We’re going to have a TV Party tonight. All Right! Or, oops, a Pumpkin Party. Same thing, maybe?

Oh, dear, lord where did TV Party come back from? Black Flag – Henry Rollins – Repo Man. Such an odd thing – yes, odd but funny and strange in the same way the film Raising Arizona is.

D&D_2167Well, every year I go to Scott Novota’s pumpkin party – Strong Street Studio. Just one of those things I save my little money for and then spend ridiculous amounts to purchase two or three blown glass pumpkins. This year for two really beautiful pumpkins I spent $129.00. But this is only my “stupid” waste of my money. I am not a clothes shopper, I do like shoes, but I am just not a shopper – I put it off as long as frigging possible. Right now, I need new jeans, new Keds, and a few lot more long-sleeved shirts, but it is such a chore.  The MotH should be grateful, really. So I do not feel too bad for spending dumb amounts of money on glass pumpkins.

Can’t help myself, but I have this thing for individually blown glass pumpkins. It is because the MotH surprised me for my birthday not long after we moved to Pensacola with a glass blowing weekend class. I have been, for a very long time, a potter – through high schools (every year) and in community college, and then in a community center. Pottery and glass blowing seemed so similar to me, but they are very different, and at the same time a little similar too.

I guess after the glass blowing weekend you realize how difficult it is – especially if you are a female because arm strength is a big part of this job – same for throwing on a wheel, but glass is way heavier than clay. I can attest to that. And dear lord, the rod you have to put the molten glass is not light weight either. Out of my depth.

So I have an appreciation for Strong Street Studio – I would like to apprentice there – much as I would like to apprentice at Au Peche Mignon. I wonder am I too old to do either – and that depresses me greatly. Slightly opposite apprenticeships if you think about it.

My collection – so far. And this. The rest are here.

But this is, by far, my favorite. It just looks so wickedly evil. Never seen one that was its equal. dd_img_0850-edit

Sometimes (Often Times) I have this in my bag …

Actually (and I hate to use that word – really hate it*), this is not terribly exciting, but it makes my day at the office (how sad is that?). It is a lemon – I know, So. Very. Exciting. sigh.

I have this habit of bringing together odd bits of food from home for my breakfast / lunch to cobble together and occasionally make a great lunch hack. I just prefer it to buying lunch out. Snob that I am, I like my cooking better than most others. Probably because I make the things I like – like right now, I am on a pan-roasted mushroom trip. Not sure why, but it works for me.

I tend to eat crackers for breakfast just to choke down the stupid mess of meds for the equally stupid lupus that has become a very crappie part of my life recently – hello, medical field – not impressed so far. Okay – enough of that.

Back to it – It is amazing what a fresh lemon can do – just the juice, since I do not have a zester at the office. Although I probably should think about getting one. Fresh lemon (or lime) zest is just lovely. What about grapefruit zest – now there is an idea. Also need a pepper grinder too, if I really want to make the lunch hack thing special (and we all want it to be special, don’t we?)

We have the “Real Lemon” juice in a bottle in the office fridge, but it is just so lame compared to fresh lemon – even if the lemon is kind of a lame, old-ish lemon from the back of my fridge at the house – that juice makes all the difference. The difference is really very telling – not a joke. cropped-dd_1784

So I have some left over rice, maybe with some artichoke hearts in it, and then I add my favorite garlicy pan-roasted mushrooms on top and heat it up. What makes it perfect? Fresh lemon juice. You see where this is going, right?

Just put a lemon in your bag. It will be fine. And it is kind of cool. Kind of like a fez.~

* Inspector Morse always hated that word too and I love my Morse (John Thaw). That’s a post for a whole other time. Or as Dr River Song would say, “That’s a whole other birthday.” Yes, a cool Dr. Who reference~. My total geek is showing.

When you get right down to it  – it is the author of the Morse stories, Colin Dexter that, I think,  hated “actually.” Understandable. But I do have to quibble with his use of “sludgy” green eyes – seems to be a recurring theme that I resent because my green eyes are said to be lovely. I was going to say hot, but only blue eyes and brown eyes are hot and to be honest, no one knows what to do with hazel eyes. Genetic randomness right there.

The Boy has lovely blue eyes that can turn grey depending on what he is wearing or even what kind of mood he is in. I did not know that could happen. But how does a child with two green-eyed parents end up with a blue-eyed child. Apparently blue eyes can stay hidden from previous generations, so I expect that is it. Way to much science for me. Hello, Gregor Mendel and principals of inheritance. See, I did learn some science in Jr. High School. Who knew?

““

Well, we just went for a wander, didn’t we? Or, I guess it was me that let this tiny brain of mine wander a bit.

Back to lemons, in your bag, to make you desk meal (lunch hack) a real treat vs. a total bore. Your call.

 

Sun-Dried Tomato Rice with Pecorino

So the Publix had a large-ish jar of oil packed sun-dried tomatoes on sale a bit ago and I went for it. I usually get the dry ones and rehydrate them, but figured I might as well try this because it was a good deal. So then I had to figure out what to do with them and this was an early thought. And one I liked quite a bit and made for an easy and great lunch. Though I will say I added, once again, some fresh lemon juice to enhance the flavors of everything. This also keeps me from adding salt, and I just can’t help but think that is a good thing.D&D_2188

2 Tbs sun-dried tomato oil
1 Tbs canola oil
1 medium shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup short grain rice
2 cups water with 1 tsp vegetable bullion (Better than Bouillon)
1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, minced and patted very dry – yes, very dry
Pecorino or Parmesan – it is for the salt, mostly.

Heat oils to medium and add shallots and cook until soft. Add minced garlic and let get soft, but no color – about 1-2 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat with oil. Stir for one minute, then add water/bouillon mixture. Bring to boil and then, cover and reduce to a simmer – just like you regularly cook rice – until liquid is absorbed. Remove from burner and let steam with lid on. I just push it to the back of the stove where there are no burners on. That little bit of steaming helps a lot. I do this for every pot of rice I make – and I make a rice quite often – all different types – long grain, jasmine, short grain, arborio. You get the idea.

Add sun-dried tomatoes and mix in grated Pecorino. And there is lunch. Simple.

21 Oct 2017
This was a crap shoot recipe. I made it with what I had on hand at the time because I needed some breakfast/lunch at the office. I prefer my own food to going to a restaurant in most cases. At the office, I added some fresh lemon juice, just to brighten the flavor.
There is something about sun-dried tomatoes I love, but you have to use them with restraint because they can make things really sweet. I have only recently started using the oil packed ones just to try something different. So far, so good, but acid and salt need to be balanced with the sweetness.

This worked, but I think I will work on it some more because it is just not quite there – at least for me. Maybe some artichokes or blanched asparagus – not sure, but a little more veg could be a very good thing. Mushrooms?

This is why lunch hacks are so cool. Just bring what’s in the fridge at home to the office and then sort it all out – try different combinations. See what you can pull together from the random things at the office. It is like a work place version of the Food Network show, Chopped. “Here are some random items – now make yourself some lunch.”

Really, that is a more accurate description than I had ever considered.

Bittersweet (Duck Egg) Brownies

I’ve been thinking about what to do with my latest batch (dozen) of duck eggs. They are just slightly richer and sometimes a little larger than chicken eggs, though not always bigger. I’m not a huge brownie person, but think about it – rich eggs in lots of chocolate. I can see how this should be a very good thing. I can also see how my friends who really like chocolate will like them – at least I hope so. D&D_2172

16 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into Tbs
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces (Ghirardelli)
4 eggs – fresh local duck eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. fine salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans (Renfroes’)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper; grease paper. Set pan aside.

Pour enough water into a 4-quart saucepan that it reaches a depth of 1″. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Combine butter and chocolate in a medium bowl; set bowl over saucepan. Cook, stirring, until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside.

Whisk together eggs in a large bowl. Add sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt; whisk to combine. Stir in chocolate mixture; fold in flour. Pour batter into prepared pan; spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 30–35 minutes. Let cool on a rack. Cut and serve.

Source: Saveur – Nick Malgieri (Nick’s “Supernatural” Brownies)

I cut these into small bite-sized pieces and I am glad I did – they are super rich. In my head, these need to be crumbled into some vanilla ice cream – and that, in and of itself, is rather funny, since I’m (again) not a huge brownie/chocolate fan and really do not care for ice cream either. But I really need to get the boy to get some soft serve from somewhere and give that a try.

The pieces in the center are almost fudge like and the ones on the edges, my favorite, have that little crispy bit of edge. Really, for someone who does not care for brownies, these are pretty damn good. But, rich, oh. so. very. rich.

Hummus Cheddar Iceberg Sandwich

This might just be a sandwich born of desperation or poverty or both. This is simple sandwich but the flavors mix well together, but only if you make the hummus a day ahead – again a flavor-melding-together kind of thing.D&D_2110

For hummus, here is what I do:

Rinse a can of garbanzo beans* – really rinse them well. This is a key step. While they are draining, mince two cloves of garlic in the food processor, add the garbanzo beans, and the juice of two decent-sized lemons. You can add less, but why would you? Add two big tablespoons of tahini, making sure it’s mixed well because of its maddening habit of separating. Add a pinch of salt and whirl away. If it needs it, add a little water to make it smoother. That’s it. Pretty simple really. Then wait till tomorrow to eat it. Advanced planning required. This is so not optional.

Then the rest is just as simple. White bread (although a good wheat bread or Italian bread would not go amiss here either), with a little Duke’s mayonnaise, a good slather of hummus, sliced cheddar (I got it from the deli this time) and a bit of crunchy iceberg lettuce. Dead simple and really amazingly good.

 

*Yes, yes, you can certainly do this with dried garbanzo beans, but most of the time, I just opt for a can of beans – quicker, easier, and well, it works with my way of making good food.

Butterscotch Cookies

Why not take a recipe in which the methodology works and just switch up the flavors? I had no white chocolate chips – which was slightly astonishing, but I had an abundance of butterscotch chips  (no surprise at all) and also this is one of my favorite kinds of cookies to make: mix one day, chill, and then bake another day. These need to chill and I have always done that overnight, mostly because I can be (a little) lazy, but it has always served me well in the cookie department. I do think cookies benefit from a bit of a rest.
Next time, I may add some local Renfroe‘s chopped pecans to the mix – yes.

D&D_21061 cup unsalted butter, room temperature cut into 2 Tbs pieces
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp table salt
1 tsp light corn syrup
1 Tbs vanilla
2 large egg yolks
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup butterscotch chips (or more, maybe, um, yes, quite a few more)

Do the usual thing: In a stand mixer, cream butter, sugar, salt, corn syrup, and vanilla until light and creamy. Add yolks, one at a time, beat until blended.

On low speed, add flour, scraping the sides and bottom of bowl. Stir in butterscotch chips. Divide dough and roll into log about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight. Go for overnight in my experience.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment. Slice cookies into 3/8~ inch slices and arrange 1 inch apart on the sheet – they do not spread at all. Bake until edges just beginning to brown, about 13 minutes. Cool on pan 2 minutes, then remove to cooling rack.

Source: Based on Shirley Corriher‘s recipe for lemon white chocolate chip cookies. I first “met” Shirley on Alton Brown’s show Good Eats. I love her Southern accent and am largely intimated by her use of science when it comes to baking (she’s a real scientist from Vandy). Science was never my strong suit at all. She’s just a hoot and I am a huge fan. Even though the science throws me at every turn.  This one goes out to the one I love. 

~Have no idea how to measure what 3/8 inch slices is. I am just not good with math, um, at all. Ever. Or, as noted above, science. Sigh. Just make sure the slices are similar.

Overwhelming 

If you follow food online this is the most overwhelming time of the year – between Thanksgiving, or maybe even Halloween, and New Years.

I get so many emails in my gmail account* with “29 recipes for dressing,” or the “best pecan pie,” or, heaven-forbid more recipes for Brussels sprouts – I am sorry there is not enough bacon in the world to make those things taste good. They should be called what they are, nasty little cabbages. Do not care how you shave them for a raw salad or what you roast them with. Am not doing it. Um, ever. 

The whole holiday food situation is just overwrought.

It is just a bit overwhelming and I think the best thing you can do it avoid it as best you can. Which is what I do around the holidays – avoid as best you can.

It reminds me of the traffic in our neighborhood that basically goes to hell in a hand basket between mid November and mid January because we are centrally located – which seemed like a good idea when we moved here, but when you cannot get out of your own neighborhood for about three months, you realize, it is not a good thing.

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Cranberry Relish – an easy tradition

Maybe that is why traditions become so important. They dial down the stress. You have recipes you know work and that you know your family and friends love, so it takes the pressure off. With the caveat that you don’t try to add too many new things in a single year – that way, friends, is disaster. Again, something I am prone to do, but am working on it. So far this holiday season I think I have done an admirable job.

I think the most important things are the things that make you happy. That is what all the holidays are about and that is why I always make M&M cookies for Christmas.

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Yep – M&M Cookies for Christmas

* and this is my fault.