Monday, October 26, 2009

Eternal Flame

I think that my oven has been on for about two weeks solid--at least that's how I feel. So, just for all of my gentle readers, I have compiled some photos of the things that I have made in the past few weeks. I hope that you enjoy it.

My first batch of Madeleines, using
Ina Garten's recipe:

Grambi gave me a Madeleine pan this summer, so I was happy to finally have a chance to use it. I didn't love the recipe, so I think I'll try some others to see if I can find one that I like more. These were an odd texture that I didn't like, but Mother of Ken suggested a lemon glaze that you put on while they are warm, so I might try that next time.

I also roasted some chicken breasts--you'll see later in the post how I used the meat, but I saved everything else for stock.

I also tried a new kind of squash--Red Kuri:

This thing has a very thick skin, so I did some research and learned that you have to either use a hammer or pound it on a hard surface to open the squash. Someone actually told a story about her mother-in-law putting one of these into a pillowcase and throwing it down the stairs until it broke open. I knew it wouldn't be easy, so I wrapped it in a towel and tried hitting it with a hammer. That didn't work--it just bounced around. So, I ended up just holding it by the ends of the towel and bashing it against the floor until it cracked open.


I cooked the squash at 400 degrees until it was tender and used some olive oil, salt, pepper, and brown sugar toward the end of the cooking process to give it some flavor. It probably took about 45 minutes to an hour. It was pretty good, but I don't think that I will go to the trouble to break one of these open again anytime soon. And, yes, I know that this is not the nicest looking picture ;-)

With the chicken, I made pot pies with puff pastry lids in my cute little pie pans. I wanted to make a filling like the one that Grambi used to make that had lemon in it and wasn't quite as thick as traditional pot pie filling. I got close by using chicken stock and just a little milk and the juice of a whole lemon and I am really glad to have a few of these in the freezer:

Last Saturday, while I was making cinnamon rolls, pie, and lasagna, I got a box from Grambi that I had been expecting. She generously gifted me with her FoodSaver and I am thrilled!

I have already started food saving--sausage, lasagna... When I first moved out on my own and I was living in Dallas, working two jobs and feeling homesick, Grambi gave me a red cooler and every time I came home, she would load it up with things that she had food saved--spaghetti, turkey, roast beef, all kinds of things. I was so glad to be able to come home, put one of those in a pot of boiling water, and have a home cooked dinner almost every night that summer. This was, of course, supplemented by Mother of Ken's offerings so that when I had been on my feet for 8 to 10 hours a day working at a retail store, I didn't have to cook for myself and I had a little taste of home. That is one of the things I miss most living so far away--no food from home. It's a good thing I can cook for myself.

My lasagna--I used whole wheat egg lasagna noodles that were on sale and filled it with sweet Italian sausage, spinach, eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, and lots of cheese:

Lasagna with some homemade French bread:

I forgot to take pictures of the cinnamon rolls, but I did remember to take a picture of the world's cutest cherry pie:

I'm giving my oven a well deserved rest now and I hope to be back with a special Jell-O related post soon.

The Roof is Leaking, Part II

The roofing guys finally finished on Friday and then it rained from Friday afternoon until Saturday afternoon, so I was able to get a good test of the new roof. Here it is, in all of its glory:

The only downside to all of this is that I no longer have an excuse not to paint the ceiling in the master bedroom. So, stay tuned for that...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

When I See You Smile

McKenna has had quite a week. With the roofing guys here, she is beside herself trying to protect me and the house, plus she had to get a pedicure. That is a lot for a dog. She is also breaking in her new bed:

As Leah always says, "It's hard to be McKenna."

I love this one--yawning...or is she growling like Olive in Little Miss Sunshine?

Back to normal...

The Roof is Leaking, Part I

Yesterday morning, the phone rang at 6:45. This is not a time that I am coherent. I muted the phone and let it go to voicemail, noticing that it was the roofing company. They called again twenty minutes later, so I figured out that I wasn't going to be sleeping any longer. It turned out that they wanted to start working on my new roof. Thanks for the notice, guys.

So, they arrived a little after 8:00 and got to work:

Thankfully, they are just putting down another layer of shingles and nailing down some of the plywood, so this is relatively easy. Here, you can see the new shingles on the taller part of the house and the old roof on the shorter part. The color is fairly similar, but the new shingles look a lot nicer. Of course, Mr. Disgustington put his stamp on the roof as well as every other part of this house and he made some mistakes on the roof of the addition that have caused some leaky ceilings.

Close up of new roof vs. old roof:

These guys take A LOT of breaks, so this is taking a while. Today, they got most of the shingles on the original part of the house, but they still have to come back tomorrow to finish:

So far, I am fairly pleased with how it looks. I can't wait to see it when it is all finished, but anything would be an improvement over the Disgustingtons' roof.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Parents Just Don't Understand

Boomer, one of my parents' Boxers, has developed a habit of sleeping on the couch. The rule is that he must keep at least one paw on the ground at all times. Often, he will climb up to get pets, but mostly he just likes to snuggle into the cushions (this is better if there are people there to snuggle into also) and go to sleep. He doesn't wake up if you get up--he doesn't wake up at all once he's out. You could be tiling the floor with flank steak and he would not wake up.
This past week, Boomer has gotten into trouble because he has been getting all the way on the couch and going to sleep when he thinks no one is watching. He did this on Sunday night and was told to get down, at which point he pouted for a while and then got right back up on the couch. Every time I see him sleep, I think that I would like to have his life. He looks so peaceful. I wish that I could sleep like that.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hazy Shade of Winter, Part I

This happened last Thursday night and into Friday morning:
Yes, gentle readers, that is snow. In my neighborhood, it brought down most of the leaves that were left on the trees, but we were grateful that it didn't cause any serious damage.

I took this as a sign to put the heated mattress pad on the bed along with the down blanket, so now we don't want to get out of bed in the morning.

Thriller 2009

Well, gentle readers, it is time again for me to give you a tour of my Halloween decorations. They have been up for about two weeks now--Mother and Father of Ken helped and I think that Grambi woke up long enough to unwrap a few things, too ;-)

This is one of the new ornaments that Mother of Ken brought for me:
The garland on the table is also new and from Mother of Ken and the pumpkins and gourds we purchased at B&B Farms while they were visiting.
I also have three new flameless Halloween candles. Mother of Ken helped me decorate the window ledge with my Snickles and some bittersweet (apologies for the blurry photo):

Another cool new ornament--this one blends in well with the spiders that already live here:

More ornaments:

I even decorate the bathroom:

The stairs with the lights that Father of Ken strung through the spindles:

Something peeking out between the spindles:

My awesome Halloween wall hanging:

Tiny gourds and Snickles:

Fake sparkly candy corn in some glass dishes and my stained glass pumpkin plate:

Another new ornament that hangs over my sink:


Even the armor man/knight gets to participate:

I don't have pictures of the cook pumpkins on the porch yet, but I'll post those soon. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Who Can It Be Now?

My best friend since sixth grade (I'll call her M) came to visit for my fall break. I drove to Cooperstown, NY last Saturday to pick her up--she used to live there and she was able to show me all of the sights. So, I give you Cooperstown in fall:

The Fenimore Art Museum:

The drive between Ithaca and Cooperstown is pretty much like driving to Galesburg, KS for two hours, if you know what that is like. Basically, it is two hours on poorly maintained two lane highways through many small towns including New Berlin, NY, which smells like sausage. Not that that is a bad thing.

On our way to New Berlin, we drove by this sign, which we really loved:

Later, we drove right by the camp site:

We were both pretty tired on Saturday, so we kept things low key and just went to dinner and a movie--Fame, which is not worth your time, believe me.

On Sunday, I had to go to church in the morning, but I left M to sleep in and make friends with Kenna. After a delicious lunch, we put a brisket in the slow cooker for dinner and set off on our next adventure. Check out M's perfectly cut carrots--I thought they were so cute!

I took M on the grand tour, including looking at some of the pretty foliage:

By the way, credit for many of these photos goes to M. Along the way, we decided that it was necessary to take a photo of my neighbor's Halloween "decorations." I wouldn't want them to go crazy or anything:

And, yes, those are those plastic trick-or-treat pumpkins hanging all over their house. How very festive...

Cayuga lake--it was really windy and cold there on Sunday:

Ken looking out onto the water:

The water was very choppy and someone was out there trying to wind surf, but he kept falling over and making us laugh.

M looking at the water:

After we saw all of these sights, we made the fateful decision to go to Buttermilk Falls, which is just outside of town.

Not being outdoorswomen, we were prepared for some physical exertion and some climbing, but we did not know what we were getting into. It looks innocent from the bottom, right?

Then we started to climb so that we could see more of the falls.

We climbed and climbed and climbed and at one point, we threw ourselves against the fence, panting and exhausted:

Then we climbed some more:

At one point, some guy told us that we had to "go all the way up" and that we were only about halfway. At that point, we had climbed so far that we had to set up a tent for the night--just kidding.

Climbing, climbing, climbing:

About twelve hours into our climb, we turned a corner to see more stairs going straight up into the sky and decided that we had seen enough. As soon as we turned around to head down, we encountered the two older women in the picture below. They wanted to know if they were close to the top and we had to admit that we did not know and that we had finally given up and decided to go down. You know that these two ladies totally made it to the top and we whimped out only part of the way up.

Were were sure that one of us would fall going down, but thankfully that didn't happen. Here I am carefully descending the stairs:

The woods near Buttermilk Falls:

We finally made it safely to the bottom:

Buttermilk Falls is gorgeous, but a little more intense than we like.

When we got back to my house, we had brisket waiting and we ate like pigs. Then, M scrubbed my baking dish free of every single speck of dirt that she could find, which took about 34 minutes. She is hard core.

I made Ina Garten's Plum Cake Tatin for dessert--not good. Do not bother with this. The plum part is really good, but the cake is a strange texture and tastes like muffins.

The next morning, Kenna waited outside of M's door for her to get up:

On Monday, we were planning to tour Seneca Falls, but even though we checked the websites to find out if the places that we wanted to see were open on Monday/Columbus Day, that didn't pay off. Although there was no indication that anything would be closed, things were closed, so we decided to go outlet shopping instead.

When we got back to the house on Monday night, we ate the plums off of the tatin and got rid of the rest of it:

Then we ate Tastes Like Halloween:

Tuesday's plan was to go back to Seneca Falls in the hope of seeing the Queen Anne mansion that houses the Seneca Falls historical society, but when we arrived, we were told that they weren't doing any tours until 2:00, so we left and went shopping in Syracuse instead. To summarize the weekend: eat, eat, shop, watch movie, shop, eat, shop, eat, shop, shop, watch movie, eat, eat, eat...

As we prepared to head to the airport, we made one last stop at this store:

I don't know if any of you gentle readers has ever been to The Christmas Tree Shop, but that was certainly an interesting experience. It is, at once, completely fascinating and absolutely horrible. This place is basically a combination of the Dollar Tree, Kmart, Wal Mart, and Bed, Bath, and Beyond. They sell everything from Halloween decorations to spaghetti. We could not wait to leave.

While we were shopping, I found a new bed for Kenna that is all cotton (she breaks out if her bed isn't all cotton) and she really likes it:

We had so much fun this weekend and M and Kenna even started to make friends (M is not a fan of dogs) and even though we ate our weight in food, we laughed enough to burn a lot of it off. What we didn't burn off by laughing, we burned off at Buttermilk Falls.