September 28, 2008

Lots to Love

This weekend I'm pretty much having a nervous breakdown due to worry about my comprehensive exam essays which are due on Tuesday and my Chet who's moving in not weeks, but days now. He's trying to make it up to me with homemade cinnamon rolls. I think I'll let him.

Chet's Cinnamon Rolls

The first time Chet and I talked on the phone after we met, he told me that he made really great bread and cinnamon rolls. I remember that conversation. He said that he was an aficionado of baked goods. I was cheering inwardly, glad that he wasn't one of those guys that doesn't like sweets, and thinking I could win him over with my desserts. Well, his cinnamon rolls can definitely stand on their own. They're out of my league.

He also let me borrow The Office, Spaced (five years, eight months, and three days!), and 30 Rock DVDs. I want to be Tina Fey when I grow up. Sigh. Back to work.

September 23, 2008

Local Fare

Fair Culinary CompetitionI never pass up an opportunity to heap praise on myself, so I'll divulge the news that I got first place for my white cake entry in this year's fair. I still think that white cake is far inferior to just about any other cake - chocolate, lemon, pound, coconut - except Angel Food cake, which is a cake at which I'll turn up my nose. It's another cake you make when you're stuck with some egg whites you need to use.

White Layer Cake

Peanut Butter Cookie DoughI did have one more fair entry. I made a batch of peanut butter cookies. Not much makes my PB cookie recipe different, except for the addition of extra peanuts and their jumbo size. The dough was delicious, but I was disappointed when they came out of the oven. They had run together on the baking sheet, which is the disaster of all disasters when it comes to baking cookies, right? They weren't very beautiful.

On top of that, when I went to turn in my cookies, the volunteer noted the jumbo size of my cookies and told me that next year the cookies cannot be larger than 2" in diameter. "Otherwise, we'll give you a knife so you can cut them down."

I would sooner take my cookies back and go home. "Great," I thought, "the judges have a preference for smaller cookies, and here I am with cookies on steroids. I should have used an alias."

My fears were unfounded. Maybe the judges are waiting until next year to decide that size matters. Maybe the bribe worked. Anyway, I got first place for the cookies. Here's a shot of almost all of the peanut butter cookie class. Mine are at the bottom right, looking very disheveled on the plate.

Fair Culinary Competition

That's the end of my win streak at the fair, though, because if I'm still in Lubbock at this time next year, I'm going to throw myself off the Ferris wheel.

Apple Butter FestivalLast Saturday I went to Apple Country Orchards in Idalou for the annual Apple Butter Festival. It started out as a date idea for Chet and me. Then we decided to invite our moms. I called Mom Saturday morning to make sure she was still going. Yes, she was, and Dad wanted to come, too. She called back a few minutes later and said that everybody wanted to go. Hopefully that wasn't too much family time for Chet's mom.

I have good memories of going to the orchard to pick apples when I was younger. Mom picked us up after school in the Suburban, and we'd drive out. You have such a different concept of time when you're a kid. That drive to Idalou seemed so long, but it was probably only twenty or thirty minutes. We drove up FM 400 which passes through a canyon, which was exciting to us. Mom would get lost, and I'd probably be the only one of the kids who hadn't dozed off, so together we figured out where we missed the turn. While you pick at the orchard, it's all you can eat apples. Mmmm. The apples peeked out at us from underneath the tree leaves. We probably had to be told more than once not to pick the wormy ones. The autumn sun cast its inimitable shadow and the fall air remained cool. It made this farm girl think of harvest time. We would get apple cider slushes, and they also had a soft serve machine that dispensed an apple yogurt that was amazing. I haven't seen that in years, but they still have their fabulous bakery and delicious cider. A few years ago, I had a job in Idalou. There were a few times when I would drive to the orchard during lunch, buy a loaf of Apple Cake, eat the whole thing, and take a nap.

The orchard was already pretty crowded Saturday when we arrived. Lots of young marrieds and toddlers. Pretty WASPy. Different crowd than the fair, for sure. We grabbed some buckets on wheels and started picking apples. We found a few varieties. There were some pretty Holly apples. Other than that, the highlights were seeing a Horny Toad and me standing in an ant hill for a couple of minutes until I realized I was getting bitten by red ants. Farm girl, indeed.

Apple Butter Festival

September 18, 2008

Where the Competition Is Stiff but Sweet

It's time for the South Plains Fair to come to Lubbock again. I jus can’t not tell you how excited I am to git one of those fried cheese on a stick things. And slash or one of those fried Snickers or cheesecakes on a stick with the powdred sugar that gits all over you. I am super excited about gitting a turkey leg and a couple 32 oz. lemonaids for lunch everyday next week.

The only thing better than fair food is fair shopping. I can’t not wait to git a salt lamp and a T-shirt with that gangsta writing on it. Last year I spent all my mad money on a carikature of me playing baseball. A T-shirt will be way more useful than that.

I made a cake for the judging contest this year. Last year I made a german chocolate cake and got a prize so can’t do that cake again. I really thought about making a pound cake (Elvis’ favorite) or prune cake then I decided to make a white layer cake. Chocolate and butter are sooo expensive that it is almost crazy to think of making a cake these days. Eggs too. But 1st prize for white cake is $10 and that will buy a fried apricot pie and a super stuffed baked potato.

Maybe you are like me and think that white cake is BORING unless you poke holes in it and pour JellO over it or Hershey’s syrup or something. Or maybe you don’t like to waste all those egg yolks. But the best thing to do with egg yolks is make ice cream! It might not be as yummy as Blue Bunny Mouse Tracks with the peanut butter – yummo! – but it is still good. A lot of people won’t take time to make a cake. Cake mixes are easy and delish but there banned at the fair (except for the cake mix division which is for weenies!!!).

I had to scope out a good recipe for the white cake. I compared a few. I didn’t trust Martha Stewarts’ because she’s a Yankee. So I used a recipe I’ve tried before. It has almond extract in it which gives it a good flavor. Unfortuneatly, one of my cakes did fall in the middle when it came out of the oven. But I disguised that with frosting. I made a merangue butter cream frosting and put jus a little rum in it. I don’t think this cake is my best ever. But maybe I can at least git a Participant ribbon.

I can’t not wait to go to the fair. I am super excited about the hypmotist show. One time I saw someone get hypmotized and act like Britney Spears so I am a beliver. I want to tell the hypmotist to hypmotize me off of cake and cigarettes. The fair rides are even more fun than the Joyland ones. Because Joyland doesn’t have the big strawberry tilt-a-wirls. Plus It’s a good place to hang out with my friends that are working at the sausage stand and git free funnel cakes. And I always can git ideas for what my next tat should be and where I should put it.

September 14, 2008

Foreign to me

The last few weeks I've been staggering through my routine, a little shell-shocked by a crazy schedule, family upheavals, and the anticipation of my Chet moving to the Big Apple without me. I've been mopey and whiny and hitting the ice cream too hard. I recognize that when you don't have the direction, drive, or focus it takes to complete a stupid blog entry, it's time to get help. I thought tonight I would polish my rusty old html coding and complete multiple entries I let languish as unpublished drafts. Excuse a personal indulgence.

Hong Kong March 2008

I came across an SD card of photos from the Hong Kong trip in March. I can't believe that was six months ago. It was pretty cool to see the sights of Hong Kong again in The Dark Knight. In filming, they had to cut a scene where Batman jumped into Victoria Harbor because of its polluted state. I found that Hong Kong was absolutely as polluted and disgusting as you would imagine from hearing that. I still don't believe that you can ever completely see the sun through the fog.

An interesting thing I learned in Hong Kong is that each finger on your left hand has an important meaning. A ring on your thumb means you are looking for a boyfriend or girlfriend. A ring on your pointer finger means you have a boyfriend or girlfriend. A ring on the middle finger means that you are engaged. A ring on the ring finger means you are married. A ring on the pinky means you are divorced or do not want a boy/girlfriend or do not want to get married.

Speaking of trips (in every sense of the word), I went on my first outta town trip with Chet's family. I got to go to San Antonio and see Gordo on tour with Shooter Jennings. That was one highlight of a fun weekend. Other highlights:
  • Sea World
  • Chet's iPhone getting stuck inside the door panel of his parents' car, having to stop at Dollar General in Big Spring to buy a screwdriver, dismantling the door to retrieve the phone, with me watching and laughing hysterically the whole time
  • Hanging out with the niece and nephews
  • Eating sushi on the ride home - my favorite was the "Heat Attack": spicy tuna and cream cheese inside a jalapeƱo - but we also got some flaming eel or something
Flaming Sushi

Back in Lubbock, for Friday dinner, Chet and I tried a couple of spicy Indian entrees, Lamb Vindaloo and Paneer Tikka Masala. For dessert, I made Alton Brown's Indian Rice Pudding. It was such a cinch to make, I had it again today for breakfast. The only substitution I made was swapping ground cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg for the ground cardamom. At $13.99 for a small jar of the cardamom, I figured I'd use what was on hand.

Indian Rice Pudding