Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Newt Gingrich Wins South Carolina Primary - "True" History Tuesday

Newt Gingrich winning the South Carolina Primary seems like something “True” History Tuesday would report, but alas…





Monday, January 30, 2012

Bartending Rolodex Discovery and Easy At Home Science Activity

Last night, I unexpectedly found my old bartending rolodex.  It was like finding a treasure map.  I was giddy and I usually don’t do giddy.  When I graduated  college a really really long time ago, I taught high school for a few years and realized I needed an additional  part-time job to be able to pay my bills and continue working on my master’s degree.  I decided bartending would work best with my schedule.  I went to bartending school…which was basically two weeks of bullshit.  I did get to make my rolodex though.  This consisted of writing out drink recipes in alphabetical order.  The school placed me in a couple of bars.  One was so completely disgusting and scary that it is a wonder a made it out alive.  In addition to making drinks, I had to answer the phone for the hookers in the bar.  A bar partron came up to me and said, “if you’d wear tighter jeans, you’d get bigger tips.”  My response was, “if you’d brush that one tooth, I bet you’d get more dates.”  I only worked there one night.  Anyway, I went on to get a good job at a hotel bar.  The money was good.  So good, in fact, I quit my job to bartend full-time.  It was a really fun and interesting two years, but ultimately I got back to working with kids.  Kids or drunks…that’s how I roll.  I’m moving the rolodex to the kitchen and will start making some of the drinks. 

Think I’ll start with this one:

Love Juice

1 oz Vodka
1 oz Chambord
Fill with cranberry juice

Pour over ice, stir and serve.

And now, Monday's At Home Science Activity!

The Monster Marshmallow

What You Need?
Paper plates
A Microwave

What You Do?
Put a marshmallow on a plate.  Place in microwave.  Heat for a minute.  Watch it grow!

What is Going On?
Marshmallows are mostly sugar and water wrapped around a bunch of air bubbles. When you cook marshmallows in your microwave oven, several things happen at once. The microwave makes the water molecules vibrate very quickly—which makes the water heat up. The hot water warms the sugar, which softens a little. The hot water also warms the air bubbles.

When you warm air in a closed container, the gas molecules move around faster and push harder against the walls of the container. As the air in the bubbles warms up, the air molecules bounce around faster and faster and push harder against the bubble walls. Since the sugar walls are warm and soft, the bubbles expand, and the marshmallow puffs up. If it puffs up too much, some air bubbles burst, and the marshmallow deflates like a popped balloon.

When you take the marshmallow out of the microwave and it cools off, the bubbles shrink and the sugar hardens again. When the microwave marshmallow cools, it’s dry and crunchy. We think that’s because some of the water in the marshmallow evaporates when the marshmallow is hot.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Beer Brownies


If you can’t tell from reading this blog…I love food.  I love cooking food.  I love eating food.  The thing about cooking is I rarely measure anything.  Not measuring and tasting as you go is part of the fun when cooking.  Baking, however, is a different story.  Baking is about precision.  Measuring is essential.  I love baking, too.  It soothes my OCD and supplies me with the joy of counting without looking like a light switch off and on, counting out load, run of the mill fruit loop. Baking camouflages the crazy.  Plus you end up with tasty treats.  In addition to loving baking, I love beer, too.  Putting these two things together is like a climax in the kitchen, without the awkward bruises and backache. 

Beer Brownies
3 ½ oz dark chocolate
2 Tbs instant espresso
8 Tbs butter
4 eggs, at room temp
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar, loose, not packed
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 cup flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup malty beer (stout or porter will work, too)
1 cup semi sweet chips
1 cup walnuts, halved and toasted lightly

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and pop in walnuts until just toasted, about 5 minutes.  Sift together the flour, spices, and cocoa powder.  Meanwhile, melt the chocolate, instant espresso and butter in a bowl over boiling water, add the beer and stir to combine, then let cool.  Beat together the eggs and sugar until thick and shiny.  Sing Michael Jackson’s Beat It while performing this task.  Continue beating on low while adding flour mixture and wet ingredients alternatively.  Finish with the vanilla.  Do not over mix.  Fold in the chips.  Pour into a buttered and floured 9 x 13 pan and sprinkle the walnuts on top.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Parasites and a Sheep Herding Bunny

I’m really full after eating an illegal amount of my homemade donuts.  Plus, we are going to see The Descendants movie in a few minutes.  We are on a movie going spree to use up all our movie Groupons before they expire.  So, today I’ll leave you with this video of a bunny herding sheep like a boss.  The music will infect your brain like one of those brain parasites you see on Monsters Inside Me.  Each time I watch that show, I am convinced I have at least three parasites.  Just typing this makes me think I need to get checked immediately.  I will think about my parasites devouring my internal organs through the entire movie today.  Thanks a lot.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Rain Imprisoned Children and Pinterest Donuts

You know what I’m excited about?  Being trapped in a gym with 35 kids!  While I’m really happy that we’ve had four unseasonably warm days in a row to play on the playground, the rain is getting on my nerves.  I’m happy for my plants and garden that we’ve had so much rain this winter, but I’d really appreciate it if the rain would only be at night and it completely clear up and be beautiful and warm by 2:00pm every day before I go to work.  Kthanks.  I do have some wooden kits for the kids to build and paint today (anticipating lots of drama, frustration, paint ending up in my hair and screams of “I can’t do this!”) which should keep them busy, but the playground will be sorely missed.

You know what else I’m excited about?  Shaping biscuits into donuts and frying them in my Cool Daddy.  As I mentioned, I intend to see what all I can fry in there.  I found this, so very not good for you recipe, on Pinterest.  I love Pinterest.  In fact, saying I love Pinterest makes me want to go pin something about love right now.  Pinned.  I digress, I will make these donuts on Saturday.  I might, like when I was a kid, watch some Saturday cartoons, too.  Or I might just watch my usual Flip This House on A&E and pretend the show is actually a cartoon.  I’m leaving that plan to chance, but the donuts are happening. Here’s the recipe.  Try the donuts. 

Canned Biscuit Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

Canned Biscuits (NOT the flakey layer kind)
4 Tbs melted butter per 8 biscuts
Vegetable Oil

Melt butter and place in a shallow bowl.  Combine sugar and cinnamon and place in another shallow bowl.  Heat up vegetable oil (around 350 degrees).  While oil is heating up, cut holes in the donuts with some circular object (I will use an empty 35mm film can).  Place donuts in oil. When one side is golden brown, flip with tongs.  When that side is golden, remove from oil and place on a paper towel lined pan or plate.  When the donuts have cooled enough to handle…using your fingers, dip one side in the melted butter, let the excess drip off, dip in cinnamon and sugar mixture.  Get it nice and coated.  Flip over and repeat the other side.  Serve with coffee and remote control.  Prepare for mid-morning nap after eating donuts.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Blackberry Martini and Strawberry Cream Cheese Cupcakes – WTF and WOW Recipe Wednesday

Today seems like a good day for some good old-fashioned black and white WTFs.  Glad to know older generations did things that make you think, “HUH?!”





You know what is good? Vodka. That’s what is good. You know what else is good? Blackberries and strawberries. Today is about a collision of these good things. Mix up this martini while you make these cupcakes. Trust me…you won’t be sorry!
Blackberry Martini

4 lemon quarters, cut in the middle of the flesh, down to but not through the rind
Superfine sugar (sugar in a food processor or blender for 1 minute)
1 cup of vodka
1 ounce triple sec
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 ounce simple syrup (equal amounts water and sugar- heat in saucepan until sugar dissolves, cool and store in jar for drink mixing)
1 ounce blackberry puree (use food processor or press berries in a bowl with spoon, strain to remove seeds)

Prepare martini glasses by rubbing the cut lemon around rims.  Sprinkle the sugar in a small plate and coat the rims.  Chill the glasses until serving time.  Fill a martini shaker with ice and add the vodka, triple sec, lemon juice, simple syrup and blackberry puree.  Shake robustly for 10 seconds and strain into glasses.  Serve immediately.  Duh.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Cupcakes

1 ½ cup self-rising flour
½ tsp baking powder
5 tablespoons cream cheese
7 oz strawberries
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 ½ oz butter
2/3 cup sugar
½ tsp salt
2 large eggs

Combine the self-rising flour with the baking powder and salt.  Add 1 tsp salt when using unsalted butter.  Cut or twist the crown off the strawberries and blend them.  It should make for a little over ½ a cup.  Cream the butter and sugar.  Add the cream cheese, vanilla extract, and beat for a few more minutes until you end up with a smooth creamy mix.

Separate two room temp eggs – I prefer using my hands this – and add the yolks to the cream cheese mix.  Beat until they’re fully submerged.  Alternately add the flour and pureed strawberries, make sure you begin and end with flour.  Add a pinch of salt to the eggwhites and beat them until you can draw peaks.  Carefully, fold the eggs whites into the batter.  Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners and fill them 2/3 of the way with batter.  Bake them in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.  Until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.  Top with any kind of frosting you like.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Popcorn and Beer - "True" History Tuesday

Last week, ironically on National Popcorn Day, National Geographic reported that “Coastal peoples were preparing corn-based foods up to 6,700 years ago, according to analysis of ancient corncobs, husks, tassels, and stalks recently unearthed at the Paredones and Huaca Prieta archaeological sites on Peru’s northern coast.”  mmm tasty. see picture à 

What they didn’t report, ironically what “True” History Tuesday is reporting on National Beer Can Day, is that the peoples of Paredones and Huaca Prieta were also drinking canned beer with their popcorn.  Residents of Peru’s northern coast 6,700 years ago communicated by tongue clicks, snaps, simulated fart sounds and paddle ball pops.  They were really into popping and psshhtttttt sounds.  Imagine their joy when corn kernels accidently came into contact with fire?  Or their surprise at accidently finding bauxite in the earth’s crust, refining it to form aluminum and then making aluminum sheets, feeding the sheets through a press to make shallow cups, putting the cups in an iron press to shape the cup to a full-length can that can withstand internal pressure, and adding a top with an easy-open tab making it possible to open the canned drink by pulling the tab and getting the desired psshhttttt sound! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tornadoes and an Easy-to-Make Periscope

We had yet another round of tornado devastation last night.  Such sad news.  The dogs and I were up for several hours hunkering down.  It you’ve ever tried to hunker down with four dogs, you know, it is not easy.  One of them, Harpo (of course), thought barking at the walls would help.  Anyway, we got through it with no damage.  More bad weather is expected mid-week.  Great.  Today, however, is beautiful.  The temperature is 70 degrees.  This makes me think that it is time to clean up the garden and get ready for some pre-spring planting.  I haven’t decided what crops, but I’ll keep you posted.  I am also attempting to design a sort of greenhouse to keep the critters away.  I will keep you posted on that project, too.

I found this periscope design the other day.  I mostly like it so much because of the kid’s shirt in the picture.  This is one I am definitely trying out with my after school kids.  See what you think.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fried Green Beans and Blackberry Crush Cocktail

I fired up my Cool Daddy Fryer again last night. I made fried green beans.  I really think I might, for fun, just start seeing what all can actually be fried.  I realize I’m not the first nor will I be the last person to try this, but you just never know what you may discover.  Plus, throwing things in super hot grease is just good clean, safe fun…especially while you’re mixing cocktails!  I gotta say, the green beans were delicious.  Here’s the recipe plus I included a tasty cocktail to mix up for your frying fun.

Fried Green Beans

1 pound of fresh green beans (ends snapped off – btw snapping green beans always reminds me of the scene in Driving Miss Daisy where Idella (Esther Rolle a.k.a. Florida Evans) falls over dead while watching her stories)
Seafood Breader (I used house Autry)
One large egg
1 Tbs milk
Salt and Pepper

In a bowl mix egg, milk and salt and pepper.  In another bowl pour seafood breader.  Dip green beans in egg mixture and then mix in breader.  Then place green beans back in egg mixture and mix in breader again.  Double breading is very important.  Heat oil to 375 degrees and then cook green beans for 3 to 5 minutes.  Using ranch as dipping sauce.

Blackberry Crush

4 blackberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon simple syrup (equal mix of sugar and water)
1 ¼ ounces vodka
Mint sprig

In a glass, combine blackberries, lemon juice and simple syrup; lightly crush berries to release their juice.  Add ice and vodka and top with seltzer.  Stir to combine.  Garnish with a mint sprig.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lying to My Mom About Margaret Thatcher

My mom called me last weekend to let me know she had seen the Iron Lady with Meryl Streep. She said, “I like muh muh merrrral strip…oh, I can never say her name!”  When my phone rang, I answered and said, “Hey, Mom, how are you?” She said, “How old was Margaret when she died?”  I said, “Huh?”  Then she went on to tell me she had seen the movie.  I finally said, “Mom, Margaret Thatcher isn’t dead.”  She said, “Yes, she is.  She died three months ago.”  I said, “No.”  She said, “Yes.”  I finally looked on the internet and said, “She’s still alive.”  We went round and round and round.  My mom did not buy that she was alive and kept stating she just wanted to know how old Margaret was when she died.  I finally caved and said 86.  Yes…I lied to my mother.  I figured she’d forget about it.  I figured this because sometimes she does not get the obvious…like say the premise of the Iron Lady.  Here is an example:

Iron Lady is told through Margaret Thatcher’s dementia flashbacks.  She hallucinates that her husband is there…when in reality, he has been dead for years.  I said to my mom, “Isn’t that sad that she thinks her husband is there when he is actually dead.”  Mom said, “He’s dead?  I didn’t know that.  Are you sure?”  I said, “Yes Mom, I’m sure.”  Our conversation continued, but I’m sure she didn’t believe me about the husband. See what I mean?

At any rate, I got another call.  Mom’s friend, Gloria, wanted to know how I had so “quickly” got the information about Margaret’s death age.  BTW – my mom and Gloria are on a first name bases with Lady Thatcher.  I said, “Google.”  My brain, however, was thinking I’m busted.  When I said Google my mom repeated snoogle.  “No, Mom, GOOGLE G.O.O.G.L.E.  My mom never says internet and has no idea what internet means.  She always says computer.  She said, “Do you just type that in the computer?  What is snoogle google?  I looked up Margaret in the World Books and I can’t find anything.”  Please keep in mind; the World Books she is referring to were new in 1972.  I said, “Google is a place to search for information.”  Mom says, “Can Gloria get there or does she need a card like the library?”  I then explained how she needed to type the information in because I assume Gloria knows where to find the internet on her computer.  Explaining www. Google.com and having to repeat everything 10 times until mom has it written down was…exhausting.  Any day now, I suspect, my cover will be blown. Gloria will uncover my mother appeasing lie.  I’ll live in fear until that day…which was today.  The phone rang.  I saw it was my mom and nearly jumped out of my skin.  It was time for me to pay the price.  I answered and mom said, “Did you hear about Paula?”  Mom has a friend name Paula so I said, “What’s wrong with Paula?”  She said, “the diabetes.”  It was then that I knew she meant Paula Deen.  Mom went on to explain to me that, “You don’t have to always eat sweets it just has something to do with your pancreas.  I don’t really know the story.  But I do know she’ll have to prick her finger.”  The conversation continued with no mention of the very much alive Margaret.  Hopefully, I dodged a bullet.