Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Throw some potatoes in a pan...

Here is a title of an article that recently came through on a cooking e-mail I subscribe to:  "Make the perfect hash browns without a recipe." Wait just one hot second. What sad soul needs a recipe for hash browns in the first place?! Hash browns are literally the easiest thing you can make after toast. (Aside: a piece of toast very nearly burned down my entire apartment last week, but that was a toaster malfunction, not a cooking malfunction.) You guys, there are people in this world who are like, "I'd love some hash browns right now but I just don't know how to make them."  Does this blow your mind? Having read the article I think what they actually meant was, "Here are some tips to make better hash browns because you already know the mechanics of it and are not a total dum dum  in the kitchen." Who wants hash browns now?

While we're on the topic of cooking, I think I have successfully perfected the recipe for a single serving homemade mac and cheese. I love mac and cheese, Katie does not. So it's not like I can make a whole pan of it. Plus I don't like left over mac and cheese because it turns into a mushy, greasy mess when you reheat it. So I've had to become resourceful and shrink down a recipe for the cheese sauce to just one serving. I'm talking minuscule amounts of everything. It's delicious, folks. And it's fast. I can get it done in the time it takes to cook the pasta. Which was perfect for last night because I was so very cold that the idea of waiting for soup to simmer was unbearable. And look, I know it's not -7, or whatever else you living in the Arctic North are dealing with but you have to admit that we Southern Californians are suffering a little when the road to San Diego is backed up because of SNOW!

Still more cooking: I made butter chicken the other night and it was just alright. Which makes that my second attempt at an Indian dish with only middling success. So now I'm convinced that Indian is one of those ethnic foods that is better ordered then made. I'll admit I had this thought as I was paying $7 for garam masala when there was a perfectly good Indian restaurant right next door that would sell me chicken tikka masala for just a few bucks more. We live, we learn, we have barely used spice jars in our cupboards.

Happy New Years, you beautiful people!! Treat yourself right.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Crime Scene Investigation

My friend Jen needed to get out of the house so Katie, Heather, Cindy and I took her up to Griffith Observatory on Saturday. I would just about say that if you're visiting this fair city and you're going to see just one thing, this should be it. The building is spectacular, the views are incredible, at night they point the telescope at some beautiful celestial object, it's free, and it's all about outer space. If the parking weren't an abysmal nightmare it would be perfect. We attempted to get up the hill but the line of cars was so long that we turned around and parked down at the entrance to Griffith Park and took the shuttle up. 

It was so beautiful up there. We saw the Tesla coil fire up, learned about why Pluto isn't a planet anymore (I'm not as broken up about this as you might think. You're still a great little icy object, Pluto. Don't get down about it.), and stood on the parapet and marveled at how lovely the city looked. And it was so clear we could practically see the buffalo roaming on Catalina Island (non-locals: that's very far away and we get a lot of coastal fog that normally blocks the view. And yes, there are actual buffalo up there, left over from a film shoot long ago.)

And now we have come to the part of the story that is REALLY INTRIGUING! As I mentioned we took the shuttle up but the line to take the shuttle down was so long that we decided to walk. It was a lovely day and it's just a little more than a mile downhill, easy. We all commented on how there were no cars coming up the road and how odd it seemed that on such a busy day and just a few hours before sunset the traffic had stopped. Then just before we got to our car we passed by a public bathroom at the entrance of the park and noticed that there was a small crowd of people and police tape around the building. 

And then we saw the dead body. Yep, there was a dead body, covered, to our relief, but dead just the same. He was a tall man and his poor feet were sticking out from under the sheet. There was no ambulance, only a couple of police cars so it had to have just happened. The small crowd looked to be mostly curious teenagers and no one seemed particularly distraught which makes me think he was alone. There didn't seem to be any blood. Oh Knights of Columbus, if there had been blood....Was he homeless? A hiker enjoying the sunshine? Was he murdered? Did he have a bad heart? I can't stop thinking about him. I still don't know what happened. And I'm not sure I ever will because I learned the hard way that you should never google "dead body found in Griffith Park." Yeesh!

We drove out past the long line of cars trying to get in, none of them knowing that the police had blocked the road. But how do you let dozens of carloads of people know that the first 5 minutes of Law & Order is going on up ahead?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Gift of Gab

Merry Christmas, Friends!

We started this Christmas Eve as we do every year, by going to the Avocado House and pouring caramel syrup over everything.

My gift to you is this link to the greatest Christmas skit SNL has every done:  The Sweeney Sisters' Bells Medley. That clip has a tendency to not be online ever so watch it a good 10 to 12 times just to get your fill because who knows how long it will be here.

I think you're great and I hope that your Christmas is filled with every good thing, especially the light of Jesus Christ. He is the best gift.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A wormhole that ended at fudge

I turned the radio to the classical station just as the 1812 Overture was coming to the bells and cannon part. Naturally, I risked future deafness and cranked the volume up to 11 because that part has to be LOUD in order to fully enjoy it. The windows have to rattle or you're doing it wrong. At the end of it the announcer said that the song commemorated the Russian defense against Napoleon, which I didn't know. So I looked up the battle and then fell into a Wikipedia wormhole that started out with:

-the 1812 Overture. It was played as the inaugural performance at Carnegie Hall and conducted by Tchaikovsky himself. Then moved on to

-the War of 1812 (not related, although Napoleon played a part in both)(war is so dumb) and then moved on to

-the practice of impressment by the British of American sailors. They would literally park next to ships docked off the American coast and climb aboard and sniff out any British born sailors who had taken on American citizenship and force them come back and fight for the Empire. This did not go over well. From there is was a quick hop over to

-US and British naval ships. We had one called the USS Frolic, which seems like kind of a pansy name for a war ship, but the British had the HMS Reindeer. That doesn't even make any sense! Then a quick stop through

-Dolley Madison saving my favorite picture of Washington. It's called the Lansdowne portrait but I like to call it the "Well, here's this table, I guess." portrait because his expression says it all. It was his poor teeth! And then I read up on

-Naval Battles of the Great Lakes, including the Battle of Mackinac Island which made me giggle a little because I really wanted them to all eat fudge afterwards. Except that fudge wasn't invented yet. How do I know this?

-Because fudge was my next stop. Did you know that it's an American invention? And that it became popular through women's colleges like Vassar, Wellesley, and Smith ("Go to Smith?! She couldn't even spell it.") The Vassar recipe appears to be the original but it's tricky and you could end up with grainy fudge. Ugh, the worst! It was the Wellesley girls who added the marshmallows.

Who wants to come over for a fudge making party where we try out all three recipes and see who is the victor? We'll wear frilly aprons over our tweed skirts and form-fitting sweaters and in between tastings we'll fiddle with our pearls and talk about which boys we danced with after the Harvard/Yale game.

And we'll listen to the 1812 Overture to bring this baby full circle.

Monday, December 8, 2014


It was a crafty Thanksgiving season. Which is great because when I choose to do crafts during Christmas time I tend to find myself hunched over a pile of felt in tears because my fingers are so sore from stitching. But, just like my shopping, all of my crafts were done before December even started. I cannot emphasize enough how totally unlike me this is. But I've been feeling the old Christmas spirit since before Halloween so maybe that had something to do with it. If it did not go against my very nature I would have had all the decorations up in time for trick or treaters. 

First up, this wreath. 

I love it. I made it several weeks ago because I talked more at my ward's Christmas Craft Saturday than crafted and I was feeling unfulfilled. It doubles as a fall and Christmas wreath because GOLD! It's sparkly and the bonus of this is that after I made it I shook out the towel I was working on onto my stairwell and now the steps are covered in glitter. I hope all of my neighbors feel like royalty as they lug their laundry out. I know I do. True story: this is the first wreath I've ever made and hung and I like the look of it so much that I may turn into one of those crazy Pinterest ladies and have seasonal wreaths all year long. Somebody better stop me because I don't have any room in my wee apartment to store the off-seasons.

Up next, the stockings. I've made all of my nieces and nephews stockings. But I've failed that last two years at getting Addie's done so that was priority number one:

You can't really tell from this picture but she has embroidery floss pig tails. Cute!!! 

And here's Phoebe's:

That bunny kills me! 

Can we just take a moment to admire my lettering? I have the ugliest handwriting, it has zero grace or charm and I really believe it's the one thing that is holding me back from a true Life of Elegant Leisure. But I can't tell you how proud I am of my stitched writing. It was not always so. But the gift of the steady hand was with me that night. Christmas miracle!!