Old-schoolin’ it

Remember when you were in Brownies (or Cub Scouts…I’ll be non-exclusionary) and you got to make a pinhole camera and it was the coolest, most awesome thing in the world? Especially when you put that piece of photographic paper in the back and took it down to the local Woolworth’s to get it developed?

Yeah. That was super awesome.

Our digital photography classes did something of the sort. We made a camera obscura. Turned an empty classroom into a freaking pinhole camera. Fer totes. Check it out:

The setup: black plastic sheeting over all windows, sealed with black duct tape. A hole cut into the plastic on the outside window.

The setup: black plastic sheeting over all windows, sealed with black duct tape. A hole cut into the plastic on the outside window.

The result: an (upside-down) picture of green tree and blue sky. On the wall. Amazing!

The result: an (upside-down) picture of green tree and blue sky. On the wall. Amazing!

The camera obscura experiment got me all excited and I made a giant pinhole camera that allows you to take pictures of the back wall with a digital camera. A digital pinhole camera. Ever so cool.

After these smashing successes, we made some pinhole cameras from shoeboxes and when we finished, they asked me, “Now what?” I had nothing to say because now, photographic paper isn’t easy pickins.  I was stumped. Speechless. Which they no doubt enjoyed immensely because, well, I do lean towards chattiness.

What’s the point of a pinhole camera without a photo? I was bummed. No giddiness of accomplishment accompanied this project. I so wanted my kiddos to have that cool eureka moment that I had 157 years ago in Brownies. Even my goofy digital pinhole project was better than this. Plus, it was cool and shiny silver.

So we hit the internet to view our options and found this incredible tutorial:

Luckily, I like fire. So yeah, I had matchboxes. All I had to buy was the black electrical tape. And follow his lead.

And I now have this:

Isn't it cool?

Isn’t it cool?

And I’m off to take some pics with it. Fingers crossed. Wish me luck.




The Kouign of Baking Therapy

I’ve been neglecting my house and the grounds surrounding it. Not that I live in a palatial estate. Just haven’t mowed in a while. Or weeded. Or done any sort of maintenance, for that matter.

I figured it could wait until Spring Break. So I let it. When I mowed, though, I realized that something was amiss. The yard seemed swampier than usual, even after a heavy rain. (let’s hear it for Houston’s thick clay soil, everyone!)

Yeah. The main sewer line was backed up. So I crossed my fingers and hoped that it was just from the rains. But this morning, alas! It was still there. Soggy. Stinky. Gross. A plumber must be called to repair a collapsed concrete line built about 60 years ago. As luck would have it, I apparently get a teacher discount, and while I paid a very reasonable rate, I won’t be taking any trips anywhere for quite a while.

I’m talking nowhere. Not even for a lovely spring breaky brunch. *sigh*

What to do but bake something tasty? And buttery. And caramelly. Enter the beautiful Kouign Amann, that Breton pastry of legend. Say it like this: Queen Aman. I first saw it on an episode of The Best Thing I Ever Ate and knew that this pastry and I were destined to meet. It looked wonderful and the host gushed over its attributes. Flaky. Gorgeous. Fabulous.

Plus, it’s a yeast dough with many steps, so, yeah. Plenty to keep my mind off the fellows digging up my yard.

I began with David Lebovitz’s recipe, making sure that the “warm” water was between 100 and 110 degrees — this has been my downfall many a time with yeasty breads, so I was very careful. Used black sea salt. It gives it a weird, pocked appearance that I’m going to call charm.

The charming pock marks.

The charming pock marks.

Now, I follow his directions to a T, making the dough and letting it rest and hour and rolling it out and covering it with the good butter (Kerrygold is superb. Or Plusgras. Don’t skimp) and some sugar (vanilla-infused here, y’all!).

Kerrygold butter lives up to its name.

Kerrygold butter lives up to its name.

Yep. I follow that recipe right up to the folding part. Because you’re going to want to add a step. One that I saw on that show. One that will make you want to make this RIGHT NOW.

So you’ve folded your dough over neatly in a little tri-fold. Now. Take your rolling pin and beat that butter like a drum. Whack it into the dough. Like a red-headed step-child. (I’m from the south. It’s okay to use that particular idiom.) Beat it like you’re the University of Texas and it’s A&M. (HAH!) Seriously, though. Smack it.



Post-beating. Look at the yellow Kerrygold butter peeping through.

Post-beating. Look at the yellow Kerrygold butter peeping through.

Then roll it out and add another layer of sugar and do the tri-foldy thing again and now continue with Mr. Lebovitz’s recipe.

You should have a lovely stack of dough and sugar and butter sitting pretty on your plate. To rest for an hour.


Seriously. Black sea salt on top and golden butter peeping through cracks. This is an awesome pastry.

Then into the pie plate with MORE butter and sugar…

Sprinkled with liquid gold...

Sprinkled with liquid gold…

Let's take a closer look at that wonderfulness...

Let’s take a closer look at that fabulous butter oozing through the field of sugar and salt…sort of awesome.

…to caramelize after 45 minutes into this:



A buttery, crispy, oozy pan of amazing that (almost) makes up for the gigantuous home repair price tag.

I can’t write about the lovely aromas coming from the oven. I just can’t. There are no words. It’s heaven.

Hell will be waiting for it to cool. And I’m off to do that.



Contemplating My Blue(berry) Period

In addition to making things, I like me some sleep. Spring Break boils down to nine whole days of gently waking to howling dogs galloping across the bed and hitting the dog door at breakneck speed in order to holler at the neighbors, who are revving engines of some sort. Much preferable to the screech of the alarm clock.

Last night, I had the presence of mind to move a wee Mason jar full of frozen blueberries from the freezer to the fridge, where they peacefully thawed out overnight and made their way this morning into a lovely batch of blueberry pancakes.

Now, you may think that I visited my foodie guru, Alton, for a recipe, but that’s not true. In this case, I went for my copy of Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. The one I pilfered from my mom’s house. The one with little gold stars and splotches of food on the really good recipes.

It falls open (and sometimes apart) naturally to certain pages, and the pancake recipe is one of them.

Pancakes a la Betty!

Pancakes a la Betty! Notice the batter splotch.

This makes a hefty, thick batter. I thinned it. With some half and half. (don’t judge me)

And I added cardamom. Because I love cardamom, and it goes superbly with berries. Just awesome.

Just pour the batter out into a heated pan and drop the berries in as it cooks.

Photogenically dropped berries, no?

Photogenically dropped berries, no?

Here’s a shot of my whole breakfast cooking: pancakes and coffee and all. Taken because I got bored while waiting for the pancake to bubble…

Yes. Two types of coffee. The regular stuff needs...fortification.

Yes. Two types of coffee. The regular stuff needs…fortification.

The clock reads 9:43, but it feels earlier. Curse you, Daylight Saving Time!

A dot of butter, and my day can begin!



So, to sum up:

  • Sleeping until you wake up: GOOD
  • Remembering to thaw fruit the night before: GOOD
  • Super-duper, old-timey recipe from childhood cookbook: AWESOME
  • Sitting on the couch on a Monday morning with cuddly doggy girls and leisurely enjoying pancakes and coffee: PRICELESS

But it may be time for a nap now…



Please, Sir, Can I Have Samoa?

I deserve a treat. After spending the day with ten teen robotics competitors, I deserve a treat. (I no longer need a drink: we took care of that after the 10-hour competition day. I’m okay there.)

So I deserve a treat. One I can have without leaving the couch. Or my pajamas.

I want cookies. My favorites, though, are Samoas. You might know them as Caramel deLites. The Girl Scouts renamed them. Why, I can’t say, but I do know that I’d rather nosh on cookies named for a lovely, warm, sunny country than a stripper. (Gentlemen! On the center stage! Caramel deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeLite!)

But I digress. Sue me. It’s pajamas-on-the-couch day. My problem now is that the Girl Scouts, whose presence is ubiquitous at the entrance of grocery stores, do not deliver to my door.

Lucky that I plan ahead. In my fridge: a bag of shredded coconut and a carton of heavy cream. So I can make me some of them there cookies.


They’re nothing more than shortbread cookies with holes in them (Read: Jammy Windows tops!) covered with caramel, sprinkled with coconut, and drizzled with chocolate.


So. Make up a batch of the Jammy Windows shortbread. Cut them ALL into rings, though, and bake them according to the recipe. (But only let the dough rest for an hour or two…this is a cookie emergency.)

While they’re chilling, toast up the coconut. Don’t be alarmed if an alcohol-y, piña-colada-y fragrance wafts tantalizingly from the oven. But keep those eyes on the prize. Burned coconut is no one’s treat. I used a sweetened variety, and so I checked it every two minutes. It browned all of a sudden, just like the good peeps at Bon Appétit warned on their website… Be warned.

Bake up the Jammy Windows rounds…let’s call them shortbread from now on, yes? No jam in these wonders.

Shortbread rounds

Wee lone stars in each. For Texas. Yee haw!

Whilst they cool, make a batch of caramel. I used Martha Stewart Classic Caramel Candies recipe, but only because Alton’s recipe had soy sauce in it. WTF and I’ll make that later.

Almost to the Firm Ball stage. Tee hee.

Almost to the Firm Ball stage. Tee hee.

Mix the toasted coconut into the caramel and let it sit until it reaches a thick, spreadable consistency.


At this point, melt some chocolate and dip the bottoms of the cookies in it then put them on wax or parchment (or a silpat sheet) to set.

Spoon, pour, or spread a thin layer of the coconut/caramel mixture onto each of the shortbread rounds (Remember? We’re not calling them Jammy Windows any more. We decided that earlier. Check if you don’t believe me.) and place them on parchment paper or waxed paper (or silpat) to cool and set.

Once the caramel has set up nicely, melt some chocolate chips — semi-sweet, bitter-sweet, whatev. Drizzle horizontal lines across the cookies. Or just splatter them any which way. You’ve worked hard and waited enough.

Let the chocolate set up and then voilá! Tons of (much cheaper than the boxed variety) lovely, caramelly, coconutty, chocolaty, buttery fabulosity for your pajamas-on-the-couch day. Or breakfast. Again, whatev.


And it was a good plan. I was so confident in my plan that I wrote out the entire process before starting anything!

However. Pride goeth before and all that.

A combination of my new super-heating restaurant-quality pan and a less-than-accurate candy thermometer left me with a thicker, chewier coconut/caramel combo than is easily spread. So I spread it on as many cookies as I could…

It looks, well, Samoa-ish.

It looks, well, Samoa-ish.

…before it seized. Not wanting to throw it all out — it WAS tasty still — I began to roll it into small sticks. Creating something horrifying and wonderful all at the same time!

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you (DRUM ROLL)…



Yes. Coconut Turds. Tasty, tasty turdy-looking hard caramel and coconut.

The stuff spread on the cookies hardened into crunchy, tasty disks that popped right off the cookies. So my teacher peeps will be getting plain, tasty, caramel- and coconut-less shortbread cookies tomorrow. Ah, well.

To conclude on a positive note: when you get the itch for some nostalgic, coconutty loveliness, make these cookies. But learn from my mistakes:

  • When you’re making that caramel, heat it ALMOST to the Firm Ball stage (BWAH HAH HAH!!!!) or risk crunchy coconut turd candies.
  • Call the properly make cookies whatever you want.
  • Save considerable money by making them instead of buying the Girl Scout version…then donate all those savings to the Girl Scouts. Win-win.

Now, back to the couch and the Samoas and some serious Netflixing.



Bakin’ Pixelation

So my wee niece — the wee one, not the wee-est one — is apparently in love with Minecraft. Which I don’t get. It smacks of an endless game of hide-and-seek where you hide from weirdly pixelated creatures while seeking weirdly pixelated gemstones in weirdly pixelated mines. Pixelated.


A MOOSHROOM a cow-mushroom hybrid from Minecraft. A pixelated one.

Cakes, however, and cookies and whatnot are things I do get. And the wee niece’s birthday turned out to be a time to attempt several challenges at once: cookie pops, marshmallow fondant, and carving and stacking cakes…to make a MINECRAFT cake. WOOT!

Time management tends to be my downfall, so this time I planned things out thusly:


My day to make the marshmallow fondant, which has to sit overnight and which turns out to be a tasty confection — much, much better than the fondant you’re thinking of — and happily easier than it would seem. I colored it as closely as I could with Minecraft colors, even leaving some streaks to provide a sort of — you guessed it — pixelation.

Pink and blue and green and brown and green and brown...

Pink and blue and green and brown and green and brown…

Use gloves. Seriously. Use gloves! I found a box of latex-free food grade gloves at a local restaurant supply company that is open to the public, and I highly recommend them. ( the gloves AND the restaurant supply!) Avoid fingers tinted an odd color that will spark stares and unwanted conversations.

I wanted to add as many (PIXELATED) cookie characters as I could. I eyeballed the Fat Daddio square cookie cutter set before realizing that it was an unneeded purchase. *SIGH*

Instead, I dug up the fabulous Sweetapolita cookie pop recipe and threw a buttery batch together and chilled it, then rolled it out and cut squares with my trusty pizza cutter. Huzzah for multi-taskers!

The tiny rectangles are for the pixelated piggy snouts.

The tiny rectangles are for the pixelated piggy snouts.

All baked up, these will keep until I’m ready to decorate them!

Then, make up a batch of Rice Krispie treats and press those suckers down flat so they can be cut into squares…to create pixelated peeps.

(and I’m done for day one!)


Cakes. Bake those suckers the day before so you can chill them. I looked for dense, tasty recipes, so of course I wandered over to my foodie crush, Alton Brown. I’ve had exceptional success with his trés leche cake, and I’ve been dying to try his devil’s food, so I was all set. Two batches of trés leche and one of the darkest, deepest, most decadent devil’s food EVAR.

All of these plus one in the oven!

All of these plus one in the oven!

You’ll need about a dozen eggs: five for each the trés leche and four for the devil’s food…but it’s worth it. Oh, yes. It’s worth it.

DAY THREE: Oh, the fun stuff!

Give those lovely cakes a crumb coat (I used a basic vanilla buttercream for both), roll out the fondants, cut them, and apply to cakes. Sculpt the Rice Krispie treats into trees and pigs and monsters and that Steve dude that apparently wanders about as pixelated as a daffodil.

These steps so consumed my day that I have no pictures of the process. But please enjoy this photo of a Minecraft pig:



The square cookies turned into piggies and creepers (these weird pixelated green things that explode. or something), but the tiny piggy nose cookies went away. Didn’t work. Best to draw the snout on with royal icing.



Rolled out the blue fondant for “water” pixels and threw everything into boxes and rushed cake to party site.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand here they are:

Devil's Food on the left; Vanilla on the right

Devil’s Food on the left; Vanilla on the right… please to notice the “torches” in the “stone” on the DF cake.

Piggies and creepers!

Piggies and creepers!

A close-up in which you can see the (saddled) pig and Steve and a wee Minecraft "cake."

A close-up in which you can see the (saddled) pig and Steve and a wee Minecraft “cake.”


The DF Creeper cake…note the angled “torches,” please. And the pixelated water and…um…grass?

Well, that’s that. Awesome fun foodie adventure, plus fondant usage is finally under my belt. Plus, it’s good to be back online taking random foodie pics and accompanying them with dialogue…

What fresh, new (preferably unpixelated) challenge awaits, lurking on the horizon?

I mean, of course, other than catching up on grading…urk.



Insert Peter Gunn Theme Here…

So I’ve been an absentee blogger lately. But there’s a reason. For real and for true.

But it’s secret.

I’m working on top-secret recipes. Realio, trulio secret cookie recipes. Chocolate cookie recipes. With special ingredients. And patient, honest, understanding victims…er, tasters.

But I thought I could post a follow-up to some of the previous recipes. So here goes:

  1. The applesauce works crazy well with a mix of Braeburn and Pink Lady apples — for applesauce AND butter.
  2. The shortbread part of the jammy windows travels superwell if you freeze them first.
  3. About 5% of the jammy windows don’t form a seal and sort of bleed out. It’s gross but still tasty.
  4. Thanks to the fabulous Stephanie at 52KitchenAdventures and her awesome advice, her Nutella macarons ALSO travel superwell if you freeze them first. (seriously. i took 4 dozen each of the jammy windows and the macarons in my carry-on on a flight from Houston to Pittsburgh and nary a cookie was squished!)
  5. Cookie tables at weddings are the most superlativiest, best things ever and I think they should be incorporated into EVERY get-together, celebration, and meeting EVAR. (see the proof below)

It’s 96 dozen cookies of awesomeness!

Okay. To follow up with five things I added to the recipes and pages, I present to you stuff I’m doing that keeps me away from, well, here:

  1. Those super-secret recipes.
  2. I’m doing NaNoWriMo this month, theoretically with RouBarb as a buddy, though I have 4,048 words to her 0. (not bragging. just a fact. yeah. okay. bragging just a little.)
  3. I just attended one of the most fabuloso weddings I’ve ever seen. Just stupendous.

Just three. In my head, that list seemed MUCH more dramatic. Boo. And with that anticlimactic non-explanatory list, I’m off to write some more, cook some more, and purposefully ignore all predictions on election returns until I wake up in the morning and know for reals who’s president tomorrow.

Laters. And in case you don’t know the reference in the post’s title, I give you the best version of all time. It gives my actions an air of clandestineness…or clandestinity. Not sure. Enjoy.




An homard in every pot

Lobster day today. It’s dirt cheap here, and just sitting there in the store, waiting for us to cook it and dip it in butter and suck it down noisily.

Off to the store. Walking. What’s that? WALKING. Seriously. Walked up to the store to get our dinner bugs:

Lobsters in their version of a gladiator’s den…

you shall…BE DINNER!

The choosing finished, our lovely wee lobsters were hospitably collected into a plastic bag…

Hospitably confined…

and taken home to chill in the chill drawer while we gathered supplies.

Sel toujours sec, claw cracker, butter, Quidi Vidi beer, and chocolate: all necessary lobster-cookin’ tools

Time for more prep: 2 1/2 quarts of water in a pot with 5 tablespoons of the sel (that’s salt in French), set it to a boil, then grab the lobsters from the chill bin…

Stunned by the chill and ready to become dinner

…and drop them in head-first…

Thank you to my hand model and co-chef, Dr. Nancy

and boil them for 15 minutes. Unless they’re male. Then cook them for 17 minutes. Good luck to you in finding out before the fact.

A lobster in every pot (this place only had two sort-of-large pots…)

Run them under cold water (ironically, didn’t have ice) to stop the cooking process.

How awesome is this shot, may I ask? Just freaking awesome, I may answer.

All set up with Dr. Who on the telly and tasty lobster dinners on the table. And beer.

Almost didn’t get this shot in. Too excited. Dr. Nancy reminded me.

How gorgeous is this claw?


Did I mention the beer?

Fighting Irish Red: the most non-PC likker in all the land!

And the aftermath…

Oh! The humanity!

And now off for British Butter ice cream at MooMoo’s. Yes. You heard me. Butter ice cream for dessert. Jealous much?



The _____________-est ___________ in St. John’s

So I’ve been in Canada for one day, and already I’m loving the climate and the general pleasantness of the Canadians. And the French signage is fun, too. (Bonjour, bonhomme de niege! Quelle temps fait-il? Il pleut!) But the weather…OH, the change in weather:

Suck it, H-town!

I woke up fairly early and we walked about 157 miles (kilometres, whatever), looked at the unusual artwork on the walking paths…


the local warnings…

Wharf speed, Mr. Sulu!

the local graffiti…

and local interesting factoids…

before sitting down to lunch at a lovely little brewery/bistro named Yellow Belly. Where we ordered fish and chips. And got this:

Black bean burger…

and this:

Panko-breaded cod and chips. Oh, my.

and THIS:

Citrus aioli, it’s called. Roasted-garlicky, mayonnaise-y, lemon zest-y, dill-y wonderfulness. We dipped our chips in it. Chugged it. Did shots of it. Begged the waitress for more of it. Called it loving names and made promises to it that we could never keep. Just heaven, that stuff. I asked for the recipe and our lovely and personable (and polite!) waitress laughed me off. Politely. Seriously, y’all. I think this is the land where courtesy came to retire. You can walk blindly across a road and cars will screech to a halt for you. The 2012 version of Walter Raleigh and Queen Elizabeth. (Look it up.) Politeness and courtesy should be Canada’s #1 export. Send some to your noisy, obnoxious neighbors to the south, please, Canada…

Then, full of delicious foods and a great local and insensitively-named beers (Fightin’ Irish Red), we napped. Seriously, is there anything better than a nap? We woke up and read the paper and found out that this town likes to brag. There’s the oldest street in North America. The oldest music store on the oldest street in North America. The favorite Irish pub in St. John’s. The oldest Irish pub in St. John’s. The blankest blank in ALL THE LAND.

Then a “haunted hike” around the town with this dude:

and his stentorian voice…look it up, I said!

and back to Yellow Belly for another pint.


I may have to move here.


The tiredest tourist in all St. John’s

Garbage Day Mung Bean Noodles

Since Dr. Nancy magnanimously bestowed upon me a ticket to Newfoundland, I’ll be winging my way to a magical land where the high temps make Houston lows seem hellish. To be fair, Houston temps don’t need help to feel diabolically hot, but then I’d be sans metaphor, as they say.

I’ve been in a frenzy of buying things and making lists and generally relishing all the anticipation because, well, that’s the best part of visiting a place you’ve never seen before. A place that has icebergs and puffins and whales and lobster sandwiches at Subway.

Let me repeat that last part.


Courtesy of Dr. Nancy

I’ll give you a second to *ahem* digest that.

It just so happens that today is the Day Before Garbage Day (the last garbage day before the vaycay), so I started cleaning out the fridge. All too many things in there had started fuzzing over or evolving into sentient lifeforms since I’ve pretty much been living on yogurt (ever so tasty with a dollop of CrackJam!) and Jell-o pudding cups while waiting for my wisdom tooth-shaped hole to heal over. As usual here in the home of all things ironical, the split second the fridge was empty, I got hungry. But what to do? I didn’t want to buy groceries with the trip a-loomin’, so I took stock of my supplies. Some passable vegetables. One good lime out of seven. (And what’s up with that? Seven limes? What was the thinking there?) A sort-of-desiccated knuckle of ginger and a bulb of garlic seconds away from sprouting roots and flowering. A pack of tofu.

At this point in the list, I’ll pause to mention that the tofu is an anomaly. It is not a typical citizen of Fridge, but a hopeful purchase meant to inspire me to cook and eat more healthful foods. But it was there and within the expiry date. So up on the chopping block with it!

In the pantry, I usually have some noodles of random shapes, sizes, and ethnicity. Right on top of the stack lay a big bag of mung bean noodles, purchased on a whim during a visit to the local Asian supermarket with ChrisTina, La Donna, and Madame JoJo.

So. Stir fry it was.

Drain the tofu. I left mine on a few paper towels to soak up more of the bean curdy juices. Don’t think about that. Tofu is like eggs. If you think too hard about where it comes from and what it is, you’ll probably end up at the drive-thru.

Hello. I’m tofu.

Start soaking the noodles in hot (not boiling) water. I weighted mine down to ensure sufficient toothsome texture and yumminess.

Make the sauce: the leavings of the brown sugar bag (ran out of oatmeal before sugar) – about two tablespoons, the rest of the soy sauce – about three and a half tablespoons, half the ginger knuckle – about 1” – crushed and minced, and one clove of garlic – crushed and minced. To be fair, the garlic clove I picked out was gi-normous. HUGE. Squeeze the lime in there and stir it up.

Sauce fixins

Cut up the vegetables into one inch pieces. I ended up with celery and green onions but no carrots because the carrots had a white, gross, fuzzy texture. They looked like mummy fingers.

Peace out, sez Carrot Mummy Hand

Julienne the tofu. Strip it. I like it that way. Tofu has this tendency to lie there appearing for all the world to be the bastard child of a Dobie scrubber and cottage cheese, and thus it needs help. Toss it into a hot pan with some veggie oil – I opted not to dig in the cabinet for my wok due to the final throes of a screaming migraine that set up camp behind my left eyeball AND because of extreme, hot-summer-day-induced laziness. Let the excess water cook off, then scoop out a bit of the sauce you made. I scraped out the ginger and the garlic to cook up with the tofu. It also tastes a bit like a Dobie scrubber/cottage cheese mutant by itself, so once again, help it!

Help us!

Cook it up until it has some color and is heated through.


Throw in the usable veggies and the rest of the sauce. Stir it up and cook it a bit.

Tasty greens; grotesque carrots

Put in the noodles.

Aren’t they just gorgeous?

Stir it up, put a lid on, and let it cook until everything is heated through.

Then eat it.

Oh, yeah!

I’ve got about four servings left for the next few days…just enough to tide me over until the trip…

Now to heat up the oven so I can bake up a batch of shortbread with the dough I found in the freezer.

Don’t judge me.



Hannibal Lecter and the Supremes

More rain. More people complaining about the rain. Hello, people? Must I force you to revisit Facebook posts from this time last year in which we were all whining about how hot it was and where was all the rain?

I like the rain. Gives me a calm day to put stuff in jars.

You know, a calm day after I had to drive into rainy-weather traffic to fetch the lids and pectin that I was lacking. After yelling my way through the rain-slicked streets filled with inconsiderate, aggressive, or just plain ignorant drivers (including one who repeatedly swerved and blocked intersections but who sported a “Namaste” bumper sticker – in his case, I believe that would translate into “the douchebag in me bows to the douchebag in you”), I made my way back home and let RouBarb’s gentle old lady dog out to “tinkle,” subdued my Little and Big dogs with chewies, unloaded an online rant so as not to cook angry, and started sterilizing jars…and let the jamming begin. Again.

Om…many jars to fill…

I already have three new half-pints in the fridge from a spur of the moment attempt at lavender-rose jelly. The poncy antique roses bushing up on either side of my kitchen window were flowering lovely dark red blooms with a spicy scent. Cramoisi superieur, they’re named. I picked them and steeped them with some lavender, then cooked that up with sugar and pectin and threw that in a few jars:

Lovely, herbal, green-tasting jelly.

So I’m flush with sweet, fruity jams and these herbal jellies…but out of marmalade. Food in Jars has a fabulous recipe, which earns her a shameless plug. Love her recipes. And like she says, you can’t feel like Maggie Smith while drinking a lovely cup of Earl Grey without some homemade marmalade.

But here’s the thing about making this marmalade. I feel a bit like Jame Gumm. Remember him? The serial killer from The Silence of the Lambs? Read on. You’ll see.

First, God bless Texas for so many things, but right now for abundant fruits and vegetables. And being able to drive to the store in the middle of winter. And for very cool Tervis tumblers filled with icy cold Diet Coke.

Yee haw!

Here are my lovely citrus fruits. Two grapefruit, four oranges, and three lemons. See them shudder? They know what’s coming.

“It puts the lotion on its skin”

And here they are, skinned. By me. “Buffalo Bill.”

(Chill. I really only shaved off the zest with a vegetable peeler.)

Only I’m not making a suit out of them. I’m going to julienne those skins, carve up the citrus, throw fruit flesh and skins in a pot with sugar, boil them up, and stick them in jars.

Out of their skins, they move to the supreming stage. Isn’t that a great verb?

To supreme.

I supreme, you supreme, we all supreme. In foodology, “to supreme” means to separate fruit from its membranes. Food in Jars kindly provides a great link to a how-to, as well as a great pic of it on her blog. This gives me a reason not to painstakingly take and post pics of the supreming process, and instead to skip to the already supremed fruits.

The carnage!

(Incidentally, this stage reminded me of a line I heard while watching A Lion in Winter this morning while having coffee. Queen Elenor lectures Prince Richard on killing for survival, not being an assassin. Richard responds with, “I never heard a corpse ask why it suddenly got cold.” Great stuff. Love this movie.)

And (also skipping the boiling, bubbling waiting) isn’t the result gorgeous?

Tower of tastiness

Now to treat myself like a titled lady: Gosford Park on the telly, a cup of Earl Grey, lovely homemade marmalade, and buttermilk biscuits instead of scones…because I am, after all, a Southern lady.

Cheery bye, y’all!

So which of my peeps want some? Be warned that I may ask for something in return…

Quid pro quo, little Starlings.