Not So Sweet

3 Jan

It has been ever so long since I have posted a comment on my goings-on (going-ons?). But in lieu of pithy updated statuses, I am jetting straight to my year in review. Let me start by posting some photos of my results. You be the judge.

Incident 1: Waffle Wars. Who won?

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Incident 2: “Healthy” Muffins. Does it matter what’s in them? 

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Incident 3: Pancake Syrup. Note to self: purchase a kitchen extinguisher.

 

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Incident 4: Crashed Potatoes. It’s really the dog’s fault. Notice the cord hooked around his ankle? 

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Incident 5: “Healthy” Chocolate Chip Muffins. Note to self (again): stay away from healthy.

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Plural Incidences: Preludes to Baking/Cooking

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And now you know why I never blog. 

I’m too busy cleaning up after myself.

 

 

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walls

29 Jan

Does your child climb the walls in the winter? Anytime?

This is an activity that invariably returns when they’ve been stuck indoors for too long.

Take, for example, Jack. He is a child who is constantly on the go. He, however, did not come up with this idea. It was Evan. And whatever the older brother does, the younger must follow.

This activity is not conducive for the downtime that may or may not have been mentioned by a certain parent. A certain parent who “escaped” upstairs to retreat from boys. And wouldn’t you know that a) children are like heat-seeking missiles – they’ll always find their MOTHERS and 2) the only hallway to scale happens to be upstairs.

{mind of child}: So, let’s see. We want to be by Mommy – even though we haven’t seen Daddy all day and he happens to be downstairs with the t.v. and has access to all the bad snacks – but she banished us from coming near her. How can I get as near to her without actually sitting on her?

{mind of mom}: Seriously?

At least they came up with this new sport and it did not include me. Until Jack scaled the wall and fell back down on the chair that he used to begin the process.

Now why do you need to sign your kids up for all those extracurricular activities? Just look within…sensei.

savory/sweet/savory

5 Dec

The holidays would not be complete without one “blunderous” cooking expedition. And so it starts early in December that I share my story with you.

Twas the night before another day,

And all while I blog,

All creatures are stirring,

Including my dog.

 

The stockings are not hung,

Because the kids used them to skate with.

While hoping my irritation

Is all but a myth.

 

No sugar plum fairies

Dancing in their heads.

But wild calls for dinner

Head me into the kitchen instead.

 

And this is my tale and/or recipe.

Curried Butternut Bisque

 

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into pieces

1 c boiling water

3-4 chicken bouillon packets

2 c. milk

1c light cream or ½ and ½

1 T. flour

1 t. salt

Dash of pepper

1 t. curry powder

Cook squash in small amount of water. Combine with all the rest of the ingredients in blender. Blend…serve warm.

 

Sounds easy enough. It always sounds easy enough. This recipe comes from my Aunt Sue. She served this soup two days after Thanksgiving which to our family is “leaving” day – the day we leave our extended family in PA and head back to Michigan. This tasted so good to me: cozy, sweet and savory. Parfait! And as mentioned before, it sounded super easy to make.

I started my roasting my butternut squash {which I cut in half and seeded} face down in a baking dish filled ½ “with water (roughly). Once the squash was cooled, I put it into a blender with 1 cup of not boiling water, 2 tsp of powdered bouillon, 1 cup of milk and ½ cup of half and half. I did not add the flour. Added about 2 T or more of salt, way more than a dash of pepper (story to come) and approximately 2 tsp curry powdered. My aunt pointed out that this recipe is forgiving…good thing.

First, I questioned the boiling water. Was that to keep the ingredients warm so you could serve it right away? No, you dork! It’s to dissolve the bouillon. But, alas, I didn’t realize that until I tasted it and thought it tasted “bouillon-y.” But, I kept trucking along. Once all the ingredients were blending, I started adding salt, cinnamon (a couple…maybe a few shakes) and about 2 tbsp of brown sugar. When that was not satisfying to me, I added another “splash” of half and half.

{Pause.} Promised trip to the video store to rent a video game.

{Return.}

Dump ingredients in to large saucepan and heat. {Taste.} Ok, it’s starting to get there. As I was allowing it to warm, I started cleaning up my ingredients. I picked up my jar of bouillon and surprise, surprise, it “slipped” out of my hands and landed on the ground. Nothing happened. But, my mind wandered. That would be horrible if somehow it jumped back on the counter, split open and all the contents accidentally dumped in to my soup. Then I would have to start over. Quel horror! But that didn’t happen. Bouillon back in the cupboard, black pepper out.

I begin to grind the black pepper into the soup. Maybe it needs something spicy. But that whole mind-wandering thing scenario comes into play here.


Yah. So as I was vigorously grinding the pepper into the soup, the pepper cap BROKE and half of those evil spices jumped into the soup. I looked in horror at the black dots that filled my almost completed soup…and my mind began to race.

So, yes. I dumped the contents into the strainer. And yes, it eliminated most (but not all) of those creatures.

 

Tom [walking in to kitchen]: Are you hungry?

Me: I’m making soup.

Tom: What kind of soup?

Me: Butternut squash.

Tom [peering into the saucepan]: Oh.

 

And that my friends is my take on the butternut squash soup recipe. It’s very tasty. I recommend it. Minus the peppercorns.

and while I’m at it…

13 Nov

I think I see a running theme here. I was going to blog about a dessert I brought to a friend’s house. But didn’t I just write (like literally nanoseconds ago) another post of the same weight and dimension? However, seeing as I never actually fully ate the crisp recipe and this recipe is all about chocolate, I must.

Why in the world does someone who wants to lose a couple pounds (me) like to bake so much? Why can’t I have the desire to be an avid housecleaner? Or dog walker? I mean, Scooby’s 13 now. Can’t he walk himself by now?

And why would I torture a friend who’s also trying to lose weight, by bringing a possibly calorie-laden dessert over as a “nice gesture”? Well, it was actually for her {sweet} husband who so kindly took the time on a Friday night to check the brakes on my car (nothing wrong). She always told me that he liked to be paid in desserts. And, well, I like to bake. So, hey Sean, can you look at my car brakes for a 99¢ box of brownie mix?

Of course, I took that box and modified it. And this is what I came up with (compliments of someone else’s idea of course). This recipe was posted on a website called “Squidoo”. Check out its logo; it’s odd. Odd aside, the recipe was a good base for the items I had in my pantry (I’ve always wanted to use that word. It’s actually a cupboard, though.).

So, I call it brownie mix with marshmallows and frosting on top. Squidoo calls it Rocky Road Brownies.

1 brownie mix (store bought 19.8 oz)
1 cup chopped pecans
3 cups mini marshmallows
2 squares of unsweetened chocolate (1 oz each)
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1 package powdered sugar (16 oz)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix the chocolate brownies according to the package directions. Then fold in the 1 cup of chopped pecans into the batter. Spread the batter mixture in a greased pan and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle the miniature marshmallows over the hot brownies so they melt a bit. Cool.

In a heavy saucepan, melt the chocolate, milk and butter together until combined (be sure to stir constantly). Remove chocolate mixture from the heat and add the vanilla. Then add the powdered sugar a little at a time, mixing with a hand mixer on low speed, until the frosting is the desired consistency for spreading. Spread over brownies with marshmallows. Cool and cut into bars.

Now comes my part. I had the brownie mix, but not the pecans. Well, I had them but I typically (or another word would be never) use them in recipes. Had mini marshmallows. No to squares of unsweetened chocolate. I did use 2 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips and NOW I know why the recipe was so stinkin’ sweet, Kim. It calls for Unsweetened. DOH! Milk, yes. Butter, yes and yes to the rest.

The first issue I had with this recipe, besides the fact that I used the wrong chocolate (wait, did I just say wrong and chocolate in the same sentence?) was that the recipe says to cook the batter for 25 minutes. Now, y’all know I live in the Peach Pit. And if you don’t, it’s a 110 year old farmhouse with an equally old oven. However, despite the age of my cooking implements, 25 minutes and out produced a still liquidy mixture. In other words, it wasn’t completely set yet. So back in the oven again. TWENTY more minutes later and I wondered if maybe there was a reason it was supposed to be slightly undercooked.

Issue 2: The part where it says, “sprinkle the marshmallows over the hot brownies so they melt a bit”? Yah, not so much. They rolled around like little tumbleweeds. They didn’t stick and they definitely didn’t melt…even a bit. Then again, maybe that’s because I cooked the brownies to completion.

Issue 3: The frosting that you make to spread over the brownies with slightly melted minis on top made way TOO much. You could easily have halved that recipe. I had a whole saucepan of chocolately goodness waiting for me later that night. NOT GOOD. Ok, maybe a little good.

Also, it was hard to spread the frosting without dragging those poor tumbleweeds around the top of the brownies.

And now it’s time for a visual:

Ok, so the reason they looked sort of “melty” is because I ended up popping it back in the oven for a few seconds, but don’t hold me to it. It could’ve been minutes.

And before you think I can’t evenly spread my ingredients (though these ingredients were trying to escape from me), I left one end without marshmallows in case there was someone (JACK) who complained about marshmallows. [Though he typically will eat anything with sugar (see crisp post) but sometimes just likes to come up with something to complain about…especially if it’s been hours, minutes, seconds since he last complained.]

And here is the final product.

Notice the giant layer of frosting. And yes, that pot looks slightly larger than the sauce pot I originally claimed to have eaten from later that evening.

And by the way, I did try it. It was over the top good. I even ate the piece I saved for Tom.

berry crisp {take TWO}

13 Nov

I’ll explain the {take two} part in a minute. But first, I need to share with you a yummy recipe that I “ganked” from Ina Garten. I needed a quick dessert that had an impressive quality to it. During one of my marathon Food Network viewing experiences, I watched and documented every iota of Ina’s peach and raspberry crisp recipe. (Do I capitalize that?) Anyway, her “Recipe” was filed away in the dessert portion of my brain. So, when it came time to produce a dessert to bring to my friend Heather’s house, this came tumbling forward. That and the fact that I was staring at a bag of frozen blueberries and frozen peaches in my freezer. So, let me share with you this very sweet and yummy dessert:

Peach and Raspberry Crisp

Ingredientsnocoupons

  • 4 to 5 pounds firm, ripe peaches (10 to 12 large peaches)
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 pint raspberries
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
  • 1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the inside of a 10 by 15 by 2 1/2-inch oval baking dish.

Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, then place them in cold water. Peel the peaches and slice them into thick wedges and place them into a large bowl. Add the orange zest, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the raspberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. If there is a lot of liquid, add 1 more tablespoon of flour. Pour the peaches into the baking dish and gently smooth the top.

Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, salt, oatmeal, and the cold, diced butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is pea-sized and the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly on top of the peaches and raspberries. Bake for 1 hour, until the top is browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator and reheat in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until warm.

Phew! Now that you’ve read through that (*not), let me tell you that I didn’t actually make this recipe. Well, I did, but I didn’t have fresh peaches. I had a bag of frozen peaches that may or may not have added up to 10-12 large peaches like her recipe suggests. I also definitely did not have a pint of fresh raspberries because a) they’re expensive and b) [insert blank mind]. I had frozen blueberries, though. Ina, does that count? I threw these together in a ceramic dish and prepared the topping which made WAY TOO MUCH. Not that Jack minded; he enjoyed eating the remaining chunks of butter whipped together with his other favorite food group: brown sugar.

I threw this in the oven, but had to leave ½ way through the cooking time (yah, I’m one of those) to do the whole pick-my-kid-up-from-school routine. Ran back home, grabbed the “mostly” cooked dessert (cooked enough for a couple of stay-at-home-moms anyway since we eat most things that are undercooked, overcooked or have been sitting on the counter for days cooked). As I arrived at my friend’s house, I carefully unloaded some items out of my car to carry into her house. When I returned to the car, I noticed (yet couldn’t react fast enough) that her dog had nudged the top of the lid off my crisp and proceeded to be licking all the way around the perimeter (as well as in the middle) of this warm, yummy crisp.

So, do I know what this tasted like? No. Should I have placed the dessert NOT on the floor of my car? O.k. Should I have shut the car door, knowing the dessert was on the floor, though carrying several items in my arms Rachael Ray style? No answer.

Here are the leftovers, thanks to Cheese (a.k.a. “that dog”).

So, the {take TWO} component of this recipe is that I had the chance to remake this recipe for my grandma’s 101st birthday. This time I had even less of the bag of frozen peaches and absolutely no other fruit but frozen strawberries. I also halved the crisp topping recipe, used the same baking vessel (washed since Cheese’s foray into dessert-hood), but it actually wasn’t enough (though Jack was hovering around with his pincher grasp dangling over the butter/sugar mix). So at that point, I grabbed some butter and mashed it between my fingers with some brown sugar. Was it exact? No. And I actually didn’t get a chance to taste this recipe either because once we travelled the 40 minutes to my mom’s for the birthday “party”, my son declared he wanted to go to his school’s fall dance. And by DECLARED, I mean he whined the entire time until he beat me down. So we ate dinner and left. And I left the dessert. I have no idea if it got eaten or got sent to the neighbor’s dog.

But give the above recipe a try. I can almost assure you (based on the aroma coming and the quick forkful I took from the undercooked mixture) that it’s a great {something sweet}!

halloween is coming…ha, ha, ha…

2 Oct

With the entrance of fall in Michigan comes the acceptance that I will be retreating indoors more often than I would like. Gone are the warm breezy days with the sun shining and the windows open. In a matter of hours, the sun disappears with the geese and the heater creeks on unsuspectingly {Oh, did I do that?}. But the arrival of cider-mill weather also encourages me to bake, craft and decorate for the future succession of “fun” holidays. I look forward to pulling out my faux cobwebs, mini plastic spiders and random plug-in, light-up jack o’ lanterns (whose plug or light is intervally missing).

When January arrives and I realize that I am truly in the throes of a Michigan winter, I lose all desire to prep for the “other” holidays – Valentine’s Day, Groundhog’s Day, President’s Day {really?}. I must take advantage of any motivation I am feeling right now before it quickly gets buried in a pile of bitter cold snow/sleet/ice.

So, with Halloween upon us, I’m very excited to share the first craft I have created for the holiday season. Ok, so I may have googled, researched and Martha-Stewart-ed this project, but it was fun and extremely easy to make.

Supplies:

  • Modge Podge (or Elmer’s Glue)
  • Water
  • Shallow bowl
  • Cheesecloth
  • Scissors
  • Toilet paper roll, empty
  • Small balloon, blown up

Directions:

  1. Cut a small, single layer of cheesecloth. I varied the sizes to represent the different members of the Petrie family.
  2. Combine a small amount of water and Modge Podge to create a liquidy paste mixture.
  3. Set balloon on top of toilet paper roll.
  4. Put the cheesecloth into the glue/water mixture and wring out excess. Stretch out cheesecloth and lay over the balloon. Allow to dry overnight.

Optional: I saw some website that included small felt or googly eyes glued on to the cheesecloth, but really? Must I keep making trips to the Dollar Tree? There’s only so many plastic weapons I can take in the toy collection!

 

Poignant

18 Jul

What are the stages of grief, I do not know. I do know that I am in the stage where eyes are wells that hold tears that pool over. My heart is so sad for Daphne. Even saying those words feels stiff and unsuited for what’s really going on in my heart. This is the moment I have dreaded since the day I brought her home, tucked neatly in a box that I put down in the front passenger floorboard. She tried to wiggle out but I tried to contain her as I drove swiftly home to present the newest member of our family to her brother, Scooby. Boy was he in for a rude awakening. He was 5, the big brother and didn’t want to be disturbed by the frolicking {want to play? want to play? want to play?}. But even though he professed (by growling) his dislike for her antics, they always played together. Life without a big, fat, fur ball sister doesn’t even feel real.

It’s hard to believe that my heart can feel any tighter in my chest, but I know tomorrow will be awash with new sentiments as we leave our home with our precious cargo but return alone. She will only return to us in a state that is non-Daphne. How can that be? How can our family be complete without Piggy trotting into the kitchen having heard the tear of an American cheese wrapper? Who is going to walk with me each morning as she has done through all these years? The feeling of loss seems inexhaustible despite the fact that she is laying the bathroom trying to breathe through each painful inhale. She is so utterly engrained into the fabric of our family that even others who love their own pets who have experienced their own loss cannot experience what I am feeling. No one has loved Daphne the way we have. No one has cared for her, combed her clumps of matted hair, smoothed her silky ears during booms of thunder, snuck her bits of countertop food despite her weight.

Her obvious love for this family is unmistakable. The protection she has afforded us with each person that has passed by our sidewalk or driven up to our door. The desire to beat out her big brother for the front seat so she can stick her nose out the window and feel the wind rushing against her beautiful face. She will never again lift that face out the window. She can only lay as a shell on the floor as we plan to relieve her of all her pain.

I wish so much for time to stop. Who doesn’t who has experienced grief? I can hardly see the writing on the screen as flashes of Daphne memories accost me and fill my eyes as leaky faucets. So much loss. Such a great dog.