Sunday, October 24, 2010

In the Dark

And so I've begun my life as a mole...

Matthew has been scurrying around the house throughout the afternoon, down to the basement, up from the basement, “Is the light off?” he yells, and I roll my eyes and say, “YES!” like I'm told. He is doing electrical work, and I've learned, that trumps my housework. Every time I go to vacuum the soft hum of the house deadens, and again, the power is out. It is now night and I have candles lit around the room and will type as long as the computer battery allows. It goes without saying: I am sick of electrical work. I am sick of that nerd-boy running up and down with his (really, MY) miner's flashlight. In reality, I just want to watch television. In reality, I cannot go three hours without electricity.

That's not to say I'm not in complete awe that Matt can do this. Like, his installing a new shower light this afternoon? I would just have used the dingy bulb and fixture that was there...forever. But, I think, in fairness, the power should go back on when daylight is lost. And he should listen to his wife.

Our circuits are screwy, so when he's working in, say, the upstairs master bath, the living room and half the kitchen will also be out. Invariably, the internet is always out. Invariably, whatever room I was in loses electricity. Invariably, I grow bitchy.

But I'd like to acknowledge I have some pioneer prowess in me: I cooked our dinner, pea soup, by manually lighting our gas stove. I think it says a lot that I am proud of this quasi achievement. I am not into the outdoors or roughing it, but I want to be. A new Eastern Mountain Sports superstore opened near us and I have no reason to go in, but I want to. Upright kayaks sandwich it's sliding doors and, even to my staunchly suburbanite self, create an allure I can't quite shake.

I want to hike, but I want a hot shower afterward. I want to camp out, but head to a hotel for the night after s'mores are eaten. I want to fish, but not eat my catch. I want to buy thick wool socks and hiking boots, but not actually wear them.

My idea of camping involves a total of one night, luxurious air mattresses, flushing toilets, showers, and Doritos and chocolate. When I was younger my parents sent me to Girl Scout camp every summer in the Pocono Mountains. My time there included none of things. You guessed it: I hated it. There were spiders everywhere. We pooped in latrines infested with flies and they were so foul that breathing solely through your mouth was your only saving grace. There were no lights, and I remember having to navigate my way to them, and through the woods, with just my flashlight at three in the morning. This was a very brave thing to do for a 11-year-old girl, but I was even more terrified of waking my grouchy tent-mates (it was even harder to navigate the social norms of adolescence).

Which brings us back to today. The power is still out. Do you know how quiet a house gets with no power? No fridge on. No electrical equipment, even off, receiving power? It's, well, lovely and creepy at the same time. There's a stillness that's haunting and....and wait. The power just went back on. Holy hell, the power just went back on.  Well....I guess my work is down here.  A click here, a click there and I'll post this bad boy.  Now, if you'll excuse me, some inconsequential, mindless television program must be watched.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Okay, okay, let's get this out of the way: this soup does not photograph well.  I looks like a pile of mush; I get it.  Trust me when I say this: this is the most delicious pile of mush you will eat this year.  Er....or this week.  Whatever; it's damn good.

We've made it twice in as many weeks.  Tell your significant other to pick up a loaf of bread (be sure to specify what a French baguette is as I know some folks - cough, cough - might bring home a lump of sourdough). 

Roasted Cauliflower Soup
  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 2 Tb. olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4-5 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  •  1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • chicken broth - 1 carton
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry (optional)
  • croutons or cheese for topping (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
  2. Place the cauliflower on a cookie sheet (or two). Drizzle with oil and season with nutmeg, garlic, salt, and pepper: toss to coat.
  3. Roast the cauliflower until tender and starting to crisp, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  4. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook and stir until lightly golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir to coat. Slowly pour the chicken broth and milk and half and half into the pan. Mix with a wire whisk until all of the flour is dissolved. Bring to a boil while stirring continuously until it thickens, then reduce heat to low. Stir in the sherry and the roasted cauliflower. Blend most (I like to leave some whole florets) in a food processor blender to thicken the soup.  Serve with bread or croutons and a sprinkling of cheese.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Bundt Cake

This evening I took a picture of this slice of cake. I would have photographed the whole cake, but I ate it. That's just what I do. I cannot be trusted with cake.

When Matt saw there was only one slice left, but was going out to play basketball with his brother, he weighed (fo' real, y'all) the slice of cake to MAKE CERTAIN I did not touch it and eat a single crumb. I thought this was particularly cruel because we had just bought the kitchen scale last week, and this (THIS!) was not what I had intended. My own kitchen gadgets betray me.

The slice of cake is sitting in the kitchen as I type this. I've realized I'm capable of lustful thoughts for desserts, and this concerns me as it's the only thing that has gotten my blood boilin' recently. But you would be this desperate if you had this cake. It's a wonderful cake for many reasons, one of them being it takes five minutes to make because it's not from scratch. I'm not a terribly adept baker, so Betty Crocker often helps an old girl out. I also like this cake because it's delicious: much more so even the next day as it gets fudgier and moister. Positively delightful with a tall, cold glass of milk. Swoon.

Moist (as all heck) Chocolate Bundt Cake
  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • 1 3.5 oz chocolate instant pudding mix
  • 1 container (aka 2 cups) sour cream (I know, I know...but it's soooo worth it!)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup veggie oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (or peanut butter chips - your call)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan. Beat all ingredients (except chocolate chips) until well blended. Fold in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into bundt pan. Bake for 50 miutes to 1 hour. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Foodie Delights

I've been taking delight in the little culinary details found in my kitchen.

I picked up these gorgeous globes (uh, aka heirloom cherry tomatoes) at the market last week.

I got this huge bunch of dill at my cheapy produce place, too. I put the pistol and mortar in the photo only to "be artsy". And yes, I know it's more silly than artsy.

Our newly organized spice cabinet! Finally (FINALLY!) put all those yummy Indian spices in jars.

I'm including this because it's hanging on our frig, which is in the kitchen. It was a purposely goofy photo we took last year at Matt's work dinner. Not purposely goofy? Me holding the mask upside down. And I thought I was being all clever at the time.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's Parrrty Time!

The get-together on Friday night was just like this.  Obviously, except for the party hats...

I'm writing this with the assumption that no one from my neighborhood will ever find this blog.  Now let's begin.

On Friday Matt and I attended our first neighborhood get-together.  They hold these little shindigs from October to June and yearly an invite is placed in our mailbox.  And yearly we decline to participate.  Well, until this year.  I figured we can't be hermits any longer, and heck, maybe I'll meet someone and they'll be my new link to a fabulous job.  Or willing to watch our dog when we're away.  Not that I'm all selfish: I was also curious.  I wanted to get the "what's what" on folks in this neighborhood.

Matt and I are both introverts.  I don't particularly like large groups, and often just sit back and observe.  When at work functions or anything else that is, well, forced, I can put on a great extrovert show.  Especially when three-plus glasses of wine are involved. 

First things first: we were, on average, 35 years younger than the other party-goers.  To be fair, a number of young families with small kids couldn't make it, so that skewed the numbers a bit.  Next thing: someone made a buffalo chicken cheese dip, and so help me god, it was the most delicious bowl of globbity goop I ever ate.  Third: only a handful of women ate my damn dip, so you bet I'm not pleased.  Fourth: the man who hosted collects penguins.  In stuffed form, plastic form, metal form: you name it.  I'm still determining what to make of this knowledge.  And lastly, do you recall when I mentioned our beyotchy neighbor?  Oh yes...she was there.  And I sat next to her.

During the course of the night, through this testy neighbor, I learned several of our neighbors had PhD's, she countered my comment that Matt was a programmer with that her son-in-law is the director of IT at a very large, well-known company, and she stated for the fifth time that "you have quite the yard to take care of....".  I pretty much determined she was the matriarch of this bunch, and ruled with snide comments and a fabulously-manicured lawn.  Matt doesn't think ill of anyone, but even he admitted: Pat is one sneaky biznitch (fine, my words, but the lad really did say, "She's nice but with undercurrents of insincerity."  He has a way with words, doesn't he?)  But this is what Pat doesn't know: two of us can play that game.

I know what you're thinking: I'm pathetic.  I mean, Pat is in her twilight years and I should leave her and her velvet track-suited self alone.  But as she started bragging about her daughter's African safari and detailing her house in the Outer Banks, I thought one thing: Game's on, Pat!!!

Then I spoke with Harriott.  Harriott is even older than Pat and was the sweetest thing ever: she talked about her cat and gave me dish on an old pedophile neighbor who moved away.  When the host asked if I wanted more wine and I politely declined, Harriott piped up and said, "Kathryn is loaded!" and chuckled.  I never heard an 80-year-old talk like that - and I liked it!

Then there was Donna.  Donna is crazy.  There is really no getting around it.  She bounced around the room like a kangaroo on methamphetamine.  She's probably fifty but dresses twenty years younger.  Pat said she was the "character" of the group.  But I love her because she said I remind her of Jennifer Garner.  Now, I don't look a lick like Jennifer Garner, but boy do I love me some Donna.

Our hosts, Bob and Eileen, were very, very kind.  Bob, like several of the men, sat in the same area.  Come to think of it, the room was segregated with the women on one side, and the men watching the Phillies game on the other.  Except Matt; he sat with us lady folk.

I'm intrigued with Bob and Eileen because Eileen has about six inches and 75 pounds on Bob.  Now, I'm not one to talk: I've got more poundage than Matt, but they were taking this to new heights!  I loved it and thought it was a success for all us larger ladies.  Just as I was digging this, I noticed about 50 sets of penguin eyes staring at me.  Bob is obsessed with penguins.  Because I'm nosy, I asked why but he didn't really have an answer.  I guess he and the birds just connect.  
Now let's get this straight: I'm sure they had their fair share to say about us after we left.  Something along the lines of "those two big dopes sitting in the corner" sounds just about right.  We're hosting in February.  You bet your behind I'm already thinking about recipes.  Someone's gotta blow Pat outta the water.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Recipes A Cometh!

Yes...this is what you can look forward to...

My mother flat-out told me she's worried about my mental health.  My sister confirmed this the other day and said, "I think you just need to relax!"  Thanks you two.

I'd like everyone to know I am a happy, well-adjusted and fabulous woman.  To prove it, I'm going to post some equally fabu recipes I've made lately.  Earlier this week I made a healthy roasted cauliflower soup that made me go "Hurrah!" every time I took a slurp.  It was delish, and even better with a little grated peccorino romano on top. 

And then this past weekend Matt, Penny and I went apple picking.  We picked our hearts silly with Jonathan apples, Rome, and Golden Delicious.  I also drank cider until my stomach hurt, so a good weekend all in all.  But what's a girl to do with 20,000,000 pounds of apples?!  It's simple, really: make apple, brie, and arugula quesadillas.  Give me cheese, any cheese: the stinker the better, and I go crazy. 

And tomorrow night we're sashaying into our first neighborhood get together and I made pumpkin fluff (it took four ingredients and two minutes) and is delish with gingersnaps.  It's all about the presentation and I'm putting this dip in a hallowed out pumpkin because I'm festive like that.  Here's to hoping we don't embarrass ourselves....too much.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!