Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Day One in Vegas.....

And the overwhelming thought is....

DUDE... Trader Vic's.... CLOSED???

Sammy Hagar goes and ruins another good thing. (Like Van Halen)

SOOO beyond bummed. I've been looking forward to duck tacos for MONTHS.

Monday, December 28, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year....

I like the holidays.... I really do.

But the past few years, I find myself liking them much more when they're OVER.

Maybe it's because it seems like I always start jobs in the fourth quarter (and even in November and December) and the added stress of learning the ropes at a new place plus the holiday just makes it worse... maybe I'm getting cranky(er) in my old age... who knows. But yeah, this year, I was Very Happy Indeed to make it to Dec. 26th and claim a holiday for myself, Do Nothing Day.

Putting up the tree is a stress. And I never really finished, since our $3 Ikea star we've had for ten years broke, and I gave up on any idea of trying to search for a new one (and I also had to tell my mother, MANY TIMES, that no, I did not want her to go out and look for one for me since I've been looking for a real, adult, star tree topper for ten years and *I* haven't been able to find one I like). Christmas cards are a stress. I'm known by different names by my family & the Man's family, so just signing each card is an excercise in "wait... what do they know me as?" and there are always the addresses you KNOW you wrote down but cannot find (thatwordguy... um... yeah... sorry, that is what happened to your card this year...).

By about the 23rd, I gave up. If it wasn't bought or done, it wasn't getting done.

It was a good Christmas though... good gifts given, good gifts recieved, and holiday cheer all around.

My usual "munchie fest" on Christmas for the mom unit and the parent in law's was a no-stresser. Yet another year of How To Impress Your Mother and Mother-In-Law By Unwrapping Cheese....

I put my cheeses out a few hours before anyone was set to arrive... gotta let them come to room temp...

I did go a little nuts with the variety. This is what happens when I am standing in front of the cheese section at Trader Joe's and they have a TON of French cheese I've never even tried (but at least I learned I looooove Port Salut).

Did the usual reuben dip thing that we all love... cream cheese, saurkraut, Carl Buddig corned beef and thousand island, melted in my little slow cooker until melty-good...

Did some meatbals in the "jar of chili sauce/jar of grape jelly" sauce, since those are also a hit....

Need something sweet?? Mini creme puffs from Sam's Club....

And a drumrool... she unwraps the cheese and sets out crackers....

Also had some salami and proscuitto, olives, veggies and dip....

Oh, and the Beef Salami Stick that we got from the hubby's boss. Still have the turkey stick and a couple of small cheese balls to attack, but we'll get around to it.
And after all that... it's back to work, and then....
On Wednesday I'll be in Vegas.
Even if all the rules are still up in the air about airport security right now (and since we were the first people through security at the United terminal at O'Hare after the "no liquid" thing - ah, the infamous incident of "How Many TSA People Does It Take To Determine If Granola Bars Are a Liquid or a Solid" (and apparently, it's five TSA people, and at that point in time they WERE a liquid since they had filling...) ) it shouldn't be too bad. I was thinking about actually packing the laptop (my own one, not the work one) in the checked luggage, but I'm turning into a chickenshit about it. Even though I already know how to replace the screen if it gets broken (not that I want the expense... but....)
Ok. Now it's time to finish watching the Bears game to see if we can at least mess up the Vikings, even if we can't win the games that would mean anything to US.....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What's in a name??

My given name is Victoria.

As a kid, I went by "Vickie".

I went back to the full "Victoria" when I went to college because I was just too tired of people misspelling my name in every way imaginable (Vicky, Vikki, got a few Vickey's, and my favorite, a H-E-L-E-N once... long story).

There is only one way to spell Victoria.

Or at least one would think.

A few jobs back, I was lucky enough to be working at a place where I reported to not one but two bosses. One of whom got it in his head during the interview that my name was "Veronica". And from that point on, for two years, I was called "Veronica... (insert swear word here)... I know... Victoria" at that job. Until I left.

And it's happening again.

One person we have to work with at the new place, someone who is not actually part of our company, somehow got it in her head that my name is Veronica. So today, ALL DAY, in every email back and forth between us and her, she called me Veronica. We corrected her. More than once. But still... Veronica.

Looks like I'm destined to go through this again....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gift Potatoes

Oddest thing happened last Friday.

The hubby came home from work (I beat him home) carrying a sack of potatoes.

Turns out, one of their vendors or something-or-other gave potatoes as a Christmas gift this year. So on Friday, a potato truck rolled up outside their office, and everyone's eyes went alight with childish glee as they accepted a sack of potatoes (or, at least, I assume that is kinda how it went).

The hubby has one of those jobs that is kinda old-school and they are always getting tons of office gifts around the holidays from vendors and other companies they work with and stuff (a favorite always being the guy who brings in a Box of Booze Bottles and lets everyone pick among them... for years we always got a wonderful box of Christmas wrapping papper and matching bows, almost every year the hubby comes home at some point in late December with a two-pound log of liver sausage, we've gotten chocolate and caviar, etc., etc.). Most I have ever gotten was at one place I worked where they gave out a turkey to everyone at Thanksgiving and Christmas. And sadly, a rather small turkey that really couldn't feed more than a few people, so I always gave it to my dad so he could fry it.

At least they are "local" potatoes... actually from up on the other side of the cheddar curtain (aka Wisconsin).

And I thought it was odd back in '05 when a new produce mart opened over here, and although I refused a free case of bananas, they slipped one into my cart anyway when I wasn't looking while they bagged my groceries (I was actually kinda pissed... I had to haul that case up three flights of stairs to the then-apartment, and when you only have two people in the house, it's hard to go through a case of bananas. Thankfully, I always work with software engineers, and software engineers will gladly eat anything that is labeled "FREE FOOD" without question and I got to unload some of them at work).

I didn't cook on Friday, but on Saturday while I was running around trying to cram in Christmas shopping with all my usual Saturday errands, I picked up a roasted chicken at Sam's Club, with the intention of serving that for dinner.

And some of our gift potatoes.

But, don't gift potatoes really deserve slightly better treatment than just being thrown in the oven to be baked??

Bring on the Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

I didn't follow the recipe exactly (surprise!) since I wasn't making that huge of an amount of potatoes for just the two of us, and I didn't have half & half on hand. But I do keep heavy cream on hand. I guessed about a cup of heavy cream, and a half cup of water. And I only used the original 4 tablespoons of butter to cook the garlic, and didn't bother with more at the end. Trust me, they didn't need it.

Garlic, cooking away in butter....

Then you add the cream and water, and bring that to a simmer....

Add your potatoes, and back to simmer...

And then you cover, and cook for 25 to 30 minutes.
About halfway through, I was totally concerned that it was too much liquid. I mean... just look!!

I tried to think of ways to skim off some of the liquid, but it really wasn't going to work. So, I just said a prayer to the cooking gods and grabbed my potato masher, and hoped for the best.

One thing I *love* about America's Test Kitchen recipes is that as odd as they sometimes seem... they really do work. I had some faith in this recipe - I think they're the ones that got me doing my sweet potatoes in pretty much the same way, cook them in a little liquid rather than boil them - but I was still doubtful. But I must admit, they whipped up into some damned fine mashed taters.

Not runny, absolutely wonderful with the cream and butter. Sure, you do still have to dirt up a strainer to wash the starch off the potatoes before you start, but it's just so much easier to cook them all in one pot like this.
So thank you, vendor, for the gift potatoes. They were wonderful.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Oh how very mistaken he is.....

So... today is Xmas decorating day.

Which means that the hubby lugged the tree up from the basement, but I put it together (and have the scratches to proove it) and am in the process of decorating.

Sadly, the three-dollar star I bought from Ikea years ago has busted. I have another tree topper too, but it kept falling over when I tried to put it on (and no matter what the man thinks... he missed his chance since I will *not* have him "trying it again when the tree is done". So you can break ornaments when the darned thing falls off like I know it will????)

As a joke, I mentioned I *could* use another tree topper I have.... an angel in a leopard dress with black wings (bought as a gag gift). And the hubby says "Oh, not on MY tree!"

Excuse me.

Your tree?

Are you the one who picked it out? Did you even have an urge to go with me when I went to pick it out (yes, I did ask)? Are you the one who has decorated our shared Christmas tree for the past ten years? Have you even put a single ornament on our tree in ten years?? Are you the one who carefully packs everything away every year???

I think not.

This is MY tree. Mine mine mine.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Gourmet Night

(and for this post.... it should be properly called gore-MET)

Yep. That i s chicken nuggets, boxed mac & cheese, and at least some spinach and shallots as the veg. Only because the only proper veg I had in the fridge was some "going south" baby spinach.
This is what happens when you're still trying to get used to the "working" schedule again, stoopid traffic and getting back in to some kind of a workout schedule.
It's one thing to be a foodie. It's another thing to be a foodie who is a women that is married to a man who is NOT a foodie. Anyone who is the primary cook for their house will admit that sometimes, as much as you may not care what you cook, you're fine as long as the other people in the house are good with it.
And my 30-going-on-12 hubby???
"Dude... chicken nuggets and mac & cheese?!?! Is this a special occassion?"
Works for him, works for me.