Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Post-Holiday Ramblings

And Mister and I are back from our big car trip. Two full tanks of gas and four days later, we are back home. Thursday we drove out to Syracuse to see my dad. Saturday morning we drove to Albany to see my mom. And Sunday afternoon we came home. It was just about 700 miles round trip.

And to cap it all off, we're driving to Portland tonight to visit Mister's mom and sisters. What a good thing we bought their presents yesterday! ... yeah. That's how Mister does Christmas. :-P He knew what he was going to get them, he just also knew that he didn't need to rush to get them since we weren't sure when we were going to be seeing them.

But the trip went well. We also got the chance to see my aunt/uncle/cousins in their new house on Friday. Dinner was delicious, we got a popcorn maker to use during band practice, and Mister and I had a nice long chat with my aunt. It's funny, I think the relationship I have with my aunt is the one that I -could- have with my mother, once we get it figured out and she stops having 12-year-old-me reactions. Because that seems to be our problem, we'll be chatting, and then she just assume that I have no idea what I'm talking about and need guidance like a wayward sheep. [K, you are not allowed to mention this to mom as I'm merely musing and not actually trying to say something. If wayward sheep comes up in conversation, I'm cutting your hair again -- 'cause that is SUCH an effective threat... :-P] But yeah, my aunt and I are getting along pretty well now, and we never used to as she was always an authority figure. Growing up is WEIRD.

I don't know where I'm going with this post, other than to say: we're super tired! and that this was the most useful Christmas ever. We got a mixer (music), mic stands, popcorn maker, a new nightlight for the kitchen shaped like a duck, a duckie dish scrubber, pjs for Mister, cookbooks, a garlic thingie (it's a little plate with ridges that scrapes the garlic), etc. Lots of useful stuff. This was one of the first years that I didn't have to find places for STUFF. Everything has a natural home and use.

Oh and the verdict of how my stuff was received: my dad like the stool, my sister's screwdriver didn't light up (yes I still need to email them -- I'll bug Mister today), my mom liked her sweater and showergel, my aunt LOVED the fudge, my cousins liked their little hair flowers (A was like "omg I was LOOKING for something like this when I put my hair up today!"), my grandma really liked her ornament (my grandpa was fascinated by how it was made :-P) and pretzels, my grandpa was unsurprised by fruitcake, mom's bf was unsurprised by fruitcake, N&R liked their slippers and the ones I made for their son were too small, and we left before the last family opened their slippers. Also probably too small since I have no idea how big babies feet are. Oh, and the secret stocking for my dad went over well -- I dunno as he liked the stuff in it (it was just random stuff from CVS like a deck of cards and candy sticks), but it gave him something on Christmas day.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Recipes Used

Yesterday for dinner I made Black Lentils with Caramelized Onions for band, and everyone agreed it was tasty. I served it with rye toast and butter. And then J brought stuffed grape leaves and M brought a pizza and it was really a feast. We drank hot toddies made with Crown Royal, cinnamon sticks, cloves, hot water and Apple Cider Syrup. Delicious!

I am making Chocolate Nutella Sea Salt Fudge for family, and it is currently in the fridge setting. FYI it's a bit of a wrist work out.

The fruitcake is still in the oven, and has at least another 2 hours to go. I just have to finish a slipper, assemble all the slippers, wrap everything and pack to leave tomorrow.

I'm going to go drink some eggnog to get ready. :-P


So I've tried a few recipes, and let's see if this particular one satiates my grandfather and my mother's boyfriend. This recipe is based mostly off of the free recipe that came with my "Sunripe Fruit Cake Mix".

I've been soaking fruits for about a month. The recipe calls for 72 oz of fruit, I had 56 oz. of mixed fruitcake fruit (prechopped) and 15 oz. of dried currents. I used madeira to soak the fruits.

"Festive Holiday Fruit Cake"
72 oz fruit (recipe calls for 12 oz. fruitcake mix, 12 oz. candied pineapple, 16 oz. red and green candied cherries, 8 oz. dried apples, coarsely chopped, 8 oz. pitted dates, coarsely chopped and 16 oz. currants or dark raisins)
1 c. slivered almonds (*omitted)
1 c. walnut halves
1/2 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
5 eggs, room temperature
2 Tbs. dark molasses
1 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
(*I also added ground nutmeg, cloves and mace)

The recipe originally called for dumping everything in a bowl and mixing. Here is how I made it:

Preheat oven to 250F.

Cream butter. Add granulated sugar and mix until fully incorporated. Add brown sugar, ditto. Add eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each egg. Add molasses and stir to combine.

Whisk or sift together the dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet a little bit at a time, stirring slowly to incorporate. When fully mixed together, beat together for an extra minute.

Stir in fruits and liquor. Stir in nuts. Spoon into prepared pans (two loaf pans lined with aluminum foil, a pie plate for excess batter) and bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 3-3.5 hours. While baking, place loaf pans in 9x13" pan half filled with water to prevent overbrowning on the bottom.

When done, cool on wire rack 20 mins. Immediately after removing from oven, pour a bit of light rum over the top of the cake. After 20 minutes, invert onto wire rack and cool completely.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Life is Crazy!

So I put starter in the freezer, as I won't have time for her until next week.

I nearly have all of the slippers crocheted (one last slipper to go) and then I have to assemble them.

I still have to buy my mother's present, but that's for tomorrow.

I have to bake fruitcake.

I have to make fudge.

I have to pass my Russian test tomorrow (8AM wtf), so am currently studying like mad.

I have to wrap all of the presents. (This will be the year that I don't wrap anything at my mother's please please please.)

I have to figure out if I'm going to make little hair flowers for my cousins (probably should). So four little hair flowers (they take ~30 minutes to make -- and people charge exorbitant amounts for them!).

Um... that's it?

Monday, December 19, 2011

New Design

So R, I thought back to what you had said this past spring about liking to shake up the colors of your blog, and honestly, I couldn't see my blog as being happy, spring-time blue in December! There were a couple of options that I liked, but this cutting board is nice and simple -- so many of the pictures are incredibly busy!

What do you think?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Yay for Doctors!

So basically everything that I was worried about when I went to the doctors turned out to be non-worrisome. Due to the timing of this bout of cramping daily, my doctor thinks that it was a cyst, and it appears to have gone away on its own. Plus one for me!

I finally got around to talking to my doctor about my tendency to pass out and she thinks that I have Vasovagal Syncope. This basically means that the nerve that lowers blood pressure occasionally goes overboard and makes me dizzy, sometimes all the way to passing out. It's not really a "treatable" condition, and is more "learn to live with it". As my doctor put it, "you've been dealing with it for almost 10 years, so I think you have a pretty good idea how to handle it." But we talked about various things that could trigger it and how to prevent it more readily.

I also had a couple of other concerns, but they wound up getting cleared up pretty easily. I'm just waiting on the results of some blood work to confirm the vasovagal syncope.

All in all, YAY!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bread and Life


I made a batch of sourdough the other day. Honestly, I was super nervous. All that confidence I had built making bread a whopping five times with my starter? Gone. I was unsure about how I was kneading it, unsure about the amount of flour, it wasn't rising well, I didn't shape it well, etc. etc. But it still came out quite tasty.

I'm currently toasting two slices to spread with peanut butter, and heating the kettle to try some Starbucks Via (instant coffee) that I got from a friend -- adding sweetened condensed milk to the mix. Is peanut butter normally quite goopy? I had to open a jar for the first time in about a year, as we're out of peanut butter, and when I was mixing in the oil, it seemed like there was too much oil! That the peanut butter was too thin with it added. Granted, it was also room temp and we keep our peanut butter in the fridge so that could have been part of the problem.

EDIT: The via is not bad. I added a big spoonful of sweetened condensed milk, some more sugar and it's quite palatable. :-P But there is still a bit of bitterness that is just pure Starbucks. I dont' know as I would buy via, but I'll sure take it for free from my buddy.

Speaking of room temp... my heat is mysteriously not on. The thermostat has been wonky (it's digital) and I'd noticed a few days back that the screen wasn't lit up, but it came back. Last night however, it was unlit, hasn't come back, and the heat is also not turning on when I'm pretty sure it should by now. Mister's also not sure if this is a problem on NStar's end, or if we need to call our landlord because the heating system is broken. I'm gonna have him deal with that, since I wouldn't know one way from the other, and NStar is in his name anyway.

Yesterday was the last day of classes, and a highly productive one at that. I had my Russian oral exam with a partner -- I wasn't the best, but I wasn't the worst. There was one awesome sketch that had my prof laughing the entire time. Couldn't understand a word of it beyond: "'Oh hey Ivan!' 'Do I know you?' 'It's Hamid, Sasha's my sister.' 'Oh I thought you were her friend.'" There was also a memorable bit where Hamid stood up to go, said good bye, and Ivan was like "wait a minute Hamid, I have something to ask you." I think he then asked if Sasha liked him, judging by the class's response, but I have no idea. The assignment was actually super hard: 12 questions with a partner, 12 each!, and you can't repeat questions. I honestly stumbled over some of the parts at the end, because I forgot to write down what I was to say and I never recognize the verb "to eat dinner". Never. So I'm like 'uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...' and my parter was like "dinner!" :-P

Then on to theory where I had a presentation. That went well. We had studied a few Bach fugues in class, and I found a fugue that was the inspiration for one of Bach's. Bach's is much better. :-P

In ear training, I gave my presentation Monday so I was all set.

And then before my 1:00 History class, I wrote a 5-page paper. I started it at 8:00, had three hours of classes, and finished at 12:34. Tada! I had been attempting to work on it Monday and Tuesday, and I had a mental block about it -- I have no idea why. I wrote a highly amusing "essay" at about 3 am while ridiculously frustrated, though. It begins with: "The Twelve Tables and the Magna Carta are both super awesome." You can tell that an essay is a winner, when it begins like that!

So I have two finals to prep for: my history final tomorrow at 11:30, and my Russian final Wednesday at 8:00. KILL ME NOW. Luckily, I've felt woefully unprepared for each Russian exam, and gotten As... so either she's a super easy grader, gives easy tests or I really know more Russian than I think I do (doubtful)... but yeah, I'm not expecting that test to go well.

I have a doctor's appointment today at 3pm which I'm super excited about. Not in the journey to the doctor's office, as it's far away, but that I get to talk to my doc about the problems I've been having. Yay!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Recipes That Look Tasty!

Three Cheese Balsamic Pancetta Mac n Cheese

Caesar Salad Deviled Eggs

Black Sticky Gingerbread

Maple Syrup Cake


It's time to be cheap again, since Mister and I keep failing at it. So here's a list of lentil recipes that I want to try.

Daal Makhni
Mushur Daal
Black Lentils with Caramelized Onions
Red Lentil Soup (what I'll probably make tonight as I have bread to make)

Monday, December 12, 2011


I am restarting my sourdough starter. It has languished in the freezer for some time now, and frankly, I've been craving bread. Yet, now that I know how tasty and easy it is (and cheap!), I've been loath to buy it, even at the day-old price of $3.

One thing that's nice about the starter currently is it's much more liquid. I had troubles before with it being a little stiff, and I like the consistency that it is. But I've just fed it tonight and we'll see how it takes to that. A warm jar and a warm bowl to be mixed in can do wonders I feel.

Christmas Status

So here's where we are on presents for Christmas:

Mom: buy glogg from LUSH
Dad: buy footstool
Sister: buy sonic screwdriver

Grandma: buy puzzle, give pickles
Grandpa: make fruitcake (I have the fruit soaking in sherry and have for two weeks already)

Mom's BF: make fruitcake (see above)

Stepsister: make slippers (just need to be sewn together -- all crocheted)
Husband: make slippers (have started)
Son: make slippers (still need to decorate like a monster)

Stepbrother: make slippers (haven't started)
Wife: make slippers (just need to be sewn together -- all crocheted)
Son: make slippers (still need to decorate)

Mister's Mom: Mister is contributing towards a laptop
Sis#1: no idea still
Fiance: no idea still
Sis#2: no idea still
Sis#3: buy little tea set and tea

The pattern that I'm using for the slippers and modifying for sizes is these double soled slippers. They seem pretty awesome.

As a Christmas present to myself (so I don't kill myself with that much crochet), I'm also working on knitting garters, the kind you tie on. I personally tie them on by: placing the middle of the garter just below the knee. Criss-cross garter in the bend of the knee (back of the leg) and tie above the knee on the front of the leg. Holds stockings and leg warmers on pretty well that way and means I don't need to have more than one garter belt (as one is broken). I also want to have a total of seven sets of leg warmers as my project for January as I want to be able to wear them every day.

Friday, December 9, 2011

New Booze to Make

I want to make this recipe only I'd probably remove the pith. Supreme dem oranges (as Mister put it) and use a peeler on the peel!

Look at how tasty it looks!

Making Ketchup!

I'm trying this recipe. I'll tell you how it goes!

Verdict? Delicious! I made three 8-oz jars and a bit that I ate with oven fries (french fries baked in oil instead of fried in a pan). But because I don't have a blender type object and used crushed tomatoes, I cooked it down longer -- about 2.5-3 hours. Mister is in awe. :-D


So I stayed home from class today. I just woke up with nasty cramps, and couldn't convince myself to get out of bed. I really honestly hate this. I have had cramp issues for several months now (luckily not as constant as in that previous post), but it is seriously cramping my style... I had to do it.

Luckily, I'm seeing my doctor for a check-up on the IUD next Thursday, so can bring this up to her then, but I wish it was sooner. And of course, Mister has been bugging me to make an appointment for weeks (as in probably five), so this appointment really should have been sooner.

I just wish I knew why my innards dislike me so.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bored and Baking

When it gets dark early, I get bored easily. I also get cold as we keep the temp low, which makes me want to crawl into my blanket-cave and sleep. So, to keep the return of hibernation at bay, I'm attempting a new recipe! It's a bit modified.

Almond and Polenta Cake. As the woman who runs that site is Irish, her units are in weight. Being a silly American with a shitty kitchen scale, I had to use the power of the internet to convert to volume. My measurements are not as neat as the original, but they're useable. :-P

-- 3/4 c. (100 gr) flour
-- 5/8 c. (100 gr) fine polenta flour
-- 1/2 c. (100 gr) sugar
-- 1/2 c. (100 gr) butter, softened
-- 1 c. (100 gr) almonds, coarsely ground, not bleached
-- 1 egg yolk
-- grated zest of 1 lemon
-- pinch of salt
-- 1 small glass of grappa (or sambuca)

Preheat oven to 170C or ~350F.

Cut flour, polenta, sugar, salt and butter together (I grated frozen butter rather than work softened butter). Mix in almond meal, egg yolk (subbed in some sweetened condensed milk), zest and grappa (subbed in limoncello for zest and grappa).

Spread crumbly mixture in large pan (I used 13x9) and bake until done, ~30 mins.


We had intended on asking a coworker of Mister's if he would be interested in shooting our wedding, as he does beautiful work. Well, the talk came yesterday, and he said no! :-( He said that there is so much editing that goes into wedding photos that he doesn't want to have to take the time to do it.

Which I understand. And my first instinct was: but we don't want a lot of processing! He doesn't need to do any! Yet, as he's a professional, if he has a minimum level of quality, I don't want him to compromise that level by putting his name on an "inferior" product.

Looks like we're going with bowls of disposables!