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!!)