Category Archives: Cooking

I should be sewing

I talked to Aunt Judy yesterday and she told me that the quilt tops I’m sending her way are next on her list, which means I need to get my butt in gear and, you know, actually send them.  Which further means (check out my amazing reasoning skills) that I need to finish the one, rather than just gaze lovingly at the stack of fabric on my sewing shelf. But that would be too easy, wouldn’t it?  So instead I’ll just sit here and piddlefart around and eat grapes until Simon wakes up (at which point I’ll kick it into gear and start sewing.  Promise ;-))

 

I just cut myself a thick slice of that bread from Tuesday’s dough pic, but then completely neglected to take a photo before slathering it in Nutella and cramming it in my gaping maw. So, sorry.  But also yum.  Seriously, go check that out if you want a hearty-yet-soft bread recipe.

 

Speaking of food (since apparently that’s all I’m capable of at the moment), have you seen the Italian Wonderpot recipe going around Facebook lately?  It really seems too good to be true.  So in the name of Science!, last night I made it for dinner.  Here’s an awful picture just a few minutes before it was ready to serve (you let it simmer down until most of  the liquid is evaporated/thickened):

That’s a horribly unappetizing picture, I know, but the actual dinner was pretty good.  I used whole wheat spaghetti instead of fettuccini, and stirred in some garlic chicken sausage that I’d browned in my cast iron, just before serving.  Our family’s consensus was that it was all right, but grossly under-seasoned (this even after I upped all the seasonings).  Next time I think I’ll used Trader Joe’s diced and fire-roasted tomatoes instead of plain diced tomatoes, will add more salt, and maybe 16 oz of spinach instead of just 8 oz (the benefit of 8 oz, though, is that I could convincingly tell Jeff the green flecks were just herbs ;-)).  I also think it would be good with Trader Joe’s basil linguine.  But all in all it was a good, easy weeknight dinner (with enough leftovers to keep us in lunches for a week!).  Add a side of roasted asparagus and a good salad and you’re set.

 

Yesterday during the day we made our pilgrimage up to Cleveland for Trader Joe’s, and my total was about 1/3 less than usual (even though I bought the ingredients for 10-12 meals, just like always).  Part of that is because they didn’t have a few things on my list, but mostly I think it’s because I’m a lot less inclined to dawdle and loiter and browse when I have a tiny tornado pushing the shopping cart than when he’s snugly wrapped on my back.  He was OMG SUPER NOT INTERESTED in making the trek home, though, and I didn’t feel like facing a 35-minute car ride of screaming, so we hit up Panera for soup and a bagel (and then a diaper and some boobies) before heading back down to Akron.  He slept in the car but only fitfully: overall, definitely not his most satisfying morning.  I think it may make more sense to do subsequent adventures in the late afternoon (bonus: then Jeff can haul in the groceries when he gets home from work.)

 

Today was the penultimate storytime of the late-winter session, and it was a little bit smaller group than usual.  Possibly not coincidentally, Simon warmed up a lot more quickly than he has in weeks past.  Today he was actually brave enough to dance with the librarian for a moment, and grab his own shaker out of the music basket.  Progress!  He even pitched a fit when it was time to leave, which was embarrassing but also sort of reassuring.  The librarian is going to be out on maternity leave starting in May, and with Garfunkel coming in July the spring session may be our last.  I’ll miss it!

 

After a quick stop at Chipotle for a mama-baby date, we went to a new kids’ consignment shop that just opened a few weeks ago (the owner is a young mom who’s been advertising it on the Facebook baby/kids resale group I follow).  She had a pretty large amount of stock, but nothing much that I felt we needed, and most everything was WalMart/Target brands anyway. I got him one little Gymboree shirt for this summer, but think I’ll have to head back down to Once Upon a Child (down in Canton) for a few other things he needs.

 

Well this one isn’t going to win any “fascinating blog post” awards, is it?  Have a sleepy Simon by way of apology:

 

And now, of course, he’s awake and I’ve got to get my butt off the couch.  Until next time!

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Don’t try this at home

This is what happens when Jeff heads out to a party and Simon actually occupies himself on the floor for 10 minutes.  Happy Friday!

~~~

In my continuing quest to make quasi-food-blogging as lame and unappealing as possible, I present to you a BRILLIANT concoction.  One that will make you the life of the party.  The host(ess) with the most(est).  This recipe will inspire statues to be erected in your honor.  All the village’s children to revere your name.

 

I promise, it’s that good.

 

I’m just not going to show you any pictures. (That’s not even the lamest part, though.  Keep reading.)

 

Why no pictures?  Because I have none.  Because this started out as “baby food” and it would be stupid to take pictures of something that’s just going to be cut into 1″ squares and flung onto the floor and eventually get gobbled up by the dog.

 

…I’m not off to a very good start here, am I?

 

OK so here’s the thing:  when making homemade pizzas the other day, I turned one portion into a little white pizza-esque, breadstick-y finger food, originally intended for Simon.  But then it was so delicious that I literally, honestly, decided “Simon won’t appreciate this”, so I just ate it all myself (I didn’t even share with Jeff, either.  SHAME.).  And now I really regret making it the first time, because now I want to make it again.  And again.

 

Is it revolutionary?  No.  Is it healthy?  HELL NAW.  But is it good?  OMG.

 

[Imagine here a picture of the delicious snacks spread out on a pretty platter, sidecarred with a trendy little vessel or two of dip.]

 

So rather than post a real recipe with instructions and pictures and a bunch of “OMG GUYS YOU HAVE TO MAKE THIS” blathering (more than I already wrote above, that is), I’m just going to tell you what not to do.  I am, in fact, officially warning you:  DO NOT MAKE THIS.  I’m not even naming this recipe.  In fact, I shall only call it:

 

A WARNING AGAINST THE VERBOTEN BREADSTICK APPETIZER THINGS

 

First of all, DO NOT UNDER ANY CONDITION make a batch of pizza dough using Kayotic Kitchen’s recipe.  (Do NOT substitute bread flour, do NOT let the dough age in the fridge for about 8 hours, giving it a slow rise for delicious yeasty nuttiness, do NOT quarter the dough and give it a second rise on the countertop, and do NOT preheat your oven to 500*.)

 

Then, DO NOT take one of those dough quarters and pull it out to moderate thickness (about 9″ around).

 

I ABSOLUTELY FORBID YOU to brush it with olive oil, then liberally spread on alfredo sauce (storebought is fine, as long as it’s not the super cheap yucky stuff.  TJ’s is divine.)

 

PLEASE DO NOT then sprinkle on asiago cheese, or mozzarella, or mild cheddar, or monterey jack, or any combination of the above.

 

Finally, I REALLY ADVISE YOU NOT TO bake this monstrosity for about 8 minutes (ideally on a pizza stone), then cut it into squares or strips, and sprinkle on parmesan, and serve them with fancy infused olive oil or warm homemade marinara.

 

JUST DON’T DO IT.

 

[Imagine here a pretty picture of a couple strips arranged artistically on a plate, with a bite taken out of the end of one]

 

Promise me.

 

(But if you do, will you take pictures and let me add them to this post?)

Christmas, etc.

As I write this I’m currently trying in vain to keep my lap cat-free.  It’s not working.  Just thought you should know.

 

The days leading up to Christmas were super busy for me (and, I’m sure, for other holiday knitters and crafters ’round the world 🙂).  Then I was off work all last week, and Dr. Who is on Netflix streaming, and I have all this lovely stash yarn to knit up, and…you know how it goes.  Not a lot has gotten done 😀

This was our first year hosting the big family Christmas Eve dinner (and, since we’re moving to California next year and then DC after that, it may have been our only shot at the gig).  My parents came into town on 12/23, so Roxie got to have some quality time with her Granddad…

(I think they were both happy with that arrangement)

 

and I enlisted Mom into indentured servitude, making a table runner from a length of fabric I’d picked up at Hancock:

See how happy she looks about driving 250 miles and then immediately being forced to slave over a temperamental sewing machine?

 

 

The next day (Christmas Eve), Dad taught me how to prep a turkey:

 

That’s also when I learned that for some reason, turkeys come with severed necks in their chest cavities:

 

Fucking disgusting.

 

This is the most awesome picture ever and I think I’m going to ask it to be lasered onto my headstone.  With the caption, “Julia Child she ain’t.”

(Err…what’s the past tense of “ain’t”?)

 

The finished table, complete with Mom’s runner:

Isn’t it pretty? I’m so proud 🙂  The white tablecloths were borrowed from Mom, and Jeff’s cousins brought a bunch of folding chairs when they arrived later that day.  The holiday china was a gift five or six years ago, and I got the sage green napkins at World Market (they were half the price of the IDENTICAL Christmas napkins; the only difference being that these didn’t come in a pack with a cartoon reindeer on the label.)

 

I made those namecards – the snowflake stickers from Target are all matchy-matchy with the pattern on the runner.  And the thingies on the plate were Mom’s idea (via Pinterest, I think):  “reindeer noses” of Whoppers, in muffin papers wrapped in baggies.

 

(Yes, that is where I get “it” from)

 

And of course, my little Type-A self had to plan – and label – each serving dish before cooking!

I don’t know where the Zoloft post-its came from, but I giggle a bit every time I use one.

 

I’d been looking for a small, non-tacky garland for the dining room hutch, but I never could find one.  So I kept it simple:

 

While Mom was making the runner on Friday night, I baked a red velvet cake.  And then on Saturday morning, I frosted it.  Like so:

The brown flecks are toffee crunch bits from the cake decorating section at Michael’s.  Alicia gave me the idea for the red velvet cake – originally I was going to do another turtle cheesecake, but I was sort of tired of those, having made three in as many weeks.  Then I was going to make a plain chocolate bundt cake, but decided I wanted to do something just a bit more special.  Then I was going to make a pumpkin cake, but was out of canned pumpkin.  So…red velvet it is!  I’d made red velvet layer cakes before, but not a bundt cake.  So I used this recipe, though I was initially dubious about the lack of sugar and chocolate. I also threw out their cream cheese frosting recipe and went with my own. I was really happy with how it turned out! 🙂

 

While I was cooking, Dad and Jeff chilled out with Roxanne:

 

and Mom found Macbeth, then actually persuaded him to let her pick him up!

Six years we’ve had that cat, and that’s the first time he’s let Mom hold him (and only the third time she’s even seen him!).

 

Shy cat is shy.

 

I was pretty busy cooking all day.  Our final menu ended up being:

Appetizers

  • Nasty 1970’s-esque pinwheel things that everyone descends upon like locusts on the wheat crop
  • Cranberry-covered goat cheese with sweet-salty crackers
  • Bean dip + chips from Jeff’s cousin

Dinner

  • Turkey (yay! It worked!  Nom.)
  • Mashed potatoes (family recipe) and gravy (Dad’s recipe)
  • Sweet potato casserole (adapted from here. And I will never reveal the secret changes.  But it was good.)
  • Green bean casserole (adapted from here – no onion crunch topping; I use pearl onions instead and just sprinkle breadcrumbs on top.)
  • Olives (TJ’s finest, yo)
  • Hot rolls (Grandma’s recipe – it’s like the cinnamon rolls, but not rolled out and just cut into 15, then baked the same)
  • Brussels sprouts (loosely based off this; a vast improvement over my usual method of “just steam the fuckers”)
  • Salad from Jeff’s cousin

Dessert

  • Red velvet cake
  • Snowball cookies (I make mine with Ghiradelli mini chocolate chips, and pecans.)

 

None of these people starved to death on Christmas eve:

 

 

After dinner was over and gifts were exchanged and Roxie made an impassioned plea to run away with her new best friend (sorry, Dad.  Roxie’s got a new love, and it’s Jeff’s cousin Paul)…

 

Then everybody left but Mom and Dad, and Jeff and I washed the dishes and settled in for this:

(Christmas Vacation, of course),

 

and this…

(Two Buck Chuck, of course)

 

Well, in no time flat, I was out.

 

Mom and Dad got here at about 9:30 on Christmas morning, and we did our presents then.  Highlights included a dinosaur-bone-sized-rawhide:

Oops!

 

Better.

 

We only let Wozzie nom half of that, because (TMI, but she’s a dog so it doesn’t count) OMG those things give Roxie what we affectionately call The Ass of Doom.  We may be ready to give her the other half sometime in June.  Or maybe next time she’s at Grammy and Granddad’s, so she can stay out in the yard. 😛

 

But she’s happy, so that’s all that matters.

 

In the realm of “gifts which don’t make the recipient fart”, here’s Dad with the rug I latch-hooked for him (to add to his vast collection of elephant stuff):

Funny story, this.

 

I got the kit to make that when I was a young teenager – ’round 2000 or so.  EVERY SINGLE YEAR since then, I’ve undergone the same process:

1)Take out partly-finished elephant latch-hook rug

2)Vow that “This year’s the year!” to finish elephant latch-hook rug

3)Work fervently on elephant latch-hook rug for period of time lasting between two hours and two days

4)Lose all interest in elephant latch-hook rug shortly after realizing latch-hooking is incredibly dull

5)Sort out another Christmas gift for Dad, and stash elephant latch-hook rug away for next year

 

This rug – in its unfinished state – has accompanied me on no fewer than FOUR discrete moves and to THREE separate cities.

 

Funny thing is, though, that when you work on something in fits and starts over the course of eleven (!!!) years, it *will* eventually become finished.  Somehow.  And that’s what happened this year:  with just 1,500 threads left to place, it only took two evenings’ effort to finish.

 

And now I don’t have to move it to California.

 

My parents really outdid themselves this year on our gifts, too: I got an ice cream maker for my KitchenAid, a Tibetan singing bowl:

(which I’ve lusted after since forever ago)

and a bunch of cute clothes from LLBean (have I ever mentioned I like LLBean?) and Life is Good.  Life is good 🙂

 

I gave Mom a donation to their favorite animal shelter, and collars for Maxie and Eliza (it’s tradition).

 

Jeff gifted me with a framed print of one of my favorite PRB paintings:

 

and some bling (yo!):

 

and I gave him a personalized bookplate, some handknitted socks (photos forthcoming), books, and assorted video game paraphernalia.

 

Before Mom and Dad headed back to KC, we had cinnamon rolls (Grandma’s recipe), eggs and turkey sausage for brunch, and then Jeff and I spent the rest of the day knitting (me), playing video games (him), and annoying the dog with the singing bowl.  Turnabout is fair play, after all.

 

Of course, there were handknits too (oh so many handknits), but I’ll save that for another post:  this is getting ridiculously long as it is, and I need to get off my duff and go put away Christmas decorations 🙂

 

Happy new year!

My advice: buy stock in Coppertone

When the “Where are youuuuuuuu?!??!?!?!?” comments start rolling in, that’s how I know it’s time to blog again.

My apologies for disappearing for a couple weeks.  Honestly, I’m touched that you missed me.  Or at least, pretended to miss me.  Or didn’t even do that. But all that aside: here I am!

Some stuff that’s been goin’ on:

1)I’ve been plugging along on Christmas knitting. I’m not sure if I’ll hit that arbitrary “by Thanksgiving” deadline, but I’m definitely in good shape to get it all done (and then some!) before the holidays: just 3 moderate-sized projects to go! It helps that the weather has been cool and rainy, which only encourages me to curl up with knitting and ignore everything else I could/should be doing.

2)This weekend I’m going back to Allstar to talk to Nate about my next tattoo.  That’s also going to (probably) be my final tattoo for a while.  I’m super excited for it, and can’t wait for to get it and share it with you.  I think you’ll like it too 🙂

3)I hosted a tea party for work people. We had scones and tiny sandwiches and fruit salad and pinwheels and cookies and candies.  It was all quite elegant.  And fattening.

4)Halloween was cool this year.  I wore my costume to work (a first for me).  Can you guess who I was?

How about now?

(That was Jeff’s costume. He refused to dress up, but I have MS Paint so I didn’t need him to, anyway).

Get it?

I was Jen, from IT Crowd!  (And Jeff was involuntarily “my boyfriend who looks like a magician”)

That was supposed to be a group costume – the Roy-ish guy in my department was going to dress like Roy, and I’d been begging the Moss-ish guy to dress like Moss. I’d been nagging him for weeks. I’d offered to procure the costume myself, all he had to do was show up and wear it.

So, of course, the Roy-ish guy did wear his costume, and the Moss-ish guy let us down.  “Crestfallen” doesn’t even begin to describe it, let me tell you.  What could’ve been epic was only just awesome.  But still.  Halloween FTW.

5)I went to Kampai last night.  This isn’t especially noteworthy or anything, but I just had to brag.  Damn I love Kampai.  My most favorite sushi ever.

6)Jeff got a clerkship and we’re moving to LA next summer.

OK that’s all I know.  Love and puppykisses!

-Kate

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.

.

…OK, OK, I’ll elaborate on that last one.  Remember the job interview I mentioned in my vlog?  Turns out that went pretty darn well (like we all knew it would; that’s what happens when you’re a Rockstar Law Student).  Jeff got an offer, we accepted it*, and next summer (probably just after he takes the bar in late July), we’re moving to LA for a year.

Y’all know me:  I am NOT an LA type of person.  Like, at all.  At all.  I can confidently state that, based off the advice of multiple friends who are acquainted with the city.  And also with me.  (And no they’re not imaginary).  So in a bid to make me feel better about the whole year-long adventure, a Pinboard was created.  Now I have stuff to do in California, and a bunch of things to look forward to, and it’s only for a year, and then it’ll be awesome.

You (read: I) can do anything for a year:  even live someplace with no appreciable winter and where rain is a Weather Event.

And with something like a 364-day growing season, I’ll be bringing my pressure canner, with plans to CAN ALL THE THINGS!

See? I made a picture:

That’ll be me.

I also made this picture:

Two things:

1)I hate palm trees. I think they’re freaky and ugly and unnatural.

2)I REALLY hate palm trees decorated with Christmas lights.  It’s sad and pathetic and not at all funny or pretty.

I have agreed to follow Jeff to LA, on the condition that we absolutely DO NOT decorate a palm tree with Christmas lights.  And also on the condition that he not make fun of me when we leave LA, and that he fully indulge my need to purchase a couple hundred pint and quart jars.  And fill them with jams and preserves and salsas and who-knows-what-else.

And really, is that so much to ask?

But really, I am still feeling a bit of anxiety about the whole thing.  I’m excited for Jeff’s opportunity and a year’s time to do touristy stuff ‘n’ stuff, but I still have no sense at all for the culture, or the neighborhoods, or anything.  Jeff’s going to be working at the courthouse downtown, and I know that public transit kinda sucks out there (eep! my lifeline!), but I don’t know much more than that.  I’ve heard good things about South Pasadena, FWIW.  And I know that the sushi and vegetarian food is plentiful and good.

We’ll be going out probably sometime in April or May to find housing, but in the meantime…

Any advice, m’dears?

~~~

*The firm that Jeff worked for this past summer is holding his job offer for a year.  This is one of the particulars of the whole Law thing:  firms love it when their associates have the chance to clerk, and are more than happy to let you go do that, while still knowing that you’ve got a job there for after.  Pretty badass, if you ask me.

BULLET-Y

1)The Yarn Harlot is coming to St. Louis TOMORROW!!!  I’m going to be there – will you?  (Note: the location on that site is not current – Left Bank says it will now be at the Episcopal Church on Euclid)

 

I am toying with the idea of wearing a completed Traveling Woman shawl of Dyeabolical Strong Arm Skinny to this shindig tomorrow.

 

Difficulty: I do not own a Traveling Woman shawl of Dyeabolical Strong Arm Skinny.  However, I do own a hank of Strong Arm Skinny, and the Traveling Woman pattern.  Maybe if I knit like the wind all evening/morning…

 

(Someone should probably talk me down off that ledge.  And do it fast.  Rachel is not helping; she is – and I quote – “poking the crazy”.)

 

2)Remember how I blogged about buying a bushel of apples a couple weeks ago?  I’m happy to report that they have now nearly all (but for a few set aside for baking &c) been put up.  I made 6 half-pints of maple apple butter, 5 qt applesauce, and 7 qt apple pie filling:

I’m considering my first canning experiment a success.  An exhausting, finger-bleeding, water-boiling (but not house-exploding!) success.  YAY ME.

 

I’m going to do so much more next year, and so much different.  I can’t wait.  I’m so addicted now, y’all.

 

3)I went to Maple Leaf on Saturday.  It was awesome.  I’ll tell you more later.

 

And now, I must go.  So much to accomplish, so little time.  Someone bring me some tea?

 

Vodka in an apron and heels: a saga of pseudo-housewifely desperation

A week or two ago I came across this tutorial from Bethany Actually via Pinterest.  And as y’all know, I can never resist the opportunity to take a simple task and make it infinitely more complicated.  So I almost immediately ran to the Container Store and Whole Foods for a tiny little glass carafe and some vanilla beans ($11.99 for two! Ridiculous! Next time I’m ordering from here or something), and set to work.

 

Yes, as Aliya so astutely predicted on Monday’s post, I have decided to make my own vanilla.  (Because apparently the stuff in the little bottle from Trader Joe’s just isn’t good enough for me anymore).

 

But on Sunday morning when I set out to undertake this, I realized: I had a tiny little glass carafe, and I had vanilla beans, but I had no vodka.*

 

So I made a last-minute run to the Schnucks just around the corner.  In my Fluevogs and – as I realized only when I was standing in the grocery store – vintage-styled apron over my dress.  I was the very picture of housewifelyness (if only I had curlers in my hair…).

 

So I was standing at the liqour/cigarettes/money orders counter there in the ghetto Schnucks before noon on a Sunday, wearing my apron and heels, and politely asked the clerk, “I’d like to buy a small bottle of vodka, please.”

 

She looked at me as though I were an alien fresh onto Earth, making an earnest but ill-suited attempt at blending in.**

 

“Um…what kind?”

 

“Something…expensive?  And I don’t need much – only half a cup for a recipe.”

 

(Pardon me, Kate. Your dorkiness is showing.)

 

I got the alien look again, and then the clerk gingerly held up a 200ml bottle of Absolut:  “This is $7.55. Is that expensive enough?”

 

This was getting more awful by the second. I was just about at my awkwardness limit for the day, and it was only 10am.  I paid for the little bottle of vodka and ran out as quick as I could, pausing only to take off my apron and stash it in the passenger seat of my car before I finished my other errands.

 

And then, to spare myself any further humiliation, I…  told you all about it.  (When will I learn?)

 

But yes.  Vanilla.  Here is how to make vanilla, in three easy steps:

 

1)Pretend to chug your $7.55 little bottle of Absolut:

 

2)Cut up a couple vanilla beans (in half and then sliced lengthwise), then rub your hands together so they smell like wonderful vanilla goodness for the rest of the day, and so you look like a total perv sitting there smelling your fingers all evening:

 

2a)Put your vanilla beans into your tiny little glass carafe from The Container Store.  Arrange them like miniature teepee poles:

(Here it is acceptable to pause momentarily and wonder what it would be like to live in a vanilla-scented teepee.)

 

3)Pour in vodka, obtained on Sunday morning from the ghetto grocery store while wearing an apron and heels:

 

And TADAAAA!  Vanilla-in-progress!

Now I just need to let it steep for a month.  It’s been three days so far and it’s already quite dark, so maybe the full month isn’t strictly necessary, but the more vanilla-y the better, right?

 

More telling, though, is that Jeff didn’t question this at all. I guess he’s used to my antics by now:  “What’s that? You’re going to make an ingredient out of ingredients, at a much higher expense and trouble? OK, whatev.”  I guess at least this way he knows I’m not off roaming the streets stirrin’ up trouble.

 

~~~

*We don’t really keep hard liquor in the house. We’re not Puritans or anything – we usually have a couple varieties of snooty microwbrew in the fridge and a bottle or two of wine on the rack – but having hard liqour around just isn’t really our thing.

**Coincidentally, that’s frequently how I feel as well.

Disappearing chicken skin!

I know, we’ve been home from England for six days and there’s been nary a peep from my corner of the Internet. But I’ve been busy (forgive me), so it’ll be a few days yet.

 

In the meantime, enjoy this video.  I call it, “the only magic trick Roxie knows”, and I made it last night on my iPod.

 

Just for you.  Enjoy. 🙂