Thursday, July 30, 2009

Missing camera cord and books to read.

Well, I have had so many things I have wanted to share with you, namely food items I have created, but my camera cord is missing. I will bring you pictures, recipes, and stories when the cord is found. But alas, I will share with you some more books to add to your list to read.

Steve Almond and quickly becoming one of my favorite authors for his humor, voice, and sheer ability to be so conversational in written word. He is fantastic! I bought his book Candyfreak! while in college and fell in love. It so really interesting, not to mention hilarious. Almond regales his readers with stories from childhood through adulthood all surrounding his love of candy. He never leaves the reader bored.

I am now reading his collection of essays, (Not that You Asked). He writes about everything from "how this book became an official 'Oprah's Book Club' pick (not that you asked)" to "how I became a baby daddy (not that you asked)". I am half-way through and he has kept me captivated. Beware, Steve Almond leaves nothing out. He's cynical, uses crude analogies, make sexual references, and swears a lot. But with all that, he tells stories of his love of literature, what makes him love his wife, and how he became a writer. I would say he is a modern-romantic, whimsical in thought with a splash of obscenity. He makes me laugh, feel connected, and the swearing part makes me think of my friend Liz.

I highly suggest both Candyfreak! and (Not that You Asked) to you because I like you.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

North Woods and Cakes

I went on a lovely 5-day ladies trip to Wisconsin with 3 co-workers. It was such a nice, relaxing time. While there I read The Jane Austen Book Club. I have seen the movie and was looking for a light and easy read for my trip. It was enjoyable and just a fun little read. If you need a quick pick- me-up, look for it at your library. Side note: Isn't it so interesting how books can be transformed by a movie? There are scenes and characters in the book that are blown-up, vamped, and made to be the proverbial mountain out of molehill. The book is sweet, the movie is sweet, but in different ways. While I was gone a beautiful little thing happened. I had a NEW oven and dryer delivered from Sears. My new oven is not only clean and new, but has a ceramic top, 5 working and smell-free burners, a steady temperature in the oven, and there's a light! I love it! The dryer is great too. It runs in a normal amount of time and makes a nice loud 'ding' sound when done. So happy!

Which brings me to my next point. I made a delicious honey vanilla pound cake with cherries as the inaugural bake in the new oven. It was so yummy.

Here's the recipe from Ina Garten, THE Barefoot Contessa.

Honey Vanilla Pound Cake (Ina Garten)

½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
1¼ cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature

2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ a jar of maraschino cherries or another fruit of choice, cut in half (my own addition)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of an 8½ x 4½ x 2½ inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes. Meanwhile, put the eggs, honey, vanilla, and lemon zest in a glass measuring cup but do not combine. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the egg mixture, one egg at a time, scraping down the bowl and allowing each egg to become incorporated before adding the next egg.

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. With the mixer on low speed, add it slowly to the batter until just combined. Finish mixing the batter with a rubber spatula and add the fruit by folding gently. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes, turn out onto a baking rack, and cool completely.

Good eats to you and to my "roomies".

Here's the results if you cook like Ina and photograph like Quentin Bacon
(I kid you not, a food photographer named Bacon).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mi casa es su casa.

Here are some highlights from our new home. Including a picture of Mike's mom in front of our house after her visit, our very comfy living room, kitchen (in which we are getting a NEW ceramic top range), dining room filled with band posters, and our adorable cat, Applesauce. Like cats or not, she is fluffy and adorable.

We love our new house and love visitors even more. Please come to our lovely city and we will happily put you up in a fine guest quarters (ask Don Juan) and feed you well.


Well, I have long enjoyed blogging (in secret) with friends as a way to stay in touch and just express joy, sorrow, laughter, and life in another way. As of late, I have outed myself as a blog-writer and blog-reader, as well have been inspired by friends who have begun their blogging journeys. So, here it is; snack-sized pieces of life with Mike in Champaign.