Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tricks and treats

Charlie Brown got a rock.
My kids got tie-dyed underwear and the seven hour Collector's Edition of Titanic*.

The rest of you get Candy Bar Cookie Bars.

Of course, if you are battening down the hatches because the storm of all storms is crashing down all around you, having some extra underwear around, regardless of what color it is, may be a blessing in disguise**.  As are these treats.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Then we had a little lamb

With deepest apologies to the nursery rhyme version*:

Came home with some ground up lamb
(ground up lamb! ground up lamb!)
Came home with some ground up lamb
Inpsired to make meatballs

Added feta in by hand
(in by hand! in by hand!)
Added feta in by hand
with herbs, an egg and salt

Then I baked the balls of lamb,
(balls of lamb! balls of lamb!)
Then I baked the balls of lamb,
'Til they were round and plump

Served the meatballs to the fam
(to the fam! to the fam!)
Served the meatballs to the fam
Who gobbled them all up!

The End

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cook my Mailbox Weekend IV

That whole fall thing?
First it was kinda happening.
Then it was 99 degrees outside.

I took this as a sign that someone up there wanted me catch up on my summer reading, and retired to the hammock. I made excellent progress* on the July issue of Bon Appetit before I fell asleep.

When I woke up, I made this for dinner.

The steaks were melt in your mouth amazing, which I took as a sign that someone up there wanted to reward me for taking the afternoon off.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bacon Jam, A Fable


A short story, typically with animals as characters, conveying a moral.

Bacon Jam, A Fable

Once upon a time, there was a middle aged Encino housewife Toad who got a mysterious jar in the mail from her friend, Tracy Frog. Toad was very excited about this jar because it had the magic word, "Bacon", written on it.  Toad was right to be excited, because inside the jar was the most amazing treat in the whole wide world:  Bacon Jam.

But Toad was selfish, and did not share the Bacon Jam with any of the other animals in the swamp.  She did not even share the Bacon Jam with Mr. Toad.  She saved it all for herself, hidden in the way back of her fridge.

Then one day, when she went to get just a bit to put onto on her fried egg sandwich, the little jar was gone!  The helpful hedgehog that kept Toad's house clean had thrown it out by mistake.  Toad was  furious.  But the fridge was a lot cleaner and hedgehogs can be prickly, so she held her tongue and bided her time.

Soon enough, Toad went to visit Frog.  Because she was a kind and generous hostess, Frog took Toad to the Skillet Diner, where that astonishing little jar had come from in the first place*, and treated her to lunch.  Naturally, Toad ordered "The Burger" with Bacon Jam, arugula and creamy bleu cheese, and when it came she almost died with happiness, the burger was so delicious.  Instead of offering to split the heavenly burger with her friend Frog, Toad was selfish and gobbled up most of it all by herself.  In fact,  she only gave Frog one tiny little bite. To be polite.

Months passed, but Toad never forgot about the marvelous Bacon Jam.  While she and her colleague Badger were on a business trip in Frog's neck of the woods, she began scheming to herself.  Toad made a sly plan to take Badger to Skillet Diner.  She planned to have The Burger, and to convince Badger to order one of his own, so she would not have to share even a tiny little bite of her meltingly scrumptious Bacon Jam.

Seeing right through her plan, Badger, being a kind, wise, and generous guest, ordered the Ultimate Grilled Cheese with Bacon Jam, because he could see in Toad's greedy little eyes exactly how much she wanted to try that, too.  And when the food came, he let her have the first bite, piping hot and crispy, dripping with cheese and that incredible Bacon Jam.

Toad was profoundly moved, and more than a little ashamed of herself.  She cut her burger in half, and passed one half over to Badger.  Grinning, they each took a bite of the other's dish.  Closing their eyes, they groaned and mumbled with their mouths full:  "Oh. My. GOD.  This stuff is so GOOD!!"

Then they BOTH almost died with happiness.

The End.

The moral of the story is:

Never keep the wonders of Bacon Jam all to yourself.  But if you do, make sure you get to it before the housekeeper does.** 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Just a hint of fall

We've been waiting very patiently.

Sunscreen containers almost empty.
Sweaters freshly dry cleaned.
Boots polished.
Cozy pashminas organized by color.
New fuzzy socks.

But frigging summer has just been hanging around, laughing.

Until this week. The mornings were gray and cool and the wind was picking up a few stray leaves here and there.  The night air coming in through the open windows in the kitchen had me reaching for a sweatshirt as I wrote this.

Yes, it was still 80 degrees at noon, but here (finally!!!), was just a hint of fall.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Carpool Wars: Battle Taco!

Given how intense this thing is getting, I clearly need to update the "Feud" entry on Wikipedia:

"A feud (ˈfjuːd'), referred to in more extreme cases as a blood feudvendettafaida, or private war, is a long-running argument or fight, often between social groups of people, especially families or clans.

Famous blood feuds

The Hatfield clan in 1897.

Carpool Wars: Battle Taco!
The latest skirmish between the carpool clans was brutal, as usual.

First, the battle lines were drawn:

A taco, by definition, is a tortilla folded around a filling, so that's the basic limit. 
Tortillas can be corn or flour, homemade or store bought. 
The filling can be anything -- meat, veggies, combination, etc. 
The tacos themselves can be fried or not, rolled or soft. 
Because condiments are such a personal thing, I'd suggest we each have a "recommended" configuration (including specific toppings, if any), but allow the judges to customize their own if they choose from your available condiments.

Available condiments?
Try five different homemade salsas, freshly chopped mangos, various types of crumbled and grated cheese, quick-pickled onions, shredded lettuce, thinly sliced radishes, chopped cilantro, ripe tomato wedges, sour cream, dill cucumber spears, olives, diced white onions, and fresh avocado.

Now picture them rigidly separated into four distinct sections of a big table, and pity the fool that tried to put one woman's cotija cheese on another woman's chicken taco.


The tacos themselves?
Two fried, two not.

The tortillas?
All corn.  Some grilled, some freshly heated on a cast iron griddle.

The fillings that could be anything?
Shredded chicken.
Grilled swordfish.
Slow roasted beef brisket.
Smoky sirloin and chorizo.

Homemade guacamole and chips, in a gorgeous authentic molcajete.
Caesar salad.
Seasoned refried black beans.
Fresh Hibiscus tea.
Margaritas, too.
Juicy watermelon.
Mexican bread pudding and salted caramel shortbread bars.

And after all that work?
The verdict was perfectly split, four ways.

Yep, this this particular vendetta may go on for years**.

And now....The Battle Taco contenders!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

eCheesyPennies for your iPad. oCool!

Apparently you can tell something is high tech these days when it has a lower-case vowel in front of the name.


Guess I'm high tech now.

I've got an eBook!

The much loved (but sadly quite expensive) Cheesy Pennies Cookbook (circa 2010) is now available as an eBook for iPad from the Blurb Bookstore or Apple's iBookstore.   For the ridiculously low price of $2.99!

uGo. uBuy.

Grandma's Naughty Cinnamon Balls

Every Friday afternoon, my mom used to come over.

She'd have a load of groceries for us (mostly toilet paper), jokes she'd clipped out of the newspaper for the kids*, and leftovers for the dog.  She'd take over the couch, pretend to be mystified by the Tivo remote, then unerringly find Oprah and crank the volume up.  She'd set packages of whatever junk food was on special that week out on the counter, with neat block letters in colored pens labeling which grandkid got the gummy worms, and who got the Oreos.  She'd frown as I sat glued to my laptop, occasionally nodding and saying "um hm", frustrated that I was not nearly as concerned as I should be about Celine Dion, then dispense advice to my husband when he got in from work. We'd escape to the movies, come home and find her with Nick at Nite blaring, the dog curled up on the rug by her feet, and the cat staring balefully at us from his perch by her head.

Every Saturday morning, she'd make these.

My son would practically run to the breakfast table, my daughter would immediately put a pile of them on her plate, and my husband would sit down, pour a big glass of OJ, and shake his head.  "Grandma," he'd say, "you made the naughty cinnamon balls again! What are you trying to do to me?"

Then he'd take two.