And introducing…

…the newest member of the hordes:

This is my parents’ dog, Beardo (that’s not his real name, but I think his real name is stupid, so I call him Beardo because of his beardy face). They adore him, I don’t really. It’s not his fault, I think I’ve just finally admitted to myself that I’m nowhere near a dog person. I mean, aesthetically, I agree that he’s cute, I just don’t want him around me (he just keeps looking at me with those eyes…).

I’ve also discovered that it’s probably a good thing that I’m an only child. Whenever I’m over and Beardo’s there, too (he went to dog camp while I was housesitting earlier this month), it’s a fairly constant litany of ‘Mom, Beardo’s looking at me,’ ‘Make him stop touching me,’ ‘He’s in my seat,’ and ‘Beardo’s doing something I don’t think he’s supposed to do.’

My cats don’t like him about as much as I don’t, though Arthur is getting braver and at least coming downstairs to look at him every once in a while (Beardo’s on a lead inside the house while he’s adjusting to the cats’ presence so that if he tries to chase, he can only go so far…). Josephine tried a couple of times, but there was a lunging incident and I think that’s sort of put her off him.

Not that I blame her.

Yummy, yummy turkey day!

So I’ve been trying to post about our Thanksgiving dinner since Thursday night, but alas, the internet at my parents’ house has been down since Wednesday. But! The internet works here at Fascist Towers, so I thought I’d take a break from painting and finally get caught up over here.

I think I ended up being in the kitchen for nearly seven hours on Thursday (Mom wussed out around 3:00 to take a nap!), but it was totally worth the work – and pretty fun, too! We did end up missing our ETA for eating by about three and a half hours, but it was just my parents and me, so it’s not like anybody was waiting on us or anything.

We had a few carryovers from last year because they were just too good to replace, even though I really wanted to try lots of new recipes.

That’s a Pink Mai Tai (not necessarily a traditional Thanksgiving cocktail, but still tasty), a Brined Turkey Breast With Spanish Spice Rub and Sour Orange Sauce (made by Mom via Bobby Flay), tofu tossed in the same spice rub as the turkey and with the same sauce (we replaced the chicken stock with vegetable stock to make it veggie-friendly), Baked Mashed Potatoes With Parmesan Cheese and Bread Crumbs, Mashed Sweet Potatoes With Chipotle and Maple Syrup (which we made last year), Cranberry-Orange Relish, String Beans With Ginger and Garlic (which we also made last year), deviled eggs, and hot rolls (yes, from a box, but they’re super-good, so I don’t feel too bad about it).

There were also two completely new desserts this year, both from Ina. First up was a Pumpkin Roulade With Ginger Buttercream:

And next was really the star of the show, a Raspberry Creme Brulee:

And we’ve pretty much just been eating Thanksgiving dinner ever since – no creativity with the leftovers at all – they’re too tasty the way they are! Hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving and for my non-US readers, hope you had a happy fourth Thursday of November!


…at my newly refinished, 70-year-old parquet floors!

The first time they get a scratch (and they’re floors, so I know it’s bound to happen eventually), I just know that I’m going to sob and sob and sob, but for now…


Also. Would you like to meet my fridge?

It’s not here yet, but despite not being the perfect fridge, I’m still glad it’s on its way.

November Daring Bakers Challenge

This month’s challenge was hosted by Dolores of Culinary Curiosity, Alex of Blondie and Brownie, and Jenny of Foray Into Food. Our recipe was Shuna Fish Lydon‘s Caramel Cake and an optional recipe for Alice Medrich’s Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels (from her book, Pure Dessert).

I went into this worried that it was going to be a very involved process like most of the cakes I’ve made for the Daring Bakers have been – making syrups, making cakes, soaking things, frosting things – but this was actually a very simple, straightforward (and yummy!) cake to make. There was a syrup involved – caramel, of course:

Thank goodness this process was just based on the color of the caramel and didn’t actually require a candy thermometer – I hate those things! And then you make a cake. I don’t think there were any crazy instructions or anything – not even cake flour.

I was baking in my parents’ kitchen this month and it was nice to have a reliable oven – took out one last variable. So once the cake’s done, you whip up a quick frosting using brown butter (How can you go wrong?!), pour yourself a big glass of milk, and enjoy!

Presentation and decoration are obviously my weaknesses, but if you click through the blogroll up there, you’ll find some gorgeously decorated cakes!

p.s. – I did try the caramels, but I think my candy thermometer failed me – it didn’t seem to want to get any higher than 220 degrees which is not nearly as high as we were meant to get our mixtures and everything ended up tasting quite burny. I may try it again, but we’re coming up on Thanksgiving and I may be occupied with baking lots of other things instead…

Oh, Ina!

I had never made one of Ina’s savory dishes before tonight. I’d made a few of her desserts before and, yes, they were good but they weren’t spectacular. This?


That is Lemon Fusilli With Arugula. Yum! I could take or leave the arugula, but the rest of it is amazing. I added a few cubes of mozarella because, well, honestly, I’d add cubes of mozarella to my Cheerios if I had enough time in the mornings. But her recipe (surprise, surprise) does make roughly a full metric ton, so we’ll see how well it warms up as leftovers…

I also made the Thai-Spiced Pumpkin Soup from 101 Cookbooks which is very tasty with a side of grilled cheese, but I forgot to take any artful photographs of the roasting acorn squash, so you’ll just have to imagine it for yourselves. 😉

Quantum of Solace (and Casino Royale)

I had never seen a Bond movie before this Friday when I watched Casino Royale (okay, full disclosure – I did actually see Goldeneye, but I saw it on a plane and I couldn’t actually see the screen from my seat, so I ended up watching it in the reflection of the window of the row in front of me and I don’t think that actually counts), but something about the trailer for Quantum of Solace, really got me – when Daniel Craig is walking up over the dune with the gun and the Bond theme blaring behind him –  and I really wanted to see it.

So first I watched Casino Royale. And I really, really liked it! I don’t know what all the fuss was about when Daniel Craig was cast as the new Bond – I think he’s fantastic. I finally see the appeal in Bond. And Eva Green was great (but super-skinny – someone give the poor girl a sandwich!) and Judi Dench is supremely awesome! I mean, how could she not be?! But it was a little incomprehensible toward the end – I think I must have lost track of who was working with who and what everybody was after (though I asked Faux-Stompy, with whom I went to see Quantum of Solace, and he said he had been meaning to ask me if I understood it, so maybe it wasn’t just me…). I didn’t care, though – it was action-packed and there were bad guys and mostly it was all just down to Daniel Craig and his awesomeness.

So last night I saw Quantum of Solace and I think I liked Casino Royale better. Quantum is a direct sequel, so if you haven’t seen Casino Royale, it won’t make any sense (not that it really made much as it was, though). I missed Eva Green and wasn’t super-enthused about his new Bond girl, but it was still a fun, mindless romp.

My rating: I’m definitely going to check out at least a Sean Connery Bond movie now!

Progress and expectations…

So I am ensconced at my parents’ house for approximately the next week and all my worldly possessions are ensconced in storage with perhaps the world’s most incompetent movers. It may be my fault – I think I was expecting movers from the ’50s, dressed in shined shoes and freshly pressed uniforms with bow ties and maybe jaunty hats who whistled and made punny comments. What we got were two guys, one of whom had a medical condition preventing him from carrying things up or down stairs and yet has not reconsidered his current profession. D:

The floor guys start their work tomorrow and then my stuff goes in on the 24th and then it’s time to get everything put back together, finish painting, and hopefully get started in on the kitchen!

A poll!

ETA: The results are in and either I’m a better packer than I was two years ago or I’ve gotten my book-buying problem better under control. The answer is…44 boxes of books! It’s less than I was expecting, too – I was guessing 50 – I guess I underestimated how much working at Borders was an enabler/convenience for indiscriminately buying books!

New TV: Thursday

30 Rock (8:30 CST, NBC)

I can’t believe I forgot to tell you about this! 30 Rock – easily the best show on television – started up again last week. And it was superb, as always. Jack is back at NBC, though not where you think (at least not right away) and Liz is starting the adoption process (which is where Megan Mullally fits in). It is screwball comedy at its best and it is awesome!

Liz Lemon is a fantastic every-woman – I feel like I AM her, only not as cool, Jack is a hilarious contradiction (he knows that everything he stands for is terrible and ridiculous, but he can’t help himself), Jenna is needy, and Tracy Jordan is certifiably insane. There looks to be many a celebrity guest star coming up, but I trust 30 Rock to make good use of them and not let things get out of hand

My rating: If you’re not watching this show, you should be ashamed of yourself. And then you should start watching it.

Equity on the Midwestern front!

I am now a homeowner. I know, right?! Me?! A HOMEOWNER?! OH MY GOD, WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?!?!?!

…Um, sorry, I’m still a little bit terrified of it all, even though I know it was the right decision. It still needs a bit of work before I’ll be entirely pleased with it – I mean, it’s perfectly livable as it is, but I have high and particular standards (and very little money – the credit card will be hit hard in the near future, I think) of what I consider to be acceptable interior design.

It’s a one-bedroom apartment in an older building which was built in the late 30s/early 40s. Would you like to see pictures of it as is?

The bedroom (it’s been so long since I’ve had a bedroom!)

The bathroom

The living room

The kitchen


…A GARAGE! I AM DONE SCRAPING MY CAR IN WINTER! But it is detached which means a bit of a hike with groceries, but still…A GARAGE! Look how happy my little car is in his new house.

The To-Do List

  1. Carpets are coming up! Done! There’s lovely 70-year old parquet wood floors there – they need a little bit of love, but soon they’ll be beautiful again!
  2. Ceiling fans are coming down! The ceilings are a teensy bit lower than I’m used to and the two ceiling fans add an Indiana Jones element to walking around that I’m not really into.
  3. The giant venetian blinds are coming off! I just don’t like them. Drapes are much nicer.
  4. …Everything else – new paint, new kitchen floor, new light fixtures, a fridge (I long for this one – anybody have $2,000 they don’t need?), new cabinetry, etc.

But you may have noticed the new category that this post falls under and that is due to the condo association. There are SO MANY RULES! And I like rules as much as the next person, but many of these are the condescending sort of rules which annoy me. And mostly it is the single cat rule that is the most annoying. No, I’m not getting rid of one of my cats – I would sell the place on again before I did that – the board know I have them and they agreed to let me live there anyway, but they did say that I should just not “flaunt my two cats” (what does that even mean?!) and implied that there were people who would gleefully turn me in. But they’re indoor cats – the only time anyone will ever see them is if they are in their carriers and there is a fire alarm.

My plan is to get myself a black beret and style myself as La Resistance! Vive La Resistance! Deux chats pour tout!