Archive | October, 2010

photo friday: home edition

29 Oct

Even though those rat bastards stole the store and demolished the name, they at least kept the clock.

Thank God for little favors.

I love you, Marshall Field’s. I miss you still.

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no photos for you: potato leek soup

27 Oct

I was a little bummed when I started this post, because I realized that I had no photos to show you the step-by-step process, or the finished product. But then I had a talk with myself and said, “Self, nobody wants to see photos of potato-leek soup anyway. It’s the blandest, pastiest most blah-looking soup on the face of the planet. It is even whiter than you. And that is really saying something.”

And I was all, “Yes, but Self, it tasted so good!”

And then I was all, “But Self, seriously. Get a grip. Those photos would have been fugly.”

And so I was all, “Fine.”

And then I was all, “You know, I can just show everyone a semi-artsy picture of a pumpkin instead, because it’s almost Halloween.”

And I responded, “Good idea.”

So here’s a semi-artsy picture of a pumpkin, taken last weekend at a pumpkin “farm” just north of Baltimore, in honor of the upcoming Halloween holiday.

And here’s the recipe for potato-leek soup, which I made as part of my cookbook club this month, because Yours! Truly! got to pick the recipes, and then promptly only made ONE of them.

But lo! How it was a good one to make. This soup is stupidly easy, and it might seem a little odd at first, but trust me, follow the directions and you won’t be disappointed. And even better, it’s one of those soups that gets better when it’s been in the fridge for a day or so. Like chili.

Mmmm…chili.

Sorry.

Soup!

The recipe. Here you go:

Potato-Leek Soup from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker

4 medium-size leeks (white part only), washed well and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)

4 medium-size to large russet potatoes, peeled and diced

4 to 6 cups of water or vegetable or chicken broth

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

French bread for serving

  1. Put leeks and potatoes in the slow cooker. Add enough water or broth to just cover them. Cover and cook on low until the potatoes are tender, 5 to 7 hours.
  2. Puree the soup with a handheld immersion blender or transfer to a food processor or blender and puree in batches. Add the salt and the butter, swirling until it is melted. Ladle the hot soup into bowls and serve immediately with French bread.

Variation: Pea and Watercress Potato-Leek Soup

Follow the recipe as directed. One hour before the soup is done, add the leaves and tender stems of 1 bunch of watercress and one 12-ounce package of frozen petite peas, thawed, to the crockpot and cover. When done, puree the soup and serve immediately; it will become dull as it sits. We never strain this, we love the bits of green vegetables.

I didn’t make the chicken and rice casserole, though I’m sorry to say that my friend Anastasia did, and it didn’t go over swimmingly. So chances that I will make it? Slim to none.

I wonder what’s cookin’ next month?

happy to you

25 Oct

It’s a day late, because, well, I recently decided that posting only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays was a really good idea, but unfortunately for me not everyone’s birthdays fall within those confines.

So sometimes things are just going to be belated.

Like this birthday wish to Sister #1.

Happy birthday to you!

I can’t believe you’re 80!

(She’s not 80.)

(When my grandma turned 80 years and years ago, my mom and her brothers threw Grandma a surprise party. One of my mom’s cousins—one we’d never met before, and one that my mom hadn’t seen in years—went up to the podium to give a toast, and tearily choked out, “Florentine, I can’t believe you’re 80!” My sisters and cousins and I looked at each other in bewilderment, and my mom just sort of rolled her eyes and said, “Oh, he’s always been a bit swishy.”)

(So now, of course, my sisters and I like to call each other and yell into the phone, “I can’t believe you’re 80!”)

(As you do.)

(What? Is this going to be a whole post in parentheses?)

(MAYBE.)

Anyway.

Happy birthday, Sister #1. If you were here, I’d give you pumpkin baked goods and some Jameson and say, “Happy Birthday, I love you very much. I can’t believe you’re 80!”

 

(Which, actually, I did yesterday, on your actual birthday.)

(The yelling “I can’t believe you’re 80!” part. Not the baked goods or Jameson. Those don’t translate well through the phone.)

 

 

 

photo friday: part two: get your (p)orange on

22 Oct

So I’d set up some blogs for this week, and of course after I had it all good and ready, Calliope was all, “Photo Friday theme, bitches!*” and I was all, ‘WOO!” I debated pulling my original Photo Friday post, but then decided, can you have too many photo posts on a Friday?

The answer to that is no.

Calli gave the them of “orange” because she is all about the tree porn bliss. (Her words, not mine.) (Though I wish they were mine.) So I give you some (p)orange (which is orange porn, which is TOTALLY my word, but you can feel free to use it in conversation as you see fit.) (You’re welcome.) to fulfill said stated theme.

I took this photo before the Chicago marathon a couple weeks ago. We’d gotten downtown before the sun was even fully awake, and after I left the boys to head to the start corral for their marathon adventure, I did some hot laps for awhile because guess what? I wasn’t fully awake either.

As the sun peeked an eye or two out on the city, it was looking right at this big red building and the trees, creating a lovely calm that was totally disconnected from the chaos below it, where 45,000 runners were lining up to hit the streets of Chicago.

Check out what other Photo Fridayers have to say about orange over at Calliope’s blog.

*Okay, she didn’t really put it quite like that.

photo friday: part one: whatever makes your skirt fly up

22 Oct

As I’ve mentioned, I love going to football games. I’ve harbored this love for as long as I can remember, and in college, the love intensified.

Partially because of the Irish Guard.

Oh, how I love thee, Irish Guard. And how I lusted after thee while I was a college student. You were strapping young men, and most importantly, you were tall! I’ve always loved strapping, tall men!

Plus, there was a rumor that you really didn’t wear chonies under those kilts. SCANDALOUS! And I remember junior year of college, when our seats were in the fourth row, prime spots in front of the cheerleaders (because we liked to cheer along with them and mimic their cheering moves) and prime spots for watching the Guard do their signature spins, their kilts flying up for all to see that yes. That rumor?

No rumor.

It’s all true.

And to this day, when caught in mid-spin, we can see that some traditions never die.

csb cake october: pumpkin chocolate chip poundcake

20 Oct

I totally fell off the baking loop the last half of the most recent season of the Cake Slice Bakers.

I’m sorry.

I don’t know what got into me, really. It wasn’t just the CSB, there was a dearth of baking all around. Trust me, I know. I was the one doing the non-baking. I was the one who had to listen to The Swede lament the fact that there was a lot of non-baking going on.

But I’m happy to tell you that the next season of CSB is premiering…right now.

We’ve got a new book, new recipes, and I’ve got a new attitude toward the oven. Particularly because it’s fall an—with the exception of a few days recently—not ungodly hot out. Plus, this recipe involved pumpkin, and let’s face it, pumpkin = fall. Don’t try and disagree with me. It won’t work. I’m right on this one. I know it.


And what better way to get back on the CSB lineup than with a cake that DOES NOT REQUIRE FROSTING? I know it’s been awhile, but need I remind you about my frosting issues?

I know!

I peed in my chonies a little in excitement over no frosting, too!

Now, I’m not saying it’s imperative, but to kick of this season of baking, I’m just saying you might want to seriously consider matching your Kitchenaid mixer to whatever it is you’re baking. Ergo, I used an orange one for this pumpkin chocolate chip poundcake recipe, and I think that little touch really added something to the final product.

Or, you know, The Swede just happens to have a Texas-orange mixer that I like to use any chance I get.


Whatever.

I’d give you a step-by-step overview of how I made this poundcake, but let me tell you something: A) You’re all smart people, and you can read for yourselves the instructions at the end of this post. 2) It’s not that freaking hard. To be honest, I’m pretty sure that if you took all the ingredients and dumped them in at the same time and mixed it all around then dumped it in a pan and threw it in the oven it would come out just the same.


I say this because I actually made this poundcake twice, and the second time I pretty much went the “Toss it all in willy-nilly!” route and it was quite tasty.

Though I did forget to add the milk.

And I pulled it out of the oven before it was finished baking because I thought it had finished baking and the top was starting to get a little too crispy for my liking and the knife came out pretty clean. Using my powers of deduction, this would make for a done cake.

Am the poundcake whisperer!

Except that when I sliced into half the goddamned cake oozed out the middle.

So I yelled ‘fuck’ a lot then quickly scooped up the two halves and arranged them back in the loaf pan and shoved the lot back in the oven.

And when I pulled the cake out again it was baked through. THANKFULLY. It was not what you would call sliceable, but neither I nor The Swede have ever had any problem eating poundcake in chunk and glob form.

And it tasted just as good as the much-neater first version.

Though now that I think about it, that one got a little too brown on top for my liking as well.


And it didn’t slice up very easily, either.

But that may have had something to do with the fact that neither The Swede nor I waited until the poundcake was what one might call “completely cooled.”

I mean, we weren’t scalding our tongues on hot, melted chocolate chips or anything, but the loaf was definitely still warm.

Are you supposed to eat poundcake any other way? When it’s not warm? Is that wrong?

If I’m wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Because it was delicious.


Here’s the recipe, which I highly recommend trying.

*Note: I left out the walnuts on both loaves, because, well, I don’t really like walnuts. And if I don’t want to add nuts to my cake, then I’m not going to, dammit! Ha haaaaa! I said nuts!


October’s Cake: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pound Cake
(Recipe from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman)
Ingredients
1¾ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cloves
Pinch nutmeg
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1¼ cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Method
Heat the oven to 350F. Coat the inside of a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and dust with flour.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves and nutmeg in a medium mixing bowl.
Combine the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary.
With the mixer on medium low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the pumpkin puree and vanilla. Stir in the milk.
Turn the mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture, ½ cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake the cake until it is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, 55 minutes to 1 hour. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, invert it onto a wire rack and then turn it right side up on a rack to cool completely.
Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic for up to 1 week.

 

*See how other CSBers fared by checking out their blogs!

 

not exactly the motivation you were looking for

18 Oct

The Swede participated in the Chicago marathon a couple weeks ago, and being the loving main squeeze that I am, I headed into the city at the ass-crack of dawn to support him. As he and his buddy took off on the race course, I wandered around the streets of Sweet Home taking pictures and generally lolling about. I headed over to what was about the 1.6 mile mark on the race course to see if I could catch a glimpse of the boys as they ran, but alas. There were crowds and more crowds and cheering and yelling, and all in all, large amounts of excitement, both from the runners (it was still early in the race) and the watchers on the sidelines.

Except for these people, who were standing kitty-corner from where I was.

Somehow I don’t think that’s really what the marathoners needed to see before they’ve even hit mile 2.