Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Get Your Bake On

I have always really liked baking. And then The Great British Baking Show came in to my life, and I am a woman obsessed. Recently, I have been baking cookies and practicing piping techniques. I'd never worked with royal icing before, so I felt like it was a skill that should be developed.  I'm a beginner and not awesome at it, but it sure is fun.  The picture above is some Thanksgiving cookies. I cut out with a knife the shape for the turkey pilgrims, because they don't sell that cookie cutter anywhere. Shocker.

 Then I also made some leaves and monochromatic acorns.

And a few weeks ago for Halloween I made ghosts, bats and pumpkins. This picture was taken by my friend Rosanna after I dropped off cookies at her house. Because that is what you have to do with cookies, give them away.

I've actually learned a lot whilst making sugar cookies and icing them. For example, the best tasting sugar cookie recipe is from my high school friend Julie's mother, but for me, they didn't ice well and they spread like crazy - I actually turned a few bats in to pumpkins because they were unrecognizable as bats. Then I switched to the Joy of Baking sugar cookie recipe, which was fine, but things got really delicious when I threw in almond extract. That is where it's at people, that is where it's at.

I'm so sad that PBS just aired the finale of what is the US' season 2 of TGBBS. I miss all of the puns and self-deprecating humor all ready. ABC is going to be airing an Americanized holiday version with Mary Berry, hopefully they won't really Americanize it, and go crazy cut-throat and lose all of the charm the original is absolutely dripping with.  I'm off to make some crackers and a pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving.  Have a great holiday, everyone!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The House on the Rock

Hi Friendos. It has been a long time. (How are you? Said in my best Tobias Fünke.) A lot has happened, but right now I just want to go in to one thing.

This August, one of my favorite people on this planet, Ashley, and I drove across this vast country of ours. We took six days to do it, so that we could see some fun stuff a long the way. During this drive Ashley suggested that I write a blog about what I learned on our car trip. The list seems pretty short, and not worthy of a whole post, but here goes:

1. I don't hate long road trips.
2. I hate motorcyclists.*
3. Mount Rushmore is underwhelming
4. When you say "Mount Rushmore is underwhelming" people look at you as though you are saying the most blasphemous thing ever.  These people have not been to Mount Rushmore.
5. People in Ohio are super nice.
6. Kennywood, sadly enough, is not a Dollywood type place started by Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins or Kenny G.
7. It is best to be prepared when sleeping in a teepee.

Nothing earth shattering. The reason I was thinking about our trip was, I was going through my photos trying to decide what to print out for real life use, and came across all of my photos from The House on the Rock. Officially the craziest place on the planet. (Maybe not officially, but I would nominate it for that designation if there is some sort of committee or vote happening.) The House on the Rock was built by a man who clearly wanted to buck traditions, to be a non-conformist, and who wanted to collect all sorts of things: guns, glassware, dolls, doll furniture and houses, organs, carousels, and pretty much anything old, including 2 Zoltars from Big - which we can all now call bs on because I did not wake up the next day as Tom Hanks.

I need to show you things, to illustrate how crazy this place is. But the lighting is really terrible in there, probably partly because they want you to go see this place for yourself and not on the internet. Also probably to disguise how dusty it is in there.

This isn't weird, it is just cool. An infinity room, that juts out over a ravine and is only slightly terrifying when the wind blows. 

Friends, there are so many animatronic band things there. Some legit play the instruments, this one is just mannequins holding instruments. Cause that's a thing.

Next time I get fitted with an artificial limb, I need to remember to have them put a place for my gun in it. So handy!

And you thought GMOs were bad. May I have some arsenic complexion wafers please. Oh and worm cakes sound like a good idea! To say nothing of the quinine pills. Dr. Rose you old mountebank, you!

Speaking of worms, how about some tape worms? "Friends for a fair form" indeed!

Speaking of animatronics, you put a token into this machine and the guys start moving. At first Ashley and I were unclear on what was happening. When I figured it out, I was scandalized. I'll tell you when you're older.

 One of the many, many carousels. I so wish we could ride on them.

 And here is one with like 800 dolls on it.

This creepy fella tells you how funny you are. He told me I was brain dead and laughed maniacally for like two whole minutes. The hands are painted so realistically with liver spots and veining, it is like some weirdo sits in a glass cube and laughs at and then insults passersby.  

Also, in the bathroom there was a sharps container for used needles. I am used to seeing them in bars and places, and was kind of surprised to see it there, thinking solely of drug use, but then Ashley who is always wise brought up diabetes. Of course. And then the diabetes idea was only reinforced when we stopped at a frozen custard place and saw a defibrillator hanging on the wall.

Overall it was a fascinating few hours. Totally worth the jut off of the interstate. If you are ever in Wisconsin, you need to go. A few of the online reviews say it is a great place for children, I would disagree with that, unless they are big fans of Tim Burton or are little weirdos like Wisconsin's own Lenny & Squiggy. I am still terrified of that clown.

(A jut off the interstate that wasn't super worth it was Wall Drug. If you have ever driven through South Dakota you will have seen hundreds of signs beckoning you to come and enjoy ice water. It was a bit lackluster, but one thing that I enjoyed and then felt supremely guilty for enjoying was this picture, amongst lots of photos of Native American men was this man, "Young-Man-Afriad-of-His-Horses." You be you, guy, you be you!)

*I made the observation around Sturgis, SD and the million bikers who came there this summer, that we saw as many motorcyclist wearing helmets as we did motorcyclists who had any degree of melanin, i.e. single digit number. But seriously, why aren't there helmet laws? We drove through a huge puddle of blood on the freeway after being stopped in serious traffic for 25 minutes. Wear helmets and use common sense, peeps.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Before and After: Upholstered Chair

One of my favorite things is to revive objects that are in disrepair or outdated. I found this little lady at an estate sale a while back and was really taken with the lines. There were some structural issues that needed to be addressed as well as a complete overhaul of upholstery. This was my first venture in removing literally everything* except for the wood and starting from scratch. Friends, there was hay and horsehair in there--which is absolutely horrifying. The horsehair would indicate age, as well as the fact that the original color of the upholstery was navy blue, but because of the structural issues I felt like I shouldn't be precious with it, (and like I should wear a particle mask whilst deconstructing.) I wanted to make it work for everyday use and call it a day. So that is what happened.  Are there some imperfections and issues? Of course, I am no upholstery aficionado (aficionada?), but it is significantly improved functionally, and I think aesthetically, and it was great practice for next time. Here she is from the back. I'm usually not a floral or paisley girl, but that is what she** was asking for, so I had to concede.

*I didn't realize that upholstery supply stores around town don't just sell edge roll. Thankfully, a super nice upholstery shop owner gave me a yard of it so I could actually finish the job. One of these days I'm going to have them do a sofa for me.
**Yes, I'm still talking about the chair.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Have You Heard: Ryan Adams

For the past month plus I have been listening to this track like crazy.  Only a couple more weeks until the album drops and I am stoked.

I haven't been this excited for a Ryan Adams release since 2002's Demolition, which I'm pretty sure I like better than even Ryan Adams himself. I know, I know it was panned. It was all of the cast offs that didn't make it on to 2001's Gold, (which is tied with Heartbreaker as my favorite Ryan Adams album ever, including his work in Whiskeytown,) but I love it anyway. I realize I am probably alone in this, and I'm perfectly fine with that. That said, these four tracks are perfection and I will never be convinced otherwise.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Die Another Day

This morning I was headed over the Fremont Bridge, the tallest bridge here in Bridgetown when some Chachi wasn't paying attention and tried to change lanes into me. A little evasive maneuvering and everything was fine - crisis averted, but this is not the potential death I mean to talk about.

Reem is in town for Becky's wedding, which is of course delightful. This afternoon Reem and I met at Shara's office and the three of us stood in the parking lot chatting for a while about fraud, skinny jeans, and bees as we are wont to do. At one point someone who shall remain nameless* decided to start tapping me in a way shall I put this...was not pleasant nor something I feel like anyone would or should tolerate,** so I started to back away. I kept retreating whilst unfortunately not looking where I was going, until I ran in to a small boulder. I was very close to falling backward over said boulder and into a second small boulder which would have caused at least a concussion. It was only through the use of my very uncatlike reflexes that I clumsily avoided a head injury. So, now having been through the trauma of almost falling onto a rock, I would like to speak out for all of the girls who have had their boobs continuously tapped by their very good friends. You don't have to take it, but by all means, look where you are going.

*not Shara.

** It actually prompted a conversation about a certain New Girl scene afterward.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Some recipes I cannot recommend.

I have been going through and organizing my recipes. We're going digital friends. While I don't think I could ever give up the tactile experience of reading a book, I do think I can give up having a few file folders bursting at the seams full of recipes I never look at because I always just go to my computer.

In this digital consolidation process I was going through a recipe book put together by the ward Relief Society when I was a toddler. Some of the recipes seem delightful enough, and some seem like the weirdest/grossest things ever. Here for your reading pleasure are some great recipes from the not-at-all-progressive culinary wizards of 1980s suburban Portland, (who were also very unhealthy cooks. There are exactly 5 recipes for vegetables out of the 300+/- recipes. And one is for a marinade to add to veggies, and one is for onion rings).

(All of the typos from this point out are transcribed directly from the book. There are quite a few, and I don't want to write "[sic]" every time.) I am also omitting the names of the people who submitted these recipes, because I'm friends with some of their kids, and now consequently have a sense of pity for them and what they were subjected to at the dinner table.

Chili Con Queso Dip
1 lb. Velveeta cheese
1 can Rotelle tomatoes

Melt velveeta cheese. Blend tomatoes in blender to make a puree, or mash well with a fork. Add tomatoes to melted cheese. Serve warm with taco chips.

Donde están los chiles, friends?  Also can we call Velveeta "queso?"

Whole Wheat Tomato Juice Bread
4 T. yeast
1 c. warm water
1 T. br. sugar
1 qt tomato juice
6 c. water
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. molasses
1 c. honey
2 T. salt
1 c. gluten flour
8 c. whole wheat flour

I'm going to stop right there, because that is enough information to be properly disgusted. Tomato juice in bread? And molasses in the same bread? Please, by all means, throw tomatoes in, but not tomato juice. (As an aside, my father dated the woman who submitted this recipe for years. I cannot for the life of me remember ever eating at her house. I can remember cooking pancakes one time with my dad, but never eating--which I think is a good thing.)

1/2 C pineapple juice
1 egg, beaten
1/2 C sugar
2 T flour
2 T butter
1 pkg Dream Whip

Melt butter in saucepan. Add flour,sugar, pineapple juice and egg. Cook until thick. Remove from heat and cool completely. Prepare Dream Whip according to package. Mix cooled misture with Dream Whip and spread over gelatin. Top with grated cheese. Serve over brownies.

1. I don't know what Dream Whip is, but I am not optimistic for it.
2. Where did the gelatin come from? Is that what we're calling the weird thing that has cooled in the saucepan? Also, FLOUR?!?
3. Nope, it's not the sauce pan "misture," so where is this gelatin coming from?
4. Top with grated cheese? I love a good mix of savory and sweet, but really? In the 80s, I feel like the only options were Swiss, American, and cheddar and none of those should be combined with pineapple juice and brownies.  Gouda on the other hand...still a terrible idea.

Scripture Cake
1 C Judges 5:25 last phrase butter or margarine
1 3/4 C Jeremiah 6:20 sugar
1/4 C Proverbs 24:13 honey
6 Job 39:14 eggs
1st Corinthians 10:2 spices
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp all spice
1 tsp nutmeg
3 tsp Amos 4:5 baking powder with 1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp Leviticus 2:13 salt
3 3/4 1sk Kings 4:22 flour
2 C 1st Samuel 30:12 raisins
1 C Genesis 24:11 water or buttermilk
2 C Revelations 16:13   (figs)
(Something in Numbers about chopped almonds - it is cut off by the binding.)

I legitimately cannot handle this. Does the recipe really say "water or buttermilk" like those are interchangeable? And "(figs)"?

The main dishes get super dicey. For example "Bread and Butter Shrimp Salad" that uses 1 can of crab, 2 cans of shrimp and a large loaf of buttered bread cut into squares. You throw in some salad staples like boiled eggs, celery, onion, and carrots and drench the whole thing in miracle whip. Yikes. Then there's  "Hot Dog - Bean Soup" which is bacon, mirepoix, and stewed tomatoes combined with pork and beans, quartered and fluted hot dogs and some bouillon. How do you spell inedible? 

But the
pièce de résistance is "Rice Around the World
1 cube margarine
8 T flour
1 quart of milk
2 cans cream of mushroom
1 can cream of chicken
3 cans of tuna fish
Enough Rice for your family

Put rice in middle of plate - put sauce over top. Around edge of plat, put chopped pieces of any of the following:
Bananas, oranges, pineapple, peanuts, coconut, raisens, green onions, celery, boiled eggs, bacon bits, tomato, green peppers, tomatoes.

I love the flavor combination possibilities! Bananas and tuna with green peppers over rice? Gross. Oh wait, maybe that "plat" isn't a typo, maybe you're supposed to throw pieces of boiled eggs and "raisens" around some land whilst vomiting up your dinner?

Have fun not making these foods.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dear Ed Sheeran,

My cousin is a huge fan.  She is in your target demographic. I am a fan of a few of your songs* but don't be too concerned as I am a few years beyond your target demographic. So way to go! The other day my cousin and I were hanging and she was absolutely flabbergasted that I hadn't listened to your new album in its entirety yet. Something she felt she had to rectify by playing 30 seconds of each song--which drives me crazy, but we won't tell her that. I digress. When she got to "Thinking Out Loud" which is a sweet little song, I immediately said that you were using the same chord progression as "Let's Get it On."

The similarities are almost as striking as the great George's "My Sweet Lord" to The Chiffons'  "He's So Fine." There's no criticism here- if it works, it works. I bring up my cousin and your target demographic because I wouldn't be surprised if the vast majority of them hadn't heard "Let's Get it On." If I may, I'd suggest you do a little mash-up while you're on the road. Not just to expose your generation to a true classic, but also to make you seem so clever, because what are mash-ups but a way to show off? (And not that you're not doing well enough with the ladies already, but just think of how you will exponentially up the sexy time factor.)

Marvin Gaye will give you more street cred. And as far as ginger brits who rap a little too frequently, you're doing better than expected on that front, but more is more as far as street cred goes. Just don't go all the way to face tattoo. That is too much street cred.

Anyway, keep up the goodwork!

*i.e. "Kiss Me" & "All of the Stars"**
**I guess that is technically just a couple, not a few, but a few sounds more complimentary, don't you think? But I thought you were utterly charming on that one episode of Never Mind The Buzzcocks I watched because Richard Ayoade was on it. You and Noel Fielding were hilarious together.