Monthly Archives: August 2008

On cooking.

So you know that I like to bake, right? I mean, you want a cake, pie, or cookie, and I am your girl. Hell, want a muffin? How about some homemade bread? I can even make cinnamon rolls completely, 100% from scratch. (And I think that’s an achievement because those suckers take a long time.)

But cooking… cooking is a different story. I don’t like cooking. Oh, and I suck at it. I really, really suck at it. (Side note: one of my college roommates, who had witnessed my bad cooking on more than one occasion (see: the time I set our cabinets on fire; see also: the time I tried to make lasagna and not even our really drunk friend would touch it with a ten foot pole) really liked to play The Sims. She made me my own character, and I had my own house in the game. She didn’t buy me a stove though, since I hate to cook and since she personally had been responsible for putting out the cabinet fire. But she did buy me a microwave for my little Sim house. And my character tried to cook dinner. And then the microwave caught on fire and burned down the whole damn house. And that, friends, is what we call A SIGN.)

Recently though, both Matt and I have been pretty busy on weeknights. Between hockey and softball for him, the gym and book club for me, and dance for both of us, we haven’t been eating dinner together as much. And when my man-slave isn’t home to cook me dinner, I generally end up staring at the clock listening to my stomach growl, because WOE IS ME NO ONE HAS SERVED ME DINNER.

(Also, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but Matt doesn’t really eat many different things. I mean, I’m not exactly what you’d call an adventurous eater, but compared to him I’m doing all right. This means that if I want to eat something outside of the realm of frozen pizza or pasta, I’m makin’ it myself.)

I decided that action was needed. It was time to foray into the world of cooking. Now, it’s not like I’ve NEVER cooked before, so I had made things like lasagna, baked ziti, etc. in the past. But I chose a new recipe to make for my dinner this week. I’m not going to tell you exactly what it was, because it’s so embarrassingly simple that you would laugh at me… but I will tell you that it had exactly 5 ingredients and exactly 4 steps to prepare it, and one of those steps was “Preheat the oven.”

I did realize though, as I started to prepare my meal, that I have never – and I do mean never in my life – cooked meat before. Unless you count frozen chicken nuggets, and I don’t think that you would.

So of course I over analyzed every one of those 4 steps, especially when it came to the chicken. The recipe wanted the chicken to be cut into 1 inch pieces. And I would like to know what the means, exactly. Does that mean one inch by inch? And if so how thick should it be? Or does it mean one inch by one inch by inch? Or maybe it means one inch square so that the entire chunk is one cubic inch. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW?

Oh, and then! Then it told me to cook it for 30 minutes or until the chicken was done. Well, the chicken is now in chunks and is now part of a casserole so I can’t really SEE it and how am I supposed to know when it’s done?

In the end, I cut up the chicken into chunks that looked pretty much bite-sized, and I cooked the thing for 30 minutes exactly and kind of poked at a piece of chicken before I took it out. And – it worked! Success!

I mean, this isn’t exactly high class cooking, but at least I’ve had something to eat for dinner (and bring to work for lunch, which is not a problem since I don’t mind eating the same thing repeatedly). And this dish represents the major food groups, which I think I should get some points for.

So, I think I’m going to try to do more of this whole cooking thing. Have any easy (no, really, EASY – ask yourself if a 10 year old could make it and if the answer is no then it’s not for me) recipes that can be transported in Tupperware (for lunch) and re-heat easily and make enough food for a few meals but not so much that I get sick of it before I finish it off? Send ’em my way.

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Special Delivery!

Well. It seems that I am not the only person out there who keeps a running mental shit list. That makes me feel better about the fact that my inner monologue is about 90% mean and only 10% nice. That kind of makes sense though, right? I mean, if I have something nice to say, I’m going to just say it. No need to keep it to inner monologue status. But the mean stuff – well, let’s just say that it’s a whole lot EASIER to say “what a cute kid you have; I think pigtails are adorable” than “your child is running around like a wild banshee, and OMG did you cut her hair with pruning shears?” You see what I mean.

Anyway, I’ve been dying to tell you this story all day and it can’t wait a moment longer:

This morning, I was driving to work, kind of just in that driving zone where you’re on auto-pilot, you know? (Am I the only one who frequently drives places – especially to/from work –  and then, once I get there, have no specific recollection of driving there? I mean, I know that I DID, but the details are kind of… hazy. No?) So I’m stopped at a light, and all of the sudden, WHAM.

Except that this WHAM was not the normal, oh crap I just got rear-ended kind of WHAM. This was a WHAM from… above.

(Well, above and on the passenger side, if you want to get specific. Anyway.)

So I jolt myself out of my driving coma and look over to see… a Fed Ex man picking himself up off the side of the road.

Yes. A Fed Ex man fell on my car while I was stopped at a red light.

I bet you would like to know how this happened. Luckily for you, I got out of the car to make sure that he was all right. So I got the full story. I also made you a handy diagram:

This is My Art.

So, I guess what happened is that the Fed Ex dude pulled over so that he could deliver a package to the house on the corner, but he blocked the little walkway with his truck. (The big black box that I forgot to label is his truck. His truck wasn’t as close to my car as it looks in my drawing, but I would have had to kind of swerve around him once the light turned green.) So, since the walkway was blocked, he kind of climbed over the stone wall that was there. He delivered the package, and then went to climb over the top of the wall again. I guess he was standing on the top of the wall and went to hop down, but instead took a flying leap and went SPLAT on the top/side of my car.

(I can’t decide if it was more of a WHAM or a SPLAT, but it was something big and it scared the bejeezus out of me.)

Well, the Fed Ex man was fine (also, Southern: “Well shit, I sure did make a damn fool of myself” said with the deepest drawl I have EVER heard) and I did also check the car for dents. (I felt awkward, because, I don’t know, was I expecting a giant Fed Ex Man shaped dent in my roof? But I don’t know what it takes to dent a car, and this wasn’t exactly a small Fed Ex man despite what you might picture from his wall-scaling attempts.)

(Plus, can you imagine that call to the insurance company? Yikes.)

It was quite the way to start my day. I almost  didn’t need a cup of coffee to wake me up.

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The official Who’s Who of Annoyance

The following people are officially on notice:

Cube Neighbor #1: I am so sick of your name dropping and desperate attempts to make yourself sound important on the phone. Actually, every time you are on the phone I have to fight the urge to scream. Did you know that one of our co-workers actually bought earplugs and frequently wears them at her desk? She was forced to do this because not even putting on headphones and turning up her music all the way could drown out the sound of your obnoxious voice. Oh, and we all want to know how your husband puts up with you, because if the way you talk to him on the phone at work is any indication, the poor dude doesn’t have a very good home life.

Cube Neighbor #2 (of the leftover pizza-eating fame): Did you know that your accent sounds fake? I don’t think it actually is, but your accent sounds like someone non-British trying to do a British accent. Sometimes I think that’s funny but today I think it means that you should STOP TALKING.

My mother: Do you realize that you just sent me a 10 paragraph long e-mail about the cat? What, exactly, am I supposed to write in response to that? And yet, if I don’t respond, you will send me an e-mail in about a week with all sorts of guilt trips about assuming that I am dead since I did not respond to your last e-mail about the stupid cat. I suppose it could be worse – you could be CALLING me instead of e-mailing me.

The dentist’s office: I don’t know how to make it any more clear that I DO NOT owe you $107.56. I don’t owe you. I have proof of that from my insurance company. Stop sending me letters telling me that I owe you. And stop telling that it will be taken care of, when all you’re going to do is send me another damn letter. Hint: “I’ll make a note on your file” is not code for “I’ll forget all about this the moment we hang up the phone and then I’ll send another letter.” Go away.

OK – who’s on your shit list today?

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Olympics Obsessed

I ended up making a strawberry shortcake for the birthday party last week (I used this recipe, which I cannot recommend highly enough – just a little bit different than your usual shortcake but SO GOOD) and I felt proud when the entire thing was gone in less than 5 minutes. Usually there are people who are all, well, I really shouldn’t, I’m watching my girlish figure, which annoys me because – well, save that for the crappy store bought cake. When I slaved over the oven to make a 100% from scratch cake you will EAT IT and LIKE IT or you WILL NOT BE INVITED to the next work-type social gathering. So there.

(I’m partially kidding, but it does annoy me when people act all high and mighty about turning down a small slice of cake. But fine, because that means more for me, and I don’t care if I have to work an extra 10 minutes at the gym tonight to burn it off because DAMN, IT WAS GOOD.)

In other news, I have been obsessively watching the Olympics since they started last Friday, and I have to say that I’m almost glad that they only last a few weeks, but I simply couldn’t take this frenzied state of television watching, white-knuckled willing them to win for much longer than that. We’ve been recording as much as we can and then skipping through to the parts that we like, so it’s been pretty much all Olympics all the time from the time I get home until I go to sleep. (I’ve even been watching in the mornings before I go to work because I keep falling asleep before the really exciting stuff is over so I have to finish it in the morning.)

Anyway, when all you do is sleep, work, and watch the Olympics, there’s not a whole lot of stuff to write about in a blog post. So here’s a question for you, readers: What’s the Olympic event that you enjoy watching even though you would never watch it if it weren’t part of the Olympics?

For me, it’s weight lifting. Usually I wouldn’t be caught dead watching it, but there’s something about those small-ish men (I mean, they have muscles, but they sure don’t LOOK like they can lift that much) lifting those ginormous weights that makes me really want them all to win.

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Pizza of the Birthday variety

You guys! You are awesome recipe givers! Now I am completely undecided on what to make. I am leaning a little bit toward strawberry shortcake, but… I just don’t know. THEY ALL SOUND SO GOOD. How am I ever going to choose?

I did like Sauntering Soul’s suggestion of the fruit pizza, too. It reminded you that I had never shown you pictures of the dessert pizza that I made for Matt’s birthday. Let me tell you, if you know someone who likes pizza as much as Matt likes pizza (although I don’t even know if it’s possible for another person to like pizza as much as he does), you should made this for that person.

(Warning: This recipe is not for those who do not appreciate a solid sugar buzz. But I say, what’s a little diabetic coma?)

I started off by making an overly complicated dough in my bread maker. (I got up super early to put everything in there and then set the timer so that it made the dough while I was at work.) If I make this again, I will not do this – it tasted great, but no better than it would have if I simply made sugar cookie dough the night before and stuck it in the fridge. So you should do that. OR, you could just buy yourself a big old log of sugar cookie dough from Mr. Pillsbury. I won’t tell.

Roll out your dough and put it on parchment paper on your pizza pan, if you have one. If not, you should get one because homemade pizza is really yummy, and you want to look professional when you are making homemade pizza on your circular pizza pan.

Bake until it looks done-ish. Maybe a tad on the less done side of done, because you are going to put it back into the oven later.

Then, while your dough is cooling a bit, make your icing. I made homemade cream cheese icing because I like to make things about as difficult as possible. You can buy yours in a can. You can buy it while you are buying your log of dough. I won’t tell.

Also, when you are buying your log and your can, you should also buy all of the bottles of red food coloring that you can find. I used 2 and a 1/2 and I still wished I had more. Why did I use so many, you ask? Well, because your icing is going to be your sauce. And tomato sauce is red. I suppose you could make white pizza if you wanted, but that would be cheating. And you would not get to experience the joy that is scrubbing red food coloring from your hands, clothing, and countertops.

Mix up your icing-tomato-sauce until it looks good and red. You cannot use enough food coloring, I promise. Then spread it on your pizza. Yum.

Now we have to cut grate the cheese. I used a combination of white chocolate and coconut. Coconut is easy because it is already in cheese-like flakes. The only white chocolate I could find came in bar form, so I got my grater and got working. This process was made easier by the fact that I had purchased way to many bars of white chocolate so I could eat a lot of it while I grated. And grated. And grated some more. (I used about 1 1/2 bars of white chocolate and about 3/4 cup of coconut.)

Put your cheese on your pizza. Now it looks like pizza! Go you! If you are like me, you have not taken any pictures of your masterpiece up to this point. But don’t worry, if you are like me you will remember soon.

Now it is time for toppings. Because cheese pizza is boring. Even if that is all you eat when you’re eating real pizza. I started with macadamia nuts, which were supposed to be meatballs. Macadamia nuts do not really look a whole lot like meatballs, but they will if you yell, “That’s a spicy meat-a-ball!” while you are putting them on your pizza.

Now your pizza looks like this!

Since that is clearly not enough sugar yet, next I added chopped up candy bars. I am not sure exactly what kind of topping they were supposed to be, but whatever.

Now your pizza looks like this:

Oh yeah, I added walnuts, too.

Once you are done adding your toppings, put your pizza into a low-temperature oven (maybe 200 degrees) for a little while (maybe 5-10 minutes). You want things to get just a little bit melty.

Then cut up your pizza with your fancy pizza cutter. Now you are done and it looks like this!

Then you can eat a nice big slice of it.

(That is Matt’s hand. Everyone say, Hi, Matt!)

It was a very excellent birthday dessert. And I am only about 3 months late in telling you about it. I never said I was prompt, OK.

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Ask the Audience

A work-friend’s birthday is this week (we are celebrating on Friday) and since I am the official birthday baked goods provider, I am trying to figure out what to make. Work-friend has requested something light and preferably made with fruit (actually, she said that it would be fine if I just brought a fruit salad or something, to which I replied – HA. DOES NOT COUNT) and while I have recipes that would technically fit the bill, nothing that I have seems quite right. This is where you come in! Please to be giving some help and sending recipes my way. Here are the requirements:

  1. Should be light-ish (and by is I mean not really heavy and dense)
  2. Hopefully something with fruit, although I am open to other ideas
  3. Will need to be transported from my house to work, so it needs to be able to be moved/transported somewhat easily
  4. Also needs to be able to be made the night before and brought to work (I do have access to a fridge at work though)
  5. Would really like to make some type of fruit tart, but I don’t have a tart pan. And I’m not interested in buying one between now and Friday. Anyone know how to make a tart in a non-tart pan? I have lots of other pans!
  6. Am willing to make something somewhat complicated, but keep in mind that I will be making this on Thursday night, and since I have been at work until an ungodly hour every night lately, this does not bode well for the amount of time between when I arrive home and when I when I give in to the goodness of sleep.

I know, I’m needy. But what do you say – can you help a girl out?

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