Friday, December 30, 2005

whirlwind adventure

Wow. Busy holiday for me:

Christmas Day: I left at 8 a.m. and drove to my uncle's house in Janesville, WI. I had a nice time, hanging out with the fam. I especially had fun playing "Life" and hanging out with my two cousins, who I haven't seen much these past couple of years. That evening, my immediate family opened presents. New snowpants and mittens for me! Wahoo!

26th: My parents had an open house from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. We spent most of the morning preparing for the party, and the rest of the evening cleaning up from the party. It was a nice party, but an exhausing day.

27th: My family went out for breakfast, and then I dove home. (Uneventful drive again. Lucky, lucky, luck!) Then I went to the grocery store and made a pan of lasagna.

28th: I spent the day in Elk River with Chelsea and Olivia. I always have so much fun hanging out with those two! We went consignment store shopping, and I bought three shirts for a total of $12.50. Score. Then that evening I went to the choir Christmas party. (That's what I needed the lasagna for.) The food was good. I didn't stay long -- I was tired.

29th: I watched a movie in the morning and did not much else. I went for a walk in the afternoon, and also had my hairs cut. Quite drastic. Very short. Friends like it, but I'm still not entirely sure about it. That evening, Ann and I went out for dinner and exploring at the co-op. Hooray!

Today: Christine and I went shopping, after I sold some books, cds, and movies at Half Priced Books. We started at H&M at the Megamall/Black Hole of Death. I tried on 7 things, and none of them fit properly. (Well, actually there was this really cute black tank top . . . but I couldn't justify spending twenty bucks on a black tank top in December.) We saw both Michelle and Steve, which was nice, and both commented on my drastic hair. Then Christine and I attempted several other stores, (oh -- our shopping goals were to find Christine new shoes for work and me a shirt to wear out tomorrow night,) before ending up at the petite department at Macy's. I should know better by now to just START there -- I ended up finding a really cute white sparkly button up for not too much money that actually fit properly. SCORE! I'm really becoming disgusted with clothing -- nothing seems to fit any more. Then I came home and watched a movie and took down my Christmas tree. Sheesh!

Tomorrow will be busy as well. I have lots and lots and lots of things to do around the apartment, and then Christine and I are going out tomorrow night! I've never been "out" on New Year's Eve before. (We're seeing a few local bands play at the Hyatt, which is just a few blocks from my apartment.) I'm looking forward to it!

If you are planning on going out tomorrow night, have fun and stay safe. If you are staying in, enjoy your night off and Happy New Year Everyone!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

upcoming lack of recipes

Merry Christmas Eve!

Just wanted to alert you all to an upcoming lack of recipe posting on my part. Why, you ask? Well . . . I'm in the process of writing and perfecting recipes for the cookbook. So I'm going to keep them top-secret, (well, not really top-secret . . . if you want one of my recipes, just ask -- I need testers, bad!), until further notice. I will still continue to post about the other aspects of my life, however, and will tell stories of things I've cooked, just to spite. :) (Well, not to spite, but perhaps to whet your appetite for the cookbook??)

I made the best pasta for lunch . . . spaghetti with garlic butter and artichokes. Mmmm. This one's going in the cookbook, with a few other additions, methinks!

And, one of the kids in my class gave me a big bag of old-school hard candies as part of a holiday gift. I LOVE THEM! Ribbon candies, candies shaped like fish, weird little knobs of sugary goodness. And they all have these really crazy, unexpected flavors like wintergreen and anise. (As an example, I put a yellow and white striped piece in my mouth a few moments ago and it tastes like . . . anise!)

For some reason, I thought of Harry Potter and his Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans. You never can tell . . . .

Happy travels if you are travelling, and if you are in the area and have nothing better to do this evening around 10:30, come to my church for a music-filled, candle-lit Christmas Eve service. I'll be driving back to WI EARLY tomorrow morning to meet up with the fam around noon. Wish me luck and wakefulness at 6 a.m. tomorrow!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Turf Club and Nina's Coffee Cafe

Ann, Michelle, and I went out to the Turf Club last night to see the TV Sound play -- the guys did an awesome show, and we also found a new local band to listen to: White Light Riot. They were babies (three of the four of them are still under 21 -- they had big, black "X"s on the backs of both hands -- very rock and roll -- ha!) but very very talented. Steve told us that they (meaning the TV Sound) are planning a show at the Varsity (one of my favorite venues EVER!) with White Light Riot and This World Fair, who I've also seen before and who I also think rocks! Hooray! I can't wait.

And man, I had never been to the Turf Club before. Overall, it's an awesome place -- one of those hip dive bars that draws a really awesome crowd. Cheap drinks, too, according to Michelle. (I rarely, if ever, drink when I go out just because I'm so darn poor!) My only complaint is that, since it's in Saint Paul, the smoking ban doesn't count for them -- I'm still working on Febreezing the jeans I wore there last night, because they STINK! But I'd go back there again in a heartbeat. Neat place.

Oh -- and I was really glad I had earplugs with me. They like things L O U D at the Turf Club!

I'm starting to realize how much I really, really love local music. It's amazing, though -- you can play about three degrees to any local musician in this town. They all know each other! As an example, I found out that White Light Riot's album was produced by Erik Applewick of Viscious Vicious and the Hopefuls; Darren Jackson is also in the Hopefuls and Kid Dakota, and also plays in a band called The Attics, which my coworker Dan drums for. Sheesh! Tight community.

I had fun shopping with Lauren today -- we walked around Saint Paul while she finished up her Christmas shopping and had some soup at a little coffee shop called Nina's Coffee Cafe . Really good soup and neat atmosphere. (Three of the four soup choices were vegetarian! Yay!) I was sad that they stopped serving breakfast at 11 -- I really wanted an egg sandwich. I'll just have to go back another time!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

today I . . . did very little!

I love those vacation days when you consider taking a shower and doing a load of laundry accomplishments. :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Yeah. I just now realized I forgot to post my gingerbread cookie and butter cookie recipes. Sorry.

As an aside, I DID use white sugar and white flour in my holiday baking this year, as well as real whole eggs. But I used Earth Balance buttery sticks whenever butter or shortening were called for. (Except in the chocolate drizzles and dips that the other two cookies called for . . . the small amount of water in the EB made my first batch of chocolate drizzle seize up. Bah. So I did use horrible trans-fat-full shortening. I should really just throw that can o' stuff out, shouldn't I?)

Gingerbread Cookies courtesy of Betty Crocker . . .

I did not, however, use their frosting. I piped little features onto the "guys" using a ziploc I had snipped the corner off, full of this icing:

Beat on high speed 5 minutes:
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 egg white
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

(Yes . . . it uses a raw egg white . . . how many times have I eaten raw cookie dough and survived? More times than I can count. But I wouldn't feed this icing to a child under 5, or an elderly person. Just a wee disclaimer.)

Here's the recipe for my Grandma Weber's butter Christmas Cookies:
(I hesitate to call them sugar coookies, because they're not terribly sweet, which makes them excellent candidates for a coating of the frosting of your choice. Don't forget the sprinkles.)

4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Cut in:
1 cup butter

Stir in:
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp baking soda
1 heaping cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill overnight before rolling out and cutting. Bake at 325 degrees until edges just begin to brown. Cool and frost.

Now, I didn't use a peppermint frosting recipe -- I just made it up. But I do have a peppermint cream frosting recipe I'll share with you if you need it!

Peppermint Cream Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp peppermint extract
1/4 to 1/3 cups milk

Beat until smooth. Divide among small bowls or custard cups and tint with food coloing.

Happy Christmas!

more on the perfect purse

Inspired by Chelsea's post, I thought I'd post a link to a picture of my perfect purse! I believe the color I bought is called "garden green." And I have lengthened the strap so I can wear it "Indiana Jones" style. And I have put all of my tiny buttons across the front.

Speaking of tiny buttons, Chris Koza, one of my new favorite local artists, has tiny buttons. I want one. I think more bands should make tiny buttons.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

busy buzzard

I have been incredibly productive these first four days of my vacation, and I just can't believe how much stuff I've gotten done . . . but I also can't believe how many movies I've watched so far! I believe I told you about Christine's and my shopping adventures Saturday . . . and my tag-along shopping adventures with Ann on Sunday. I've taken care of laundry and a mountain of dishes and a few other miscellaneous errands, (including taking Marie's Christmas gift to the post office -- watch for it, dearest!), and have officially begun work on the cookbook I've been talking about writing for ages now.

The cookbook is a little difficult to describe . . . it's mostly about why and how young/single people should/can cook healthfully for themselves. I have written the introductory chapter, (which, even after two edits on my part, is still 6 pages long. I think I need to cut it further, although I attempt to set up the reasoning behind creation of the cookbook, as well as explain my loose interpretation of healthful eating practices,) and the "Plan of Attack" chapter, where I give advice on kitchen hardware and software, grocery shopping, and meal planning. I have also chosen the recipes to be included in the following chapters: "Daily Bread," "The MOST IMPORTANT meal of your day," "Sack it," "Snacks -- your new best friend," "Mom, what's for dinner?", and "A treat a day keeps the psychologist away?" I, however, have a LOT of recipe tweaking, formulation, and testing to accomplish now. (I think this part will take me months and months and months.) Since I don't want to plagiarize and many of the recipes have come from magazines, cookbooks, or websites, I need to tweak them significantly in order to make them my own. I also need to make things I've made up again and carefully document measurements. And I'd like to include Nutrition Facts for each recipe, and I hear you can find calculators for these kinds of things on the internet. Sheesh.

I also need a title.

And eventually, I'll need recipe testers. Let me know if you'd be interested in helping with this. Once I get a recipe looking and feeling the way I want it to look and feel, I'm going to need family and friends to test these and make sure the ingredients are easy enough to find, the directions make sense, and everything is consistent.

I also need a publisher, eventually. Anyone know someone who works in the publishing business?

Wish me luck. Who knows if I'll ever get to the point where I want to publish this, let alone find someone who's interested enough in this idea to print up a few copies. But it's worth a shot, right?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Cappuccino Biscotti

Beat 30 seconds:
1/3 cup butter, softened

Beat in:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Beat in:
2 tablespoons strong-brewed coffee
1 tablespoon finely ground coffee beans
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Beat in:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill 1 hour.

Shape dough into two 9-inch long loaves on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 25 minutes or until tests done. Cool on cookie sheet 1 hour.

Cut each loaf diagonally into 1/2-inch slices using serrated knife. Place cut-side up on dry cookie sheets and bake at 325 for 10 minutes. Flip biscotti and bake an additional 8 to 10 minutes or until dry and crisp. Cool completely.

Melt together:
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 tablespoon shortening
Dip bottoms of cookies in chocolate and let cool until set on parchment paper.

Melt together:
2 ounces white chocolate
2 tsp shortening.
Drizzle tops of cookies with white chocolate mixture. Let cool until set on parchment paper.

Transfer to airtight container and store in fridge.

Irish Cream Truffle Coookies

Stir together:
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
1/4 cup light cooking oil

Sift together, then stir into above:
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour

Cover and chill dough at least 1 hour. Roll dough into 1/2-inch balls and bake at 375 for 6 to 7 minutes. Cool. Dust with powdered sugar.

Beat together:
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 ounce semisweet chocolate, melted
1 tablespoon Irish Cream liqueur
Fill cookies sandwich-style.

Melt together:
3 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 tsp shortening
Drizzle over cookies. Cool until set, then store cookies in airtight container in fridge.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Shop 'til I drop, then shop some more.

It's so nice, being on vacation. Sunday night, and I have nowhere to go tomorrow! I can stay up as late as I want to, and sleep until I wake up tomorrow morning. (I will probably go to bed fairly soon, however, because I got up EARLY this morning to take Christine to the airport.)

I have very little to report. I went Christmas shopping yesterday with Christine, (I'm DONE!), came home and wrapped everything that still needed to be wrapped, and spent the evening hanging out with Ann and Michelle. (Why is it that when women get together, we inevitably end up sitting around the kitchen table? One of life's great mysteries.) Today, after my uneventful adventure to the airport, I watched a movie, then provided Ann with moral support while she finished her Christmas shopping. I also purchased a fire extinguisher for my apartment -- until today, I didn't have one! Also,


Yes indeed, I think I have. It's from the Electric Fetus's gift department. It's green corduroy, not too big but not too small, has an adjustable strap that can go "Indiana Jones" style OR over-the-shoulder, and very well constructed. (It's by "Dickies.") I haven't had much time to test it out yet, but I am feeling confident that this may, indeed, be my perfect purse. I didn't, up until now, know that such a thing existed. I had hopes, of course, but false ones, I thought.


And I promise tomorrow I will begin posting Christmas Cookie recipes. For now, I'll tell you what I made:
gingerbread people
cutout butter cookies with peppermint icing and sprinkles
Irish Cream Truffle Cookies
Cappuccino Biscotti

Nighty night, folks, and I apologize if you have to go to work tomorrow. I don't!

AND . . .

H A P P Y B I R T H D A Y C H E L S E A ! ! !

Go check out Chels's new and improved blog -- link's on the right hand side of this here bloggie.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

best . . . cornbread . . . ever!

Yeah, baby. I made one fantastic pan of cornbread today, to go with my black-eyed peas. Here's the recipe:

Whisk together:
1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Whisk together, then gently stir into above just until moistened:
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup light cooking oil

Pour into a greased 8-inch pan and bake at 425 for about 25 minutes, or until GBD and tests done.

(Gotta be all that sugar, fat, and white flour that makes it taste sooooo good!)

I also baked 4 different kinds of Christmas cookies this weekend. I'm tired of mixing rolling and baking and frosting and decorating and especially washing dishes, but they are all done and all delicious! I'll post recipes AFTER the party!

I also made marshmallows. An unusual thing happened. They ended up much stickier than they usually do -- I think it's something to do with the dry heat in my apartment coupled with the slower time I took to bring the syrup to the 244 degrees it needed to be at before I combined it with the gelatin -- I think cooked off too much of the water. Oh well -- they still taste fantastic!

And our concert this morning was great. I almost missed it though, because my alarm didn't go off! (I arrived at church five minutes before service started. Completely missed warm-ups.) I was smart enough to set my alarm for 8:00. And dumb enough to set it for 8 p.m., instead of 8 a.m. Sheesh!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

so . . . tired . . .

Why, you ask? Well, I'll tell you!

Today at work, Dan, Sarah, the kids, and I hauled 16 bales of straw from the farm to the preschool.


We have a swingset at the bottom of our sledding hill, and we need to protect the kiddies from the posts, and also from tree trunks. Hay bales are nice and soft and bouncy if one runs a sled into it!

Also, I ran to Target at lunchtime for cat food and litter, (there is a new Super Target near work,) and then hit the co-op after work for groceries. And then ran back and forth from the car to the apartment, unloading 5 bags of groceries, and the bags of food and litter. I'm trying to run errands during the week and stay on top of the dishes so when the weekends roll around, I don't have quite so much to do, and can spend more time relaxing. We'll see how it works out!

Two notes about this upcoming weekend:

1. I may begin baking for the cocoa and cookies party I'm having on the 13th (if you haven't received your invitation yet and you live near me, you probably will soon!) and I'll try to post recipes . . . AFTER the party, so I don't spoil the surprises for the friendlets!
2. If you have Sunday morning free, come see me sing at my church at 9:30 a.m. We are performing Haydn's Mass for Saint Nicholas. It's happy and fun, we've hired a small orchestra, and it's free!

I have to call Christine. I'm not sure how much longer I can wait to see the new Harry Potter movie!