Food and Drink

First Fall Chili


Daylight savings sort of did its thing today. Combined a couple of chili recipes, mostly on the spice front, to make the first one of the season. (That would be the Football season.)


And the downstairs closet is finally painted. Closet #5. I'm kind of tired of painting closets. We removed the pathetic closet rod, and decided to probably add more shelves. But that's for later. At least it smells like clean paint now.


I love semi-gloss paint. Now we have to figure out what doors to use. Paint the sliders we have? Or get these?

Kitchen dining light also has a dimmer now (just imagine it), patio no longer looks like the white trash backyard (I didn't even want to take a picture of the mess), and the new smoke detector is up.


We combined the Penzey's & CI's Cincy Chilies. And are sitting on our asses.


The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older.


Time. Something none of us have anymore. How are you supposed to work & make money & hopefully have a decent career & do the right thing by your kids, preferably, before 8 pm on a weekday? And also, hopefully, organically *. Or at least, with less preservatives.


I never grew up with TV dinners, or Hamburger Helper. Maybe it's a Swedish thing. But then again, we had blood pudding (mmmmm), and Swedish pancakes (yes, it's for dinner). What I am trying to say is that when it comes to food, I want my kid to know and love REAL food. And to be able to tell when something is full of preservatives & other junk, and know that it is not really REAL food.


There needs to be a way to make that happen, without killing yourself as a parent. That the time it takes to come home & sit down to eat, shouldn't be more than 30 minutes.  And I don't mean Rachel-Ray-crazy-running-around-in-the-kitchen-30-minutes; but pop something in the oven, and 30 minutes later when you've run around doing all that stuff you do when you get everyone home after work, the dinner is done.


Sounds easy right? Also, with ingredients you know, & can pronounce.


"Oh, I made that from scratch" is one of those things that people automatically go "oooooooh, you are a whiz in the kitchen" to, when in fact, making brownies from "scratch" take marginally longer than whipping together a mix from a box. But people just don't do it. All it requires is a little bit of planning.



Around here we do waffles every weekend. These are CIA waffles, no, they're not secret in any way, they're from this cookbook. We half the recipe, then when we make them, (FROM SCRATCH. GASP.) I mix the dry ingredients for two more batches, and put them in little ziplock bags, write what it is on them, and what's left to add (some butter & lots of eggs). So next time, it's as if you take out the Bisquick and whip them up. Except they taste SO much better.


We also happen to maybe make too many each time (there's really only three of us), so we butter them a little, let it melt, then throw them in a ziplock bag and in the freezer, and when you feel like waffles you pop one in the toaster oven and Eggo! There it is. But better.


So we started to plan things a little more. Just a little. By making a batch of something on the weekend. One day we spent making calzones, lasagna & meatloaves, doubling all the recipes we had.


Maybe it helps that we like Italian, it's one of those things that's easy to make a shitload of, and then freeze. Like lasagna.


We used TJs pizza dough & pizza sauce, loaded up the calzones with our favorite toppings, popped them in the oven, let them cool. Then in the freezer. Four calzones from 1 lb of dough. They're like hotpockets. But much better. It took us a day, but we had food for almost two weeks.


I'm pretty sure we're not on to something new or revolutionary, but I'd like to think that we know what we eat, and it's home made.


And you can really take that as far as you want. Like canning your own tomatoes. Maybe a crazy endevour when you don't have tomatoes in your garden (they are pretty expensive.) Or you can buy the fancy San Marzano tomatoes in a can, and see what a difference they make in your pasta sauce. Or make pizza sauce with them. Or really use any canned tomatoes.


And when this cute girl rejects the Mott's apple sauce with a frown on her face, it's ok to feel a little smug. Because she knows what apples are supposed to taste like.


* With such a loaded word, I am not trying to be political in any sense, I just mean without-preservatives, maybe even from your own garden, if you are lucky enough to have one.

Football season is almost upon us. Finally. And it's really ok to order Pizza sometimes. I don't beat myself up over it.

What Life Gives You


Status Quo is a myth in life. You can't have things the same way, all the time. It's just not how life operates. And even if it takes  you along kicking & screaming sometimes, it's really a good thing.


Because, when you try to not make decisions, well, they'll be made for you. Regardless. Call it a side-effect, or a real bitch. The real difficult thing is to realize it is happening.


Then sometimes you can't wait for change, or it happens, and you embrace it. And your old normal is never the same, it turns into your "new" normal. Which is so much better.

And life changes completely.


I just found something that was given to me over twenty years ago, my friend knew I was moving far away and she wrote:  " To live is to leave behind". Is that too harsh? Or is that just how it is. Or is it ok when you are ready? How do you know?


It's pretty damn difficult to look at this glass jar of lemon rind & vodka goodness, and not open it. In spite of my dislike of Facebook, sometimes it is truly fantastic. How else would I have thought to make limoncello with some of the 7+ lbs of lemons I got on Saturday?! After research I found that the common ingredient in all recipes is Patience. Right. Me & Patience.

Research notes & sources:

Vino e Vittles

Home made Limoncello

Giada's Limoncello

Epicurious' Limoncello

1. Cut the rind, leave the pith. It is a painstaking process, I went over my lemon rinds three times. Some people zest it.

2. Steep it in vodka, between 4 days - 2 month (seriously, that was the discrepancy in the recipes. Some people left it longer than that, but patience like that is inhumane.)

3. Make simple syrup and mix with vodka+lemon rinds. Steep overnight or up to two weeks.

4. Filter the liquid and bottle it and let it sit for a week-months.

5. Store finished limoncello in your freezer.

Will try to let it steep for 2 weeks, then bottle and let it sit for another 2 weeks. Please, don't laugh. I managed to not drink coffee for 6 weeks, nobody thought I could do that! (Or wanted to be around me, whatever, I don't remember.)


Lemon juice ice cubes with the left overs (also Facebook suggestion). Doesn't it make you feel so self sufficient & frugal & most of all GROWN UP??


We made chicken stock the other day. And I swear, it is the best ever. About 8 pints for $7. And that includes one chicken dinner too. Seriously grown up & responsible & shit. & good. Did I mention good? Always use Zuni's recipe, which isn't really a recipe, it's more of a three page essay on how to do it. With five ingredients, where two are chicken & water.


We also "test baked" some peanut butter cookies. Two separate sources told me they were the best they had ever had. Passing that on to the secret baker!


However, these were my favorite. Yes, there are raspberry preserves inside of them. Bring on more test baking.


We are never without excellent help. Excellent.


Look what else got finished, the Albino Octopus. She's cute though.


Even crocheters are obsessed with these guys.


And then came Easter.


Elliott is only pretending to look put out.


All this yarn was retrieved from storage, where the red is being used for Mr Greenjeans. But what about the rest?





Cleaned Out

Went to our yearly great Mistry Christmas Party. Miss Independent wanted nothing to do with her parents, she stood 3 feet away, staring at that "guy" in the red suit. "He" was handing out presents too.


The rule is you have to come with an ornament. (Well, they will let you in without one too, probably even drag you in anyway, that's how nice they are!) It was last minute as always. Good thing we have a crapload of felt.


Thanks to Abigail for giving inspiration with her little birds from Falalala Felt.


Shamefully copied them on the fly. Added some sequins to the "tail feathers"; because everything is just cuter with sequins.


May have to buy that book too. And not only for my conscience.


Our holiday was great. And so was the ham.


Third year in a row Buoy is making our Bourbon & Brown Sugar Glazed Christmas ham.

What is it about traditions that make you feel so good? I want to eat this every year for the rest of my life.


It's still nice to have chucked out the Christmas tree yesterday. Very nice. Not sure the cats agree. Someone's Little Helper needed room for her new table to cook. This is serious business.


No TV Day

Why is it impossible to take pictures of children wearing goods you want to take pictures of?


She says "here, Mommy, YOU wear the stupid hat and see how you like it."


It's amazing how much I get done without TV distractions. Come the New Year all I am going to want to do is just sit and relax though. So we'll see how long this lasts. Right now we're doing two days a week, two evenings really. (Not interfering with any Football, Good Lord, no.)


I wasn't going for authenticity here, it's a Christmas ornament after all, and a Crate and Barrel knock-off.


I wasn't going to pay $23.95 for a three pack. Ridiculous.



He loves when I take pictures. He really does. Making some fleecy pants for Miss EB! We didn't even have to call 911.


Look, we made something nice with the crazy hat lady yarn! The Odessa, without beads. So easy, and so pretty, and it's actually pretty uni-sex. Well, besides the color. Elliott also loves his Quilt Throne. I don't have the heart to take it away from him. Our Christmas-stuff-making list is done. Can you spell that? D-O-N-E! Never really believed it would happen on time.


So we made some Bobaknit Cookie Swap cookies for tonight, "Finska Pinnar" (Finnish Sticks). Shock full of butter goodness.

There's another batch waiting in the fridge to be made. Mmhmm.


Dear Santa,

Patience. It's what I want for Christmas. No, not the GnR song. The real thing.

To realize that doing the dishes 4 times a day is just something you have to do.

Doing laundry takes time.

That even when my mind has 10 gazillion projects in it, it is ok to finish one or two, and consider it a success.

It's not possible to knit for everyone all the time. Or sew.

Ordering pizza is not a cooking failure; besides, Miss EB loves it.

Phew. Let's bake.


Really, the vodka is there for a reason. It was Lucia Day here yesterday (always on December 13th), and you have to eat Lucia buns. It's almost the law.


So we got some fancy saffron at Penzeys. Look how pretty it is!


Here's where the vodka comes in. Steep the saffron for about 10 minutes. Brings out this amazing color.


Look how pretty the dough is! Even though it's yeast less. Yes, I forgot the yeast.


After almost non-rising (the dough was too cool by the time I rememberd to swish the yeast in. Real quick like.) But the dough was pliant and nice and shiney and rolled out well.



And they rose in the oven. PHEW. Not as pretty as they could be, but ok.


Recipe from my old and trusted cookbook. Similar to this one. We added the egg to the dough (it makes it pretty & shiny, also the reason I give my dog raw eggs once in a while. His coat is so pretty & shiny!) Brushed the saffron buns with a little water and melted butter after they came out of the oven, instead of brushing them with an egg before going in (like I used to do.) Those modifications, plus the vodka are all tips from my Grandma. (She's made a few of these in her life time so I trust her implicitly.) You can make them into all kinds of shapes. Church doors, birds, horses, priest hair (just look at the picture), or our usual "kitties".


Then we tackled the ginger bread cookies. You can never have to many cookie cutters. Never. The piglet is my favorite.


I find it interesting that the Swedish kitchen contains so many exotic & interesting spices. Cardamom year around; saffron, cloves, ginger, nutmeg during the holidays. I suppose the Swedes got around back in the day.


Mamma's little helper. Of course with her own rolling pin. Wearing Daddy's mapron. And her favorite kitty shirt.


I'd like to think we look a little alike.




Directly translated that would be "pepper cookies". I think it's because they do have some spice to them.


I was told yesterday that my cookbook looks a little worn. It's travelled the seas! Ok, maybe just a one way trip, but still.


This is a low calorie recipe. Uh huh. (If you need help with measurements & translation let me know! This is the identical recipe from my cookbook.)


It smells SO good! Cinnamon, cloves, ginger & Christmas music on the iPod! Perfection.


Now to let it sit for 12 hours. At least. Last year I sort of forgot it in the fridge for about a week. I think they were the tastiest ones I had made to date. We'll see if I can keep my paws off of it for that long. And, this recipe makes 150 cookies. Any takers for some of the dough? I can't possibly eat 150 cookies. Wait.

Check it out, our gnomey guy got himself a wifey! With BOOBS! I think she keeps him in line. She's got that look about her. Maybe it's the boobs. They look kind of intimidating.


Miss EB's XMas socks are DONE! (And I thought there would be Christmas Eve panic. Hah.)


Look who also had to be in the picture. He's so needy.


And because I had some left over STR Green Jeans for Jen to finish her Monsieur Frog, look what she gave us! I think his new home is the Christmas tree.


Ending with some Miss EB cuteness. She's reading and going "vov-vov-vov" (which would be woof-woof-woof in english). It's the cutest thing. Maybe now I should deal with the spagetti squeezing party next to me. Great fun.

To Ruffle Or Not To Ruffle

Reminds me of French toile, except with a Turkey & Pilgrims theme. Loved it, had to have it, and finally something for me! (And bloggable in all its glory!) From "More Retro Aprons" by Cindy Taylor Oates (yes, the same damn apron). Pretty cute, right?


But HOW MUCH CUTER is it with the ruffles? MUCH.


And I still have two more ruffles to make!

We did have this discussion at Tina's not-so-sweaty sweatshop yesterday. Some people are not ruffles people. I always thought I belonged to that group, until I saw this apron. So. Cute. Even though they take twice as long to make as the entire rest of the apron. Also running out of thread. Argh. Won't be finished tonight. Someone please twist my arm so I'll go to JoAnns tomorrow. Or maybe Bobbin's Nest. Oooooh...

Also finished some long overdue projects, which will be shipped tomorrow. Finally.


This is how we do Paninis around here. Black Forest Ham & Tillamook Cheddar.


Mm. It was good.


Rip & Repeat

Step #1:


Step #2:


No, they are not in the wrong order. It's only the fourth hat using this pattern I've made, you'd THINK I noted how many repeats were needed to fit (anybody). But no. (It's five. And for boy heads, probably 6.)


Carrot cupcakes, from Martha Stewart's "Cupcakes", for Tina's sweat shop tomorrow.