Archive | September, 2012

Avocado and Failure

26 Sep

First of all, doesn’t this look amazing?

Grilled Cheese and Avocado

Well it was amazing. Avocados and homemade butter are my current best friends.

On a related note, I made stick butter!

Only two problems so far – my butter gets way hard after it’s been in the refrigerator for awhile. I have to zap it in the microwave to get it anywhere near spreadable. Do they put something else in store butter to make it softer? The container of store bought butter that I have says the ingredients are sweet cream, salt, and EVOO. Guess I’ll try throwing in a little of that next time. The other problem is that I am totally eye-balling the size of these sticks, and I have no real idea how many tablespoons are in there. I don’t have those handy markings on the wrapper either, to tell me where to cut if I want a certain number of tablespoons. Don’t worry, I will work out the kinks before you receive your Christmas butter.

Anyway, so about failure. We’ve all been there, right?  I’ve got a fair amount of failures under my belt, so I’m no stranger. My failures include (but are not limited to):

  • Selling Mary Kay cosmetics
  • Almost every math class I’ve ever taken
  • Every history class I’ve ever taken
  • The pants I tried to make for my son where I sewed the legs together
  • That time I tried to wear high heels

Well  I failed again this week.There was this company I was trying to write for, one of those “write about such and such and we’ll pay you x per word, or y per article” deals. Anyway their testing process was extremely detailed and demanding. I remember having the feeling that the intent was to see how well I follow direction, rather than how well I can write. I devoted what I would consider to be “too much” time to completing this test, and thought I had hit all the requirements. I ended up making a styling mistake with some of the links in my article. Ok, all of the links in my article were displayed incorrectly. I got a “thanks, but we’ll be passing on your services” email. Hey, no hard feelings, company. I should have paid better attention to your ten-thousand instructions. My rationalizing thoughts were that if their article requirements are anything like their testing requirements, I probably don’t have time for that level of commitment anyway. Nor do I have the desire to write for a company who values fixable minutiae over my writing style and ability. I may or may not have fired off a sassy email informing them of my thoughts on the matter. Mission complete, looks like that bridge is good and burned.

Whatever, I’ll just go make some more butter.

Let’s Eat…again.

8 Sep

So we know each other well enough now that I can come clean, right? Can this be a safe place? I’m going to tell you my most guarded secret – my biggest weakness – and trust that you won’t judge me or point and laugh. Or go ahead, just don’t tell me you did.

Ok, here goes.

I am a cereal junkie.

Not just any cereal…

yes please.

Ya know how people say they could eat whatever their favorite food is for every meal for the rest of their lives and never get tired of it? Steak, Mac & Cheese, chili dogs (which makes me think of that Growing Pains episode where Mike compares Carol marrying her boyfriend to her eating chili dogs every day for the rest of her life. If only I could have retained Social Statistics as efficiently as dialogue from 90’s TV shows – maybe I wouldn’t have gotten a D and had to retake it). Anyway you see where I’m going with this. I actually could (and have) eaten HBO for more than one meal in the same day. I realize how bad this looks for someone who professes to be “obsessed” with “clean eating”. I’ve not taken any good hard looks at the ingredients on the box, have barely glanced at the nutritional information beyond the calorie count, and have avoided scanning the barcode into my Fooducate app. After finding out my favorite hamburger buns are made with trace amounts of human hair (barf) and having to get rid of them, I’m officially sticking my head in the sand on my cereal.

My husband and I have each eaten a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats every morning since shortly after we got married, with the exception of the occasional weekend breakfast specialty item.

What are my specialty items, you ask? A quick rundown of some of the latest:

Waffles & Fried Chicken – Tasty, but just a tad more filling than a cinder block.

Cream Cheese & Banana Roll-Ups – Delicious, but 500 calories for one. Full disclosure, I ate 2 and a half of these last Sunday. (shout out to my Little Mermaid plate!)

Copycat Egg McMuffins – Pretty good, but the Canadian bacon was kinda tough and my toaster broke that morning, preventing me from toasting the English muffin.

I don’t know why I try to be fancy. As I’m elbow deep in dishwashing liquid and greasy pots and pans at 10AM on a Saturday, I always think how much easier and tastier it would’ve been to just have a bowl of HBO.

HBO never disappoints. I’ve never finished a bowl without sitting back and thinking “Son of a bee sting, that was delicious.” You want your mind totally blown? Have it with almond milk. Coffee is the perfect compliment. I know coffee is the perfect compliment to most things, but it’s more than that with HBO. They’re the perfect pair. I’ve thought many times about what it would be like to just pour my coffee directly into the cereal instead of milk. I’ve never done it because I don’t want to ruin my HBO if it turns out to be gross.

Occasionally on Sundays, if we’ve had a big lunch that day, we’ll have HBO for dinner. On days when I haven’t made a specialty breakfast item that morning, this will result in 2 bowls of HBO in one day. If you ever see me and I seem in a particularly good mood, it’s because I’ve just had my second bowl of HBO that day.

Every few days, as a box starts to run out, it becomes a race between the two of us to see who can score the last bit of cereal in the box. We call these “dreg bowls” and they are a mega super delicious bonus. ( I know it’s an awful name since I think the word “dregs” is supposed to refer to something gross that has collected at the bottom of a liquid, but whatever, the name stuck.) Dreg bowls are so tasty because in any given box of HBO, gravity has inevitably pulled most of the sweet granola bunches down to the bottom. As a result, the last bit of cereal is full of them. A dreg bowl is mind altering and will change your outlook on life for the better. Conversely, the first bowl from a new box will have the least number of bunches. It’s still delicious, but there is a noticeable drop in honey bunches.

Idea: Purchase a large receptacle of some sort and dump the HBO directly in. Gently rotate to evenly mix. Maybe one of those huge glass balls with the crank like they use for bingo balls.

Anyway, it feels good to get all this off my chest. I highly encourage you to pick up a box of HBO next time you’re in the cereal aisle. But not all at once, I’m gonna need 2 boxes on Monday. And please, for the love of Lucy, if you find out there’s something gross in my HBO, don’t tell me!!

The Many Faces of Sweet Cream

4 Sep

This weekend I did a little baking. Partly because I told some friends I would bake for a get together, and partly because of this. If you’ve seen me in the last week, that was playing in my head. I don’t mind it so much, mostly because I have a great deal of love for Julia Child. Also it finally knocked “Call Me Maybe” out of my head, which had been haunting me for a month.

So what I made was Strawberry Shortcake. I forgot to snap a picture of the final product so I don’t have that, but this isn’t so much about what it turned out to be, as what I discovered while making it.

Quick rundown of how I make it:

-a big thing of strawberries cut up and marinated in sugar for however long

-Kroger (or Bisquick or whatever) all-purpose baking mix. The back of the box has a boat load of recipes. Follow the one for shortcake

-Beat some heavy whipping cream, sugar, & vanilla for the whipped cream topping

I won’t insult you by explaining how it all goes together in the bowl.

Anyway, the confusion followed by enlightenment happened while I was whipping the heavy cream. Whip, beat, scrape the side, switch hands, whip, beat, scrape the side. Picture me with my rubber scraper in one hand and my hand held beater in the other, because I am the only sad housewife in the world without one of those $400 Kitchen-Aid stand alone mixers. It’s ok though, I’m working on that bicep definition.

It happened in an instant – 10 or 20 seconds tops. I looked at the cream and thought “that looks about right, I see some nice peaks, time to stop. Let me just switch hands real quick cause my right arm is getting really tired and I don’t want to drop the mixer as I set it d-” By then it was too late. I kept beating for a minute or so, clearly in denial and thinking I could continue to over whip the stuff back to perfection. At this point, this is what I had:

whip fail.

Like I said, I’ve made this once before, but I guess I had a ray of beginner’s luck because it turned out perfectly that first time. Anyway, thankfully I had purchased the larger carton of heavy cream. Actually before this I was frustrated, as Kroger offers a smaller carton of cream that is about a tablespoon too small for this recipe. The larger carton has twice what I need and last time the extra went to waste. Thanks to my ineptitude, none went to waste this time. I whipped another batch (whip, beat, scrape, switch) and it turned out well. Yay!

So I stuck the good whipped cream in the fridge and turned my attention to the slop pictured above. I came very close to tossing it down my sink disposal, where all kitchen abominations go whenever I’m done facing the failure. Something stopped me, though. I’m pretty sure it was when I thought about how it probably still tasted delicious, even though it looked like wallpaper paste. There must be something worthwhile I can turn this mess into. I whipped (pun) out my phone and typed “uses for over-w” and I’m telling you Google auto suggested “I’m looking for uses for that over-whipped heavy cream that I was trying to make for this strawberry shortcake recipe but I accidentally whipped it too long because I was using an old hand mixer and my hand got tired so I wasn’t concentrating” Ok, maybe not all that, but don’t you love how Google just knows what you’re looking for, and assures you that you’re not alone?  You can rest assured you’re not the first idiot who has Googled “I accidentally swallowed 9 pencils and a pack of crayons. Should I go to the doctor?” Anyway, I got a whole slew of hits about how you can correct over-whipped cream if you very carefully add a small amount of heavy cream back into the mix and continue to beat without breathing for a very small amount of time.  Not really an option for me since I used all my reserve cream to make the 2nd batch, plus whatever, I just don’t feel like messing with that.  So there’s one other option. Apparently if you just go right on ahead beating the heck out of over-whipped cream you’ll eventually get BUTTER. Who knew?! Probably most people on the planet, but I had no idea. So I did the whip/beat/scrape dance once more, drained the liquid into a bowl via a paper towel (note to self: get a cheesecloth) and soon I had this:

butter!

I was completely giddy. I ran this bowl into my husband like “Honey! Look what I made!” He was not as impressed as he should have been, just so you know.

Other plus: I saved the liquid that I drained and put it in my coffee this morning. Too dessert-y for every day, but a nice treat. And it saved me a Sweet-n-Low!

sweet liquidy goodness.

I used 2 tablespoons of the butter to make the shortcake, and then put some on my little boy’s toast this morning. He didn’t say anything about it being extra good but he did eat every bite, so there’s that.

So, what if I made tons of this butter, put it in mason jars, and gave it out for Christmas or something. Would that be crass? Can you give the gift of butter to someone without judgement? Does everyone else already know how to make their own butter and officially think I’m on the slow side for just now figuring it out?

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