Monday, August 31, 2015

What I did on my vacation

As usual, finances & health issues conspired against me for my vacation this year. At least I got to spend 2 weeks away from the snake pit office!

I spent a lot of my time sleeping, reading, and binge watching Luther using my mother's OnDemand service. If you haven't seen Luther, you really should. It's a great British detective series, starring the devilishly sexy Idris Elba, and it is twisted and wonderful.

The last weekend, I decided to go up to Cincinnati. My parents chose to join me. Amazingly, it wasn't our usual road-trip disaster! First stop was IKEA. I've been wanting to go for years, and now I can cross that off my Bucket List. It wasn't all it was cracked up to be. The place is huge, and we walked our feet off. Well, Mom & I did. Dad opted for a wheelchair. (He's getting increasingly frail and it breaks my heart) The furniture is all neat looking, and I picked up a small end table kit for $8. Hey, it was all I could afford, and besides, we didn't have room in the car for a whole lot of stuff! We ate lunch in their cafeteria. THAT was good. Mom had their specialty- Swedish meatballs with potatoes and lingonberry sauce. Daddy had a plate of ribs that he'd devoured and sucked the bones clean before I could get a picture of them, and I had the salmon you see pictured below. It came with a delicious lemon-dill sauce, 2 spinach-potato cakes, and a piece of garlic bread. I also tried their chocolate cake, which was to die for! Mom was kind enough to let me include her lingonberry drink and the candy bar she bought in the picture of my lunch.

Besides the table, which I have yet to assemble & photograph, I picked up some things in the housewares section as you see. The cross stitched looking thing is a cushion cover. (need to buy a cushion to fill it) The striped package is a new shower curtain. Being a candle junkie, I couldn't resist the tea light lantern. Then there's cookies (raspberry & chocolate filled), a can of sparkling apple cider, and a tea infuser that Mom bought for me. And one ginormous shopping bag!

I had hoped to get to Keepsakes, the cross stitch shop, while we were up there, but it didn't happen, yet again. They close at 4. We left IKEA at 3:30. So we went to Jungle Jim's instead!

Daddy was thrilled- They have the motorized scooters for disabled shoppers, so he got to do his best Mario Andretti performance and took off. Mom stuck with me for a while before wandering off on her own, and I was left to shop in peace. Sort of. You know my thing about hating crowds? Kicked in big time. Every aisle I tried to browse suddenly filled up as soon as I got to it. I finally got to my Grail- the British food section!- only to find it half empty of product and completely filled with rabid assholes. The MAIN thing I wanted was dark chocolate covered Hobnobs, and they didn't have them. (Going to have to hit up some of my British penpals for those! Bexy owes me for the Oreos I sent her. *grin* )

Anyway, I picked up some odds & ends throughout the store, and we got checked out and made the drive home with very little trouble. The 3 best things I bought were an eclair from the bakery, 4 garlic dill pickles from the deli (HUGE!), and a can of Tiki Cat Ahi Tuna & Mackerel for Nightshade. The way she wolfed it down and licked her bowl clean tells me that I need to try to find that somewhere around here or online for her!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Happy Bacon Day!

Bacon. Bacon. BACON. Quite possibly the best meat on the planet. I love the stuff. How can you go wrong with a day of Bacon celebration?

For more info on this, go here.

And for a delicious and unusual treat, try THIS!

For those that REALLY love their bacon, there's this:

My new motto is

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm a little hungry for some reason...

Friday, August 28, 2015

Foodie Friday- New York Cheesecake Cookies

Found here, these are tasty and fairly easy to make!
Recipe adapted from Food Network

1 1/4 cups graham crackers, finely crushed
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, separated
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the Cookies :
1. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, flour, and baking powder.
2. In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with a mixer until creamy.
3. Beat in egg white. Add dry ingredients a little at a time, blending until just combined.
For the filling:
4. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and white sugar until creamy. Add egg yolk, lemon zest, and vanilla and beat until well combined.
5. Scoop two tablespoons of the graham cracker cookie dough into your hand and shape into a ball.
6. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Press your thumb into the center of each ball to flatten out and make a small well for the filling to go in. Spoon a dollop of the cream cheese filling into each thumb print.
7. Bake approximately 12-15 minutes or until cookies are golden brown and filling is just set. Let cool completely.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

I'm On Vacation!

This illustrates what I hope to be doing for a good bit of my time off. Blog posts will be even more erratic than usual, if anything is posted at all. Foodie Friday will resume on the 28th.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me! Oh, yeah, and it's Foodie Friday!

Those who know me know that I *despise* crowds, and consequently go to very few of the fairs and festivals around the way. The one thing I miss about going to them is the food. Ohhhh, the food. Especially funnel cakes! I don't need the mountain of toppings that I've seen people put on them- just give me mine straight out of the fryer and coated with powdered sugar! We had a movie theater that used to sell them (before I quit going to movies because of the crowd thing), but I hear that they no longer have them either.

Then I came across this little gem. *happydancing* I'm making myself a batch for a treat. Here's hoping I don't eat the whole batch at once!

Ridiculously Easy Funnel Cakes
Adapted from Serious Eats

Makes 6 to 8 6-inch (or so) cakes

The original recipe amounts (which I’m posting here) call for 2 quarts of oil and frying the cakes in a Dutch oven. I suppose the deeper the oil level and more room in the pot to work with, the better, but I used my beloved, heavy medium-sized saucepan that’s about 7 1/2 inches in diameter and poured in oil just to a depth of about 1 inch, which probably amounted to a couple of cups, and things worked out fine.

To make this project as easy and fun as it should be, have everything ready before you begin frying. I highly recommend a plastic squeeze bottle for getting the batter into the oil–that’s the fun part, making all those loops!–and a slotted spoon and a thin vented spatula like a fish spatula for flipping and transferring the cakes with ease. And please, please save yourself the headache and use a candy or deep fry thermometer so that you know you oil gets to and stays at the right temperature while you’re frying.

These are are best eaten hot, so have your funnel cake crowd ready and waiting for their cakes as they come out of the fryer!

2 quarts canola oil for frying (or less–see note)
1 1/2 cups “complete” buttermilk pancake mix
1/2 cup water (I needed a bit more to get my batter to the consistency of cake batter)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Line a large baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, such as a Dutch oven, heat about an inch of the oil to 375 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the pancake mix, water, sugar, and vanilla extract until very smooth–you’re looking for a batter about the consistency of cake batter, and it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon when you lift the whisk. Transfer the batter to a squeeze bottle with a 1/4-inch opening (or to be really traditional, pour the batter through a small funnel into the oil).

When the oil is up to temperature, holding the bottle about 5 to 6 inches above the surface of the oil, squeeze the batter into the pot, quickly working in a circular motion about 4 to 6 inches in diameter to form loops and swirls. Cook the cake for about 1 minute, or until an even golden brown on the bottom, before flipping it and cooking and additional 30 seconds on the other side. Remove the cake to the paper toweling to drain for a minute before dusting with confectioners’ sugar. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Happy International Left Hander's Day!

If you're a lefty and you know it, clap your hands! This site has some neat stuff on it, including links to buy left handed items!

Final thought for the day:

Monday, August 10, 2015

Recent Find on the Bookstore Clearance Table

Anyone who has been reading this blog knows that I love list making. Serious lists, goofy lists, grocery liusts; you name it. I tried my hand at a bucket list a few years ago and it got a bit overwhelming. Then I found this:

Seriously, how funny is this?!? I would never have paid full price for it, but the $3 I spent on the clearance rack was worth it! I haven't started filling it in yet, but have had a good time flipping through the pages and imagining what I'm going to write!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The New Kids At Work Aren't Getting Any Smarter

The following conversation took place a few days ago:

Conversation with me and Officer Dimwit

Me: What do you have?

OD: *deer in the headlights look*

M: *slowly* What. Do. You. Have?

OD: (clutching citation & duffle bag) Um, a bag?

M: (resisting urge to slap him) Is it evidence or personal property?

OD: Ummmmm

M: You have to pick one.

OD: *hesitantly* Well, they wouldn’t take it at the jail…

M: So, it’s personal property then?

OD: Ummm, no it’s for safekeeping.

M: *barely resisting the urge to facepalm in front of him* Yes, that’s what personal property means.

OD: *blank look*

M: Does it contain any food, money, or medication?

OD: *blank look*

M: *repeats question*

OD: Ummm, no there’s no food or money.

M: What about medication?

OD: *Another blank look*

M: *wearily* Dude, work with me. Is there any medication in the bag?

OD: *suddenly brightly*
Oh, you mean drugs?!?

M: *weeping silently inside my head* Yes. Got any?!?

OD: Um, gee, I don’t think so…

We repeated this process when I asked about electronics like cell phones or e-readers. It took 20 minutes just to get that much out of him. Then I had to all but beg for the citation. He had a death grip on the bag and the paperwork and it was like he wasn’t actually going to give me either of them.

Where are they getting these people?!?

Friday, August 7, 2015

Foodie Friday- Bacon, Beef and Mushroom Ragu with Macaroni

This is another Rachael Ray dinner. I kind of hate watching her shows, as I've mentioned before, but I do like a lot of her dishes.


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1/4 pound lean bacon or pancetta, chopped
1/4 pound crimini mushrooms, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, minced
2-3 large clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups veal stock or beef stock
1 pound long, Italian-style ridged macaroni (called maccheroni rigati or ziti rigate)
2 tablespoons butter
Freshly grated Grana Padano cheese


Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

In a deep skillet or large saucepan, heat the EVOO over medium-high. Add the bacon and cook until the fat melts, 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, thyme and bay leaf. Cook until the mushrooms brown, 3-4 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up into small pieces with a spoon, until browned, 4-5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper.

Partially cover the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, 5-6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the stock, then reduce the heat to low and let the ragu simmer while the pasta cooks.

Salt the water and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water. Add the pasta and the cooking water back to the hot pot. Toss with half the ragu and the butter; season. Serve the pasta in shallow bowls topped with the remaining sauce and cheese.

You can use just about any pasta you want with this. I tend to use farfalle/butterfly or shells because I just like them. Parmesan & Asiago cheeses also work well for this.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

There's No Such Thing As Bad Bacon...

...but CHEAP bacon is a pain in the ass to work with. I bought some the other day because it looked good in the package- you know, that test strip they show you on the back?- and it fit into the limited budget I have to work with until payday. Went to make some for dinner tonight and spent 20 minutes cursing and trying to separate strips, before giving up in disgust. I threw the whole mess onto a roasting pan in the oven. Good thing too- by the time the fat was rendered, there was just enough bacon to make 2 decent sized sandwiches. Out of an ENTIRE 12 oz package. At least it tasted good!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Local Flavor Swap Show-Off

So, my partner for the Local Flavor Swap was Lennette from Florida. I received her box yesterday and it has some really cool stuff as you can see in the picture here:

I love it all, but the magnets may be my favorite thing! I don't remember if I told her about my magnet obsession, but I do love them. I should post a picture of my fridge one of these days so you can all see my ridiculous collection. I'm looking forward to trying that honey too. The chocolate bar melted in transit- darn summer heat!- but I'm sure it will still taste good. I also know just who to send that beautiful card to.

Anyway, many thanks to the lovely ladies at the Chaotic Goddess blog swaps for letting me play, and Lennette for being a great swap partner!