26 December 2008

Hope everyone had as lovely of a holiday as we did. Just a quick post to share a fun Xmas morning video. The pooches love holiday treats.

Thanks to Grandma Patti and Grandpa Larry for the lovely stuffed bunnies. The kiddos had a blast running all over the house like maniacs with them. Unfortunately, by late evening they were toast -- long story short, Heidi puked up a bunny ear at 5:30 am this morning.

More soon!

xoxo --
The snowflakey Churches

23 December 2008

Have a holly jolly Christmas.

I'm so behind! A wicked cold knocked me out of commission for about a week, and I JUST finished wrapping my last gift less than an hour ago... That is totally not my style. Normally I'm way done with all this stuff by now. Oh well... I'm all ready for Christmas, and that's all that matters, right? Since I last wrote, much holiday cheer has ensued.

On Monday, the day before I got sick--luckily for those who had to eat my wares--I made my three dozen cookies for Lisa Z's cookie exchange. For the life of me I can't remember what they were called, so I can't find the recipe, but basically they were coconut, sugar, eggs, and rice krispies.

Heidi and I eagerly await the finished result.....

These turned out ok. I'm always nervous when I bake, especially something new... I'm not sure how but I ended up with a ton leftover dough, even after I made an extra half dozen cookies. I thought for sure I'd done something horribly wrong. Nevertheless, they turned out ok. They weren't my favorite ever, but they were tasty enough. Wednesday it was off to the cookie party, and, as always, Lisa Z. was the loveliest host.

Saturday we headed over to Fred and Tracy's for some holiday snacks and cocktails and a lovely game of Things that quickly turned dirty. Thanks to the Collinssss for a lovely time. And Brad was especially pleased with himself, as he finally found the Xmas sweater he'd been coveting for years.

This week it's been a mad dash to finish my shopping, get my menus planned... And the doggies are eagerly awaiting their special Xmas morning treats.

The next few days are going to be a little crazeee. I have to get up early tomorrow and get cooking for my Xmas Eve/birthday feast for my mom and co. out in Manchester. I decided to make the baked ziti I made a few weeks and a baked cheesy cauliflower casserole (plus bday cake, of course). Then Thursday it's off to Marc and Melanie's, where I'm on appetizer duty. I decided to whip up a "skinny" seven-layer dip and shrimp salad in mini phylo cups. Wish me luck!

If I'm not back until after the big day, candy canes and kisses to everyone! Xoxoxoxo

17 December 2008

A very disco Xmas.

Jess put this together. I can't stop watching it. Enjoy!

Elf Disco

Tee hee!

15 December 2008


I've been the worst cook lately. Been eating out for lunch a lot... ordering a lot of pizzas and subs for dinner. But Saturday I finally went grocery shopping -- which I love to do, but I've been resisting amidst all the $$$ being spend on Xmas currently. But Saturday afternoon I sat down and planned a menu for the next few days and hit Plum for some provisions. Saturday we just had burgers and pasta salad, and I have to once again give super props to Plum for its so yum prepared burger patties. I got Brad the turkey Mediterranean burger, and I got the salmon Mediterranean burger. Highly recommended!

Anyway, Sunday I decided to try out a new recipe from Better Homes and Gardens: chicken Florentine artichoke bake. Another good Sunday recipe, as it took a while to prep and I had to use four pots! Gasp! :)

I made a few mini changes up front (and used tri-colored bow-ties in honor of Aunt Sandy and Xmas [funny story interjection: When I was little, and Aunt Sandy was young, my mom made some sort of pasta dish with tri-colored noodles {spinach and tomato probably}. Aunt Sandy said "ew! I'm not eating that!" And my mom said "Just eat it! They're just Christmas noodles!" And she did. Foooooled you. He he he.]). I didn't have Monterrey jack so I used my leftover mild cheddar -- I also didn't use the full amount... in fact, I have no idea how much I used. 3/4 cup maybe? And just a few sprinkles of parm. I didn't have Italian seasoning, so I threw in some oregano and parsley, and I didn't have any paprika for the topping -- oh, I didn't put any additional parm in the topping either. Figured this was a calorie blackhole already. HA!

Anyway, it was deeeeelish. I love a good casserole and/or bake.

Time to dig in..... Plop!

Few notes for next time (or for recommendations -- because I say make it and eat it. Yum!). I probably would cut the inside cheese out altogether. I didn't taste it, so it was kind of a bunch of empty fat (although I'm sure it's crazy delicious with the full cheese included). I think I'd just sprinkle some parm on top with the topping. I'd also up the veggie content to make it even more filling and go even farther (we got 6+ servings out of it). That's it, though. I enjoyed my lunch leftovers and can't wait to have it again for dinner, too. Num num num.

Keep your fingers crossed for me, as I've gotta get my bake on tonight. Three dozen cookies. Eeeep! Don't burn! Don't burn!

09 December 2008

Time to bust out the Bing.

What the heck happens this time of year? One second I'm nappin off the turkey (that's theoretical... I was actually up until 3 am post-turkey. wtf?), the next thing I know it's already mid-December and it's time to put up the tree. But I love the Christmas season, maybe even more than I love the Halloween season (let's not go nuts, though... Halloween itself is still tops in my book). I love finding the perfect Christmas cards, tracking down my holiday wrapping paper for the year, watching all the old-school holiday cartoons on TV, and snuggling on the couch by the light of the xmas tree. But since it's been a while since my last post, I thought I'd just give a quick rundown of some of the fun stuff I've been up to. So, my friends, I bring you...

My Top Ten Things Thanksgiving and After

1. Thanksgiving with my dad. While my life has changed a lot these past few months with him in Ann Arbor, I try to remember every day how lucky I am that he is still here with us. This was also the first Thanksgiving we've spent together in at least 20 years.

2. Rolls. And not just a few rolls, we're talking a tower of rolls. Brad ate seven.

3. Pie. Mmm. Who doesn't love pie, right? And this year I didn't even mess the pies up. I decided to go with canned pumpkin (and I followed the recipe from the can. class!) and premade crust, but I didn't figure my dad and Brad would mind. Most importantly, as far as Brad is concerned, I remembered the whipped cream this year, too. Ha-whipped cream, that is.

4. Sleepy pooches. Calm, sleeping pooches are always a treat. BUT it's even cuter when it's from turkey coma. We gave the kids a little bowl of Thanksgiving goodies, and they passed out on the couch immediately afterward, just like a true Thanksgiving veteran.

5. Brad's beard. I cannot get enough of it. What a cutie.

6. Smooshing puppies. My friend Angelique bred her German Shepherd, Rounder (who is a total sweetie!), and the puppies are almost old enough to go to their new homes. I was able to go visit everyone this past weekend, and the little puppies are just so sweet. I swear, if I didn't already have two....

7. Eggs. After visiting Angelique and the puppies, I zipped around the corner to surprise Aunt Sandy and Uncle Danny. Which is always one of my favorite thing to do. But this time I got extra special lucky and Danny made me breakfast. Eggs, sunny-side up, which he'd never even made before. That Uncle Danny.

8. Ambiguously gay froggie. His little paw just fell like that. I swear. It gave me a giggle.

9. Champagne. We finally put up our tree, and we decided it was the perfect occasion to pop open my bottle of Fizz. We did. And it was.

10. Christmas ornaments. I have loved Christmas ornaments as long as I can remember. As a kid, I would beg my mom to puh-lease bring the ornaments out so I could play with them before they went on the tree. Sometimes she'd give in. And luckily I was able to snag most of my favorites when I moved out. Our tree is a random smorgasbord, especially since we have a lot of Brad's childhood ornaments, too. Some of my favorites are the handmade Somerville Family 1980 ornament my mom made, my German pickle (yes, Patrik, I know I know), huge talking Stewie, my grandma Choppy's childhood elves, and, of course, my McDonald's Grimace and Hamburgler ornaments.

27 November 2008

Why is this tractor blue?

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you all are enjoying a lovely day full of good peeps and good food. I'm taking a quick breather before hitting the kitchen -- almost turkey time!

For a pre-Thanksgiving dinner, Brad and I decided to check out the new Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery (next door to Cafe Habana [their downstairs bars actually connect] and owned by the same business group). We didn't really have any expectations, but immediately upon walking in we were impressed. It doesn't feel like Ann Arbor inside, but I don't really know how to explain that. It's dark, woody, rustic, but not WT. There was a 30-minute wait, so we headed to the bar, which is where we normally prefer to eat at bar-type restaurants. Brad was immediately impressed by the ice bar alongside the bar and the home-brewed beers (there is one called bearded pig!), and I was taken with the yummy cocktail list (I decided on the southern peach, with vodka and peachtree). We got our menus and were in love -- basket of fried goodness (okra poppers, fried green tomatoes, and cornmeal-fried pickles [ew] with buttermilk-lime dip); warm potato chip basket with tractor seasoning and blue cheese fondue for dipping; black-eyed pea and arugula salad; crunch burger topped with warm potato chips and melted American cheese; beer can chicken with free-range chicken slow-cooked on a can of beer and served with buttermilk mashers, pan gravy, and fresh vegetable; three different kinds of mac and cheese; creamed wild mushrooms on cornmeal waffles with braised greens; ribs; steaks; salmon; catfish... So many things to try! I decided on the catfish po'boy and Brad the ribs. At this point, we were nervous because if the food wasn't good we were going to be so disappointed.

Guess what? We weren't. Brad liked his ribs and the taste I snagged of the buttermilk mashed potatoes was super tasty. My catfish po'boy was perfect -- light, not overly breaded, with a pepper and tomato salsa on it with a hint of lime. They also let me get cheddar grits instead of fries. We were in heaven. And full. But of course decided to try out a piece of the deep dish pecan pie. Yum yum. It is official. We have a new favorite place! haha!

25 November 2008

Road to redemption.

Cooking a big dinner and baking dessert has become somewhat of a Sunday tradition. After a few missteps, I took a week's hiatus, finally getting my nerve back this Sunday. First item of business, remake those damn muffins -- WITH sugar.

Heidi approved.

Luckily I had more than enough pumpkin pulp left over, so it was minimal work to throw these guys together. And guess what? They are very tasty (and yes, that empty space in the muffin tin IS from Heidi. The little sneak!!!).

For dinner, Brad said "something lasagnay!," so I flipped through my binder and decided on lasagna-style baked ziti. Luckily my recipe didn't have the nutritional information on it (it does on the web link) or I never would have even attempted it -- ha! BUT... I knew it wasn't great, so I made a few adjustments: 3/4 lb meat instead of a pound, lite ricotta, and I only used 2/3 of the ricotta called for. I made it in a 9 x 13 pan (I only have two larger ramekins), and even though it says four servings, we've gotten nearly double that (also good for that insane caloric count!). It was super satisfying, filling, and extra yummy. The perfect Sunday dinner.

For dessert, I decided to make the lemon-lime squares I saw a few weeks ago on Bread and Honey (a super cool food blog Lisa Z. turned me on to). I woke up Sunday morning with a bug up my butt to hit the Treasure Mart for some retro bakeware -- it didn't seem right to make these cute squares in anything less. Alas, TM is closed on Sunday, so boring old bakeware had to suffice.

Again, after the tart incident (I know I haven't fully disclosed, but trust me, it was a disaster) and the muffin disaster, I'm a little gun shy. First, the crust. Here I followed the recipe exactly, even using, gulp, that whole stick of butter.

Out of the oven, and so far so good! Next up, the filling. Here I did deviate a little, using just two eggs and substituting applesauce for the other two. While mixing, I started to worry -- perhaps you just can't do that substitution for "tarty" desserts... maybe that was the problem with my tart... But it was too late, and it was time to go in the oven. Looks right, right?

And it was! The custard set just fine... I was so relieved.

It turned out! It turned out! I felt on top of the world! :) Some powdered sugar and a little coconut later, it was dessert time.

Lemon limey! A full belly later, I felt ready to tackle Thanksgiving dinner again...without the fear that I'd screw everything up.

23 November 2008

All the Whos down in Whoville.

Last night, Brad and I met Doug and Melissa at the new Book Cadillac Hotel for dinner at Michael Symon's Roast. Funny story: I spoke to Larry before we left, and he said he'd taken his cousin to prom there in 1970 or so, right before they closed it. I tried to picture Larry there in his powder blue suit as we entered the newly renovated hotel. Anyway, I called like three weeks ago to make reservations, and 8:30 was the only availability -- and it was still packed when we left around 10:30 or so. Go Detroit!

I hadn't actually read the restaurant website before we went, just enough to know it was basically about meat and, specifically, pigs... So I was pretty surprised to see it's a trendy little (well, not little, it's huge) place. I guess I expected something a little more up north... Ha! But it was really nice, expectations aside, and we got a nice roomy booth near the bar and wine room. Since we're right there... Might as well order up some wine, right? Melissa and I split a bottle of Riesling, and Brad and Doug split a bottle of the most peppery Shiraz I've ever tried.

While I'm typically not a big meat and steak kinda gal, I was pleasantly surprised by the menu selection. When we went to Tom Colicchio's Craftsteak in Vegas, I went in knowing it was mostly meat, and it was, and pretty standard fare at that. But at Roast, we found stuff I've never seen on a menu before. Including a daily roast beast special, which is actually roasting on a spit in the main dining room.

For starters, we decided on the crispy chicken livers with soft polenta and mushrooms. I know I know... But Doug was game to share them with me, so we ordered them up. It was a toss up between those and the beef cheek pierogie. Other starters included stuffed peppers, roasted marrow, crispy fresh bacon... Anyway, the livers came, and, weirdly enough, they taste exactly how they smell. They elicited a flat-out "YUCK!" from Melissa and Brad ("That just ruined my whole dinner!"), while Doug loved 'em and I thought the were ok. They were super tinny but I ate my whole half, so I must have liked them enough. While glad I tried something new, I don't know that I would order them again.

Main course time! Melissa went with the filet, Doug the roast beast special (pulled pork), Brad the strip steak, and I went with the asldfkjbdslsdfjk. Yep! The asldkfjdfgh! :) (ok, ok, I ordered the veal. I know it is so wrong, but I really have enjoyed veal in many other dishes before so I thought I'd try a full-on veal steak.) While I can't speak for everyone else specifically, my asldkjblkd was pretty tasty! It was steakier than I expected, but it was so tender, and even the fat just melted in my mouth. I also had a side of spinach and feta au gratin. Yum. I tried out Brad's whipped potatoes and they did not disappoint, either. But like I said, lots of tantalizing options on the menu, like braised lamb shank, venison chop, and even three fish options for any veggies out there (and my new favorite, roasted beet salad with goat cheese, walnuts, and watercress). AND there is a mac and cheese side with goat cheese. Next time...

My steak so kicks Melissa's steaks butt.

Dessert time! I pawned a good chunk of my steak off on Doug, so I had plenty of room for something sweet. Brad and I decided on "beer and pretzels" -- Guinness ice cream with caramel and chocolate-covered pretzels. It was delicious! (We discovered the yum factor of Guinness ice cream and hot sauce at Conor's a few weeks ago.) We also decided to treat ourselves to a dessert drink, so he ordered a glass of his new most favoritest drink ever, port, and I decided to try out the orange muscat (which the waiter assured me was like muscato, but with a hint of orange [well, duh!]). It was delicious!!! I must find this for my ever-expanding wine collection...

Mini booze!

So final assessment? A lovely place for a nice dinner with friends, and it's always fun to get out of town for an evening. While no one was totally blown away by their meal, everyone agreed it was tasty, and there are so many more things on the menu I want to try, so I definitely hope to go back sometime soon. I would recommend it, fo sho.

Quick aside -- afterward, we headed upstairs to the hotel bar, which was totally overrun by black tie attendees of a Wayne State election reception that had been held downstairs in one of the ballrooms. Oh yeah, and Ernie Hudson, too.

Who ya gonna call?

Turns out he's a WSU grad (go Eagles!), but why he was attending this event (in jeans and a tee shirt, no less) is beyond me. Regardless, we were sitting about two feet away from him, and I was quite pleased to oogle my first celebrity, even if I didn't get a chance to run up and yell "OMG! I love Oz!" In between stares and giggles, we enjoyed a final nightcap together.

Fun times.

22 November 2008

Warm and fuzzy.

First things first, mucho thankso to my dear Jessy Poo for the lovely knitted wares that arrived in our mailbox yesterday. As requested, thumbs up all around:

You! Let me! Eat! Your hat! NOW!

Second things second, I heart Nicola's Books. When I went in two weeks ago and got my (signed!) copy of the new Wally Lamb, I grabbed a copy of the November newsletter, which alerted me to a giaganto sale going on this week. A select group of books are 20% off (and it's not all crap -- lots of good stuff like Animal Vegetable Miracle, The Thirteenth Tale, a handful of children's books, dog photo books...), and everything else in the store is 10% off, including cards and gifts. Today I finally made it over there and made a killing (support your local shops -- it IS Buy Local First Week!).

A copy of the new Wally for my mom, 1001 Foods You Must Taste Before You Die (for me!), a box of Christmas cards, and a few other various Xmas and bday gifts. Because I'm now a member of their book club (everything you buy counts toward free stuff), I received a free book based on how much I spent. I had my choice between fiction and non, so I chose non. After shopping, I ran next door to Barry Bagel's (yes, that's what the sign says and it annoys me EVERY time [they also had a sign inside that said "Pumpkin Bagels: There here." eeeeee!]) to grab some breakfast. Came home, sat down with my bagel and diet coke, and opened up my free gift. What luck -- it's a food book: It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time, a memoir by a food writer and restaurant critic. It's like they knew I was coming. Thanks, Nicola!

PS The sale is going on through tomorrow, so run on over if you get a chance!

20 November 2008

I am not the muffin man.

Yesterday I decided to whip up something pumpkiny, as I have all these pumpkins laying around the house. I followed the instructions here to perfect my goo. So far so good.

Onto the muffins. Note to self... If something seems weird while following a recipe, listen to your gut. I was doing other stuff so I guess I wasn't focused enough or something. I followed the recipe -- the harvest muffins, also here. (Except I used melted margarine instead of vegetable oil and applesauce instead of an egg.) I'm moving along, thinking, shouldn't there be sugar? Maybe I should just throw some in? Oh well, the recipe knows best! So I finish my muffins, throw them in the oven, and they smell awesome. Much better than the melted plastic that our house STILL smells like after a"tart incident" I dared not tell you about...

Hmm... They LOOK lovely...

First bite, something is wrong. I go back and look at the recipe... It DID call for sugar! I read that list like 10 times. How did I miss that?!?!? UGH. So..... they aren't very good. They're edible -- just taste like biscuits with raisins in them. (Brad did spit his out.) I don't think I was meant to bake.

19 November 2008

Smells like yum.

Last night Brad and I went to the 2nd annual Battle of the Bubbles at Vinology (my anniversary gift to him) -- Champagne? Our favorite restaurant? Chef Johns making a special three-course appetizer tasting for us? You can imagine we were pretty excited! So off we went, and upon arrival, we were ushered downstairs into what I assume is their tasting space but is probably also available to rent. It was So. Cute. Bubbles all across the ceiling, super cute bubble sconces on the wall, dark wood and stone... Hmm... What excuse do I have to rent this space and throw a party???

There were two tables of 8 and two tables of 4 set up, with a delicious-looking cheese and fruit plate on each. We were the first to arrive (of course), but the room slowly filled up and finally it was time to taste our first champagne, a Cava from Spain.

The tasting was MC'd by, um, some chick (I forgot her name almost instantly), who is Vinology's lecturer/tasting host person (I also forgot her title almost instantly). She discussed each champagne specifically but also covered the basics about it -- how it's made, stuff like that. She also had lots of interesting tidbits. Did you know that 50% of champagne is sold between November and January, and 25% of that is sold during the week between Christmas and New Years? Makes sense, I suppose, but our goal for 2009 should be to spread the champagne love throughout the year!

Anyway, back to the tasting... We started with that Cava, and then we learned that all the champagnes to be served were bruts. Bah! Me no likely brut as much! Oh well... It was still bound to be tasty. (And it was.) There were two that I thought were just horrible: J Cuvee from California (it smelled like a public bathroom) and, surprise surprise, Shady Lane Brut. Remember the buttholes from Leelenau that carded me then chucked my wine on the ground?

Alas, there was lots o' yum, too, including a Taltarni brut Tache, which, our neighbor said "looks like a wedding from the '80s." Ha! Of course, the yummiest of yummies, a Delamotte brut, from France, was the most expensive bottle, and by far the most expensive champagne I've ever had. Lucky for me, once you finished your glass, if it wasn't time to move on to the next champagne, they gave you seconds... and thirdsies! Mmm.

And the food... Ahh the food... The first appetizer we had was sweet potato french fries -- apparently chips and popcorn are a perfect champagne pairing (classy!) because the oil tempers the acid in the champagne and the salt "accentuates the flavor profile." The second appetizer was a sweet potato o'gratin with duck confit. YUM! I would love to try and re-create the o'gratin -- I'm not a huge sweet potato fan, but this was delicious. (Oh! Brainstorm! Maybe I'll try and make it for Thanksgiving... Hmm...) The final course was a pork confit with pickled watermelon on a toasted brioche. This too was simply delicious (and luckily I'm mostly over my Zingermans-induced pork phobia).

Oh oh oh! And a final note... My lovely L. Mawby (Sex maker!) got a shoutout as the pioneer of Michigan sparkling wines. She said lots of other stuff about him and his methods... blah blah blah... I can't focus that well with oodles of bubbly in front of me... But I did catch that L. is Larry -- he IS a real dude.

What a night. A perfect evening with my Bradford and my bubbles.

14 November 2008

Tastes like chicken.

I read last week that Chef Brandon Johns was rolling out another new menu, so last night Brad and I decided to hit Vinology for a yummy dinner before he headed out to Florida for the weekend. I wasn't super hungry so I didn't order much (you KNOW I really don't feel well if I'm not pigging out), but I wanted to post a quick note about the yummy items I did get. After watching Rachel enjoy the beet and goat cheese salad last week, I couldn't resist it on my own, even knowing I not like beets. Well, turns out I do like them! And the salad was delish. I followed it up with the fried chicken and mashed potatoes small plate. It was definitely a small plate, but it was perfect for me last night. And I giggled in delight over how good it was. You simply MUST try it. Our bartender told us he's had it something like 10 days in a row.

Now that I can officially drink again, I ordered myself up the pom pom martini. Let's just say that going nearly two months without alcohol, well, I was a little loopy eyed. Did I really need that ice wine martini next? Probably not. But I've been wanting to re-try ice wine since our wine tour, and you can't get it by the glass. I figured this was second best, and it's Vinology's "signature" martini. It was ok.... I had a hard time reconciling how it looked (pink martini) with how it tasted (wine with grape puree). I don't know that I'd order it again, but I'm glad I tested it out.

Ladies: I don't know how long the sale is for, but if you need a coat, nearly all the winter coats are 50% off at Kohls! I have a hard time finding winter coats (silly narrow shoulders!), so you can imagine my dismay at having to toss my most perfect winter coat last year (there was a puke incident). I've been dreading having to really shop for one this year, but luckily Kohl's totally came through. I actually even found a FEW I liked -- imagine that, having to decide between coats! :) Here's the lovely lady... (and you can't tell well, but it has a "shawl" collar, which is actually totally cute.)

Now I just need to get around to sewing some sort of fuzzy material around the neckline. Wool. Ugh!......

13 November 2008

And things of that nature.

A few weeks ago, I got a promotional postcard for Wine Etc. in Scio Township down Zeeb Road. I'd never heard of it, BUT the card was advertising an anniversary sale, where everything in the store (except liquor, which is already at lowest-allowed state cost or some craziness) would be 15% off. Score! I finally had my chance today at lunch, so off I went to check it out.

The store is in the Scio Town Center (across from the Zeeb Road Meijer) and is actually RIGHT next door to the Kitchen Port -- which I very much barely managed to avoid... Must... resist... kitchen... ware... Anyway, in I went. It was definitely smaller than I expected, but it was cute, had an interesting selection, and the dude (owner?) was super nice. First things first, I had him show me where the Michigan wine was. Not a ton (they have more at Plum Market), BUT... they had a trio of L. Mawby products, and I squealed in delight. Not ONLY did they have Sex, they also had Fizz! (The third was a brut. Yuck.) I grabbed a bottle of each for my stash. They carried some bottles from wineries we didn't visit, as well as some dessert wines from Black Star Farms. I haven't been able to find the Gewurztraminer I loved, so I grabbed one from Chateau Grand Traverse. Right next to the Michigan wines I spotted a late autumn Riesling from Ontario, so I grabbed that, too. When did I turn into a white wine drinker? Sheesh! Ha! Anyway, lastly, and more white wine, I grabbed a bottle of Moscato d'Asti, my new favoritest wine -- thanks to Melissa S. for turning me on to it! I also picked up a small iron wine rack because, hey, it was on sale.

When I was checking out, I was gushing about L. Mawby again and the (I assume) owner told me a funny story -- apparently each wine label has to be submitted and approved by the state. I guess when "he" (not sure who "he" is... Is L. Mawby a real guy?) started selling wine, the state kept denying all of his labels. So finally he submitted Sex as a joke... and they approved it! So that is how Sex came to be, well, Sex. Mmm.

If you're in the area... Pop in! Support your local mini wine shop! :)

10 November 2008


I had a major breakthrough yesterday. I was able to peel a pumpkin. Just as I was able to do with the butternut squash last week. Now... I KNOW I've tried to peel before and it was NOT happening. Apparently, the key must be small small small... and ripe ripe ripe!!! Seriously, folks... It is SO easy... and the results are so tasty. So I urge you... go buy yourself a suger pie pumpkin, chop it in half, seed it, peel it... And make something tasty. Take advantage of this yummy squash while you still can -- the season ends soon, and you can't get pumpkins out of season. Your tummy will thank you.

Deconstructing growing hope.

Last Saturday our fearless leader Rachel led the way to an awesome demo/organization project for Growing Hope, an alternative spring break of sorts for hers and Jason Rhoades' bdays. I know my explanation won't do it justice, so check out the org's website because it is a pretty damn awesome place. Anyway, long story short, GH recently bought an old farmhouse to renovate and use for its offices (and land to grow lots of goodies on!). The house isn't in the best of shape, which is where we came in. A group of us organized the crazy messy garage, while the majority of peeps scraped, peeled, scooped, and demoed various spaces in the house.

Rachel, you are truly amazing. I don't know if there's anyone else in the world that works three jobs, plays organized sports three times a week, volunteers weekly, and STILL has the energy and heart to organize a manual labor day for her birthday party.

Workin through the pain!

My dear, I will gladly get up at 7 am for you anytime. It really was an inspiring day, and I hope it wasn't the last time I get to share my mad skillz with the awesome GH peeps.

Navigating the attic.

Making stuff nice and neat.

07 November 2008

Giddy up!

Happy Birthday and Hurry Healing to the lovely Kristal!

04 November 2008

Well duh.

I just realized this morning as I woke up that I forgot to add a whole 1/2 pound of fresh mozzarella to my squash lasagna the other day. No wonder the cheesiness was underwhelming. Geeeeeez.

02 November 2008

Makin whoopie and squashin dinner.

Sidenote: How much does daylight savings time kick butt in the fall??? I feel like I've had a million hours to do all sorts of crap today, even limping around at half speed with my bum foot (and sidetracking myself by itch itch itching these crazy hives taking over my body)!

So I don't know what my deal is this weekend, but I've felt all crazy domestic. I actually convinced Brad to let me make breakfast yesterday morning, and we started our day with a cheesy potato and egg scramble (including toast with Eve's homemade jam!) and mimosas. Midway through making breakfast, I decided I would also throw together some pumpkin whoopie pies, a recipe I've had pulled out and staring at me all week. I had this page turned over in a 2007 issue of Rachael Ray -- since I've been working on my recipe/note binders, I've finally been pulling all my earmarked recipes out and actually using them!

I must confess, I did actually make a mistake when putting this recipe together. I misread the part about separating the butter, and I used it all upfront in the cookie batter (oops). I guess a little extra butter never hurt a recipe, right? Anyway, I did split the fat content between half shortening and half applesauce (well, a little more than half applesauce, I think). Actually, I have no idea what I did -- the recipe was in "stick" measurement, and I used applesauce and ministicks of shortening. But hey, it worked out, so who cares, right? Otherwise, they turned out mighty delicious, and we will be enjoying them some more once our dinner has settled.

Another recipe I've been eyeing is Martha's butternut squash and sage lasagna. I tend to do simple simple, so I knew it would take a special day and a burst of enthusiasm to pull this one out... I had the time today, and the ingredients, so I decided to go ahead and tackle it. First up, dealing with the squash. I was a little nervous about this because it really IS a bit of a pain to finagle a pumpkin. But guess what? The butternut squashes were NO PROBLEM. I followed my new handy-dandy instructions and zip zip zip, I had the first squash ready to go in under a minute!

Even the dogs were impressed.

Speed demon.

The second squash was a little bigger and required a little more effort -- as always, the ever-awesome pumpkin carving knife came to the rescue! I still finished with this one in just a minute or two. Sweet!

Time to chop chop chop, toss 'em in oil, and throw 'em in the oven.

Eventually, it was time to put all the pieces together. All told, it took about an hour to get to this point. Not too bad, but definitely not a quick weeknight dinner. Here she is... all primed and ready to cook cook cook!

Hurry up!!!

About 30 minutes later...

Ain't she pretty?

Time to dig in! Mmm... (Note the cute new plates -- all the Halloween stuff was 50% off at Target! Score.)

The verdict: Mmm. Mmm. :) BUT you HAVE to like squash. It's very squashy. But I liked it. Brad liked it, but I could tell he expected more cheese less squash. Next time I make it, I will knock the squash down a little (I think I may have used a little too much anyway), use whole fat ricotta (I used light... I know I know I should know better), and use a thicker layer of cheese on the top. I'd also up the sage content and add a little more salt and pepper to the squash. But it was tasty, pretty easy, and the perfect way to end a yum-filled weekend.

PS. This was my first time using my recipe binder, and I loved it. It kept the water off my recipe (I make a mess -- all of my recipes and cookbooks are covered in stains), and I'm able to clip little notes about what to do next time. Binder one is finished, I'm halfway through binder two!