Wednesday, September 30, 2009

27 in the 27th wrap up.

Ok, I want to preface this, by saying that yes, I know it was somewhat epic fail this year. But! I am resolving to make it next year, no matter what. I just have to keep track, and you know, not forget about the list for months at a time.

1. Read a book a month that I haven't read before.
Technically, I did not do this. However. I read enough books on vacation, that I definitely fulfilled the 12 books that I was meant to read this year, per the list.

2. Find a new apartment.
Nope. stayed at my current place.

3. Hike the trail at Oregon Ridge.
Sadly, no

4. Go and see a movie with subtitles in a theater.
Well, slumdog millionare had like, 1/4th of the movie in subtitles, so that counts, right?

5. Go on a date.
Yup! I even exceeded expectations by going on multiple dates.

6. Send real mail to someone once a month.
Well, it worked for the first few months, then.... not so much.

7. Listen to one new album a month.
See same answer for #6

8. Cook all the recipes in a cookbook.
Based on the research I have done, this appears to be a somewhat crazy goal. ... That I still did not accomplish.

9. Take a belly dancing class.
heh, was I on crack when I was making this list? Obviously.

10. Get a decent haircut, someplace that is not Supercuts or Hair Cuttery.
Done! Although I like my most recent hair cuttery hair cut better than that one.

12. Take a cooking class.
Nope, sadly.

13. Have a five course dinner party.
Done! Porkapalooza!

14. Learn a new craft.
Crocheting eight million snowflakes Definitely counts.

15. Finish five knitting or crocheting projects.
Done! woo, Christmas!

16. Be more assertive at work.
I am definitely much better than I was last year, but I still have a ways to go.

17. Go to DC by myself for a day and just walk around.
Not done; but something I definitely need to add to next year's list.

18. Finish the blanket (crochet).

19. Learn one new Baltimore/Maryland thing to do a month.
I did a lot of new stuff, but I don't know if it was one every month, I was not really great about keeping track of the new things.

20. Create a new drink (boozy!)
Gin and tonic with a cucumber in it. YUM. (note: someone has probably done this before, but i haven't so, it counts!)

21. Make handmade Christmas gifts
Done! Eight million snowflakes later

22. Go to an RU women's basketball game.
Done! went to an RU game with my dad in New Brunswick, and My dad, mom, aunt and uncle came down to Baltimore when RU played Maryland

23. Be more considerate.
I like to think I succeeded at this. I have certainly been making an effort to do it.

24. Take more pictures; update my flickr page more frequently
see answer for #6

25. Visit one state that is not on the eastern seaboard.
Nope. on next year's list though. this year was spent taking my vacation time in NJ or with the fam in Chincoteague.

26. Buy and read the Washington post one day a week.
Nope. I started out pretty strong, but what they say is true. print media is dying, and I would much rather get my news from my RSS reader

27. Make an entire meal from items procured at the farmer's market
Done! breakfast with Julie, after one of our farmer's market days.

Next year's list will be up on friday. I am currently taking suggestions.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The banana pudding of my dreams.

Every year, my family goes to Chincoteague Island in Virgina. Last year, a barbecue place, called Woody's barbecue opened, and it is fantastic. They make pulled pork sandwiches that are amazing, and all of their sides are fantastic too.

Especially their banana pudding. The Banana pudding at Woody's is unbeliveable. smooth, creamy, with just the right amount of banana flavor. It makes me sad that I only get it once a year. A few days ago, I was having a banana pudding craving. Since I've never made it before, I decided to make it myself, to see if I could get it right.

Man, was it right. Layers of vanilla cookie and bananas melded together, infusing the pudding with a banana essence. Delicious. and stupid easy. I will be making this again and again.

Banana Pudding
two boxes of Vanilla Pudding from Trader Joes, Prepared (you just need to add milk. I recommend whole milk)
Half a container of Vanilla Wafers From Trader Joe's
3-4 bananas, depending on size.

Prepare the pudding according to the box. In a bowl (I used a pretty big Pyrex one) layer cookies, banana, and pudding. continue to layer until you just have a layer of pudding on the top. Place in fridge overnight (Trust me. It needs time. Good things come to those who wait.)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The American President.

When I was eighteen, I lived in Providence, in my own apartment. I'm not going to lie, it was a hard year. I was on my own for the first time, and working a lot. It was also one of my favorite years, because I made awesome friends (Jamie, Lesley, Lori) and learned that I could stand up and be an independent person.

An independent person who watched one movie way, way, WAY too much.

I was cleaning out my closets this weekend, and I found my dvd, and popped it into the dvd player in my laptop. The comforting patter of the pre-West Wing Aaron Sorkin writing came on, and I was transported back to Providence, still saying the words in my head before they were said on the screen. If I had Jamie laying out on my air mattress, an order of papa john's breadsticks on my dining room table and a game of JT's blocks on the computer, you would have re-created a large majority of saturdays that I spent in providence.

In that spirit, I share with you my favorite The American President quotes (in no particular order)

Lewis Rothschild: Who're we calling, sir?
President Andrew Shepherd: I'm calling the organization of the United Brotherhood of It's None of Your Damn Business, Lewis. I'll be with you in a minute

Lewis Rothschild: Yeah, just vote your conscience, you chicken-shit lame-ass! [hangs up] We lost Jarrett.
Leon Kodak: Well, I hope so, because, you know, if that was an "undecided", then we need to work on our people skills.

Sydney Ellen Wade: Oh, Andy, a C minus in Women's Studies.
President Andrew Shepherd: Yeah, well, that class wasn't about what I thought it was about.

President Shepherd: America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've got to want it bad, because it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil who is standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the 'land of the free'? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the 'land of the free.'"

Robin: I think the important thing is not to make it look like we're panicking.
Shepherd: See, and I think the important thing is actually not to BE panicking.

Lewis: I tell any girl I'm going out with to assume that all plans are soft until she receives confirmation from me thirty minutes beforehand.
Robin: And they find this romantic?
Lewis: Well, I say it with a great deal of charm

Lucy: My Dad told me to tell you that he's on the phone with his dentist, and that I should behave myself and entertain you until he gets back.
Sydney Ellen Wade: Oh. Your father's on the phone with his dentist?
Lucy: No, he told me to tell you he's on the phone with his dentist. He wants you to think he's a regular guy.
Sydney Ellen Wade: Oh. Well, who's he on the phone with?
Lucy: The prime minister of Israel.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Heavenly Onion dip

I have a pretty close-knit family, and we spent a lot of time when I was young, hanging out and celebrating things together. Birthday parties, fourth of july, memorial day, picnics, and cookouts. Every party that my aunt and uncle had when we were young included a bunch of standard items; shrimp ball, veggies and dip, a big bowl of m&ms, and onion dip, with ruffled potato chips.

It came from a packet, mixed into sour cream, and it's still one of my favorite things. It brings back happy memories from when I was a kid.

When I was in Chincoteage with the family this year, I did a fair amount of cooking- wanting to try out recipes on the guinea pigs that are my family. I was having a craving for onion dip, so I pulled out Ina Garten's Pan Fried onion dip, and gave it a whirl. As i was putting it together though, I realized that we did not have any cayenne in the house, and so subbed a generous teaspoon of horseradish, to give it a little kick, and hat was completely the right call. Creamy, oniony, and just a hint of a kick. I'm going to be making this for lots of parties to come.

Adapted from Ina Garten's Pan Fried Onion dip

2 large yellow onions
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon horseradish
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup good mayonnaise

Cut the onions in half and then slice them into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds. (You will have about 3 cups of onions.) Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.
Place the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well. Taste for seasonings.

Serve at room temperature.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Caramel sauce part deux

So, armed with my knowledge of the too- buttery caramel sauce from Wednesday night, I came prepared. I looked up lots of different caramel sauce recipies, and created a hybrid of my own. It is as follows:

2 c of sugar
1/3 c water
2 tbs butter
1 c Heavy Cream
Pinch Salt

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, Pour sugar and water. on medium high heat, stir, until starts to boil. Once the mixture starts to boil, do not touch it! watch until it looks like a deep amber brown. once it is in the final stages of browning, do not move, do not go get a soda, do not do anything. it can burn very quickly. Once you have reached the deep amber color, drop in butter, and whisk in until melted. turn off heat, and then remove whisk. pour in the cream. (it may bubble up in a crazy way, that's normal. then whisk the mixture utnil it is all incorporated, and is a smooth sauce. (if there are some crystals in it, you can turn back on the heat to melt them a little)

Pour into mason jar; cool. put in fridge to keep.

lasts about 2 weeks.

Seriously, I want to pour this sauce on everything. ice cream, bread, pasta, a cracker. it has the just- butteryness that makes it creamy, sugary and rich.

One day soon i'm going to make cold press coffee, and use this as the sugar. and i will be very, very happy on that day.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Vexing Caramel Sauce

I am a fan of caramel. Melted onto apples, in a coffee drink, dolloped on a scoop of ice cream, there is nothing that the sugary loveliness cannot do. My Auntie Jack used to make these brownies with caramel in them, that were so good it would make you cry. And then eat three of them.

Up until this point though, I was content to let others make my caramels, my caramel sauce, and my chocolate dipped chocolate caramel candies. But that has all changed.

So I'm working on making caramel sauce as a component for another dish. Caramel ventures into Candy Making, which is a very precise- sciencey brand of cooking (which, if you looked at my high school and college transcripts, you will see was not my strong suit.) So I looked at caramel making warily. it involves lava-hot sugar, and lots of the recipies have dire instructions about being careful not to burn yourself. (see also: clumsy)

Last night was my first foray into caramel sauce, and I used this recipe. And it mostly turned out! I had one area of clumped sugar, but I was able to hold that back when i was pouring it into the jar. I chose this recipe because it had butter in it (most caramel sauce recipies do not) and I figured, butter makes everything better! The sauce was delicious, but it also tasted very much of butterscotch (beacuse of the butter, i'm guessing). while it was good, It is not the right flavor profile for the recipie i'm using it in, so it's back to the drawing board, this time for recipes that don't have butter.

I love delicious experiments.