Friday, November 27, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Happy Ritual Sacrifice of the Turkey Day!
Oh yeaaaah. I did it. It was dicey at times and I almost gave up. But Grandma Mad Scientist talked me down and I made my crust! Now, comes the hard part: How good will it taste??
Well, if it isn't very tasty that means I'll have room for leftover Moochie Turkey Pillow Sandwiches!
Mmmmm! Tasty! The filling is my favorite part!
Monday, November 23, 2009
Have and Have Nots
I guess this might be true. Maybe for painting? I don't know. I haven't painted in years.
Knitters sometimes argue about it. I'm OK with using my Boye Needlemaster while people are using their KnitPicks Needle Set DuJour or their Efficient German Needles. My knitting doesn't come out unbearably crappy because I use cheap-o needles.
I promised I would go over my "must have" tools for my campaign for people to Just Bake It.
I was inspired to do this by reading the post Joy the Baker did a few weeks ago.
While I agree with some of her choices, I don't with others.
And if you've baked, you'll do the same with mine.
The underlying message I'm trying to promote here is that it doesn't matter.
Just Bake It.
That what you will from this list.
Substitute as necessary.
And keep in mind 90% of my baking is cookie related. Although the tools really don't vary too terrible much between say cookies, bread, cake/cupcakes, etc.
First up--a mixing bowl.
You don't need a ton of mixing bowls. I have basically one that I use all the time. It's just a simple melamine bowl that was given to me as part of a three-piece nesting set from Williams & Sonoma. Oooo! So chi-chi! Whatever, if it hadn't come in a Williams & Sonoma gift bag, I would have never known. It could easily be a dollar store bowl.
I love it--it's not too big, it's not too small.
It's also nice to have measuring spoons and cups.
These are another set of cheap items you can go all out on or buy at a dollar store. The only thing I hate about my measuring cups are they don't emboss the sizes on there. They're painted and as you can see they wear off after time.
Sometimes when I'm feeling lazy, I'll just eyeball a fractional cup by using the 1 cup sized cup instead of dirtying up the 1/3 cup or 1/2 cup measuring cup. Oooo! I'm going to baking hell!!
If you're a cookie maker like me, the cookie sheet is a must-have.
I've got two. One is a cheapy chicom sheet and one is a chi-chi Williams & Sonoma one (part of that same gift I got the bowls). Technically I think the Williams & Sonoma pan is a jelly roll pan since the sides are bigger.
But as far as I know, no one has died eating my cookies baked on a jelly roll pan instead of a cookie sheet.
My next must-have is my beloved apron.
It's nothing fancy. It's one of those craft-store "blanks" that I bought probably 8 or 9 years ago and puffy-painted up with ladybugs.
Now that I've tamed The Beast (my sewing machine) I've thought about maybe making myself a cool new apron.
But the truth is, I just love this one so. Why mess with a good thing?
One thing an apron must have for me is a bib. Those cute little half-aprons that just tie around the waist don't cut it for me.
These next few items are nice frivolities. You don't need them to bake, but I find life easier with them.
Boopsie, my hand mixer.
You can certainly bake WITHOUT A MIXER OF ANY KIND. I did it for years. And then I started lusting after those sleek Kitchenaid stand mixers.
You know the ones that come in all those kicky colors and have all those cool attachments?
But the reality of the situation is, I don't have the counter space to devote to a stand mixer.
Nor the money to drop $200+ on a kitchen tool. So for our anniversary (4th, or maybe 6th??) Dr. Mad Scientist gave me a Kitchenaid hand mixer.
I didn't think I would like it as much as a stand mixer.
But I was wrong.
LOVE THIS THING. You don't have to sit there scraping shit off the sides of the bowl and you get more control over the mixing because you're doing it yourself. And although I've never used any other hand mixer, I've read that the Kitchenaid ones are pretty durable and this one will sort of "change gears" when the dough you're mixing becomes stiffer to compensate for the stiffness.
Now? If you gave me a stand mixer, I would turn you away. No interest in one whatsoever. You can keep it.
This next "nice to have" thing is my dirty little secret. You know all the cheapassedness and recycling I do? Well I have a weakness.
Parchment paper. I'm addicted. I love it. I'll use a sheet on each cookie sheet for each batch of cookies I make and reuse it til the dough is baked up.
Some people swear by those Silpats. That was also a part of the baking gift I received the jelly roll pan and mixing bowls. And I HATED the damn thing.
In my opinion, they're a bitch to wash, they never feel clean and I always got really spready cookies with them. Yuck.
They're expensive too from what I can tell. If you have the income to spare, I guess try it out. But I'll keep using my beloved parchment paper. And hey, there is a coupon inside the package for $1.00 of your next purchase of two rolls. Ha ha!
(As a side note: You can live without parchment paper or a Silpat--the butter wrapper or a small pat of shortening/butter/spritz of non-stick spray works just as good!)
The next tools are a cooling rack and a metal spatula.
A metal spatula (or metal turner as the Home-Ec teacher in middle school told us was the correct name for this implement) is a must have. However, what you see in this picture is a teeny one that's about 1.5" x 4". I find it's the perfect size for getting under my cookie without disturbing the neighboring cookie.
I believe this was a freebie "hostess" present Grandma Mad Scientist got for hosting a Pampered Chef event. I never buy any of that stuff--but she gave it to me for Christmas one year. The handle is a bit melted and I know I'll get misty if it ever dies/gets lost.
In this picture you'll also see my beloved cooling rack.
Again, not necessary. I baked for years without one. But it provided Dr. Mad Scientist with a great Christmas (or Mother's Day or Birthday or Anniversary) gift opportunity where he could spend less than $10 on something and make me a very happy woman indeed.
Finally, for the cookie-baker there is the cookie scoop.
I used to have one of those cool ones that you scoop and then squeeze the handle and it released the dough ball. Mom got it for me with her Joann's employee discount way back in the day I believe.
But the spring gave out and it broke.
So I resorted to using a melon baller.
Sometimes I muse why I even own a melon baller.
But it provides the perfect size cookie when you use the big-ball side.
Again, not a necessity. A regular spoon works just fine for stickier doughs and your two hands are easily used to roll out stiffer doughs into cookies.
There you have it. My list.
Again, you'll think of other must-haves, or scoff at what I think is a must-have. But that's OK.
As long as we're all out there...
Just Baking It!
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Hopping The Firearm
However, when it comes to Christmas candy, I can't help myself.
And my all time favorite Christmas candy has got to be Mint M&Ms.
They've started making them bigger than normal M&Ms which I don't really like--but Dr. Mad Scientist informs me he saw "regular" sized Mint M&Ms at the store recently. Not that size really matters too much though.
Not wanting to be a Porcine Princess and wolf this whole bag down myself, I decided I would make cookies with them.
Take your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Add say 1/3 to 2/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder to the dough. Substitute the M&Ms for the chocolate chips.
I love this time of year--the baking season is upon us in full force!
I will say one thing (that I know I've said before on here) that saddens me. That thing is people afraid of baking.
I'm not immune, my white whale is pie crust. I can never to get it to roll out right.
But I'm going to try it again this Thanksgiving. I have plans to make a sugar-free apple pie for Grandma Mad Scientist.
I'm going to incense a few people by saying this--but I can't stand some of the people out there who insist that baking is a science and make it sound oh-so complicated.
One person who springs to mind is Alton Brown. While yes, I find his show entertaining, I think he inadvertently puts the "scare" factor into baking with his explanations.
I find in my surfing around the internets that there are many people out there that echo this sentiment--people that will talk about how you can't bake properly if you don't bring the butter and eggs to room temperature first, or you can't dump all the dry ingredients in all at once if the recipe says to alternate adding and mixing, or you have to have a clear measuring cup for liquid ingredients, and you must follow the recipe.
Dr. Mad Scientist is like this--maybe it's his science training--but he follows recipes to a tee.
And that's fine and if it works for you great. But it worries me for those Baking Virgins or Baking Novices.
The people too scared to get out there because they're afraid they can't bake because they don't have a sifter or oh my god, they accidentally packed the flour down when they measured it!!! Or Jesus Haploid Christ, I think I used 2% milk instead of whole milk!
1988 is making a comeback people, Nike-style: Just Do It.
Let go of the fear that your yeast won't rise and your bread will be a bust.
Let go of the uneasiness that your cookies will be undercooked.
Let go of the angst that your apple pie crust will not roll out properly.
Let go of the consternation that your cupcakes will be neither cup nor cake-like.
And let go of the phobia that you're going to fail.
Because guess what, you will. God knows I have.
Remember pumpkin cheesecake cat vomit cups from a month ago?
These chocolate covered cherry cookies from last Christmas?
Waaaay to spread-y.
And see this lovely from three years ago?
Cranberry Upside Down Cake.
Totally raw in the middle.
It's OK. Let it go.
Tomorrow I'll do a scheduled post on my invaluable tools of the trade. Another subject that I think makes people scared of baking--the tools involved.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Or it's what a gringo orders at Taco Bell.
I'll have aburrido with a large Diet Coke.
But that's what life has been like here. Kinda boring. Not much to post about.
I was reading Mag's point that she recycles everything.
I do too. I've noticed not too many people around here do.
Every other week is paper/leave recycling week. Most people don't put out anything (i.e. Zorba the Slumlord downstairs) or they just put out a stack of newspapers and maybe a few boxes. There are quite a bit of people that put leaves/yard waste out there too.
But I'm like Mag--a paper packrat. Everything goes in the recycling.
Toilet paper cores.
Chunky's old schoolwork/takehome announcements.
Ha ha! No! We had a big load of paper recyling this week and Moochie was curious to see what was in the box. So we tossed him in it.
He seemed to enjoy it.
But something to think about. If you have curbside recycling, read up on what your service allows. Chances are they accept all types of paper. Not just newspapers and magazines.
Not much knitting to speak of. I'm working on a Christmas present for Cousin Blue Face Lester.
Due to the royal screwing by the Power that Is in delaying Dr. Mad Scientist's ability to be paid (oh and I just learned the first year you're a "real" teacher--they assign you a "mentor" teacher to show you the adminstrative ropes of your school. These "mentors" get paid extra to do this--and guess where that pay comes from? That's right! His salary! NICE!!!!! I'll bet that's some union clause...just a hunch) it's going to be a lean Christmas.
Lots of kids-only and family gifts. Ah well. There will be time for excess later.
And speaking of spending money and excess, Grandma Mad Scientist will be here soon--so expect some more radio silence.
Grandpa Mad Scientist bailed yesterday and won't come. So they're trying to figure out if
Cousin Flower Girl (she was our littlest flower girl at our wedding) can come instead of Grandpa MS. Apparently they didn't realize that it's NOT a simple thing to transfer a ticket in this post 9/11 world and it's going to cost something like $1500 to change it.
Dr. Mad Scientist's mother is shocked.
But why? The airlines are all nearly (if not already) teat's up--why wouldn't they charge you????
Aye, I swear. Maybe my life isn't such a burrito after all!!!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I sighed and turned to Dr. Mad Scientist and said, "Remember the good old days when that airhead Jewel was the only Alaskan anyone had ever heard of?"
Oh those were the days!
In honor of Alaska's biggest haired biggest airhead giving us a bad name and her idiotic book hitting the stands today, I'm GOING SPICY!
As in ginger spice.
It's a shame Dr. MS and I aren't exchanging Christmas presents this year, because the nipple zipper bustier would be at the top of my list.
No, no, not that ginger spice.
More like this.
Mmmm...soft ginger cookies.
Preheat your oven to 350. Cream together 3/4 cups of butter, a cup of sugar. Then add a quarter cup of mole-asses and an egg. Mix, mix, mix. Next you add in a teaspoon of baking powder, a teaspoon of cinnamon, two teaspoons of ginger, a half teaspoon of ground cloves and beat it up some more. Finally you add two and a quarter cups of flour. Mix, mix, mix. Roll into balls and then roll the balls around in some sugar. Bake for 10 minutes.
Behold the soft barely-baked, chewy centers.
I'll be honest, I like my cookies to have chocolate of some sort, but I make an exception for soft ginger cookies.
Hey Moochie! Would you like a cookie?
Now that's a spicy cookie!
Monday, November 16, 2009
I'm Not Crazy!
Friday, November 13, 2009
The project I will tackle this weekend is cleaning the fans.
But to my credit, I never really look up at the ceiling much.
In the kitchen that is...I look at the ceiling in the living room a lot. If you're on my Facebook (I nearly typed Fecebook--woah. Freudian slip?) you'll know I've recently whined about the unearthly sounds of the baby vermin that have hatched/spawned in the ceiling. Ugh. The sound just makes your skin crawl and I'm waiting for the day they pop out of my ceiling while I'm watching TV.
I need a Ceiling Cat.
I may take next Monday off to prepare a bit more for the landing. It would be nice to not have a certain little man underfoot.
The big one can only entertain the little one for so long before they both get bored
I'd much rather be quilting or knitting or sewing or reading myself!
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Poppies Make Me Sleepy
Today on the internets you will see the usual sentiments marched out and then inevitably you get the reciting of "In Flanders Fields."
But you all know I'm not like that.
I swim against the current. And today I'm going to introduce you to a grayer but just as meaningful poem.
Have you forgotten yet? ...
For the world's events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you're a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same - and War's a bloody game ...
Have you forgotten yet? ...
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you'll never forget.
Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz -
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench -
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, "Is it all going to happen again?"
Do you remember the hour of din before the attack -
And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you
As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads - those ashen-grey
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?
Have you forgotten yet? ...
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you'll never forget.
--Siegfried Sassoon, 1919
I've blogged about it before but I was introduced to this poet by reading the Regeneration trilogy by Pat Barker this past year. It's a great fictionalization of what his wartime life may have been like. I also recommend her latest book Life Class. It's set during the time of the Great War and has an interesting message that translates well to today's state of affairs.
So thank you those who chose to serve because you felt like you had to defend your country or to fulfill a sense of duty, to those who were forced to serve against your will but did anyway and to those of you who served because it wasn't so much a duty thing as it was more the best way to advance your life.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Seeds of Annoyance
I made a pair of baby mitts for Moochie out of some nipple-red Red Heart and strung them with some i-cord. He now thinks he's got toys hanging off his coat sleeves.
But they're nothing to really blog about.
They're kind of like other things I've had kicking around my brain that I could probably blog about, but they would be very bitchy posts.
I've been thinking of things that annoy me like fathers that talk to their kids like their kids have the intelligence of a potato.
Or musing as to why they don't teach personal finance in school better. I mean we had a class in High School, "Consumer Math" or something like that. It was pretty much stigmatized as being "math for kids who won't go to college." Yeah I went to college and wasted my time on trigonometry. Do you know the last time I had to find the sine of an angle? Yeah. Never. I hope those "dumb kids" are laughing at us.
And stressing about all the cleaning I'm going to have to do for the Grandma and Grandpa Mad Scientist visit.
Stressing about all the money we'll be spending when they're here. Why couldn't they have come next summer when times were not so lean? Moochie and Chunky would still be adorable. (Because you know seeing Dr. Mad Scientist and I is just a happy bonus to getting to see the furthest-away grandkids.)
Procrastinating making lunches for the boys and me for tomorrow and hopping in the shower.
Sloring myself for votes for my Santa Baby Food Jar Ornament. I think I might have a chance--I mean they wouldn't have to pay for airfare. I could drive to the Grand Prize for less than a tank of gas. And it's less than $10 on the train to get to NYC. Besides as much as I don't really care for Barfy Marfy, I'd love to meet a witch in person.
Because we all know Martha Stewart isn't a demon. She's a witch. Nobody could do that much decoupage without calling on the powers of darkness. (HEE! Yes, we just finished Season 6).
Did you make it this far?
Shall I reward you?
Perhaps with a Moochie in a box?
Sometimes you gotta make your own fun.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Dear Sir or Madam Will You Read My Ad?
(She obviously has never read Penny Karma's pieces on Inspirational Tampons.)
These are the words she toils away at at her job as a copywriter.
Maybe it's because of her or because I'm weird (probably a little bit of both) that I've been finding the latest batch of crap in the mail and newspaper oh so hilarious.
It's starting to be holiday time and I think this holiday season people are actually realizing the economy is in the shitter.
I think the sentiment was there last year too--but people were still a bit dazed about it and some were still in denial.
This year it's really sunk in.
The ads are starting to reflect this more--as they encourage us to spend our non-existent or stretched thin dollars.
My favorite has to be this one from Downy.
It reads: "Staying in is no reason your alluring side shouldn't come out. Express every side a touch more with Downy Simple Pleasures. Renewing scent pearls release with your embrace. So from alluring to serene, daring and beyond, you can feel more."
Hells yeah. If I use Downy I'm going to skip going to the dinner and movie and get laid instead!
Take that copy and replace the word "Downy Simple Pleasures" with "KY Personal Lubricant" and read it again.
And then there's my favorite store that I hate going to because it's full of dumbass shoppers and two cashiers working the registers with 15 registers sitting empty on Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. when it's raining and every one's there--Target.
Target's mailer to me was full of coupons for "up & up" their "new line of value basics."
These are products that they claim to have created on a few simple beliefs:
"the things you need can also be the things you want.
a store brand can be as reliable as your favorite name brand.
and quality and value can be best friends forever.
here's to looking up."
Apparently not the first word in a sentence and using fragments is also on the up & up.
It must save money in ink if they don't capitalize the first letter and leave out the subject of the sentence.
Their coupons crack me up because they read like bad fortune cookies.
"nothing says 'i love you' like good hygiene."
Shit, this probably means I should go change my underwear and brush my teeth huh?
"bandages should be as comforting as the hug they come with."
If I made bandages they would make you feel like you should suck it up and be a man--it's just a paper cut! Quit your crying!
Also: "moisturizing is like a vacation for your skin."
Using cheap moisturizer is like a vacation for your skin where it rains and you get stuck in a crappy hotel room where you can hear the guy next door to you snoring, the door lock is broke and you have to prop a chair under the doorknob keep it secure, and the sheets on the bed have some odd stains on them and smell of stale cigarette smoke.
Thank god I don't moisturize my skin. It likes to stay home and avoid the hassle of vacations.
You know how it is--you moisturize and then it's like you need a moisturizer from your moisturizer. Exhausting!
"sometimes happieness is as simple as a good fabric softener."
Wow. Maybe I'm not using the right fabric softener.
Don't tell the pharmaceutical companies about this--soon we won't need Viagra to get laid or Prozac to feel happy--we'll just need fabric softener!!
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
NSFW! The Pink Monster Emerges!
Screw WIP Wednesday.
The Pink Monster is DONE!
First a little back story--and you'll see where this is going really fast!
It all started with an email forward that a friend that I used to work with back in Michigan sent me.
It contained this picture (I can't remember the joke, just the picture--these are NOT my old coworkers--it's just a random dirty email forward).
It's like the porno version of the Joy Luck Club. Yeah, easy movie title to porno-ize there. (My apologies to Amy Tan, I enjoy her books and liked The Joy Luck Club.)
Anyway, you can figure it out can't you?
A few emails went back and forth and soon I was casting on what has been known as The Pink Monster.
Do you have any idea how fast Dr. Mad Scientist came running when I yelled for him to come into the kitchen and take pictures of my boobs?
Now this isn't a new concept. There are boob scarves knit here (sorry, that's a Ravelry link--she didn't have the pattern posted on her blog like The Place That Shall Not Be Named (But Just Was) indicated, here, and if you're feeling spendy you can buy one for nearly $50 here.
The first two I really don't like because, well I don't know about you, but Laverne and Shirley aren't looking at my feet...yet.
And the third one is nice, but there's something about the glued on nipple I don't really like (anyone seen Mallrats and remember Mdm. Ivannah the three nippled psychic?).
Here are the official deets.
Pattern: The Pink Monster boob scarf, sort of made up by me. The actual boobies are based heavily on Tit Bits.
Yarn: Red Heart!!! In like Rose and some red I lost the label for.
Notes: The hardest part of knitting this scarf? Visualizing it in the design stage and seaming the boobs to the scarf. That part sucks.
Now I could have knit it all in one tube--but what I did was after I knit the tit-bits, I didn't bind them off, I left 2/3rds of the stitches live and on waste yarn. I took the other third of the live stitches and used that as a base for my cast-on for the tube of the scarf. I had to be careful to use the right side of the boobie so that when you flipped it up onto the scarf it was the right side.
I grafted both ends of the scarf together (the back half of the scarf graft isn't so hot either--I got turned around all wonky when I was kitchenering), sewed the ends of the tubes together, and then stuffed the titties and sewed them from the live stitches onto the scarf.
I suppose I could have bound off those 2/3rds of a stitch and turned them under a bit, but I didn't want too much of a "lip" where the boobie met the scarf.
Instead I got frankensteinian stitch-ish marks around the boobies instead.
And I'm sure that someone reading this will go "Why didn't you just do XY or Z instead of doing it the way you did?" and it will make perfect less-complicated sense.
But then you will know why I'm not a designer! Ha ha!
Oh and I can't forget the rose tattoo my friend requested--that was a pain in the ass to sew on as I was stuffing and seaming the boobie--but it was so worth it. I love the way it looks.
And if you're ever in China--apparently they actually sell these things. In case you're not willing to knit your own!
Labels: 2009 FOs
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Trashformers--More than Meets the Eyes!
I sometimes (about 90%) feed my Moochie jarred baby food.
Not the most economic thing. Baby food is effing expensive. But it's great to pack in his school bag. And as he's been getting more teeth, I've been giving him less of it and more of what we eat.
But the thriftiness I am wasting on buying the baby food is not wasted on the byproduct of the baby food.
I've been saving the lids of those cute little jars.
I did the same thing with Chunky when he was little.
I don't know why. They just seemed like they needed to be something--ya know?
After saving Chunky's baby jar lids, back about eight years (EIGHT YEARS!) ago, I made them into Christmas tree ornaments.
I knew I had to do the same thing with Moochie's lids.
I painted them pink (with any old acrylic paint--like those ones that are always on sale for like 75 cents at the big craft stores).
I warmed up the glue gun (that I've had since I was a bit older than Chunky--oh yeah, this thing is definitely "vintage").
Pulled out my googley eyes.
Cut out some fun foam.
Now I'm normally not into Christmas before Turkey Annihilation day--but it was daylight savings this weekend and seriously, that stupid extra hour (i.e. an hour you don't get to sleep in when you have an infant) needed to be used up.
Come December though I'll have twelve little Moochie Baby Food Lid Santas to hang out on the tree next to the legion of Chunky Baby Food Lid Snowmen!
Monday, November 02, 2009
The only other horrorscope I have had that was so correct was the one from the day I gave birth to Chunky. It read "Today people will be barking orders at you."
I think "Push!" counts as barking an order.
Not one to tempt fates or skip a weekly therapy session (if baking is therapy, what the hell does that say about me?!), I used an idea Melissa had posted in the comments and that Dr. Mad Scientist twisted a bit.
We took these:
Pulled out this:
(any brownie recipe will do)
Mixed up this:
And added these:
(I only ended up using Snickers and Crunch bars. Other bars were contemplated as you can tell from the first picture.)
And then we got some delicious brownies that I didn't take pictures of!
Oops! But they were quite delicious!!!