Thursday, June 30, 2011

Winging It

As I mentioned, and as you can probably imagine from all the posts about the upcoming 2 summer weddings,  I have spent a lot of time away from home lately.  For days, meals have consisted of leftovers, some sort of frozen, almost-fast-food, sandwiches, or even just store-bought hummus and whole-grain crackers.  I was home most of yesterday, so last night I wanted to do better.                                                                                                                                                             
I wanted to cook.  I wanted to make a whole meal.  I wanted it to be healthy, but fun or interesting...To have some zing to it.                                                                                                                                     
Princess Bossy once told me how Chili Rellenos were her favorite vegetarian dinner at a Mexican restaurant.  I'd never had them before, so after that, a frozen version caught my eye at Costco.  They were like a large and deluxe version of Jalapeno Poppers, which I love.  I'd looked up recipes soon after that, and have been craving more ever since.  Last night, I 
remembered I'd bought several Anaheim peppers, which were probably about to go bad from being around so long, and we actually had cream cheese on hand.  So it was time to try them out.                                       
I really didn't care about getting a recipe exactly right, with sauce and all.  I was also planning to serve chicken breasts and quinoa, cooked in enchilada sauce, so only wanted the pepper to be big Jalapeno Poppers... I was only after the approximate flavor.  Mostly, I was too tired (lazy) to re-research recipes and follow any details.  So I contrived my own plan, and hoped for the best.                                                                                                                
I think the photos are self-explanatory, but just to be clear,  I started with the peppers, and fresh bread ends crumbled and toasted to make the crumb coating.  I dipped the seeded peppers in flour, then egg, then the crumbs, and fried in a little oil.                                                                                                      
The crumbs didn't want to stick.  When I fried them a little too fast and the skin blackened and bubbled so easily, I realized I probably should have charred, then peeled them.  This would have eliminated the blackening and bubbling problem, and maybe helped things stick better.  I peeled off the black skin and the bit of overdone crumb coating, added a little more coating, and cooked them at a lower heat.  I put a lid on the pan to bake them through a bit more.                                                                                                                                                                                  
To serve, I cut each pepper in half and served it with the quinoa, shredded chicken, and enchilada sauce, with a dab of sour cream.   The only bad part, other than mediocre appearance, again, was the skin.  A little bitter and hard to cut, but not too terrible.  Next time, though, it's out of there.                                                            

Next, I'd like to try Easy Jalapeno Bacon Appetizer, a recipe shared by Carolyn at Adrift on the Lake.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

After days of wedding shopping, showering, etc., I yearned for a 'normal' family dinner around the table.  But it was not to be...                                                                                                                                        

Wedding budget file and contents to be organized, leftover invitation and sealing wax mess, site plan and layouts for the new addition, shower gifts.  (I have to admit that a lot of my house looks similar right now, although this is the worst.)  Kids... Busy with other tasks.  Bride who lives at home... Coaching track club.  Me... Too tired to move it all.  The kitty looks so comfy, anyway.  Maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Twosome Tuesday: Nesting

Our home is being filled to the brim with wedding decor, wedding attire, and now, wedding gifts.  Especially after this weekend's double shower (guess who forgot her camera!), both brides are thinking more about making their first homes with their husbands.                                                                                               
Dining table...
Distance Nesting:
Prince Helium is in an on-campus apartment while he works for the university and attends law school.  Princess Bossy will move in with him there after their wedding.                                                                                                          
For the last several months of her internship, it was her place to step away from the demands of her job, cook and bake to her heart's content, and for a very appreciative audience, which is always rewarding.  Having adequate survival type of cooking skills, but not the passion for cooking and baking that his fiance has, Prince Helium was happy to turn the kitchen over to Princess Bossy and let her arrange it, stock it, and otherwise make it her own early on.  This means she's pretty well acquainted with the work area and storage already, and has visions for its future, filled with wedding registry wish list entries.                                                                                                                                                                      
Living Room...
One thing she didn't take into account when forming the list was plate size.  The couple chose Pottery Barn's Great White Traditional dishes.  When a place setting arrived in a gift box and she held the dinner plate in her hands, "Uh-ohhh..." crossed her mind.  She hurriedly texted her fiance and asked him to measure the inside of the upper cabinets.  Her fear was warranted, as they have 11 inches in which to fit 11 3/4-inch plates.  Some quick thinking reminded her they have a 14" upper-cabinet-free stretch of wall, and she began planning something to fill it.                                                                                                                                   
Great White Traditional at Pottery Barn
Cabinet maker, Hubby, already has his assignment.  He will construct the components for a 14" wide by 14" deep (including door) cabinet,  and pre-drill the pieces for flat transport, then easy assembly when they arrive in Oklahoma.  The 12 1/2" by 12 1/2" interior should be just right for the stack of plates.  

Nesting within a Nest:
When Princess Sassy and Prince Steadfast began discussing marriage, they thought they'd also be headed out of Tempe and Arizona State University.  ASU, though, accepted so few of the credits Prince S earned in his Associate's Degree that he'd be almost back to square one, and starting without enough credits to even qualify as a sophomore, instead of as a junior, as he'd expected. With the out of state tuition costs, this was no longer a reasonable option, so they'll be staying around here for awhile.  He'll instead pursue his engineering degree from the local satellite program of one of Washington's universities.                                                                                                                                                  
Princess Sassy is preparing a thrift store find
for Prince Steadfast's computer desk
The cost of living is different in Arizona than here in the Puget Sound.  It was a shock to discover rent for an equivalent apartment in this area would be twice what they were budgeting for in Arizona.                                                                            
It is actually an old sewing cabinet,
complete with old machine
& attachments.  OK for $5.
Since they were planning to live in our home between the wedding and the move to Arizona, they decided to stick to that plan.  I don't know if it's birth order, or just personality, but Princess Bossy has such a drive for autonomy and being in charge of her own world, that it would have never worked for her.  But Princess Sassy and her Steadfast don't have that same need, and enjoy the hustle and bustle of family life here, so it doesn't bother them to share our home for a bit.  It's not as customary in our culture, but in others extended families share much smaller homes and make it work, so I think we can, too.                                                                                                                                                   
More than they do, Hubby and I see their coming need for privacy and separation, so will work to make sure they have their respected spaces, as do we.  Initially, we designed our home to be built in phases, with a garage attached with a connecting piece as Phase 2.  It seems that now is the time to build it with the couple getting the bonus space with probable future kitchenette space above the garage as their domain.  So between wedding errands, I have been designing this new addition.                                                                                                                                                                                                           
Hubby is thrilled that we'll have indoor shelter for vehicles, and some shop workspace.  I am thrilled that we'll gain much needed storage in the garage and in the connector area to take pressure off the house.  The prince and princess are thrilled to have affordable housing with many built-in benefits.  They'll be a stairway away from company, laundry equipment, and great baking space, while still having an area to make into their own, decorating and organizing as they like.  Win-win-win.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Update...In-laws' Remodel

Just a bunch of photos, taken as we walked through the house last week. Carpet will go in soon, and we can get it on the market.  It's well past the March 1st goal, but oh, well...                                                                                                                                           
Tile: DalTile Biscuit subways

Close up of hutch glass

Main bath:

Ceramic tile from Home Depot

Master bath:                                                                                                                              

Actually this and the following pics were taken during
 installation, and all the grout is done now
Stone tile with glass inserts, all from Lowes

Mirrors will rest across the top of the tiles in each bathroom

Rec room bathroom:                                                                                           

The tile and laminate go better than they appear here.
The laminate has some blue in it, picked up nicely by the tile

Glass mosaic tile from Lowes

Friday, June 24, 2011

I did say that multitasking doesn't always work well...

As I rolled out my wheat bin on Monday, I took the opportunity to straighten the pantry a bit.  I noticed 2 partial bags of  Prairie Gold hard white wheat, so I poured the last of the older one into the bin.  I was surprised to see that it had debris in it. What, again?!  I made note of the number on the bag and took photos to send Montana Wheat.  I also measured out 8 cups for making bread.  I thought the wheat looked a little odd, too, but figured I was just remembering wrong and shrugged it off.  1st hunch ignored.                                                                                                     
I didn't make bread until Wednesday, and still thought the wheat looked puffier than usual, but proceeded to mill it in my WhisperMill/Wondermill and start the sponge.  2nd red flag waving in my gut...ignored.                                                                                                                                                                                                      
Later I went to check the sponge, which was not as high as I'd expected for a 4-hour rise, and strangely bubbly.  Warning sign #3... but I mixed in the rest of the ingredients.                                                                                                                                                        
As I added the last of the freshly milled flour, I thought it looked unusually white and fine.  I wondered if I milled it at a finer setting than usual, and went on with the kneading.  NUMBER FOUR...Hello?!!!                                                                                                                                                               
At the end of kneading, the dough seemed stretchy, but limper and just a bit sticky.  I'd label this a more subtle sign, but being #5, it should have been taken more seriously.                                                                             
What I didn't notice the
other day... 2 colors?!
So the bread was rising, the oven was heating.  I was cleaning up my supplies and tools, but before I put the mixer away, decided I'd roll the oats for Prince Steadfast's granola.  The pantry was disheveled, and I straightened again.  Now I had room for that other small portion of hard wheat, so started to pour it in the bin...  Ack!  It didn't look the same at all!  But it looked like I thought hard wheat should look, so what had I poured in there yesterday?!  Oats?  No... I looked in that bin, and the oat groats looked more like hard wheat than the puffy and lighter stuff I'd added yesterday.  It slowly began to dawn on me what had happened.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
Finally...The clue I noticed
Several weeks ago when I'd gotten new bags of both soft and hard wheat, Hubby and I had taken out the bad, debris-filled soft white wheat I'd gotten from a different source, poured it out of the bin, and into an empty grain bag.  Unfortunately, instead of getting thrown away or put aside for possible use as bird feed or seed for a cover crop, it got tucked back into the
A close-up of the difference.
It's not a shadow.
 pantry by a well-meaning helper...and yesterday I blindly dumped it into the hard wheat bin, and ignored every indication that should have stirred this memory and formed this realization.                                                                                                                   
I learned that I did know more about wheat appearance and behavior within the bread making process than I realized... Enough to notice the warning signs, but not be actually warned.                                                                                                                                     
So now, here I was with fully formed and raising loaves of bread, likely to turn out low and crumbly.  I thought about dumping them back in the bowl and adding some high protein ingredients.  But overworking lower protein bread can cause problems, also, and I knew it had already been worked to or past that maximum recommended point.  Still, I decided to 
All's well that ends well
let it have another full rise, then work in a little more vital wheat gluten, with some yogurt to get it from getting too dry, and rise again.                                                                              
Meanwhile, Hubby and I sorted through the wheat, taking out the soft, dirty wheat, and this time, Hubby went straight to the garbage can with it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mom Pay

I was multi-tasking Wednesday.  Not unusual, but, honestly, sometimes it works better than others.  Anyway, I am glad to do it, making bread and granola at the same time, as it's mostly out of the best and appreciation for what I do and make.       

A few months ago I needed to make bread.  Prince Go-for-It was not 'going for it' on doing the lunch dishes, and I wanted the kitchen clean before I started my task.  Princess Sassy said I should tell him that I wasn't going to make bread for a week if the kitchen wasn't cleaned up fast enough.  Prince Steadfast (Princess Sassy's fiance, now, but boyfriend, then) jumped in and said he'd do the dishes.  We told him he didn't need to be doing the young prince's chores.  He said, "But I like your bread!"  At the time I didn't even know he'd had much of my bread.  Princess Sassy said later that it explained why if she asked if he was hungry, Prince Steadfast said he'd like a sandwich, but if we were out of bread, he wasn't that hungry any more...                                                                                                                                                            
When Steadfast and Sassy thought they were moving to Arizona after their wedding, there was much discussion about how they would be supplied with homemade bread.  They joked about having me move with them, and we finally settled on the idea that I'd teach Prince Steadfast how to make bread before they left.  Since Arizona State was difficult about transferring credits (their loss), and the newlyweds will be staying close by, I have more time to accomplish that.                                                                                                                                                                  
A couple weeks ago, Hubby and his advanced class were planning an end of the year potluck lunch.  Apparently Hubby and Prince Inventive have been torturing some of the students who work in the shop through lunch by toasting the sandwiches they take, made of our homemade bread.  They have been attracted by the smell, and Hubby just waves his sandwiches in front of them.  So the students requested that Hubby's contribution to the lunch be a few loaves of bread.  They made it a true woodworkers' lunch, by slicing it on the bandsaw!                                                                                                            
Yesterday I was baking bread and mixing up a batch of granola, because like often seems to happen, we ran out of both at the same time.  If we are out of one, but have the other, everyone is happy to make do.  But if we're out of both, there is "Nothing" to eat around here.                                                                                                                                               
I needed to turn right around and make another batch of granola, because Prince Steadfast is heading out of state for a week, and Tuesday, let me know that he can't be that long without my granola.  Again, I didn't realize he had it that often or liked it that much...but I'm glad.  More of that Mom's income to warm my heart.                                                                                                                                                            
Of course, the funny thing about that kind of remuneration is that more work is almost always automatically built in!  But I'll take busy over unappreciated.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Summer weather actually showed up with the Summer Solstice.  I don't remember that ever happening here  in the Puget Sound area before!  
And I got to spend it with Prince Steadfast and Princess Sassy, checking out and making arrangements for layout of the wedding and reception venue, then going along on a preview trip, when they found their way to their honeymoon destination, met the owner, and saw their room.  
WHAT A VIEW!  They'll look down on the bend in a river, able to see miles both up and down the river from the bend.  Trees, wildlife, and beautiful grounds.  Places nearby to take short hikes.  A perfect place for couple-time, and to relax and unwind alone for a few days after the wedding.                                                                                                                                                               
After visiting the venue and the B&B, we stopped off at Snoqualmie Falls to which the warm weather has added some volume and force for a wondrous display.

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