Thursday, November 29, 2007

Come back, we want to look at 'em again.

It's probably nothing.

I got the letter from the University Health System yesterday. 'Member my boobie-squishing last week? I was laughing with T on the phone...SOMEONE still wants pictures of my rack. Apparently the girls are really photogenic. The nerve wracking part about this? They read the films on-site, while you wait. In an ideal world, every test would be done that way, but this isn't an ideal world. This is a hurry up and wait, you are driving me farkin' BANANAS world. Which is why "While you wait" makes me nervous.

My appointment was for next week. I had to change it because Mark goes out of town. So I get to carry more shit in my pockets for longer. Blech.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Getting likkered up to cook!

I don't have pie-making genes  but I can read a cookbook.  My mom tried to make pie often; her pie filling was always yummy, but the crust was like cardboard.  Like mother, like daughter.  After I married DH, I got into a pie-making groove for awhile.  I finally found a pie-crust recipe that was reasonable.  It was no worse than the Pet-Ritz variety in the frozen food section.  I gave up on pie when he told me he wasn't nuts about pie.  WHAT???  

I've always read cookbooks.  I remember reading "The Peter Max Cookbook" in grade school, and there were several disasters courtesy of Fannie Merrit Farmer's "Boston Cooking School" cookbook.  My favorite has always been "The Joy of Cooking" because that talks about food science.  In THIS century, I discovered Cook's Illustrated.  Holy Schmoly!  The how, the why, and the what of REGULAR food-the secret to oven roasted potatoes, buttermilk biscuits that aren't hockey pucks, real food for my house!!!  

This morning, I took a peek at my HOMETOWN newspaper-not East Cupcake, but Colorado Springs, and guess what I found??  Cook's Illustrated's recommended pie crust.  The secret ingredient is VODKA, which could be right handy if you goof up the pie.  Or anything at dinner.  Or you hate your guests and wish they would go away.  It's perfect for the season!   And probably perfect for all of you that left me shots of tequila under the Christmas tree.  (You notice I got rid of the underpants and condoms under my tree in the last post....it's gone if it happens again.)

So in the spirit of giving, I present you with:

Foolproof pie dough
Yield: 1 (9-inch double crust

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup each cold vodka and cold water

Procedure:
1.  In food processor, pulse 1 1/2 cups flour, salt and sugar until combined, about two 1-second pulses.  Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous dough starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds, and there should be no uncoated flour).  Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade.  Add remaining 1 cup of flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4-6 quick pulses.  Empty mixture into medium bowl.

2.  Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture.  With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until it is slightly tacky and sticks together.  Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into a 4" disk.  Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Source:  Cook's Illustrated Magazine

Monday, November 26, 2007

Might as well decorate

Ok, I had to get rid of the Christmas Tree--I've had over 100,000 gifts sent that were simple spam-but let me tell you about my gifts-

Les gave me an elephant Chia Pet-"I chose this for ya so you can make an elephant sandwich if time gets a little short this season!"
Kelly gave me a copy of the movie Elf-I wanted a knitting elf, but this guy will have to do. As we say, meri kurisumasu.
Marie gave me lingerie.
Debbie gave me socks, of course.
S. left me a pony
Lee gave me a trip! Suzann did too.
Clay bustin' princess, Lisa W., Minnie and Enid each left me a shot of tequila. Enid claims that was the second one she left, but I think she drank it.
Evelyn gave me a new car, because mine got crunched up.
Billie gave me brown shoes that look good on me.
Marcia left me virginity, saying "When I was young, I often worried that Id be chosen for the next immaculate conception, and no one would believe."



Enid had one of these at her blog-I learned from sad experience that I couldn't leave a pony under the tree. Funny. I could leave a book on poop, but no pony.

Be creative. Nothing like a box of rocks and a 50 pound booger on Christmas morning!



Grace noted that the presents seem to be disappearing, and she's right. There's a flaw in the code. But I can still go to the site and see what you left!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving leftovers

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Oh, yay, Christmas music!



I don't know why I like it-I think it's because they are devoted to each other.

Friday, November 23, 2007

New.


It's been a rough week. This week, finally, some things revealed themselves for what they really are. No frills, no shiny surfaces, no happy smiles. The facades have slipped, melted and crumbled, revealing something vile. I've found that something I've worked on for a very long time did NOT work. Cannot work. Won't work. And I was sad and hurt by it, but I know it is not my "fault".

I think fault finding is generally garbage. Determining whose fault it is usually does not fix it. In this case, you could unravel it back as far as you can go, and still not find the knot in the work, the flaw in the fiber, the unsuitablity of the pattern. But as a whole, the current result is, at first glance, pleasing. And then you look again. And the longer you look, the less you like what you see. You realize what you've been looking at is tromp d' oeil on a pile of crap. There's no one to blame. I suspect that what I see has always been there, but now that it's in different surroundings, the base aspects are flourishing, dominating, and winning.

I used to think that it was funny that I came from a family that feuded so badly, they ripped each other's names out of the family bible. Then again, I used to work with a guy that would say "Sometimes, it just bes that way." Something like that, yeah. It may BE that way, but it doesn't have to BE in my life. So we can make new starts even if it's not New Year's.

And by the way, I am SOOOO not talking about my knitting. Which is aggravating me still, and warranted some frogging, which I did.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Bierocks. Because beer rocks.


I bought "America's Best Lost Recipes" this week. I previewed it at my local library, and noticed several recipes in it that I have made and enjoyed over the years. I was particularly fascinated by the recipe for Runsas (Bierocks) , a perogi variant common in Kansas and Nebraska. A homemade Hot Pocket, if you will. They are stuffed with cooked hamburger, cabbage, onions and cheese.
I made the Runsas last night. They were a little time consuming. I enlisted DH's help in making them, which is kind of like getting a third grader to wash behind his ears. I heard a lot of bitching. I bitched back. It was pretty funny watching DH get his ass kicked by Saran wrap.
There was a lot of chopping and browning. Someone had warned me that the filling tended to be bland, and I tried to compensate for that. It took 2 teaspoons of Penzey's Roast Beef Seasoning (that's salted), 1/2 t. Fox Point, and 1/2 t. Mural of Flavor for two pounds of meat. I think the super lean mean called for is the reason I had to add so much seasoning (or is it because we've aquired the Texas spicy palate?)
They were, in a word-GOOD. DH took a bite and said "That's a keeper," which means I need to keep the recipe. The cheese adds a salty flavor to the filling, the cabbage adds a pleasant crunch, and the dough behaved well. They looked just like the picture. They are hefty and filling. I think they would freeze just fine, but not sure if the filling would get soggy.
I give this recipe four stars. Perfect for a football gathering. They would go PERFECTLY with a mug of beer. Good for cold winter evenings--just add a vegetable soup, and it's a meal. They are fairly complete as they are-bread, vegetable, meat, dairy, all in one. They take a while (2 hours) so if you have a large crew, make a double batch and make it worth your time. The recipe makes eight, and one IS a serving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Fairy Sprite

Oh, looky! Pretty, isn't it? My summer secret knitting project is revealed! You can see it on Elann.com.

I had a few specific pattern tips--and Blogger is not letting me cut and paste. Dang it.

This can be a simpler to knit top-it's rated as expert, but really shouldn't be-it's knitted as a lace sampler, and everything is knitted in bands separated by stockinette.

1-On the sleeves, the pattern calls for 4 bands of stockinette, then starts a lace pattern AND the underarm decreases on the same row. Bad planning. It would be simplet to just do an additional 4 rows of stockinette and do the major decreases there.
2-Knit it double stranded. Judging from the yardage required for size M, I think they left that out of the instructions. I knit this in two balls of Elann Super Kydd on US 2s.
3-Knit the front and back concurrently, and work the sleeves concurrently.
4-The pattern tells you to cast off with an oversized needle. The knitter should cast ON with the same oversized needle.
5-The stitch counts worked on the bodice, but didn't mean a thing when you are working the main lace pattern in the sleeve.
6-Add a selvedge stitch to the sides.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I have my own month, thanks-


Feel free to steal this button as needed.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mammograms, and other mindless rambling

I had to go get the girls squished today. To cheer myself up, I told myself "Hey, someone still wants a picture of them."

I also went to the bookstore and picked up a copy of America's Best Lost Recipes...I checked it out from the library and found two of my favorite recipes-Whacky Cake, and Hot Milk Cake. But I don't really think the recipes were that lost....the recipe for Whacky Cake is one I got in 1978 from a girl who married my foster dad. Her brother married my foster mom. Ok, THAT part is a little whacky, but the recipe still lives in my recipe box. Hot Milk Cake came out of Taste of Home-about 1994, I think. I LOVE that one-very tasty, and I haven't made it in years. But that recipe wasn't really lost either.

So are they trying to tell me that I am old as dirt? Mayonnaise Cake-a friend of mine LOVED that-with 7 minute boiled icing with a tiny bit of peppermint extract in it. He's dead now, but if I made mayonnaise cake, I would make it in exactly that way. Again.

Potica? Made that-it's just pretty.

Maybe this book should be called "You have the recipe for this already, but you can't remember which damned book it's in." I really want to try the recipe for Runsas-beef and cabbage buns with cheese. I think the Midwest in me is starting to show. Anyone ever had those??

It's been a total shit day. I've been trying and trying and trying to get along with someone. Apparently, that's all been for naught, or all because I am nuts; my current stance is I'll do it NOT. Ever. Again. Kiss my ass.

(very colorful paragraph deleted)

Thanks for letting me rant a bit.

The Happy Report-

I really wanted to love these. I ordered FOUR of them for Christmas gifts. They weren't cheap. They are "eh". I think the things that dampen my enthusiasm are

1) The photo is adhered via a sticker. It's transparent, so in my case, you have to look really hard to see the photo when the bottle does not have anything behind it. The photos on the Clinique site are a little misleading.

2) The transparent sticker, along with its position on the BACK of the bottle means that I will never see my mom's picture without an atomizer stem running thru the middle of it.

Opinion: If you have the technology to make a clear window sticker at home, do it yourself.

Other things that dampen my enthusiasm-family issues have made this one banner freakin' day. I am aggravated beyond belief. And hurt. And angry.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I am not afraid to use this for society's greater good


A man came to see me Friday. We sat and had coffee. After he left, I sent this photo to my DD, with a note explaining that he had come around asking questions about DGD. Very pointed and nosy questions. My DD received this information just in the nick of time, because DGD had just informed her mama that this man couldn't see inside of cars. She was sitting next to her mama when the picture popped up.

This Gramma knows a lot of people with many talents. This man is like the CIA. He has a large staff and a lot of contracted operatives who are all VERY careful to protect his mission. If I were you, I would be VERY careful not to make a mistake. The people he blacklists are very, very sad.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Betsy vs. The Color Brown


I personally have nothing against the color brown. What I hate about the color BROWN is that I already AM brown. I have light olive skin-no rosy cheeks, just plain ivory-beige. I have ordinary dark brown hair (but not brown black) - just middle brown. It's starting to pinstripe up pretty nicely. My eyes are weird-they are light brown-close to hazel, with a lot of yellow in them. Not those pretty dark brown eyes that glow or snap.
If I wear brown, I am a monochromatic mess. My face feels dirty. I don't sparkle. Put me in boring navy---boo-yah! I LOVE it. Red? Love it. Black? Bring it on!!! Brown? Holy God, put some makeup on, girl.
This also applies to anything remotely yellow or orange, and some greens. My relationship with green is kind of weird. I spent many many years wearing a green uniform. I'm actually fine in green, I just don't wanna wear it.
People have sworn that I need a pair of brown shoes. I find this puzzling. People who don't wear brown don't need brown shoes. I personally need black, blue, and an occasional smattering of cordovan. Pretty simple. Grey shoes are great.
We all know what happens when people wear colors they shouldn't. If you have a copy of the latest (mumblemumble) catalog, take a look. You know the one-where the lady uses her staff as catalog models? Nice idea, but it didn't translate to print very well.
So, to clarify my position on the color brown-BROWN IS A VERY NICE COLOR FOR OTHER PEOPLE. If YOU like brown, I've left you plenty on the rack. You should thank me for being so nice to you. I've been this way since 1980. Don't bother trying to talk me into brown. It won't work, and I don't have the shoes to go with brown clothing anyhow. HAHAHAHA.

Wild Fibers contest


Wild Fibers and Buffalo Gold yarns are sponsoring a "Make it with Buffalo" contest. Top prize for a hobby knitter is 200.00. Losers get a chance at a buffalo gift basket-and THAT'S what I want. I've been leafing thru the Barbaras, and finally found two patterns that complement each other. My plan is to make two hats, one double-stranded, and one single stranded after the hatband, using the same stitches. I should be able to get TWO hats out of this single, expensive skein of laceweight.
The color is, at the end of the day, a warm, rich rusty color, which I still can't wear, but is at least interesting to knit.
I've FINALLY found my rhythm on the stitch pattern of the knitting that must not be named. I had to chart it up AND knit more than two entire balls of sweater bottom, and sleeve cuffs that 5" long, to get comfortable with the pattern. Plus, I went out and bought a new set of bamboo circs, which seems to be the right needle for the yarn. Shheesh. This pattern is rated EXPERT. I think it should be rated TORTURE.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Yarn haul






Two skeins marvelous wool from the Plain & Fancy Sheep & Wool Company, Henderson, TX. The color is Stained Glass, Six skeins Berrocco Zen for six dollars.






Two skeins Brooks Farm Tierra, a chunky lambswool alpaca blend.






Two skeins Solana, a Brooks Farm chunky superwash (right), and one of Acero, a wool, silk and rayon blend.






Buff naked!


I went to Kid 'n Ewe with Chris today. It's a small fiber fest in Boerne (pronounced Burnee) that features a lot of natural and local fibers. I met Ron Miskin from Buffalo Gold yarns. I really LIKED the buffalo laceweight, but it's BROWN. BROWN BROWN flat brown. He had a few dyed samples, and I asked him if they were acid dyed. He said YES!


As soon as I got home, I put my plan into action. Four packs of Black Cherry, one of Naranja-Tamarindo, one of Strawberry, and one of Kiwi-Watermelon (which promised a neon drink) Koolaid.
I dampened the yarn, mixed up my Koolaid with tablespoons of water, and spooned it onto the yarn, nilly-willy. I nuked for 10 minutes, and it worked. There is virtually no difference between the Black Cherry and Strawberry on the dark brown, but the Orange Tamarind made a beautiful bittersweet shade. I like this a lot better now-it's autumnal, and colorful in a subdued way. Now it must marinate, til I come up with a plan.

BTW-note to enquiring minds-they shed in the spring, so fleece picking can't happen until February or so.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

What's it cost to give someone their job for Christmas?


Earlier this week, I was at the local Healthy Woman gala. Someone walked up to our table and said "So and so is going to lose her job at the Senior Center because they don't have enough members." There was, of course, some conversation back and forth about who to see, and what the membership fee was (15.00). One of the ladies at my table said "Heck, I'll join if it means she gets to keep her job." Well put. I was trying to figure out how to buy a membership-and I'm not old enough to be a member. (Nothing like getting carded when you are near your 50s, eh?)

This morning, I heard Aqua Dots moved from the "Hot Christmas Toy" list to the "recalled piece of crap imported from China" list. I was surprised-just a few months ago, these made it to the hot Christmas toy list-and now they've been recalled because the coating on them cause comas or seizures if kids ingest it. Yet another toy from China recalled this year. Those struck a chord with me because I considered getting them for DGD. I would have felt like hell if I bought a toy that put my grandchild in the hospital.

I made a donation to A4 this year, so some little Afghan kid will be warm. I donated canned goods to my local church this afternoon, so the Thanksgiving food baskets will have a few extra peas and carrots to go around. There's a lot to be done for people near and far.

Two days ago, I found myself browsing expensive lumps of glass because the Fenton Art Glass company announced their closure plans about 10 weeks ago. They've been going for over 100 years, made it through the Depression and two World Wars, but can't beat this economy. I bought. It might not make a difference, but maybe it will help someone hang on to his/her job a little longer. I figured my chunk of change might not be all that significant, so I did a little letter writing. If Fenton products were mentioned by Martha Stewart, Oprah, Country Living, and the like, maybe a few people could keep their jobs. Fenton can probably use all the help they can get.

Maybe there's a (US or Canadian) company on the brink, something that you like or that supports your local economy. Maybe all they need is a little publicity. Spend the "stuff I am not going to buy because it was made in China and has been recalled" money to help someone here keep her job. The alternative is unemployment, and THAT's expensive.

Happy Christmas

It's early, I know. I stayed up til 2 last night working on Christmas presents for the girls in my family.

I love personal gifts. I hate gift cards and canned gifts. I was never so disgusted at Christmas as I was the first year I was in Germany. I stood in line to buy local currency at the bank, I hurried downtown to shop before the stores closed at noon on Saturday, I stood in line to mail gifts. We got a Hickory Farms gift box. Blah.

I work hard to find just the right thing. The digital age offers a lot of possibilities....especially for those 20 somethings. A new copy of Oprah came in yesterday, and the press for Clinique Happy caught my eye. You can upload a photo and put it on a bottle! How cool is that?

I used Grandma and DGD photos. I should have them in two weeks. I'll let you know how they turn out.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Ha. Ha.






Welcome to middle age.

Stick a needle in my eye


















I took a break from entrelac jail for some KNITTING THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED. It's a pattern from a well-known magazine. It's rated at expert. It would not be that hard, except they didn't bother to chart it out. It's one of those evil patterns that have you working your knitting self to death on the right and wrong side rows. While I can figure out what to do on the right side row, I was really struggling with the wrong side. I couldn't find a rhythm.

I was rapidly losing patience, so I sought out knitters graph paper, and just charted both the right and reverse rows. The fiendish eighty stitch pattern was penned into 26 squares, rendering it 2/3rds less powerful. It's docile now, and trudges back and forth from needle to needle.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Oh give me a home....

I am excited because Kid n Ewe is in Boerne next weekend. One of the things I am looking forward to is finding some buffalo yarn. I may have my own buffa-tunity in the future.

I am a city girl who knows a lot of country folk. A friend of a friend, who knows someone's son, who is friends with...you know the drill. Anyhow, there are buffalo within a 30 mile radius, and I mentioned that I was interested in the shedded winter coats. There may be an opportunity to go out and harvest some of that fiber in the spring, when they shed/molt/get rid of their winter coats.

I have only seen one large wild creature shed its winter layer, and that was a musk ox at the Anchorage zoo. (Lisa, you ought to talk to them. That's a quiviut-tunity if there ever was one.) The poor guy looked like Bob Marley after a bender. Are shed buff-locks even suitable for spinning? I don't know this answer!!!

I am a little nervous, a little worried about how much buffalo shit I will have to step in to get 10 pounds of buff-locks. Will I just take a roll of garbage bags with me? And is 10 pounds enough? Where will I send it to be processed? Will I add wool? (Yes, probably, because I will probably need fleece helper to yield enough fiber for yarn.) Can you picture it? "Honey, please wade through buffalo shit with me for my birthday..." Can you imagine being charged because you spooked the herd, flapping that dumb Hefty bag in the wind? And snakes. SNAKES!

What processing would I ask for? A 50% 50% blend of Buffalo and Merino? What would THAT look like? Oatmeal colored? Toast? I'd have to knit something for the rancher, because that's just the way things are.

This possibility is a long way from fruition-but there is a possibility on the horizon.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

So now I can kill cats

Relax. I am referring to firepower, not intent.

I'll never forget the first time I fired a weapon. It was in the spring some 25 years ago, and I fired an M-16, thinking "I could hurt someone." As it turns out, I never had to fire at anyone, but I did get damned good at cleaning them. So good, I embarrassed several teen-aged boys during annual qualification, because I can reassemble an M-16 very neatly.

That's all I fired until a few weeks ago. DH found the local range, and I went out there and tried to fire his Dan Wesson. I wasn't all that good, but that's a big gun for my small hands.

He was happy I went out with him. I was happy I finally got to shoot without being timed or someone yelling at me. He was so happy, he bought a Ruger 10-22. He bought THIS and that, and some fashionable hunter accessories, and went out and fired it.

Last weekend, I went out to the range with him. We took turns-5 shots on his target, 5 on mine. Somewhere in the middle of all that, he started making adjustments. "No honey, it shouldn't affect you." Hmmm. I was born at night, but not LAST night. If he is making site adjustments for HIM, it affects me. My accuracy went downhill quickly; I was all over the target.

We got ready to leave, and I resolved to take my time. I was pleased. Ok groupings. I realize it's just a squirrel killer, but I did all right. (shhh-don't tell anyone, but I did better than my spouse!)