Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Third Toe Hysteria

Did you ever see "Moulin Rouge" with Nicole Kidman? We watched it at least 20 times when we first got it on DVD. One of the best one liners from the show, was when at the beginning of the movie the old geezer father says to the son..."What is this crrazzy obsession with LUUVV??!!!"

Well, I ask myself that question all the time, except my obsession is with feet and most importantly with toes. Ask my parents, brother and sister, or my own family, I am obsessed, I always have been. So you can relate to my absolute delight when years ago I noticed the incredible right feet of my husband, and the two of my daughters who take after their father the most. Will you just look at those third toes? They all are 1/2 an inch longer than the 4th toe, and equal in length to the 2nd toe. I LOVE IT.

Thanks to Dave, Jordan and Christina and their patience whilst I gathered this genetic anomaly digitally for posterity. (Also, the girls had just gone for mani/pedi's earlier in the day, so their toes looked fab.)

Sorry to Hear You're Getting Sick

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Buche de Noel ===Entrements

Daring Bakers is in the House....
This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux.
They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand

Different Strokes......

Can I just say not everyone has the same idea of fun in the kitchen? Sorry Hilda, there was no perception of this recipe taking too much time. This recipe actually took 7 hours to make; that is about 4 hours too many during the Holidays. And can I say there was in my opinion, more cooking than baking. There was also a screw up with the mousse element's original instructions they were not highlighted or brought to note for several days after the gauntlet was thrown ( At least not on my computer). And the perceived expense....nuts for the fuilette, 5.dollars, whipped cream for the mousse and creme bruele, 7 dollars, chocolate for the whole thing...11.dollars, free range eggs for the whole thing, 6 dollars. You do the math. Speaking of math....continue reading...

This recipe caused me to loose my enthusiasm the minute it mentioned going out and buying plastic overhead projector films (Acetate); you know the ones that teachers in the 70's used to teach you math with? It was suposed to help you form a smooth tube like mold for the Buche. Nonsense.

It is comprised of 6 French Elements:This was such an exhausting recipe to thumb through that I got stressed just looking at it. It was not fun, nor was it challenging, it was just PERCEIVED by some, as those two things. An office worker might relate if I compared it to paperwork,,, but for the kitchen.

There were Six Elements involved in this molded and layered cream dessert
  1. Dacquoise--nut meringue- I liked this one. I ate all the trimmings.
  2. Mousse- the dog of the group for me. And dog...not in a good way.
  3. Creme Brulee--insert-- and Another bower.. I just ended up spreading mine on instead of making another even smaller mold out of the accursed Acetate, like suggested.
  4. Ganache--insert
  5. Praline Feuillete--another insert kinda like a Krackle or Crunch bar (yawn) I used Cocoa Pebbles and a Heath Bar!!! genius of me. I got your Praline paste right here. Can you tell I am seeing red?
  6. icing to go over the whole thing.
You can link a version of the recipe here: Buche de Noel in the Entrements or Creme dessert style.

Okay enough whining. People were encouraged to come up with their own rendition of the flavors for this. I elected (thank Heaven) to stick with the main flavors for this one. My only creative touch was the the addition of the Cocoa Pebbles and the Heath Bar to the Feuillete. I don't think even Jacques Torres would have thought of that substitution. Ummm we were instucted to buy or make Gavottes, a lacey unavailable ingredient in the USA, let alone Provo. Most of us substituted cereal of some sort.

Click on the link above for more details.

I have come to the conclusion that I, me, Cindy, really dislike recipes that require 5 or 6 other recipes be created before even attempting to think about creating the final product. I prefer recipes that start at step one and progress and end at step 15 or 20. Kind of like bread or a cake.

I do appreciate the time and effort our hosts and all the D. Bakers put into this. It wasn't hard, just, in the words of Carrie Bradshaw..."a little bit too much".

Monday, December 29, 2008

Grown-up Christmas

Gone are the days where our children wake us up at 6:00 am to see what Santa brought.
Dave and I woke up about 10:00 and we had to go wake up the girls to come upstairs and open presents.
But the 16 year old baby of the family was still thrilled to get a few Barbie accessories. This child loves Barbie more than any other girl I have ever seen. One time she told me.."Mom, I don't like Barbie, I LOVE Barbie". Here she is with her Doodle Pro, and off camera...a Barbie beanie and gloves.
Yes, we handled Christmas like grown ups this year. Our clutter was much more contained than usual.
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Friday, December 26, 2008

Traditions You Just DO

You have your family over!

You go in the kitchen!

And you make mincemeat empanadas!
Our beloved late Grandmothers are sisters.
Making empandas at Christmas time is a tradition that is at least 4 generations old on my father's side of the family. My dear cousin Jody and I carry it forward!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Nativity in the Sun

The light coming through my window was magical..
This is my cute little Mexican Nativity, and the top left
corner is a darling trio we made in Malaysia for Young
Women's. I carted those little pots half way around the
world (All the way from Robert's
Craft) so those girls could do this activity. They
had never seen or done anything like it.
The print in the background is a common one, and so is the frame.
I found this frame at WalMart YEARS ago. I took it
to Asia with me. The back of the frame was hanging
by a thread, so I took it to Pearl, my personal
framer in Penang, and she fixed it up,
for free and it is perfect now. BETTER than new.

Merry Christmas... I DO celebrate Christmas.
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Malaina Goes Fiber Optic

My dear Malaina is gearing up for her study abroad adventure t0 Cordoba, Argentina & Patagonia, coming up in just over one month! As such, she has begun a new blog to keep us all apprised of her travels. Please check it out by clicking on the link above or the photo above. You will read how she is fine tuning one of her most precious assets....

....Her fantastical left wrist.

Malaina is a Junior at Brigham Young University majoring in Biology, and minoring in Music. She is currently the only female that performs with the BYU Classical Guitar Ensemble.

When she is feeling better, I will make her play the new Rodrigo piece she has mastered, and post the performance here.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Clueless Cathy

I have Jordan's permission to post about this insanely funny thing that happened.

She and her boyfriend Casey went to dinner with her friend Ashley and her husband Patrick last Saturday. They went to Mi Ranchito in Orem, Ut. Let's just say that Jordan's birthday is in mid-January to set this story up...

There they sit...4 adults having a really uncomfortable meal, Casey was not minding his social manners. He was being a really bad boy. Jordan was cringing every time he opened his mouth. She just knew he would say or do something really insanely immature, tell a stupid irrelevant story, blow soda out his nose or something. Not being one to disappoint..... out of nowhere he gets up from the table using the excuse to go to the bathroom, and returns less than two minutes later. Jordan, ever the mommy, asks if he remembered to wash his hands. (That should have been clue number one: gone too short of a time to pee).

Clue number two: 5 minutes later when you see your waiter gathering all the other waiters and lighting a candle on complimentary fried ice cream.

Clue number three: they start walking your direction.

Clue number four: They place the fried ice cream in front of you and begin singing Happy Birthday to you.

Clue number five: ( and this is the part that made me wet my pants when I heard this story)

They put a sombrero on your head and make you do a birthday dance!!!

She was so mortified. Ashley could not believe what she was seeing, and just whispered for her to play along. *It seems Casey wanted some free dessert* Later in the car Ashley texted Jordan with the message "Patrick wanted to kick Casey's ass", yes, it was that bad.

Next time Jordan will have to remember to bring Casey's sippy cup and Cheerios to keep him entertained.

Get Thee Hence...Braces!!!

Oh Happy Day!!!! Now she can kiss, smile, and floss like a normal person!!!! I could kick myself for not getting a before picture (I am just too lazy to go scan the records) and a picture of the Orthodontist's office we began this journey at in Penang. You can see from the background of this shot that our current office is quite luxurious. NIGHT AND DAY from good old Dr. Looi on Burmah Road. But he was American trained and he was excellent. Our current Ortho, spoke kindly of him.

Here is a cute photo. She was 11 here in this photo. By this time she had had at least 6 baby teeth pulled and 4 adult teeth already removed.

Both of these girls have my big teeth and their Dad's itty bitty mouth.
They had to have those bone strechers, (sorry don't know the right term) that stretch the roof of your mouth, and a total of23 teeth pulled, not including the 8 wisdom teeth.
Now they have the same smile.
Her best friend Tesha and her boyfriend Brandon seem to approve~

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Weekend Cookbook Challenge 35 -Starters

Cat Cora's Smoked Paprika Shredded Pork Crisps with
Orange Fennel Marmalade
From Bon App├ętite magazine. I have noticed that the recipes in the last two issues were real keepers for me. Sure there are some real losers too, but I usually just thumb through this magazine and don't give the recipes another thought. I mean, they are on line so if I really want one I will just look it up and get it from there.

For the Weekend Cookbook Challenge (thanks to Sara from i like to cook ) we were given the challenge to make a nifty Appetizer. I don't normally go to parties, but when I do, I take my taquitos. Since it is a family recipe, it would not fit in here, we are supposed to use a cookbook, magazine or Internet source for the recipes we use in the challenge.

I saw these darling little starters published in the January 2008 issue of Bon App├ętite as an advertisement for McCormick Gourmet Spices. We really liked it. It was easy to make and the flavors were very complimentary. Pork is very affordable right now too.

The recipe didn't call for cranberries, but I knew they would work here, and I had some in my freezer, so what the heck?

1 tablespoon,plus 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons each salt and cinnamon
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon each chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne, coriander
3 pound pork butt or shoulder roast
1 bag of Tostitos Scoops
Preheat oven to 325. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Rub the entire surface of the pork with the mixture. Place the pork in a dutch oven lined with foil, then cover with more foil and the lid of the dutch oven. Roast pork for 2 1/2 hours. Chop and shred the pork. Return it to the juices in the pan, mix well. (Just before serving, spoon shredded pork into tortilla chips. Top each with a small spoonful of marmalade)

Prepare this Marmalade while the pork is roasting
1 large head fennel, finely chopped, reserve the green tops for garnish
2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 large orange
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
Mix the fennel, orange juice, sugar and ginger in large saucepan. Bring to boil on medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes. Meanwhile, finely grate orange peel. Remove orange sections and coarsely chop. Stir grated peel and chopped orange into fennel mixture. Simmer 15 minutes longer or until mixture is reduced and somewhat thick. Stir in cilantro and salt. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes: I needed to cook this longer than the recipe for the marmalade stated.
We added a touch of my homemade salsa to the top and it was excellent!

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Flocking Snowflake Cookies

I found these excellent and beautiful cookie cutters at a cute store in Park City, Utah. I must tell you what an absolute pain in the tukus they were to use!! Especially the one I am holding in my hand below. I would consider myself to be an above average baker, but, even I found this blue cutter an extreme challenge to master. First the dough had to be literally frozen flat before I could even attempt to remove the cut cookie dough from the counter to the cookie sheet. I failed several times, but this cookie cutter shape demanded an absolute perfect alignment from point to point or it would look really stupid. So I had to experiment to get just the right system to make them perfection. It was quite frustrating, but I did prevail. Roll them between wax paper. Freeze the dough before cutting, cut the dough and gently press each delicate cookie out of the cutter, while trying not to let it crack. Then, I won't even depress you by going over the process of getting them off the cookie sheet.
  • The next steps were time consuming. The cookie had to be meticulous styled. It was hard to get the hang of the icing, but after several failed attempts we turned out some real lovelies.
  • I used Royal Icing and then immediately doused them in Superfine sugar.
  • I had to wait over night to attempt brushing off the excess sugar to reveal the finished product.
  • I lost several cookies in the attempt too.
  • I had to treat them extraordinarily gentle or the tips would break off.
  • Sh*%t!!!!
  • I baked several dozen, but lost about 12 in the process. It was like taking a bullet to the heart.
I took some to my immediate neighbors. Oh, my gosh this was a labor of love. When Christ talks about loving your neighbors, I can honestly say, it was difficult to give these up to them. Did I really love them enough to let these dearly created darlings go into their possession? Would the guy who lives behind me really appreciate that each cookie took about 10 hours to make? Or would he let them break before they even came out of the ornately wrapped gift bag I put them in? Yes, I needed to do this for them. I have really good neighbors who look out for me when I need them most. They edge my lawn, rake my leaves, shovel my walks, wave at me and make my day, gossip over the fence and best of all, allow me to culinarily experiment on them. It feels better to give than to receive. I'll remember that when I get a $2.00 box of cherry cordials in return..... (I'm going to hell)
  1. I used Pam Anderson's excellent Butter Cookie recipe from her first book,"The Perfect Recipe". It really is a perfect cookie.
  2. I followed Nancy Baggett's flocking advice from the "All-American Cookie Book", the be all and end all cookie making standard as far as I am concerned
  3. I also used Martha Stewart's "Cookie Book", for creative ideas.
Don't ask me to copy any recipes down here, I am too wiped out from this project to even think about those kinds of details., I'll be making my Biscochito's for my father when he passes though on his way to see my sister in New Mexico......(I guess I can find energy for those, my Grandma would turn over in her grave if I didn't make them for Christmas:) I wouldn't want that to happen.
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Friday, December 19, 2008

Tsunami Reminders of Christmas Past

This is a modest sampling of some of the really pretty hand-painted ornaments I collected while on "vacay" in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia the week the Tsunami hit, Christmas time 2004. I remember being in the hotel room and looking down at my cell phone and feeling horribly, horribly dizzy. We found out 4 1/2 hours later what happened.We lived on the water front of the strait of Malacca in Georgetown, Penang Malaysia (top center of the map), and that day we drove up Gurney Drive and saw a huge wave of water coming toward us. At the time I would guess it was 1/2 a mile out at sea. We mentioned how weird it was to see a wave coming so close to us ( this photo is a North ward view, Indian Ocean in the distance)We said nothing more and continued into the underground parking garage of our condo.
We rode the elevator up and complained of the extreme heat, and Tiny and Dave ran into the apartment and changed right into their bathing suits with the intention of going down for a swim at the pool. When they reached the pool their was an extreme scent of dirty sewer water, they went out to the guard house to check on the smell. The guards began pointing them toward the street where they noticed over turned cars, dead fish and loads of mud on the promanade and into all the property nearby. Dave and Christina ran up to tell us to look out the balcony and see the meyhem, that's when we heard dozens of sirens. The emergency vehicles where heading to the north end of the island just past the view you see above. Over 100 people were killed while sunbathing at the popular beaches on the north part of the island facing the Indian Ocean.

Please, please watch the facinating video I have posted below this post. It must have been taken from the condo just a floor or two above ours. The scars of the poisoned out grass were visible on the property next to ours for the remainder of our time there. The water was filthy as you can see. The Penang govenors were not concerned with the ecology of the island (once known as the Pearl of the Orient) but only with the money they could make from rich people in the big fancy condo's, so the once beautiful beach was distroyed by raw sewage. So anyway, this is also a cool audio of the Hokkien Chinese and the wonderful sound of the expressions they make.

So when I see these ornanments I think about the Tsunami. It was so sad. But the Lord was surely looking out for us. We were almost caught in that muck, by just moments. See the video posted below this one.