Saturday, October 30, 2010

Is Halloween over 'cause I want THANKSGIVING!

Halloween ceased to entertain me the day I quit trick-or-treating. I do not like to dress up, I don't like it when others dress up and I don't know who they are, and I will only go back to Disneyland if I have a grandchild that wants to attend...those big Goofy, Mickey and Donald characters totally creep me out. Give me a giant pink fluff of cotton candy, a greasy corn dog with mustard and a scarier-than-crap roller coaster to puke it all up on and I'm good. Except I've never puked on any ride...captain thrill-seeker is my middle name.

I live where no children venture on Halloween, so not only do I escape the trap of buying candy, only to have to buy it again....and again.....and...(you get it) because I have absolutely no control and if I did dress up I would only be able to go as Jabba the Hut because of it, but I don't even have to buy a PUMPKIN. When my kids were little I had to carve theirs because they were weak and useless, then they got older and I had to carve them because they were whiny and insincere....there is just about nothing as gross and scraping out slimy pumpkin guts so you don't have strings and slime hanging visibly in the holes you cut later. That and I'm a perfectionist so I had to "help" to make sure it was regulation pumpkin faces...sorry kids, you know I couldn't help myself, right? All this makes me supremely happy that I live in the black forest where children dare not venture on that spookiest of nights.

Growing up living in the suburbia surrounding Portland proper, we had free reign of approximately 6 blocks by 6 blocks, and were sent out at an early age on our own, back when kids either didn't get picked up off the streets by child molestors, or their parents never reported it because they were tired of their insincerity anyway. The older kids would ditch us younger ones when they were out of sight of the house, so we really were on our own for the most part. You knew not to go to houses with the lights off, knew that if someone left candy outside the door because they "weren't home" that the best you could get there was the container they left it in, and always, ALWAYS yelled "THANK YOU" in fear that word would get back to your parents and they would invoke "Prima Chochta", or first shot at any of your chocolate when you got home. Then there was the ritual "sorting of the booty" at home, where trades, bargains and sniping candy from each other when we weren't looking was great sport. The only part I didn't like was wearing a nasty plastic mask...gross and sweaty, and you could smell your own bad breath. Ahhh, the good old days....

So back to Thanksgiving....I noticed that my hero PW has begun posting Thanksgiving recipes, and I would like to do the same - I just wish she would not pre-empt me with her similar masterpieces of deliciousness. But I will say, as good as her Soul Sweet Potatoes looks, I think mine is biggest problem with sweet tater dishes is the mush, and I have found a way to minimize that (OK, to a degree...). I started with a recipe from a magazine (probably fooling no one in that doctors office by tearing it out slowly so they wouldn't notice), then changed a few ingredients, added a few more, used different cooking tecniques, and basically made something completely different. It has my very own "Moose Approved" stamp....people who would not eat sweet potatoes had seconds, thirds AND leftovers...I absolutely LOVE it when that happens! So enjoy, and don't be afraid to put gravy on it.....sweet/salty really turns my crank, and it makes it seem less like dessert and more like a side that way!

Momma Moose's Sweet Potato & Apple Crisp

This is sooooooo good in place of the overly insipid and mushy yam/marshmallow abomination still served in some backward homes at Thanksgiving, and much like candy corn, will not be solely enjoyed just once a year for the first two or three bites before your blood sugar spikes and you ruin your Gramma's living room drapes and her mother's antique lampshade making a fool of yourself. I could eat this stuff year round...see if you agree.

3 large yams (the darker ones that are orangey inside)
3 large sweet potatoes (yellowish brown skins with yellow inside)
2 baking apples...really any kind, just not red delicious
1/2 C. butter
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. flour
1/3 C. butter, cold
1/3 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. pecans, chopped coarsley (optional...but I am a nut person)
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 9x13 or similar sized pan or casserole, set aside. Wash potatoes, then poke a few holes in each one and put in the oven on a cookie sheet and roast at 375 until tender, probably at least 45 minutes. Turn oven down to 325. Let potatoes cool until you can handle, then peel and cut into 1" cubes, keeping colors separate, just like laundry. You wouldn't want your yams turning yellow or your sweet taters turning orange, would you? I have my reasons, just do it.

Peel, core and cut apples into 1"cubes, put in skillet with the 1/2 C each butter and brown sugar until apples are fork tender and sauce is thickened. Layer half of the yellow potatoes, half the orange yams (here's your reason - mixing the colors together causes them to mush, and I TOLD you I don't like it mushy), then sprinkle with salt (pepper if you like). Spoon half of the apples/sauce over all, then layer the other half of the sweet potatoes and yams on top, salt (pepper) again, and put remaining apples/sauce over all.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, sugar, cinnamon together, then cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork until crumbly, stir in pecans if desired. Sprinkle over spuds and apples, pat yourself on the back for making something that looks ridiculously good, then bake at 325 for 20-30 minutes or until heated through, bubbly around the edges and lightly browned. This is another of those dishes that, if you don't let it cool long enough before first taste, will cause you to not be able to taste anything the rest of the day because it WILL burn your taste buds right've been warned. But when you do the angels will sing, virgins will weep, and God will send rays of sunshine to dance across the look you have on your face when you first come to realize that sweet potatoes can aspire to heights far beyond a can of slimy yams and a half a bag of marshmallows. And Happy Halloween....BOO!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

FINALLY....let Oktoberfest commence!

Yesterday was my Gramma's birthday, and today we had a party for her at her nursing home-away-from-home. I am far too young to have a Gram that just turned 97, and guess that she just had my Dad when she was in her late 70's or so.....that lady in the Guinness Book of World Records was just a poser. There was a smattering of family there, from toddlers to the nicely aged, and hors d'evoures, wine and cake enjoyed by all. Gramma was a trouper - she made it for between 3 and 4 hours, then had to be whisked off to her room to lie down from all the excitement....but mostly because I think her hindquarters were numb from sitting in her chair for so long. I know she had fun, and she got in more than a few good ones too....she's no slouch, that blue hair.

There were family photo albums there that I had never seen, photos of my granparents from when they were babies in the 19-teens years that were blasts from the past - the whole button shoes, dresses up to here and down to there, hair up in buns, and nobody smiling...was it so miserable back then, or were they just really, REALLY frugal, even with their expressions? I found one pic that made me crack was a family shot with mom and kids and the dog, and even the DOG looked pissed - made me wonder if they didn't have photoshoots on the same days they gave typhoid immunizations "SMILE! *stab* OW!" But it was fun to look at them, imagine a very different time and world, and be thankful that I never had to wear a gigantic bow in my hair or churn butter.

The guests brought light snacky foods, and I'm telling you right now I think my Aunt's main squeeze Stan could make a zillion bucks off his venison meatballs with portobello mushroom gravy - not a game fan but they were heavenly! I made a artichoke parmesan spread with jalapeno's that got rave reviews, and I wouldn't even go near the table until Jen's Lumpia was gone....I wanted to snatch one right out of Gramma's hands, but decided against it since I didn't want to get "shinned" by the foot rests on her wheelchair. Jen is my neice and makes the worlds most delicious lumpia (Phililpino egg rolls, FYI), but fried is the devil right now so I had to pass.

So instead of the Parmesan Artichoke Jalapeno Spread, I am giving forth with the skinny on making Potato Salad of the least the German ones who also like beer and to wear shorts and suspenders with knee socks and a whiskbroom in their hat brim. This recipe started out from Better Homes and Gardens, circa 1980 something, then was adapted since then into a top 10 favorite....most people love this, even picky eaters - with the exception of Son #1. And I am still not entirely sure he is mine because of it - when you have a C section, they can bring you any old baby, and I think I ended up with someone elses whiny I-don't-like-German-Potato-Salad kid. It could happen....and I'm sure he's now going to show me and tell me I'm crazy and he LOVES GPS...whatever. He's probably going to tell me he doesn't like Sauerbraten, fondue and potato latkes when I serve them at Christmas too - I will just keep some Cup-a-Noodles on hand, just in case.

German Potato Salad

6 medium red potatoes, washed, boiled until tender, peeled and sliced 1/4" thick
1/4 lb. bacon slices, cut in 1/4" strips
1 onion, diced
1/2 lb. kielbasa sausage, cut in half lenghtwise and sliced
2 T. flour
1/4 C. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 C. water
1/2 C. cider vinegar
Parsley for garnish (if you want to get all fancy)

Prepare potatoes and keep warm. Put bacon, onion and kielbasa in large frying pan and saute until bacon is just starting to brown and onions are tender. Add flour, sugar, salt and pepper and stir until flour starts to brown, add water and cider vinegar and bring to a boil, whisking until sauce thickens and boils. Cook for a minute or two, adjust with salt, pepper and sugar to your personal taste, then pour over potatoes or dump potatoes in skillet and fold in carefully to avoid mashing up your potatoes. Serve warm, and try not to pick out all the kielbasa before it gets to the will be noticed. Sprinkle that parsley on top if you are feeling's highly unecessary, but does make it pretty.

You can make it without the sausage if you really want - I however like to have a little meat with my potatoes...and bacon doesn't count if it's chopped up, I consider it a herb. This is good with anything, or just by itself - I suggest a salad or some steamed vegetables, but I'm a Mom and have to say that even when I personally want to take the whole casserole and a wooden spoon in my room and lock the door. Dab a little behind your ears and drive Helmut wild....braids and riding crop optional. (Sorry....that was wrong)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Where in TAR-nation is that durn recipe?

Phew...found it. I had given up hope....the recipe I rightfully and miserly copied from a magazine at Borders while my ball and chain was reading some medical book looking for a pill to cure the nut job he married. I was sooooo bored, found the cooking rags and picked one that I have seen before and admired - in fact, a dear friend gave me a couple, which I read and then recycled, only to have said friend ask me all innocent one day "How did you like those? You can bring them back anytime, no hurry!" I must say it took all my I-didn't-do-it-Randy-did lying skills to keep a solid poker face. An internet search, a phone call, a debit card and a 1-2 week wait and I had two brand new replacements, of which she will never know unless perhaps she is reading this blog. D'oh.

Anyway, this particular edition contained a recipe that make my tummy growl and my bowels rumble - my favorite flavor of muffin, the mighty BRAN. The fact that it sounds healthy has made this delicious treat fight for it's place with the more Nancy-Muffins....pumpkin spice, apple streusal, CHOCOLATE? Excuse me, but if it's chocolate it's no longer a muffin, stop kidding yourself and check that double chin for crumbs. Not that store-bought muffins are good for you regardless of the flavor - bran included. I imagine the 55 gallon drum of canola oil that Costco probably goes through on muffin-baking day, along with a semi truck load of sugar and realize there is a good reason they are so yummy. And not healthy.

Strike 2? Raisins. Yes, those wrinkled little things that you either love or hate - it's quite a personal choice. You can choose to use or not...I mean, why would you buy something you hate to put in an awesome recipe for something delicious that will ruin it for you? Personally I think raisins and oatmeal are made for each other....cookies I mean, putting them in oatmeal is a revolting affront and should be avoided at all costs. Remember when you were a kid and went trick or treating on Halloween? Those that gave you raisins ranked right up there with stale cookies in those little halloween bags that they always fell out of and got crumbs all over your good candy, apples (really?, do you think I walk for miles begging for HEALTH food?), and popcorn ball givers....which were actually useful because they would pick up most of the cookie crumbs. Kind of like a Swiffer for your pillowcase. Just remember they're optional and you'll be fine either way.

One thing I should stress - don't overbake these puppies. They get hard and dark on the bottom, and the top half gets that dry, "am I eating a muffin or a brown sponge with raisins in it?" kind of texture. Follow this rule and you will have a cram-tastic and HEALTHY treat for breakfast with your coffee or latte or green tea or whiskey sour...whatever it takes to get you up and out in the AM. And it comes with a special bonus effect - you WILL have a nice break in the afternoon...just bring a book and some matches. I takes longer than that.

The BEST Bran Muffins

1 C. raisins (fine, go without...or use some other dried fruit if you want)
1 tsp. water
2-1/4 C. All Bran Cereal - it looks like twigs and you MUST use this specifically)
1-1/4 C. flour
1/2 C. whole wheat flour (it won't kill you, buy a little in bulk)
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
2/3 C. light brown sugar
3 T. molasses
1 tsp. vanilla
6 T. butter, melted (ok it has some butter...sue me)
1-3/4 C. plain yogurt (Nancy's Honey Yogurt - try it)

Preheat oven to 400. Combine raisins and water in small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave 30 seconds on high, let stand 5 minutes, then spread out on a couple paper towels to cool/dry. This plumps up and softens the raisins, not that it will help if you hate them. Put half of the All Bran (I SAID All Bran...if you are trying to use a flake or nugget or whatever, you should be ashamed of yourself - go back to the store) in the food processor/blender and grind until a fine meal. Put in a large bowl with flours, soda and salt & stir. In a separate bowl, whisk egg and yolk, add brown sugar, molasses and vanilla and whisk together. Stir in melted butter, then whisk in yogurt, add the whole cereal and stir to coat; let stand 5 minutes. Add to dry ingredients with raisins and stir just until combined. Line muffin tins and put 1/3 cup in each paper, bake at 400 16-20 minutes. Should make around 24 muffins.

Did you notice there are no spices in it? That is because the molasses, brown sugar and RAISINS give them all the flavor they need, the vanilla is just to make it fancy enough for gor-met's to try it. Uh oh, time to "run"....dang muffins.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Trying something and the blog design. Coming attractions? Foods that make you go "Hmmmmmm", and German Potato Salad - and they will NOT be in the same post. I wish I had a great big sugar cookie with frosting on it right now....sigh.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"I'll have what she's having..."

"What's your favorite food?" What a dumb question. And impossible to answer - I hate it when asked if I was stuck on a desert island and could only eat one food, what would it be - that never happens, and I refuse to answer on the grounds that it will make me hungry, sad and angry that anyone would even SUGGEST that a person could be limited to one choice. That and the fact that it's silly because how would you keep Ben & Jerry's pistachio ice cream from melting on a desert island? It would be like choosing between your children....unless, of course one was hot fudge and the other oatmeal, then it would be easy.

So what IS your favorite food? Haha, just kidding. Some people are easy - they have identified with a particular food and never sway from that - for instance with my Dad it's always been blackberry pie. Always. My grampa loved nuts. Well, at least we thought he would be funny if he secretly hated them, especially after that Christmas when EVERY single present he opened contained nuts. I live in his house now, and wonder if in some future excavation we discover an archeological dig rife with Planters cans as far back as any of us can remember, all pristine and unopened. My big sister has an ongoing affair with gummy bears. Not worms, not cola bottles, but bears...and they must be Haribo. And she flushes the red and white ones down the toilet so she isn't tempted to eat them when she runs out of the yummy flavors...I am working on having her committed since everyone KNOWS those are the two bestest flavors in the bag. Once I bought her a 5 lb. bag and she told me "never do that again"....I suspect it was like the lost weekend, and that she woke up lying in her back yard with a fruity hangover and the dog licking the gummies stuck in her hair.

If I had to narrow it down to a category, I think the thing I would miss the most if I had to give it up is bread. Not just any bread, but warm from the oven, redolent with yeast, and (yes I know it's more than one food, but shut up and let me finish) with butter, preferably cold and very thinly sliced on each bite so you get the contrast of flavors, textures and temperatures. My gramma, whom I have mentioned before and not in the most glowing culinary terms, once made a wheat sourdough bread I will always hold other breads up against and to which they will always slink away from, trailing their sad little crumbs behind them. We were visiting her at the lake, and it smelled SOOOOO good, and the toast we made with it I can still remember to this day...the dense crumb, the slight heaviness, the tang of the sourdough, the melting butter...WOOF. Thanks Granny, you ROCK.

You'd think after all that I'd give you a recipe for bread. Nope. Someone requested a recipe for cookies that are adult AND kid friendly, and that had no prunes or odd request, but if you knew the origin, you'd understand. And I don't care what Harrison says, prunes are delicious, and should be tossed into anything you make - it will give it a nuance and depth you cannot imagine, and will delight your body with TONS of antioxidants, potassium, iron and chromium for good blood health, vitamin A & C for beautiful skin and hair, Lutien for good eyesight and for slow-release sugars to keep your energy up, and of course fiber. Shit, prunes give you a run for your money! Hahahah....

These cookies are from a cookbook that my mom has had since I was a kid. It was a church cookbook, so it had recipes donated by parishoners....I think this one was actually donated BY my mom, and can remember it as far back as my shrinking brain allows. They are not typical sugar cookies, but somewhat soft and chewy - yes, they have a lot of fat, but then so does your MOM...and you still love HER, right? You also don't have to roll these out - rolling is OK for pies, but cookies are usually an immediate need...that is why so many people eat the gross, raw egg filled dough. Yes, I said it....DISGUSTING.

Our Favorite Cookie (It's just its name, don't get your panties in a bunch)

1/2 C. butter
1/2 C. shortening (butter flavor Crisco highly recommended)
1 C. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
2-1/2 C. flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. soda
2 T. milk

Preheat oven to 400. Put a little sugar in a cereal bowl and find a glass with a nice, flat bottom and set aside. Beat butter, shortening, sugar, vanilla and egg in a large bowl until fluffy/creamy; add salt and soda and mix in, then flour and beat until incorporated, blending in milk last. Drop by teaspoonfuls (or cookie scoop) on cookie sheet at least an inch apart (they will spread), press the bottom of the glass in the dough in the bowl to make it sticky, then in the sugar and flatten the cookies slightly with it. Dip the glass in the sugar each time you flatten so they won't stick and all get sugar on em.

Bake at 400 for 7-10 minutes or until they just start to brown around the edges, let cool for a minute then remove to rack to cool completely. And if you have ANY of the first pan or milk in the fridge left before the second pan is done, you are not doing it right.

At Christmas I make these and put red and green sugar in separate bowls and flatten with that - you can sprinkle more on after you flatten to make them even prettier. I have also been known to drop the dough in a bowl of sprinkles or those tiny colored bb's, then set them right side up on the cookie sheet and flatten - decorate them however you want; shoot, if you put a prune on top even Harrison would eat em!

Friday, October 8, 2010

That's a crumby thing to do to a vegetable...

As feasts go, Thanksgiving is the ultimate in my book - over the years we have added so many traditions that it takes at least two plates and a VERY measured eye to get a little of everything...and it's impossible to do that and not feel like the Titanic as it's last bulkhead was filling with sea water. There are just things that we cannot do without on that most delicious Thursday of the year - it would seem like a hollow gesture to the Pilgrms and Native Americans (I didn't say Indians, that would have been racially insensitive) who dined on nuts, berries and eel on that first "family dinner". I mean, they would have had Cool Whip too if it had been invented then.

The cool thing about this holiday is that everyone contributes something - even the swingin' bachelors will stop at 7-11 on the way and pick up a 2 liter bottle of 7-up, a couple Slim Jims and a bag of Funyuns - there's a reason they still aren't married. My gramma, bless her heart, would always bring some beautiful dish that never quite lived up to it's good looks - some people have the desire, but kinda miss the mark on "audience appeal". Once my better half took a big helping of Gramma's jello mold, only to get a snootful of "aspic".....if you don't know what that is, imagine tomato juice jello with pearl onions and celery. If you can pop a bite of that in your mouth and swallow without gagging, you must have no taste buds whatsoever. We love our Gramma tho, and in order for her to feel special, we would scoop out large amounts of her offering and hide it somewhere for disposal later so it looked like her dish was a hit...sorry Gramma.

There are always some standouts, always appetizers (yah, that makes sense - bring a snack to the biggest friggin meal of the year), and always pies - the only day of the year you would even consider eating 3 different kinds of pie after consuming as much food as Jenny Craig would glady sell you for a month. Besides my faves, home-made stuffing (OK, I use Franz stuffing cubes) with Walt's gravy, brussel sprouts and the cranberry jello mold, another beloved family tradition is the cauliflower. Yes, I said it - CAULIFLOWER. It may be an acquired taste, but I acquired it a looooong time ago, and it would not be Thanksgiving without a big heaping helpin' of that big white brainy-looking veggie. Now I'm not really sure how everyone else does it, and I've tried a couple different things, but this is my has a nice nutty flavor that offsets the blandness of the cauliflower, and I love, Love, LOVE it!

Butter-Crumb Cauliflower

1 LARGE head cauliflower
1/2 C. (one stick) of real butter
1 sleeve Ritz Crackers

Tackle that cauliflower! When you pick one out, get a big one, and make sure it has no or very little dark spots on it - I hate having to cut those off because it ruins the look of the florets. Cut off all the leaves, and trim off anything that isn't pure as snow, then start cutting off each "floret" and putting them in a colander. When you have them all cut off, you can cut up the core if you want and throw that in - just peel off any skin that looks bad or that has any green on it. Or just toss it - it's actually very sweet, but whatever. Rinse all the florets well, then if you want to make them smaller, you can cut them apart from the stem end - if you cut the stem in half, you can pull it apart from there and it will give you a prettier floret rather than cutting through the "blossom end".

Put them in a pot big enough to hold them - it's up to you if you want to use a steamer or just put them in the water - and put in a couple cups of water and sprinkle liberally with salt. Bring to a boil and cover, turning down to medium-ish, and let boil/steam for about 10 minutes. Check them with a fork or stick a paring knife in the stems to see if it's ALMOST tender, dump in colander immediately to drain and slow down the cooking, then put in a baking dish or pan and set aside.

In large skillet, heat butter until melted. While that's going down, take that sleeve of crackers and put the whole thing, unopened in a ziploc or bag big enough to hold it with extra room and seal the end. Unless you like cleaning cracker crumbs outta your wazoo, because it will make a MESS. Then take out your agression on those Ritz...pound em with your fists, beat em with a mallet, bulldoze em with your rolling pin or a big can of food....whatever works, just smash em to smithereens! Didn't that feel good? Now open the bag, take out the wrapper, and pour those crackers into the melted butter. Stir constantly, over medium heat until they get a little browned and start to smell REALLY good....the butter will start to brown, giving it that nutty flavor that I know you all love. You can taste it if you're not sure, but it will be salty - and then you will have to do it again because you can't eat just one spoonful of butter toasted Ritz lie.

Spoon buttered crackers all over that steamed cauliflower and put in the oven to keep warm, or just start eating it - it's good even if it cooks a little more, you really can't screw it up unless you burn it or decide it isn't fancy enough and put some capers on it and make the food Gods VERY ANGRY...they hate capers, just like me. Oh how I love this dish....I think I should practice it this weekend; wouldn't want to choke on Thanksgiving and end up pissing off the food Gods....

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"Support Group for Lactose Intolerants - milk & cookies provided"

I don't know that I have a story tonight...nothing is springing to mind, and the taco meat is getting cold. Maybe if I have a couple I will get inspired...brb. OK, I had a couple...tacos and margaritas, so let's keep this short and sweet and unmarred by unecessary profanity.

Tyler is a family friend - I would say my sons friend, because that's where it started, but just by sheer time spent in our house I think we can partially claim him on our taxes. He is a sweet guy, very affable and quite a do-it-yourselfer - he was the bartender and brewmeister that made all the beer and wine for Joey and Kira's wedding. It's not unusual for him to walk through the front door (he doesn't knock, he's family) carring a tank and a small keg of whatever his latest concoction is. He has been responsible for opening my mind a bit regarding mead and an absolutely lovely dark belgian beer called Brother Thelonius that you can only find at artsy-fartsy grocery stores like New Seasons, but mostly it's ales, which I despise with a white hot passion....not a big fan of the hop flavor, it reminds me of the stuff my mom used to put on my fingernails to encourage me to scrape it off with my teeth and still bite them down to the nubbins.

So anyway, I decided to post a cookie recipe in honor of Mr. Beer, alias Mr. Lactose Intolerant - he has not an ounce of extra flesh on his bones, and I always feel bad when I've made some luscious concoction and he can't eat it because it has dairy in it. Altho he did teach me that eating some yogurt with live cultures can counteract some of the "by products" his body creates when lactose products are beans! So here you go Tyler....I will be making some this weekend, so hopefully you'll make an appearance for a non-gaseous, cramp free treat!

Peanut Butter Cookies
(The name does not do it justice - should be PBOMG'S....pure heaven!)

1 C. shortening (I almost always use Crisco butter flavor)
2/3 C. peanut butter....probly doesn't matter, but Jif is my fave
1 C. brown sugar
1 C. white sugar
2 eggs
3 C. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Cream shortening, peanut butter and sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla, then add soda and salt and mix well. Add flour and beat until combined, form into balls or use a cookie scoop and place on cookie sheets. My recipe says to grease the pan, but I never have...I think the sugar keeps them from sticking. OH have to drop the scoops of cookie dough in a bowl with some sugar and roll them around in it, THEN put it on the cookie sheet...dang tequila. Using a fork, and dipping it in the sugar if it starts sticking, press an "x" on each scoop of dough with the fork, pressing the cookie down about halfway. Bake at 350 for about 10 should be very lightly browned just around the edges....a tiny bit of shiny foaminess should be visible in the fork lines....that way they will not get crisp and hard. Nothing like overbaking to make me want to feed cookies to the has to be chewy or it just ain't right! Let stand on the pan for 1-2 minutes or they will fall apart and you will be left crying with a mouthful of burny-hot cookie lava - put on cooling racks as soon as possible though to keep them from overcooking on the hot pan. If you're under the influence of some blue agave, remember to turn off the oven...good thing I'm not baking tonight.

You could put chocolate chips in these, maybe Reeses Pieces, perhaps a Hershey's Kiss instead of forking them, or as I saw in another recipe, cook them in mini muffin tins and when they come out of the oven, press a whole mini Reeses peanut butter cup in the there is a reason for "buffet pants" if I ever heard one! Or you could just keep them pristine...nothing but peanut butter, and a great big glass of icy cold milk...or in Tyler's case, a frothy glass of Ale-of-the-Week! Enjoy.....I don't recommend the beer option, but if it makes your inner fat lady sing, Gesunheidt (sp)!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Looks can be deceiving

If you were to ask me what kind of a person I am, I would tell you I am shy. If you tell that to anyone I know, they will look at you like you're nuts, and most likely laugh their arses off...they see the person on the OUTSIDE, I see the one on the inside. I am an observer - I like to sit in a corner of the room facing out so I can see everything that's going on, keep a "finger on the pulse" so to speak. And also so that no one can get the drop on me. That comes from growing up with 4 siblings, and never knowing what is going to be around the corner or behind the next door.

The big old house I grew up was great fun for scaring the crap out of each other, which we did frequently. There were many scary dark corners in the basement, and you only had to wait a few minutes before some hapless victim would stumble along, intent on some mindless task, or possibly just avoiding one by staying on the move and out of mom's sight. Then you would spring out at the perfect moment, emitting a sound that was supposed to sound like a monster but was more likely just a really loud yell - regardless, startling a fellow slave child into chasing you around the neighborhood was a delight that was hard to top.

Ocassionally you would get the "reverse thrill"...once I waited around the corner in the laundry room (I use that term loosely as it was just a vast and very dark part of the basement that had a mountain of dirty clothes on the cement floor and a washer, dryer and big cement sink that grew the worlds biggest and hairiest spiders), and giggled silently while I waited for a victim to fall into my trap. Suddenly I heard footsteps on the stairs, then continuing around the corner where I leaped out and yelled "AAAAAHHHHHHH!"........right in my mom's face. I think we might have pee'd our pants at the same exact time, and she almost threw the full laundry basket she was carrying over her head. I was rooted to the spot - flight was useless, as I knew, unless I never came back home again, that she WOULD get me - and my short life as I knew it flashed before my eyes. My only guess is that she somehow found it amusing, so the worst of it was a strident warning to NEVER do that again. Luck was with me that day, my friends....

And I don't care what anyone says, I AM shy. I just hide it with obnoxious, juvenile and loud behavior, a finely tuned sarcasm gene and a seriously twisted sense of humor. Otherwise I'm just a shrinking violet. Stop fruiter head. As usual, this has nothing to do with that, just a wild hare (or is it hair?) - this is such a bad for you, full of stuff you shouldn't and individually wouldn't DREAM of eating recipe, so you know it's gonna be good. "Corn Thang" is actually a recipe we heard about on Mark & Brian - KLOS jocks in sunny Cali. one of the crew brought it to a potluck and they posted it on their's ridiculous how good it is. So sit back, RElax, and ENjoy......

Kelli's Corn Thang

1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin mix (don't use anything else, doesn't work)
1 can cream corn - the CHEAPEST you can find
1 C. sour cream
2-3 T. sugar
2 eggs
1 cube cheap REAL margarine (oxymoron) - don't use "spread"...too much water.

Heat oven to 375. Put cube of margarine in a 8x8 square glass pan, a round cake pan, or an 8" casserole and put in the oven while it's preheating to melt. Dump all the other ingredients together and mix with a fork, a mixer or a wooden spoon - just get the eggs well beaten and everything combined well, I don't care if you use your brother's toothbrush or that wire thingy with balls on the ends you use to massage your scalp. (be prepared for a noogie or wet willy if you use the toothbrush)

When the margarine has melted completely, pull rack out and pour batter directly into the melted margarine - DO NOT STIR. It will cook into the batter, but envelop the entire dish in the sweet embrace of molecules you want to know nothing about. Bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes, or until it's cracked and golden brown all around the edges and a toothpick comes out clean and it only has a hint of a jiggle overall - there shouldn't be any spots that look like they are just crusted over lava with a secret liquid center. Let cool a bit - good luck with that - then cut in smallish squares and serve. I am a middle child, and a middle girl....I like the nice clean cuts, no crusty edges and believe the center is the choicest cut (just like me). Of most things, that is....the outside of this is so good I wish there was a pan that only made outside pieces. (LIGHTBULB!!!) And if you put butter on it, you will go straight to hell....OK, I didn't, but my feet got really, REALLY hot when I did.

You can do this in muffin tins, you just need to divide the butter by 12 muffin tins and start checking it about 20 minutes in. Then you could use them for gambling money to play black-jack with your siblings and threaten them with indian burns and bloody knuckles if they beat you even after you made up your own ruled and cheated so you would win. Or you could just eat em. I vote for that.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sorry, Becky...

I was so sure that my daughter stole them. There was just no other feasible answer - shoes do not just walk away by themselves. But there is no way she would do that and not 'fess up....she isn't afraid of me, and she lives too far away for me to come there and spank just didn't make sense, but it was the only answer. Because my house is NOT THAT MESSY. I couldn't lose a pair of size 9's - no WAY.

This whole mystery began back in July, right before Becky and Ethan (my grandson) came home to Oregon for a visit from Georgia. 2 weeks, carefully arranged before the start of school (Georgia apparently likes their summer vacations to end right when it gets REALLY hot and uncomfortable), and luckily during a time I could take 2 full weeks off work and not suffer from a dump truck load on my desk when I got back. I bought two pairs of nice flip flops, one Nike in chic black and white, the other Adida's in a cute and perky black and hot pink. Fast forward to the week after they went home - can't find my Nike's....looked everywhere, nothing. Asked son #1's GF if she perhaps had them - no. Checked with son #1 & 2 - "you sure you didn't wear them?"..."NO, mom...your sandal wouldn't even fit" (a lie, because I had to buy new ones because one of them wore mine so much that he broke the toe thingy out of them). Damn.

Checked all the cars, under beds, in everyone's rooms, beneath furniture, under the multi hamper, even went out and scouted the grounds for pieces of black foam or dog poop with telltale signs...not even a snippet of a swoosh. Crap. So I call Becky, ask if perhaps she accidentally took them home. "No Ma, I don't have your sandals". Son of a....maybe Ethan? Call again - "Did you check to make sure Ethan didn't pack them? NO. Mom, I don't have them. Promise." Son of a....where did they frigging GO??

I gave up. Decided one of the two times I wore them I must have left them on the beach, possibly on my car, only to be blown away unnoticed and picked up by some dude hitchhiking up the coast, then traded with a tourist for a handful of SWEET seashells he later made into a braided hemp necklace ultimately given to his girlfriend Harmony Sunshine to commemorate their pure and undying love that would end as soon as summer was over and she had to go back to court recorder school.

Today we cleaned the house. Hubby vacuumed for perhaps the first time this summer (I say perhaps because maybe when I'm at work, son #2 spends the better part of his day fiendishly vacuuming the entire house, sweat pouring down his brow and singing Queen medley's at the top of his never know), and walked into the kitchen holding my black Nike flip flops. "Where did you FIND those?" I asked incredulously, unable to immediately process that he was actually holding them in his hand. "They were behind the french door". Smug SOB. Kind of like how one would say, when your are looking for your glasses "They're on top of your head", or "You're wearing them" (OK that only happened once.) So I finally have my flip flops. On October 2nd. Maybe summer will come early next year.....

So yeah, we worked our butts off, then went to church, then grocery shopping. We were whipped, so we had a Jr. Bacon Double Cheeseburger and a giant diet coke for dinner, and I didn't make my pasta....but I'm not going to go back on my word, so here's the recipe. This is what I found when I went online to find one for the browned butter and Myzithra cheese pasta they have at Spaghetti Factory restaurants - easy peasy, simple but decadently good with a deadly punch of flavor - it's pretty calorie intensive with the butter, so just don't eat it very often, k?

Browned butter and Myzithra Pasta

1 C. butter, salted
1 to 1-1/2 C. Myzithra Cheese, grated finely (found it at
1 lb. pasta, cooked al dente

Start your pasta water while you're melting the butter, add plenty of salt to the water before it boils and you won't have to add additional salt to this dish. Put butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt and then bring to a boil. Boil for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, and pay attention about 15 minutes into it to watch for color. Butter will burn almost immediately in small amounts in a big skillet, but takes a bit longer in a saucepan when there's a lot.

Stir the sauce continually as it boils the last 5-10 minutes, and when it starts to brown, you will see it start to come up in the foam. It will darken very quickly, so you may want to take it off the burner when it starts, and have a glass Pyrex measuring cup (at least 2 cups) nearby to cool it quickly. Stir faster when you see it color, then pour it off into the measuring cup when it is a little more than golden brown. The solids will rise to the top, just give it a minute or two, then you can pour the fat right out from under it if you go slow - just stop if the solids start getting too close to the edge and let it stand another minute before you pour the rest into another container. You only want to use the clarified browned butter - throw the solids away.

This has a lovely, warm caramel-like scent to will want to drink a little, but I don't suggest that - pretty sure it's a mortal sin. Drain your perfectly cooked pasta, put back in the pan you cooked it in, and pour the fragrant browned butter over all and toss to coat completely. Put most of the cheese in and toss again, heap onto a plate and make sure you scrape or pour every drop of the butter out of the pan on top (or at least lick out the pan). Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top and serve immediately.

I love buttered noodles, but this is like buttered noodles on crack - it makes you want to sell your house, quit your job and move to wherever they make this cheese and get yourself some goats or cow or whatever they make it and the butter out of, and grow wheat to make your own pasta so you can spend the rest of your days on your own browned-butter Myzithra pasta ranch. I mean villa. Salud!