Friday, December 30, 2016

New reading challenge for 2017

2016's Reading Challenge


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Marshmallow frosting

The Boy had a honest to goodness real birthday party this year with his friends; 
the first he's had and he loved it and it made me happy to watch him with his pals 
having a great time even though it was expensive and stressful and crazy and 
I've never seen kids hoover up candy so quickly in my life.

I made cupcakes for the party and I had been on the lookout for a frosting recipe 
that wasn't super sweet or full or butter or shortening.  I found a marshmallow frosting 
at King Arthur that fit the bill quite well.  I made it twice; the first time 
I wasn't that impressed with it and had planned to find a new recipe to make instead, 
but then I never did, so I HAD to make it for the party.  
I upped the salt and vanilla and whipped it for much much longer than the recipe 
calls for, and it was way better.  

The recipe irritated me - it tells you to "refrigerate until thoroughly chilled; 
this will take several hours, or up to overnight." and then it says to 
"Beat until the icing is smooth and glossy; this will probably take less than a minute." 
which is what I did the first time, and the results were only so-so.

HOWEVER if you read the Tips below the recipe, it says 
"If you let the icing chill completely in the fridge, it'll be stiff and harder to beat. 
But just keep beating, it'll gradually soften as it warms up."
Well duh, yes I did let it chill completely in the fridge 
Anyway, double the salt and vanilla and beat the heck out of it, 
and you have yourself a pretty good icing.

(Cupcakes iced and stored in my classy dollar store roasting pan for delivery to the party)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Book Club - I Must Say by Martin Short

"In any case, I learned what would turn out to be a valuable lesson: that something terrible can happen to you,and yet, the day after this something terrible, the sun still rises, and life goes on.  
And therefore, so must you."

Friday, December 23, 2016

Potluck Salad, and Merry Merry

My work hasn't been having regular potlucks for a few years now, 
we are down to one in December. 
We decided to do all appies for the potluck this year, 
so we divided our group into appies, desserts and drink. 

 I was in the appie category and I decided to do a salad. 
 I spent an hour perusing Pinterest and ended up choosing 
one of the first salads I looked at - 
Autumn Apple Salad with a Maple Vinaigrette.  

The recipe makes salad for one, so I made 4 times the amount 
of dressing (which was a lot, but that's ok because it's really good), 
and then just added the other ingredients to a container of
 baby romaine - crumbled bacon, dried cranberries, pecans, feta cheese and apples.  
The salad was AMAZING.  So delicious.  
I made more for The Mister and I on the weekend and he loved it too.  
 This is a super duper keeper.

Can you BELIEVE it's the end of 2016.  
This year completely sailed by.  
It was good and bad for me and my family, just like it probably was for you, 
just like it was for everyone.  
I'm holding tight to the good stuff and trying to let the other stuff flow away.  

Whether you celebrate at this time of year or not, Cheers.  

Be happy, be safe, be loving, be kind.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Sunday Dinner - Onion Soup

This was Onion Soup from The Bouchon Cookbook and it was totally amazing.  
Best onion soup I`ve ever made and one of the top I`ve ever eaten too.

It took a long time, and that is what makes it so good.  The onions cook for hours 
and hours - the recipe says 5 hours, but I stopped at 4 because they looked 
good and also I wanted to go to bed.  
I made cheesy croutons for the tops since our bowls are not oven safe, 
and I like it that way better anyway. 

Just cut up your bread (this day I used a baguette)
 and place on a baking sheet.  
Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil and toss it together with your hands.  
Bake or broil, stirring once or twice until brown and crisping.  
Then when you are ready to eat, push all the croutons close together
 in one layer, sprinkle with cheese, and return to the oven for the cheese to 
melt and start to brown in spots.  Remove from the oven, pull a chunk 
of cheesy croutons free from the mass, and plop onto your soup. 

 Easy and delicious!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Book Club - A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev

Yahoooooo!  I am done!  I finished this one last week.  18 books in 6 months.  It's been years - since before kids - that I have read that much.  To Kill a Mockingbird and Astronauts Guide were my top 2.  I will keep my least favorites to myself.  :)
I will say that reading the last few books took longer than I thought - not because I wasn't enjoying them, but I was getting tired of following a list to tell me what to read next.  I'm looking forward to reading some of the stuff that's piled up around here, both fiction and non fiction.

What's next on your reading list?

Monday, December 12, 2016

Sunday Dinner - Ham, Ranch Potatos, and Lemon Pud

This Sunday Dinner was a lose, win, lose dinner. The ham was pretty meh - there was 
something odd about it, not sure. It was a Costco ham, and no one complained, 
but I wasn`t happy. The winner was the Cheddar Ranch Potatos from 
Buzzfeed - so easy and delicious.  

The other loser was the dessert from Jamie Oliver - a lemon pud that was 
supposed to separate into a custard layer and a merengue layer and not 
only did neither but also started to burn well before the end of the 
baking time in the recipe.  The dish size isn`t specified in the recipe 
which is annoying.  Baking is a much more exact science that cooking, 
and I get irritated with books and recipes that don`t get specific 
enough.  Is it just me?

Anyway, the potatos were a keeper but the dessert was not, and neither was the
 book it came out of, if you`re not following along over on Instagram.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Book Club - An Astronaut's Guide To Life On Eath by Chris Hadfield

"The Windows of a spaceship casually frame miracles."

"You are getting ahead if you learn, even if you wind up staying on the same rung."

"The shimmering, dancing show of the northern and southern lights; the gorgeous blues of the shallow reefs fanning out from the Bahamas; the huge, angry froth stirred up around the focused eye of a hurricane - seeing the whole world shifts your perspective radically."


For Summer Reading Club - E Book

Friday, December 09, 2016

Beet chips

A couple of months ago I went for a walk downtown on my lunch break and
 ended up at The Smorgasbord.  I wandered and looked at the crafts from 
10,000 Villages and all the delicious foods.  I picked up some tea bags for 
work was about to pay when I spotted the bags of beet chips. 
 I grabbed one for a work treat and headed out.

The next day after lunch I opened the bag and put a small handful on a plate 
to snack on while I worked.  5 minutes later I went back for another
 handful, and a few more after that.  These things are awesome!  
The bag lasted 2 days only because I showed Herculean willpower. 
They are delicious AND a Canadian company - what`s not to love?

Visit them here.

Shortly after that Thistle Farms dropped us off a bunch of small beets.  They sat for a week in the fridge, and then I decided to try to make homemade beet chips. 

It was not completely successful.  But the chips that did crisp up without being burned were quite delicious.  I think my oven temperature was too high - perhaps slow and low is the way to go.
Thistle Farms has gifted us with more beets, so this is something I might be trying again.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Sunday Dinner - Rustic Pizza and Apple Crisp

This was a stellar dinner - Pizza Rustica from Nigella, which isn`t actually a pizza at all, 
but a two crust, deep dish savory pie.  It was very very delicious, even though 
rolling and forming the crust nearly sent me into a panic attack.  
What is it about me and pastry dough?  We just do not get along.

It was completely delicious, and tasted very breakfasty to me, which 
is not at all a complaint.  
It was also delicious with brown sauce, of course.  

Recipe is in How To Be A Domestic Goddess, if you`re interested.

Dessert was a pretty good apple crisp, also from my Instagram testing, from my
 Cooking With Mickey Around Our World book.  As I mentioned on Instagram, I
 bought the book at a book sale because I`m still missing my Disneyland 
cookbook from my childhood, which is long missing.  
The book, I mean.  And my childhood too, I guess.

Cooking from the book has made me think I should use the 
internet to see if I can track down a copy....... 

Update, 5 minutes later.  Huh.  
Well, I`ve ordered it from a seller in the US.  
It`s costing me nearly $40, but it looks like it`s the one I want.  
So I guess Merry Christmas to me!

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Taking Stock - December 4

Making :  lists of potential dishes to cook for the cookie exchange and potluck that I'm going to later this month.  I'm probably going to make these cookies for the cookie exchange.  They are delicious and I haven't made them in years.  The potluck I'm going to is all appies, and I've said I'll bring a salad so there is some sort of veg there.  I've peeked at Pinterest a couple of times but nothing so far.  Help!
Cooking : ugh, nothing interesting.  Wait, no, I made a wonderful Pastitsio last week.  But nothing else of note.
Drinking : too much ice tea, not enough water.
Reading: Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield. 
Trawling:  salad recipes.
Wanting: to clean my house.  Always.
Looking: forward to finishing up my Summer Reading List and moving on to choosing books because I want to read them, not because they fit in a category.
Deciding: to maybe send out Christmas cards this week.  Or maybe not.
Wishing:  there were happier stories out there.
Enjoying:  This Is Us.  We just started watching it and have about 4 more episodes to go before we are caught up.  I am very sad that Hot Dad From The Past dies. 
Waiting: patiently to start feeling mentally and emotionally better about certain things in life right now.
Liking:  my new yoga class I've started taking at the studio. 
Wondering:  if i really will get the in laws birthday/Christmas presents mailed out this weekend.
Loving: not very much about Facebook these days.  People seem so happy to hate.
Pondering: leaving Facebook.  But then no more baby photos from people I almost never see in real life.
Listening:  to nature sounds/music during the day is AWESOME.  I wish I'd started doing it years ago.
Considering:  volunteering for a new organization.  I'm a bit hesitant to reach out to them as I'm not sure their needs and my schedule with jive.  But I guess it's worth a shot?
Buying: myself a treat.  Used my gift card from my birthday a few months back and bought myself a yoga book.
Watching:  TV at night after the kids go to bed.  I should be more productive and get up and do things.  But I usually don't want to.
Hoping:  this month goes smooooooothly.
Marvelling: at some of the poses in the yoga book I bought.  Never gonna happen here.
Cringing: U.  S.  A. 
Needing: to figure out how to drop these lbs.
Questioning:WTF is wrong with Americans.  You're not effing up only your own country, fools.
Smelling:  nothing.  This one is weird.
Wearing: yoga pants whenever possible.
Following:  yoga inspo on Instagram and FB. 
Noticing:  that this week when I decided to go to my lunch time yoga class before leaving work early I nearly called myself "selfish" for the choice.  I backtracked immediately, but I'm still bummed out that that was the word that came to mind during my decision making process.
Knowing: that I can't change people, or make them understand me.
Thinking: about the above one a lot.
Admiring:  Chris Hadfield.  The Boy and I watched some of his space videos yesterday, and I'm really enjoying his book. 
Getting:  ready to kick some butt today, get all the chores done and hope for a bit of quiet time too.
Bookmarking: mostly recipes, some yoga poses and some personal blogs to explore.
Disliking: that Winter is here.  Can't wait for Spring.
Opening: up our boxes of Christmas decorations the other night was fun.  And wow we have a lot of stuff.
Giggling:  not as much as I thought at Gilmore Girls on Netflix,  Watched the first episode last night and was pretty meh.  Also fell asleep 3 times.
Feeling:  amazed at how close we are to the end of the year.  2016 went so fast!  I've been back at work for 11 months already.  Crazy.
Helping:  to expand my waisteline by eating chips and guac last night and contemplating making cookies today.
Hearing:  the songs from Mamma Mia in my head 24/7.  We went and saw the play opening weekend courtesy of some free tickets and it was AWESOME.  I have a crush on Kevin Aichele. 
Pretending:  that i am in Mamma Mia.  If only I'd been born with talent.....
Embracing: peace and love!

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Update on my Mighty Life List

Back in 2009/2010 I wrote some posts about my dream life list, inspired
by Maggie at Mighty Girl.
I kept it updated for a while, but frankly, none of the ``big stuff`` like buying a camper or going to the Smithsonian to see Julia Child`s kitchen was or is ever going to happen.  
So I plugged along at a few of the manageable ones, like giving blood 
(which I still do!  And you should too!), made a Pavlova
but it petered out quickly because, as I said, many were unattainable,
 and some were vague, with no realistic way to complete (cook new recipes every week - for how long before I can say it`s completed?). 

This Fall while we were at the Farmers Market, The Boy saw a few vendors selling ground cherries.  I`d seen them before but had no idea what they tasted like or what you would do with them, so at first I said no when he asked if we could get some.  
He asked and asked, and I soon figured, gosh, if my kid is asking me to buy him FRUIT, is this really something I should say no to???

So we bought a container and they were ok - a bit like a tomato, but a very light flavor.  
The Boy soon lost interest in them, and it fell to the grownups to finish them off, 
but hey, we tried something new!

This morning I updated my list, and crossed off things I have done, 
and things I have done enough of to cross them off. 

Make one new recipe a week - I`ve been cooking from my cookbooks on Instagram for a year and a half now and have cut my book collection by half and tried tons of new recipes.  Done!

Cook at least 10 recipes out of all my books.  
Goes hand in hand with the one above.  I`m calling it done.

Fly a kite successfully.  Done!  Proof coming soon.

Try Absinthe - removed from the list as I don`t drink any more. 

Watch the sunrise from a beach.  Done!  Photo to follow.

Be able to donate to worthy causes - Not even remembering that this was on my list, I signed up last month for payroll deductions for a local organization.  It`s a very small amount, but I`m doing it.

Forgive and Forget - I was so terribly hurt by the person I wrote this about. 
 I hardly ever think about her anymore.  Go me. 

Have a family portrait taken - thank goodness for cameras with timers. 

Have a header designed for my blog - this one got crossed off twice - a reader designed 
me one from the kindness of her heart back in 2010, 
and then when I came back to blogging last year, I designed one myself.

Add the baby to the family tattoo on my arm.  The gang is all there. 

Volunteer at a mission or church kitchen to serve a holiday meal - what a great day that was.

Have a margarita tasting - heh.  Removed.

Have a bonfire on the beach - Done!  

Make a handmade toy for The Boy - The Mister did this one, so we`re crossing it off.  

Look at that - 12 things off the list!  That`s a total of 18 of the 110 things on my list.  I`ll never get to Spain, or have my house cleaned professionally, or go the the Great Wall - although I know someone who was there this year and saw photos of her on it - does that count????, or fly First Class, or visit New Orleans, but I can make some stuff out of paper, and go to the Icefields, and play cards, right?