Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!!!

(A scan from the CUTEST HALLOWEEN CARD EVER! that my cousin - and lurker around these parts - sent to me this year)

Hope everyone is having or had a safe & happy Halloween. I'm listening to my Halloween-ish tunes (bring on the Ministry and Murderdolls!) and enjoying my Saturday. Especially the part where I was trying to get my grocery shopping done before trick or treat time around here started and they were playing "Season of the Witch" as one of the 'holiday selections' of music at the grocery store. Yes, I was singing along. And yes, people were looking at me. And no, I don't care!

Cooking has been especially lame around here lately.... been fighting a nasty case of heartburn which has meant a lot of BLAH food. Nuttin' worth clouding up the internet with, trust me.

I am, however, very excited since I've got an interview on Monday. Sounds like a good position and a good company, but it's long-term contracting (5-6 months) at this point... but right now that is better than nuttin.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A whole new torture...


It was bad enough when we knew our March Vegas trip was probably going to be the only one this year since the layoffs at my work were a'coming.

It was also not fun to suffer through the summer months getting mailers from Harrahs DAILY with every single offer they could throw at us.

Now, we've got casino hosts calling. I CANNOT TAKE THIS!!

Thanks to the use of the father-in-law's airline miles, we could easily fly cheap.

We could stay one of several places for free.

It's just that whole "gambling money and food money" that we'd have to worry about. And sadly, cheap eats are no longer easy to find on the Strip.


I cannot wait to be employed again. The first three-day weekend we can manage, we are SO going to fly out to Vegas on a Friday night and come back that Monday (assuming I won't even get vacation days to take right when I start... I'm never going to be one of those lucky folks who is someplace long enough to earn more than the minimum of vacation days.....)

Monday, October 19, 2009

I've lost my mojo!

There are some days, and apparently some weeks, where I should just stay the heck out of the kitchen.

Last week was one of those weeks.

I blame it partly on the cold that the hubby decided to bring home from work. When he walked in the door on Wednesday night and immediately said "I have a cold!" my questions about the nature of the cold weren't totally made out of some wifely duty.... I knew if he had a cold, I'd also have it in 24 hours or less. Heck... I catch the colds going around his office that he doesn't catch. It's the way of life around here.

Cooking Disaster Numero Uno was an attempt at pizza. I'd bought a whole wheat crust dough from Trader Joe's, since I've been wanting to try it for awhile. I figured I'd cut up some meatballs that I'd defrosted for Sunday's dinner, and use those on the pizza.

I thought 350 degrees sounded a little low for a pizza.

It was. It took for-ev-ah until the edges of the crust were even slighty brown. And then I couldn't even get it off the Silpat.

At first, I couldn't even dislodge it from the Silpat. Apparently, I found something that can stick to a Silpat in my kitchen. Then, I decided to scrape off the sauce/cheese toppings to figure out why, after about 25 minutes, there were still problems.

Yeah.... raw dough in the center? PROBLEM!

(I ended up having canned soup for lunch)

That same dinner (the day the hubby came home and said he was sick) I'd planned to do some baked chicken fingers. Food Network recipe. And boy, did this one flop to.

Overcooked, barely brown, mushy chicken, anyone???

(at least I'd already heated up some canned chicken soup for the hubby for dinner. I ended up having canned chicken soup, too. I knew I was coming down with a cold when I found myself putting the pepper grinder in the fridge. My mind plays tricks on me like that when I have a cold.)

The final nail in the coffin was yesterday. Alton Brown's rib recipe. Made it dozens of times, always worked flawlessly. I was thinking of throwing them in the crockpot to cook, but I didn't.

I should have.

They did look pretty....

However, they were the toughest damned ribs I've ever had in my life. For some reason, they just turned out horribly, even though I did the same things I do every time I make them. I really, honestly, don't even know how I screwed that one up.
At least the cornbread was tasty.

Hopefully, the cooking mojo will return shortly. I'm getting REAL tired of canned soup for dinner.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Technology 3, Hausfrau 1

Technology is really, really not my friend these past few months.

First the Tivo.

Then my laptop backlight (which I have yet to have fixed).

Then yesterday, the audio jack and speaker on my Palm decided to stop working. Now, I will admit, I can be a bit of a klutz with it and it must have just taken one thunk too many, but it was just sitting there when it decided to stop working. No sound thru headphones, and when I disconnect the headphones, no sound through the speaker.

And I know I remember hearing that Palm wasn't developing any more handheld PDAs for the time being while they focus on the Pri and the whole cellular phone thing... but how did I miss that they've pretty much sold out all their "new" stock and I'm gonna be up shit creek without a boat when my PDA goes *poof* or I decide I want to upgrade??? Because I don't want a Pri or anything like it... me likes my PDA as a device not connected at all to my phone, thankyouverymuch.


At least one good thing... there is one book I've been trying to find at brick & mortar stores for a couple months and I haven't found it anywhere in like a 20-mile radius, and it's also been hard to get from the library. So, I decided to go for the Ebook. I'm a big fan of the Ebook lately, it's easy to tranfer PDFs to my handy little Palm and read away. But noooooo.... apparently now at the PDFs have digital protection on them with Adobe's "Digital Edition" so I had to spend a good, oh, five minutes trying to figure out how to make it an unsecured file so I could have it as a regular PDF and not a "can only be opened by this special program on your computer hahahahaha" file. Because I don't want to read it on my PC. I want to read it on my Palm.

I like PDFs... I really do. But apparently, unlike Adobe, I realize the fact that the words "digital protection" are really only just words... as fast as you can figure out how to try and put it all under your control, some other talented person across the globe is going to figure out how to crack it. It's like communism... it might be a sort of nice idea in theory, but it just don't work in the real world. I'm more than willing to pay for PDFs, but I still want to be able to use them like a book. That means not tied to my PC and desk chair, but portable. I'm wondering if the publishing industry is trying to play the same game the music industry tried to play... Total Digital Soverignty over stuff just ain't going to happen. Just like I used to tape songs off the radio and make copies of tapes for friends, I get some of my music without going to a record store and paying for it, but I still also will happily pay out for music that I do like (I've always been amazed at how artists know so little about the breakdown of costs for things like CD... if you walked up to a band and gave them a dollar, that is more than they usually make off their cut for a CD... I spent waaaaay too much time learning the music biz back when I was thinking of going into it....).

And I guess this will also play out as technology and I go another round... currently looking at MP3 players (I was really unhappy with the 1 gig limit on my Palm, anyway) that are NOT iPods. I really just want something that can shuffle, manage a couple playlists, and not try to tackle my entire digital music collection (which is at about 16 gi) - just the stuff I want to transfer over depending on my mood. Currently eyeing the SanDisk Sansa players, but we'll see. I did try to look them over at Best Buy this morning, but the way the "display" models are bolted down, I couldn't get a good look at the thing, and the way the sales dudes were hovering over me, I just wanted to make a break for it. I also fear a fistfight breaking out if I have some sales dude who really wants to try and talk all "iPod" to me. I already belong to the Tivo cult... I don't need to join the iPod cult. The Tivo cult might get jealous.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Chili Cheese Omelet

Now, I will admit that I am a suck for anything with the "chili and cheese" combo.
Until our first trip to Las Vegsas, I didn't think that extended to eggs.
We were wandering around the mall in the then-Alladin hotel, looking for something to eat. We decided to stop at Cheeseburger since we were in that "my natural clock says its lunchtime in the midwest but it's breakfast time out here" state of mind and didn't know which one we wanted, and this place had both.
I recall being torn between a Cheeseburger or pancakes, when both the hubby (well, not then - it was two days later when we visted the smarmiest chapel in Vegas to get hitched) saw the omelet section of the menu... and a chili cheese omelet. We both ordered one, and waited with discussion on how it was either going to be the worst thing ever or the best thing ever.
Best thing, for sure.
Since then, I have made them at home on occassion, using leftover stockpiles of chili. It's also nice because I can make one big huge "family-style" omelet and just cut off a section for me and let the hubby eat the rest.
I do, however, need to get myself a new skillet, since the thing was a BLEEEEP to try and get out of the pan.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Crunchy Baked Pork Chops

I love me some Shake N'Bake, so obviously, when America's Test Kitchen did a thing with some Crunchy Baked Pork Chops, it caught my eye. I love me a good pork chop.

The recipe calls for a quick brine....

And then you use fresh bread in the food processor to make some breadcrumbs. And as long as I'm grinding the bread in there, why not the shallot and garlic, too??

Then, you bake them to toast them up a little bit. And this is where I had problems... the first batch of crumbs I did as directed for the time indicated, and the outter edges of the pan burned and the middle was still a soggy mess. So, I quickly whirlled up a new batch of crumbs, garlic and shallot, and kept a better eye on them. They still didn't turn out as evenly brown as I wanted, but at least they weren't burned.

Time to flour....

Then coat in the eggy/mustardy/flour mixture...

Then the crumbs.... (neat little lesson I learned there... if you roast them on foil and let them cool on the foil, you can be a total lazy slob and also use that as the container for coating the chops, and cut down on the dishes you need to clean....)

Happy pork chops, into the oven....

And happy pork chops, out of the oven.....

Overall, it really wasn't too much work (other than having to do the crumbs twice) and the result was indeed some good, crispy pork chops. Mine might have been a bit thick (the hubby sees the slightest bit of pink in pork and he'll whine that I'm trying to poison him) but they did turn out pretty good. Better than Shake N Bake, and almost as easy.