Thursday, November 24, 2011

And then I burned the crap out of the stove...

I like to make cranberry sauce. It's easy and well received and lasts a while- the batch  that I whip up at Thanksgiving makes it through New Year's. This is the cranberry sauce that people who turn up their noses at the canned stuff devour. Or at least eat. It's good. And easy. And pretty.

I thought I would share it with you this year,so I got to cooking the other other day...and well, and share I will. The good, and the Dang It! I did what?

Orange Cranberry Sauce

1 bag fresh cranberries
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup orange juice (or apple, or orange pineapple..lots of juices work)
Zest of an orange

Rinse cranberries and pull out nasty ones

In pan, mix juice, sugar and zest with cranberries

I used orange pineapple. Which, also mixes very refreshingly with whipped cream flavored vodka. But in a glass, not in your cranberry sauce..although...hmmm.
Bring to boil.

Yes, all of you wise cooks who saw my pan choice called this mess, didn't you?  Use a bigger pan. Or watch very carefully.
Like I said, carefully bring to boil
mmm, burnt sugar. Nothing quite like the smell of burnt sugar

What you are waiting for, most of the cranberries will pop open, this takes less than 5 minutes.

That's all. As it cools the pectin from the cranberries will help set the sauce. Not set enough to cut, but come on, that stuff is nasty.
If you do make a burned mess, wait until the burner cools, and put a wet towel over it to softnen the mess..for about 5 times as long as it took to cook the cranberry sauce. No lie. Even then it was burned on hard! I had to resort to a razor to get the last bits up. I don't recommend this. BIGGER pot.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Yup, I'm Still Allergic to Home Parties

*Yesterday Brian asked me," Did you write a sweet column about me in honor of our 20th wedding anniversary?"  No, I did not. Today is that anniversary date. And this is the column that ran in the KC Star this morning:
“Does anyone NOT have one of our bean pots?”

I raised my hand. Why would I have one? I hadn’t been to that type of home party before. Actually, I hadn’t been to any type of home party since the Tupperware Incident of ’94.

That night, 17 years ago, I got a little out of control. Color coordinated storage containers! A large cake carrier! A chip and dip tray! More cool items we didn’t need!  The buyer’ s remorse was so cringe inducing that I instituted a Personal Home Party Ban which has served me, and our bank account, well ever since.

“Would you like to come to my candle/cookware/jewelry/home décor/whatever-I’m-peddling- this- week party? It’ll be fun! Snacks! Drinks!”

“I’m so sorry!” I would graciously reply,” Thank you for asking me, but I have a personal ban on home parties since the Tupperware Incident of ’94.”

Sometimes I would add a shudder for dramatic effect.

And, I must say, it worked like a charm every time! Of course there was a rebuttal: ”Oh, you don’t have to buy anything, think of it like a Girl’s Night Out!”

I’m not sure who they thought they were kidding, but of course I would have to buy something!  If it was just about chick chatter, snacks and drinks, they would have thrown a regular ol’ party. They want to sell stuff, with an eye on some hostess gifts. I’m ok with that, just own it. I still never went.

Enter my Mother-in-law. I cannot say, “no” to this woman. She is too kind and doesn’t (usually) say, “no” to me. Boring story short: I lifted my ban to go to a home party hosted by one of my Mother-in-law’s sweet friends, another woman I   can’t say, “no” to.

(Note to self: Learn to say, “no”.)

I admire the entrepreneurial spirit of the home party consultant. It is a terrific career for people who want to work from home, believe in their product line and can talk in front of others. The company of the party I attended boasts sales in excess of 100 million dollars. Big business. If this is your line of work-fantastic!  When you do your thing and combine socializing with shopping, I know that there are a lot of people who will happily drive your profits up by multitasking with you.

I was just not one of them.

Until I found myself in a room full of women; a large display of home décor items artfully arranged by the fireplace, snacks and wine a’plenty. Did I make a mistake all those years? This was fun!  I settled into the sofa… and eyed what was possibly the largest cat in existence.

It’s not that I don’t like cats…ok, I don’t like cats. But it’s not because I am an animal hater- I’m allergic to them. Even a cat in a spotless home like the one I was in.

Unfortunately the consultant had begun her presentation, and it would have been rude to get up and leave. I sat through it- coveting the bean pot, sneezing and searching for tissues- lots of tissues.

And what did my husband say when I dragged my drippy self home?

 “I should have warned you about the cat.”

Ya think?!

But it’s a waste of time if I didn’t learn anything.

What I learned at the home party:
*Always ask if people have a cat. Cat dander is bad.

*The bean pot can cook a cake in 13 minutes. Cake is good.

*Reinstate the ban. Sometimes bans are very, very good.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Gummi Bear Adventure: Nommi Bears!

So, I struck up a correspondence on social media recently.Ok, I do that a lot...but this one in particular introduced me to something new. Well, new to me, anyway.

This person mentioned soaking gummi bears in vodka.

I like vodka.

I like gummi bears.

She didn't know the details, just said that a lot of college kids were doing it...sigh..yes, I KNOW! Wrong on so many levels...but I figured what the heck. I was meeting strangers on the internet, who knows what a crazy road was on!

Whipped Cream flavored vodka, and Brach's Gummi bears, in a jar. How hard can it be?

Just for giggles I googled myself over to this blog: Mix That Drink after I did this:

And since it had to sit in the fridge, and my kids have candy radar and were already asking for what was left in the bag, I added this:

Very proud of my DIY skilz, I then READ the directions that said to not put it in plastic. oops. Quick swap of jars:

And waaaaay into the back of the fridge it went. For 5 days, although I snibbled on Day 3 and was very pleased.

On Day 5 I had a nasty stomach virus, so the poor gummis had to hang out for a few more days. Until today!
They plumped up quite a bit, although not as fat as I would have imagined. It looks like there is more liquid in the jar than there is, maybe a tablespoon was left.
Almost too cute to eat.

They are a little slimey (but still have some chewy) to them so I used a tiny, silver spoon (you know, to class up the fact that I was eating vodka soaked kid candy in the middle of the day).

Very nom nom nommie!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

And now it's just getting messy

Last night, on Day 9, I hit the 30K mark on my NaNo (out of 50K for a win). I still love my story, love my characters, love my plot and am about to dive into the second half of the novel- although I am well past the halfway point of NaNo.

It occurred to me that I neglected to tell my family that I wanted to get to THE END this month...not just THE END OF NaNoWriMo. They are thinking,"Cool! She's almost there! We get her back!"

But I'm thinking,"I wonder how I'm going to get to THE END this month without my family staging an intervention and hiding the battery to my laptop."

But no time for that now--I have real work to do....and more work on my NaNo. But to show you how messy my physical life is getting ( all that family drama is gonna be messy, too)..

I present:
30K- A Photo Ess-ay
Little fresher than at 15K, not much...but I smell better.
"Mommy can I have a lollipop?" "Uh yeah, whatever." 8 AM. *sigh*
I think the kids are finding ways to cope.
Yes, it's a little dusty.
OK! I get it! It's a LOT dusty.
This is a passive aggressive hint that I should take the trash out.  I'm going to leave it there as a hint that I'm not the only one capable of taking the trash out.
Under ordinary circumstances, these get put in dishwasher right after breakfast. Under NaNo circumstances, they sit there until I'm making dinner then I multi-task.
Uh. WHAT? The grocery fairy isn't coming today?? I see a dinner in, keilbasa and pickle stirfy? Pickles are vegetables, right?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

It's getting ugly..

..but I'm still smiling. I JUST hit 15,000 words...and have many more bubbling inside. I think my family may park me at the curb on trash day if I don't take a shower today. I didn't quite get around to it yesterday. I THINK I did the day before.

The reality of doing NaNoWriMo isn't quite as pretty as it sounds.