopping an onion, so how bad can it be? I don't know how I would have made it through the last few days without him, and as far as I'm concerned, he could deep fry Oreos and I wouldn't find fault with it (he is a Scot, so it isn't impossible that he would deep fry an Oreo, though he never has until now. I did however, catch him battering, and deep frying a slice of leftover pizza once. I think I smell rice now-I think we're OK).

Friday, August 23, 2013

What Time is it? Tooth Hurty.

Well, the tooth doesn't hurt (as it is now gone) but the jaw is a mess.

I'm supposed to stay in bed, and take it easy for a few days, so I did a marathon viewing of the Danish version of, The Killing. I hope Sara Lund gets a new jumper in season two, after being stabbed, and bleeding all over it. I'm not sure it lived up to the hype, but it was the perfect thing to watch today.

Mr. ETB suggested I tackle Berlin Alexanderplatz tomorrow.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Prune Plums Are Here

At the grocer today, Danny spied the first prune plums.

"Oh, you have to call Mark right away so he can order you two cases. Wait, get three this year."

I'm pleased that my child is on a first name basis with the produce manager at our market, but I'm less pleased with him making more work for me. We will not be purchasing three cases of prune plums (that would be something like 90 lbs.) though I'm sure I could make use of them.

We bought a bag to just enjoy without the pressure of drying or canning, and boy, are they good. I made a peach and plum cobbler for dessert tonight, and it was just the right balance of sweet and tart-and the colour was magnificent.

Last year we made plum butter, plum sauce for pot-stickers, chutney, dried prunes, dried salted prunes, two frozen pies, a mock sloe gin, and some jelly. We used all but a jar of chutney, and I doubt this year's consumption pattern will vary much. I've learned over the years what we use, and I can assure you, three cases is far too much for three people.

If you've never tried a prune plum, I encourage you to give them a try-but I can't be responsible if you end up purchasing a case (or three).

Get them soon-the season is very short.

Old Comic Book Ads

I sketched out the poster of an American Seed advertisement from one of Danny's old comic books, including the pictures of the kids who (supposedly) sold the packets. I'm not entirely convinced, "Chipper" ever existed, but if he did, he has a pretty good story to tell his kids. He was the face of those damn seeds for years. What really struck me, copying it out, was how wordy the ads were. I mean, sure you have a child's attention so you want to make your selling points loud and clear-but it just goes on, and on. You could miss an entire planting season by the time you finished reading the copy.

Drawing the prizes was fun. Croquet sets, a portable typewriter, model rockets, a cassette recorder-I feel so old. I was never tempted to go into business selling merchandise advertised in the pages of comic books, but I think I'd have preferred the cash rather than prizes. You know the bikes were probably not Schwinn, so why bother? You couldn't be cool on a Huffy (well, I couldn't).

I don't know if I'll do any more ads. I have one more Woody Woodpecker cover sketched out and ready to be coloured, though I'm not sure if I'll tackle that tomorrow after oral surgery. It depends how good the pain meds are. I'm really not looking forward to this as my jaw is really messed-up, but I have no choice. I have the first appointment at 7:30 AM. I hope the surgeon is a morning person.

I'm still not sure what to do with the windows in kiddo's room. Danny's allergies are such that I'd prefer to avoid curtains, valances, etc. and just leave the blinds as they are. I wondered if instead of a valance, if I could make something out of foam board, cut it to look scalloped like a curtain, and then affix it to a curtain rod. I have a vague memory of fabric covered stiffened valances that were popular in the 70's. They had to be cleaned, and re-stretched once a year, I think. Does this sound familiar? Then again, maybe I would be better off with a fabric valance I could just pop in the wash once a month. Oh dear, I don't know what to do! I really want him to enjoy his room.

We went to the art store for (more) supplies, and Danny found a gigantic pad of newsprint for something like seven bucks. I let him get it, and he ran that gigantic pad of paper up the stairs as fast as his little legs could carry him to go draw secret maps, and machine inventions. I feel a little stupid for not doing that earlier in the summer, but better late than never, eh?

OK, I'm going to go watch cat videos or something until I can fall asleep.

Starting to Look Like House Beautiful




 We put the border up last evening. So far, I'm really happy with how it looks. So is Danny. Just look at that smile.

 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Helicopters

I live a street over from two large hospitals (and a nursing college). When I was in hospital after Danny was born, I spent my time watching the helicopters land at Children's hospital next door. Not the sort of thing I wanted to see, but nonetheless, the stream was near constant. Nebraska is a largely rural state, and in an emergency, being taken to hospital by ambulance isn't always possible. Eight years later, I'd forgotten all of that until we moved here, and noticed the steady helicopter traffic.

In our previous home, we heard helicopters all day and night from the National Guard base nearby. Sometimes, they'd fly pretty low over the house in the wee hours, but eventually I learned to tune it out. The helicopters we hear now are smaller, they sound different, and come with the knowledge that they are carrying critically ill people to the city for treatment. It does give me pause, much like an ambulance wailing down the street-I find myself (not always silently) wishing them well.

On the positive side, we live in a neighbourhood full of medical types (an a nursing student next door) so if I fall over in the street, the odds are in my favour that someone will administer CPR. Maybe. At least I won't need a helicopter ride across the street.

And One More I Drew Today


 I don't know why, but Knothead and Splinter are so much more difficult to draw than woody. Anyway, we're going at a pretty good clip with these. We were thinking it might be fun to make a poster of a vintage advertisement from comic books, for selling seeds, or greeting cards, or 100 plastic toy soldiers. Danny likes the idea, though I think it might be pretty time consuming drawing all the transistor radios, skateboards, and walkie talkies they offered as prizes.


 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Something to do With Mushrooms

I had about three pounds of leftover mushrooms from the pickling project (because you need them uniform in size, it requires purchasing more mushrooms than you will need). This is a good method for cooking mushrooms that can then be used as a filling for pastry, lasagna, or served on toast. I have made potted versions of this sealing it in  a jar with a layer of clarified butter. Tonight, I made the "Pile 'O Crepes", with onion jam, and cheese.

Unlike duxelles, you don't need to bother squeezing all the liquid from the mushrooms in a towel. I have rheumatoid arthritis, so anything involving squeezing is problematic. This method is nice as the liquid cooks off, and then you reduce it a second time after adding wine. I'll give you the recipe for 2 lbs of mushrooms, but feel free to reduce or double according to your mushroom glut.

You Will Need:

2 lbs. mushrooms, stemmed and very finely chopped (a big chef's knife works well here)
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
4 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
Fresh thyme to taste (I used about a tablespoon of picked leaves)
Black pepper to taste
1/2 cup red wine, or Port (I like port to drink, and usually have it around)

Melt your butter in a heavy, non reactive pan. Add the mushrooms, salt, sage, thyme, and pepper. Cook over medium heat until the mushrooms have released most of their liquid. It will look very wet at this point-don't worry about it. Turn the heat up to high, and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon ('caus it is gonna get hot and you don't want to be using a metal one)until most of the liquid is gone-about 5 minutes. Add the wine, and continue stirring until it is also evaporated. At this point you should turn the heat back down to medium, but keep stirring or you will have a burned mess to clean. Continue cooking the mushrooms until they are thick-like you could spread them on toast. When the mixture begins to stick, and the mushrooms hold together well, remove from heat and cool.

You should have about 2 1/2 cups of rich mushrooms to use as you like.

More Bedroom Designs




The Woody Woodpecker room décor continues. This one took about two hours-I copied it from one of Danny's old comics. We figure three more ought to cover the wall over his bed. The border is done, I still have three more walls, and a door to deal with. I do like how this one turned out.

 I really wanted to put a WTF thought balloon on this, but didn't.
 

 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Mushrooms and Kidneys

The jars of pickled mushrooms just did that, "Ping" thing telling me they sealed. Thank god. I'm feeling pretty far from well today, but knowing Danny has his county fair entry ready to go is a weight off my mind. Thirty years ago, if you'd told me I'd be losing sleep over pickled mushrooms...and here we are. "Ping!"

I had lower back pain all weekend, and didn't give it much thought until I woke up all barfy, and didn't feel better after said barf, and then...well you don't need the details...kidneys! Yay! At first I was upset, "But, but, I'm having oral surgery this week" but after some reflection realised this is the absolute best time for this to happen because Mr. ETB is off work from Friday to Tuesday. Times like this (and I've had what, three so far?) I'm really glad I'm a woman because passing a stone for a man must be a horror. I'm not saying this is a picnic either, but you know...anatomy. Yes kids, the only sound I'd rather hear than the "ping ping" of canning seals is the "Plink plink" of a kidney stone hitting the toilet bowl.

So I dunno...should I pee in a strainer so I can post pictures of the thing?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Tomorrow We Bottle the Mushrooms

The Douglas County Fair is just around the corner, and Danny's special pickled mushrooms need time for a good soak in the jar before judging. He's worried as the children's division covers ages 6-18. I assured him that your canning skills don't really change that much between those years, and a good recipe is a good recipe. I think he has a winner. I think he'll be a good loser and all that, but come on, everyone enters to win.

It costs five bucks to enter, and top prize is two bucks (and a ribbon) but they have to pay for the fair somehow, and I think we all know it isn't going to be through taxes.

Wish us luck.

Beany Panini

This is a great way to use up refried beans. Tortillas are great, of course but sometimes you want something a little different to keep the leftovers interesting.

You Will Need:

Good crusty bread (I had a sourdough olive loaf)
Leftover refried beans
1 onion, chopped fine
Olive oil
Cheese
Sour cream or crema
Coriander leaves if you're not a hater

Fry the onion in a bit of oil until nicely browned. Meanwhile, slice your bread, spread it with the beans, cheese, and torn coriander leaves. Top with onions. Fry sandwiches in a small bit of oil, pressing down with a heavy spatula or another smaller pan. Serve cut into halves, with crema for dipping.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Fruit Pizza



There are a million varieties of, "Fruit Pizza", but we like this simple approach:

Sponge layer baked in a jelly roll pan
Apricot jam for base
Fruit
Sieved apricot jam for the glaze

Danny came up with the design. I rather like it.

Struck Gold at the Goodwill-another good thrifting haul

 
 The colours are better than my kitchen lighting would have you believe.

 
 I'm from Illinois-I can't pass up a piece of Hagger Pottery


 
Or enamelware.

The Hagger piece is destined for my upstairs vanity as a catch-all for pins, and what-nots.


I don't know why, but the Goodwill in Council Bluffs, Iowa always has the best bargain jewelry, and vintage shoes. It was unbelievable-I spent .$49.00 and came home with eight pairs of incredible vintage shoes (t-straps, Pilgrim buckles, the craziest silver pumps I've ever seen in my life-the shoes will be a later post)Hagger Pottery (another addiction of mine) a painted, enameled casserole, and bangle bracelets. The giant, carved celluloid pink one was three bucks. The Lucite and black glitter was two. I resisted looking for clothes, but good heavens, they had astoundingly good stuff this trip.


Who decorates the bottom of a pot? Swedes, I guess. Isn't it adorable?

Shoe post to follow.


Friday, August 16, 2013

...And the Loo Roll Gets a Knit Hat

I blame the mid-century townhouse, but it is probably mid-life inducing the nostalgia for the items of my youth. I'm searching the charity shops for Lucite tissue box covers, a bonnet hair dryer in a carrying case, and some bamboo chairs for the family room-the hanging kind. I think Mr. ETB is keeping his fingers crossed I should fail in my pursuit, but he can't stop me making a colourful hat for the extra loo roll that sits on the tank. Something in avocado and gold shades...

Next week, I'm having oral surgery. I really wasn't ready for such a big deal. Tooth extraction is one thing, but when they start talking about the risks to my sinuses, and bones, and grafts...I'm really not looking forward to this. I had the option of being knocked out cold for it, but I figure if I'm alert they can't just shove my mouth open and stick both hands in as far as they go-I hope. The last time I had something like this done I came out of it looking like a Cabbage Patch Doll that had been in a bar fight. I was asleep for that one-I'm thirty years wiser now.

I figure there will be a recovery time, not just for my jaw (oh god, it just started to hurt typing about it) but the overall effect on my already not-so-strong body. I'm assuming there will be painkillers (there had better be) and what better time to get out the crochet hook, and start making some dresser scarves? The last time I was recovering from oral surgery, I ended up at a tattoo parlour in Elgin, Illinois with my best friend. I'd like to think I would have selected a more interesting design had I not been under the influence of pain medication. See kids, they're right about drugs and poor choices! I don't see myself getting inked next week, but maybe I ought to sketch up a template to carry in my purse...just in case. I don't want to give the impression I regret the tattoo, as I still like it-I do think I would have gone for something larger, and more colourful had I been in a better state of mind. You know how young people are, the bottle says, "Avoid alcohol while taking this drug", and you read it as, "Especially good with Percocet!" And tattoos.

The surgery is scheduled for Friday morning, so hopefully I'll be able to spend the weekend recuperating. Meanwhile, if anyone has a good pattern for clothing the bathroom items, I'm open to suggestions.

How to Make Corn Tortillas

Masa flour is available in two varieties. The one marked, "For Tamales" will work, but isn't your best choice for tortillas, whereas the regular Masa flour will work just fine for tamales. Think of it as the difference between plain and self-rising flour. You want the regular stuff. This is a good time to mention this is not cornmeal, or cornflour (cornstarch). Go to a Latin market for this-it will be fresher than what sits on the shelf at a large grocer. You can purchase bags of already mixed masa harina, but that's really lazy as it is just flour and water.

Here's what you do:

Start with a small batch-this will make about 8 regular sized tortillas, or 12 minis. I don't bother with minis-we're more of a maxi sort of family.

You'll need 2 cups of masa flour, and about 1 1/2 cups warm, not hot water. Add the water slowly, until you have it come together. The flour will take a surprising amount of water, so keep adding it a bit at a time until the dough feels spongy. A good test is to take some, roll it into a ball, then smash it against a cutting board. If the sides crumble (some cracking is expected) you need more water. Be careful though, as you won't be able to roll dough that is too wet either.

Begin heating your griddle. I use a cast iron pan set over medium heat, but you are the best judge of what will work best for you. It will smoke a bit, so you may wish to put on a fan, or open a window.

Divide dough into 8 pieces, keeping the dough you're not working under a damp towel. I roll between wax paper sheets, but cling film works too. Don't worry about the edges being perfect, you can always trim them with kitchen scissors afterward if you really care. No one is going to see that if you're making enchiladas.

Cook about 1 minute, or until lightly browned on the underside, then flip and bake another 30-45 seconds. Sometimes they will puff, which is a good sign you're done. If not, just look for the surface to dry out a bit.

And that's it. Flour and water, a rolling pin, and a frying pan. I know you can do that. I can't be responsible if you decide to deep fry them, but ...if you do, mix cumin, chili powder, and some cheese powder from a packet of macaroni cheese and sprinkle it over them as soon as they come out to drain. There's your Dorito's craving, sorted. You're welcome.

Monday, August 12, 2013

An Interesting Baked Squash

The first local winter squashes are showing up (when did they plant them, I wonder?) and I can't resist buying them as they look so lovely on a table as a centerpiece. Tonight, I made the Buttercup.

The recipe I'm posting will give you enough to fill both halves of a large buttercup squash. Half would be more than enough for a main, quarter the halves after cooking if you have something to serve with it.

You Will Need:

1 large Buttercup squash (or similar variety)halved and cleaned of seeds
1/2 lb. button mushrooms, stemmed and finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
4-5 large sage leaves, chopped
4-5 stems worth of picked thyme leaves
Black pepper
A generous splash of white vermouth
1/2 package "Gimme Lean vegetarian sausage substitute (or the brand you prefer)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the halves of the squash in a pan of shallow water, cut side down, and cook until it just becomes soft. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.

In a pan, or Dutch oven heat the olive oil and add the onions. Cook until they begin to softer, then add mushrooms, sage, thyme, and black pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat until the mushrooms have given off most of their liquid. Increase the heat to high, add the vermouth, and cook until all the liquid is gone. Reduce heat and continue cooking, adding more oil if it looks like it will burn. Add the imitation sausage, breaking it into tiny pieces with the edge of a metal spatula. Cook until browned.

Before filling the cavities of the squash halves, brush them lightly with a bit of olive oil. Place on a baking sheet, and fill with mushroom mixture. Bake at 350 degrees F. or until squash is cooked through, and filling mixture begins to brown. Serve hot.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Danny's Favourite Cake

Yep, there's four layers of chocolate and raspberry in there.

You can find the recipe here: http://eattheblog.blogspot.com/2012/10/oh-how-i-wish-new-blogger-interface.html


The photograph does not do justice to this beautiful cake. Danny keeps opening the door to the fridge and muttering, "It looks so perfect...like a machine made it instead of mama." True, he doesn't see the crappy job I did piping, but it is still a lovely dessert.

Even with raspberries being in season, this is a terribly expensive cake. I'm willing to bake it once a year, and I budget for it-but that's it. I can't afford to make it more often. That said, it freezes perfectly-so half is going away for some night when we're craving a fancy dessert.

I used fresh berries rather than frozen, and I made my own preserves, but I have used frozen berries here with success. I had extra ganache, so I made some raspberry truffles. I mean, with that much chocolate and heavy cream going into it, you don't want to waste.

Be warned, this is very rich-start with a small slice. Best to think of it as candy, with a bit of cake to keep it interesting.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Ponds Cold Cream-Review

A few months back, I ditched the foaming face wash for good. Frustrated with the cost (over seven dollars a bottle) and the way it was drying out my skin, I decided to use cold cream exclusively for removing makeup/cleansing my skin. At three months, I'm pleased with the way my skin looks.

The dryness that had required the use of heavy moisturiser day, and night has all but disappeared. Sometimes, after removing makeup with cotton rounds, I will use a warm washcloth to wipe away the cold cream residue. Most evenings, I don't bother, leaving a bit of the cold cream behind on my skin. My skin hasn't looked this good...well, ever really. I won't claim to look any younger than my years, but the skin I have is soft, clear, and not in the tiniest bit dry.

Yes, the fragrance will remind you of your grandmother. I rather liked my gran, cranky as she was so this is not much of an issue. The smell does dissipate after a bit.

I wear heavy, concealing makeup and the cold cream removes it without difficulty. You need to be careful to really tissue it off from your eyes, as it can be unpleasantly blurry should you miss any. Thankfully, it doesn't sting. I've done this more than a few times-learn from my mistakes.

A large jar will last. Not forever of course, but close. I still have a month or so left in the same jar I've been using for three. Not bad at all.

I'm not sure how well cold cream would work for younger skin, or those with a tendency to blemish. I have only used Ponds, and cannot speak to the efficacy of other brands. The label does not indicate the use of any nut-based products/oils/etc. You should check the label each time you purchase skin care items, as formulations can change. Because of allergies, we need to be particularly careful with skincare/cosmetics, and the like as they often contain nut oils or butters. I will admit, the somewhat short, straightforward list of ingredients was the initial selling point for me. I bought Ponds because I didn't need an advanced degree in chemistry to understand the contents. I can't speak for other consumers, but the ingredients are the first thing I look at when trying a new product-even before price. The fact that it is inexpensive is just a happy bonus.

There is a sort of retro vibe from the little pots with coloured lids. I can't remember what the jars looked like years ago, though I'm sure they were glass rather than plastic. The design is well thought out, with the opening being large enough to reach into. Don't laugh, my hands are not dainty! Unlike tubes, or pumps where you lose a good amount of product, the cold cream pots enable the consumer to use every last bit. The lid stays on tightly (again, no one thinks of this until you have one fail) and the cold cream maintains the same quality it had when initially opened.

Overall, if they keep the product as it is, I expect to continue buying it until I reach the point where I no longer care if I look like Baby Jane. For now though, I'll continue using the cold cream.

I am not being compensated in any way for this review, and all opinions are my own.

Lake Trout With Lime Leaves and Ginger and a Coconut Rice Recipe That'll Blow Your Mind!

I have a beautiful lime tree growing in a pot that produces far more leaves than I can plop into a curry. This recipe was an attempt to use a few. The leaves grow in pairs, so let's call this six (because it sounds better than three, duh).

I had a beautiful fillet of Canadian lake trout (it didn't say which lake, or if it came from a Great Lake at all) that was a steal at $6.00 a pound. My first thought was to bake it in breadcrumbs-but then I thought of the poor Admiral. Nelson. Because it is a lime (y) tree . Yes, we name our plants.

The boys demolished dinner. There are no leftovers. As a bonus, it was quick, and honestly easy to make (some people say things are easy when in fact they are a pain in the behind. This really requires no special skills).

Serves Three to Four normal people, or two abnormally greedy ones. Guess which ones we have?

You Will Need:
For the Trout

1-2 lbs. trout fillets
4 tablespoons butter, softened to the point of nearly melted
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
2 cloves finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 double lime leaves, finely sliced into threads (remove centre vein)
Salt to taste
2 large carrots finely cut into thin matchsticks

Wash trout and salt lightly. Lay each on foil or parchment as you will be sealing it in packets. Use whichever you prefer. Combine the butter, ginger, garlic, pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce, and lime leaves. Spread evenly on fillets. Divide carrots and pile evenly atop each fillet. Seal them, and place on a baking sheet.

Bake at 450 degrees F. for about 20 minutes, or until done. Meanwhile, make the rice.

For the Rice:

1 1/2 cups coconut water made by soaking 1 cup flaked coconut and 2 cups boiling water for 20 minutes, then draining. Save any extra for another use. I prefer this to tinned coconut milk.
1 tablespoon finely minced ginger (more or less to taste)
1 double lime leaf, whole
1 whole star anise
1 cup basmati rice

Bring everything except rice to a boil. Stir in rice, reduce to simmer. Cover and cook 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and let sit ten minutes longer. Remove lime leaves and star anise before serving.

To Serve:

I placed the fish and carrots over the rice, then poured the extra sauce in the packet over everything. I also served cold, boiled asparagus because we had it, and we love it. It went better with the overall effect than I would have imagined.

Start to finish, dinner took about 30 minutes, save for the coconut water which I did ahead. Easy. See, I told you.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Public Education

The governor's office launched a back to school campaign today calling for, "Parental involvement." They offered helpful guidelines such as, "Read to your children", and "Attend conferences", stressing that, "Most learning happens at home."

Allow me cut through the bullshit for you. Parents must attend conferences, or the social workers get involved-it isn't optional. It doesn't matter if you are a single parent working three low-wage jobs to keep a roof over your heads-you are expected to be there, at the assigned time, day's lost wages or not.

Saying that learning "Happens at home", is a way to deflect blame from failing schools, onto parents. We chose to homeschool, but if we didn't, I'd expect my child's school to teach reading. We still pay taxes, and I'd happily pay more to see the schools get what they need whether my child attends, or not. Sure, read to your children, ask how their day was, help with homework-but that's no substitute for  functioning public education. At some point, you have to toss some money at the schools. Oh, I understand taxes are unpopular, but it is ever so much more effective than expecting parents to pick up the slack.

This latest scheme is not only pointless, it is insulting. There are different ways of, "Being involved" in your child's education-some more visible than others. This is rather blatantly aimed at the working class, assuming their economic status is a result of intellect, or the absence of. The recession should have had some sort of leveling effect with respect to that assumption, but I've yet to notice it locally. I suppose Nebraska weathered the downturn better than most places, so we can go merrily along blaming the poor for their own misery as we pass punitive reforms aimed at making their already difficult lives all the more so. Now, the defunded, failing schools are their fault as well.

Please, read to your children, show up at school, take them to a museum-but know that this campaign is little more than a manipulative attempt to blame the victims. It is easy to point fingers at parents, thinking we know anything at all about their lives, based on where they live, or how much they earn. It is sickening that this sort of rubbish can still be taken seriously. "Responsibility" can mean a responsibility to put some money back into the schools, but I wouldn't hold your breath waiting to hear that from our governor any time soon.


Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Buttermilk Panna Cotta

I lost nearly all the hearing in my left ear today. That was my, "Good ear." I've had sudden hearing loss before, and it came back, somewhat. This was completely different, almost like flipping a switch, and suddenly I can't hear but a few decibels. Sometimes this can be treated with steroids, so I guess I'm off to the doctor tomorrow, but damn, it is annoying! The hearing loss in my right ear was gradual-much less of an emotional shock. I told Mr. ETB that I'm going to tell everyone it happened standing too close to an amplifier. I might insist the doctor put that in the medical records, "She rocked too hard."

I deal with unsettling things by distraction. Sure, some people call that avoidance, but I prefer to think of it as being productive. I don't over-think things. If I can't do something right now, I find a time to do it, then think about something else. I've only got so many brain cells left at my age, I'm not about to waste them needlessly. Severed limbs get immediate attention, ears don't require a panicked trip to the urgent care. Worrying over worst-case scenarios isn't helpful either. I'll hear, or I won't. I can be like my Gran, (Ukrainian accent) "Vaaaaat? Vaaaaat did you vant?" Of course, if she had bothered to wear the hearing aid, instead of keeping it on the coffee table in a fancy ash tray, she might have heard better. The batteries were expensive, so she was conserving for important conversations-not talking to her stupid family.

Vaaaaaat? You vant a glass of tea?

All of this brings me to the panna cotta. I wanted some distraction, but nothing too complicated. Friends, it does not get much simpler than panna cotta. I had some berries, and a fancy jelly roll, so the panna cotta fit right in to my idea of a nice, light, summer dessert.

Danny is more of a cornstarch pudding guy. As far as I could recall, I'd never made him panna cotta, and truthfully, I didn't expect him to take more than a couple bites. I plated the desserts, then came upstairs to lie down. I ate my serving for dinner-yeah, I had a dish of panna cotta for dinner. Don't judge. They boys had veggie burritos. Anyway, I thought it was delicious.

Mr. ETB comes upstairs to describe Danny eating dessert.
(Taking spoonful) "I'm not sure if I like this or not" (proceeds to demolish entire serving without stopping, then looks at him like he expects another serving to make up his mind).

I guess he liked it more than he realised. The kid eats skyr for breakfast with molasses ( shudder), so it isn't like he's afraid of strong, sour flavours. It certainly looked beautiful, unmoulded on a plate.

If I make this again, I might try replacing the heavy cream with whole milk-it was just a bit too much for my tastes (and my guts-I can't eat the way I used to). The recipe is here: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2007/11/buttermilk_panna_cotta

Vaaaat? You vant a glazale tay?

Wish me luck with my stupid ear.


Also Not For the Easily Offended

-But great.  Have a look at the entire collection-pretty fantastic stuff.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/62338050/the-coronation-of-tiny-tim-candle?ref=shop_home_active

Marmite Ad

I must be a terrible person, as I thought the ad was hilarious.

http://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/aug/06/marmite-tv-ad-bad-taste-complaints

We've adopted shelter animals, so it isn't as though we don't appreciate the work they do. We do however, know a joke when we hear it.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Nice, Woodpecker



These foam-board Woody Woodpeckers will get cut out, and put up as a border in Danny's room. They are saying, "Nice" because that's what we all say when a loud motorbike comes up the street-which happens quite a lot. More like, "Niiiiiice", in an admiring way.

Yes, it took me an entire afternoon to draw those. Yes, he wants more for the door, over the bed, etc. And, no, Woody Woodpecker fabric does not exist, so I'll be using fabric paint to make curtains.

 

A Good Day Thrifting



Don't get too excited, the bangles are plastic-but they were a super bargain, and still have their original Hong Kong labels inside.

The Coro necklace (also still tagged) was four bucks. And green, my favourite colour.

I purchased two 1960's dresses-one a pink and white striped Jantzen with the original matching scarf, and what appears to be a home-sewn dress in what looks like my gran's sofa upholstery. It has a super-oversized collar. I'll post those when I wear them as they don't look like much on the hanger. All told, I got home having spent under $60.00, and even scored as pretty wild silk blouse for $5.00.

I still don't have a photo editor on this computer, so the pictures are pretty much as I take them. That's fine with me, as I appreciate talented photography, I just don't aspire to create it. I'll leave that sort of thing to the people that have a skill.


 

 

 

...and one picture of the butterfly garden at Aksarben aquarium. Look closely, and you'll see a butterfly.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Sarpy County Fair

This was a very small fair-smaller than the Saunder's County fair by quite a way. The open class exhibits were fun, though I can't say we found any inspiration for the State Fair. What I did notice was how baked goods looked pretty bad by the third day of the fair. I need to keep this in mind. Because you submit a slice of pie, rather than a whole pie, it needs to be a solid enough pastry that it does not look like a collapsed heap by the time judging comes around. This isn't really a pie state, this is a kolache state. I just don't understand the cult of the kolache.

Because Springfield, Nebraska is right next to the Aksarben aquarium...yeah, we had another birdwatching picnic outside. There were hummingbirds. A couple of  children thought we were hilarious on our blanket eating lunch, and ran to their parents pointing and laughing. There really isn't a picnic culture here, unless you are having a barbecue, and are at a proper picnic table. I waved to them, then they got all shy (as very small children do) and ran off. I don't think they'll ever have a picnic with their parents, and it made me feel a little old, and sad.

We stopped at the library sale (I know, I know, I haven't unpacked our own books yet) to bring some cookies for the volunteers. We left with a cookbook, a nature book, and a translation of the Aeneid Danny wanted. I'm excited by the Mexican cookbook because I'm going to the new Latin supermarket tomorrow. I can't remember the last time I was this excited by a grocery store.

I bought a bargain citronella candle today, and I'm going to go sit outside on this beautiful Midwestern evening, relax in my Adirondack chair, and enjoy the fact there are no cattle, flies or, crop dusters to take cover from. I think a gin and tonic is in order. Who knew I'd find peace and quiet moving to the city?

Sarpy County Fair runs through tomorrow.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Southwestern Veggie Burgers

These are about as Southwestern as I am (not much) but use your imagination, add a slice of avocado and some sour cream, maybe some chili sauce and you're in business.

I was really pressed for time, and these worked perfectly.

You Will Need:

2 tins chili beans in sauce, drained
1 tin corn, drained
2-3 slices fresh bread, torn into small pieces
Extra dry breadcrumbs if mixture is too wet
Flour for dredging
Oil for frying

Mash the beans in a bowl coarsely. Add the corn, and fresh bread. Mush everything together and let stand in the fridge twenty minutes. If it still feels too wet to hold together into a patty, add a handful of dry breadcrumbs.

Pat into burgers, dredge lightly in flour, and shallow fry in a bit of oil in a hot pan. When you turn them, do so carefully as they are soft, and can fall apart easily. Add a slice of cheese if you like on the turn, and cook until lightly browned. Serve on bread, or in a tortilla, with lettuce, tomato, avocado, sourcream, or whatever you like. Makes about 8 good sized burgers.

Mullhall's in Omaha

It wouldn't be completely honest to say we moved to Omaha because of Mullhall's garden centre-but it was a consideration. Today, I took Danny over (he's as in love with the place as I) and (predictably) came home with a flat of plants. The herbs are all discounted now as it is late in the season, but there's still plenty of time for basil, thyme, and sage.

The neighbours a few doors down have magnificent sunflowers, and next door have a gorgeous pink tropical flowering bush-I'm afraid we're really looking like the bare spot on the street. I think some bulbs are in order for next year. I left mine behind, along with the daylilies, rosebush, etc. I don't really regret it-you can end up married to plants you don't care for. Gardening a small space is not without challenges, but it turns out, we have more useable space than I anticipated.

At the moment I have a lime tree, a laurel, lavender, parsley, paprika peppers, thyme, sage, basil, a cyclamen, and something else I've forgotten at the moment. If I left Danny to decide, we'd have our share of showy, flowering plants-but I think restraint is good the first year in a place. Personally, I like native prairie grasses as they leave something interesting in the landscape at wintertime-but Danny has strong opinions for an eight year old, and his eight year old's opinion sees those grasses as "weeds."

Yesterday, I mentioned the aquarium as a tourist destination-today I'm recommending Mullhall's. Be warned, the place is large, filled with every sort of home and garden décor imaginable, as well as plants. You must walk through all those wonderful things to get to the garden centre (which I'm pretty sure wasn't accidental) . I should also warn you-the stuff isn't cheap. If you buy a vase, it will be a quality vase-but it is going to cost you. If you need to look at the price on furniture, you probably shouldn't look. That said, if you can afford well made patio furniture, and accessories then this is your destination. I don't mind saving up for something well made, but if you're prone to impulse buying...well, have someone hold your charge cards. I did receive an adorable rain gauge for Mother's day from Mullhall's of a mother and baby owl under umbrellas (so they don't get "owl wet") that I will treasure forever. I can't think of any other rain gauge I'd say that about. They really do have unique stuff.

They do a terrific job of holiday decorations as well, and I fully expect to be heading there in the winter as well. There aren't many places you can walk around any time of year, and feel embraced by beautiful plants. From the arrival of the first seed packets, to the poinsettias of the holiday season, this is where I go when I need to forget the laundry, my throbbing tooth, or whatever else I feel is so important on a given day. I love that we now live close enough that I can yell up the stairs to Danny, "Come on, let's go to Mullhall's", and head off on a whim.

There are still many beautiful plants to be found, and there's still plenty of warm weather left to grow them in.

I am not being compensated in any way by Mullhall's. I shop there, and am happy to recommend them. The employees are all fantastic as well. The bulbs start arriving in September. See you there.