Well, That Was Something That Happened

So, some… time… ago, BDH and I got a Costco membership. Against my better judgement, I have to say. Because you know me, and you know I am as cheap as a cheap thing that is cheap, and I hate spending money.

But BDH and I thought maybe it might actually be a way to SAVE money, this whole “buying certain things in bulk” idea, so we decided to give it a go.

And that is when we bought giant bags of apples for the aforementioned Apple Jelly Debacle of ’16. Let us not speak of it again.

But also, we bought huge bags of potatoes and carrots.  Continue reading

Did You Write Anything?

So, this morning BDH asked me, “Did you write anything recently?”

(Yeah, he reads my ramblings too. You’re not alone in your shame.)

And I hadn’t, so I said so. But it’s not for want of things to write about. It’s just sometimes, there’s A LOT. And most of it is boring, everyday life stuff. (There’s a good reason I have that as one of my categories.)

Basically, there are periods of my life that fit into one of the following two categories:

  1. all about That Girl, and
  2. everything else.

Continue reading

An Update From the DIY Trenches

So, remember how last week I was all DO ALL THE THINGS!!

Well, we did!

We started two projects in the last week. The first was to redo our stairs — from carpet to wood — and the second was to make our own apple jelly.

Remember when you were younger, and you would go out with friends and drink a lot, and then wake up the next morning and swear “I am NEVER. DRINKING. AGAIN”? Continue reading

Do All the Things!!

Well, we’re into the second week of September (well, third, actually, if you count those first three days as a week OKAY FINE, TWO AND A HALF WEEKS THEN) and the weather is settling down and our routines are starting to sort themselves and all seems well.

Except now I want to DO ALL THE THINGS!

I think it’s the return of free time after managing That Girl all summer. Suddenly I have my day to myself again. And I just need to fill it. Continue reading

Dessert FAIL

Okay, so I have this kid who gets these ideas into her head about cooking. Specifically, that she wants to cook something, and then she will ask me OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER again to make it. Because she’s four.

This is a month of birthdays here at The House of Peevish. Stinkerbelle’s Grammy and Grandad both have birthdays this month, and I have a birthday coming shortly. This, combined with making some cookies last week as a practice run for the holidays, has driven That Girl into an OMG LETS BAKE SOMETHING frenzy. Usually cupcakes, because she is ALL ABOUT THE CUPCAKES, but the emphasis was on the LET’S BAKE part. Also, with some WITH THE MIXER thrown in because she loves the mixer.

Sometime late last week, I think after grocery shopping, we were in the car, and Stinkerbelle started asking to bake. She said, from the depths of the back seat, “Mom, you should make a pie.” Randomly. Apropos of nothing, because a) I don’t often make pies, like, AT ALL, and 2) she doesn’t actually eat pie. So why she thought about pie that second, I don’t know. But she did. And for days afterwards was all MOM MOM MOM PIE PIE PIE PIE MOM PIE PIE PIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIE.

I didn’t make pie.

But then, she shifted from The Pie, and moved back to just generally baking. Something. And I guess today at school, when they began a unit on Christmas, and started talking about Santa and the reindeer and leaving cookies out for Santa, and the school’s Breakfast with Santa event… well, she kicked the whole baking thing into high gear.

Now, we’re trying very hard to keep our spending at the grocery store down to a tighter budget in the weeks leading up to Christmas, so we have some extra cash for the holidays. So the ingredients for baking are generally pretty thin. But, in an effort to — pardon me, any judgy parents out there, but — SHUT HER THE HELL UP, I decided to try to find something, anything, for us to make together.

(Also, it’s a good exercise for her, developmentally. It lets us work on following directions, structuring and order, and some fine motor skills. So, you know, it could be said that I am doing it for those reasons too. NAH.)

The truth was, though, there was very little in the pantry that would be easy to pull together. And then I found a bag of marshmallows. And some rice krispies. BINGO. Something easy and quick to get the Cooking Monkey off my back.

However.

If I am COMPLETELY honest, the marshmallows were a little past their best before date. And really, they are marshmallows. They’re still soft and squishy and white? THEY’RE FINE.

The rice krispies, however? TOTALLY NOT EXPIRED. Although, the box has been open for, what, MONTHS. So, possibly a little stale. I didn’t bother to check though because, dude. It’s rice krispies. In rice krispie squares. How bad could it possibly be?

Also, in the interest of speed, and also to keep That Girl away from a hot pot on the stove, I opted for the microwave method. Which seemed quick and easy, and allowed for her to stir throughout the process without getting too close to anything too hot.

SOUNDS PERFECT, RIGHT? Well, there were a number of flaws in my plan.

For example, when I say “stir”, what I really mean is “flail about a little bit until one gets bored and/or distracted by Sesame Street“.

Also, when I say I used the microwave, I learned that microwave cooking sometimes lacks the staying warm power of something cooked on the stove in a metal pot. And also, as anyone who has microwaved things like bread before can attest, sometimes things heated and then cooled in the microwave can get a little… spongier… than they originally were. Or maybe that was the age of the marshmallows talking.

And when I noted that the rice krispies might be a little stale…

Well, since Stinkerbelle had forfeited the job, it took all my strength to stir up the mess of cereal and marshmallows and get it into a pan, because of the rapidly cooling nature of just-microwaved stuff. And once I got it into the pan, where it was Stinkerbelle’s job to pat it out flat with a spatula, she gave it a few token SMACKS with the spatula and then buggered off to see whatever Kermit was up to. And it was up to me to finish the job.

I let it “cool” — HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA BWAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA — for a couple of hours on the countertop. I poked it occasionally, where I noticed that it was still decidedly sproingy. Not as firm as I remembered rice krispie squares should eventually become.

I cut some squares out after dinner. Both Stinkerbelle and BDH most emphatically passed on having one — OH MY DOG YOU LITTLE TWERP, YOU MEAN I DID THIS FOR NOTHING? — and it was left to me to Throw Myself On The Rice Krispie Squares.

Where, I have to tell you, that stale rice krispies do not have a nice crisp crunch, as the name “Krispies” would lead you to believe, but instead will make an interesting and somewhat disconcerting SQUEAK when you chew them.

So, that was nice.

So, let’s just add rice krispie squares to the ever-growing list of Ridiculously Simple Things I Cannot Make To Save My Life. Don’t even ask me about Minute Rice. Just DON’T.

And This Is Why I Don’t Have A Cooking Show.

So, one evening, BDH and I were watching BBC television over the VPN — you know, as you do — and a commercial came on. It was one of those commercials that grocery store chains do with somebody cooking a recipe using stuff you buy in their store.

And we watch the BBC a lot, so over the course of a week or two we saw this commercial several times. After the fourth or so time, BDH says to me, “Mmmm, doesn’t that look good?” (About the dish the woman was cooking, OF COURSE, not the woman herself. We are nothing if not motivated by food.)

And so off to Teh Googles went I. And I learned that the woman was, in fact, one Delia Smith, who I gather is a well-known British chef. Mostly I know this because she was referenced by Dawn French in The Vicar of Dibley as being part of the Cooking Holy Trinity, along with Mrs. Cropley. (Which should stand as a warning, but hey. What do I know.)

Anyhoo, I figured…. Pssssh, I can make this Cottage Pie thing, right? It looked like it was basically a standard shepherd’s pie recipe as I know it, only… Britished up. For example, lamb stock? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA I LIVE IN CANADA HAHAHAHAHA. Also, it took me a while to figure out what the hell a “swede” was — I was pretty sure the Brits don’t cannibalize their Scandanavian neighbours but, you know, I don’t LIVE there or anything.

As it turns out, a swede is a turnip. I’M GETTING SO CULTURED.

Also, no offense to the Welsh, but our UK friends seem to have a thing with leeks. This time, as a topping. Okay. I’m adaptable, right?

Turns out, not so much.

I started cooking according to the instructions, which seemed a little nutty. First off, it called for 2 medium onions. I’m beginning to learn NEVER TRUST A RECIPE THAT DOESN’T GIVE EXACT MEASUREMENTS. Because my assessment of a large or a medium somethingorother may be totally different to another person’s. And, as it turns out, my assessment of a medium onion was probably WAAAAY different than Delia’s, because that was a lot of onion.

Also, 3 oz of carrot and 3 oz of swedeturnip? THREE OUNCES? Really, Delia? That’s not even a whole carrot. And possibly the smallest turnip in the history of horticulture. I mean, if you’re gonna go that small, WHAT IS THE POINT? So I kinda did my own vegetable thing there.

But I continued cooking, using EVERY COOKING UTENSIL KNOWN TO MAN I might add, and after awhile, things came together as they should. Or, at least, fairly close to how I felt they probably should, were Delia looking on at the progress I was making.

And the time came to put it all together. It looked pretty good. The meat and veg had a little too much liquid. The potato topping looked a little sparse. But it was fine.

UNTIL THE LEEKS.

Again, we have the problem of someone’s assessment of “medium”. When I went to the grocery store, there were no “large” and “medium” and “small” leeks. There were just, you know, LEEKS.

But the recipe called for two medium leeks. So I started chopping the first leek, and I suddenly came to the conclusion of HOLY HELL THAT IS A LOT OF LEEKS. I chopped most of one leek and my cutting board was becoming home to Mount Leek. So I said “screw it” and thought we had plenty. As it was, I sprinkled maybe half of what I chopped — perhaps half of the leek-sized leek I bought at the grocery store amid all the other leek-sized leeks — on top of the potatoes, and it was still WAY TOO MUCH LEEKS.

And into the oven it went.

The leeks remained leeky, not at all the cheese-crusted topping the recipe promised. But aside from that, and the too-much liquid bubbling up the sides and flooding the topping, it turned out quite well. Definitely tasty. BDH raved and said the recipe was a keeper.

But, as we gnawed through the ridiculously leeky topping, my husband — who, bear in mind, holds onions as his favourite vegetable and can eat thick slices of raw onions on sandwiches without a second thought — said, “It’s delicious. But, maybe next time, skip the leeks.”

Not A Real Spice Girl

The time is upon us to start our Christmas baking. So, today, as is my annual holiday baking ritual, I went to the bulk food store to stock up.

(I did a whole bulk food musing post on my cooking blog. If you went there first, don’t panic — this is not the same thing. But I am going to cross-post this over there later.)

So, I love the bulk food store. I cannot lie. I do tend to go A LEETLE BIT MENTAL when I am there, buying ALL THE FESTIVE BAKING THINGS. I don’t go in very often, because I tend to go nutty, and because I don’t do that much baking to warrant it.

Today, since Stinkerbelle was with me, I wanted to get in and out fairly quickly. Mainly, this was an attempt to curb the crazy shopping bonanza, but if I am really honest, part of it was because I had forgotten to make That Girl have a pre-game pee before we set out this morning. I had a relatively short list of things to get, so it should not take very long. Plus, she and I both are still battling this nagging cough, and it’s not cool to cough your way through the bins of food.

I decided it was best for all concerned to be as quick as possible.

We meandered through the aisles of bins, scooping and bagging up what we needed. We started in the Christmas goodies, wandered through flour, sugar, candied fruit and chocolate, and eventually ended up at the other end of the store in the spices, with our cart getting full up, our list getting checked off, and Stinkerbelle getting impatient to get moving.

So, I finished up getting a little bit of ginger, some nutmeg and some allspice, and then we were off to the checkout.

We got home and brought our bags inside, but it was sunny and eleven degrees today, and Stinkerbelle wanted to be outside, so I thought a little walk up to the post box might be nice. By the time we got back, it was lunchtime, and then naptime, and before I knew it, it was three o’clock. And I had not put our baking supplies away yet.

That Girl was still snoozing, so I went down to put away all our shopping. Another thing I like about shopping at the bulk food store is that I get home and I can just empty my little plastic bags of sugar or flour or whatever into the appropriate canister TAA DAAAH. So I did. Sugars, flour, sprinkles, chocolate, spices, each had it’s appointed spot.

It was then that I realized, as I picked up my three bags of spices — I had neglected to label what spice was which.

In the majority of the bulk food store, you have twist ties to tie off your bags of supplies, but in the spices section, there are bread ties with a piece of paper attached, and you write the product number on each as you bag it. This is because the checkout staff, while possessing a remarkably encyclopaedic knowledge of everything in the store and the ability to identify each on sight, need help with the minute portions of spices in their tiny bags.

WHICH ALL LOOK THE SAME, I’LL HAVE YOU KNOW.

Okay, so the ginger was easy, because, well, it’s ginger-coloured and it smells A LOT like ginger. But I am here to tell you that, to the untrained eye and nose, nutmeg and allspice look REMARKABLY similar to the aging, maybe-one-day-I’ll-have-glaucoma-OMG, I-don’t-have-my-new-glasses-yet eyes. And the smell test is not much help, because in such small quantities, every bag smells pretty homogeneous. Kind of spicy and plasticky, but not much to discern one from another when you’re buying, like, TWO TEASPOONS of stuff.

I had a problem.

I got out my existing containers of nutmeg and allspice and tried to do comparative sniffage. In the existing little containers, metallic and designed to keep things fresh, you can really smell the difference. In the plastic bags, sniffing the new stuff? Nada. (And my nostrils are stinging still, just so you know.)

I tried looking at each. The existing stuff? The grind and colour are distinct enough to tell the difference. The bagged stuff? Both a pretty fine grind and similar colour.

I poured a smidge of each out on a white plate and got under the brightest white light and tried to figure it out. I tasted. I touched. I asked pertinent questions.

The spices were less than accomodating.

In the end, I took my best guess, and poured one into the nutmeg container and one into the allspice. Fortunately, for my immediate baking purposes, both will go into my gingerbread in equal quantities, so I’m not too concerned. After that, for the eggnog cookies? Could be a little dicey, but we’ll do our best. I think I have another bit of nutmeg in the back of the cupboard so we might be okay.

But, come the summer, when it comes time to make jerk, which requires a whole lot of allspice? If I guessed wrong, that’s going to be some odd-tasting, nutmeggy jerk indeed.

Maybe I should just make enough gingerbread and pumpkin bread and pumpkin muffins before then to use up all the current supply. That would mean another trip to the spice aisle, obviously — but next time, I’ll remember to label the packages.

I Said That I Would Do It, And Indeed I Did

Awhile back I said I was going to start a blog about cooking. Mostly cooking, occasionally failing. So I did.

It’s here.

I’m still in the process of backposting stuff and making it look just so. And, hopefully, I’ve got the security settings right so a) people can actually SEE it, and 2) people can leave comments in the appropriate fashion.  So, you know, if someone could test that and get back to me, I’d be eternally grateful.

And I’ll post my famous gingerbread cookie recipe as thanks. OH WHO AM I KIDDING IT IS NOT MY RECIPE I STOLE IT. But I’ll still post it, just in time for the holidays.

So, I hope to back-fill a little bit with recipes, and post about new recipes I try, and challenges I have with meal plans and cooking, and my many and catastrophic cooking fails. And maybe I’ll even let guest bloggers post their favourite recipes, too. But mostly, I just wanted a place to post recipes that I find and like.

So have a look, and have fun.

 

Win. FAIL. Win!

My adventures with food and recipes and such recently have been well chronicled. I’ve gotten a couple of new cookbooks this year, and have been combing them, and some of the older ones I have that I have not used in awhile, for new and healthful and good meals to add to our repertoire. I’m trying new recipes. Some are successful. Some are not.

So I got a new crock pot cookbook recently, surprisingly enough from Crock Pot, the brand name of slow cookers everywhere. And there was a recipe for scalloped potatoes that I thought I’d try.

BDH really likes him some scalloped potatoes. Well, DUH, he’s a Maritimer. It’s in the blood. But I have never made scalloped potatoes from scratch, so he usually either has to settle for the Betty Crocker boxed variety (WHAT? DON’T YOU JUDGE ME YOU DON’T KNOW MY BETTY CROCKER LOVE) or wait until he is visiting at home for some actual, real, honest-to-dog homemade scalloped potatoes.

But this recipe? Looked TOTALLY EASY. It had, like, SIX ingredients. Easy peasy.

So on Wednesday, I prepared the ingredients and assembled them as instructed. The recipe said to cook for 3 1/2 hour on high, then once the potatoes were tender, another hour on low. So I set my timer and went about my business.

At the 3 1/2 hour mark, I checked to see if the potatoes were tender. And no, they were not. In fact, they were still pretty crisp. Barely cooked at all.

Okay, I thought, well maybe a little longer. So I let them go for another hour on high.

Still hard.

Another half hour.

HARD.

Now, it was just about dinner time, so I thought I’d check a little further down. And, as I dug down in the pot a little bit, below the layer of mostly-uncooked potatoes and some tender ham, what do you think I found?

That’s right. POTATO MUSH.

Everything below the first uncooked layer of potatoes had dissolved and become a gooey, soupy mess. My beautifully assembled pot of scalloped potatoes was a giant hot pot of EPIC FAIL.

So I got out the peanut butter and made SAMMICHES, DAMMIT.

But I am nothing if not CHEAP. There is NO WAY I was going to just throw away all the potatoes and ham and cheese — READ: MONEY — because things went badly. But after tidying up and putting Stinkerbelle to bed, I was too tired to think about it. So I scraped the entire mess into a covered pot and stuck it in the bottom of the fridge, and just walked away.

So, today, a couple of days later, I got to thinking… what to do with the mess sitting and staring accusingly up at me from the bottom shelf of the fridge?

I got out some onions, and carrots, and butter, and a bit of flour and milk… and suddenly TAA DAAAH! Potato Ham Fail soup!

It’s actually pretty good, too. Perfect for a day when there was a wind chill when we got up this morning.

I love it when a fail can be salvaged. Even though it looks like BDH will have to continue to wait for some homemade scalloped potatoes.

(And, in honour of my foodtastic adventures of late, I started a cooking/recipe blog.)

Relaxation Nation: Quick Fix Chocolate Cake

Alright,  my friends.  If you’re like me, sometimes the best way to cure all ills is with chocolate.

So today, on a lazy, cold long weekend, I bring you something to get you a little bit of chocolate love when you need it:  Quick Fix Chocolate Cake.

It’s fast and easy, it’s pantry-friendly, it’s not good for you, and it’s full of chocolatey goodness.

And it’s an individual serving. JUST FOR YOU. Sounds perfect to me.

Quick Fix Chocolate Cake

*4 Tbsp flour
4 Tbsp sugar
*2 Tbsp cocoa
1 egg
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 Tbsp milk

Get a large, microwave-safe coffee mug. Put the flour, sugar and cocoa in the mug, and mix well. Add the egg, and mix well. Mix in the oil and the milk (if you want, you can use less oil and more milk, and it will still be fine). Mix with a fork until the batter is smooth. It will probably be a bit thinner than regular cake batter.

Put in the microwave and cook on high for 2-3 minutes. TA DAAH! Chocolate cake.

Top with whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup, if so desired.

Enjoy!

*NUTELLA VARIATION: If you have the Nutella love, use self-rising flour instead of regular flour. Increase your cocoa to 3 Tbsp and add in 3 Tbsp Nutella.

You’re welcome.

Relaxation Nation

Whoa. The internets are STRESSED, man. Between all the goings on in The News Out In The World, and election fraud happening here in our little city, and my internets peeps just having OMG BEING MOM IS NOT EASY days… the internets are full of people stressing out.

I know I am.

So I am taking Mondays to spread some relaxation out there to the Internetverse. We all need it. I’m just going to give out some Zen on Mondays, so all y’all can partake. If you feel like it. And relax.

NOTE: I AM NOT A DOCTOR, NOR DO I PLAY ONE ON TV. So anything I recommend here is TOTALLY UP TO YOU to try. And if you like it, great. And if you don’t, well that is okay too.

So, yeah. Relaxing stuff. Maybe it’ll be a recipe I liked. Or something I’ve discovered to help me relax. Or a book I enjoyed. Or some really great shoes. (Nah, it won’t be shoes. Who has money for shoes?) But, you know… stuff like that.

Sounds good? Okay.

So, let’s start off our relaxation with… Cowboy Cookies. Because who doesn’t love some lovin’ from the oven? ESPECIALLY with chocolate in it.

So go forth this week, my friends, and bake. And enjoy.

********

Baking therapy is good. There’s something about baking that is relaxing. Your house smells good, you can do it with your kids or with your friends on a Saturday movie night, and you have something tasty to show at the end of it.

This is a recipe that came to me all the way from Texas, from our friend Kelly (with only some very slight variations). She sent us a homemade cookie mix one Christmas, and this was contained therein. And it has been one of BDH’s favourite cookies ever since. So much so that That Girl and I made a few batches last week. And now they’re all gone. OM NOM NOM NOM.

COWBOY COOKIES
(makes about 2 -2.5 dozen cookies)

1 c all-purpose flour
1 c uncooked rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 c chopped nuts (I like pecans. YMMV)
1/2 c seedless raisins
1/4 c granulated sugar
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars together. Beat in egg. Beat in vanilla.

Combine flour, oats, chocolate chips, nuts, raisins, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a large-ish bowl.

Using a wooden spoon, mix dry ingredients into butter/sugar mixture until well blended. Dough will be a bit… scruffy.

Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart onto cookie sheets with silicone pads (or lightly greased cookie sheets, if you don’t use silicone pads).  Bake in 350 oven for 12 -14 minutes or until bottom/edges are lightly browned.  Also, your cookies probably won’t spread out much — they’ll likely hold a rounded, lump kind of form. (Don’t worry. They may be kind of ugly but they’ll taste beautiful.)

Remove to wire racks to cool *almost* completely. Be sure to eat a slightly warm one with a big glass of milk, while the chocolate chips are still a little melty.

 

Random Tuesday: Something Is Off Edition

It’s altogether too routine for a Tuesday. I feel like somebody swapped out my Tuesday for a Wednesday or something. I hate when that happens. I have a hard enough time remembering what day of the week it is without feeling like it’s not the day I think it is.

  • We had to get the first oil change on my car yesterday. It was something they automatically do when you get the car: the salesperson just pre-books your first scheduled oil change so you keep up on the regular maintenance. And yesterday was the first one. DO YOU KNOW HOW I KNOW THIS? Because two or three months ago the dealership called to remind me of a maintenance appointment, but I knew it was too early for MY appointment, so I rang them back and confirmed that a) they were calling for BDH’s car and not for mine, and 2) the date of MY car’s appointment, which he looked on computer and told me was April 4. It was, however, scheduled for 6 am. So we switched that to 10 am. And then I put it in my calendar. EXCEPT… I showed up, on time, yesterday, child in tow with diaper bag and snacks and juice and other diversions, for my first scheduled maintenance, only to find out IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE ON MAY 4TH AT 10 AM. So. The STUPID MORON on the phone BACK IN JANUARY, when I CONFIRMED THE DATE AND TIME, gave me the WRONG DATE. And the guy checking me in was all, “DUH, you came a MONTH EARLY.” I wanted to punch somebody RIGHT IN THE JUNK, I tell you truly. Fortunately, it was just an oil change, and they were not busy, so they took my car in anyway. But STILL. Anyway, now I have an appointment for MAY 4, to get my winter tires off. YOU ARE ALL MY WITNESSES.
  • I’m having chicken issues. I am. It’s getting annoying, and a little expensive. See, I buy chicken in bulk — if I am at the grocery store, and there’s a sale on boneless skinless breasts (which is all we eat), I buy a whackload of ’em and then bag up meal-sized portions and freeze them. I have done this for LO, THESE MANY YEARS. With no problem. Except recently, I am finding that when I go to the freezer to get some of this chicken to use for dinner, I take it out and as it thaws, I am beginning to notice it’s gone a bit… white-ish. In patches. Like what I imagine freezer burn would look like, except I don’t really know from freezer burn. It smells okay, but it just looks… NOT RIGHT. Anyway. I took some out this past week and hemmed and hawed about it, and then eventually just chucked it. I’m a coward. It’s not been anywhere except our deep freeze for a month or two, and yet… And there’s a bunch of them in there right now, 3 pounds, and I’m eyeing them suspiciously as well. These are the times when I wish my mom was here so I could go “WHAT IS THIS, O FONT OF MOM KNOWLEDGE?” Except she was SO EXCITED to have a DEEP FREEZER (this was back in the 60s/very early 70s, you understand) I fear she would have been all “NO THERE’S NOTHING WRONG LOOK AT THE MIRACLE OF MODERN TECHNOLOGY YOU HAVE BEFORE YOU”. And then we would all die from eating funky chicken. The end.
  • My kid is talking in her sleep. She does, from time to time. The first time she did it was, like, the first or second night we had her in our care, back in Addis, in the hotel. We’re sleeping, it’s like, 4 am, and all of a sudden she lets out this PEAL OF LAUGHTER. And BDH and I LEAPT from our beds all OMGWTF IS THAT BABY DOING and I just about blew a hamstring because I got one foot tangled in the bedcovers. Anyway. She does not do it often, so it catches us off guard when she does. So, last night, I’m sleeping in bed, minding my own business, and all of a suddenly I hear LA DE DA BLAH DE BLAH SOMETHINGSOMETHING in this pleasant little voice over the baby monitor. I have no fucking clue what she said because, OH YEAH I WAS ASLEEP. But I tell you truly, I went from ZONK to FULL ALERT WHOOP WHOOP WHOOOOOP in about three milliseconds. You KNOW all the crazy shit that goes through your head — well, maybe just MY HEAD — in these situations. I’m all WHO IS SHE TALKING TO WHAT IS WRONG OMG SOMEONE HAS BROKEN IN AND IS IN HER ROOM ABDUCTING MY CHILD. So I get up and rush to the door and listen… And what’s happening? NOTHING, man. She’s sound asleep. So’s BDH, for that matter. He didn’t even KNOW she had been talking. But not me. OH NO. I’m WIDE AWAKE now.
  • Parenting Fail of the Week (Potentially): Every time my kid falls down now, she looks at me and asks “IS IT OKAY?”. The thought process is not “okay, I have fallen down and I feel a slight pain here, so I will tell you I have a problem”. It seems to be more along the lines of “I have fallen down, but you normally just get me to shake it off, even if it hurts so what is the point? AM I HURT? YOU TELL ME, BOSSY MOM LADY.”
  • Parenting Fail of the Week (Definitely): My kid’s had a cold, and she hates having a runny nose. So, she will always ask for a KWEENEX. This is good, right? Except for the fact that A) she will wake in the middle of the night and begin calling for KWEENEX, KWEENEX, so we have to get up out of a sound sleep, go in, find a kleenex and deal with the boogers in the dark, and 2) she has picked up on the fact that we call them “boogers” and so, just to be sure, will stick a finger in her nose TO CHECK before asking… and then announce “BOOGERS”, loudly, in a tone of great gravitas, before quietly asking for a kleenex.
  • Parenting Fail of the Week (Heavyweight Division): It snowed the other night, around dinnertime, after being warm for a couple of days. I stood at the patio doors and bellowed “SNOW! AAAAAAUGGGGHHH!” My husband went to the window in the playroom and pointed and yelled “AAAAAAUGGGGHHH!” So. Guess who has taken to yelling “AAAAAAUGGGGHHH!” at the dinnertable because she thinks it’s funny?

*****

Archives
One Year Ago: Certainties
Two Years Ago: Saturday Smile: Today’s Lesson
Three Years Ago: Friday Fun: Take That, Mother Nature

Rules of Engagement

When your (almost) three year old demands that you make cookies with her, be aware that there are some very serious Rules of Engagement. Commit them to memory. Learn them well. Be prepared.

1. Always pick something simple. Peanut butter. Chocolate chip. Sugar cookies. Anything more elaborate and you are asking for trouble.

2. Do NOT let your child handle a measuring type device while she is in proximity to both the mixing bowl AND the sink. The transfer of substances between the two via said measuring device may prove detrimental to your recipe.

3. Prepare to act quickly to limit the contamination of your dough. KNOW THE WARNING SIGNS. If your child starts muttering about “KWEENEX”, then time is of the essence. If a child is saying ‘DEE-YISHUS!” while your back is turned, YOU MAY ALREADY BE TOO LATE.

4. Do not expect that your cookies will bear any resemblance in texture or form to any previous incarnation of said cookie. In fact, be prepared for variance between individual cookies.

5. Just because your child has moved into The Temple of Elmo, all the while insisting “WE COMIN BACK”, be prepared to finish any unfinished tasks on your own. This is especially true of cleanup.

The most important of all:

6. If there is unmixed flour in your KitchenAid, NEVER take your eyes off your child. FOR EVEN A MILLISECOND. In the blink of an eye, a child can switch it from “OFF” to ‘WARP FACTOR 10″. At that point, it is too late to stop the flour from being FLOOFED ALL OVER YOUR KITCHEN.

DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!

(On the bright side, we now have a batch of mostly edible peanut butter cookies in the house.)

Tasty Baked Goodness

Because so many people have asked, here are my recipes for scones and coffeecake. And when I say “my recipes”, note that I ganked both from reputable cookbooks and made minor changes, so really, they’re “mine” in the sense that “I stole them and tweaked them and make them all the time, and give others full credit.”

(If I said I’d email you these, I will do that too. Tova, I’ll also email you the soda bread recipe.)

This is for those of you, like me, who need a little lovin’ from the oven from time to time, like this week. Enjoy.

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Orange Cranberry Scones
This recipe is adapted from The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook, which is my favourite cookbook of all time. Go buy it. Seriously. It is full of win.
(makes 12)

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c whole wheat flour (you can use any combination of flours to equal 2.25, but the heavier the flour, adjust your baking powder accordingly)
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder (more if you have heavier flour)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp grated orange rind
3/4 c dried cranberries (or whatever; more or less depending on how much fruit you want in your scones)
1/2 c cold butter, cut into cubes
1 c buttermilk
1 egg
(Notes: You can substitute any dried fruit quite easily, and swap lemon rind for orange. Also, you can use regular milk instead of buttermilk, but I think buttermilk gives the scones a richer flavour.)

In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients, and orange rind. Using a pastry blender (some people use two knives but I am not that coordinated), cut butter in until it starts to look like crumbs. Fold in cranberries.

Pour buttermilk over the flour/butter mixture, and mix only until blended into a soft, ragged, sticky dough.

Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gather up with your hands. Gently knead about 10 times to form into a solid mound of smooth-ish dough. Pat into a rectangle about 1 cm thick.

You can use a round cookie cutter to cut your scones but you will need to re-knead your scraps to get 12. I prefer to cut the dough into triangles — cut into 6 squares first, then cut each square diagonally in half to make 2 triangles. Voila — 12 rough-cut triangles. Place triangles on ungreased baking sheet.

In a small bowl, beat the egg with a fork a little, then brush the top of each biscuit with the egg. (If you want to, at this point you could sprinkle each with some of that big crystal sugar. I do, sometimes.)

Bake in a 425 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until the scones are golden. Let them cool on the pans.

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Buttermilk Coffee Cake
(taken with minor variations from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook — the classic one with the red-checked cover that everyone’s mom has)

2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 c butter
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 generous tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/3 c buttermilk
1/2 c (or more, if you like nuts) chopped pecans (walnuts work well too)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 13x9x2 baking pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl combine flour, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Using pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside 1/2 c of the flour/butter mixture.

Stir baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg into remaining flour mixture.

In a medium bowl combine eggs and buttermilk. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened.

Spoon batter into prepared pan (it will be thick, so have a spoon or spatula handy to spread it to fill the bottom of the pan). Stir together reserved flour mixture and nuts, and sprinkle it over the batter (that’s your streusel-y topping).

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Cool slightly and serve warm*.

*Or cool completely, and reheat portions in the microwave on high for, like, 10 seconds. Awesome topped with cool whip.