Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Brotherhood of Fame & Polanski

Lately, I've been too tired & busy to post about politics, media, celebrity or even Palin. But I have been reading about all of those things on various web sites.  Tonight, I read a number of op-ed pieces regarding the Polanski extradition.  I haven't been able to make sense of the arguments by his supporters to let him off the hook. Yesterday Michael Seitzman posted an article in response to an article defending Polanski.  It was a good response, but I think that the articles by Judge H. Less Sarokin and Eve Ensler better articulate the reasons for extraditing Polanski. 

Like Keli Goff, I generally ignored claims that Hollywood is run by the liberal elite in part because I didn't understand these claims and in part because I don't care who runs Hollywood. I care about who runs Lansing and who run D.C.  Actors, directors, producers can all support who they want, make crazy statements all they want.  For the most part, they live in a bubble and I don't take what they have to say too seriously.  Some of them remember what it is like out here for the rest of us outside of their bubble and are able to articulate coherent, logical opinions.  Sometimes, even logical, coherent opinions that I disagree with. 

But now, we have these "Hollywood Elites" running around saying, well, it was a long time ago and it wasn't that bad.  It is as if they have forgotten they are talking about the drugging and rape of a 13 year old girl. Keli is right, this is why people don't like the "Hollywood Elite".  Frankly, this Polanski business isn't about liberals. It is a group of people who think that the law doesn't apply to them.  They don't have to follow the usual rules.  This belief is not limited to liberals.  Roman Polanski may have had a crappy hand dealt to him.  Lots of people have and most of them don't drug and rape 13 year old girls in response. Eve Ensler says is better than I just did when she says:
No one is arguing the genius of Roman Polanski, or even the pain and tragedy of his difficult life. But in the end, that has nothing to do with the crime he committed. Being an artist does not make any of us exempt from the laws of humanity -- in fact, it actually makes us more responsible to them.
Quoting Keli Goff's article:
Hollywood hypocrisy is one thing when it takes the form of a celebrity touting their environmental consciousness while globetrotting in a fuel-guzzling private jet (ahem, Madonna.) But when people like Mr. Weinstein, who supports a plethora of liberal candidates, and was the producing arm behind Michael Moore's iconic, cinematic Bush takedown "Fahrenheit 9/11," seem content to paint the former president as harmful to Americans but Roman Polanski as merely misunderstood, they are proving Sarah Palin and every other anti-Hollywood conservative's point for them.

So read the articles I link to, they are better written than this rant.  I probably could have just said, folks, remove heads from asses, Polanski pled guilty to "engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor" - he drugged and raped a 13 year old child. It is time for him to face the consequences.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Joy of Waffles!

One of my fabulous Christmas presents was The Joy of Cooking! So this morning I made Belgian Waffles (page 647). I was worried they wouldn't turn out right because it didn't rise much at all during the hour and 15 minutes I let it rest. I think next time I will make it the night before and let it rise in the fridge.  They turned out quite delicious!  We topped the waffles with strawberries and real whip cream!  What a great way to start the day!

The Daring Baker December Challenge - COMPLETED!!!

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

Another requirement was that the house had to be edible. I don't know who in our house came up with the idea of making it for all the birds Mom feeds in the front yard, but that is what we decided to do early on. I didn't feel any pressure to make it pretty because it was for the birds. I am happy with how it came out. It isn't beautiful, but I know the birds will love it! I can't wait to check out all of the other gingerbread houses!  I used a stencil I made based on one I found online.  I used the recipe from Good Housekeeping.  The instructions said to roll the dough out to about 3/8 of an inch thick.  It suggested you use wooden dowels to ensure uniform thickness and the right thickness.  I was going to go to the store to buy the dowels when my Mom suggested I use hangers.  She measured them and sure enough, 3/8".  The hangers really helped keep the dough even and the right thickness.  I'm sure my house would have never stayed together if we hadn't used a guide. We had left over dough and used it to make gingerbread treats! They were quite tasty!

Final assembly did turn out to be a bit trickier for us because I did not check or trim my pieces when they came out of the oven.  Then after melting the sugar,  I burned my finger when I dropped the brush with the hot, hot sugar on it.  (It even blistered! :( ) Mom helped out by finishing up the assembly - okay, I didn't have any of it together when I managed to burn myself!  In the end, it was all worth it. 

UPDATE: Today (12/28) I saw two birds on the house, but couldn't get to the camera in time!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Merry Christmas!


We have been having such a fun and busy December that I haven't been blogging!  What have we been so busy doing? 

We attended the Michigan State University vs. Notre Dame Hockey game. It was Kate's first hockey game and as you can see we right at the glass! It was great! More than one player was slammed up against the glass in front of us! We had a great row of older women behind us. They seem to follow MSU hockey on a regular basis as they knew quite a bit about our team. Sadly, we did not win.


We also attended Irving Berlin's White Christmas at the Wharton Center here on campus. My pictures of that are at home. It was a great show and Kate had a great time!

I attempted to make cream biscuits as featured on the Smitten Kitchen, but they did not rise and cooked too fast. I will have to finish this post tonight at home. Time to get back to work.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

It has been a while. . .

I am trying to get back on the 101 Goals bandwagon this month. Tonight, we are rearranging some of the furniture to help us get the house more organized. It is a very, very busy night here tonight. Earlier we went to the City Christmas parade. Kate's Girl Scout troop was in the parade. After the parade, there was a tree lighting event down by the water.

I missed last month's Daring Bakers' Challenge. I am really looking forward to this months!

On an unrelated note, I am considering applying for a vacancy on our school board. The member who resigned was just elected mayor. Like most districts in Michigan, ours is facing a financial crisis.

In the next week, I need to find a cherry cake recipe to make a cherry cake with cream cheese frosting for the birthday of one of my closest friends. So if any of you have any recipes, you would like to share, I would really appreciate it!

I guess this post is just going to go up without photos because the computer I keep the photos on is down as part of the rearranging project. My title block is also just going to have to stay not quite right for the night too.

Tomorrow night, I am going to try to make some cream biscuits as found at the Smitten Kitchen. I will try to catch you up on photos and let you know how the biscuits go! We are having turkey chili to go with our biscuits. Biscuits get top billing around here!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cheesy Penne Bake

I am finally mostly recovered from the bug that hit me last week.  I haven't been cooking, taking pictures, or blogging.  Today is the first day since probably Monday that I didn't have a nap.

I found a new addiction - My Kitchen Addiction. Tonight, we had her Cheesy Penne Bake.  It was really quite good - even Kathryn said she liked it! When a My Kitchen Addiction recipe calls for a large baking dish, she means it.  I ended up using another 8 ounces of colby jack.  Next time, I will double the mozzerella if not triple it since I also won't be using the ricotta.  We aren't really fans of ricotta cheese around here.

Cheesy Penne Bake (Printer Friendly Version)
+ 14.5 ounce box of multi-grain penne
+ 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
+ 1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
+ 1 yellow onion, diced
+ 2 cloves garlic, minced
+ 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
+ 14 ounce can tomato sauce
+ 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
+ 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
+ Kosher salt
+ 8 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
+ 8 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
+ 2 ounces parmigiano-reggiano cheese, grated

    Prepare the pasta according to the package directions.  Drain and set aside.  Preheat the oven to 375°F.
    Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the sausage and brown in the oil.  Once the sausage is cooked, add the onion and garlic.  Saute with the browned sausage until the onion is soft (about 4-5 minutes).  Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce to the pan.  Season with the basil, thyme, and some salt (to taste).  Stir to combine all of the ingredients, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

    Prepare a large baking dish with cooking spray. Coat the bottom of the dish with one cup of the meat sauce.  Add one third of the pasta and top with one third of the remaining sauce.  Spoon half of the ricotta cheese over the pasta and sauce.  Sprinkle with one third of the mozzarella and parmigiano-reggiano cheese.  Repeat the layers of pasta, sauce, and cheeses. Top the cheese layer with the remaining pasta and sauce.  Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and parmigiano-reggiano cheese on the top of the pasta and sauce.

    Bake the casserole for 30 minutes until all of the cheese is bubbly and has melted. The top should be golden.

    Monday, November 9, 2009

    The Worst Biscuits

    The Worst Biscuits Ever

    Chili & Biscuits

    So this is an old post I started last week. Last week, as you remember we had Kim's Chili last Tuesday.  It was quite delicious.  I made some biscuits.  While I was making the biscuits, I was distracted by a very tired and cranky Kster.  So I was not paying as much attention as I should have.  I accidentally used baking soda instead of baking powder.  And I didn't add the salt. I don't think this picture conveys how very flat these biscuits were.  Oh and awful, they were awful.  The chili, however, was delicious and lasted until Saturday.  Saturday for lunch I warmed up the last of the chili and stirred in some shaved asiago cheese.  Very delicious, we will be making this at least monthly!  Next month, I will add some jalepeno pepper to the recipe. The chili is a make again and the biscuits are a try again.

    Sunday, November 8, 2009

    That Foster Cat (& brownies)

    We have been fostering a cat since some time in July.  It is a big cat, about 16 pounds.  Not declawed. It loves my couch and my bed.  As in loves to scratch them up.  We are front declawing our 2nd cat so that I can keep her in the house.  I am fully aware of both sides of the declawing arguments and have really thought a lot about this.  This cat (mine) also HATES having her feet touched.  So our monthly claw trimming is an event.  She generally doesn't even like people, she sleeps with me, and insists I pet her at night.  But the rest of time, she is out of sight.  But, back to the foster cat, I was rummaging around in the bottom of our storage drawers in the kitchen.  I found what the lid I needed to cover the brownies (details to follow) and walked away.  I forgot to close the drawer.  I covered the brownies and sat down to finish my pumpkin posts (here and here).  I heard the cats playing with plastic and making digging sounds.  I turned and saw my cats in the open drawer.  I shoo them away and come back to blogging/surfing.  Five minutes later, I hear the same noises and see my cats sitting on the kitchen floor staring at the second drawer.  Then I find this:

    He was trying to rock the drawer open.

    I opened the drawer for him.

    I feel like I should wash all of those kitchen linens.  But I must admit, I don't want to.

    Prior to the foster cat adventure, I made some fudgy brownies.  They were heavier than I like but not bad.  The frosting was very good. The recipe is from my Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook 75th Anniversary Edition. I'll be using the frosting recipe again, though, I'm not sure if I'll make these brownies again.  Notes: I didn't sift the powdered sugar.  I mixed the cream cheese right into the chocolate in the saucepan and then stirred in the powdered sugar.  And as you can see below, I didn't chop the unsweetened chocolate.  None of these changes were on purpose.

    Fudgy Brownies with Chocolate Cream Frosting (printable version)

    1/2 cup butter
    3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
    1 cup sugar
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    2/3 cup all-purpose flour
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
    1 recipe Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)

    1. In a medium saucepan melt butter and unsweetened chocolate over low heat.  Stir constantly.  Remove from heat to cool.

    2.  Grease a 8x8 or 9x9 baking pan.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

    3. Stir sugar into chocolate mixture in saucepan.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each just until combined.  Stir in the vanilla.

    4. Mix the flour and baking soda together in a small bowl.  Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture until just combined.  (If adding nuts, do so now).

    5.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake for 30 minutes if using an 8 inch pan, 25 if using a 9 inch pan at 350 degrees. 

    6.  After they have cooled, frost with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.

    Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.
    In a saucepan, melt 1 cup semisweet chocolate chip pieces over low heat, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, allow to cool some.  In a small bowl, stir together 2 3 ounce packages of softened cream cheese and 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar.  Stir in melted chocolate until smooth.

    Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

    It is pumpkin night! 

    Next we have the Pumpking Whoopie Pies, I found this recipe at what megan's making. These also went  to the church potluck.

    These were a pretty gooey yummy treat!

    Here is the recipe as found at what megan's making:

    Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (Printable Version)
    adapted, slightly, from Rachael Ray

    1 stick unsalted butter, melted
    1 cup packed light brown sugar
    2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
    1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
    1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
    1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1-2/3 cups flour

    1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
    4 ounces cream cheese, chilled
    1 cup confectioners' sugar
    2 pinches of salt
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    a few shakes of cinnamon

    Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

    In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, 1 teaspoon vanilla, the baking powder, the baking soda and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour.

    Using a spoon, drop small mounds of batter, spaced evenly, onto each baking sheet. Bake until springy to the touch, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

    For the icing: using an electric mixer, cream the softened butter with the cream cheese. Add the confectioners' sugar and the remaining 2 pinches salt, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and cinnamon; mix on low speed until blended, then beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

    Spread the flat side of half of the cakes with the cream cheese frosting. Top each with another cake. 
    Happy Baking!

    Pumpkin Bars

    This is what 5 hours of pumpkin looks like.  Yesterday, I spent 5 hours, washing, seeding, scraping, baking, and peeling 2 pumpkins.  It wasn't hard, just time consuming.  Each pumpkin took up 2 cookie sheets and each cookie sheet needed to bake for about 50 minutes. 

    Turns out the pumpkins I bought were much larger than we needed and possibly the wrong kind of pumpkin.  I'm not sure what kind of pumpkin I bought, but I don't think it is a pie pumpkin as those are much smaller than these were.

    The average pumpkin pie seems to take about 2 cups of pumpkin.  I don't know how much we have, but I think it is way more than 2 cups.  So I decided to make pumpkin bars for the Harvest Dinner today at Mom's church.  I found the recipe at My Kitchen Cafe.  I think I've mentioned how much I love My Kitchen Cafe.  It was originally a Paula Deen recipe.  I am also a big fan of Paula Deen. 

    The bars turned out wonderfully.  I don't have a picture of the final product. After 7 hours in the kitchen yesterday, I went to bed without frosting them.  Mom frosted them this morning while I slept in as long as I could and still make it to church on time.  There were none left after the potluck.  Mom and I both had a piece.  We both really enjoyed it.  I think I might make some later this week for the students.  This was definitely a make again!

    Pumpkin Bars (Printable Version)
    from Paula Deen

    4 eggs
    1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
    1 cup vegetable oil (can substitute 1/2 cup applesauce for 1/2 cup oil)
    15-ounce can pumpkin
    2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon baking soda

    8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
    1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
    2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth. Spread the batter into a greased 13 by 10-inch baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting. Cut into bars.

    To make the icing: Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and mix at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and mix again. Spread on cooled pumpkin bars.

    Tuesday, November 3, 2009

    Mom, remember how you wanted me to play the violin?

    I don't know where to start! There were fireworks, flames, lights, and a pink electric violin. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra really knows how to put on a show! It was a 3 hour show.  We didn't get home until 11:30 p.m.

    The storyline in the first half of the show was Christmasy and cheesy (as expected).  The performers were excellent.  Kathryn really loved Anna Phoebe, the violinist. Anna was so wonderfully enthusiastic.  Kathryn has announced that now she wants to play the violin.  She has an album on iTunes and I might buy it for Kathryn.  Kathryn promised she would practice every day - even at her Dad's house (sorry Cory).

    If you can get to a TSO concert, go, it is well worth the money!


    Tonight for dinner, we are having Kim's Chili. Mom is getting it started for me when she gets home from subbing at a high school about 20 minutes away.  We are adding some chili powder.  I am starting with this recipe and then overtime making it more exciting.  I know that I like this particular recipe because Kim has brought it into work a few times.  But I would like a more interesting chili.  I am also making homemade cheesy biscuits from the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook. This doesn't really count as cooking a meal for friends and family, but it does count for trying new recipes.

    Kim's Chili

    2 lb. Ground beef
    2 cans chili beans (do not drain)
    2 15 oz cans tom sauce
    2 15 oz cans diced tom
    Garlic powder
    Chopped onion

    Cook all together and enjoy!
    Printable Version of Recipe

    Sunday, November 1, 2009

    Daring Baker Challenge!

    I am so excite this is my first month as an Official Daring Baker! Yesterday, I was nervous that I wouldn't like/wouldn't be bake to make whatever was announced today. But it looks delicious and I think I can pull it off! I'll have to take a look at the calendar and plan a Saturday after with Kate! We will definitely be posting some pictures!

    Thursday, October 29, 2009

    Photo Scavenger Hunt!

    So the October Photo Scavenger Hunt is done on October 31! I have two more days. Yikes!  I've crossed off what I have done so far:
    • Couple
    • Slope
    • Plate
    • Going Places
    • Scrambled
    • In the Distance
    • Underneath
    • Bright
    • 11 p.m.
    • Today
    • Everyday
    • Resemble
    • Childhood Memory
    • In the water
    • Flower
    • Button
    • Heritage
    • Glow
    • Clock
    • Closed
    • Smile
    • Back
    • Plastic
    • Handle
    • In my fridge
    • Look back at me
    Yep, that's right, 3, I have 3 of 26.  Kate doesn't have anything after school tonight and Mom will be busy with Kate's costume.  So maybe we will have some leftover sloppy joes and go out hunting!

    Monday, October 26, 2009

    Day 0025 & Day 0026 POD

    The best of friends, slightly blurry.

    We are collecting food items for the local food pantry's Thanksgiving Project. This is our list.

    Sunday, October 25, 2009

    The Roast Chicken

    So after a week of thinking/planning/talking about this roast chicken, I finally made the roast chicken with much help from Mom. I completely forgot about the biscuits until it was too late and ended up doing canned biscuits. We also ended up using a Reynolds bag instead of the Joy of Cooking recipe. It turned out nicely. Here is a picture of the bird before it went in the bag.

    I actually did all of the dinner dishes after dinner! 

    Everything turned out nicely! And our friend Connie joined Mom, Kathryn & I for dinner.  Mom made a delicious apple pear crisp for dessert.  She ended up baking it in the toaster oven because we ran out of room in regular oven. I don't have any lovely food pictures because I forgot to take them.  Sorry guys.

    Here is Mom's Apple Crisp Recipe.  She used 2 pears and 4 apples for the Apple Pear Crisp.


    6-8 apples
    1/2 c. butter or margarine
    1 c. sugar
      3/4 c. flour
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    Peel, core and slice apples and place in a greased baking dish Mix butter, sugar, flour and cinnamon with a pastry blender till well blended. Spread on top of apples Bake 375 degrees for 45-60 minutes Serve warm with ice cream.

    Friday, October 23, 2009

    Listed in the Foodie Blogroll!


    How fun is this! 

    Food talk time.  You may recall I was supposed to go out to dinner tonight.  Instead, I ended taking my fall photos, having cheerios for dinner, and planning tomorrow night's menu.  We are having Roast Chicken, Green Beans, Corn, Cheesy Biscuits, and Rhubarb Pie.  I am hoping I have time to make something else for dessert as I am not really a fan of Rhubarb Pie.  Rhubarb Pear Pie is delicious, plain rhubarb, eh.  The green beans and corn really should be simple enough as I am just warming them up.  The chicken, however, will be new.  It will be especially fun as my Mother is obsessed with not undercooking chicken.  So I will be strictly following the Joy of Cooking directions and using a meat thermometer.  Hopefully, I will get some good shots of the chicken. 

    I have that job interview tomorrow morning so I am going to so get my suit ready, take a hot bath and read for a bit!  Wish me luck!

    Goodbye Flickr, Hello Zooomr!

    I had briefly used Zooomr about a year ago. Then when I came back to blogging, I forgot about it and started using Flickr. I've been watching my % of space used creep up as I uploaded pictures. So tonight I started uploading my pictures onto Zooomr. I am hoping I can create a photostream in my side bar like I have right now with Flickr.

    Tonight I went out and took some pictures of our beautiful fall colors. Michigan is so beautiful in the fall. It was drizzling, but not too rainy. I have some great pictures of our little island.

    Every time I walked closer to the ducks, this big one started carrying on and stearing the others away from me.

    It was really quiet at the park (with the exception of that one duck).  Until another woman came walking through.  I almost asked her to participate in my 100 strangers project, but I didn't have anything to give her.  So I just took this shot.

    Pictures & Dinner

    I have fallen behind on my photos. I let myself off the hook Wednesday because I had had a long doctor's appointment and generally felt crappy when I got home. Plus we had a meeting at K's school for high potential youth. Yesterday, I have no excuse. I did think about it briefly as I sat surrounded by the mountain of paper I sorted for shredding, recycling, and trash. But I decided that no one needed to see that and I'd take another picture of Kate later on (my favorite subject). Well, I didn't. I went to bed instead. Tonight, I think I will be eating out. I'm not really sure what the plan is yet. So tonight's picture will be delicious food. Now, I need to figure out where we are going for dinner. . .

    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    "Well, this is fantastic. It's almost like we're living in Mao's China right now."

    Well, Glenn Beck thinks as much.What would compel him to say such thing?  Sit down, this is big.  The President has called for more Americans to volunteer for non-profits.  Upsetting, I know.  I just cannot believe the President would do something so awful. I mean, volunteering? What's next, Obama?  Do you expect us to vote and to care about the future of our country and world?

    S'mores Cupcakes!

    So I just discovered the Serious Eats Photograzing site. Wow! So many beautiful pictures of so many delicious foods! Wow! I found these S'mores Cupcakes. I will be making these very soon!

    I found out this morning that I was accepted for the Foodie Blog Roll! Now I have to try to figure out how to get the blog roll on my blog.