Archive for March, 2009

TWD #13 Coconut Butter Thins

March 31, 2009

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My lucky 13th recipe from TWD is Coconut Butter Thins, suggested by Jane of  the quirkily named “Barefoot Kitchen Witch” blog.

I made the dough for this recipe Friday night AFTER taking my son for some driving practice.  Baking is my de-stresser!  It’s not that Taylor did poorly; he’s actually doing quite well withthe driving.   But Chris (my husband/Taylor’s dad) came with us.   He’s usually way more relaxed than I am but he was a bit impatient because Taylor, like his mother, prefers that the road be completely car-free before making a left turn.  

I think I get that fear from my mother, who, when I first drove, would give me directions that required as few left turns as possible.  

That was not such a good idea, as I once did get in an accident while making a left turn at an intersection due to lack of good judgment.  (Hint:  it’s best NOT to turn when a large truck is barrelling towards you, EVEN if you are in a hurry to keep up with the person you are following.)

Anyway, I made the dough per the recipe, only substituting lemon zest for the lime zest.   I rolled out the dough in a ziplock bag and popped it in the fridge to chill.

Saturday night I baked the cookies and Sunday night I ate them.  ALMOST allof them.  They were so good.   I really enjoyed the buttery taste combined with coconut and macadamia nuts.   My kids wouldn’t taste them, even though I told the coconut-haters they were “Butter Thins,” a little white lie of omission.   (Maybe I’ll become the anti-Jessica Seinfeld, sneaking unhealthy foods into my kids’ carrots, beans and broccoli.)       

Next time I might add a slightly larger pinch of coriander and I might sprinkle the tops with a combo of decorating sugar and large grained kosher salt.   Just to give them a little sparkle. 

These are ideal cookies for a tea party, even if it’s a tea party for one in which one eats a dozen and wonders “What the heck is wrong with Dennis Rodman?”

Random Tuesday Thoughts

March 31, 2009

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My coworker, Hottie Scottie, just called me and said “B. and I were talking and we decided to extend an invitation to you…”

Great start.  Unfortunately it wasn’t to a fabulous soiree, but to a work training. 

Being held on a Saturday.  Maybe “extend an invitation to you” should have been rephrased “Demand your presence…”  or “Ruin your weekend?”

I hate, hate, hate those stupid “care.com” commercials.  They begin with the scenario of a woman calling and interviewing a babysitter;  she’s on the phone with one candidate and says, horrified, “Is that contagious?” 

Is it really appropriate to ask someone about a medical condition?  And is it kind to be freaked out by it? 

I volunteered at my daughter’s Scholastic Bowl tournament on Saturday;  wow, those kids are smart!  But one answer cracked me up; our team was asked to name the currency of five foreign countries, for the two that were Latin American they guessed “Pedros.”  (Honestly, I do give them credit for at least knowing the countries were likely to be Spanish-speaking.) 

However, I couldn’t help but laugh, picturing  poor Pedro being traded for goods and services.  

(Okay, now that I re-read that scenario it sounds, um, not so funny!)

The Aldi’s that I shop at has a printed out sign that says something like:

“No hoods, hats, or face masks allowed within the store.  Please remove upon entry.”

So I guess they are anti-Zorro-ites.   I really, really want to add “capes” to the list.

Tonight I have high school orientation for my daughter.   I’m freaking out, just a little.  My kids are only a year apart, and when Reagan was a baby we didn’t know we wouldn’t have anymore.   I think I’m starting to suffer from anticipatory empty nest syndrome.  I guess I’ll  just keep on hoping my kids are big losers and end up delivering pizzas and living in my basement.  

Reagan came in my room the other day and said “I think Old Guy Phil called me a ‘Ho’!  I was running with my headphones on and he passed me on his bike and he said, I think, ‘Ho!'”  

Maybe he yelled “wayward ho!?”

Or maybe, like me, he has names for everybody in town, but his are all antipodean, like calling the one armed man, ‘Lefty,’  Reagan is ‘Ho,’  Taylor is ‘Chatty,’  Chris is ‘Sir Hairy Head Shornback’ and I’m “Smallbutt McNoBackFat.”

Updated to add:  I  was quoted onblogtations, woot!  Woot!

I’m outtie, but please take time to visit Keely, aka The Un-Mom, for more RTT fun.

Two25 Review

March 27, 2009

Last night I joined several local bloggers for a delightful meal at Two25 in the Mark Twain Hotel in downtown Peoria.

The company was very nice and the meal was fabulous.

Shortly after I arrived at the restaurant, the gracious and handsome manager, Shane White, came by to talk to the group; he was joined by co-owner (and hottie boombalottie) Bob Eid, who also owns One World Cafe. They talked about the highly qualified employees they have assembled and the care, time and attention that was taken in planning the menu and the wine list and alcohol selection.

Since I consume about two alcoholic beverages per year, it went a bit over my head.  But the other, more sophisticated, (presumably nonBoone’s Farm -drinking) bloggers were very interested and found the wine selection to be comprehensive and impeccable.

I concentrated on the menu; it was really difficult to make a decision, as everything sounded delicious.  When our delightful and cute server, Sam, arrived at my side to take my order, I was still at the “Umm… Umm.. I’ll have, umm…” stage.  He kindly offered to skip me, giving me an opportunity to further peruse the menu.

Ultimately I decided to order a small pear salad and the shrimp and goat cheese pasta.  My dining compatriot PAFSordered the calamari and graciously shared it with me.  I have a love/hate relationship with calamari.  I hate the fried chewy circles that are offered at many establishments; they typically have the texture and taste of fishy rubber bands.  I was delighted to find that Two25’s appetizer contained hand-cut strips of calamari steak.  Thus, no chewy texture and a delectable taste.

Ms. PH cordially shared her escargot, which was served in a garlic butter sauce sans shells.  I enjoyed the combination of crispy crustini, flavorful sauce and the texture of the escargot, which was tender rather than leathery.

The pear salad was perfectly sized and contained mixed greens, blue cheese, pear slices, candied walnuts and dried cranberries.   The dressing was a mild tasting strawberry vinaigrette and the salad was presented with a lovely sliced and fanned strawberry at the center.   The combination of the fruit, nuts and blue cheese was delightful.  The blue cheese was not overly pungent and gave the salad a nice balance of sweet and salty, I daresay even blue cheese haters would enjoy this salad.  I did feel that the dressing could have used a dash more acidity, but likely that is personal preference, rather than a fault in the preparation.

My entree, the shrimp and goat cheese pasta, was a substantial portion.   (Or maybe I was just getting full from mooching everyone’s appetizers?).   It contained penne pasta (which I will call “Tube shaped” when I discuss it with my co-workers), grape tomatoes, fresh basil, colossal-sized shrimp, creamy goat cheese, seasoned bread crumbs and a white wine sauce.   I really enjoyed this flavorful pasta dish; the shrimp was perfectly cooked-a trend I noticed in each dish I tasted at Two25-and the combination of goat cheese, bread crumbs and white wine sauce was outstanding.

Diet be damned, because every good reviewer MUST order dessert.  It’s mandatory. And one musteat every bite to get the “full experience,” I do believe.   Thus, I sacrificed my waistline and succumbed to the temptation of the chocolate mousse with raspberry Chambord sauce.   It was smooth, rich and chocolate-y.  The sauce was the perfect accent, as was the swirl of whipped cream.   It was George Clooney, no, even better, Bob Eid in a bowl.

If you hadn’t already guessed, I really, really enjoyed my meal at Two25.   I would highly recommend that you visit it (often!), due to the local ownership, great service, pleasant ambiance, welcoming atmosphere and outstanding food.   And if you are extremelylucky you might spot handsome co-owner Bob Eid.

I really appreciated the opportunity to review Two25; additional reviews can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

(And I really hope that everyone left Sam, our hot, hard-working and hospitable server a sizable tip!)

TWD #12 Blueberry Crumb Cake

March 24, 2009

I’m a bit behind today, no post written and my camera is home with my TWD photos on it.   Just  a few nights of insomnia causes utter chaos to my already lacking organizational skills. 

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Nevertheless, much like the postal service, (and George Washington) I will forge on. 

I made the blueberry crumb cake for dessert after hiking Sunday afternoon. 

(Doesn’t it look totally like fall here?  It honestly is spring in the Midwest!) 

 

It’s a really easy recipe, doesn’t use a lot of bowls and doesn’t require a candy thermometer or any specialty pans.   It’s a perfect casual dessert or could easily be served in lieu of coffee cake for brunch or with tea.

I, of course, liked it topped with ice cream and blueberry sauce, because there’s nothing like gilding the lily…. or adding unnecessary calories to my diet! 

The crumb topping is spectacular, brown sugar-y, butter-y, walnut-y and utterly delicious.  The cake part is tasty, soft and full of blueberries.   I couldn’t really taste the lemon zest in mine, so next time I might add a bit more.  (My lemon was rather small but I still just used half.)

This recipe was selected by Sihan of the dually name “befuddlement/Walking in the rain” blog and you can find the recipe on her site.

Random Tuesday Thoughts

March 24, 2009

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My  daughter is grounded, and it’s way worse on me then on her, I do believe.  Why do I feel so bad that she feels bad when I know she should feel bad for screwing up?  Anyway, grounded from TV, the phone and video games, she is pretty bored and is spending all her time baking.   And making marshmallow fondant, which I find inexplicably irresistible.   I may have to unground her just to save my waistline.

Is my asthma inhaler supposed to have similar affects to those good old fashioned whip-its! my friends (you know who you are!) and I used to purchase and huff?   Because it does.   But maybe I’m doing it wrong? 

Sunday I went hiking with my friends Lemur, Coyote and MarySue.  Coyote and MarySue were rock/fossil/Native American artifact-hunting while Lemur and I huffed and puffed our way up and down a couple of hills.  After rejoining the searchers we were chatting about blood pressure and Lemur said “I hate having my blood pressure taken, almost worse than anything.”

My response:  “Worse than anal sex?”

I am sure Lemur’s husband, the aforementioned Coyote, thinks I’m a big fat weirdo.

Plus, thinking about this later in the evening I got really paranoid.   What if Lemur and Coyote had recently had an anal sex escapade and enjoyed it?   And now Coyote is worried that Lemur lied about her level of satisfaction?   Or what if they had and then sworn each other to secrecy and now Coyote thinks she broke their vow of silence?   Or what if they haven’t and now he thinks she cheated on him?

Mind you, this was right after I had told them all this story. 

On our hike we also discussed my irrational fear of serial killers/rapists in the woods.  I don’t worry about getting mugged/raped/killed on dark city streets, but there’s something about being surrounded by nature that makes me fretful.  MarySue and Lemur conceded that it freaked them out, too, making me feel slightly less like an anxiety-ridden crackpot.  Shortly later we overtook and attempted to pass a lone woman walking on the trail.  MarySue was in the lead, said “excuse me” and went to pass, accidentally bumping into the woman, who fell over.  She was wearing headphones!  Is that not crazy?  I really wanted to tell her, “You know, with headphones on you really have no chance of escaping the hiking serial killer rapist.”         

In this whole “going back to school” process I’ve found out that there are some weird scholarship opportunities out there.   One requires that you write an essay in the form of a letter to your state representative expounding upon the merits of Zero Population Growth.   Another requires a 7,500 word paper on the history of cartography.     (The ZPG one I’m applying for, the cartography one, I think not, that’s a longass paper!)   I’m also applying for a scholarship through the Chicago Urban League.   Interestingly that one requires a photo ID but doesn’t require that I live in either Chicago or an urban area.     Another requires proof of anal copulation.   (Okay, not really.)

If you have a chance, please drop by and visit Keely of  “The Un Mom.”  While you’re there, please beg her not to kick me out of Random Tuesday Thoughts for my depravity.

TMI

March 23, 2009

Saturday I went to lunch with my high school best friend, K., whom I hadn’t seen in about ten years.  Catching up, I mentioned an ex who is now an Ob-Gyn.   She was surprised and said “Wow, I wonder if he still has that fetish?”

“Um, what fetish?” 

“You know, one time you guys went to a hotel and he had that very ‘unsexual‘ fetish.”  (I know, that sounds contradictory, “unsexual” and “fetish,” but I’m thinking she meant “unsexy to anyone but the ex.”)  

“Wuh?” 

I honestly have no clue.   At first I thought maybe she was confusing me with another friend but she was positive and there’s something about it that seems, well, familiar.   So I’m sure whatever it is happened.

But I have no clear memory of this event and K. won’t tell me!

This leaves me with two trains of thought.  One, that it was a big deal to me then, but wouldn’t be now, so the memory has faded.  Or, two, that it was such a big deal that I’ve totally repressed the memory!  (Okay, third, paranoid option, maybe I’m developing early onset Alzheimers to go with my lack of good breathing and iron poor blood.)  

 But, just for background, K., is not prudish (she spent 5+ years stripping) so option one  is seeming less likely.    Thus I am left scouring my brain for an elusive memory; it’s similar to not remembering someone’s name when you know you know the name but it just won’t come to you.   And it’s driving me freaking crazy.

“Of all the animals, the boy is the most unmanageable.” (Plato)

March 19, 2009

After my son turned in his biology project he was complaining “I didn’t learn ANYTHING making that cell”

I told him, “Yes, you did, you learned that your mother loves you enough to ride your ass to get it done.”

Taylor replied, eye-rolling and sighing huffily “But I ALREADY KNEW that!

Boys. They are wonderful, mysterious creatures.

Sometimes mysterious and not so wonderful.

For example, last night we attended Taylor’s National Honor Society ceremony.   The freshmen  were called up on stage one-by-one to receive a certificate.    I had a moment of panic when I noticed his name was NOT listed on the program, but remembered that he had attended a practice session that day, so surely it was just a typo.  

They asked the parents to rise when their child’s name was called and I breathed a sigh of relief when, last alphabetically, they called out “Taylor Wood”

followed by:

Child of

Chris Wood.

Yes, just “of Chris Wood.”

It was awkward.  Chris rose.  Then sort of pulled me up.

We returned to our seats, thinking, “Gosh, they are incompetent, first leaving his name off the program, then not listing his mother.”   Until the mother sitting in front of me turned and said, “H. (her son) told me Taylor FORGOT to list his mother.”

Forgot?   Am I not the person driving him to school everyday?   Making sure his homework is done?  Picking him up from chess?  Forcing him to attend the ceremony?  (While wearing a tie, no less!) national-honors-society-2009

  FEEDING? CLOTHING? and PROVIDING SHELTER?!!!

And there is that whole “having given birth” to him business, too!  Plus breastfeeding, waking up with him EVERY NIGHT for two plus years, changing his diaper, for longer than he would care for anyone to know!  (3+ years of that, seriously!)

Today I also found out that Taylor not listing his mother was a topic of much conversation at the practice.  Other kids noticed and mentioned it to their parents (who mentioned it to me at work today).  Taylor could have easily requested a correction during the practice, but did not.

And Taylor didn’t think to mention any of this to me before the ceremony.  So I was totally blindsided. 

And left feeling bewildered and upset.

Partially from embarrassment, because I am sure the other parents in this small town are wondering WTF is up, that Taylor would choose NOT to list his mother, but mainly I’m left wondering if my child is just truly terribly thoughtless or if he really is that big of a jackelope.

How many one armed man stories is one blog allowed to have?

March 18, 2009

Today, walking to my office from the post office, Old Guy Phil (as I call him in my head) joined me on his way to the pharmacy.
Chatting about the weather, we passed the one armed man. (Who I creatively call “the one armed man”). We exchanged salutations.
After he passed, Old Guy Phil turned to me and said “I bet his nickname isn’t ‘Lefty.”

Oh, but now it is!

I’ve never been more proud of her.

March 18, 2009

Saturday morning Reagan (my eighth grade daughter) and I headed to a local college for her chorus solo/ensemble competition.  We took the wrong exit and Rea got more and more grumpy the closer we got to the school.   I now realize she was getting nervous.

I’m starting to notice a trend with my teenagers:   Tired= grumpy, nervous=grumpy, angry=grumpy, hungry=grumpy, breathing=grumpy.

We arrived at ICC, grabbed a bite in the cafeteria, which somehow she didn’t find as thrilling as when she was 5 and I was a student there and took her on a tour.   Teenagers, so blase about everything.   I, on the otherhand, still get excited over the cheese fries.  (The cheese is NACHO.  Nacho cheese fries! It’s like puppies and rainbows in your mouth… or jalapeno flavored cheese product.  Same diff.) 

She and her friend V. sang their duet, “Beauty and the Beast.”   It went okay, but V. forgot her lines at one part and, at another part, she sang the wrong lines.   Unfortunately, it was at a part where Rea echoed her words so Rea had to sing the wrong part, too!

They were rated a “2.”  Which, like it’s bathroom namesake, isn’t exactly great.

We had a bit over an hour til her next performance, the solo “Flying Free,” bored we decided to make a “Sonic” run.  Hmm.. maybe boredom eating explains my thighs?  (Or maybe a love of nacho cheese fries is the answer.)

After ordering a round of banana milk shakes and chicken sandwiches we headed back to the college.   Entering the home room with our bag o’fastfood goodness, we sat down to eat, directly to the right of the “No FOOD or DRINKS allowed” sign.     

Our bad karma caused us to be surrounded by several kids who had a conversation about the “really tough judge in room 225A.” 

“Rea, what room are you performing your solo in?”

“225A!”

Finally, it was time.  We headed on our death march way to the performance room.   I headed in, sat down, and realized, “um, where’s Rea?”

She had frozen in the hallway outside the room and was crying; surrounded by a group of girls from her class, consoling her.   I started to approach, but then decided to see if they could calm her down.

Meanwhile, the executioner judge was getting impatient and the room was full of other Princeville parents, wondering what the delay was.

Finally, Rea and the other girls entered the room.  One girl, C, graciously said that she was going first and Rea would go after her, so Rea sat beside me, looking like she might either faint, puke or bolt.

C. finished her song and it was Rea’s turn.  She sat, frozen in her seat for the longest ten seconds ever, then got up, approached the accompaniest and stood in front of everyone.   There was a delay in shutting the door and everyone getting settled down.  Now I thought I might faint, puke or bolt out of nervousness for her.

The pianist started playing.  Rea began singing.  About halfway through, at the end of a line, she grimaced, then clearly mouthed the word “Shit” while the accompaniest was playing.   

Shit, my child just said “shit.”  Well, it wasn’t out loud, but any fool could have read her lips!

She resumed singing at the appropriate moment, finished the song and came and sat by me.  

“Mom, I messed up a line!”

“I know, because you said ‘shit!'”

“I did? Oooo Noooooo!”

She hadn’t realized her mouth was moving.

Hopefully the judge didn’t notice as she was probably noting the mistaken words.   But the performance was being taped for her chorus teacher.

Leaving the room, I told Reagan, “I’ve never been more proud of you.” She replied “But, but, I said ‘shit'”    “Still, you were terrified but you got up there and did it anyway.  That took an amazing amout of courage.   I thought it was great.  No matter what score you get.”

Rea proffered her theory that “Maybe they thought I said ‘pit?’  ‘Spit?’ ‘Chit?'”

To test that out, on our way home we played a new fun game.   “Guess the swear word.”

TWD #11: French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze.

March 17, 2009

I curse the French Yogurt cake!   Not because it’s bad.  But because it’s good.  Toooo good.  I had yesterday off work and what did I do?  Rearrange cabinets?  No! Clean out closests?  No, no!  Go on a nice long walk with the dog?  No, no, no! 

I sat in my room and ate three pieces of cake while watching two episodes of “Big Love.”   I thought I was going to be sick.   Definitely a little mentally ill, because during that second episode I was starting to find the disturbing, creepy Alby a little hot.

Anyway, I was a baking fiend on Sunday, baking two versions of the French yogurt cake AND a peanut butter pie.  Oh, AND a…. nevermind  (more about that later.)

First I made the French yogurt cake in a loaf pan, but forgot the ground almonds in my food processor, noticing them as I slipped the cake into the oven.   I pulled it back out, dumped in 3-4 heaping spoonfuls of almonds and using a spatula, kind of mushed them into the batter.  

This oversight did not bode well for cake #1.  Thus, while it was baking, I started cake #2.  I don’t have another appropraitely sized loaf pan, so I used a nine inch circular pan.   This time I immediately mixed the ground almonds in with the flour!  I also subbed in almond extract for the vanilla.

Cake #1 I topped with raspberry preserves and filled with almond flavored whipped cream.   It’s the cake I overindulged in yesterday and was quite delicious.

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The edges of the cake kinda taste like those red twinkies with the coconut, only without the coconut.

Cake #2 I also glazed with raspberry preserves and topped with slivered almonds.  I sent that cake with my husband to work.  His co-workers hate me.    Oh, they like baked goods, but suits are expensive and I’m sure a few of them might have packed on some lb’s in recent months due to my “catch and release” method of baking.

Once I had the cakes out of the way, I had to make a pie.  A pi pie.   For my son’s math class for Monday. 

My son is  not a fruit lover so I decided to make a peanut butter pie, following a Paula Deen recipe that didn’t require cool whip.  What can I say?  I’m a Cool Whip snob.  Or should that be “Anti-Cool Whip snob?”

I made an oreo crust and decided to make it in my eight inch springform pan.  

I can hear the “dumb ass’s!”  “uh, oh’s” right through my computer screen! 

Yes, this was poor planning, as a peanut butter pie lacks the viscosity of, say, cheesecake or a Chocolate Armangac Cake.    

Of course, this didn’t strike me until I tried to remove the sides of the pan.   It seemed a big messy “splat!  smoosh! squash!” was imminent.    Reagan suggested that we freeze the pie.  Very good idea.  But would Tay be able to bring a frozen pie to school?   

I went and asked.  “No, mom, the pie has to be at room tempurature.  It can’t be frozen or refrigerated.”  (You’ll have to imagine the eye-rolling that accompanied this proclamation.)

Shit.   He tells me this AFTER  I made the pie and spent an hour making white chocolate pi symbols!

p3150026-small“TW” are my son’s initials.  I just wanted to make sure he got his five extra credit points!

Thus, into the oven went a frozen Sara Lee Dutch Apple pie.  Once it was cool, I did plop on a couple of my precious white chocolate pi symbols.

Plus, I had fun decorating my #2 cake with them, too:

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Thanks to the lemon-loving Liliana of “My Cookbook Addiction” for this great Dorie selection.  I love how versatile this cake is and can easily imagine making it again.