Demented Ramblings life is too short to refrain from eating jam out of the jar

22Mar/091

For the love of spring and lemons

One of the things on my to-do list for my vacation was to do some baking. I rarely seem to find time to experiment in the kitchen these days. It seems that I didn't really find the time over my break either. I just wasn't feeling inspired to cook, instead I spent the week either crafting or being lazy.

Last night/this morning at 3 a.m., I woke up with an urge to create something yummy. My brain wouldn't shut up and let me go back to sleep. 3 a.m. is not a good time for baking though, I'm likely to fall asleep and burn whatever I'm cooking. However, I perused TasteSpotting for a bit and kept coming back to one picture.

This morning, when I woke up again, I was still determined to give it a shot. Hungry Girl's Lemon Cream and Cheesecake Pots was haunting me. Lemon cream looked like a lot of work, but I was willing to try it once.

If you are afraid of the fat grams, don't look at the recipe.

I had a bit of trouble with the Lemon Cream. I put a glass bowl over a simmering pot of water and stirred my mixture. However, the temperature seemed to do the Macarena on me. It would go up and then back down. I spent over a half hour stirring it and it just would not come up to 180F. I finally gave up and moved it to a saucepan over low heat and stirred it constantly and didn't look away for a second. That did the trick, it hit temperature within another 2 minutes. I finished off the lemon cream and moved it to the fridge. A spoonful of this is tart-ally awesome. Think the initial taste of a Lemonhead candy.

I followed her recipe for the Cheesecake pots and split them between 3 ramekins for baking. There would be 3 of us for dinner.

At serving time, I spooned a couple of dollops of the lemon cream on each cheesecake and spread it around.

It's a bit tough to differentiate the layers in this picture.

However, I think this next picture will explain our opinions on the dessert.

My final thoughts are this: yes, lemon cream is fiddly, but it's worth the effort. Also, I can totally see this cheesecake becoming a favorite - it was quite simple and not terribly sweet and made just enough for dessert for 3-4 (I could have easily stretched it to 4 ramekins if a fourth person were coming over) with no leftovers. However, I still have half a bowl of lemon cream, so I'll either be making cheesecakes again this week or else smearing lemon cream on everything.

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16Mar/090

I made furniture from scratch!

I love that my dad is a cabinet maker. Oh sure, he'd probably still have the know how and carpentry skills to help me with projects. But as a cabinet maker, he also has access to the big shiny power tools that we couldn't play with otherwise. At least not without spending loads of money.

Toward the end of last summer, I told Pop that I wanted to build a couple of ottomans for use with my wingbacks. I took the measurements and he told me what wood to get. Maybe 4 2x4s and a little plywood later, we had a pair of these.

I told him that I wanted something sturdy enough that my fat ass could stand on it and it wasn't going anywhere. I hate cheap furniture that falls apart. These weigh a ton.

Last week, I found this fabric.

Let me just say how much I love this fabric. I especially love that I don't have to use a straight edge, just follow along with the fabric.

On friday night, I painted the legs of the ottomans black, in case they showed from beneath the skirt I planned to put on it. I eventually decided that with the black legs, it didn't need a skirt.

Last night, I covered the first ottoman. However, the batting I used was thinner than I liked. So, this morning I took it apart and, using an old ripped comforter, added some more thickness to it.

Here's the finished product!

It's a little lumpy here and there, but I'm very thrilled with my first upholstery project. Today, I'll be working on the other one. Eventually, I'll recover the wingbacks either in a solid black or in this same fabric. I'm afraid that one I'll have to send out though, so it'll be a while before I can afford it. Until then, maybe I can find some slipcovers for them.

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27Feb/090

I’ve not been cooking much, wanna see why?

Ladies and Gentlemen, Whackos and Darklings, it is my greatest pleasure to introduce unto you...

La Petite Bob.

14Feb/090

Taunting you with pictures!

Well now kiddies, it's Valentine's Day. The last time that Sparks and I tried to go to dinner on Vday evening, we wound up getting mad because we couldn't find a table anywhere. So, instead, we went out last night and stayed in tonight. I cooked dinner for him.

I feel like I did pretty well - it was right tasty start to finish.

Dinner was my infamous Shrimp 'n' Not Grits. This recipe came about after the Spoiled White Girl made us Shrimp and Grits and the boyfriend refused to eat the grits. Hates them, he does - it's a texture thing. So, I set forth to adapt this recipe to suit him, it's better than the original, I think. Plus, it's rather forgiving. Put things in the pan out of order, add a little more or less of things, it's all ok. Just don't salt the risotto before adding the cheeses - makes it too salty.

I decided that it needed a side dish - so I dressed up some canned green beans with a little red pepper and toasted garlic. I also pulled garlic bread out of the freezer.

Remember kiddies, don't fear the garlic for Valentine's Day. As Rachel Ray says, "two garlics cancel each other out." As long as you both eat it, it doesn't matter.

For dessert, I turned to the Pioneer Woman. I made her Pots de Creme.

On the side there is a chocolate covered strawberry from Old Kentucky Chocolates. Completely unnecessary. The dessert was wonderful without it. This dessert will join my regular arsenal for dinner parties - super simple and amazingly decadent. Plus, the standard recipe made six generous servings. Not those restaurant sized portions where you are wondering if your significant other will be aghast if you put your face in the container, instead it was just enough. I could have even stopped a bit or two before the end. Not that I did! The whipped cream is needed, it helps to cut the richness of chocolate.

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16Oct/080

Comfort that doesn’t come from a can

All week long, I've been feeling under the weather. I think I've got some sort of stomach bug. Either that or a combo of GERD, PMS, and depression. It doesn't matter which, I've been feeling crappy and food has not been my friend.

Tonight, I was craving beans. A big hot bowl of pinto bean soup with corn bread. However, that also wasn't quite what I wanted either. But something warm and cozy, like a blanket for my insides. I dug around my pantry and found a bad of "harvest soup" mix that I'd picked up at the Amish market a year or so ago. It's a mixture of various colored lentils and split peas with wild rice.

I put that into my biggest pot with some water and chicken broth. I peeled several cloves of garlic and dropped them in whole and let the whole thing simmer for a bit, throwing in a few herbs and a healthy bit of salt. It tasted ok as it was, but it needed something more. It needed carrots.

So, I got dressed and trudged over to the Kroger. I picked up 3 carrots, 1 parsnip, 1 teeny turnip, 1 large potato and an onion. Brought that home and chopped it into the soup then back to ransacking the pantry for tomatoes. For some reason I thought I had a zillion cans of tomatoes, I found one. And one can of tomato sauce. Put both of those in the soup with a bit more chicken broth and let it cook until the veggies were tender.

I wound up with a lovely root vegetable stew. I ladled it into a bowl and found that it still needed something....

I put a small dollop of leftover garlic yogurt sauce in the center with some parsley. So good I had to eat three bowls!

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4Oct/082

A lovely dinner!

A bit of foodblogging goodness!

Last night, I lay awake last night obsessing about spaghetti squash. That actually wasn't the only thing I was thinking about. I was thinking about the scallops in the freezer that were beginning to freezerburn. I was also thinking about the fact that I had bacon. Grilled, bacon-wrapped scallops! So, I got up and put those items in the fridge to thaw.

While visiting my hairdresser, we talked about my biking down to the farmer's market and the spaghetti squash I bought there. She asked if I'd be making it with garlic. WHAT? I can do that? Any time I've cooked it before, I filled it with butter and either honey or brown sugar and baked it. Today though, I took the quicker, much more savory, approach. Split the squash in half and cleaned out the seeds. Placed it cut side down on a plate and microwaved for 7 minutes. While that was cooking I started some butter and garlic browning on the stove. When the squash was done, I fluffed it and scooped it into the butter mixture, then stirred in a wee bit of salt.

The green beans came from a can. I just added a spoonful of bacon grease and microwaved them for 4 minutes.

Sparks grilled the skewered scallops and bacon. The one drawback was that they took over twice as long as any of the websites said. This meant that the vegetables were cold by the time we got to them. However, it gave me time to mix up a quick lemon herb sauce.

The first bite of scallop was so yummy that I immediately jumped up and went over to kiss Sparks!

And hey - a picture!

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18Sep/080

A conquered fear

Last night I finally beat my fear of the flame!

I flambeed bananas foster. Maybe they were a bit better for it, I'm not sure. Now that I don't have a big greasy range hood, I decided to give it a shot. I started a fire in the kitchen ON PURPOSE and the world did not end.

I'm quite happy with myself.

6Sep/080

cook something new day!

More experimentation for dinner. I decided to head to Fresh Market and let it inspire me for dinner.

Braised chicken sausages
Garlic green beans
couscous

and...

roasted brussel sprouts!

Go ahead, get all the icks out. I'd never had a brussel sprout, and honestly they didn't "look to suit me" as Pop would say. So, I'd recently decided that I wasn't to at least try one. I figure I'm fairly likely to get decent ones at fresh market.

I looked around online and found this recipe and gave it a try. I only deviated slightly - I added a spoonful of bacon grease in with the olive oil since I'd seen some tv chef saute them in bacon grease. I think I slightly undercooked them, they were still rather al dente, but they were quite tasty. Not going to become a favorite, but not completely out of the question either if I'm craving something different.

Sparks said they were the best brussel sprouts he'd ever had! Woot!

21Aug/080

Ysha is great! Made us chocolate cake!

I love me. I rock the house! But damn it, I forgot to make them sing the song!

This morning, I picked all of the chicken off the carcass from sunday's dinner. I cooked a little rice and mixed in with it, then sauteed up some onions. I dumped in a can each of green chiles and black olives, plus a bunch of cilantro, some chicken broth and part of the leftover chicken gravy. This I mixed with the chicken and rolled them up into tortillas. I took the rest of the gravy and thinned it down a bit with broth and once again added chiles and cilantro. Then I stirred in a scoop of sour cream and poured this over the enchilladas, topping it all with cheese.

I took this down to Salamander's house since they're firing the Locomama (giganto train kiln) today and I knew they'd be hungry. Popped it in the oven to get hot and bubbly. I have now added +1 boyfriend and +1 girlfriend to my harem! Especially since I ALSO brought them chocolate cake! The enchilladas turned out quite great. That right there is why I will make an entire chicken when I will only eat the breast off a roast chicken. The rest of that tasty chicken makes damned tasty enchilladas!

Pop fussed the first time I'd made those around him. Nooooooo, enchilladas must have RED sauce! From a can! Back man! I like my green chickeny sauce on chicken enchilladas. He agreed after he tasted them. He agreed again today since I had enough filling to make our large pan and a small one for him which he picked up this afternoon.

He says "write that one down, man!" Pop alla time calls me "man" and it makes me laugh. But how can I write it down when it's more method than measurement? How much chicken did I use? All of it. Gravy? What I had left. Cilantro? 'Bout yay much. The only amounts I can say for certain are the things that come in cans, that's just because I dump in the whole thing.

And that's how my food turns out best!

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17Aug/080

Put ze bok-bok in ze pote!

Early this afternoon, I decided that I wanted to make a roast chicken. My friend Mari says that she always does hers in the crock pot and it's scrumptious. Ok, I'll give it a shot. But I had to go buy myself a crock pot. I didn't have one, just used dad's when I lived with him.

This was obviously the correct day to have this urge. I went to Meijer since they could provide me with both a chicken and a pot to cook it in, plus had pepsi products on sale. We likes the pepsi products around here. I found a 5.5 quart crock pot, normally $40, for $10. In addition to that, chickens were only $0.79 a pound! Whoooo!

I looked at several recipes, plus talked to Mari, then decided to just wing it. Hurr Hurr! I rubbed the chicken with olive oil and dumped in some herbs and salt and garlic cloves then decided to pour in a bit of chicken broth to keep it nice and moist. I cooked it on high for an hour, then switched to low like all the recipes told me to do. *rolls eyes* Gawds, it took blasted forever. 6 hours of cook time and still the juices did not run clear! So, I cranked up the oven to 375F and slid the chicken in for just shy of an hour.

While it was cooking, I boiled up some baby red potatoes with a few cloves of garlic thrown in. We love garlic! I mashed those when they were done. I also boiled some baby carrots and glazed them with butter and maple syrup. From the broth/drippings left in the crock pot, I made a gravy.

Oh my gawd! So worth the wait! But I really wish it had been finished before 11:30 pm. Now I'm sleepy and so full that I think I might barf if I tried to be horizontal. Sorry no pictures, but by the time it was finished we were so hungry that we dived on it like a couple of crazed velociraptors!