Saturday, December 19, 2009

Recipe frustration

I kinda hate baking cookies. They take so long. And they're messy. But it's Christmas, and you do cookies at Christmas time. Colin's our cookie baker (and a fine one!), and he's got a list o' cookies he wants to do. But there are some specific cookies from way back in my past that I really am hankering to make and I'm not sure why.

Cookie #1 - back in the mid-70s, when we lived in Suquamish, Sunset magazine did it's annual cookie spread and mom and I made these brown sugar cutout cookies in the shape of pine trees. They were finicky on the cooking time - easy to burn. But were nice & crunchy if you got them right. Sort of like gingerbread, only not spicey. I remember we thought them rather bland at the time, but for some reason, I really want them! Mom has no memory of these cookies. Web searches have turned up nothing. Colin made me some brown sugar cookies from his 1001 cookie recipes book, and they're good. And he pressed cute little shapes into them, and they were pretty & tasty enough to give away. But they are tender, not crispy. So, not quite a match.

Cookie #2 - I want a round chocolate cookie with turbinado sugar around the edge. So, looking for an icebox/refrigerator/freezer type cookie that you roll into a log, roll the log into turbinado sugar, and then cut into slices & bake. I'm being finicky and not finding a chocolage refrigerator cookie that looks just right.

Plus, did I mention that I don't really like making cookies? So when I find one that's sorta close, I start gathering ingredients and then think "but it won't be quite right anyway" and wander off.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Supper Club?

On a recent trip to the library, when I'd looked at all I wanted to in the children's section, Max and I were making our way to Literature, when he pointed out the cookbook aisle. A book caught my eye as we zipped past and I brought it home: The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper. I catch The Splendid Table on the radio sometimes on a Sunday afternoon, so I thought it might be fun to read. And it was! The layout of the pages was really eye-catching. Not enough pictures for my taste, but really good design with words. Quotes from chefs and other food notables, and many many tips & explanations of techniques. The recipes weren't just "Ingredients/Steps", but a little story about why the recipe is a favorite or where it came from, plus detailed descriptions of how to do each step. I actually read through most of the book in an evening, skipping the recipe details and just reading it like a book. Fun!

Three recipes in particular caught my eye:
  • Pasta with Chopping-Board Pistachio Pesto
  • Crisp Brick-Fried Chicken with Rosemary and Whole Garlic Cloves
  • Little French Fudge Cakes

I thought they'd make a super-yummy menu, but I didn't have time to try them all at once (and unless I've got people coming over, I just don't have the motivation to go all out like that), so they got split up over a few nights.
First came the chocolate, of course. I've always loved those little chocolate lava cakes, with the gooey chocolate center. This recipe made it seem fairly easy & straightforward. Bought myself a LOT of dark chocolate and gathered the ingredients, and made these little cupcake size cakes on Saturday. Lemme tell ya - super rich! Oh my. I followed the advice "For the kids add another 3 tablespoons of sugar." Whew. Can't imagine if I'd left it out! I ate one with a REALLY big glass of milk (so that's why they serve them with little pots of cream at the restaurants), Max tried a bit and went "BLEAH" and Colin just looked. Maybe he tried a crumb. Guess I should try again with milk chocolate for the sophisticated palates around here.

One of the fun quotes:

After eating chocolate you feel
godlike, as though you can
conquer enemies, lead armies,
entice lovers.

- Emily Lychetti, pastry chef and author

Next up, brick chicken! I've also had this at a restaurant (so long ago, I no longer remember where). The chicken gets a little bit flattened under the brick and develops a nice, crispy skin. Yum. And I love rosemary and garlic with my chicken. Didn't have a "brick", so again, their great instructions came with a recommendation: "use a heavy skillet, about 2 inches smaller in diameter than the skillet you are cooking in...Balance it on the bird and add heavy objects to weight the pan down, such as a can or two, or a 5-pound bag of sugar, or a rock."

I went with the pan and three cans of miscellany from the pantry.

The recipe calls for a whole bird, butterflied (with tips on butterflying a chicken). I went with chicken quarters, but I overbought and had 6 quarters and only room for 5 in the pan. So, I ended up with one on its own. This was not a good decision for the lone quarter - after it burned, I had to remove the "crispy/black" skin. Ah well. The rest turned out yummy, with crispy flavorful skins and meat nearly falling off the leg bones. Next time, I'm going for just thighs, they should flatten nicely and cook more evenly than a quarter or whole bird, even though they won't be as photogenic.

Finally, last night, I got around to the pesto. I'm not a huge pesto fan, at least not of the Cuisinart kind. But this "chopping-board" style looked yummy (I like "rustic"). You put a little pile of salt & pepper on a big chopping board, smash some garlic cloves into it, add some red & green onions, and basil and then start chopping it all up together (the onions are pre-chopped, but end up re-chopped). Finally, you add the pistachios and chop chop chop some more. Throw on some olive oil, warm it up a little, mix with pasta, toss in a little Asiago cheese, and you're done.

I loved the chop chop chopping. Way fun, and I liked the fresh bite of the results. Very green, very fresh, very light. Better eat it RIGHT AWAY though, because even 15 minutes later it's not as yummy. And, whoa, garlic! Plus red & green onions. Whew. Max dove in, 'cause Abbey's fed him pesto before, but this had a little more bite than he was used to and he passed on most of it. Colin gave it the fish eye but tried it and said it was good (but didn't eat much). I scarfed it down. Um, did I mention garlic? And onions? Whew. Sorry about the breath, folks.

I think it'd be even better with some red pepper flakes, but then, I don't know, would you explode when you ate it?

So, loved reading the cookbook, liked the recipes I tried, but out of the whole book, these were the only ones I actually HAD to try out, so overall I was glad it was a library book. I should try out some more. Who's up for a supper club?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

First week of First Grade

First off, Max and Abbey had their last full day together - we'll miss you Abbey!

And then, school began. First day photo:

And here's what I saw when I went to pick him up after extended day:

Fully engrossed in playing with a new friend. It's working out fine, so far!


(he didn't eat any of those cute cheese leaves)

(the mac 'n cheese was too dry and came home uneaten - we'll have to figure the Thermos thing out)

Like the napkins? I sewed them up the night before (not my fault, I ordered the fabric 2 weeks ago, but it didn't come till Tuesday), and he's been liking them. The fabric line is Rocket Scientist from In the Beginning fabrics. Seemed so Max, had to have it. But he didn't need another quilt, so napkins it is!

Now we're all enjoying lots of downtime at home, and getting ready for a full week!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ready for 1st grade

The classic:

Gap-toothed grins are de rigueur for 1st grade, don'tcha know?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lunches and gear

Max had "Space Explorers" camp at school this week - trying out the full day schedule. We were supposed to also try out extended day at school, but there weren't enough sign-ups and it got cancelled. So, I got to pretend I worked part time and picked him up on Mon,Tue,Thur,Fri, and Colin did the same on Weds.

I ordered Max some Clone Wars gear for next year and we tried that out too. Backpack & lunchbox were a hit (crazy glasses optional):

For lunches, I did the bento approach again. I packed a ton of food everyday, since both Max and I were worried that he'd go hungry (he had quite an appetite Mon & Tues, trailing off at the end of the week). I always see these bento lunches for preschoolers that fit into one of the single layer boxes and think "no way, that's not enough!" - perhaps that's why we're so amply proportioned in my house. Or perhaps they're not for 6 year olds - probably both :-).
  • Carrot/zucchini/apple muffin, canned mandarin oranges (single layer blue box)
  • Wheat thins, cherries, and cream cheese (thumbs down on that from Max) (top of double layer blue box)
  • Turkey octo-dogs, ketchup, carrots and zucchini (thumbs down on the veg) (bottom of double layer blue box)
  • Fritos (in the goldfish)

  • Cherries and Ritz crackers
  • Bologna rollups (on toothpicks), mini-Bel cheese, frozen peas, carrots
  • More muffin, with peaches
  • Apple slices with caramel dip
  • more Fritos in the fish (these became his "on the way home" snack all week)


  • Apples & dip
  • Muffin & cantaloupe
  • Wheat thins & bologna rollups
  • Crackers, baby-Bel, chicken salad, and green beans with edamame (saved this layer for home, then didn't eat - thumbs down, I guess)


  • Muffin & peaches
  • Cantaloupe
  • Chicken pot pie insides, biscuits (leftovers from dinner the night before)
    And he got to bring along his space shuttle utensils in a re-usable snack bag I got on Etsy.


  • Ritz crackers, raspberries (from the Bellevue Farmer's Market trip on Thursday), cantaloupe
  • More octodogs & ketchup, carrots & zucchini (snubbed again)
  • Mini scones with jam, Wheat Thins, Laughing Cow cheese wedge, blueberries (from the Farmer's Market too).

And after Thursday's trip to the Farmer's Market, we had a few too many plums and I had a hankering to try out a plum cake recipe. Found one on the KCTS9 site that looked yummy, and it certainly was. Piping hot out of the oven:

Sweet, yummy goodness. Max and I enjoyed it. Colin had a bit of the cake part, but was not interested in the cooked fruit (as ever). Day 2, cooled off, Max agreed with Colin that the fruit part was "blechechechyuck". I thought it was fine, but then I like squishy foods.

P.S. I've been obsessively re-reading all of the Harry Potter books, and Colin just started in on them behind me. He amusedly read me a line from "Chamber of Secrets" where Mrs. Weasley sends Harry a Christmas package with a hand-knitted sweater and "plum cakes". So that's where the need for plum cake came from. Hmm.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

By demand, Colin's cake

We celebrated Colin's 46th on Monday (although I kept calling it his 45th - guess I'm a year off). Here's the cake:

If you can't tell (and that'd be my fault, since I made it), it's a round headed screw embedded in a piece of wood.
In other news, Max and I made a bunch 'o jam and a bunch 'o ice cream/sorbet over the 4th (got a head start on the jam the weekend before). Jams: cherry, raspberry, apricot. Ice cream: watermelon sorbet, grape ice, apricot ice cream.

Here's some jam in progress:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Must be sewing season

What is it with all the sewing this year? I got bit by all the other folks doing it lately and had to indulge in some myself.

What kicked it all off was a bench cushion.

I liked the fabric so much, I bought 15 more yards and made some lined panel curtains for the living room. These took forever and I was thoroughly sick of them by the time I was done, but they look nice and that's what I was after. Remind me that curtains are a good thing to buy.

Knocked off a couple of little bags for my manager at work (she was using Starbucks paper bags for her totes - couldn't have that!). These are so easy - placemat bags like Noelle made a few years ago. 2 hours max! Perfect.

And then, for the first time in years (and I do mean years, maybe decades), I had a hankering to try making some clothes again. Here are some summer skirts - can't get good shots of them on my own, maybe I'll try again with help.

Poppies on gauze - really full skirt with lots of panels & godets:

Brown embroidered linen drawstring skirt with cargo pockets (hard to see here, but it's all about the fabric anyway):

This one was a copy cat of Cyndy's camo cargo skirt - same pattern, although I didn't realize that until I was nearly done. I learned from her frustrations and skipped the fussiness at the waist - just threaded the drawstring through buttonholes instead of outside the band under twill tape. It did take me 1/2 an hour and lots of study to remember how to do a buttonhole, though.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Some recent highlights

A few things we've done recently that were fun:

  • Biked ten miles along the Sammammish River Trail with Noelle & Patrick, plus Max on the new trail-along bike we got from a coworker. Max did just great, pedalling along. Was a bit tired - 10 miles was a bit much for the first time out. Need to do it again!

  • Hiked down to Snoqualmie Falls with my team at work. Down made my legs all jiggly and up made me red faced and sweaty, and then we sat down for lunch at the lodge. Icky sticky me, but very yummy food. I need to get back into shape. Won't help the red & sweaty, but will help the huffing & puffing.

  • Wandered around Poulsbo & Bainbridge with Mom & Lisa. Loved seeing the old stomping grounds and getting blown about on the ferry. Miss all that. Ferry rides are shorter than I remember. And our little farmhouse is now a sports complex. Time passes, things change, but Sluys Bakery remains.
  • Max's first "lemonade" stand - actually a juice stand. Talked him down from lemonade at $5/glass a few weeks ago to juice (which we actually had on hand) for 25 cents a dixie cup. He enjoyed it, and really enjoyed the $4.75 he pulled in. The hand made sign was a bit hard to read from the road, but folks knew what it meant anyway. Kid + box + sign = first business venture, awwwww. Thanks for your support!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hello pretty posies

Been a while - I'll chalk it up to a lack of computer time on the computer that has photos. Anyhoo...

Aren't these pretty? I love my peonies! They're such flowers!

The pink ones are in full bloom and the white ones are on their way. Wish my lilacs would do something - wonder what it takes to get the three scraggly specimens I have here as full & lovely as the one tree we had at our old house.

p.s. - forgot to mention that these flowers brought a whole bunch of little tiny ants with them. Max was rather entertained, but disgusted at the same time to have ants on the dining room table. The flowers spent the night outside to try & encourage the ants to go away - hopefully they all hopped off and won't be in our house today.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Um, March?

You were a little busy. I like you and all, but that was a bit much, ok? Let's try & be calmer next year. There are a few things I'd keep:
  • Great weekend downtown with just Colin & me. Thanks Noelle & Patrick for keeping Max happy & entertained - no way to repay that service!
  • Fun with family - good to see and hang out with nearly the whole Boise contingent.
  • Dinner and play with friends - always fun to hang with the Sather's.
  • Time spent sewing up a cushion for the entry bench.

But next year, let's skip:

  • MRI for extra-cautious doctors.
  • Conferences and firedrills at work.
  • 13 kids under 7 at the house.
  • Layoff, cutback, and random economic news stress - gotta stop paying attention!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Playing along with the sixes

Tag, I'm it. Here's the sixth photo in the sixth folder in My Pictures.

Max, around a year, sitting in his giant bin o' Legos.

Lisa, Cyndy, Stacia, you wanna play?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Pondering Happiness

I followed a link from Slate to The Happiness Project. Intriguing. More than resolutions, but a list of priorities and principles to create a happier you. Haven't read/absorbed it all yet, but I thought I'd share some of the things that came to mind when pondering this.

What'd be on my "Happiness Project" list:
  • Choose consciously
  • Choose health - eat the fruit, go for the walk, bring back yoga
  • Be the mom/take responsibility
  • Make time for the things you love to do
  • Make time for the people you love
  • Embrace meal planning

There must be more, but that's my short list for today. What would you put on your list?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Valentine Treat

Personalized chicken pot pies!

Just a regular recipe of chicken pot pie filling, spooned into ramekins with Bisquick biscuits cut into the size of the ramekins, then baked. Also had some heart-shaped additional biscuits for fun.
For once, Max liked something new that I cooked. Only because "it tastes just like the ones we used to get and cook in the microwave, only better! I love these!" Nice to have a winner of a dinner for once, instead of a demand for something different. He also liked the salmon the other night, phew! Since it was Max who asked for it and I'm no fish fan, I was glad it got eaten.
(BTW - the cute tablecloth was a gift from Annzy. Thanks Ann!)
Max is sooooo into Encyclopedia Brown lately - Abbey found some books on tape/CD before Christmas and they've been checking them out from the library over and over and over. Inspiration struck, and he rearranged his room so he can have a detective desk. His rates aren't as reasonable as Encyclopedia's though. Guess a quarter doesn't mean as much anymore.

Lack of highlights lately, but Colin updated you on the Leavenworth trip and Lisa on the Spokane trip, so not much to say. Busy times, with computer time at home losing out to sleep, or reading (lots of reading of a pile of mysteries by Deborah Crombie, not to mention the rest of the Twilight series in January, thanks for the books Kris!), or watching ABC shows online, since DISH/Fisher-ABC are feuding in my area so I can't watch it on TV anymore. Sigh. I'm way behind on all my shows - I realized in December when they went off the air that I was recording 7 shows on ABC, and I just am not keeping up with them. How tragic, no? Well, no, not really :-).

Working on a sock in the knitting world. Donna & I challenged each other to try socks at the last Day of Crafts and Sewing. I was halfway when I got to DOCS, then ripped back and redid the heel and now I'm 3/4 of the way. Not a lot of progress. I should have picked a pattern other than plain stockinette - so dull. Plus, I really doubt I'll ever wear them, so the motivation is low. Could tackle another sweater, but must do math first. I sure hope I have a chance to relearn basic math while Max learns it the first time; I could use a little help.

Happy Valentine's Day everybody.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Finally, some finished objects

For your viewing pleasure, some things I finally finished near the end of 2008.

Gathered Pullover


  • Yarn: Knit Pick's Telemark in Colonial Blue
  • Pattern: Gathered Pullover from Interweave Knits
  • Needles: size 7, circulars and dpns
  • Modifications: Lengthened the sleeves a bit, skipped the yarn overs in a row across the bust for obvious reasons.

Started in Feb '08, finished December 30th, 2008 (whew! Less than a year :-). Very wearable. Slightly scratchy - dang wool.

Elisa's Nest Tote for Ann


  • Yarn: Knit Pick's CotLin in Morrocan Red (Ann's signature color!)
  • Pattern: Elisa's Nest Tote from The Purl Bee
  • Needles: I forget - size 9? 10? Who knows
  • Modifications: none but my occasional mistake

Pattern is still fun the second time and doesn't take too long, although I stretched out working on it over months. Was fun to make for Ann in red.

Morningside Neckwarmer for Colin

Late-minute Christmas idea for Colin. Sadly, kept screwing up, so it didn't make it by Christmas, even though it's only 1 ball's worth o' knitting. Sigh. The pattern's only two rows of just a few stitches, repeated all the way in the round, no purls or anything. So, I really impressed myself when I realized that I'd managed to flip the stiches inside out halfway through. Jeez.