Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Courtroom Crisis: My First Jury Duty

I've had some insecurity issues with the government. In the illustrious tradition of the government picking judicial teams from amongst citizens, I've had to shift uncomfortably time and again while all of my family members were chosen and I was left holding my brand new dodgeball... still smelling of brand new rubber.

I watched each of them open their civil servant envelopes, wondering why I hadn't gotten a golden ticket, a chance to participate in our country's system of justice... to decide with prudence and justice the guilt or innocence of an alleged criminal.

And then it happened.


Oh, after years of watching Perry Mason, I know for sure I can handle courtroom drama. I've daydreamed of being the rational, clear-sighted cool-headed Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) from 12 Angry Men.

Goodness gracious, in '95 I tuned in each day during lunchtime for the O.J. Simpson trial. I was born for this.

Here's the crisis, though: I'm set to report next week...


I've got a call in to the county clerk for another one, but I can't help but feel my first chance to prove my worthiness to the Justice Department of this noble state has been an epic bungling failure.

Have you ever served on a jury? What was it like? Any advice?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Romanticized Farm Painting, Deconstructed

The Farmer's Daughter by Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau

1. The woman is barefoot. You do not, I repeat, do not walk around chickens with bare feet. Squishy smeary things get between your toes.

2. With her hand full of grain, she'd better keep those fingers away from beak's reach. And because chickens can fly, beak's reach is pretty high. Had the painting been captured a few seconds later, she'd have a peck wound on that lazy scatter hand of hers.

3. Long skirts and chickens don't mix. Maybe she's just out for a thrill, but I've had a chicken up my skirt before, and it wasn't pretty. Only the manliest pants will do for chicken chores, now. (If the skirt isn't billowy like hers, it could work, but there is too much room for an inquisitive biddy under that hem).

4. These are the politest chickens I've ever seen. They're not all fighting over the same piece of corn. Maybe it was a more formal society, then, but the casual cluckers of our contemporary culture are in a chicken eat chicken world.

Anybody with chicken experience have anything to add?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Beautiful Little Surprise

Early this afternoon, I thought for sure I heard my husband's pickup pull into the driveway.

But it was during the middle of the day, and he hadn't called to tell me he was dropping by.

But indeed...

Welcome Footsteps by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912)

... happiness ensued.

Friday, August 26, 2011

My Day Without a Computer

7:02am: Wakeup. Realize the dishwasher repairman is coming. Hurry to do dishes to look like I've got this thing covered.

7:24am: Check on latest blogs and e-mails. Realize my battery isn't charging though the computer is plugged in. Ignore it for now.

8:33am: Aware of the fact I just missed Mass. And it's Friday. I hurry up and go to a holy blog to soothe my conscience.

8:59am: Eat some yogurt out of the container in front of the window. Realize the dishwasher repairman is looking in the window. Shove yogurt back in fridge while swallowing and pretend like I was inspecting something very important deep inside the fridge.

9:14am: See that I only have 54% battery power remaining on the laptop. Start to panic. Try to investigate reasons why my dishwasher wasn't working, since it won't act up for the repairman.

9:36am: Escort the repair guy out the door. He claims there was nothing wrong with it at all. Tell that to my mop, that's still reeking from the sludge it swiped off the floor last week.

9:38am: Start Googling, quickly, remedies for a battery that won't charge.

9:42am: Start backing up data. Down to 22% and losing power quickly.

9:50am: Data backup failed. It always does. Start cutting emotional ties to all of my photographs and documents.

9:54am: 9% battery power remaining. Turn off computer in case I need it for an emergency later.

9:55am: What the bazookie am I going to do all day?

9:56am: Go back for some more yogurt. And I'm going to use two spoons, 'cause there's nothing wrong with the dishwasher.

9:58am: Wonder if laptop withdrawal is emergency enough to turn the computer back on.


10:25am: Plug laptop into every available power outlet in the house. None of them is causing the blue light (which I normally find obnoxious beyond belief) to turn on.

10:27am: Repeat.

10:40am: Repeat.

10:43am: Start cleaning my desk out. I've been meaning to do that for weeks.

11:15am: Plug laptop into every available outlet in the house. Maybe it'll work this time?

11:30am: Clean out the closet and rearrange the wardrobe by color and season. I've been meaning to do that, too.

12:15pm: Eat lunch. Start brewing a new batch of Kombucha.

1:30pm: Look at the laptop and thank the Lord it isn't working.

1:31pm: Play the piano for the first time in a year. I start practicing a new Beethoven Sonata. One of the really tricky ones... it could be a long day.

3:31pm: I'm STILL playing the piano. My wrists are aching, but it's so fun! Why did I quit doing this, again? Oh yeah, I have a laptop.

3:35pm: Start reading Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy.

3:37pm: Fall asleep.

5:00pm: Pick up Return of the Native again.

5:02pm: Start slipping into dreamland again. Shake it off and head to the kitchen.

5:04pm: Look at the blueberry pie. Oh goodness it's calling my name.

5:05pm: Bite my lip. It doesn't taste as good as the blueberry pie would have.

5:06pm: Hear the ice cream beckoning from the freezer. This is the hard part of the day for me. It's the time most normal human beings eat dinner... but not a farm wife. I silence my rumbling stomach, remove my right hand from the freezer door with my left hand, and wonder if it knows what it's doing.

5:07pm: Call my husband and ask when he's going to be home, again.

5:19pm: Get off the phone with a giddy grin. Dang I love that man. But he's not coming home for another 2 hours, and evading the call of the pie is hard work. You can work up an appetite that way.

5:20pm: Remember that school starts on Monday and none of the school books have arrived. Wonder if I should start alternate planning. Rationalize that I've already conquered enough procrastination for one day and lie down until the feeling passes.

5:38pm: Get a call from my brother and shoot the breeze for an hour. I do the dishes (who am I kidding? I loaded the dishwasher) and scrub the bathroom during that time.

6:40pm: Devise a new storage system for my craft supplies. While doing so, discover a whole box of supplies I'd forgotten I had. Reminisce and remember that I used to have lots of hobbies, and a life, before I got a laptop.

7:23pm: Husband arrives home (with a laptop cord). Happiness. 

7:23 1/2pm: Laptop is plugged in, and working.

7:45pm: Dinner. More happiness. Conversation. Happiness.

Why did we have to fix this thing, again?

So I could blog about it, of course.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Country Bumpkin Stereotype

My husband came home with two new Wrangler work shirts.

The purchase came with a pair of tickets to the county fair.

And so, clad in our matching denim Wranglers, I've got a date to the rodeo tonight!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Farm Life Vignette

Somebody, large, fat, and snoopy couldn't handle her Atkins diet anymore.

She's been surreptitiously watching my husband open the coop door each day, as he gives the chubby biddies their ample ration of grain.

There have been loud complaints from the ungrateful ungulate about the fact that she only has pasture and hay, when what she really needs to maintain her sleek physique are some hearty whole grains.

As she's failed to produce a single drop of milk, which is her sole purpose in life, her complaints have largely fallen upon deaf ears.

So she took matters into her own... hooves.

At an undisclosed hour, the roguish ruminant unlatched the coop door, and squished her fat belly through the frame, ignoring the terrified tremors and flying feathers of the petrified poultry, focused fully on getting her carb fix. She indulged. She glutted.

But she was caught, bread handed, by the farmer.

A strong line of electric fencing has now been attached to the coop. She'll be in for a shock next time she heads for the bread box.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Today's Tomato Tally

7 hours (counting neither my sister-in-law's tomato picking time, nor cleanup, which was substantial)

7 pints of whole canned tomatoes
11 pints of lacto-fermented salsa
14 pints of tomato sauce
1 completely tomato juice covered t-shirt

That's 4 gallons of tomatoes, in case you didn't do the math.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Musings on a Marian Feast

Right now... I've just gotten back from Adoration. I'm hungry for lunch and am greedily eyeing the leftover tomato salad.

Happy Feast of the Coronation!

This weekend... was beautiful. *sigh*

Some plans for this week... declutter the house. I did it last year but it needs to be done again. Bye bye things I haven't used or looked at during that year. Yes, someday I may need it, but if I haven't used it in the last year, chances are I really don't need it.

Tomorrow my sister-in-law and I are going to can tomatoes. I actually have a half dozen jars of tomatoes leftover from last year, but that's because I hoarded them (are you noticing a packrat theme, here?).

On Wednesday we're having a dinner party, so I need to plan and prep for that. I'd like to make the ice cream and blueberry pie ahead of time, anyway.

I also need to paint the chicken coop. I've hemmed and hawed about it for months, but really? I need to just do it.

Friday morning the dishwasher repairman guy is coming to install a new dishwasher. Too bad he couldn't come before the dinner party on Wednesday.

If I find some time for myself, I would like to... harvest all of the potatoes and plant a fall crop of peas.

Some prayer intentions for this week: for some forward movement on the dream house.

I am grateful for... a relaxing weekend. This final week of Summer vacation. A great prayer meeting on Saturday.

Something that makes me smile... memories of the weekend with my husband. What a character he is!

Monday Musings are hosted at Patch O' Dirt Farm.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tea Party: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

Weakness, thy name is cookie dough.

Chocolate chip cookie dough, actually.

Chocolate chip cookie dough truffle enrobed in melted chocolate and sprinkled with mini chocolate chips, really.

I wonder how they fit that on the birth certificate?

Not that I would mind if there were, but there's no raw egg in this cookie dough, either.

To think, I put off making these for a year and a half because I didn't want to buy miniature chocolate chips!

I've got a stockpile of mini chocolate chips now, though. Believe you me.

Tea party, birthday party, baby shower, because it's Friday, or to celebrate the UK's National Hug Your Boss Day, go ahead and make these.

They're really that good.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles
Printable Recipe

8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
2¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
1½ lb. semisweet (or bittersweet) chocolate, coarsely chopped
Mini chocolate chips (for garnish)

Combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the flour, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla until incorporated and smooth.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the mixture has firmed up enough to form balls.

Shape the chilled cookie dough mixture into 1-1½ inch balls.  Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.  Cover loosely, transfer the pan to the freezer and chill for 1-2 hours.

When ready to dip the truffles, melt the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Dip each chilled truffle, one at a time, coating in chocolate and shaking gently to remove the excess.  (If at any point during dipping, the cookie dough balls become too soft, return to the freezer to chill for 30 minutes.)  Transfer to a wax-paper lined surface.  If using mini chocolate chips for garnish, sprinkle on top quickly after dipping each truffle before the chocolate sets.  Once all the truffles have been dipped, store them in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Recipe from Annie's Eats
Recipe Note: I halved the recipe (not reflected in the recipe above) and still had over 2 dozen truffles. The original recipe would be perfect for a party, but I'd halve it otherwise.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tea Party: Orange Cream Chocolate Truffle Patties

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, these little treats were my favorite at our recent tea party.

I also only happened to make 7 of them, so they were all the more desirable for their scarcity.

They were also semi-disastrous. They wouldn't set up and came out as patties instead of nice round truffles, so I almost threw the whole thing away.

But I'm SO glad I didn't. Really glad. Really really glad. Because there's something irresistible, to me, about the chocolate and orange combination. I really enjoy it in general, and these?




Orange Cream Chocolate Truffle Patties
Printable recipe

For the filling:
1 cup of good quality white chocolate very finely chopped (or white chocolate chips if you want patties)
Zest of 1 orange (reserve a little for garnishing)
5 tbsp. heavy cream

For the coating: 
1 cup bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I did actually use a good quality chocolate baking bar instead of chips here)
3 tsp. oil (optional -- to make the chocolate coating smoother)

Heat the cream to a simmer (in the microwave or on the stove). Pour heated cream over chopped white chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes. Add in zest and stir until white chocolate is smooth and melted (if there's just not enough heat, microwave in 10-15 second intervals until it melts). Cover and refrigerate until the filling is firm and scoopable, 2-3 hours (I let it go overnight).

Using a small scoop or measuring spoon, scoop a small amount of the filling mixture and, working quickly, roll into a smooth ball (if it will let you), about ¾-1 inch in diameter. If it won't let you roll it into a ball, you'll have truffle patties but they still taste amazing. Don't sweat it. Transfer the shaped balls/patties to a flat plate or baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes.

 To coat the truffles, melt the bittersweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water (this really does make it smoother and helps it stay smoother longer, but you can microwave for 20 second intervals until smooth, as well).  Mix in the oil, if using.  (You may want to transfer the melted chocolate to a small, deep bowl for easier dipping.)  Using a fork, quickly dip a filling ball into the chocolate and remove, gently shaking off the excess.  Return the filling ball to the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining balls until all are coated.  While chocolate is still wet, garnish with a little more orange zest (I used lemon zest because my orange was already stripped bare, and they still tasted amazing). Chill to set the coating, at least 30 minutes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tea Party: Easy Oreo Truffles

I've posted Oreo truffles before, but they were of the mint variety. I know they've been popular around the blogosphere and the magazine world (magasphere?), and you've probably even made them before, but I post them again because they're just SO good, and SO easy!

They're also a nice little bite-sized treat for a tea party.

I made the filling one day, and rolled and dipped them the next.

Actually they can stay in your fridge (after dipping) for weeks, but good luck making them last that long.

Go ahead, girls... whip out a batch of these tonight!

You know they're calling your name.

3 ingredients, why not?

Easy Oreo Truffles
Printable Version

1 package chocolate sandwich cookies (yeah, I didn't actually use Oreos, I used Famous Amos I think)
1 8oz. package cream cheese (softened)
white chocolate bark (or 1/2 a bag or so of white chocolate chips + 2 tsp. oil)

1. Crush cookies (filling and all) in food processor, blender or in a ziplock using a rolling pin
2. Stir in softened cream cheese. Use the back of a large spoon to help mash the two together.
3. Roll the mixture into 1″ balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet.
4. Melt chocolate as directed on the package (if using white chocolate chips and oil, don't add the oil until after the chocolate is melted) and then dip balls into chocolate, tap off extra and set aside on wax paper covered cookie sheet to dry.
5. Garnish with cookie crumbs.
6. Once dry (if they get to that stage before you polish 'em all off), refrigerate and enjoy!
Makes about 36 truffles.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tea Party: Cherry Almond Orange Scones

The cherries that went into these little babies were so ripe they looked like black olives.

But no... they were just super-ripe super-sugary cherries.

Almond extract and orange zest rounded out the flavor balance. I really like these and will make them again.

And whether for a tea or for breakfast, I would highly encourage you to do the same!

Cherry Almond Orange Scones
Printable Recipe

1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. baking soda
4 cups all-purpose flour (unbleached is nice)
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
1 egg
1/4 cup cream
2 cups cherries (approximately -- I didn't measure)
orange (zest from a large orance, and/or 1 tsp. orange oil/extract... I used the zest, 'cause it's what I had)
1 tsp. almond extract (and/or ½ cup almond slivers)

Preheat oven to 370°F.

In a small bowl, mix sour cream and baking soda.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar and salt. Cut in butter (I literally cut the butter by putting it onto a cutting board and chopping it... but you can use a pastry blender, a fork, a food processor, a penny whistle, or any method you normally use to cut in butter).

Add sour cream mixture, 1 egg, and 1/4 cup of cream almond (extract and/or slivers) and orange (zest, or extract) to the dry ingredients.

Mix with a wooden spoon just to combine. Add in cherries and knead lightly (in the bowl) just until it forms a cohesive mass with well-dispersed cherries. (Note: it won't be pretty, it's a very shaggy dough, but that's what makes them nice and crumbly. DON'T OVERKNEAD, the less you handle the dough the better the end result).

Choose your adventure:

A) Divide the dough into two portions and make each into round discs. Freeze 1 disc to use later and cut the remaining one into 8 pieces (like you would cut a pizza or a pie). Put on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 20-25 minutes.

B) Form the dough into a large round disc. Cut it into 8 pieces (like you would a pizza or a pie), put the mondo scones onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake for 27-35 minutes, or until golden brown and the middles look cooked.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tea Party: Egg Salad Sandwiches

Next week in the Tea Party series we'll cover sweet treats, but today we finish up the miniature sandwiches.

Mix together chopped hard boiled eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, a little garlic powder, fresh (or dried) dill, chopped dill pickle, minced celery and you've got one of my favorites smiling back up at you.

If your hard boiled egg has a grey ring around the yolk, you've cooked it far too long. It tastes fine, of course, but if you're hosting a tea you don't want anything as indelicate as grey egg yolks!

For perfectly cooked hard boiled eggs, bring a pot of water with 1 Tbsp. vinegar to a boil. Gently place eggs (room temperature eggs are best, as they won't crack open from temperature shock) in the boiling water, cover the pot with a lid, remove from heat, and set a timer to 15 minutes. You'll have the happiest hard boiled egg you've ever cooked.

It makes a tasty Friday lunch, as well.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tea Party: Smoked Salmon Caper Sandwiches

Today's tea party recipe is, perhaps, a little unorthodox. I mean, smoked fish with Earl Gray? But the point is, it's delicious, and when served as a tiny tidbit, is elegant and dainty as well.

I don't think I'd serve this to children (because, after all, kids can't appreciate the greatness of smoked salmon... more for MEEEE), but if you're having ladies over it's a lovely addition to the sandwich platter.

Grapes are a classic pairing.

Served on sourdough, pumpernickel, or rye, this little sandwich has layers of flavor and character.

Salty briny capers, smoky peppery salmon, garlicky creamy Boursin (or Rondelle or garden herb cream cheese) cheese...

Forget the tea, I'm making these for lunch!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tea Party: Cucumber Sandwiches

Hello ladies. Welcome to the tea party!

I don't know about you, but when I hear "tea party," the first thing I think about (even before tea) is cucumber sandwiches.

They're little. They're dainty. They're light. They're lovely.

A few notes:
  • cucumber sandwiches are supposed to be bread, butter, cucumbers, and maybe a little salt
  • cucumber sandwiches with the above ingredients taste bland but are perfect for tea
  • as much as I love being traditional, I have a hard time making bland
  • Ergo, my version isn't traditional
  • and I don't care
Now that that's settled, let's proceed.

Very simple. Bread, cucumbers, salt, sprouts (I used clover and radish), cream cheese.

Assemble, with a tomato rose, and voila...

... a dainty and elegant presentation.

You could, of course, use much more thinly sliced bread. And of course you could use flavored cream cheese (garden variety, anyone?). As it was, these were airy little clouds of crispy goodness. Not a flavor-filled punch packer, but a dainty accompaniment to tea.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Tea Time!

My lovely sisters-in-law came over on Saturday for a tea party / luncheon.

Hold on to your pinafores, ladies, 'cause this week is gonna be a dizzy doozy of delightful dainties!

Recipes, and of course copious photos, to follow.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Unattainable Goal of Goal-Setting

I first saw the 101 Things in 1001 Days challenge on my cousin's blog. I was intrigued. What a brilliant and fun idea; a way to set goals bigger than a weekly to-do list but smaller than an outrageous lifelong bucket list. 1001 days is 2.75 years -- perfect.

But coming up with 101 realistic goals is hard work.

I've been chipping away at it for almost a week and a half and I still only have 46 items on the list. Several times I've resisted the temptation to jot down "do laundry," "bake bread," "go to the post office," and the like. On the other end of the spectrum, I've had to avoid things like "build a house," "start a micro dairy," and "publish a book." We're talking less than 3 years, here.

Here's what I've got so far:

1. Generate a small monthly supplemental income
2. Start and use a sourdough starter
3. Renew my consecration to the Blessed Mother
4. Finish a 9 day novena without missing any days
5. Go to Mass every day for three months
6. Help set up irrigation on our property
7. Exercise 4 times a week for three months
8. Lose 60 pounds
9. Make sauerkraut (the Nourishing Traditions way)
10. Grow enough basil to freeze pesto
11. Go fishing, catch something, and eat it the same night
12. Finish knitting a scarf
13. Go swing dancing
14. Make sushi
15. Spend a night in a cabin at Mt. Rainier
16. Pray the Rosary every day for three months
17. Start an orchard on our property
18. Hang a real curtain over the sliding glass door
19. Paint the chicken coop
20. Render lard
21. Render tallow
22. Take a painting class
23. Win a ribbon in the county fair
24. Get paid to write an article
25. Finish reading 5 great classics
26. Go to the symphony with my husband
27. Go miniature golfing
28. Eat a duck egg
29. Donate my hair to Locks of Love
30. Shoot a round of billiards
31. Make and use cloth napkins
32. Get more than 1000 page hits in one day
33. Go swimming
34. Make kimchi
35. Go to a state I've never been to (Nevada, Michigan, Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, Deleware, Maine, Alaska, or Hawaii)
36. Sleep in a tent
37. Drive through a Redwood tree in CA
38. Make a surprise dessert for a friend
39. Sell something in an Etsy shop
40. Be able to identify 10 new constellations
41. Identify all of the countries of Europe and their capitals
42. Study Algebra 2
43. Successfully grow 5 new crops in the garden
44. Pay off one student loan
45. Brew Kombucha and Water Kefir
46. Go on a silent retreat.
47. ..........?

What sorts of things would you add to your 101 in 1001 list?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Year in Review: 7 Links

The quirky perky hilariously fun blogging mama, Lisa, at All Things Gale recently tagged me in a "Year in Review" meme. It's a neat way to look back on the last year's worth of blogging and bring a few goodies out of the archives. But it also requires, by its nature, shameless self promotion.


Consider yourself warned.

Most Beautiful Post

Wow. What a tough one to start off with! There's a momentum killer for ya. I don't think I could describe any of my writing as "beautiful." And as awesome as my blueberry cheesecake ice cream looks, I'd hesitate to label it "beautiful" either. Sorry, y'all, I'm going to have to punt on this one (unless I can break the rules and go back further than one year to share the Timeless Litany... beautiful because it's a heartfelt prayer, not because of my writing).

Most Popular Post

Thanks to many people sharing it on Facebook and Twitter, the recent "Talking about Infertility: 7 Things Not to Say" has about three times more page hits than any other post on the blog. I'm truly grateful.

Most Controversial Post

Uuum... I try to steer clear of controversy when I can, but I think a few feathers were ruffled by the two-part series on "An Ugly but Real Look into Organic Farming." (Part 1 and Part 2)

Most Helpful Post

The 5 Tips for Perfect Flour Tortillas would have really helped me when I spent those years in the futile quest for flour tortilla perfection. I've been told it's helped others achieve culinary success, too. Yay!

Post Whose Success Surprised You

I really didn't want to publish the How NOT to Flirt post because, frankly, who wants to broadcast humiliating stories and unflattering pictures? But I'm glad I got over myself, 'cause many people could laugh and identify with it.

I also continue to be amazed by the buzz around Our Love Story. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. Speaking of which, I really do need to write the next part...

A Post You Didn't Feel Got the Attention It Deserved

Not gonna lie, I was kind of disappointed with the cool reception of the guest posts earlier this year. I thought they were great, and they certainly helped me out when my hands were acting funny.

Post You Are Most Proud Of

Well, I like relating a good story. So I enjoyed telling this one about my neighbor suspecting me of infidelity. Also, I'm still pretty impressed that these bagels turn out so deliciously authentic, and really? These penguin appetizers are still stinkin' adorable.

Alright, alright, enough about me! I need to challenge four of my favorite bloggers to do this post as well. I'd be delighted if they take me up on it:

1. The ever lovely Nadja at Patch O' Dirt Farm
2. Jennie C. at Far Beyond Pearls who felt the need to start a "who's the real farm wife" rivalry
3. Suzanne at Blessed Among Men (who doesn't know I exist, but who writes the first blog I ever read; the woman whose delightful anecdotes exemplify, palpably, the beauty and joy of motherhood)
4. Katie at Kitchen Stewardship (who also doesn't know I exist, but who is the first Catholic blogger from whom I learned about the Real Food movement in a non-threatening, non-condemning, non-better-than-thou way... and whose baby steps I'm trying to implement)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Laundry? Fun? My Laundry Game

I, like most other housewives, have a hard time with laundry.

I know, I know, I've got it easy. There's just the two of us, of course, so I'm rarely swimming in piles of laundry. It can take us three weeks to go through our whole wardrobe, and even then it may only be four loads.

Regardless of the infrequency, I really find it onerous to wash whites.

I love washing towels. I don't mind doing darks. But it's a chore to do the whites. Why?

Because I'm obsessive when it comes to matching socks, and despite my best efforts it seems there are always mismatched socks at the end of folding time. And it bothers me a lot. I disdain having to match a white sock with a gray one, or a long one with a short one, or a blue banded one with a red banded one. While it's fine in the human sphere, I don't believe in interracial sock marriages.

Last week it came to a head.

"I need to go fold those clothes. But maybe I should just play a game of Mahjong Titans first."

6 minutes later

"Hm. That was too easy, maybe I should play another to verify I'm a Mahjong champ."

10 minutes later

"Drat, I almost had it that time. I think I need to play again so my win percentage doesn't go down."

8 minutes later

"I should really fold that laundry. I'm wasting time... I could've done so many other things. Maybe I could just play one mo... NO!! Self, go fold that laundry!"

*grumble grumble*

Flash of inspiration.

"Why don't I play Mahjong with the socks?"

I whipped those whites in record time. And while I didn't win, I can't wait to play again.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

"It's not vanilla ice cream with cheesecake chunks; the whole thing is cheesecake."

Such was the description of my sister-in-law, who deftly articulated what I could not about the goodness of this recipe.

She and my husband liked this ice cream, but I think it's a little sour; I also think it could benefit from a half teaspoon of vanilla (which I added to the recipe below).

With that disclaimer, it's still very very good, and I do recommend it.

If nothing else it's photogenic.

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop

For the ice cream:

8 ounces cream cheese
1 lemon
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup half-and-half
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Cut the cream cheese into small pieces, zest the lemon and add all of the ingredients to a blender or food processor. (I think it goes a little better if you put the 1/2 and 1/2 in the blender first.) Puree until smooth and chill thoroughly before freezing in your ice cream freezer.

For the blueberry sauce:

2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons kirsch (cherry brandy... optional I'm sure but adds an incredible brightness to the sauce and helps keep it from freezing too hard)

In a medium, nonreactive saucepan, heat the blueberries and sugar until the blueberries start to release their juices. Mix the cornstarch, water and lemon juice in a small bowl until it's smooth and add to the blueberries. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a minute.
Remove from heat and stir in kirsch. Let cool to room temperature.

To assemble:

Choose your adventure:

A) Make ice cream according to the freezer manufacturer's directions. Spoon about 1/2 of the finished ice cream into a quart sized container (I use my quart Pyrex bowl). Pour 2/3 of the cooled blueberry sauce on top. Spoon the remainder of the ice cream on top and spread as much as you can. Pour remaining blueberry sauce on top (need not form an even layer; it makes a prettier swirled presentation if you only pour it on one side... see pictures above).

Freeze overnight.

B) Spoon all of the finished ice cream into a quart sized container. Freeze 4 hours (or overnight for best results) and serve with blueberry sauce drizzled on top.


This post is linked to: Sweet as Sugar Cookies

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Weekend in Pictures

Happy Monday!

I had a lovely stay-at-home weekend... only venturing to the outside world to go grocery shopping and to Mass.

Somebody picked me some flowers from the garden. Oh what a charmer he is.

I finally canned the blueberry butter (like apple butter but with blueberries).

I used twice as many berries as last year and it yielded half the butter... super concentrated Summery sweet goodness is packed in those little jars, y'all. It goes marvelously on scones, or served hot over ice cream or pancakes.

There was a nice haul of green and golden wax beans.

These are slated for the freezer since I've already pickled a half gallon.

We played Bananagrams.

And used this...

and this... make this.

But more on that later this week.

What did you do this weekend?