Thursday, January 28, 2010

Homemade Oreos, a love story

Oh my goodness! These are phenomenal. These are simple and quick (ish) and oh so satisfying. These are so much better than Oreos!

I am not a fan of Oreos. I never have been. The filling is so greasy that it overpowers the chocolate cookie and leaves a coating on my tongue. Not good. Not fun. In fact, pretty yucky, in my book.

Smitten Kitchen posted this recipe ages ago, but for some reason it just spoke to me today. I have been craving something, anything chocolate and sweet.

These are so darn cute and just perfect.

Well, what are you waiting for? Go make some!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

If you have lemons...

make a lemon tart!

Or you can do what I did and just steal the lemons and then fret about them going bad before you can come up with uses for said stolen lemons. I know, I don't have enough to worry about.

Except I do!

I have plenty of stuff to worry about! Evidenced by my inability to sleep soundly for any length of time. I sleep in spurts between nightmares (mine and Famous Baby C's), anxiety attacks about various things I want to do and forgot to do, and on and on and on.

So during the night, my Mr. Smith sleeps and snores softly next to me while my mind whirls like a hamster on a wheel. Going and going and going, making lists, worrying and fretting.

It has always been this way.

When I was 9 years old, I would have so much trouble falling asleep, I would stay awake, ear pressed to my clock radio and listening to a theater program hosted by E.G. Marshall. Not a big thing except the show STARTED at midnight, meaning that I would be awake until at least 1 am. Not exactly the best idea when you have school in the morning.

It did, however, get me interested in Edgar Allen Poe. I can tell you from personal experience, your 4th grade teacher will find it disturbing when she learns that you have been reading the collected short stories of Mr. Poe. It does give one a bit of a Wednesday Addams reputation. Not the rep one wants to cultivate at the ripe old age of 9.

Today, as quickly as it arrived, the rains have stopped. The beautiful part of Southern California rainy season: the day after the rains stop. The sky is spectacular, you can see for miles, it is sparkling and stunning.

I have been reading The Kitchen Sink blog for some time now.  I like her writing and her recipes are not too fussy, but elegant at the same time.

The Lemon Tart recipe that she posted last week had been kicking around in my "Recipes to Try" (yes, I am finally getting organized enough to have one of those!) folder ever since.

As you may or not remember, Vertigo B is a thief. More specifically, a lemon thief. Before the holidays I staged a caper involving lawn furniture, a rickety ladder and climbing onto a wall that was not meant to be scaled in order to acquire fresh lemons from my neighbor's loaded lemon tree.

Look, I am not proud of what I did. They guy has said we could have as many lemons as we want, but he wasn't around so I could not exactly ask and it was kind of emergency. He is a kind of crabby guy and I just needed one lemon. One thing led to another and I ended up pilfering about 30 lemons.

Now I have 30 lemons, what the hell am I going to do with all these lemons?! A really nice problem to have, quite frankly!

Cute little Sassycakes, until they started sweating profusely

I made some little lemon cupcakes. But they were a little too healthy for the likes of me, too heavy (more like a muffin) and the frosting just never got fluffy. No offense Tongue-N-Cheeky, but that recipe was not working for the Smith clan. Also, they started sweating. Today I had to throw away the last ones because they were sweating like Nixon, I mean crazy, put-a-paper-towl-in-the-container-to-sop-up-the-insane-amount-of-liquid sweating. It was really gross. It smelled GREAT, but man what a mess!

Also, I still had a TON of lemons left!

Zesting and juicing operation

One whole morning I zested and squeezed until my hands ached and stung. If you need any lemon juice ice cubes or lemon zest, give me a holler.

Glorious lemon zest

I, as usual, did not follow the recipe exactly. So what else is new, right?

I used pecans in the crust instead of almonds. I am just not crazy about almonds. They are so dry and the flavor just doesn't do it for me. If you feel differently, and you like them, go for it. Also, I didn't have any almonds. Obviously, I don't like them so I don't keep them around.

Otherwise, the recipe is fairly simple and easy to assemble. And, as you can see, the results are just gorgeous.

So go be brave and make some lemon curd even though you could just as easily go and buy a jar of it. You won't regret it. Just don't over cook it and you and your lemon curd (which, by the way, needs to change names. Lemon curd just sounds gross...perhaps too much like turd?...sorry Mr. Smith, but it is the truth).

Either way, this is a simple, beautiful, cheerful way to chase away the real or imagined clouds.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cassoulet and rainy days

It has been raining here. Epic, biblical, we-need-to-build-an-ark kind of rain. There has even been some thunder and lightning. The dog has had multiple mini breakdowns due to the thunder. Also, going outside to deal with his biological issues has been a chore. When he comes back in the house he is soaked and water touching him makes him kind of... well...insane is the right word.



That would be his butt just going around the back of the chair at high speed

I, of course, missed the thunder and light show. I was the victim of another practical joke played on me by the medical community. They find it endlessly entertaining to make me do ridiculous things (fast when I am 9 months pregnant, drink copious amounts of water and tell me not to pee and then make me wait more than 45 minutes (!) in their damn waiting room while other people drink water and relax to the ocean sounds on the Muzak. Thanks for that, by the way).

More on the medical tests in another post...when I am a little less bitter about it. In the meantime, here is a little photo to entertain you.

 Spooky tray of scary medical equipment

Go ahead and talk amongst yourselves and imagine the indignities I was forced to suffer for medical science. They are varied and many, believe me.

On a happier note, I made a wonderful dinner last night. I have been watching Michael Chiarello (At Home with Michael Chiarello: Easy Entertaining) for some time. Mr. Smith has a little bromance going with him. He just loves the looks of everything the man cooks. Hmmmm....

The delectable finished product

Anyway, I caught part of a show the other day. I just could not stop thinking about this recipe! It just sounded and looked so good, so yummy, so cozy and perfect for a rain-filled nasty day.

A little note: I could not face the notion of investing in enough fennel seeds to make the rub for the chicken. As always, I just made up my own recipe for the rub.

Vertigo B Herb Rub

1 tsp. fresh thyme
1 tsp. ground white pepper
2 tsp. course salt (divided)
1 tsp. Italian seasoning

That is just how I roll. I can't leave a recipe alone, I just can't. It annoys my mother. It annoys my sister-in-law. It annoys my aunt when she asks for a recipe and I tell her I don't really have one.

I also used partially frozen skinless boneless chicken breasts. Again, that is just how I roll. I can't deal with chicken on the bone. It is too icky and I am a sissy. There I went ahead and said it.

My advice, add three cans of white beans. Two was just not enough. The beans are to die for!

It does take a little prep time, but believe me, it is so completely worth it. The results are so warm and comforting on a nasty day.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Facing your fears

I have decided that 2010 is the year. This is the year I am going to face my fears. I am going to put on my "big girl panties" and face my fears.

Not only am I planning on facing my fears, I am planning on tackling my to do list and pulling myself together. I have been under water for over four years at this point. It is time. It definitely feels like the time. Time to clean, time to straighten, time to organize. Time, time, time. It is what I battle, it is what I never have enough of, what gets away from me.

Today, in about 20 minutes, I am facing a real whopper. I am going to the dentist. I have not gone to the dentist (I am completely ashamed to admit) since 2003. I am blushing with shame as I write that, but it is the truth. I have a million excuses for why I haven't gone. Pregnant...twice. Too scared...all the time. Too cheap...all the time. Afraid of what he would tell me...all the time.

The finished product

On Saturday, I faced another one of my fears. Making fried chicken. I know, I know, not exactly something to be afraid of, but I was nonetheless.

A work in progress

When I was in 9th grade, I attempted to make some deep fried donut item. It exploded and the airborne donut shrapnel burned my neck and arm. Pretty scary and painful stuff. Also, my mother is so freaked out by hot oil that I practically have to sedate her to make anything that is fried. Perhaps I inherited a little of her fear.

Pioneer Woman had a recipe for Fried Chicken Tenders on her site and the idea of making them has been percolating around in my brain for a while now.

These are so easy and so worth the little bit of extra work and planning. The best part, they taste great cold. The even bestier part (sorry, Mr. Smith), you can throw leftover strips on a cookie sheet and reheat them for about 15 minutes in the oven at 300°. Add your favorite condiment and go ahead and swoon over what you have created.

P.S. The trip to the dentist went extremely well. Turns out I just need a cleaning! See, I was afraid for nothing!

What have you been putting off? What are you afraid to face? Do you have something that you have been putting off because you are scared of what you might find out?