Monday, December 31, 2012

How On Earth Do These Fragile Things Survive?

This is an ornament that my brother Tony tracked down, because he remembers one just like it always hanging on our Christmas tree.  It is at least 40 years old.  The minute I saw it, I remembered.  Things like this will always make me happy.  Because Christmas was always such a happy time.  Still is!
What used to make me unhappy was that pesky Mayan Calendar implied prediction of World's end hanging over us.  So why am I disappointed that I no longer have the threat of the Mayan Calendar?  My point, and I do have one, is that even something unpleasant that has been part of your entire life's consciousnesses will be missed when it's taken away.  But I do feel relief, as I hope all do.
Happy 2013!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Grandmother Was An Amazing Cook, But She Actually Always Bought These Cookies At Christmas, So I Had To Figure Out The Recipe On My Own - With Only The Tiniest Bit Of Inspiration From Martha Stewart

Finally - pictures of the cookies no one really likes.  Aren't they lovely?  And so low fat - just 2 tablespoons of butter in the whole batch.  Plus those 4 eggs.  Actually, I should just give my whole recipe - Beat the 4 eggs with an electric mixer for 1 minute and then add 2 tablespoons of soft butter and 2 teaspoons of Anise oil, (or if you can't find Anise oil, use Anise extract), and beat another minute.  Add 2 cups sugar and beat for 10 more minutes.  Mix in 4 cups flour mixed with 2 teaspoons baking powder - which will make such a thick dough that you might have to finish mixing by hand.  Chill at least 1 hour.  Roll out on a floured surface and and then use your decorative rolling pin to make the patterns.  Cut apart, place on parchment paper on a baking sheet and cover with a tea towel.  Let set overnight (if you want the pattern to be more defined), and then bake at 325 degrees for 15 to 17 minutes.  Because I like them a little browned.  Traditionally, they're baked a little less and are still totally white - but they're my cookies and since I am the only one who eats them, I make them how I like.  Come to think of it, if I just changed the flavoring to maybe Almond or Vanilla, they might be more popular - but Tradition is its own reward.  Good Times!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

I'm Pretty Pleased With The Christmas Cards I Made This Year

Here is one of the Christmas cards I made this year, with the help of Zach, who threaded my stamped ornaments on the cords.  Which turned out to be the most time consuming part - other than the designing.  I tucked this one in the box of cookies and candies I took to my son Nick's girlfriend Kelsey's (she's the one who talked him into coming to Paris last January) parents house, where we had Christmas dinner.  This was my first time meeting them and I can now see why I like Kelsey so much.  We had Ham, my favorite, for dinner.  And her Grandma on her Dad's side made a million cookies, including Persimmon ones, which anyone who knows me knows I would approve of.
Just got back to Tulsa after two long days of driving, most of which my husband did, so TTFN*, as I am about to fall asleep, but couldn't resist the Internet connection.
*Ta Ta For Now - which some literary character (I think I got it from a Patrick Dennis - the creator of Auntie Mame - book) used as the most stylish words of parting.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I Know No One Likes These Cookies, But It's A Tradition To Make Them

Yes, I make them, give them away, and am pretty sure they are still around the next Christmas since no one else likes them but me.  They are Springerle Cookies, and my mother's parents always had them around at Christmas.   If you have the special rolling pin to make the patterns on the top, you can make them look almost as good as the ones they bought.  The are flavored with Anise and are dried until they are dense as only a brick can be.  You can either drunk them in hot Coffee or Tea (my choice) or gum them to bits like those super messy teething cookies my kids used to love.  Delightful!
***Ooops - I appear to have left the cord I use to transfer the pictures from my camera to my computer in Tulsa - but by tomorrow I'll figure this out and show some pictures of this attractive cookie.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Were Those Mayans Right Or Are We All Still Here?

While I wouldn't call the last three days eventful, they have reinforced my belief that in the Husband Lottery, I have won the Big Prize.  We drove from Tulsa to Southern California to be with our kids for Christmas.  I say "we", but I never drove at all - not for any of the over 20 hours it takes to get from there to here.  We spent the night in Galllup, New Mexico, and much as I love the food, choose to eat at a chain restaurant, because you can't risk getting bad food when you are on the road.  Long story made short, I woke up yesterday morning, for what the Mayans want us to believe was to be one of the last days of earth, with 6 inches of new snow and raging food poisoning.  He ran over to the Walmart, bought some tire chains, gloves, and Pepto Bismal, and drove the rest of the way, with me throwing up occasionally - all the while being sweetly attentive and trying to entertain me to relieve some of my misery.  Driving through a snow storm.  What a guy!!
So instead of going to Disneyland today, I'm just resting and making a comprehensive list of food stuffs to bring back from Trader Joe's, my favorite natural food market, which doesn't exist in Oklahoma.    

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Chicken Fried What? A New Food Crush

Chicken breast, marinated and baked, is a staple at our dinner table.  John usually makes it, and really knows what he's doing!  It's delicious.  When the kids were young and health wasn't much of a concern, I would coat and fry chicken legs, for traditional Fried Chicken.  Rolling them in beaten eggs, and then in seasoned flour with plenty of pepper, right before popping them in the hot oil.  So, anyhow, that is the method that is used on small beef steaks to come up with a dish I have never actually tasted, Chicken Fried Steak.  But my point, and I actually do have one, it that this morning I found out the the "Chicken Fried" method of cooking is not limited to Chicken or Steak - this morning for breakfast at one of my favorite Tulsa restaurants  Smoke On Cherry Street, I had Waffles with Chicken Fried Bacon.  Yep - Chicken Fried Bacon!  Was it good?  Well, for starters, it's Bacon, so yum - then it has this crunchy, peppery coating.    In fact it was so good that there aren't any pictures of it - it didn't stay on the plate long enough for the camera lens to focus.  Just one more good thing about Oklahoma!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

They Make The Best Iced Tea Here, But It's Winter! And I'm Already Iced

I've been in Tulsa for over a year, and there are still surprises.  This is of the Tea variety - it is under 40 degrees (wouldn't that be around 5 degrees Celsius?)and we ordered tea to go with our desert - and two glasses of Iced Tea were brought to the table.  And when we were leaving, the server asked if we would like our tea in a to go cup - like a doggie bag for our drinks.  Really nice idea, but not something the would ever happen on the West Coast.
PS: It has been a long, hard week, but I think John and I have finally gotten that Spider problem under control.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Missoni For Target Sweater And Scarf - Lost In My Closet

I haven't worn this Missoni For Target as much as I should have, considering how much I like it.  It just never feels right in Tulsa - either too hot to wear it or too cold.  And these Oklahoma winds just blow off any scarf I haven't triple knotted.  Think I'll take it with me to California for Christmas.

I love the closet in this apartment so much. Nothing really gets lost in here.  John put up these neat hooks for jewelry right behind my clothes.  They are from IKEA - another store that doesn't have an Oklahoma branch.  But I'll visit one in California and bring back more hooks and maybe a few shoe racks.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Do You Knit? Are You Left-Handed? Do You Forgive Me For The Spider Picture? Because I've Got A Scorpion Picture That I Haven't Used - And Don't I Get Credit For That?

 I don't know why I like yarn stores so much, but when I heard there was a new shop opening in the town north of Tulsa, I had to check it out.  It is full of beautiful stuff.
Now, anyone who know me, knows that I am left handed and as much as I like to knit, I have only ever learned one type of stitch.  I only purl.  The purl stitch is usually the back on any smooth knit sweater.  So if I want a smooth knit, I purl going one direction and then change hands and purl going the other direction.  This is kind of hard, and not my first choice for a craft project.  So mostly I just purl, use beautiful yarn, and make long, thin scarves.  Nice texture and really quick to do.
So here are some pictures of that pretty yarn and some antique yarn winding equipment to (hopefully) make up for that spider picture.  (Which I am deleting in a couple of day - it is seriously creeping me out.)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Don't Like Spiders? Don't Even Visit Today - I Promise I'll Find Something Better Tomorrow

John is going to Puerto Rico for work tomorrow.  I'm not coming along, even though I hinted that I would like to.  ("Please, please take me with you", wasn't clear enough, I guess.)  Instead of pouting, uselessly, I put that energy into getting some more Christmas dishes out of the garage.  And that's where I found this lady.  Now I have always agreed with my mother about spiders, most of them are good to have around.  She talks about the one on her lemon tree as being the Co-Gardner, keeping it organic by eating all the bugs, so she doesn't have to spray.  I have left the few small spiders who built webs by my front door alone, since I have found them catching all those nasty pests before they get into the flour.  But I had noticed that there were no more of those small house spiders in the garage,  I should have remembered that, other than spray, there is only one other thing that eradicates all those small spiders - a big, Black Widow Spider.  I'm no stranger to the Black Widow.  When I lived in Southern California, (before I turned 15), it was my job to get rid of them.  But after I spent decades in Seattle, where Black Widows don't live, I seem to have gotten a little rusty on proper technique.  I thought it was dead when I took a pencil and rolled it into this ziploc bag.  WRONG!  And I was only putting it in the bag because my friend Carol said that the Apartment Managers might not believe me about the problem if I didn't take this "dead" spider over to show them.  (Perhaps in a bag?  Really?)  
Warning to anyone who hates spiders - don't look any further down this page.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Springerle, Tom And Jerry Parties, Panettone, Pizzelles, Spritz Cookies - Something I've Been Pondering This Week

A reply by The Silver Bunny to a Christmas based comment: "we do not celebrate Christmas. This is quite a common occurrence in France."  Does this explain why my mother's family celebrated with the Christmas customs and food of so many different countries?  
I actually called my mother to ask if she had any idea why Panettone was included in our holidays, since it seems to be an Italian (or Australian) thing.  My Uncle Emile was married to an Italian, my Aunt Inez, so maybe it started there?  I mostly remember my Aunt Inez at the Christmas Tom and Jerry parties, ladling out the creamy drink - sort of like an Eggnog, from the white ceramic bowl, emblazoned with "Tom and Jerry", matching the small white cups. 
And we always had Springerle, the hard-as-rocks, Anise flavored, rectangular German Cookie with the raised picture design that took a special carved rolling pin to make.  I love these and once I found a source for Anise Oil and the special rolling pin, made them every Christmas.  And ate most of them myself. - not for selfish reason, but because no one else liked them.  Didn't anyone appreciate the fact that they are practically fat free?  Where other cookies had 1 cup butter per batch, these cookies had 1/8th of a cup per batch.
So here's a question: Are you the only one in your family that likes, say something as common as Fruitcake, the Black Jellybean of Christmas?  Or something more obscure, like Pumpkin Spice Caramels?  (Ick!!)           

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thank Goodness I Never Laughed At All Those People Who Had Artificial Trees (Even Though I Wanted To) Because Now I Am One

Oh Good Grief!  We bought a tree in a box!!  Yikes!  Is the Earth still spinning on its axis?  The logistics of having an actual Noble Fir on carpeting finally decided the issue.  (And hard to adjust from the wet weather of Seattle to the incredibly dry weather of Oklahoma, when figuring how long before the tree turns into a fire hazard.)  But this tree is surprisingly satisfying.  Just have to go out and get the Candy Canes now.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Panetone - Another Childhood Holiday Favorite That Never Gets Old!

Anyone who has ever been in my kitchen has seen the appliance love of my life - my Dualit 4 slice yellow toaster.  I've had it for almost 20 years, and it's done over 10,000 toastings - bread, hamburger buns, English muffins, Panetone, etc.  I might have gotten the 2 slice model, but with the kids at home, I figured that it was worth using up all the extra counter space.  Now that it's just the two of us, I'm still glad I have the 4 slice.  OK, I have just officially bored myself.
But what started this ramble/Ode to a Yellow Toaster - was Sunday breakfast which included the first toasted Panetone of the Holiday Season.  Now Panetone has been on my holiday radar since I was a child, but toasting it is something John came up with.  Amazing!  And to add to the fabulous meal, my friend Catherine sent us home from Thanksgiving's Day dinner with John's most favorite tea in the entire world - that French company Mariage Frères's Marco Polo Black.  Good Times!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Dressing Dilema

Cowboy Casual Holiday - That's right - that's what the invitation to this year's party given by John's company for the Holidays says.  It's always been a big, fancy deal - sequins and velvet and heels.  (And not just on the women - some of these Tulsa guys have big heels on their black formal boots.)  But after the party, we all have rooms to stay overnight in this huge lodge, with an enormous room with card games, puzzles, pool - you name it and it's there.  So this year, I opened the invitation and this phrase jumps out at me.  Now, anyone who know me knows that I'm not a user of profanity.  (I don't mind it when other's use it - often it is the only appropriate possibility.)  I save it for when my life is in danger and I need that extra jolt to kick me into action - like when the truck was coming at me on the freeway just before we got to Roseburg, Oregon, at 2 am on the way to my sister Claire's wedding.  But - what the H*** is Cowboy Casual Holiday??  

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Living In A World Where You Can Chose

My Thanksgiving was terrific.  We spent it at the home of an amazing couple, who are so entertaining that we knew we were in for Big Fun.  Another couple, Eric and Simone, who we'd never met were coming too, and we were looking forward to meeting them.  It's funny how even when you have been told ahead of time that people are fabulous, they can still blow you away.  Eric is a Physics Professor and Simone is a Biological Archaeologist, (I think I got that right).  And her visage is mesmerizing.  I know, this goes against my feeling about using obscure wording, but the word "face" just wasn't right. As I sat across from her and Catherine, (she of the silken hair, sparkling eyes and smile, and perfect figure) , I might have felt like a major frump, if that was my nature, which is isn't - since my curly hair hasn't failed me yet.  And the conversation took over the table.  Wonderful!  I must admit that there were times when I was pretty sure my Science Minded Sweetie had never heard of that particular subject, but then we were off on another discussion that went in his direction and I was lost.  (Sports, anyone?)  Afterward, he said that even when he was lost, he was still enjoying himself.  Of course, he was sitting across from the fabulous Simone.
When we retired to the sitting room, an interesting thought was brought up by Chris, Catherine's boyfriend/soulmate.  His brother had refused to lend any validity to Chris's opinions in areas where he felt he had more experience.  I commented that I could understand (not necessarily agree) with the logic that his brother had employed to come to this conclusion, using what is for me a common example - that we have listened to other couples without children talk about what it is like having them, when we are the only couple who actually do have them.  (One of the few subjects that had not come up during the evening.)  My point, and I do have one, is that those other couples do have valid points to make.  I am perfectly happy with my decision to have children.  I don't have to belittle anyone else's decision not to have children.  I am happy that we live in a world where we can chose what's best for ourselves.  Many of my friends who are only 20 years older than me (and when Water Aerobics is your exercise of choice, you can end up with an older group of friends), never had the luxury of deciding whether or not to have children.  The generation gap when it comes to effective birth control is huge.  The college student of today can't comprehend not having that choice.  Also, I don't have to be an expert on parenthood.  (And never could be, because there are so many variables that I have not experienced.)
But back to my point - before I had kids, I was pretty sure my life would be better with them, if I found a husband who felt similarly in time.  (And anyone who knows me knows that I did!)  So I always made a point not to do that finger pointing thing, when other people's children were annoying in public.  Who knew that John and I would have perfect children, who never annoyed anyone?  Good Times!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

How can you argue with a holiday that is designed to give you a 4 day weekend!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Better Than A Real Gift - A Pic-Gift!

Had dinner tonight with the most fascinating and fun Catherine and her Sweetie, who is equally amazing, before our annual visit to The Festival of Trees at the Philbrook Museum.  John and I had gone to a small church Christmas bazaar this afternoon, and I took a picture of this silly, but cute item - a bottle of hand sanitizer done up to in Santa dress, with "Santa-tizer" written on it.  And I told her that as a birthday present, I had just taken a picture of this little curiosity, and had no plan to burden her with an actual gift of it.  Since the picture was the present, (and a better present than its subject matter), she coined the name "Pic-Gift", as a new category to blog about.  So here is the first Pic-Gif!  Do you have any tales of gifts you would rather have just gotten a picture of instead?
*** I just realized that the Chia Pet is a perfect example!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Would You Buy Kennel No 5 From These Guys?

Here are some pictures that are more fun to look at than those Brad Pitts ones have been.  I got the idea from my friend, Catherine, who thanked me for putting up pictures of Zach's dogs.  And I thought, "Hey!  I have more pictures of Mozart and Beethoven and wouldn't they be nicer to look at?"

Thursday, November 15, 2012

How Shallow Do They Think We Are?

I think I have just cracked the code!  Brad Pitt uses the terms "my fate" and "inevitable" in this Chanel No 5 ad, but I think the subtext is all about his affair with Angelina Jolie - as in it was "inevitable" because she was "his fate".  I think to the French, this affair is not the sordid, why does she only want other women's men, maybe they deserve each other kind of thing.  But a romantic, huge gesture, love affaire of the century between two "beautiful people".  And that would be why they think these commercial should work for us.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Oh Chanel Marketing Department - Do You Think This Is Better?


They added a bit to those horrible Chanel No. 5 commercials - now this is good stuff.  That's the lifestyle I like to imagine that the over-inflated prices of that perfume is promising me.  And then they take it all away by giving us hokey illogical dialogue from this disheveled, dreary man.
**I just realized that none of the women in this commercial bear even the slightest resemblance to Angelina Jolie.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Zach's Dogs And Daylight's Savings Time

These are a couple of dogs running for the great outdoors.  It's been a long week, trying to get them used to the time change - taking them out to pee a little later each day.  Today was the day that we finally got onto the new schedule.  And today Mozart and Beethoven (Zach didn't name them - they came with these Martha Stewartish names) waited patiently, but then sprinted for the door, ran down the stairs, and wasted no time.  Success! 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

One Of My Favorite Fruits - The Persimmon

Read a great post on my friend Sanda's blog, Halcyon Days, (don't you love that name?) about the Persimmon as Art.  She has wild Persimmons on her property.  I am so jealous!  Got me thinking about Persimmons, which I normally do this time of year.
When I was growing up we could only buy the one type of Persimmon - the Hachiya, which is shaped a little like a Bell Pepper. You don't eat them until they are ripe, not even to cook with. (High tannin,  I believe - just puckers you up like nothing you have ever felt.  Not a mistake you'll make twice.)  If you compare the feel of the ripe fruit to that of a ripe avocado, the Persimmon should be just a little softer. At this point, you can puree the raw, peeled fruit and freeze to cook with later. Our family always made something called Persimmon Pudding for Winter holidays. (It is steamed and Martha Stewart has a good recipe.) If I was very lucky, there would be extra ones to peel and eat raw, like some giant orange strawberry. Not everyone likes the slightly slimy (or perhaps gelatinous is a better description) texture, but I do. 
A few years ago (maybe 20?)the other type, the Fuyu Persimmon came on the American market. It is shaped like an apple and can be eaten like one while it is still crisp. They are also delicious, but I prefer a ripe Hachiya. I've cooked with the Fuyu, but needed to grate it - and the flavor wasn't as intense.

When I moved to Seattle, there were never Persimmons for sale, but after a while they started appearing in the stores.  They were very expensive, maybe $4 each, but I really missed our Persimmon Pudding at Thanksgiving.  So I would buy a few and wait for them to ripen.  And wait and wait.  Some never did, so weary from the long trip to Seattle from whatever warm climate they were grown in.  Some succumbed to the ubiquitous fruit flies brought in from South America on the bananas.  But then came the year I was in Southern California visiting my cousin Jill.  And she suggested that I buy a case of Persimmons and an old suitcase from the Goodwill and take them back as luggage.  Not many of you are old enough to remember it, but once upon a time, you could take two suitcases as baggage for free - yes!  That's right, I spent $14 for a case of Persimmons, $1 for a suitcase, and finally got my Persimmon Pudding for Thanksgiving.  And no one but me had seconds.  Their loss, my gain.  Maybe if I had made the Hard Sauce, from the recipe that Jill's mom, my aunt, found for me the following year, it might have been more popular.  After all, mix Brandy with Confectioners Sugar, and you could get people to ask for seconds of Cardboard a la Hard Sauce.  (Get why they call it "Hard"?  Or would the reference be the "Sauce"?)
Hope I can find a few Persimmons at the grocery store to take pictures of today.  Just in case anyone is in the dark as to this beautiful fruit.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ribbon Candy Means Christmas To Me

Not everyone who knows me knows how much I love Christmas Ribbon Candy, but a lot do.  My friend, Shane always alerted me to the first of the season, as soon as it appeared in the Seattle stores.  (I hope I can find a place to buy it in Tulsa.)  I know not everyone thinks of Ribbon Candy as specifically Christmas candy, but I do, and I wouldn't even consider of eating one single blade at any other time of the year.  Just look at this beautiful confection - it makes me all cheery just seeing it.
Does everyone have food items that define the Christmas season to them?  Others than the iconic Candy Cane, of course.  Didn't the girls in Little House on the Prairie have fruit in their stockings? Some of mine are Orange Jelly Sticks,  Panettone, Peppermint Bark, Fruitcake, Divinity (tinted red and green with the juice from Maraschino Cherries, Marzipan Fruits (and Pigs and Potatoes), Springerle and Spritz Cookies. It shows how well advertising works, that I feel like adding those solid Chocolate Oranges that break into segments when you tap them, 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Cookies With Brown Butter Icing - It's That Time Again!

Everyone who knows me knows that I hate Daylight's Saving Time!  I have at least a month of the worst time getting acclimated, whether it's "Springing Forward" or "Falling Back".  So on Sunday, I spent the day doing one of my favorite things - baking up my best seasonal cookie - Pumpkin Spice Cookies With Brown Butter Icing from Lovejoy Bakers in Portland, Oregon..  So sweet of them to share their recipe - but I always use fresh roasted sugar pumpkins and only half as much of the Ground Cloves.  And I could only find Whole Wheat Pastry Flour in Tulsa, so mine might be a little healthier.  Actually only half of mine are made with the Whole Wheat Flour (the prettier ones); I used just plain white flour for the other half.  I love these and need to get them out of the house before I eat them all.  So far, I've  sent off a few packages of them - one to my son, Nick, and another to my friend, Catherine, who is having a birthday on the 14th.  John took a bunch to work with him and I'll take the rest to California tomorrow.  I'm visiting my son, Zach, getting his dogs' schedule changed to the new time.  Getting them to pee 10 minutes later every day for a week should makeup for that extra hour in no time.