Monday, January 31, 2011

A Russian and a Mexican Walk Into A Bakery...

And they both order a simple butter cookie.

One gets a Russian Teacake.

The other gets a Mexican Wedding Cake.

In actuality they get pretty much the same damn cookie.

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Which also happens to be the Cookie of the Week.

Chocolate Chip Mexican Wedding Cakes.

Which I hear are something gringos probably just made up.

In actuality the Mexican Wedding Cake/Russian Teacake, according to The Field Guide to Cookies, are more than likely a descendant from the sugar cakes that Arabs introduced to the Europeans.

A Mexican Wedding Cake just appears to be a Russian Teacake with cinnamon.

Whatever the subtle differences are--Chocolate Chip Mexican Wedding Cakes are the Cookie of the Week.

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Chocolate Chip Mexican Wedding Cakes
adapted from Nestle's website

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teas. vanilla
2 1/2 teas. cinnamon
2/3 cup of finely chopped nuts
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 and cream together your butter and sugar till smooth.
Add in your vanilla. Next add in the nuts, cinnamon and flour till incorporated into a nice consistent dough. Mix in the chocolate chips.

Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the botoms of the cookie are golden brown.

And enjoy!

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fare Thee Well

If you know me, you'll know I'm not into kitchen appliances.

I've got four that I use.

My Kitchen Aid hand mixer that I love so much that I'll never convert to a bulky, impersonal stand mixer.

My waffle iron. I mean, waffles. What more is there to say?

My crockpot that has delivered me from the drudgery of having to prepare dinners on that dreaded of weeknights where Dr. Mad Scientist has an early AA meeting and it's bath/shower night for the boys.

And finally, our George Foreman grill.

Which cooked its final grilled cheese yesterday afternoon.

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Where do I start?

George was given to us as a Christmas present by Dr. Mad Scientist's older brother who came to visit us when Chunky was just an infant.

We tried to make burgers on George like the instructions said.

It made great burgers. But it also made a great mess. The little grease cup had to be positioned just right and could easily overflow with grease. Which made for some interesting culinary choreography of dumping the grease cup during the cooking of burgers.

After about the second try of making burgers, I was ready to write George off as another piece of shit useless kitchen appliance. He sat in the cupboard for a while just taking up space as most useless kitchen appliances do, his grease cup having gone missing.

Until we made our first grilled cheese sandwich on him.

From that day forward he became known as the George Foreman Grilled Cheese maker.

And the nine years we had George he served us countless perfectly crisp and melty grilled cheese sandwiches and the occasional chicken quesadilla.

Until last night when I went to make quesadillas for dinner and the resulting product was a limp mildly warm quesadilla.

George wasn't getting hot anymore--merely warm.

I thought maybe it was a fluke.

So after dinner (of oven-baked quesadillas), I plugged him back in.

His little orange power light no longer glowed and he didn't heat up at all.

It was over.

Rest in peace George Foreman Grilled Cheese maker.

You were a seemingly stupid "fad" appliance from the turn of the century, but you kept us well fed in your gooey cheesy deliciousness.

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

I'm Not Complaining

Because it could be 98 degrees with 98% humidity.

Right now there's I believe people are saying we've gotten 30someodd inches of snow just this month? Maybe that includes the Kwanzaa Storm of 2010, but I'm not sure.

Anyway, Donna Lee is right, there's not much to talk about this time of year but the weather.

Our last storm hit Wednesday afternoon into early Thursday morning. We awoke to 16.5 inches of snow where I'm at in Nueva Jersey.

I went to shovel off my car in the parking lot where I'm allowed to park during "snow emergencies" as we don't have a driveway.

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I discovered though two jackasses foiled my plan to get to work that day. One parked at the entrance to the lot and one parked at the exit to the lot.

Jackass A, to his credit, may have just become stuck trying to pull into the lot before he discovered it wasn't plowed. He was shovelling himself out.

Jackass B, however, was no where to be found.

Thus with the entrance and exit to the lot blocked, guess what couldn't get in there?

The snowplow.

And guess who was trapped?

Yours truly.

I had two options:

1. Call out of work and they charge me a vacation day; or
2. I walk 2 miles to the train station and face waiting a while for the train into Newark as the trains were running behind due to weather.


So I did what any real Alaskan Girl would do.

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I hit the road.

I slipped into my new snow pants (what a dream come true! I bought a pair of Men's snow pants on the clearance rack at Dick's where we had gone the previous weekend to buy Dr. Mad Scientist a new pair of boots. With a coupon we had, they were $15. SWEET!), I put on my boots, my scarf, my gloves and hat, packed a bag of clothes to change into when I got to work and started walking.

It was like Christmas.

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Most of the local businesses were closed and there was nary a car on the road. That was a good thing because obviously the sidewalks weren't shoveled, so I had to walk in the road.

And like magic--when I got to the train station--the train to Hoboken, making a stop in Newark, pulled up to the station.

By the time I finally got to work, it was 9:30. I was half an hour later than normal and I still beat everyone in by an hour (we had a delayed opening of 10:30).

That job sucks away at my soul, but I will NOT let them have my vacation days!!!

So when it's 90 degrees outside and 90% humidity at the end of June while Dr. Mad Scientist is still teaching because Newark Public Schools doesn't build snow days into their calendar, and Chunky's school does, and therefore Chunky will get out before Dr. Mad Scientist and someone has to stay home and watch him--I will be taking the days I did NOT use on a snow day.

I will be taking a "heat day" instead.

Because that's how we Alaskan girls do things.

And sometime during the day Jackass A and Jackass B moved their cars, the lot was plowed, Dr. Mad Scientist shoveled my car out (see! he shovels!) and he and the boys drove to Newark to pick me up after work.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Eleven Years Later

This week's Cookie of the Week is a walk down memory lane in two ways.

The first--the recipe is from this book. Obviously it reminds me of home.

The second--We received this book as a wedding present eleven years ago. I've recently been making stuff out of it. Hee hee, eleven years after we were married.

The cookie is nothing fancy or exotic.

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It's a simple Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookie. But what sold me on it was the little story that came with the cookie.

There are no pictures of the finished baked goods in this cookbook, which is usually a turn off for me, but the stories make this cookbook delightful.

The author describes her neighbor climbing the stairs to their home (the stairs are a Juneau, AK thing...trust me) with a brown paper bag full of these warm cookies.

Brown paper bag full of warm oatmeal chocolate chip cookies?

How could I not bake these?!

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different

In my knitting funk, I dug out a WIP that's been languishing for a while.

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It's a giant crocheted granny circle. Made of random acrylic leftovers.

Mindless.

Warm.

Just what I need until I come up with something else to knit.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Old Is New

I know retro is cool.

Some call it "vintage."

Some call it "throwback."

But sometimes the throwback makes me want to throw up.

Take today for example and my collision with "vintage" mentality.

Last night it snowed 4.3 inches. This morning, I got up at 5:45 a.m--like I always do on weekdays. I checked the messages to find Chunky's school was on a 1.5 hour delay and Dr. Mad Scientist's school was on a 2 hour delay.

I decided to scarf down my breakfast and go outside to shovel off our cars despite the fact we had plenty of time to do it.

I wanted to get out there and do it before Mr. Mooch awoke.

I met Upstairs Neighbor as he was leaving for work.

And all I heard from him was:

"Where the hell is Dr. Mad Scientist?"

"Why are you shoveling?"

"Why isn't he out here shoveling?"

"I haven't seen him shovel all winter!"

When I had finished brushing off my car and I moved on to brush of Dr. Mad Scientist's car, I got this doozy:

"You're not going to do HIS car now are you?!"

What the hell fucking decade/century am I living in???

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I felt like asking him:

"Where's your wife? Why isn't she shoveling for you?"

Grrr.

A) It's not 19fuckin50 just because I don't have a penis doesn't mean I can't shovel some wussy-ass lower 48 snow off my damn car and my husband's car; and

B) The division of work in my marriage is our own damn fucking business.

While I do 90% of the chores, that's OK. I'm a self-admitted control freak and I want the floor mopped every other Saturday and everything swept and vacuumed every week and the laundry sorted a certain way.

I've seen Dr. Mad Scientist's idea of "clean" and it's not mine.

If I'm awake anyway, I'm going to brush and shovel our cars out.

Besides, Dr. Mad Scientist does the shit I hate doing--taking out the catboxes and cleaning the bathroom.

Oh and picking up the boys when I'm running late coming home from the ninth circle of hell work so I don't have to bust ass in traffic. That can be the stress cherry on a stress sundae.

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Plus, as an aside, Dr. Mad Scientist's boots are falling apart.

The sole is peeling from the body on one of them. Big time. And those boots are his only pair of shoes.

Seriously.

But new boots are on the agenda for the weekend.

Because that's what all women like to do, right? Shop!

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Monday, January 17, 2011

First FOs

I find the first FOs of the year are kind of FOrgetable.

This is how I feel about the first two FOs of this year.

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A pair of scarves.

No real reason to knit them other than to knit them.

I figure I'll send them in with Chunky next December when they have their scarf, hat and mitten drive.

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They're knit of Vanna's Choice (the dark and light blue scarf) and Caron Simply Soft (the light blue number).

Nothing fancy.

Just my standard boring go-to scarf pattern from Hip Knits.

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I'm kind of in between knitting projects right now. Nothing is really screaming "KNIT ME!"

Nor is my stash very inspiring right now.

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And you know me, I'm cheap. I don't want to spend any money on new yarn I really don't need.

Hmmm...

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezie

I had two new toys I wanted to try out yesterday.

1. My sourdough starter that has been working for over a week now; and

2. A microplane I bought myself (because I took a good chunk out of my thumb knuckle grating citrus peel on my normal cheese grater).

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Combining the two, I made "Lemony Morovian Sugar Bread."

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Because seriously, you didn't think I was going to make sourdough bread with my sourdough starter did you? What fun is that?

It's an interesting "bread."

It's sort of like a coffee cake made love to a loaf of bread and out popped this in nine months--or whatever the gestational period for bread is.

The bread is subtely tangy from the sourdough and lemon juice/zest and the brown sugar mixture on top adds just the right amount of sweetness without making the bread too sweet.

I'm having lots of fun with my sourdough starter. It's sort of like having a pet. I've got a couple other non-sourdough bread things in the pipeline.

Stay tuned!

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Week 3: Wrath of the Cheechakos

December 26: 22" of snow.

January 7: maybe an inch of snow.

January 12:

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Aye.

I love my snow, but holy cow, the hysteria!

I mean when you start out the snow-year with nearly 2 feet of snow, doesn't 6 to 10 inches seem, I don't know, kind of wussy?

Despite the wussy factor, hopefully the Powers That Be at work will call it a snow day. My office is the last one to call it.

The boys all have tomorrow off.

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Sunday, January 09, 2011

Speaking of New Beginnings

When I give Moochie baths, I stand there and read my cookbooks after he's been soaped up and rinsed and just plays in the water until he reaches prune-status.

Why yes, I still give him baths in the kitchen sink.

I've always wanted to try a sourdough starter. I'm not really fond of straight up sourdough bread, but there are so many things you can add it too.

After coming across a recipe for sourdough starter while giving Moochie a bath last night, I decided to try some.

Why not?

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What's the worst that could happen?

I end up with some rotten paper mache paste.

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Saturday, January 08, 2011

Fresh Year's Determination

Because, New Year's Resolutions are soooo overdone!

I don't really have any New Year's Resolutions.

I went back to work on Monday and tried to adopt a more positive attitude about a job I really don't enjoy.

That lasted until about 9:30 a.m.

No matter how you frame it, crop it, paint it or dress it up in pretty clothes, I am really loathing that job. I'd quit and get a new job, but I think that's just a temporary fix.*

Shuffling paper, making dinner reservations, typing and transcribing, and being EVERY ONE'S go-to girl, isn't going to change if I go somewhere else. I'm overwhelmed with work to do and they keep piling it on.

It's going to be spectacular when I explode or implode.

All I want to do is take my lunch break again and not feel guilty for doing it.

Anyway, that gripe aside, I've made a Fresh Year's Determination to devote more to my hobbies.

Those hobbies include mainly baking and knitting with a little bit of sewing.

They're like the drug that takes the edge off the mounds of paper I have to file, but no time to file it.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Filled Cookies

They're the six beers you drink after work to numb away the fact you might be dinner reservations at swanky restaurants that aren't for you for the rest of your life.

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They're the little things you create that are more meaningful and useful than a series of manila file folder labels.

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And the worst injury you'll get from these hobbies is perhaps a burn on the side of your hand when you accidentally brush the oven rack pulling out a sheet of warm cookies, or a callous on your middle finger from where the knitting needle rubs.

Not the millions of paper cuts on your soul that shuffling paper for a living will give you.

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All that philosophizing aside, there's a real reason for this post other than a pretty-picture-pity-party!

I'm in the market for a new point and shoot camera. We've had the big old Kodak Easyshare 4 MP camera for a while now and I'd like to have one that I don't have to share with Mr. Moochie, patron saint of gooey fingers and lens smudges.

The one thing I do want is a decent macro setting for those close up stitch and crumb shots.

I'm partial to Kodak and I've been sort of ogling this one, but it hasn't come out yet and I'm not sure what sucks about it. Nor can I really tell if it has a decent macro setting. (maybe?)

Another Fresh Year's Determination is to post better pictures. I've been reading a few tutorials. But, I'll level with you, the technical talk makes me a bit cross-eyed.

So, if you've made it this far, do you have a recommendation for a moderately priced point and shoot (I don't want a paparazzi SLR camera) with a decent macro setting?



* I realize I could go back to school and finish up my degree, but here's the deal -- I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I'm not wasting that kind of money for some piece of paper that's not a guaranteed ticket to happiness. Part of me is happy I didn't finish my degree. Chances are I'd be exactly where I am today if I had it. How depressing would that be? A bachelor's degree AND stuck in that soulsuck of a job. I thought things were supposed to be clearer as you got older. I had clearer goals when I was 19.

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