December 31, 2007

Fortunately, Unfortunately

Did you ever read or write a 'fortunately, unfortunately' story in grade school? I remember writing one in second grade that involved a New Kids on the Block concert. I feel like writing another tonight, just without Joey and Donnie.
  • Fortunately, there was food in my house.
  • Unfortunately, it all appeared to be inedible.
  • Fortunately, I had milk in the house with which to make a hot drink.
  • Unfortunately, I got too excited about that hazelnut steamer and burned my tongue.
  • Fortunately, my house is so cold that the steamer quickly cooled enough to drink safely.
  • Unfortunately, I have a five years' supply of hot chocolate mix in my pantry, and that hazelnut steamer ain't gonna put a dent in it.
  • Fortunately, I made fast friends with toast smeared with butter and some crazy apple cider jelly.
  • Unfortunately, I had only enough jelly for one slice of toast.
  • Fortunately, I cleaned out the jelly jar and got to throw it away. One less thing in the fridge!
  • Unfortunately, I will be in Lubbock for New Year's.
  • Fortunately, I will have someone cute to kiss (the only fulfilled resolution from last year?).
I'm pretty sure my second grade story was better. Fortunately, it is time for bed. Unfortunately, I should have gone to bed before writing this second post.

Deathly Cold

My house feels particularly tomb-like tonight, quiet, cold, and depressing, and it's adding to my serious case of the blahs. I'm suddenly ready for summer or at least spring, with their long sunny days and warmth. Every morning, I dread the mile hike from the parking lot into work against the north wind. That's only a slight exaggeration. At least work gets me out of this cold house.

Last night, I tried out Alton's Steel Cut Oatmeal recipe. Scottish oatmeal is my new favorite breakfast. Alton's variation kicks it up a notch - wait, wrong host - Alton's variation turns humble horse feed into good eats. He notes that you shouldn't add salt to your oatmeal before cooking it, because salt soaks up too much water and keeps your porridge from getting creamy. He also toasts the oats in butter before adding the water. He adds milk, buttermilk, brown sugar, and cinnamon to the final product. I ate it for dinner last night and again for lunch today.

Today marks the first New Year's holiday that I've been in Lubbock in awhile. I've been in Houston, Las Vegas, Austin, and Vegas again over the past four years. I say, if you have to ring in the new year in Lubbock, you'd best be drunk and unawares. But if that's not your thing, Google "non-alcoholic cocktails new years" as I did, and you'll find some interesting mocktails. I found a link to the Great Pretenders Pamphlet with several mocktail recipes. Shows how tired I am, I thought it said it was put out by AA, but it's actually AAA. Now there are a couple of groups who know how to party!

December 22, 2007

Deck the Halls

I've still got a few more ornaments to hang on the tree. Okay, it ain't Martha Stewart or the Rockefeller Center tree. My star tree-topper isn't even vertical right now.

I've been drafting this post for about three weeks now. I figure it's time to let go of my perfectionism and update everyone. My life has been busy lately with holidays and the associated get-togethers, my piano students' recital, finishing up the school semester, and a week-long trip to New York.

Yes, I got to see amazing holiday window displays (as seen above) and the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. I had a fabulous time in New York. I can't remember a trip that was more fun. I could write a ton about all the things I did and saw, but I'll try to stick to the highlights.

One of the best things we did was watch a live taping for the weekly broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion. Listen to the December 15, 2007 broadcast here. Garrison Keillor and the other cast members were hilarious, and the two musical guest groups were spectacular as well. We also saw Les Misérables on Broadway. We lucked out and had front row center seats in the spit zone, seriously. It put every other play or musical I've seen to shame. Our hosts, Gordon and Kamara, gave us a private concert, and their respective bands, Smyer and Earl Greyhound, are definitely worth a listen.

The museums were incredible. I got a little overstimulated by it all, but we went to the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (took an afternoon to see only a tenth of it), the Brooklyn Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art. We also saw an interesting Jack Kerouac exhibit at the New York Public Library.

The food was great. My favorite food was probably at Choice Market in Brooklyn. We grabbed breakfast there a couple of times, and I think I could eat there everyday for a month and not get tired of it. We also went to Stand, and I tried the toasted marshmallow shake that I burned my fingers trying to create. Their shake tastes better and has no risk of third degree burns! The burgers were unremarkable. We got some good, inexpensive food at Bistro Lafayette and Cafe Martino. We ate brunch at a fabulous Italian place by Prospect Park, but I don't know the name of it. I have to say that I preferred the restaurants in Brooklyn to those in Manhattan/Little Italy/Soho.

Although we did eat at a great Indian place near Broadway and Times Square, Bombay Masala. I ordered the Chicken Vindaloo, listed as 'highly spiced' on the menu, "extra hot, really spicy." That prompted two Indian men seated at the next table to come over to our table and introduce themselves. They were impressed that we could eat our meal so spicy. Later in the conversation they found out we were from Texas, and they said that explained it. Chet likes his chicken spicy! I'll admit that he can take the heat better than I can. We had a contest. He won. But I'll train and beat him next time.

The only time I got cold and miserable was the morning we went to see the Statue of Liberty. It was really early in the morning, and riding on the top level of the ferry with the cold ocean breeze in your face was just not pleasant. That passed quickly, though, and seeing Lady Liberty and Ellis Island was very cool.

The only blah that I can think of was the Empire State Building. In the movies, characters go there to be all romantic and meet up with their lover at the top. Maybe we just hit it at the wrong time, but we waited in line for a couple of hours to get up and then back down. And it cost about $70 for the two of us to get to the 102nd floor. There are so many people and you have to wait in line for such a long while. Nothing romantic and spontaneous about that.

I loved being able to walk and take the subway everywhere I needed to go. It's fun to gawk at the buildings and sights. I got in this mentality that everything was cooler just because I was in New York. Like I would probably mock the same outfits in Lubbock, but in New York, they're eclectic and original. The other phenomenon is sticker shock. You'll see some things that are exorbitantly expensive, and it makes the merely expensive items look like bargains. I probably ate the most expensive sandwich of my life at Katz's Deli. A grilled Reuben was ~$15, but then again, I barely finished half of it. How come they don't stack the meat that high at Subway?

You knew I was going to be that person that came home from vacation and made everyone look at her pictures, so here you go. Sorry, I know there are lots of duplicates and duds.

I'm off to do some more Christmas shopping...

November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

I'd like to be live blogging Thanksgiving today to fill all of you in on the play-by-play action over here. It would be fun chronicling cooking disasters and triumphs, but there's too much to do. Maybe I could hire a ghost writer.

I didn't make it to the grocery store until last night. I figured it would be total bedlam at Market Street. It was crowded but wasn't anything I couldn't handle. I didn't see anyone cute. The kind of people that do their Thanksgiving shopping late Wednesday night are lazy procrastinators anyway. Since opposites attract, not my type.

I did have a guy approach me, though. He said, "Can I ask you a dumb question?" He held up a 9x13" foil cake pan. "You can use this pan for cakes, but can you use it for green bean casserole, too?"

"Oh yeah," I replied. "I would use that." Except I would never make green bean casserole, so boy did I lie to him.

Then I came home and ate some bread and took a nap. No need to start cooking yet. It's not Thursday morning. Mom and Wendy came over to help. We finished filling up the dishwasher, and I started the cycle. A few minutes later, we smelled something strange, and smoke, not steam, was coming out of the dishwasher vent. I'm not really sure what's up. I just know I'm out of a dishwasher the night before Thanksgiving, which is probably the worst day that could happen. Bad karma. Ooh! I am totally low on dish soap. The turkey is finishing its thaw in cold water. Next year: five days ahead for turkey thaw. Duh.

The American Farm Bureau reports that the average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner for 10 is $42.26, a $4.16 price increase from last year’s average of $38.10. Where are they shopping? I'm feeding eight, and my grocery bill was higher than that.

Mom set the table for me and chopped vegetables with me. She's the best. I think the next step is making the Pumpkin Cheesecake. After that, the dressing and gravy. The turkey will need to be in the oven at nine for dinner at two o'clock-ish. To get in the cooking mood, I've been streaming NPR segments like: Cooking Disasters: Tales from the Kitchen and Getting a Time-Saving Jump on Thanksgiving Dinner.

Thanksgiving Turkey 11:00 am update: Well, I kinda slept in. Big surprise. So the cheesecake is cooking in Mom's oven. The turkey is in my oven. It looks pretty. No billowing smoke like last year. Still need to do the dressing and gravy and take a shower and then the mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. Mom is a dear and sent the cranberry salad. She's also bringing broccoli and rice casserole, rolls, and pecan pie. I can't say I did it alone by any means.

Thanksgiving SnowfallAlso, big gigantic snowflakes are falling from the sky right now. Also, Wendy put me on Facebook. I mean, I asked her to do it, but I still think it's dumb. Now I can feel guilty that my Facebook page is as dull as my life. Add me as your friend.

12:45 pm update: I don't have time to be blogging! Mom just called and said there was a mishap when she took the cheesecake out of the water bath. I don't think she was kidding. Looks like I'll be making another cheesecake tonight. I can't let Thanksgiving pass without it. The turkey is out of the oven. The dressing is going in. Still working on potatoes and gravy. Forget the shower. There is a lot of snow on the ground.

Thanksgiving Table6:00 pm update: Dinner is over. The gravy was the last thing to the table. Besides me, that is. Mom said she liked the dressing and the cranberry salad. Daddy said the turkey and gravy were very good, but we need to go to meat-cutting school. Wendy liked the cranberry salad. Scott said it was all good. Grammy ate some Cool Whip and said, "This ice cream is not good." I was glad that my lover wasn't at dinner, so I could wear fat pants and eat as much as I wanted. Helluva day for the dishwasher to break down. Thanks, Mom, for doing the dishes.

Roasted turkey and gravy
Buttermilk cornbread dressing
Mashed potatoes
Mashed sweet potatoes
Broccoli and rice casserole
Cranberry salad
White rolls
Relish tray
Pecan pie
Apple pie
(also a Pumpkin cheesecake that didn't quite make it)

How come there's always something on the menu that "didn't quite make it?" Mom wasn't kidding about the cheesecake. The details are still a little fuzzy, but she said that the bottom of the springform pan fell out when she was moving it. I tried the remnants. Not awful. I'm very sad. I am a baker by trade, and I want dessert to be the highlight of dinner. Maybe next year.

Thanksgiving SnowfallThis snow has definitely put me in a holiday mood. I'm going to start putting up the Christmas tree tonight. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

November 19, 2007

Start the Timer!

I just moved the Thanksgiving Turkey into the refrigerator to thaw. I meant to do that last night or at least this morning but completely forgot. The packaging said to allow for four hours' thaw time per pound. Hopefully that 16.73 lb. bird will be thawed on Thursday morning. I'll probably wind up doing the cold water quick thaw method again like last year. I hope this year's meal is better than last. I think my cooking skills have improved.

It's time to get geared up for holiday baking and shopping, and I couldn't be happier about it. I spend way too much time these days browsing recipes online and in cookbooks. Cooking is really the only hobby I'm keeping up with these days. Football watching has definitely fallen by the wayside. Imagine! The A&M, UT, and Oklahoma games passed without comment from me. I didn't even watch the UT game last week, usually the biggest game of the year for me, choosing instead to make a chocolate cake. After starting off the season with such faithful attendance, I missed the last football game of Scott's life. I haven't made time for piano practice. I haven't read a book cover to cover in months. Instead, my reading lately has been restricted to blog trolling and cursing those that don't offer a full RSS feed.

Classic TrifleMy kitchen was an absolute disaster after making a trifle for last Friday night's dessert. The trifle has layers of sponge cake, raspberry puree, custard, almond cookies, with a lemon whipped cream and more raspberries and cookies as a garnish. You can probably imagine the scene. It was a dark and stormy night. Mixing bowls and measuring cups were littered about the kitchen. Parchment paper was strewn across the table. Baking sheets and dishes sat on the kitchen chairs. The stand mixer and Cuisinart hummed in tandem. The smell of sponge cake wafted through the air. A raspberry thumb print and scattered bits of lemon zest and crumbled cookies sullied the counter top, and sugar dust glistened on the floor. As I reached into the spice cupboard above the stove for some nutmeg, a container of paprika fairly leapt out, spilling its bright red contents on the stove and counter. You see the kind of drama that I had to clean up after last Saturday.

Luckily, I thought the trifles turned out very well and I would make them again. I made individual servings inside glasses, rather than layering the dessert in a trifle bowl. They looked very pretty with the red raspberries and puree alongside the sponge cake and lemon whipped cream.

I'm sans piano lessons tonight, so it's a great excuse to do some baking and some much needed cleaning in the kitchen. I do have a homework assignment due tonight, which is another good reason to hide in the kitchen. Tonight in the oven it's pecans spiced with cumin, cayenne, and paprika. Depending on how the homework is looking, maybe later it'll be some dark chocolate cupcakes. I have some leftover coconut buttercream frosting to use from the latest edition of the Chocolate Blackout Cake. Much like last weekend my kitchen looked like a war zone, this time where a coconut bomb had exploded.

The Thanksgiving menu isn't set in stone yet. I have plans to do some major grocery shopping tomorrow, though. Thanksgiving is really the ultimate foodie holiday. I can't wait. Back to the homework...

November 5, 2007

Fall Back

Birthday Party I had a wonderful birthday last week. Thanks, family and friends, for making it so great. Marmee made the most wonderful birthday cake. I am requesting it every year from now on. It was a chocolate cake with some pumpkin in the batter, which made it very moist. The orange frosting was addictive. It had cream cheese, chocolate, cinnamon, heavy cream - a few of my favorite things. To top it off, there was a chocolate ganache that looked beautiful and tasted even better.

I actually got up early on the morn of my birthday to make a German Chocolate Fair Cake. I had been promising to take one to work for awhile, and since I share my birthday with two other people in our little department, I thought it would be a good day to eat cake! I was a little nervous about taking it, though, what with all the high expectations. I tried to be careful and meticulous measuring and mixing, but I only realized after the cakes were out of the oven that I had forgotten to put the salt in the cake batter. There was a definite difference. The cake was still gone in a flash, so we won't advertise that.

This weekend Chet and I went down to Dallas to see Spoon and The New Pornographers at the House of Blues. Those are a couple of my favorite bands. If you haven't heard the latest Spoon album, you can stream it here. It's called Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, because all of the other possible album titles were already taken. It was a great show. We also hit La Duni for dinner Friday and Whole Foods on the way out of town yesterday afternoon. I had such a fun time. He didn't try to push me off the bridges and overpasses.

I was glad to get an extra hour of sleep last night. I would not have made it to church on time without it. That wouldn't have been good, since I had the lesson for the kiddos. I had to take quite a nap this afternoon, too. I'm not used to this wild, fast-paced lifestyle. The last rock concert I remember going to was Chicago many years ago. I was probably among the youngest fans there, and I distinctly remember that the people behind me were angry that I was standing and singing along. "Young whippersnapper!"

Tonight for dinner, I used my new Le Creuset Grill Pan to make panini sandwiches. I thought I should have Chet over to inaugurate my birthday gift. Here's what I did, more or less. It was a bit hodge podge tonight. I thought the panini were good, but they would have been even better with some roasted peppers and crazy condiments. They're very quick and easy to put together. Anyone can cook... not that everyone should, but:

* boneless, skinless chicken breasts
* olive oil
* fresh rosemary, chopped
* garlic, minced
* salt
* black pepper
* thick, crusty bread, sliced (used Whole Foods French bread)
* cheese slices (used Pepper Jack)

Add a small amount of oil to a grill pan and heat pan on medium-high heat. Pound chicken breasts to a uniform thickness. Brush chicken with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, rosemary, and garlic. Place chicken in pan and cook for a few minutes on each side until juices run clear and chicken is no longer pink. Remove from pan. Put cheese slices on each bread slice. Place chicken breasts on the bread slices and cover them with another slice of bread. Brush outer sides of bread with olive oil and place in grill pan. Cover with panini press or weight. (I used a dutch oven. Those are heavy enough to break a toe or two. I just covered the bottom of the dutch oven in foil and set it right on top of the sandwiches.) Cook sandwiches for 3-4 minutes per side or until cheese melts. Remove from heat and serve.

The pan made lovely grill marks on the chicken and panini. Plus the pan is orange and matches my mixer. And it's heavy enough to use as a weapon, in case the knives are out of reach when your alarm clock goes off. I get an extra hour of sleep again tonight, right?

October 26, 2007


It's a wonder I can hold down a job and stuff. I cleaned out my fridge last night, but I didn't take the spoiled food to the dumpster. That's fun to come home to. No one could ever accuse me of being the sharpest knife in the drawer, and it could be because I often cut myself with the sharpest knife in the drawer. My poor fingers have been cut, cooked, burned, blistered, you name it, usually by my cooking misadventures. Although, I do have a couple of nasty scars from curling iron burns. Sometimes it's just too early in the morning and my bleary eyes and slow reaction time aren't quite up to the task of taming my mane with a 300º rod of fire.

I'm getting less sleep than usual lately. My mental processes are slower now, and some people would probably say that all the synapses weren't firing anyway. Last week I deli-sliced my left index finger. I got home quite late and was starving. It was past the closing time for even desperation-run-type places like Taco Bueno. Nothing in my house looked edible. There was some stale bread on the table, and I thought it had the most potential. I grabbed my serrated bread knife and decided to cut the hard edges off the bread. Unfortunately, the knife bounced off the impenetrable old bread and right into my finger.

My idea of a tourniquet was a paper towel with a rubber band to secure it. That sort of worked. I tried sleeping with my arm held in the air. That didn't work out as well. The next morning when the tourniquet came off, my finger was still bleeding. I went to work with it bandaged. At work, I asked my co-workers if they thought I needed stitches. Steve's quite the expert, having just had his skull stapled back together. Ah, great story. But I digress. If you didn't think I was white trash enough, just wait. Later that morning, I went to Walgreen's to pick up some more Band-Aids and some super glue. I just poured the glue over my fingertip. That stopped the bleeding and reduced the pain. I had lots of music rehearsals last week, and I couldn't be tickling the ivories with a giant painful gash holding me back. Actually, the cut healed very quickly, and I'm confident that I'll be able to keep the finger and my career in piano performance and education alive.

What is everyone going to dress as for Halloween? It has been so crazy around here. I haven't even had time to think about that or what I want for my birthday. I need more hours in the day. I've become one of those eevvill people that hits the snooze button for a good hour before actually waking up. That is dangerous business, too. An alarm clock dispute caused a stabbing in Lubbock recently.

Keep the Dream Alive

October 18, 2007

Moonlight and Marsala

I'm becoming increasingly less enthused about my career path towards becoming an old maid librarian. I've just lost my sense of urgency about finishing up this degree. This semester I decided to rejoin society and quit being a hermit, and my schooling has suffered as a result. I can't say that I have any regrets.

The Dessert Party was amazingly fun to prep for and host. It makes me think it would be oh so much fun to run a patisserie. I had a fun San Diego trip at the beginning of the semester. Going to Scott's Friday football games is often the highlight of my week, and unfortunately his senior season is already winding down. Staying up late to make a Fair cake also beats the heck out of doing homework. That goes for a three-day Godfather marathon as well. Also, I stopped saying no to my friends when invited out for dinner.

And so it was that a few weeks ago I ended up at newlyweds Sarah and John's house for a set-up of sorts. Not only is it amazing that I am still willing to go on blind dates after many bad experiences, but it is perhaps more amazing that I have friends willing to introduce me to menfolk. I'm such a geek. There's a reason some people are single. Great guy on the other end of that set-up. He was so funny that I choked on my taco at dinner. That's classy.

A short time and a few dates later it was time to pull out the big guns, namely my Chicken Marsala recipe that gets around and New York Cheesecake for dessert. I took the leftover cheesecake to him the next day. That night in the car, he made some joke about me poisoning the cheesecake. Then:
New Guy: Maybe you put some Love Potion No. 9 in it.
Kimberly: If I were going to poison it, that's what I would use.
New Guy: [chuckles] You don't need it.
Kimberly: [swoon]
I'll stop. He did send me this comic. It's too big to fit nicely, so follow the link.

October 12, 2007

The Fine Art of Conversation

I am babysitting a cheesecake that's in the oven. Mmmmm. I guess I could be finishing up homework or getting dressed for work, but that would just be ridiculous.

Dilbert 10-9-07

I have come to realize that it's important to me to have friends that can make good conversation. I realized this years ago after experiencing the all time worst date of my life. There was a couple that decided to set me up with their out-of-town nephew. He flew in right after New Year's for a few days. We met. I drove us around Lubbock, since he didn't have a car. I tried to think of interesting sites to point out, and it took all of two hours to wrap that up and go bowling. There was zero chemistry and no conversation. The awkward part of the situation was that this guy was stuck in Lubbock for a few days with the sole purpose of wooing me. Let's rephrase that and say that I was stuck in Lubbock. I was young and nice and didn't want to offend him or his family. I hope that these days I would have the assertiveness to just say, "See ya."

After day one, I decided the best way to avoid seeing this guy for the entire following day was to invite him to breakfast and then dinner, cooked by me. We went to breakfast at Golden Corral. He gave monosyllabic answers to every question I asked and never asked me a question in return, though somehow he did manage to insert something about an ex-girlfriend he was fond of into the conversation. When he came to dinner that night, my dad tried to make conversation with him as well:
Dad: So, I hear you built your own house?
Date: Yeah, yeah.
Dad asked a few more questions and gave up as I had. I believe I was saved by starting a movie, something romantic like The Birds. The next day was his last in town. I think I rated dinner with him and his family. The family sat down for dinner and had a prayer. Everyone held hands. My fabulous date was kind of putting the moves on Kimberly during the prayer. What a winner.

There was some more to the story, but time and therapy healed most of the scars. His aunt that originally set me up did invite me to have lunch with her soon after all this transpired. She said that her nephew liked me and that we should next go visit him. I tried to be as tactful as possible in declining the offer. She fairly insisted that I go visit this guy. Upon relating the story to my dad, he said, "Kimberly, you can't just say no. You've got to say 'Hell no!'"

I've since gone out with other guys who were not much better at making conversation. I get tired of carrying the conversation or being the only one asking questions. If you're worried about your date's ability to carry on a conversation, I suggest heading to a Japanese Hibachi grill for dinner. At least the chef can entertain you. Or head to a restaurant/bar with a loud band. Or just say "Hell no!" in the first place when he asks you out.

Good lines to hear on a first date:
  • "Me, too" as in "I like that movie, book, song, too."
  • "We" as in "We should go to that new restaurant next weekend."
Bad lines to hear on a first date:
  • "Me, too" as in "I need a lot of expensive dental work, too."
  • "We" as in "We should never see each other again."
And I'm not sure what to think of this one: "You're the only girl I've ever heard of that likes Battlestar Galactica."

October 4, 2007

High Expectations

The other day at work I asked my co-workers if ignorance really is bliss. I wondered aloud if I would be happier if I weren't so particular about food, for example. I'm not saying I have to have expensive, gourmet food, either. It's just that I don't voluntarily eat at certain restaurants around town or consume frozen dinners unless it's an honest-to-goodness emergency. Obviously I've built my identity around being a food snob.

At church, a lady congratulated me on my prize-winning cake. I smiled graciously and thanked her. "Did you make it from scratch?," she asked. I hope I was as gracious in responding to that comment. I didn't take offense, but the hilariously horrifying thought of even bothering with a cake mix and canned frosting made me laugh for the rest of the Sabbath.

This has got to be the picture of the century. Glenna puts it well by pointing out the dichotomy here. That is a heavy-duty, expensive-looking kitchen, but there's not a cook to be found.

I'm more interested in lamenting what she's doing with that cake. Why depan a 9 x 13" cake? She should have baked it in a cute party foil pan. I could even look away from the canned frosting, but why bring out the canned icing? That's the worst-tasting stuff in the world, and she's making a garish mess worse. Should have stuck with candles. Does she get an 'A' for effort? Honestly, is this somehow better than going to a bakery?

I think it's worth having high food standards, but I hope my pretentiousness doesn't reach the level of this overrated menu. I'll continue to embrace my foodie hangups. Besides, if ignorance is bliss, why aren't more people happy?

September 30, 2007

¡Viva Italia!

I reached a new level of homework avoidance this week by having a three-day Godfather marathon. Steve let me borrow the trilogy months ago, but I hadn't gotten around to watching it. It's hard to believe that I consider myself a classic movie buff but hadn't seen this one. It deserves the accolades it gets. I liked the slow, subtle storytelling, and I didn't feel like the screenplay beat me over the head with implausible dialogue and plot points. Good acting and amazing cast list, too. Beware of oranges and the color orange in that movie - there's definitely a death symbol there.

The bad thing was that I hadn't eaten dinner before starting this relatively long film. There are a few scenes that take place over the dinner table, and I thought I would probably die if I didn't get some pasta. I ate a Lean Cuisine frozen lasagna at about midnight when the movie was over, which wasn't enough to quell the craving.

So, I followed my own dinner and a movie suggestion on marathon night two. Steve and I ate Chicken Marsala while watching The Godfather: Part II. That Chicken Marsala is a tasty recipe despite being very quick and easy to make. The only problem was that I was running low on Marsala and didn't have time to buy a new bottle, so the sauce was a little oily. I whipped up a honey-dijon vinaigrette for the salad, heated some garlic bread, and I thought it was quite good. Steve was lucky to have a prize-winning cook making him dinner. Part II is good. It would stand up better for me if it weren't connected to the original. On its own, a good film, but it's very different stylistically from the first, and I favor the original.

The next night, after watching the season premiere of The Office (glad to see Pam and Jim dating), we ended up watching The Godfather: Part III. This one was accompanied by Tiramisu from the grocery store. I am determined to make some Tiramisu soon, but I haven't found a recipe I trust yet. There is a delicate balance to be achieved between all the ingredients in that dessert: lady fingers, espresso, mascarpone cheese, eggs, cream, sugar, Marsala wine, cocoa, and rum. I looked for some cannoli at the store, which would have been better. I want to try making those, too. My best quarter-Sicilian friend even has some of the tubes you need for frying the shells. I don't want to be hit by the Mafia, so I'll be sure to return those as soon as I'm finished. Seriously, I remember when we were little and she pointed to a relative in a very old family picture and said he had "connections."

So basically this week was not only lousy for homework, but also for exercise and healthy eating. I expect to get kicked off my Get Fit Lubbock team on Monday when I turn in my points total for the week. I hope you don't lose points for gaining weight.

In other international cuisine news, it is Mid-Autumn Moon Festival time in Asia. They probably have a cooler name for it than that over there. Katie wrote "Zhong Qiu Jie Kuaile!" in her last e-mail. I can only assume that is a translation of "Happy Mid-Autumn Moon Festival", not "Send money and food, you lazy American sister." She also wrote:
There were so many families outside having BBQ and setting off fireworks. I love holidays. But I especially like Moon Festival because it was the first holiday I had in Taiwan. And they have moon cakes which are both strange and delicious. Most of them have a cooked egg yolk in the middle of them. The curry chicken moon cake is my favorite, but they also have red and green bean moon cakes. Everyone has a barbeque, but they don't have back yards here. So everyone sits out on the street and cooks their meat on hot coals on the ground.
Check out the link for a video on making Moon Cakes. It looks fun, but the recipes I've seen online look pretty complicated. I think I'll just hit the Asian stores instead.

September 23, 2007


Tonight it's back to reality for me after shirking my homework for weeks. I'm combatting it by watching the Cowboys/Bears game, reading the BYU Police Beat, and surfing for college football news. That shows maturity. I'll share some funnies with you in case your team lost this weekend, too:

From the BYU Police Beat, July 11, 2007:

Tip of the Week: Make sure blinds and curtains are fully closed in the morning or at night when showering and getting dressed, as warmer weather tends to bring out exhibitionists.


Criminal Mischief

July 4: A man was reported making a suspicious phone call to a female in Helaman Halls in which he claimed he was doing a psychology project and then proceeded to hypnotize the female student on the other end of the line. The roommate of the female came home to find her asleep on the floor. The female is reported of reacting strangely when certain words are spoken.

From the BYU Police Beat, September 20, 2007:

Roommate Conflict

Sept 12: A conflict, due to a failure to communicate and talk problems out, was reported between two 18-year-old female students living in M. Smith Hall in Heritage Halls. The roommates have been arguing over apartment chores and accusing one another of destroying each other's food. Profanity and some hair pulling was involved. This has been turned over to the housing office for a resolution.

I found a great Red Raider blog in Disco Tech. You probably have to be a pretty diehard fan to appreciate most of the site content, but I hope everyone can appreciate this Budweiser Real Men of Genius ad turned anti-Oklahoma State propaganda.

Lemon-Buttermilk Sherbet in Caramel SauceAnd of course the best way to unwind is with some ice cream. I tried another recipe from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop. Lemon-Buttermilk Sherbet is extremely quick and easy to make, and this atypical combination just sounded good to me last night when I was perusing the book. I really liked it with the caramel sauce. The picture doesn't look great, because the sherbet was very soft and didn't form a nicely rounded scoop.

Lemon-Buttermilk Sherbet
Recipe by David Lebovitz from The Perfect Scoop
Makes less than 1 quart

1/3 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1 lemon
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a medium, nonreactive saucepan, mix the water and sugar. Grate the zest of the lemon directly into the saucepan. Heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let stand until the syrup reaches room temperature, then chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.

Whisk the buttermilk into the syrup, then whisk in the lemon juice. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

September 22, 2007

Awards Acceptance

German Chocolate Cake

I finally decided to enter the German Chocolate Cake in the Fair competition. I love this cake. I remember one of the first German Chocolate Cakes I made. Funny story. A few years ago, I had a crush on this guy, and I was trying to win brownie points with his mom, and so I baked her a German Chocolate Cake for her birthday. I used the famous Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate recipe. Ended up just being friends with the guy. As usual, the mom liked me more than the son did.

A few years back, Auntie shared the German Chocolate Cake recipe from Cook's Illustrated with me. The folks at Cook's took the original Baker's recipe and experimented with a few changes until it was vastly improved. They used less sugar in the cake and filling, kicked up the chocolate flavor, and dispensed with whipping egg whites separately for the cake. We had it for Daddy's birthday in April, and it was an instant favorite with me.

I took the cake to the fair on Thursday morning for the judging. You have to take a whole cake, then they cut it in half and return half to you. I took the leftovers to work. I didn't know the judging results until my boss spilled the beans on Friday. A few of the managers from work went to the fair for lunch. When they got back, Russell said, "Congratulations on first place." I must have looked surprised, because then he started going back and forth and changing the story to tease me. He talked about looking for the cake, since they knew I took one. He said they looked and looked and finally found it in the corner with the Culinary Best in Show.

German Chocolate CakeThis morning I went to the fair to see for myself. I talked to the lady that got Best in Show for her cloverleaf rolls. This lady was amazing. She does a lot of gardening, canning, and baking. She had more than thirty different entries and won fifteen first place ribbons and placed with some others. Her husband and grandson won ribbons for something they brought, too. Also, the husband worked for a decade and a half at the cotton gin where my Dad takes his cotton. Small world. I walked around and looked at all the cakes, cookies, candy, and bread. Reading some of the names, you know that the food was made by a little old lady when you see Doris, Ida, or Shirley. The youth division entries were fun to see, too. There was a chocolate cake that was already growing some fuzz.

Mom and I decided to compete against each other next year with our respective Peanut Butter Cookie recipes. I'm going to have to get Katie to send me some more peanut butter from Taiwan. I don't know what's different about the consistency of Skippy from Taiwan, but those PB cookies were just better.

Fun stuff. Thanks to Auntie for sharing the best recipe ever, and thanks to Granddaddy for sharing his wonderful homegrown pecans.

September 18, 2007

My Fun Job

I'm teaching 12 piano students a week now, and there's never a dull moment. I have a couple of new students this fall. I think it's fun to start a little one out on the piano, when they're still excited to play, before that "I hate piano!" phase kicks in. I've certainly heard enough of that. When a kid complains to me during the lesson, I say, "Take it up with your parents later. Right now, we're playing Ode to Joy."

I teach the lessons at the students' houses. One time I was at the piano, waiting for my pupil. She was upstairs throwing a full blown tantrum, complete with screaming, wailing, and crying. "I hate piano! I hate piano!" The happy ending is that she took a little hiatus from lessons, but now she's back and is one of my best students.

Last night I got to the cousins' house, where I teach Ty, Molly, and Abby. I saw Abby playing outside. "Are you ready for piano lessons?" I asked. No answer. I kept walking closer and closer to her and repeating myself. Finally, I was upon her and she couldn't avoid the question.

"Uh, let me go get Ty and Molly, so they can go first," she said. Such enthusiasm!

When it was Molly's turn to come in from playing outside, she walked in the back door and said loudly, "I don't want to do piano lessons."

"I'm in the room!" I retorted.

She really wanted to play outside with her friend. In protest, she would only play Christmas songs during the lesson. Not too shabby on Jingle Bells and Deck the Hall. When Abby's lesson time came, she wanted to talk about snakes. I learned that bull snakes are big, but rattlesnakes are bigger. They're nothing to be afraid of if you have a gun or a knife. Oh my.

I've had a couple of kids bring clocks and watches in for the lesson, so that they could make sure that the lesson doesn't go one second past thirty minutes. Today I had a student come and say he couldn't do his lesson, because he just got a wart removed today. He held up a bandaged finger proudly. I found out later that he then went outside to play football. He was forced to come back in and play some scales, left hand only. Hopefully all will be mended next week.

2005 Christmas Piano Recital

September 17, 2007

Support the Team

There is an episode of Seinfeld where Elaine is dating David Putty, who paints his face in Devils' colors for the NHL playoffs. "Gotta support the team!" In classic Seinfeld fashion, Putty's simple face painting has terrible consequences when he scares a foreign priest to near death. As unfunny as my description sounds, that episode is truly hilarious. Okay, I'm going to watch it now. Season 6, episode 23.

Hawaii QB Colt Brennan shaved off his dreadlocks, went platinum blonde, and then dyed the Hawaiian Islands in black on the side of his head. There is a rash of boys my age named Colt. I would have a kid just to name him Colt, but I'll need a better reason than that to embark on parenthood.

Check out the studly #33. Going to Scott's games makes me wish that I had more school spirit in high school. I know it will surprise you, but I had quite a superiority complex in high school. I thought I was too smart for that school, and I let everyone know it. I was in band, so I had to go to all the football games, and I hated it. I thought my school was too small town, and I begged my parents to let me go to a bigger school with harder classes. I ended up dropping out. It's too bad that I had such a bad attitude. It's been fun to watch my siblings make Ms. CHS, valedictorian, football team co-captain... Then again, I still make fun of that school when I go to the games, so nothing's changed.

How do you support the team? Face painting? Throwing tortillas? Releasing wild hogs on your opponent?

September 16, 2007

Guide to College Football Picks

Wes Welker of the Patriots is having a great game against the Chargers. He's doing the alma mater proud. I can actually say that I went to some of the games that would show up on his Tech highlight reels.

I'm not doing too fabulously with my NFL picks this season. Cleveland and Houston won today. I did not see that coming! I enjoy watching the pros, but I still prefer college ball. Here are my rules for picking college favorites:

1) Texas Tech first. Always.
2) Texas teams over non-Texas teams.
3) Big 12 teams over non-conference teams.
4) Non-California and non-Florida teams over California and Florida teams.
5) All bets are off with religious schools.

And I can pretty much override any of those rules at any time if I feel like it. It's my prerogative as a woman. Rivalry teams are a whole other monster. I keep hoping UT will lose to one of these second-class teams on their early schedule, even though that clearly goes against rules 2-5, in the cases of Arkansas State, Texas Christian, and Central Florida. There's no logic to any of it. It certainly forces me to root for the underdog on a regular basis.

I picked San Diego to win tonight because they're my favorite NFL team, even though New England was more likely to win. It's all emotion and gut instincts with me, and San Diego is losing 24-0. I miss San Diego. My tan is fading and I miss Balboa Park. We had yummy fish tacos in Old Town San Diego. Tonight for dinner we tried to recreate them. Not really anything like what I had in SD, but they're a star in their own right.

Fish Tacos

September 15, 2007

We Shoot Straight with You

Okay, I thought the wild hogs story was quite funny, so I had to call in to the Williams and Hyatt Show to find out more details. That coach is the high school football coach from Gun Barrel City, TX, and he's a regular on the show. I was wrong in assuming that he was an area coach. Gun Barrel City is just southeast of Dallas.

And if there's anything as funny as West Texas hicks, it's East Texas hicks. Rednecks are really the only group left that it's socially acceptable to make fun of. It's my heritage, anyway, so I have a pass. I went through grade school with a girl who swore that her dad was the inspiration for Dale on King of the Hill. I didn't know who Dale was until she told me he was the chain smoking guy in a cap and sunglasses. I have to agree that her dad was just like that guy.

Gun Barrel City is a town of 5,100. The population was only 60 in 1970, when the people voted on incorporation so that the town could legally sell beer and wine, and the population has just been growing exponentially ever since. Their motto is "We shoot straight with you." Gun Barrel has won second place twice in the Governor's Community Achievement Awards, and they have a water tower and everything.

Too bad to hear about their loss to West Mobeetie last week. I bet the coach can't hold up his head at the Dairy Queen. He probably has to get his steak finger basket to go. Maybe there are some beatable teams coming up on the schedule:


Before you go thinking I'm a completely evil person for laughing at humble Texas towns, I'll have you know that I donated blood on Thursday and participated in an American Association Heart Walk this morning. I'm hoping things will even out on Judgment Day.

September 13, 2007

The Most Dangerous Game

With the start of football season, I've started listening to quite a bit of sports radio. Our local station has a mix of Texas Tech topics, high school coverage, and some ESPN nationwide programming. Every weekend KKAM hosts a pick 'em contest, where callers pick the winners in weekend college games and guess the scores and stats of the Tech game. Last season, Steve and I replicated the pick 'em contest at work. We made it interesting by betting the responsibility for completing minor work assignments.

Tech fans are notorious for bad sportsmanship. There was quite a controversy a few years back about all the tortilla throwing at the football games, until the law stepped in. I even remember television ads with a referee saying something like, "If you throw a tortilla, I'll throw a [penalty] flag." I like the comments on this blog entry in favor of the tortilla tradition.
Just one thought for you. When I went to a Tech game a few years ago, several of us Aggies were hit in the head by frozen tortillas. It hurts. It doesn't leave a good impression on people. No pun intended.
Frozen tortillas? That's even better. Boo hoo, Aggies.
Why throw tortillas at all? Why spend money to throw food away when hundreds of thousands of Afgan [sic] children will be starving this winter? Why not start a new tradition and send the money wasted on tortillas to a worthy attempt to eradicate worldwide hunger?
Oh yeah, she's gotta be from UT.

Tech fans are also notorious for getting drunk out of their small minds before, during, and after the game. Scott has season tickets to the Tech home games. He related a story from a Tech tailgater. This tailgater was up in the stands and came across a UTEP fan with a noisemaker. He said something to the effect of, "Hey! You're not supposed to have that. They're banned by the Big 12 and it's not fair for you to have those." The UTEP fan responded by sounding the noisemaker in the Tech tailgater's ear. So the Tech fan threw his nachos in the other guy's face. Now that's sportmanship.

The big news in town this week is about Tech students changing the lyrics of the fight song to something profane. It's nothing too new. They were doing it during my undergrad when I was a young skull full of mush. The school's response is to stop the band from playing the fight song. Maybe we should be as worried about our lack of a defense. And at least we're not cheating like the Pats.

But the best football news I've heard recently was during the high school football spotlight on KKAM tonight. An area high school coach had called in and was talking about his team's disappointing Friday night loss. I missed hearing what school this coach was from, but I'm thinking it was a small town. Apparently the Friday night game was delayed because a herd of wild hogs ran onto the football field. The coach said that really threw his boys' game off. The game I attended Friday night was delayed and then called early because of lightning, but wild hogs sound much more dangerous.

September 12, 2007

Prize-winning Fare

a picture to make Wendy jealous

So, inspired by Molly, my prize-winning cook of a cousin, I've decided to enter a baked good in the South Plains Fair culinary competition. Molly won second place for her Peach Crisp at the National Cowboy Symposium last week. As long as I can come up with something tastier than typical fair foods like Funnel Cake and Deep-fried Coke, I'll be pleased.

I need suggestions on what to bake. I'm planning on a cake, but which?

Chocolate Blackout Cake with Coconut ButtercreamThe Chocolate Blackout Cake with Coconut Buttercream is a strong candidate. It's pretty. It's complicated, combining dark chocolate, ganache, toffee, and sweet coconut frosting. It has a touch of pepper, so it's definitely got an unexpected kick to it, which might also make it too weird for the judges.

German Chocolate CakeThe German Chocolate Cake with Coconut-Pecan Filling I baked for Dad's birthday is my favorite cake, taste-wise, that I've ever baked. Chocolate, pecans, and coconut are a wonderful combination. I think it's nice-looking. What do you think of the unfrosted sides?

Spice Cake with Sea Foam FrostingThe Spice Cake with Sea Foam Frosting is one I thought of a bit randomly. The "sea foam frosting," seven-minute frosting made with brown sugar, makes it different than your typical entry. There might be less competition in a non-chocolate category, too.

The only other cake that would do is a recipe of my mom's. It's a pound cake that I love love love. I don't know exactly what the rules are for the pound cake entries, though. I'd probably have to bake it in a loaf pan, which is just wrong.

I would like to choose a cake that can hold up, unrefrigerated, in a display case for a few days, too. These are the things I think on. The floor is open for nominations.

September 11, 2007

Never Not Sarcastic

I received messages from a couple of friends, and I thought this was worth nipping in the bud. Despite my recent posts such as "Still Single Shower," "Always a Bridesmaid," "Stalker Boy," etc., I am not wallowing in self-pity about my single status. Apparently my jokes about being single and chubby are soooo played.

So back to more important topics such as foodie chat and armchair quarterbacking:

Feasting on Asphalt 2 ended this weekend with Alton getting a tattoo. Oh brother. My favorite sites from the series are in the South, because of the fun characters and their accents. I think next season should be a Texas tour.

High School Football

Have I mentioned how glad I am that it's football season again? I like turning on AM Radio and listening to football chat or catching game highlights on the evening news. Sorry, news about baseball and the US Open just pales in comparison. Although, we did have the Western All Stars team from Lubbock in the Little League World Series, and that was exciting business.

The only other exciting business I can think of to report is that Katie survived another Taiwanese earthquake. This one was 6.5 on the Richter Scale. She slept right through it even though the building she was in was swaying. Besides earthquakes, she almost got eaten alive by a dog. She was on her bike and got lost in the middle of a rice field one night. She passed by a house with a light on, and suddenly there was a huge dog barking and lunging at her ankles. She said she pedaled like mad while barking back and kicking at the dog. If that isn't funny enough, she had to pass by the house again later. She said the second time her pedalling was faster and her barks were louder.

September 9, 2007

Dessert Party

School has started, but I haven't started school. I don't want to go back. The semester started when I was in San Diego, so I had a pretty good excuse to postpone doing homework. Then I got back home and spent about a week getting ready for the Still Single Shower/Dessert Party. I had fun cooking. Cleaning is less fun. Maybe I should cater. It's all the fun of cooking without the stress of hostessing. I also mowed my lawn, which I hadn't done since Hurricane Katrina. Lest you think the grass grew unabated for two years, I will tell you that I bribe my dad and brother to mow my lawn for me. I was worried at first that I wouldn't be able to start the mower. I am pretty helpless. Once I got the mower started, it was easy from there. However, I was never able to start the weed eater to do the edging. That right there is one good reason to have a man around.

Alas, we had a party to celebrate my not having a man around. It was a fun evening. My favorite people came over and ate desserts with me to soothe the sorrow. I didn't get a chance to take pictures. My friends know I'm an obsessed flickr user, and I didn't want to make them nervous by pulling out the camera. I would have at least liked to take foodie pictures, though. I still have leftovers, so I may take those pictures yet.

Goat Cheese and Lemon Cheesecake with Hazelnut Crust


Chocolate Truffles
Chocolate Coconut Truffles
Spiced Pecans
Chocolate Cream Cupcakes
Crème Brûlée
Goat Cheese and Lemon Cheesecake with Hazelnut Crust
Strawberry-banana Punch

It is rather pathetic how much chocolate and sugar I have in my house. I sent guests home with treats, but I still have cupcakes, truffles, punch base, and many ramekins of Crème Brûlée left in my refrigerator. Now that I've had my fun gorging myself, I'm going to participate in a Get Fit Lubbock contest. I've never done anything like this, but at least I'll embarrass myself in front of a smaller audience than if I went on Biggest Loser or Extreme Makeover. Some of the prizes are things like annual gym memberships and triathlon training. I wonder if I could convince them that the ideal prize is a year's supply of Ghirardelli Chocolate. That's much more motivating!

Still Single Shower Prep

That's my chocolate tower before the party. Next year I'm definitely keeping a tally of how many chocolate bars I buy in a year.

September 2, 2007

Fake Tales of San Diego

Here are the highlights of the San Diego trip, according to me:

Fish Market MealBest Restaurant: The Fish Market

The thing I most looked forward to on this trip was getting some good seafood. I wanted fish tacos, freshly caught fish, maybe some sashimi. At The Fish Market, I got a sampler platter of steamed fish. Mom got Mahi Mahi. Wendy got fish and chips. We shared an appetizer of oysters on the half shell.

GianduiaBest Dessert: Extraordinary Desserts

Monday we skipped lunch to spend some extra time in the Balboa Park Museums. To make up for it, we got an afternoon dessert. I tried the Gianduia, which was fabulous. I wonder if Karen Krasne would let me intern with her. The Orange-Cranberry Scones from Whole Foods were a close runner-up. I'm addicted to those things.

Balboa ParkBest Site: Balboa Park

The buildings, gardens, and museums were spectacular. It's amazing to see a public space so vast and beautiful. The Museum of Man was my favorite museum. The Natural History Museum had an interesting exhibit on the Dead Sea Scrolls. My trip souvenir was a box of Chuao Chocolatier bonbons with Middle Eastern flavors. Unfortunately, the art museum was closed on the day we were at Balboa. Runner-up San Diego Zoo was much more fun than I expected.

Coronado BeachBest Spot to Tan: Coronado Beach

It's been much too long since I've put my toes in the Pacific Ocean. It's been almost as long since my body has seen the sun. I figured it was my last chance to get some sun before the end of summer. I'll be finding sand in my wallet for weeks.

Best Laugh: Many-way Tie

There were many funnies, as there are whenever I'm around. One funny moment was when Wendy made a quick turn and smacked her face into a glass panel in the trolley. Another was when a passenger got on the trolley and sang a rap loudly, but pretty well, actually, about the border and being in jail. A street performer with considerably less talent was playing the violin, and we were unlucky enough to catch his performance two separate times in two separate locations. He was playing an out of tune scale or something else unrecognizable.

I wore my Make Cupcakes Not War shirt and got a few reactions, the most memorable of which was on the trolley. An older man with some issues got on and sat down facing me. "Make cupcakes not war," he read aloud. "I like pie. I like cherry pie. I buy day old cherry pies every Thursday. What day is this?" Then he proceeded to read my shirt aloud again, this time by pointing his finger at each letter on my chest. I kept thinking, "I don't care how old this guy is. One inch closer and I'll deck him."

It's nice to be back home just in time for the start of football season. I want my next trip to be a Feasting on Asphalt tour. I know I could travel the back roads of Texas and come up with some interesting finds. Maybe I could even do it on a motorcycle.

Feasting on Asphalt

August 30, 2007

Stalker Boy

So, it finally happened. I met someone in the grocery store. I always go shopping hoping to make a love connection. I mean, how romantic is it to be in a room full of food? It's like a giant party with a shining concrete dance floor. I like the elevator music they play in the produce section. As usual, the cup of my imagination runneth over. I really just go to the store to flirt. Real relationships scare the hell out of me.

Last week I was doing some pretty late shopping to grab the ingredients for the Chocolate Blackout Cake, second edition. I walked past an aisle, paused to check my shopping list, looked up, and saw a stock boy staring at me. I recognized him as one of the regular late shift stockers. As I passed to the next aisle, I heard a whistle. Flattered and mortified, I continued shopping and then backtracked a couple of aisles to pick up some chocolate bars. As a rounded the corner, I met eyes with the whistler. I'm sure my eyes widened and my face colored. I have such an expressive face. It's a curse, really. I ducked around him, grabbed my Ghiradelli bars, and slinked away.

So tonight, more late night shopping, again for a cake, actually two, a pound cake and a toffee cake. I finished my shopping and checked out. Unfortunately, the milk I bought had a puncture in the carton, so the checker ran to get a replacement. I stood waiting, looking around, and guess who was on my favorite aisle, the baking aisle, the one with flour, sugar, extracts, and chocolate bars? That's right. The stocker, or rather, the stalker. Just standing there at the end of the aisle and blantantly staring. I looked away quickly. Or probably my mouth fell open and then I looked away quickly. I was still waiting for that checker and the replacement milk. Make conversation with the sacker. I did. Monosyllabic answer from her. I saw the stalker again in my periphery, so I turned around completely.

You know the fluttery butterfly feeling after making eyes with someone? It makes you want to bat your eyes and smile coyly. This guy gives you a fluttery feeling like you want to run away and lock your car door and wear a disguise next time you shop. I'll have to start shopping at the newer Market Street in the rich neighborhood with a bunch of middle-aged housewives! No chance of meeting anyone there. What's with me and the late night shopping and baking?

On a happier note, I just returned from San Diego, where I had, gasp, a date. It mainly consisted of lunch at a Brazilian steakhouse and walking about a shopping mall and the pier of the North San Diego Bay. That is not my ideal place to debut, full daylight. I prefer the cover of darkness or at least the shelter of a shopping cart, apparently. I had a fun time but no particular reason to believe that this guy ever wants to see me again in this life.

That "Still Single Shower" is coming up. Ten out of eleven invitees are married. I'm starting to feel like the reason I'm still single is the elephant in the room that no one's talking about. Or maybe I'm the elephant in the room. Feel free to comment anonymously on my failings.

San Diego Zoo

Had a blast at the San Diego Zoo.

August 20, 2007

Dinner and a Movie

I found my new favorite dinner recipe. Drumroll, please... Chicken Marsala. I made it for the fam last night for dinner, and I loved it. However, I wasn't sure if I loved it only because it was 9pm when we ate dinner and by that time I was absolutely starving. But no, I was still craving it today, so tonight for dinner, I made Chicken Marsala for one. Here's the recipe, adapted from the America's Test Kitchen recipe:

Chicken Marsala
Serves 1

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed
unbleached flour
peanut oil
vegetable oil
1 slice bacon, finely chopped
1/4 c. white button mushrooms, sliced
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 t. Annie's Naturals Organic Ketchup
1/2 c. sweet Marsala
1/2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. butter
1 T. minced parsley

1. Heat the oven to 200º. Pound the chicken breast to a uniform thickness, then season with salt and pepper. Dredge both sides in flour.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil in heavy-bottomed skillet* over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook chicken until golden brown on first side, 2 to 3 minutes. Add more oil, if necessary, and flip chicken, cooking until second side is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to an oven-safe plate or dish and keep warm in oven.
3. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to skillet and add mushrooms and bacon. Stir occasionally and scrape pan bottom to loosen browned bits, until bacon is crisp and mushrooms are brown. Add garlic and ketchup, and cook until ketchup begins to brown, less than 1 minute.
4. Stir in Marsala and simmer vigorously, scraping browned bits from pan bottom, until sauce is reduced to a syrup. Turn off heat and add lemon juice. Stir in butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in parsley. Pour sauce over chicken and serve immediately.

*Do not use a nonstick skillet. The pan sauce is flavored by the browned bits which stick to the pan during cooking.


I used peanut oil to fry the chicken and vegetable oil for the pan sauce. I don't know if this is logical. I simply grabbed peanut oil by accident last night, and I fried the chicken in that. I really like the way peanut oil fries, but I'm sure the oils are interchangeable. Depending on the mushrooms you're using, it might be a good idea to put them in the skillet before the bacon. I found that less ripe mushrooms needed more time to cook, and the bacon was almost burned by the time the mushrooms had softened. I used salted butter in the pan sauce and didn't find that the sauce needed any extra salt or pepper.

I served the chicken over fettuccine noodles. A simple green salad with a light dressing is a great accompaniment. A quick and easy meal. -

New York CheesecakeAfter the Chicken Marsala, you're going to want a good dessert. I suggest cheesecake. I would be eating the New York Cheesecake I made yesterday, except I was a good little girl and took it to work to share with my co-workers, and then I forgot to bring it home.

After dessert you're going to be so full that you'll want to veg out on the couch and watch a movie. I suggest The Godfather to keep with the Italian, excuse me, Sicilian, theme. Don't even think about going outside to do yard work or mow your lawn. No reason why you should quit being the white trash neighbor that everyone hates.

August 19, 2007

Always a Bridesmaid


I thought Sarah was going to stay my hip single friend, but she went and got herself a good catch with John. At the rehearsal dinner, we had comida salvadoreña, or El Salvadorean food for you English speakers. I was introduced to the world of pupusas a few weeks ago, and they are wonderful. I've tried pupusas stuffed with queso, loroco (tastes like zucchini), chicken, and pork. They're served with curtido, which is a cabbage relish, and tomato sauce. I love fried plantains spread with that tangy cream they use. I also tried a drink called marañón, which is made from the cashew apple. Cashew trees apparently produce a bright red or orange apple along with the nuts we buy in a can. There are a couple of Pupuserías/Restaurantes Salvadoreños in Lubbock which I've been frequenting since I found out about them. I recommend them, except the wait can be excessive if there's any type of crowd, but that's the price of fresh, handmade food.

How cute is that picture of Hannah? It was a little cold and rainy outside while we were taking pictures after Sarah and John's wedding. My hair immediately went fro, but the bride looked beautiful. Here are my BFFs Catherine (Hannah's mama) and Sarah:

Catherine, Sarah, and Kimberly