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Here we go -

On Tuesday there was one box of cookies in the vestibule, the Joy of Cooking Lebkuchen, a cookie that’s supposed to improve with age.

Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen

lemlebkuchen

I put a slice of lemon in the container to keep them moist. Usually it’s apple, but lemon seemed a good idea in this case

Wednesday night I made the jam cookies, and I thought I had six trays … obviously can’t count, since there were seven, although one tray is actually a small ceramic dish that only has a dozen in it.

Yesterday I drove to work, so that I could make it from a meeting that concluded at 4:20, to pick up my two giant Tipi produce winter share boxes, and then home in time to login for class at 5:30. I made it, but the jam cookies were setting in the sunroom where my computer is, with the heat vent closed, so I quick transferred all seven trays to the vestibule, and opened the heat vent. Then I stashed the Tipi box that had the green vegetables, the one where I could see kale peeking out, in the vestibule, closed it up, and had class. After, I wrapped all the jam cookies, and froze them, and put the produce away. It’s going to be a trick to get all the Thanksgiving food and cookie ingredients stored away, but it’s one I’ve pulled off other years.

Tipi Boxes

Tipi Boxes

What's inside

What’s inside

Then I made the Biberli, as I told Megan, the pornographic ones, because the name means “little beavers“. They’re one I struggle with every year – too big, too small, too soft, too hard … I think I got a good mix this year – a few are too big, but none seemed too hard – I didn’t even put an apple (or lemon) slice in the container to soften them, although I may do that later.

Biberli

Biberli

And speaking of the vestibule – after years of complaining that omigod it’s 50° (or 60°) in effing December, NOT good weather for cookie storage, this morning it was 3° in effing November, not so good for walking, but certainly good for cookies. And squash, that’s also out there.

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Dough

Last night I made dough, for the jam cookies, and nukhorns, or the mini-ruggelach that I make tons of every year, (or pounds, literally; last year it says 15 lbs.) because they’re a family favorite. They should come out something like what you see after the line below. I am not going to bake the ruggelach until after Thanksgiving, so I froze those dough balls.


2013 ruggelach

2013 ruggelach

2013 jam cookies

2013 jam cookies; close up – see long shot here

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1st weekend of cookie season

So, (I just heard a piece on NPR, where their grammarian said listeners hate it when interviewers start a sentence with “so” – but this isn’t NPR) I had huge piles of work to-dos for the weekend; not sure I made it through enough of them, but I tried.

In between work stuff, cookie season began. I made my cookie list with Megan’s cat Ham “helping” – lying across my papers and my arms while I tried to write. I’ve laid in some of the ingredients, like today I got honey and jam and various candies that go in or on cookies, like red and green M&Ms and chocolate stars. I’ve placed two King Arthur Flour orders, and have plans to do the rest of the shopping. Currently there’s about 15 lbs. of flour and 11 pounds of sugar and 7 pounds of butter in the house – a mere fraction of the total. Shopping’s a little trickier this year, since Mark’s in Chicago half time, and sometimes has the car. And I’m just so stupid busy, hard to plan a time to take off and buy mass quantities of butter, flour and sugar. The list says 30 cookie kinds in 20 days. Sure, I can. I’m hoping to not get demoralized, like I was last year – I’d take a picture, and decide that the same cookie as made the year before, or even two years before, looked a lot better. Case in point:

cinnamon stars

2013 cinnamon stars

compared to

Cinnamon stars

2012 cinnamon stars

You can see that the meringue topping is whiter and more solid in 2012. I think I didn’t whip the whites enough in ’13.

Or even:

went flat linzer thumprints

went flat linzer thumprints

from 2013, vs.

Thumbprints

Thumbprints

from 2011.

At least I don’t have systems analysis class this year … and the party’s got a great date – 12-13-14!

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New Mexico Trip: Taos & Santa Fe

Murals in Taos on Sunday, and breakfast and lunch in Santa Fe on Monday.

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Breakfast at a combo book store cafe

pasqualBLT

BLT at Pasqual's

pasqualomlet
pasqualmural

Pasqual's mural on Mark's phone

And now back home, pumpkin pie.

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New Mexico Trip: Albuquerque to Santa Fe

Friday was a full conference day – opening keynote by Lorcan Dempsey who said a lot of good stuff about how we’re all in the network, and the network is us. What we do online transforms our behaviors in physical spaces, & vice-versa. Guess that’s behaviours for Lorcan.

I didn’t go to as many sessions as I should have, but I got some work done instead. And I went out for a little walk and looked at psychedelic clouds. And tried to photograph the full moon through the hotel window.

On Saturday the conference wrapped up by noon. We cabbed out to the airport and got our rental car, and drove to Santa Fe by way of Madrid. We stopped for lunch in Madrid. I had a roasted red pepper & goat cheese sandwich – with local tomatoes, the menu said – and a beer, and Mark had a green tomato BLT with root beer. Because we had a biggish lunch, we had dessert at the diner on the plaza, instead of dinner.

Here’s a little gallery of some of our adventures.

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Moon from hotel window, with lamp

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Changed my iphone wallpaper in a session

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Cheese & fruit plate in the room, because Mark's a conference bigwig

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Psychedelic clouds in Albuquerque

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Psychedelic clouds in Albuquerque

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Psychedelic clouds in Albuquerque

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New Mexico State Pen Porter, in Madrid

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Roasted red pepper sandwich with sweet potato fries in Madrid

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Caramel apple pie at the diner on the plaza

buttercake

Butter cake at the diner on the plaza

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Sunset on the way from Taos to Chimayo

sunsettreetrim

Sunset with tree

sunset

Sunset

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New Mexico Trip: Chicago to Albuquerque

So after the (disappointing to say the least) elections, I got up on Wednesday morning and went for a walk. To Union South, where I got a bunch of cash – for traveling and because I knew I was meeting the kids for dinner in Chicago at a restaurant that only takes cash. I got checked in for my Southwest flight and got in the As for both legs of the trip. I got a latte at Aldo’s and walked home to eat some breakfast, pack and work.

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Megan & I agreed that I’d drive the car to my university lot and leave it there for her to drive home – I have the valet key, and left her the regular one. The car was only there a few minutes, and it’s $4 as soon as you drive in, but that’s still way cheaper than a cab, and I had time to go to the library and pick up my holds, for more to read on the trip.

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Then it was just the long bus ride to Chicago. I had to change buses in Janesville, and the first bus had wifi, but no electrical outlets; the second no wifi but newer, cleaner, and outlets. So I arrived in Chicago with a charged laptop and 3 assignments left to grade.

I took the L up to Wicker Park, red to blue. Texting with the kids constantly to coordinate – Al put his name in for a table for 3, and John was on his way on the bus. Gotta love the CTA – Al told me the Damen stop, closest to the restaurant, was closed, but no mention of that fact on Google maps, on the platform, or even in the stop announcements on the train. I had to get off at Western, and walk back. The only place it said anything about Damen being closed was the sign on the stop, that I didn’t see until I walked past it on my way to the restaurant. I got turned around off the train, and I was in a hurry, and I fell and skinned my knee. But dinner was good, Big Star, a hipster join in Wicker Park, Al’s pic for his belated birthday dinner, and it was good to see the kids. We split a queso fundido – melted cheese with sausage & chiles and corn tortillas to dip. I had a fish taco, fried fish, and a veggie taco with potatoes and corn and chiptloe rajas, and two bottles of Flywheel Bright Lager.

Al's newest tat, on the table at Big Star. I expect he'll have this arm a full sleeve too, in  a year or two.

Al’s newest tat, on the table at Big Star. I expect he’ll have this arm a full sleeve too, in a year or two.

After dinner, John figured out how to bus east and get the subway north, but Al rode the blue line all the way to the loop with me, and he caught the red north, and I waited to get it south.

I stopped at the Jewel and bought a sixpack, and headed back to Mark’s apartment. I got in, and ordered my taxi for 4:30, showered, and opened a beer, and tried to watch a Sopranos – I drank about 1/3 of the beer, watched the first 15 minutes, and then woke up for the credits – guess I’ll have to watch that one again. I set my iPhone alarm for 3:45, and went to sleep.

The cab was prompt and cost $30 and I was at Midway before 5:00. But I had trouble pulling up my boarding passes on my phone, and I didn’t get TSA precheck, and had to go thru regular security, and the gate was way off in a corner, and I had to change planes in Houston, where my coffee choices were Peets or Duncan Donuts. First world problems. Made up for by the fact that the flight was almost empty and I got a whole row. I ate the graham snacks they gave me and a pear I brought, and mostly slept.

On the second leg of the trip, Houston to Albuquerque, I bought the $8 not-so-great wifi and finished grading. I arrived in Albuquerque, and paid for another $30 cab ride, that got me to the hotel in time for the conference opening talk. I did spend most of the day suffering from the first day of conference, hadda get up at 3:45 to get here mush brain blues. We ate dinner at Church Street Café. More on the rest of the trip, next coupla posts.

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Election Day

I’m sitting at my computer with wet socks. My day’s schedule lays out like this – 9:00 to 10:30 – meeting; 11:00 to roughly 12:45 – come home, eat, and try to do as much work as possible before heading to be a poll worker from 1:00 until closing, like 9:30 or thereabouts. It’s cleaning lady day, and I just knew I’d get here while they were here, and I’d be starving. So I came in, and made myself a bowl of cheerios and granola, with banana, walking sock foot on the freshly mopped floors. Now I’m hanging out in the sunroom, with my coffee and my cereal bowl that the cat licked out.

Licked out cereal bowl & wet sock feet

Licked out cereal bowl & wet sock feet

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Pie palooza weekend

On Thursday night, I carved my pumpkin, and went to bed a little early.

2014pumpkin

2014 jack o' lantern

bedtime

Bedtime

On Friday morning, it snowed (just a little).

A dust of snow on Halloween morning

A dust of snow on Halloween morning

On Saturday, I had leftover twice-baked potatoes, refried with an egg on it,for breakfast. Then I baked my pie palooza pies. Cheese and onion, again. Thank you Rutles, for the inspiration. It seemed the schedule was charmed – I left home at about 11:20, and was at the community center with the salad greens & dressing ingredients and pie donation from the co-op by 12:30. I went home and finished baking the pies, and had time to bike back over to look at the checked in pies, and even though I didn’t get back until after dark, I had time to made chicken enchiladas for supper.

On Sunday, the charmed-ness lasted until about 8:00 AM. I had lots of help in the kitchen, but something  went wrong with the coffee order – when the volunteer arrived at the café to pick it up, an employee had failed to show up and there was no coffee – until she waited about 30 minutes for it to get brewed. I think it was a record turnout. We had just enough pie. By the later seatings, the selection of savory, especially vegetarian, was not the best. Two of the restaurants chose to donate organ meat pies – but they were in fact all eaten. By my lights, there was just not enough bacon. Only one pie kind – Peter Robertson of RP’s Pasta spaghetti carbonara pies had bacon. There was a quiche with chorizo, and a deep dish pie with veal sausage, the two kinds with organ meats, and chicken pot pie.

And, in an unrelated, but simultaneous disaster, Mark washed his iPhone in the pocket of his jeans.

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Had to be done

So this morning we slept in. It’s still black dark at 7:00 AM – can’t wait for daylight savings to end, but I guess it’s only another week.

I thought I’d be able to get a little work in before breakfast but by the time I fed the cats, and brought in the newspapers, and put clean the dishes away, and dusted the upper moldings in the kitchen, and got dressed, it was 20 of 10:00. So I figured I might as well undertake some cooking projects and run that into brunch.

I made morning glory muffins – they have apple and carrot and coconut and often pineapple, and sometimes nuts – I used yellow raisons.

Morning Glory Muffins

Morning Glory Muffins

And vegetable broth, using up all the herbs I had – thyme and rosemary and cilantro, and lots of celery. The kitchen, the whole first floor really, smells kind of Thanksgiving-y. I just had to change out of the raggy old cooking-in sweatshirt I was wearing, into a different raggy old cooking-in fleece, because the sweatshirt smelled too much like veggie broth.

And chunky tomato sauce with thyme and white wine, that I usually use in the squash casserole that I always make in September. Not sure what I’m going to use this batch for, although I do have a nice big butternut, from last week’s market. I made the smaller one from CSA box into chili on Saturday.

One tart

Last year, I even made the casserole into a tart

For breakfast we had the muffins, and scrambled eggs, and potatoes with rosemary & garlic, and bacon. And toast.

Potatoes with rosemary & garlic - small pan for two people

Potatoes with rosemary & garlic – small pan for two people

I started work at about 1:00, and got through most of my to-dos, mainly grading students’ websites. I’m going to leave the conference program time-slots until tomorrow. Although, it’s advising week so doubtful I will get much done in between appointments.

I watched Death Comes to Pemberly – now time for the grand finale of Boardwalk Empire. Maybe I’ll even read some of the Sunday NYT. I guess It has been a fairly successful weekend.

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Oh, Sunday

 

Leek tart

Leek tart

I made leek tart for brunch today – more or less this Molly Wizenberg recipe; I, as always, used my own pie dough recipe:

For single crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • pinch salt (or use salted butter)
  • scant TBLS sugar
  • 8 TBLS (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 TBLS vegetable shortening
  • 3 – 4 TBLS cold water

Measure the flour, salt and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor, or large mixing bowl. Slice the butter and shortening in on top. Cut the fats into the flour mixture, either with the paddle attachment for the mixer, short spurts of the food processor, or with a pastry blender, 2 knives, and your fingers, until you have a meal-y consistency. (In the food processor, it will look like coarse meal; other methods you should have some small lumps, none bigger than a pea.) If you are using a machine, with it running, drizzle in the water – if by hand stir with a fork. Mix (again short spurts in the food processor) until the dough clumps – stop before you have a solid ball. With your hands, gather the dough together, flatten into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap or a clean towel, and chill for at least 30 minutes, or up to 3 days. Use plastic wrap for longer storage.

I rolled out the dough and fit it into my 9-inch flan ring. I froze the crust for a few minutes, then sprinkled in crumbles from a hunk of soft goat cheese that had been kicking around in the fridge for a long time, a few TBLS of grated parmesan, and a little bit of smoked gouda, also grated. I spread the leek confit over, and then used the same amounts of custard as Molly’s recipe.

I forgot the salt in the dough, and didn’t use salted butter, so I salted the pie crust cookies with fleur de sel. Which made Mark come running down to tell me that I had salted the cookies, after he took his upstairs to eat as a post-brunch snack – he was afraid I got my shakers mixed up or something.

Salted pie crust cookies

Salted pie crust cookies

But no, done on purpose.

I also made Hell’s Kitchen style hash browns – with bacon bits, garlic, and green onions. We ate them before I could take a picture

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