I shall never use profanity except in discussing house rent and taxes. - Mark Twain
As a housewife, I worry about my mind going soft. And I'm not alone: plenty of my friends with children have found themselves devoid of a grown-up conversation for weeks, even months on end. And I don't even HAVE kids. So that leaves me with just a dirty house and the voices in my head, and though they are all fabulous, fascinating women, I can't help but wonder. What would that do to a nutcase like me?
Did I mention I'm a CPA?
I have my own business, of which I am very proud. My clients are like family; I love each and every one of them. But I firmly maintain that Mike is my favorite client, so I'm happy with my company remaining small and manageable. Towards the end of the month (ahem, now. notice all the posts lately?), everything is wrapped up for my clients. I find myself alone with Dante, the dirty house, and myself, and a girl can only do so much cleaning before it becomes a neurosis. So then I get bored.
I'm at my most dangerous when bored.
The other day I scrubbed the toilet seat so much that the paint came off. Did you know that was even possible? And I thought, "OK God. Is this a sign? I'm not sure what else to do with myself today. But I bet You can come up with something." I sat down to my computer to find an email from my friend Beth. She wanted to know if I knew of somebody who wanted to work during tax season.
Do I ever! Thanks God!
Over the past few weeks I've been looking forward to rejoining the work force on a part time basis with some really nice people. I've also worried: it's been a while since I did taxes. What if I'm too slow? What if I miss a deduction? What if all those cleaning fumes burrowed into my brain and my mind HAS gone to mush? What if I'm more hindrance than help? What if what if what if. So I splurged and bought myself some brand-spanking new drafting pencils.
And now I can't wait.
Photo courtesy of ecrater.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Posted by Fran at 3:34 PM
- Pour 2 cups All Bran in large bowl.
- Pour boiling water over it and let stand while assembling other ingredients.
- Melt shortening.
- Mix rest of All Bran and sugar, eggs, and buttermilk.
- Sift flour, salt, and soda together.
- Combine everything in the first large bowl and mix well.
- Cover tightly and store in refrigerator overnight.
- Lightly grease a muffin pan. NOTE: Do not use muffin papers with this recipe! The muffin will stick like glue to the paper and make you cuss. Just a light spray or buttering should spring them right out.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
- Batter will keep for up to 6 week in the refrigerator.
- Heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Combine butter, sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy.
- Add eggs and vanilla.
- Continue beating, scraping the bowl often, until well mixed.
- Reduce speed to low. Beat, gradually adding flour mixture, until well mixed.
- Stir in chocolate chunks.
- Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls, 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets.
- Bake for 10-14 minutes or until light golden brown. (DO NOT OVERBAKE.)
- Let stand 1 to 2 minutes.
- Remove from cookie sheets.
- Makes 26 jumbo cookies.
Cookie photo courtesy of ehow.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
This is my favorite mug. Mike bought it for me on our trip to Seaside, Florida, to celebrate our first anniversary. I actually bought the button pin version back in April of 2007 on my legendary bacheleorette trip to Memphis, Tennessee, so Mike knew I liked the symbol. Trophy wife. You know what? Yeah. It fits.
But enough mushy stuff. Sorry if I made any of y'all out there gag.
These blueberry muffins are the only ones that we've made every day since Foster's opened over a decade ago. That's over four thousand days of blueberry muffins! Our customers demand them; they're delicious plain or with butter. Adding finely chopped blueberries to the batter–in addition to whole berries–is the key to these moist, flavorful muffins. They freeze well, so make an extra batch for hurried mornings.
Makes 1 dozen muffins
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder (I use 3 teaspoons for higher-rising muffins.)
½ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
¾ cup milk (I use buttermilk for fluffier muffins.)
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries (see Note)
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Line 12 large muffin cups with paper liners and spray the top part of the pan lightly with vegetable oil spray.
3. Combine or sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
4. Whisk together the butter, eggs, milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a separate bowl until well combined.
5. Place 1 cup of the blueberries in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse several times until coarsely chopped. Stir the chopped berries into the egg mixture.
6. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until the dry ingredients are moist and blended. Do not overmix. Fold in the remaining whole blueberries.
7. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan with a large ice cream scoop (⅓-cup scoop). The batter will come to the top of the paper liner or pan.
8. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
9. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Turn the muffins out of the pan and serve immediately.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Last night was a wild ride. We knew storms were coming, just not sure when. Dante and I cut a walk short because it started raining, and don't you know as soon as we stepped inside the house the sun came out. The weather yesterday afternoon was so calm and pleasant that I was lulled into a false sense of security, basking in the balminess of having all the windows and doors open. Kearney tried to eat a shrew. You know, the usual at the Peacock house. Little did I know I'd hear tornado sirens twice before the night was over.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
It all started last Saturday afternoon. It was raining. The weather had been rather cold and punk for weeks on end. As in the beginning of Carmina Burana, I had had enough. All this darkness, cold, and dreary was past being on my nerves. So I decided to bake a pan of my cheyenne pepper brownies. You know, the brownie that bites you back.
But wait, there's more. I don't even remember how it came up, but on my way out the door Missy loaned me a bottle of X-Rated. Sounds rather like Love Potion Number 9, doesn't it? I guess she wanted to lift Mike's spirits too.
Get this. X-Rated Fusion Liqueur: A Sensuous Fusion of Ultra Premium French Vodka & Sicilian Blood Orange Mingling with Mango & Passion Fruits. That's what's on the bottle! But unlike "do-me shoes," I firmly believe this beverage has other applications in addition to seduction. The bright pink color makes it absolutely perfect for a girls' night out, a bunco party, or just a little something to make you giggle. I know it did me.
As a general rule, I don't really enjoy sweet drinks. Sweet tea is a no. Even cranberry juice sometimes hits my ugh-finish-this-for-me-while-I-fix-a-gin-&-tonic bone. But this stuff? This stuff is sweet and SASSY. Mix it with champagne or orange juice or pineapple juice. Or ice. Or just drink it straight from the bottle. Mike had to keep me from doing that. Before I knew it, I'd mixed it with some orange juice and downed half the bottle in one sitting.
I'm his little boozehound.
Now I'm going to go clear out from my browser history all the crazy porn sites that I stumbled upon when looking for a picture of this stuff.
But tomorrow night it will definitely be one of our favorite Thursday Night cocktails.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Don't let the photo fool you: these are GARGANTUAN muffins from my favorite cookbook. This was my first time to make them. As the recipe called for a whole tablespoon of baking powder and buttermilk and this was my inaugural use of the jumbo muffin pan, I erred on the side of caution and didn't fill them all the way up. But I actually like them like this: the streusel isn't so messy, and the only way I can eat one is by sticking it in the microwave for 23 seconds, then cutting it in half.
Make 1 dozen
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
2 1/2 cups all- purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola or safflower oil
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- 2. Line 12 large muffin cups with paper liners.
- 3. Place the oats on a rimmed baking sheet and lightly toast. Set aside to cool.
- 4. Combine the oats, flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and stir to mix.
- 5. Whisk together the butter, eggs, bananas, buttermilk and oil in a separated bowl and blend well.
- 6. Combine the two mixtures and stir just until all the dry ingredients are moist. Stir in the chocolate chips.
- 7. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin with a large ice cream scoop( 1/3 cup scoop).
- 8. Place in the oven to bake 25 to 30 minutes, until the tops of the muffins spring back when touched. remove from the oven and let cool slightly. serve warm.
I absolutely adore muffin tops. The ones on actual muffins, that is. I was a married woman before I learned the alternate definition of a muffin top, and if you don't know what one is, go ask a frat boy.
- Mix dry ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl.
- Cut the shortening in with a fork until it has a sandy texture.
- Sprinkle over muffins and gently press into dough just before putting them in the oven.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
- Combine the meat, onions, garlic, broth, wine, seasonings, and bay leaf in a crock pot.
- Cook on low for 4 hours.
- Take out one cup of liquid and thoroughly mix the corn starch to that reserved liquid.
- Return corn starch mixture to the crock pot.
- Add potatoes and carrots if you want them fully cooked or wait until later in the cooking process for more crunchy vegetables.
- Cook for another 4-8 hours.
- (The hardest part for me) Refrigerate overnight and reheat in a regular pot on the stove.
- Goes rather well with biscuits.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Did I mention it's a bit nippy down South?
The pond below didn't freeze over only because of the two pumps keeping it moving.
This pond behind Mike wasn't so lucky. It froze completely across.
Obviously hell itself has frozen over.
Cold! If the thermometer had been an inch longer we'd all have frozen to death.
- quoted in Mark Twain and I, Opie Read
We soon realized that the Czech eat as if they are storing up for a long, hard winter. Lots of beef, potatoes, dumplings sausage, onions, and gravy. Good Lord at the gravy. And goulash. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner: goulash and gravy, goulash and gravy, goulash and gravy. I once ordered a grilled chicken salad for lunch and received a side order of goulash and gravy, courtesy of the house. And believe it or not, scrambled eggs and goulash really isn't that bad.
Roughly translated: You must be at least this tall or 18 years old to drink. Or really cold.
Hot Buttered Rhum
- Stir the spices and rhum in a mug and fill with cider.
- Garnish with the lemon peel.
- Float the butter on top.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Roast time: 30-40 minutes
Yield: 6-8 servings
Pan Preparation: lightly greased cooling or roasting rack, kitchen twine
1 ½ - 2 pound pork tenderloin (can be marinated overnight)
2/3 - 1 cup olive tapenade
16 ounces frozen chopped spinach, seasoned and cooked, drained, and squeezed dry
½ – ¾ cup feta cheese crumbles
- Preheat oven to 425, and salt and pepper the outside of the tenderloin to taste.
- Using a very sharp knife, and being careful not to slice all the way through the meat, make a rectangle of pork.
- Make a long horizontal slice about ½ inch from the bottom of the pork, to about ½ inch from the other side.
- Open up the pork like a book, and make another incision, again toward the bottom of the meat, ½ inch shy of the opposing side. Press down to flatten.
- Lightly grease a roasting rack with cooking spray, and line the pan with aluminum foil. Set the opened pork on top of the roasting rack, perpendicularly to the rings of the rack.
- Spread the olive tapenade evenly on the pork, pressing into the meat.
- Spread the spinach on top of the tapenade, again, pressing down to flatten.
- Top the spinach with feta crumbles.
- Slowly roll up the pork lengthwise, and tie with kitchen twine.
- Roast pork for 30-45 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 155-160 degrees.
- Allow meat to rest for 5 minutes after removing from oven.
Friday, January 8, 2010
FOR THE CAKE:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (I used 1 full teaspoon to make a fluffier cake.)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled (optional)
GETTING READY TO BAKE:
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Butter two 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment or wax paper.
- Put the pans on a baking sheet.
- Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy.
- Add the sugar and beat for about 2 minutes, until it is thoroughly blended into the butter.
- Add the eggs one at a time, then the yolks one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
- Beat in the vanilla.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk; add the dry ingredients in 3 portions and the buttermilk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); mix only until each new batch is blended into the batter.
- Scrape down the bowl and, if you want, add the melted chocolate, folding it in with a rubber spatula.
- Divide the batter between the cake pans.
- Bake for 26 to 30 minutes, or until the cakes feel springy to the touch and start to pull away from the sides of the pans.
- Transfer the cakes to racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners.
- Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (Once the layers are cooled, they can be wrapped airtight and left at room temperature overnight or kept frozen for up to 2 months.)
- Place one layer top side up on a cardboard round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.
- Frost the top of the layer, then cover with the second layer, top side down.
- Frost the sides and top of the cake, either smoothing the buttercream for sleek look or using a spatula, knife or spoon to swirl it for a more exuberant look.
- Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour (or up to 1 day, if that’s more convenient) to set the frosting, then bring it to room temperature before serving.
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (about) (Give or take a cup, depending on how thick you want the frosting to be.
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream
- Cream the cream cheese and butter until fully incorporated and smooth.
- Add the powdered sugar until desired sweetness and consistency is reached.
- Add 1 tablespoon heavy cream, whip until light.
Monday, January 4, 2010
- In a medium pot, combine the apple cider and lemon juice.
- Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and reheat to a simmer.
My family has a few strict rules born of superstition and bred in convenience. For instance, all Christmas decorations must, MUST be put be completely put away by midnight on December 31st. A conversation held by Mike and me early last week:
I have to insert here that under no circumstances should you smell smoked hamhocks that have been in a crock pot for 12 hours straight. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not be anywhere closeby. Like lard, the smell isn't that pleasant. But have patience, and they will create for you the best damn broth in which to cook vegetables. Period.
I set the greens over low heat too and let them cook for hours upon hours. Then I let the pots cool down enough to put them in the fridge and refrigerated them overnight. The next morning I decided the greens were a little salty (I forgot that hamhocks have their own sodium that develops over time), so I added 2 chopped potatoes to each pot to soak up the salt. Worked like a charm.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
We hope you had a beautiful New Year's Eve. As I've been in quite a Mediterranean mood lately, Mike took me to Petra for dinner. The food was excellent, the atmosphere a hoot, and the company exemplary. We didn't expect it to be such a party, complete with fireworks, champagne, and belly dancers.
- Reserve liquid from beans.
- In a blender, combine beans, lemon juice, Takini, garlic, and seasonings.
- Add about 1/4 cup of liquid in which beans were packed.
- Run blender, taste, and add seasonings or liquid depending on the consistency you want.
- The longer you blend, the fluffier it will be.
- Garnish with paprika, olive oil, and parsley.