Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Roy G Biv

Went to CVS on my way home to buy Real Simple (I like the little tear-out calendar in the back and how pleasant the magazine is... matte, sturdy pages, no screaming advertisements, just calm)

Fear not, American women.  We will tell you which mop to buy.  Which eyeliner lasts longest. How to brown butter.  Show you a skirt from Boden you have to have now.  How to camouflage crepey eyelids with cream eyeshadow, albeit using this 20 year old model.              

and this caught my eye, because I have severe magpie syndrome and am drawn to shiny, colorful objects.  To wit:

Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter.  I bought the two tubes remaining that were not in the orange or brownish color family (Bobbi Brown, no thank you), Lollipop (fuchsia) and Cotton Candy (light nude-pink).  Ladies, go buy these.  They are emollient and the color is great, Lollipop especially. They are are a tiny bit sparkly, a tad disappointing because I wanted to wear the light one to work (I like to leave the scintillation to my personality in that environment.)

That display got me thinking of rainbows and spectra and gifts...

Le Creuset, Cuisinart in a rainbow of colors in the Sur la Table catalog.  Drools from Jules.  WANT.

Have you been to  Hosiery in every color imaginable.

And, finally, for the girl who has everything but wears next to nothing:

Thong of thongs

A briefcase of 25 Hanky Panky thongs for $399.  That's right.  $399.  If you have a four hundred dollar briefcase of thongs, you should at least get some kind of business tax write-off... but then, if you have a four hundred dollar briefcase of thongs, exactly what kind of business are you in?

p.s. Did you know Nordstrom sells crotchless panties? SCANDALOUS!

There.  In case you haven't seen the word crotchless in print in a while (I certainly haven't), there you go.

Happy December, everyone :)

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Store-um

Deleting photos on the phone today (the Groupon app said I had to make some room or NO UPDATE! and honey you know I want those Groupons) and I came across these from 2 weeks ago; in anticipation of making ice cream that night while he played a show, I made a list for Luke to purchase the following ingredients:

[The black ink is my writing; the blue, notes he made after we discussed The List.]

Heavy cream: tall purple
Actual pumpkin (pictured), not canned
 Vanilla bean: in jar, tall black skinny
 White chocolate: chips or bar
 At least 1/3 cup refined coconut oil

later that day...


Assembled ingredients: including the cream (tall purple carton) and vanilla bean (tall, black, skinny, in jar)


(This is one thing I love about blogging, to capture the everyday endearing moments of my loves ones, however commonplace, in the amber of written and photographic vignettes; to hold them still and apart, plucked from the torrent of our lives. Little snapshots, suspended, treasured.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sugar Sugar

Inspired by Richard Sax's Classic Home Desserts (recommended in Cooking Light's great baking book selections), I offer some recipes that I have come across, some recent, some remote, all equal parts nostalgia and butter.  All special.  I am about 1/4 of the way through Classic Home Desserts and aside from being a cookbook, it is a great book just to read, full of the most wonderful marginalia - centuries-old recipes, anecdotes, proverbs, adages, literary quotes, historical context - and lively descriptions of the recipes and their origins.

About syllabub  (a creamy alcoholic punch): This is the Deep South dessert that is supposed to start Southern beaux and belles on their drunken downfall, since it is so mild that children are allowed to have it, thus acquiring a taste for the flavor of all liquors.  The idea is silly, and the syllabub is delicious.  The moral damage is negligible.
                                  Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
                                  Cross Creek Cookery, 1942

How To Make Jelly: Take out the great Bones of four Calves Feet, and put the Feet into a Pot with ten Quarts of Water, three Ounces of Hartshorn, three Ounces of Isinglass, a Nutmeg quarter'd, four Blades of Mace; then boil this till it comes to two Quarts, and strain it through a Flannel-bag, let it stand twenty-four Hours, then scrape off all the Fat from the Top very clean, then slice it, and put it to the Whites of six Eggs beaten to a Froth, boil it a little, and strain it again through a Flannel-bag, then run the Jelly into little high Glasses... You must colour Red with Cochineal, Green with Spinage, Yellow with Saffron, Blue with Syrup of Violets, White with thick Cream and sometimes the Jelly itself.  You may add Orange-flower water, or Wine and Sugar, and Lemon if you please, but this is all Fancy.

                                 Hannah Glasse
                                 The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy
                                 London, 1747

               Frutto poibito, piu saporito. (Forbidden fruit is tastier).
                                  Italian proverb

From Dorie Greenspan's foreword: No one else before Richard, or since, understood the subject of home baking as well, cared about it as deeply, or could tell us about it as beautifully.  If he had simply collected the hundreds of quotations, stories, and journal entries that fill Classic Home Desserts, he'd have helped us understand how we home bakers are tied to a tradition that reaches back through centuries and across continents, and he'd have created a work to cherish.  But this is also a cookbook to take into the kitchen, to use until its pages are spattered with butter and dusted with sugar, to keep in the kitchen until we've baked our way through it... when Richard says these are 'home desserts' he means it: These are the recipes of moms, not chefs.

Drumroll, please!

We enjoyed this for the first time on Saturday.  It is pie.  Don't be fooled by 'casserole' unless casserole means 'uber deep-dish pie'.  It's crazy delicious.  Luke loved it and it made me so happy to see him enjoy something so much.

Maxwell's Sweet Potato Casserole
 3 cups cooked mashed sweet potatoes (boiled and peeled)
           (not canned)
1 cup evaporated milk
2 eggs beaten
1/2 tsp each- nutmeg and cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 stick butter
1 1/2 cup sugar or to taste

Mix all above. Bake @ 425 for 15 min;
another 30 mins bake @ 350 or until knife comes out clean.

1/2 stick butter
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup cornflakes
1/2 cup pecans

Melt butter & sugar, add flakes & nuts, then coat on top of casserole.
 Bake 425 for 8-10 mins or until brown.

I had these cookies for the first time in Michigan last Christmas and my search for the ultimate cookie stopped, like buying a Chi flat iron or Tempurpedic bed or using Cetaphil as a facial cleanser.  There is no need to look further because it can't get any better.  Also it was a time when Luke and I were settling into the warm reality of We're Going To Be Together Forever and his family was so warm and welcoming and it was the holidays and all was right with the world.  Does true love taste like this cookie?  YES.  Either this or grilled cheese and tomato soup on a rainy Sunday.

Susie's Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/8 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips of chunks (I like to use semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips)

Mix dry ingredients. Mix butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Mix in eggs and vanilla and whip until the mixture turns pale. Add dry ingredients. Add chocolate chips. Chill for a bit if possible. Drop by Tablespoons (I use an ice cream scoop to make them big) onto a prepared cookie sheet 350 for a regular oven. Check at 8 minutes and continue baking if needed. (if your oven has a convection feature, then use that at 325 degrees).

This is Susie's recipe and it is very similar to the chocolate chip cookie recipe that appears in America's Test Kitchen baking book.  Add the chips slowly to achieve your desired dough:chip ratio.  (I usually use 1/2 of a bag, much less than called for).

Jackie's Bundt Cake
1 devil's food cake mix
1 cook and serve pudding mix, prepared
2 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips

Mix and pour into a greased and floured Bundt pan and bake at 325 for 40-45 minutes.

This cake is easy and delicious.  I think I might have had it for the first time when Jackie, then our new neighbor, made it for my 14th birthday, or right around then.  Happiness in a Bundt pan.

Kathy Jones was our neighbor on the other side at the time:

Kathy Jones' Rice Krispie Treats
24 oz white almond bark, melted
1 cup creamy peanut butter
4 cups Rice Krispies
2 cups marshmallows

Mix and pour into a 9 x 13.  Wait until it sets up.  Slice and consume while recumbent, you don't want to risk eating while standing, as you may fall and hit your head as you succumb to a blinding sugar coma.

Have made since college and I don't see a reason to make a full-fat version:

Cooking Light's Banana Bread
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 2/3 cups mashed banana (about 3 bananas)
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
2 large egg whites
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Combine sugar and butter; beat until well blended.  Add banana, milk, sour cream and egg whites, beat well.
2.  Combine flour, baking soda and salt; stir well.  Add flour mixture to banana mixture, beating until blended.
4.  Spoon batter into 4 mini or one-9 inch loaf pans coated with cooking spray; bake for 45 minutes for mini loaves, 70 minutes for large loaf or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Elise loves this, we all love this.  For our birthday Mom made the dinner of our choosing.  For my height-of-summer birthday, usually spent somewhere sweltering, I typically chose beef stroganoff and lemon meringue.  Quite the pairing.  Elise would choose key lime and in recent years Mom has been making individual pies in small dessert glasses or shot glasses. 

Mom's Key Lime Pie
Graham cracker crumbs
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
1/2 cup key lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 slightly beaten egg yolks

Prepare graham cracker crumbs according to package directions (do not bake).  Push into bottoms of glasses/bowls.  Whisk remaining ingredients together; spoon onto crusts.  Refrigerate until set.

... something I think all of us who bake at home have felt but might not have been able to express: the power of sharing something we make by hand, something that is always a gift because it is never a necessity.
                                                   Dorie Greenspan 

      What are your traditions?  What tastes like home to you?  What do you make to say I love you! ?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ikea: Swedish for Allen wrench

Sunday Funday: craft fair in Austin and bonus City-Wide Garage Sale!

Free photo booth at entrance
Yarn-bombed beach balls

Convention center

Everything abou this woman is cute: her hair, her jewelry, the bunting.
                               ST LOUIS WHAT WHAT!
               St Louisan and craft maven Allyson Wilmowski
                              had a booth at the show!
Hellooooooooo Allyson! 

I met an artist whose work I have admired on Etsy for a long time, Leah Duncan:

I've had my eye on this buffalo print and it was such a treat to buy it from the artist herself!  And several other goodies, perhaps to be featured in a stocking near you!

Flush with precious handmade gifts, we made our way one pavilion over to the

                                                                What a spectacle.

Love her style.

Piles and piles of fabrics

And faux fur

Slay bells ring, are you listenin'?

Duh, schwinning!

Scary head; old racquets

Piles of beads

Glassware by color

Somewhat sinister dolls.

And then it was time to go to Ikea.  Admittedly a terrible idea, especially during Thanksgiving weekend, but we needed chairs for the three-season porch, two seasons of which we have missed out on due the seating shortage. Well, not true.  We have two camping chairs out there - on our front porch- because we are classy like that.

But first we fortified ourselves at a safe distance across the parking lot at Panda Express, where Luke told me 'it's not Panda Express, it's just Panda.'

Corrected, we left Panda, for what I anticipated would be utter pandemonium.  (or, panda-monium).
Thus steeled, we approached...

The beard is like a constant photo prop.

Large bin of toy rats

I guess some Norse god of thriftiness and particle board smiled upon us, because the store was not teeming with shoppers.  We wandered, we sat on some chairs, we wandered some more through its labyrinthine interior.  (When do we encounter the Minotaur, I wondered?)  We emerged from that blue and yellow byzantine mecca of DIY (more like DFEY,  or Do Freakin' Everything Yourself) with chairs, a footrest, and two $7.99 end tables.


(As much as I strangely resent Ikea, considering I go about once every three years of my own accord, I thought this display of everyday items was just lovely:)

Look homeward, angel.  With Captain and Tennille.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving II

Thanksgiving II was held by our surrogate San Antonio family, Rick and Doris Brown.  The weather was fabulous, the food delicious, the company delightful!

At the Browns'

In Doug and Carolyn's incredibly lush and beautiful backyard; she made lemon meringue pie from the fruit of the tree to our right; it was the best I've ever had.

Luke and Doug discuss speakers

Boots belonging to Country, Kat's fiance

Ah, autumn.

Gang on patio until turkey-time


Luke's boots

Oma!  She is hilarious, hilarious, hilarious.

Beautifully browned turkey.  Brava, Doris!

Oma and Luke

Doris' enviable cookbook collection

Carolyn makes the gravy

Luke and Oma look up the provenance and language of Celts

The hosts!

Someone got the turkey leg.

Sweet potato casserole.  So delicious.  As soon as the recipe is e-mailed to me I will share with you.

Turkey leg, post-Luke.


My contribution, ice cream

Rob tried all five flavors.

A lovely afternoon and many thanks to R & D for including us!

As we were out of town beforehand I wanted to make something that would keep for a week to serve as my contribution to the Thanksgiving table.  It was the perfect opportunity to make a bunch of ice cream from this book:

I only have one bowl for the ice cream maker, and it must freeze overnight, so this step is rate-limiting; I made 5 pints of ice cream in 5 days (plus one on Friday night):

The Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World
Salty Caramel
Banana Ice Cream with Caramelized White Chocolate Freckles
Roasted Pumpkin with 5 Spice Powder
Cranberry Royale Sorbet (Cranberry-Grapefruit)

We taste-tested them Friday and all but the salted caramel made the cut - it was acrid (overcaramelized?) and too salty.  The banana received the most positive reviews, especially from Luke, who does not usually like banana flavor.  It tastes like frozen banana pudding--> scrumptious.

Get Jeni's book and this ice cream maker and never purchase ice cream from the store again!  (The recipes all call for light corn syrup, which always makes me think of this SNL spoof commercial, but oh well).  Set-up and cooking the milk-cream mixture takes about 20 minutes, then the mixture is chilled in an ice bath for 30 minutes, then spun in the machine for ~20-30 minutes; the hands-on time is minimal and the results so much better than storebought (read: more milkfat, more flavor, more deep-sense-of-personal-satisfaction-that-comes-from-making-something-yourself.)
I wanted to share the banana recipe but I returned the book to the library this morning (will purchase, along with the Ciao Bella book).  The vanilla ice cream recipe, which is the basis for almost all of her recipes, is here.  Enjoy!