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Showing posts from December, 2009

Is this really edible? Handmade Gifts by Yours Truly

Home bound today with a cold and sore throat, I thought I'd recap our holiday gift making bonanza that started up in mid-fall when I, inspired by my canning with a friend, decided to leap into canning for Christmas. In addition, an unfortunate slam by the down economy" made Scott and I realize we could save a lot by not hitting the mall or big box retailers and instead, show our love for friends and family with gifts made by our own little downsized but not downtrodden hands.

In addition to the pear chutney and the Spicy Red Pepper Jelly (which didn't jell, but became a nice sauce for pork and the like) my friend and I made, I canned Apple Butter and Sweet Potato Butter. If I chose this endeavor again, I would only do one at a time - not both. I quickly realized that I don't have enough counter space or stove burners for two recipes at once.

After hunting unsuccessfully for some cute retro-style canning labels, I took Scott's suggestion and used name badges. Funny m…

I Can't Believe I Just Ate That

Exhibit A: the Twizzlers Pull-n-Peel cherry liquorice candy I scarfed. Even after I abandoned the unopened package in our work break room, hoping someone would snag it so I wouldn't be temped to consume an unsightly amount of Red 40. Cause the only ways red food coloring is acceptable are 1) Easter egg dyeing and 2) Red Velvet Cake.

Twizzlers are produced in Hershey, Pa., where my mom and her two sisters visited during their annual fall "sister trip" this year. Many Hershey products were purchased for this holiday season, including the Hershey Hershettes (their version of M&Ms) and other ungodly food products. Sorry, Mom, but if the words "diet" and "my ass" are going to be affiliated, I can't have those Hershey delights. Yes, I know I loved the Twizzlers in eighth grade, circa 1993, but can we put that behind us now?

The point of all this is: why is this the season when, no matter how hard I try, I wind up stuffing my face full of things I don…

Like Willie Said...

We're On the Road Again... and I actually just can't wait.

I don't want to count those proverbial chicks or anything, but some interesting things may be happening up east around DC and Baltimore for Scott and Erin, two good little ones who'd like nothing more for Christmas than to start 2010 with some positivity. (Ok, so ignore my previous post about Christmas gift dreaming. Good things like stability and happiness are all I want, really. Seriously. Honestly. For real, though.)

Now then, with that being said, I'd also appreciate opportunities for good food while we're out there, perusing the cityscapes and nooks/crannies of Washington, DC and Baltimore and places in between.

If you happen to be an admirer of any mid-range to dirt cheap but GOOD eats in or around our destination, please share. Comment away... let us know what's best. I hear Ethiopian is great in DC, maybe some crab action in B-More (hmmm...maybe not crab ACTION. That's a little discomfortin…

New Mexican cuisine, here we come!

Erin and I are going to New Mexico for New Year's and aside from the friends and scenery we'll see there, I'm looking forward to the FOOD! You can even get green chiles on a cheeseburger of Burger King or McDonalds out there, which is a sign of culinary sensitivity on the the part of those large chains, in my opinion.

We'll be down south first, in Gila National Forest, likely eating simple camping-type food, but we'll pass through Albuquerque on the way up to Santa Fe, Taos and Jemez Springs. ABQ is home of The Frontier, where my friend Darren introduced me to green chiles, massive burritos and other specialties of this diner-type place across Central Ave. from University of New Mexico. Oh, there's also sopapillas with honey, a welcome respite from spicy foods for tender parts of the mouth like lips and tongues. : )

Lastly, there's green chile beer - I kid you not. Why have beer and spicy food, separately, when you can get a two-for-one sensation with spi…

Oh Deer Me

Guess what's in my fridge right now?

Although I could call my cousins in Eastern North Carolina and ask them how to handle and prepare a couple pounds of venison, as they hunt and fish and do all that Southern Outdoors Manly Man stuff, I hesitate.

I don't think I am alone in this.

Suggestions with recipes or preparation techniques are welcome.

I Wish I May, I Wish I Might…

As Scott and I seem to be on a roll moving every year like clockwork, we’ve pared our kitchen wares down to the essentials.

Gone are four different types of whisks, extra pans and cutting boards, and the like. I’m already keeping our next move in mind, as I mentally inventory the cabinets each time I reach for a coffee cup or plate, wondering which bowls could really be chucked in the next inevitable move (Yes, Scott, I’m talking about your chipped pasta set from Pier One. You know I am right, so don’t even try to play).

I used to go into places like World Market, Pottery Barn, Target, TJ Maxx (all hail the Maxx!) and other specialty home goods stores and go nuts in their kitchen sections, snatching up cute dessert plates, funky silverware, cocktail and bar ware, and red tag items that looked like they might be useful or the very least so incredibly fabulous just being in my possession.

Now I don’t even make it to the checkout counters at these places, instead lusting after the items on …

Tossing the Cookies

It's two hours until I'm due for a Christmas cookie exchange and I'm nearly at the brink of calling it a day, throwing on my elastic-waist pants (you know you have a pair too, the comfy ones that never let you down), pouring an extra-strength eggnog, and calling in for pizza for the second time this weekend.

Oy, the holidays - I forgot how wonderful they are. And how they can almost certainly drive you to that special place we call Insanity.

All went well until I hit the kitchen running this morning, scarfing down a bagel and dreaming of the awesome Chai Tea Eggnog Cookies I would bake. Straight out of this month's Southern Living magazine, the recipe looked easy enough - tea, eggnog, a couple eggs, a sugar cookie mix, and a simple little glaze.

Well, simple it ain't. As I am always looking for a shortcut, I decided to use one of those logs of cookie dough you can conveniently find in your grocer's dairy case. I unwrapped it from its shrinky casing, dumped in the …

Smokin' hot pizza

Scott here. I know, I'm slack about writing, but I thought I'd share a funny pizza delivery experience.

Last night (Friday), we ordered from .. well, let's just call it "A-Middle-Tennessee-Pizza-Chain-Run-By-Middle-Easterners." Please note, this is not an ethnic slam - I first experienced Turkish pizza while living in Australia and it's likely the Kurdish gentlemen that I've met in Nashville making pizza have similar ingredients, baking styles, etc. Both groups make wonderful, different-than-Italian/Greek pizza.

Anyway, we order the California Veggie .. adding Italian sausage .. why have all veggies when you can add some fennel-flavored pork? : ) 30 minutes later, a knock at the door brings our pizza and a delivery balancing it, a receipt and a lit cigarette. Some people would take offense at the cigarette, but Erin and I laughed about it after closing the door. It reminded us of a funny mechanic (from Montenegro, former Yugoslavia) we've visited …

I Got Your Yuletide Right Here

Let's's the Third of December and thus far I've visited two places for Christmas shopping - Kroger and the always delightful Jo-Ann's Craft Store (it's like a deep-discount wannabe Michael's).

This year I decided to say "F Consumerism" (a.k.a. "Screw any expectations those in my family or social circle may have of getting something they might actually want") and try to make gifts with my own two Carpel Tunnel-ized hands. Let's just say the bulk of my "gifts" thus far involve Mason jars and Mod Podge.

In a conversation this morning with a co-worker, I confided that this newfound desire to give homemade items was more than just a "Hey, I'm Broke" move. One reason is that my recent forays into canning leave me wanting for more. I could can all day - just slap a red gingham apron and a Beltone hearing aid on me and call me "MeeMaw" - I've got your sweet southern jams right here.

Another is that I…