Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cheese straws and stress

I am not usually a stress eater. But three days into being stressed can do things to a girl, like make her a stress eater. Not big stress mind you, just those little things. For example, first you find that the only pair of black pantyhose you own already have a run in them...............right after you unwrapped the brand new sealed package. I know the deconstructed look is in but come on now even the pantyhose come with holes? Next after you decide to throw on a chocolate brown pair and just pretend they are black(I was a bit desperate) you realize that the shoes you were going to wear are in your trunk.........the trunk is currently at the auto repair center. It will be ok, you can just pick a different pair. At this point you find out that you have run out of coffee, this is also ok because you can just have tea. As you are brushing your teeth you get toothpaste on your you are at the kitchen sink taking your vitamins for the day you drop the glass and it shatters in the sink. Then as I am leaving I take a look at the calender and realize my meeting is next Saturday........*sigh* None of these things on their own would usually be enough to make me resort to shoving cookies, gummy bears and candy bars into my mouth as fast as possible however these little things have been going on for the last three days. Nothing big just every little thing possible. After indulging( know...same thing) in my sweet feast I realized the reason I wasn't feeling fulfilled is because I was craving salty cheesy goodness NOT sweets!!! So with one egg some flour,butter and some cheddar cheese I turned to the one recipe guaranteed never to disappoint(unless you have hoity toity taste buds) CHEESE STRAWS! This recipe is out of my DC(Daughters of the Confederacy) Cookbook. It is simple....there are much better recipes out there for cheese straws but this one is simple and I almost always have the ingredients on hand. If you have younger kids these straws with some ranch dressing are always a hit and the kids can help make them. They end up tasting like cheese nips only spicier depending on how much Cayenne you put in them.

This is what I had on hand........nothing fancy here.1 cup of flour
1 cup and an extra hand grab(you know that portion you would grab to eat) of sharp cheddar cheese
1 beaten egg yolk
1 tablespoon of butter
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste(I like to use Jane's crazy mixed up salt for flavor but regular table salt works just as well)

In a bowl first add your butter, I smash mine up a bit just to make mixing easier. Then throw in your cheese.
Throw your flower in next.

Now smush is all around with your hand. You could use a fork or a pastry blender if you really wanted to but the heat from your hand really helps it all blend together. You will be able to tell when you see the little butter/flour clumps start to form that you are almost ready to add the egg yolk.
After your clumps have formed you can add the well beaten yolk.
Now you will add two tablespoons of ice water.
It's time to decide how spicy you want your cheese straws........I added half a teaspoon of each of these. Since this is a fairly basic dough you can add other things as well. I have added green onions and cooked bacon then served them with sour cream which was super super delish and got plenty of compliments!
This is what you should be looking at. At this pint you can use your hands again and start to mix and kneed it into a firm and crusty dough. The exact measurements are always different every time I make these things. You may have to add a bit more butter and more water to get it to the correct consistency.

When it all pulls away from the bowl but is not mush or wet you should be at the right texture.
You can now roll the dough out on a floured surface. I almost always use the top of my oven just because it's easy to clean and I don't really have a big enough counter to use for this. At this point I also add a bit extra cayenne and Jane's this adds a bit more color and some immediate spice when you bit into the straws. This needs to be rolled pretty thin because it will puff a bit in the oven and they are supposed to be thin crunchy sticks not bread sticks. (although I guess you could try for bread sticks if you wanted....I haven't tried that yet)
I use a pizza cutter to cut half inch strips horizontally across my dough. You can change your width depending on how many sticks you want to get out of this recipe.
Set your oven to 350....for this recipe the oven doesn't have to be fully preheated.

I spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray. (the crisco stuff works just as good as pam and is a little bit cheaper....and they usually sent out coupons in the Sunday paper for it).

I twist my strips before I lay them on my cookie sheet, it just adds a little to the look of them. I also want to mention this pan I'm using. It's about 30 years old and it's made by a company called EverWare. They are kind of a coffee with milk color and they are the most amazing pans ever. Kind of non stick only the coating doesn't come off...........just amazing. If I can ever find more I will buy them all up. So you bake the straws at 350 for around 8 min a batch. They will be crisp to the touch but not hard. You will see the cheese start to brown on the tops when they are done.
I serve mine in tall glasses or on trays sometimes. Kids love love love these things if you don't make them too spicy. They are just fun to eat. This is all that was left after I made mine.......I ate them as fast as they came out of the oven......just kidding....mostly.

Tomorrow being Super Bowl Sunday and all the beau and I were invited to a Super Bowl party. I am so excited because I just adore the couple who is throwing the party. Since we were invited I am going to bring some kind of football treat. I am thinking a football shaped cake actually........and maybe Italian sausage balls. Either way I will share what I make with you all and the how to make it directions. I never thought I would blog so much about cooking......but I guess that's what I have been doing a lot of lately so it makes sense. Next week I will blog about other stuff I promise!

Not easy for me!

This is going to be a doozy. I was going to include the exact recipe for Colombian chicken soup however after hours of toil making the stuff the end product was not that amazing. I am going to go ahead an include all the photos I took because I love seeing others photos and maybe you do to? Perhaps seeing this recipe will give someone an idea for a better recipe(maybe one that doesn't take 4 hours?). So here it goes.
This is what I started with, 6 potatoes, 3 carrots, 1 rib of celery, 1 lime,1 onion, 2 cloves of garlic and a bunch of cilantro. Also the turmeric and curry powder. I never could find that Bijol so I threw these in. Necessity is the mother of invention right?
Chop up the carrots and the potatoes, the directions said finely dice I just chopped up as small as I could with out using to much effort or precision.
Chop onions(finely dice......whatever) and "sweat" them in a skillet. I let mine caramelize a bit but that was mostly just because I wasn't keeping a very good eye on them.
After you have the onions sweated and the potatoes and carrots chopped into the stock they go, the stock should be about simmering now, if not turn it up!

In a bowl mix two cloves of garlic smashed/minced/pressed whichever is easier for you and the juice of 1 lime.
Chop up the leaves of half a bunch of cilantro(love how exact that measurement is)
Finely chop two green onions.

Add both chopped ingredients to the lime/garlic mix.

Now add you seasoning, about a half a teaspoon of each curry and turmeric.
Next add two teaspoons of olive oil, and one tablespoon of the broth.
Add your herb/lime/garlic mixture to the broth. As you can see I already added my white meat chicken. Yesterday when I made the stock(which is basically a whole chicken boiled with celery,carrots,and cilantro stems)I also let my chicken cool and shredded and separated the white meat.
Last you make your salsa. This is cilantro leaves, one green onion, salt, and a few red pepper flakes(or you can cut up a jalapeno) and one large chopped tomato.
This is the finished product, just serve with a dollop of salsa on top. So here is the deal. Honestly you could just make chicken noodle soup only exchange the noodles for potatoes, add lime and cilantro and the two spices. It was good, but not make again good especially for how long it took. If anybody wants the exact recipe you can just google Emeril Colombian chicken soup. Hope this provided entertainment if not a favorite recipe!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Easy for who?

Hello everybody!! I just had to give a little shout out to my brand spankin' new followers. So last night my mama was here and she had a request for me seein as how I cook and she only microwaves could I please make this Colombian Chicken soup she saw on Emeril. I said well let me run and see what all goes into making it and if I can I will. So I look it up and see it's rated easy. Then I look at the ingredient list and realize I have everything except this funky Spanish spice and cilantro. It's just like chicken noodle soup except with potatoes instead of noodles and add some cilantro and this odd spice. I keep everything on hand for chicken noodle soup during the winter because of cold/flu season so I'm good to go except for cilantro and Bijol(the spice). Keeping in mind at this point that I am not always the details person I should be. For example I only do an over view of a recipe before I make it and that was a big mistake in this situation. Emeril says the spice should be easily attainable at one's local Spanish grocery store, which we don't have. However we do have an excellent cultural isle in our Meijers. This cultural isle did not have Bijol. So I read the recipe again and it says I can substitute cumin and saffron, well saffron is like $16 for 5 strands so that's not happinin either, I guess cumin and a lot of pepper it is! I come home ready to do business with the soup and I start detail reading the recipe and realized what I was in for. First I have to make a stock with the whole chicken cut up in it, then I have to drain the stock and pick all the chicken out of whats left. Next I have to boil the second round of veggies for the soup in the stock. I also have to make a paste out of garlic, stock, and spices. While this second round of veggies is boiling I have to add the paste. Then I have to make salsa.......salsa? yes salsa to go on top of the soup. I guess part by part this recipe is not that difficult but all together it takes over 2 hours of almost constant action. I started way to late last night and ended up just sticking the broth and the chicken in the fridge to finish tonight. This is what I started with.

In closing I would also like to leave you with kind of a thought from way back when. This cookbook was released in 1926 by the Alabama Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It is the real deal in old southern cooking, it includes a place of honor on the first page for Ms. Bashinsky's Mammy for faithful service of thirty-five years. It also includes many recipes for Tomato Aspic and cheese sticks, it will tell you how to cure a ham and how to use gelatin in about a thousand ways and cough cough gag gag-brain croquettes-made with hog brain.
My gran gave me this book when I moved up north because she figured she wouldn't be there to show me how to cook a proper meal and my mom didn't cook so it was necessary.

This is the opening of the book and I think this is the first time a cookbook has "moved" me.

Cookery means the knowledge of Medea and of Circe and of Helen and of the Queen of Sheba. It means the knowledge of all herbs and fruits and balms and spices, and all that is healing and sweet in the fields and groves and savory in meats. It means a carefulness and inventiveness and willingness and readiness of appliances. It means the economy of your grandmothers and the science of the modern chemist; it means much testing and no wasting; it means English thoroughness and French art and Arabian hospitality; and, in fine, it means that you are to be perfectly and always ladies-loaf givers.

I know they are just old fashioned words from an old fashioned world. However in my quest to be caring and helpful and always a lady(you will never ever find me on girls gone wild)this speaks to the part of me that wishes I could go back in time. Back to a place where women kept a good house and prepared good meals and were appreciated in doing so. Where we put more effort into raising our children and not just sending them off with a gameboy or ps2 or whatever they are these days. I will always think a big mistake the feminists made was not realizing that while all the women were clamoring for the jobs and positions that men held not a single guy was raising heck trying to earn the right to stay home and care for the children and home life. If everyone wants to be at work what happens to the home? Some guys these days are helpful with the home life, however just as many have that ingrained idea in their DNA that says even if a gal has a job she ought be keeping house as well. Ok I shall be back later to tell you how the easy soup went.

Worst neighbor award goes to..................ME

I am a bad neighbor. A really really bad neighbor. I have an excuse for it but you know what they say about excuses. This is what is still sitting on my front lawn right now. Those things hanging off the bush next to it are lights.........yep I said lights.
I never meant to leave it out this long, but it snowed. Then it snowed some more then it melted a little bit and froze back up. See the thing is, when I put this up way back in December I had this bright idea(never good). Frosty kept tipping over, he and my yard just were not on agreement about placement I guess and he ended up on his side or face every hour. So I said HEY lets put a sidewalk stone on the support bar that goes across the bottom of Frosty! This worked perfectly, until it got frozen to the ground. Every time it would warm up a little the top layer of snow would melt and I would go tug on Frosty but nope the bottom layer of ice from the last freezing was still rock solid. So now I am at a loss of what to do. My neighbors had deer out and they went and dug them up, like with a real shovel. I don't think I'm that motivated----ok I know I'm not that motivated. So here is my next bright idea. If I were to dump hot water on the bottom of frosty.....after unplugging him of course do you think I could just pull him up? I think I'm gonna try it later today. I will let you know how it goes.

Next up I wanted to show you the lovly site I witnessed this morning. I am not being sarcastic either when I see one of these bright yellow guys I just about could pee my pants!
He was PLOWING THE STREET! I am so excited, now I can actualy get out of my drive way and go somewhere. Wait............he's plowing the street not my driveway......never mind :( That thing hanging from the top of the photo is my hanging plant pot. Yes the plant in it is still I don't know how. I was going to bring it inside but then I thought well it's still alive out there why tempt fate by temprature shocking it. I took this from behind my front door seing as how I was still in my pj's and all. But let me say I was mighty tempted to run out there-fall to my kness-and beg him to please please come do my driveway. I will hand deliver muffins every week(ummm month, ok once a year) if you can please dig my poor vehicle out. Needless to say that didn't happen. It's already 1pm and I have tons and tons to do today. I shall report back about Frosty later today.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Biscuts and Gravy........yum

This should have been posted on Sunday, however I am a lazy lazy gal and I am just now getting to it. This is my recipe, with photos of how to make the most delish biscuits and sausage gravy EVER! Cooking it in a cast iron skillet is not mandatory but it does give it that southern charm. I awoke bright and early at 6am on Sunday morning just raring to go. I got myself ready for Mass, I did a bit of cleaning and off I went.......I even got their 10 minuets early instead of late for once. Then as I drove home I passed TWO Arby signs advertising biscuits and gravy and it started a bit of an obsession. My daddy was also visiting this weekend and I always like to cook when he is here because I know he doesn't usually cook for himself being a guy and all. Off I went to Wally world to gather the necessary ingredients to compile my feast. Here is how it went

First I had to go put on my super cute cow appron, now nothing I fixed this morning had anything to do with beef but I mean the cow is wearing a bow so I have to wear it as much as possible. (if you look closely you'll see it's talking about the different cuts of meat-yes it disturbs me a little bit to see this cute cow separated to be munched on's a cartoon right?)

Then it's time to assemble my ingredients and heat my skillet, I usually heat my skillet in the oven for about 10 min first at around 325 just to heat it thoroughly...I'm not sure if this is necessary or not but my gran did it and it makes me feel better to go ahead and do it.

Up above you can see the canned biscuits that I shouldn't be using however my biscuits have yet to come out of the oven as good as the canned ones so until they do I'm stickin with the sure bet.

Next up I put the biscuits in the oven, I always use a round pan-I'm not sure why but once again it makes me feel better so I'm just gonna keep on doing it. Next to my breakfast sausage you can see last nights tortilla chips which were almost as yummy as what I'm making, and the honey from the local farmers market ( I put honey in.......well just about anything I can), as well as the left over candy canes and I think that's bread there next to them.
These are what I was munching on while I was making brunch.
Healthy right? Darn that candy isle being so close to all the other isles in the store.

Next up we brown our sausage ( I use sage breakfast sausage, if you like things a little spicy you can mix half hot sausage with half sage) I sprinkle a few red pepper flakes in with it.....FEW like 5 little bitty flakes.
While this is browning I take the time to get my gravy starter ready. My method is a bit controversial among the true gravy makers out there, yes I know I should just mix the flour with the sausage and I mean flavor..then add milk. I however find it much easier to just mix a cup of milk with half a cup of flour and beat with a wisk until combined.
Then it looks like this! Yes that is my nasty icky bacon grease sitting next to my dogs unfinished breakfast kibble. Just ignore those and pay attention the the beautiful mixture that is going to become perfect gravy! Ok so after your sausage looks like this-
You can add your milk/flour mixture and adjust your temperature to this, I know you are going to want to jack that temp up to make it cook faster, but don't just resist temptation and wait it out. It's so worth it I pink promise!

Do not drain your sausage!!! All those drippings and grease.........flavor I mean........are what makes gravy taste like something other then milk and flour, which would be gross. So now that you have added your mixture to your UN-DRAINED sausage you should have something that looks like this, if it doesn't then I think you may have made an oopsy.
Just kind of mix this around a bit so the sausage and the mix get all squishy and combined. Then cover your sausage just until you can see a little bit sticking out with milk and stir it together until you can tell it's combined.
This is not too much milk, it will turn into thick gravy I promise. Just keep stirring it every little bit and wait for it to cook down a little. Then you will have yummy gravy like this
Now these next two steps are important first taste your gravy
Then you can decide if you need salt or pepper. I personally love a lot of pepper in mine, but it's a taste thing. When everything was all said and done I had a lovely brunch didn't make it onto the fancy china and it was just served buffet style but it tasted just as good!
Those candles off on the side are 75% off at Kroger right now, which made them about 4 dollars a piece. Not a bad deal if you are a candle addict like me. I wish you all yummy breakfasts and good wishes!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A very serious situation

I have been having thoughts on a very serious issue. Abortion. I would love to say that I was one of those people who knows whats right in that situation. I would love to have a clear and decisive opinion on the matter. I am a Catholic and we all know that group has an extremely clear and decisive thought on the matter. I do honestly believe in my faith and a lot of what the religion is built on, in these days things are so political it's hard to keep up with what is really and truly a fundamental part of your religion and what is just the new catch phrase. I think that sex is something that is not taken very seriously these days, it's approached in an almost nonchalant matter and that deeply bothers me. For something with so many possible consequences few people put that much thought into it. I have a friend who is very very anti-abortion. She goes to the rallies and she shows up outside the clinic to wave signs and yell at the women going in. She always encourages me to go but I never can. I don't think it's right, these girls who make the decision to abort have enough going on without having complete strangers carrying on. I have two very different thoughts on the matter. First(if I was in that situation) I would want to say to all the people who are so against abortion and who condemn the thought that fine, I won't have the abortion but then you sit up with me every night and help me take care of this baby and you help me pay all the costs that go into raising a child. I know so many would bring up adoption and while I know that is a very real and possible choice and that it does help so many children , however I just can't help but thinking about all of the boys and girls that are already in the system who can't find loving families........who stay in the system until they are old enough to provide for themselves. On the other hand though I think far to many young women go about with out thought in their lives and find themselves in this situation and say oh well guess I messed up, let me just have this little procedure done and fix it. Then they go back out and continue on carelessly with their lives. Yes, there are girls who make a mistake and this is the only option for them but I don't know that the majority of the ones having it done are like that. I know quite a few women who have had more then's an easy fix for some. Being a parent is a hard road, be it with a partner or by one's self and I think if a child is in the equation when it's not a good time for it the child suffers the most. So I guess in the end I don't have an answer and you never can have a truly knowledgeable answer until you are in that situation. This was just a bit of is Saturday and I am off to go a-hunting for some antiques and whatnot. Wish me luck because I have been in a bit of a slump.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

One ugly ottoman

So today was supposed to be my big shopping day so I could restock my inventory(up above is what it looked like out side, you can see why I was hesitant to leave my nice warm home right?) I have been slacking quite a bit lately with the hunting for new stuff thing. I always mean to go out and get it done but I just get distracted so easily(by things like blog reading hehe). I love to get fresh new old things for my customers and I hate disappointing them because I haven't been on the ball. One thing that I know my customers love about what I sell is that I like to have a truly usable product for them. On ebay if I'm selling a coat and I have my model wearing a hat in the picture then the hat goes with the coat so you get the whole look. For my antiques I like to provide quality made pieces that will blend seamlessly into someones modern decor. Since most of what I sell is more for people who just want something unique to decorate with and less for the "serious" collector I have some room with what I can do to the furniture I find. I can spice it up with new upholstery or some throw pillows and even paint. When I got this Victorian bench it was green and had a blue crushed velvet seat with a brown pleather back and I think I only paid four buckaroos for it. Please ignore my phone box underneath. I never know what to do with those boxes, I don't use them but I hate to toss them.
However occasionally, usually at an auction I get this fever that leads me to bidding on things I don't need and can't sell. For example at the end of an auction they box up what didn't sell and offer it for a dollar a box. I am queen of the dollar boxes. I have amassed a huge collection of mismatched tea cups and saucers and once I even got a brand new still in the box popcorn maker from the 70's.

I also got this monster ottoman. It's like the hulk of ottomans. Actually it's like this huge white elephant I have been piling things on and having to make my way around hoping that one day I'll come into my office and it will have disappeared. That has yet to happen and as I am now in such dire need for inventory that the 50 trillion "vintage" Avon bottles my gran gave me are starting to look pretty good. Like that grasshopper would start to look pretty yummy if you were stuck on an inhabitable island for months with no food, you don't really want to but you are getting that desperate. I am starting to think the ottoman has possibilities. So I have decided to attempt a complete redo on it and lawd help me because while I have recovered a gabillion chairs and settees I have yet to make an actual slip cover sort of thing for a single piece of furniture. You could say I'm a bit rusty with the sewing machine, I haven't used it in so long it's probably going to eat my fabric just out of spite. So by sometime next week I have a HUGE goal. Make this monstrosity. into something beautiful and pleasing to the eye. Something that hopefully one of my dear customers will fall in love with and just have to have. So here is to hoping! I will update you as I progress or ya know just decide to leave the thing out with the rubbish on Sunday. btw the huge pile of fabric is what used to be on it, I may have gotten just a tiny bit carried away with my fabric shears.

My review for the day is on Matrix sleek looks shampoo and conditioner. They smell great they have a cool bottle but I hate to say it.........not worth the moolah. I have naturally curly hair and they just didn't do anything for me not even a little bit.

Now for the NO NO..people who make ridiculous offers on things others are selling. I have a dear dear friend who is pressed for money in this tight economy like so many others. He has decided to sell his summer car after much deliberation(a lot of people have winter beaters up here because the snow and salt is so hard on a vehicle) and come up with a more then reasonable price. As in a good 9k less then Kelly blue book. This puts his asking price at a mere 10k which would be an incredible deal for anybody. Then he gets the call, the one asking if he would be willing to take $4,500 AND throw in a free tank of gas. This is for the people who see a good deal and get greedy and ask for more. We all know them, the people who try to bargain down a .50 cent item to .10 cents at a yard sale. I like what Edie over at Life in Grace said on her blog the other day.....DO WHAT????(said with a very high pitched astonished squeal) The other option involved words that I try very hard not to say. Me attempting to be a lady and all.

My go go is much better will really brighten up a gals day. I would like to say a super huge-pink kisses with hearts and fireworks thank you to the guy that helped me when I got super duper stuck in a snow bank. Stuck....I'm sorry I meant cemented, bogged, super glued and plastered in that snow bank. Thank you city officials for deciding that we can use sand instead of salt, because that is really working out great for all of us people who don't drive heavy duty hummers-thanks a lot. Anyways this incredible gentleman assisted my poor trapped vehicle out of it's dire situation. If I knew where he was I would bring muffins in thanks!