Booze Nooze (with Haikus!)

25 11 2009

My new favorite breakfast - take that waffles!

Maaaan, I love the holidays.  I especially love it when friends come in to town because that means it is time to start drinking!  Last night our friend C and I went to a local pizza place (Fireworks – if you’re ever in the LoCo, you have to stop in.  I recommend the Baah Baah Black Sheep, either with or without the lamb sausage.  Balsamic glaze? Holla!) that happens to have an extensive and interesting beer menu.  They specialize in microbrews and limited edition or seasonal beers – fancy and very very delicious.  C and I sat outside under a little heater, catching up, singing along with The Band, annoying our waiter with our indecision, and drinking some truly spectacular beer.  Two of the four we tried were out of this world – Founder’s Breakfast Stout and Williamsburg Alewerks Brewmaster’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Porter – substantial enough to make you feel like you just ate a sandwich with enough alcohol to get you buzzed from sipping.  They were basically perfect and I kinda wanted to crawl inside one of the bottles and take up residence.  If you can find either of these, do yourself a favor and get them.  You’re welcome in advance.

[And because we are awesome, here are some haikus we wrote about our drinks]

Founder’s Breakfast Stout

With coffee, oatmeal
chocolate and booze, this is
My complete breakfast

Oatmeal breakfast stout
I would drink you ev’ry morn
No scurvy for me

Bourbon Barrel Porter

Love in a bottle
I heart your sweet elixir
Run down my throat…yesssss

Joy beats in my heart
We drink with vim and vigor
Talk of now and then

Delirium Noel

The first (and only)
(Delirium) Noel tastes
of sweet fruits and hops

Coronado Brewing Company Red Devil

Western Red Devil
Promises both sweet and smooth
Finishes bitter

Beer and bourbon? I did not realize it was my birthday!!





A Convo with El & Lo: El Gives Amazing Gifts

23 11 2009

I'm not exactly sure what is going on here, but I couldn't bring myself to put up a picture of either Cheney or a potato bug. Both give me the soul shudders.

Lauren: I should have gone into sales.
All the sales reps are here and now they get to leave and go golfing for the rest of the day.
Elizabeth: And you love golfing!
Lauren: IT IS MY FAVORITE THING EVER.
NEXT TO DICK CHENEY AND POTATO BUGS.
Elizabeth: You know what’s amazing?
Lauren: The miracle of life?
Central air?
Elizabeth: I trained potato bugs to golf while wearing Cheney masks for your birthday.
YOU ARE WELCOME
Lauren: YOU ARE THE BEST FRIEND I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE.
Elizabeth: I KNOW





What a Delicious Weekend…and it Ain’t Even Turkey Day Yet.

22 11 2009

Thanks, zazzle.com! This badge represents me when looking at my blogroll.

HOLY SHIT, YOU GUYS. I make good food sometimes. Yesterday, I needed to assemble a test panel for the pumpkin cheesecake I was planning on making for T-Day (which is in T-minus 4 days! SQUEE!). So I did. And the results were pure ambrosia, my friends (note: when saying “ambrosia” here, you have to roll your rrr’s, like a posh old-timey British man would. Also, look into wearing a monocle.) It was light, it was spicy, but best of all: IT WAS SOOOO EASY. I was very pleasantly surprised. I did, of course, up the spice quotient, and I would, for next time, definitely look into using the longer bake times because it kinda sank in the middle, but that was just more room for the frosting. Huzzah!

 

Sloooooooooow jamz for biscuit eatin'.

 

So yay for that. This morning I decided to make my new favorite biscuit recipe, from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours. It’s a super-easy sweet cream biscuit, which means that the heavy cream stands in for both the fat and the milk. Well, the recipe calls for 1-1/4 cups cream and you usually need a twee bit more than 1 cup. Of course, me being me, I failed to check how much cream I actually had before starting this endeavor. I had precisely 1 cup. CRAP. As predicted, the dough was too dry. In all other circumstances, I would have had sour cream laying around but since I just made that blasted (fucking good) pumpkin cheesecake, I had no more. WHAT DO I DO??? I grabbed some whole milk and prayed to Jeebus that it would do the trick. OH. EM. GEE. The biscuits were perfect, in every way. They were light, they were fluffy, they were flaky. I’m posting for you the version of the recipe I used, with my tweaks and shit because I think my mixing method (uh, with a spoon) is better than the one in the book (sorry, Dorie!), where she says to toss with a fork. Try this recipe ASAP and wow your friends and family during the holidays this year. Or if you, you know, need to bribe them into helping you move or something. OH, also, my friend Katie had given me some delicious pear butter, which Big Easy and I slathered on said biscuits, but I don’t have the recipe. However, this one looks pretty good, if for no other reason than this site has never steered me wrong before. Or you could just find Katie and demand some from her. Anyway, Happy Breakfast!

 

Dorie’s Sweet Cream Biscuits That I Made Better

  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 Tbl. baking powder
  • 1 Tbl. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
  • 2ish Tbl. cold whole milk
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
  3. Stir in cream, estimate how dry your dough is, then add milk accordingly.
  4. Cut with a biscuit cutter or nearby pint glass devoid of last night’s alcohol into the size of your choosing.
  5. Bake for 14-18 minutes.
  6. Slather with the toppings of your choice and weep with delight.

 





Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

18 11 2009

Identical twins freak me the eff out. I'm glad they don't air those Doublemint commercials anymore.

Okay, I’m going to write this pretending that you haven’t read The Time Traveler’s Wife and don’t already know how amazing Audrey Niffenegger is.  Because you have and you do, right?  And if the answer to that question is “no” what in blazes is your problem?  Why do you hate good things?  What is your aversion to a perfectly told beautiful story with an interesting premise?  This is why we can’t have anything nice.  Quit being a jerkass and go and read that book RIGHT NOW.

So, now that we’re all on the same page (pun INTENDED), Her Fearful Symmetry is just effing fantastic.  Not quite as perfect as The Time Traveler’s Wife, but pretty damn close.  Niffenegger takes some inherently creepy things – identical twins [shudder], ghosts, cemeteries, mental disorders – and twists them into something beautiful and morbid and vaguely terrifying.  You know how video of an accident can take on a sort of grace and beauty when shot in slow motion?  And you know it is going to end horribly but you’re fascinated and can’t stop watching, and you want to warn everyone involved but know that there isn’t a thing you can do to change the outcome?  And then the accident is complete and there’s that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realize that part of you enjoyed the carnage and that you’re almost proud of yourself for not turning away?  That’s this book.

Her Fearful Symmetry is essentially about all the ways love can really really fuck you up and, occasionally, redeem you.  It is about life and death and all the ways they overlap.  It is about forgiveness and finding the breaking point in a relationship.  And it is about obsession.  It’s a Gothic suspense novel set in London’s Highgate cemetery, and while the reveals are somewhat predictable, the dread of knowing what’s coming and hoping you’re wrong keeps the story from going flat.  Niffenegger’s writing is wonderful, the woman knows how to craft a friggin sentence, how to set a mood, hot to give the reader character insight with a simple phrase, how to pace a plot to keep you enthralled until the last page.  She’s so talented I almost hate her.  With her first book she gave us a perfect love story, now she’s given us the perfect love gone wrong story.

I offer the reminder of this movie as my apology for that first picture. You're welcome.





Sometimes I Eat Like a 5 Year Old.

17 11 2009

Well, Lo. It's an EXCELLENT blue cupcake. Congratulations! You passed the first grade. That's QUACKTASTIC!

And I’m okay with that. Look, El and I spend our days perusing our fancy food blogs, with their roux and their gruyere and their souffles and other fancy French-derived cooking and baking terms. We send each other the ones that stand out, with pipe dreams of actually making gnocchi from scratch and sauce made from the tomatoes we’ve grown, topped with parmesan from fancy Italian cows who ride on motorbikes and say “Ciao!”. Of course, we usually wind up getting a little Stumbelina instead and eating, like, cheese fries or something. I’m surrounded at this time of year by beautiful looking cakes and pies, golden turkeys, and even turnips turned into some sort of gourmet meal. SO PLEASE EXCUSE ME FOR MAKING BLUE VANILLA CUPCAKES AND FROSTING THEM WITH THE FROSTING OF CHOICE FOR FIRST GRADERS. Oh, and filling them with chocolate because there’s no better way to spend a Monday night while watching the ridiculousness of One Tree Hill. I used this cupcake recipe along with this filling and the easiest frosting recipe in the world (which I helpfully listed below Chad Michael Murray’s furrowed brows and obese forehead). I asked my kid what color he wanted his cupcakes to be. He said green, and I said, “HAHAHA, too bad dummy, we’re out of green dye!” And then he said blue, so I said, “Okay.” And his mind was blown to have BLUE cupcakes. And then his dad got mad at me today because he was bouncing off the walls after eating one (and because he bounces off the walls anyway). So this holiday season, remember: There’s a time and a place to be fancy. Monday nights in your house watching One Tree Hill and Gossip Girl is not that time, nor that place.

Oh, CMM. How we miss your naturally furrowed brows in Tree Hill.

Really Fucking Easy Vanilla Frosting (for 12)

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • splash vanilla
  • 2-3 Tbsp. milk or cream or half & half or some such substance

Really? You need me to tell you what to do? FINE. Mix together the ingredients til it’s fluffy. Frost cupcakes. The end.





Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange

16 11 2009
Mr Darcy, Vampyre cover

I love this cover. If I were to judge this book by its cover, I would judge it favorably. And that is why we don't judge books by their covers. Because covers LIE.

I don’t expect every book I read to be fantastic.  I read a lot of….well, crap.  There’s my Nora Roberts thing (yes, they’re delightful and readable and entertaining, but essentially crap), there are the random big name phases I’ve gone through – John Grisham and James Patterson and Nicholas Sparks, there’s all the random chick-lit I borrow from my sister – Sophie Kinsella and Emily Griffin and Jane Green. But, really, the pinnacle of my crap pile (eww) has to be my love of supernatural book series, or more accurately, supernatural romance books.  I don’t really have an excuse or explanation for it, but, damn, I love them.  Some are pretty decent (Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series), some are pure fluff and fun (Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books), some are incredibly terrible but still addictive (Twilight, MFers!).  And then there are just really bad ones – and that is where Mr. Darcy, Vampyre fell.

See, I also have a little bit of a…not obsession per se, but…fascination with Pride & Prejudice.  I blame it all on Colin Firth.  And there are a ton of P&P reimaginings and “sequels” out there.  Most of them pick up right after the wedding and tend to go straight for the funsexytime, which can be…unsettling.  I think I’ve been able to actually finish only two of the eight bajillion (estimated) P&P sequels because most of them are horrible.  But, c’mon, can you blame a girl for getting a little stoked for the  combination of P&P and vampires?  I mean, look at the craze Pride and Prejudice and Zombies caused.  And zombies aren’t nearly as sexy as vampires (why hello, Eric Northman).

So, um, yeah, this book is just bad.  Poorly written in that trying really hard to copy Jane Austen’s voice but really just sounding like a jackass way.  The plot was annoying and it took foooooorever for anything to happen, and then, poof!  book was done.  And, seriously, if you name a book Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, you cannot spend 85% of the book with Lizzy not knowing he is a vampire.  Because the audience knows the entire time.  And there is no suspense.  And it makes one of literature’s great female leads (really, I effing LOVE Elizabeth Bennett and defend her as a great feminist character every chance I get) look stupid and weak and just horrible and annoying.  Also, the thing that makes a modern vampire book great is the explanations and changes they make to the vampire legend.  Don’t just haphazardly throw in every bit of vampire lore (including the bat thing, which, ugh, seriously??).  Eff it, I could go on a lot longer about how stupid this book was – but more than anything it was BORING.  Honestly, I was kind of shocked that I finished it.  And a little angry that I wasted time on it.  And a little sleepy, because it was so boring.  In short, the book sucked, and not in a punny vampire sort of way.





If We Took a Holiday (oh yeah, oh yeah)…

15 11 2009

…took some time to celebrate (come on, let’s celebrate)…Oh, hey, what’s up? Didn’t see you there. Ahem. SO. It’s the holidays, aka My (second) Favorite Time of Year Since I Don’t Work in Retail Anymore. One of my favorite hobbies this time of year is sitting on my ass on Saturday and Sunday mornings and watching the Food Network’s barrage of holiday-related shows while covered in my own drool and thinking of all the amazing things I could be making (but then remember that it’s a lot fewer calories just watching Tyler Florence create THE MOST EFFING DELICIOUS LOOKING THANKSGIVING MEAL I HAVE EVER SEEN [Sorry Dad].) The way we do things in my family is Big Easy, Sig Ot, and I go up to their house for Thanksgiving and then they come here for Christmas. It’s nice because I don’t have to worry about cooking 2 meals, and neither do they. (Sig Ot would beg to differ because every year I have a meltdown on Xmas morning before the Fam arrives FOR NO GOOD REASON other than IT IS ALWAYS MY P-ROD [Sorry Dad.].)

Madonna-Holiday-253830

Madonna is always seasonally appropriate in MY house.

Thanksgiving is always a traditional affair, which is nice because you know what to expect: amazing Dad-made turkey, glazed carrots, green beans, mashed potatoes (from a box!), apple pie. Just within the past couple of years, I’ve gotten them to venture out into the wonderful world of pumpkin, so we’ve had some pretty amazing pumpkin pies, and last year I made these chocolate pumpkin pie bars that if you haven’t made yet, GET ON IT! So simple, and a huge hit. But this year, I want to mix it up again by making a pumpkin cheesecake. My parents seem to fear change, so it was quite a shock when my usually “I only like plain cheesecake” mother called to tell me she had [gasp] TRIED pumpkin cheesecake. Srsly. My jaw had hit the floor and I passed out for a few seconds. Little did she know, I’d already been poking around on ye olde innernetz for a decent looking recipe. I have it narrowed down, but if anyone can suggest one they really love, PLEASE feel free to tell me. My sister hates cheesecake of any sort, but whatever. She also wears Uggs. In public. On purpose. Clearly, she is not of sound mind. (But I’ll probably wind up bringing up some cupcakes anyway JUST FOR HER.)

NoUggs_thumb2

DO. NOT. WANT.

Now, I like to mix shit up. So when I host Xmas, I like to try new things. (Though my sister has threatened to murder me in my sleep if I miss out on making green bean casserole, so I always make that.) The first two years I hosted, I stuck with turkey (the second year I made it, it was totally undercooked and we had to nuke it and I almost had a nervous breakdown). Last year though…HOO BOY. I went all out because I had a craving for Beef Wellington. And MAN, was it ever fucking delicious. That, to me, is the cream of the crop of meat dishes, even with pate! Which, I know, ew! gross! liver! But with the mushrooms and the pastry and the tenderloin and I’m about to short-circuit my computer because of all the drool. It’s not an inexpensive dish to make, but SO WORTH IT. And it’s easy. Certainly easier than cheesecake. ANYWAY. I haven’t decided what I’m going to make this year, so I want all ya’ll maaaafaaaaaaas in the heezy to tell me what awesome recipes you have in YOUR arsenal. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to watch this, one of my favorite Xmas song EVER.