Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Waking up is hard to do.

This morning I was really struggling to wake up. It was one of those mornings when you feel like the sunlight in your room must, must be moonlight. I just couldn't get my eyes open. Then I started getting subliminal messages from my clock radio (set to the news in the mornings)


".....can't do it alone. Need the assistance of China, India,.."

so I hit snooze.


"...the entire G20 is going to have to cooperate on this...."

Well. There's hardly room in my house for the entire G20.



"...responsible for the financial meltdown..."

Whoa whoa whoa!
You're right, clock. I guess I should get up and go to work. Sigh. How about some nice music tomorrow morning, ok?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Birthday Camping

I had a sort of big birthday last week. To celebrate, I wanted to invent a time machine. But that didn't work out. The next thing on my list was CAMPING! I know, I know. I don't seem like someone who enjoys camping. Or living outdoors for months at a time. Or sleeping on the ground. But I really do.
Rob obliged and took me to the Chiricahua mountains for a lovely weekend. We brought along our new favorite toy, "The Mansion". The mansion is the largest tent ever. We luv it. We have both spent a lot of time camping and backpacking in teeny tiny tents, and we have a great time, but now that I've hit the big 3-0, we felt it was time for...a different kind of camping.
Mansion camping. This sucker is sooooo big you could easily fit four people inside along with their stuff. We figured we should just admit to ourselves that we mostly car camp, and we should embrace it. Chairs, tableclothes, cards, frisbees, giant coolers, and The Mansion.
We grilled out a birthday dinner of spicy chicken tacos.
And I played in the creek some.
When we got home, Rob baked(!) this gorgeous birthday cake. This is his first cake ever. Isn't it perfect? It tasted every bit as good as it looks.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Post for Emily

Not Emily Post, this Emily!
Emi has decided to take up baking and I'm sure she's going to be excellent at it. She recently asked about recommendations for baking gear. I was putting together an email for her about all of my favorites, but I decided to put it on here instead. So here you go, Emi, here's what my
perfect dream kitchen would contain:

For cookies and almost all other baking needs:
I like a heavy aluminum half-sheet. I get all worried about the non-stick stuff that comes on a lot of cookie sheets, so I prefer this plain, non-treated kind. Besides, most cookies don't need greased sheets anyway. If you need to make your pan non-stick (for candy or biscuits, etc.) you could use a silpat:
These silicon baking sheets prevent things from sticking, but they are essentially made of woven glass, not scary chemicals, so I think they're probably safer. Plus, they make cookies cook really evenly and they turn out fluffy and perfect. I also use my silpat to roll out bread dough and pastry. Speaking of pastry, I'm sure it's familiarity with what my mom taught me to use, but I don't think there's a better kitchen tool than the pastry knife:
I use mine for pastry (duh), for making crumbs for apple pie and struesel, for mashing small amounts of mashed potatoes and for crushing up basil before I put it in the blender when I make pesto.
For cakes, which I cannot stop making entirely too often, I use my beloved mixer. It is a Sunbeam Mixmaster. While I would dearly love a pale blue Kitchen Aid, my Mixmaster kicks a lot of ass. It's a powerful mixer and it never ever shoots dough across the kitchen and it never ever gets clogged up beaters. I especially love that I have a mixer that is the same brand and the same design as the one my mom has and the one my grandmom used. Can't beat that!

My cake pans are really cool, but I couldn't find pictures of them. They are 9" dark metal (think calphalon dark) and have silicon handles so you can hold them almost right out of the oven. I'm suggesting these pans for Emily:
They are the same heavy aluminum as the half sheet. I think I would buy the 8" diameter instead for a couple of reasons. First, I think that a smaller pan yields a taller cake, and I think that looks better than a wider cake. Second, I'm not sure if it is my oven or the elevation here in Tucson, but I find that the edges burn less and the cake cooks more evenly in a deeper pan.
In case you're worried about your own oven, get one of these:

For bread, roasts, and soups with fry starts, I love love love these enameled cast iron dutch ovens:

Emily totally called it on these, Lodge makes the nicest and prettiest version. They are heavy and seem to last a long time, I've had a lodge pan since I first went to college and it looks brand new.
The last thing I can think of that I really use a lot is a metal spatula.
It is perfect for icing (which I absolutely suck at) but I also use it for picking up fragile things off of baking pans (fiddly brownies, candy, etc.). You could also use it for fish in a frying pan, since it's nice and long.
Oh, and there's also my silver fork. I couldn't make a thing if it weren't for my favorite silver fork.
I hope this helps Emily! You know, even though all this stuff is cool, and I would love to have a whole kitchen full of perfect tools, you can make delicious awesome looking food without any of it.
The most important thing I use when I bake is experience. If it weren't for my mom letting me bake with her for so long, I wouldn't know how to do anything. She's the best baker there is. Maybe she has some gear suggestions?

Monday, August 24, 2009


I forgot to mention earlier how excited we are here for football season....
We created a countdown on the chalkboard in the kitchen. Every day for the next twelve (looooong) days, we will cross off one gator tail until the happy morning of September 5th. It's Game Day eve eve eve eve eve eve eve eve eve eve eve eve!


Well well well. It seems like once again, all I blog about is food.
This weekend I decided it was high time to make some more tiny cakes. I whipped up some plain old buttery, rich yellow cake in my tiny cake pans that I bought for Kacy's shower last year.

Then I baked them all together on a tray. I let them cool and then was free to experiment. Each cake has three layers, so there was plenty of room for icing and flavoring. On the first one, I spread lemon curd between the layers (oh how I love lemon curd) and then iced it with cream cheese vanilla icing. I decorated it with my favorite little fake daisies. Annnnd, I might have eaten a slice for breakfast. shhh.The other cake was for Rob. In between the layers is blackberry preserves. Then I mixed the preserves with the cream cheese icing and iced the whole cake with the purpleish mixture. I stuck it in the fridge for a while to set, then I iced over that with normal, non berry icing.
Of course I covered it with sprinkles. Rob hearts sprinkles more than cake.

I can't get enough of tiny cakes. I wish I lived back east so I could hand deliver one to my lovely niece who just had her first birthday!!! Happy Birthday sweetie!

This is a little candle holder that I made for her for her birthday. Well, it's like the one that I made her. The real one is hopefully on a USPS plane speeding its way toward her right now.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Return from Obscurity

Ahhh. I'm home. Home home home. It has been a really long field season this year. We left for Mule Creek in late May, and here I am, finally reunited with my dear computer on August 18.
I have hiked more than 60 miles, driven 15000 miles, seen a moose, a marmot, a bear, a ringtail, bighorn sheep, and lots of pronghorn. I've been to 26 states and 34 national parks and monuments.
I have been nearly killed by rain, lightning, wind, raccoons, and one giant spider in Louisiana.

Now that I am back, I plan to enjoy:
1. a bed. and a pillow. and a roof
2. showering in bare feet
3. using the bathroom in bare feet
4. not waiting in line for breakfast/lunch/dinner
5. getting up after dawn

and most importantly, the company of my awesome husband, our friends, and all of you.

I'm BACK!!!!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Mischief Managed

All of yesterday's projects were total successes!

The chocolate chocolate chip cookies are outrageously good. They are going to be added to next year's cookie party for sure. I'm currently eating them for breakfast because R. isn't up yet and I can't get in trouble. hee hee.

The trickier project was the new chalkboard in the kitchen. This was much harder than I thought it would be. I planned to just yank it down and spray paint it a few times, but R. made sure we did it right.
He was very careful about how we took it down, so we didn't hurt the wall or the board. pah!. Oh, you know what? There's nothing at all under the board. I fully expected a hole or an old utility box, or at least a portal to another dimension, but there was nothing! I guess somebody put it up so they wouldn't have to drill holes in the adobe to hang the towel bar. Now I feel kind of bad that I've been making fun of it for so long.
I sanded the board and took out all the old nails and screws. Then I spackled all the holes and sanded it again. Then I put on the first coat of chalkboard paint and actually waited to put on the next two. My patience and maturity are astounding.
After four coats, it's very smooth and looks just like a real chalkboard. I can't write on it yet. Sigh. It has to cure for a whole 24 hours. Tonight at exactly 9:16 I'm going to write all over it. Yay!