sucking up all the oxygen

February 13th, 2015

This tea festival is seriously taking all of my time. It probably doesn’t have to but I’m discovering more and more how obsessive my personality truly is.

Quick movie notes:

Big Hero Six – completely cute, animation is incredible.

Grand Budapest Hotel – Really enjoyable. Possibly one of the only Wes Anderson movies I’ve enjoyed from beginning to end. Most all of his other films are way too artsy and pretentious. This one is artsy and pretentious too, it just manages to be charming as well.

John Wick – Thoroughly, utterly, violently great. This is not a plot movie, it’s action through and through. The body count is fantastic.

Quick TV notes:

Arrow  – It’s been okay to have on in the background but it’s still nothing I can really get in to.

Archer – If possible, this season seems even more out of control than the last. Been good.

Clone Wars – Finally watched a goodly portion of these. They are excellent. If they were made into about 4 movies they would be better than just about any of the live action Star Wars movies.

Blacklist – I love James Spader. Took me a bit to get into this one, and I still don’t care for Lizzy but James Spader is deliciously evil.

Banshee – This is the second time trying to watch this, couldn’t capture my attention the first time. This time I’m really liking it. Every episode seems to have an action scene that could be a season finale scene in any other series.

Quick book notes:

Mainly been reading the Ian Rutledge mysteries by Charles Todd back to back. Really liking them, despite the repetition that always happens in series books where they explain a background in each book for the benefit of those who have not read any of the others.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton – Still reading this one. It’s been good so far. Odd that I opened it up on the Kindle two days after buying The Coffee Trader by David Liss for my aunt. The bad thing about the Kindle is that I rarely remember what the books are supposed to be about once they get on there and there isn’t a back flap handy to read – turns out The Miniaturist is also set in Amsterdam in roughly the same time period as The Coffee Trader.

Quick note on life:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day

Never truer words than when you are waiting for other people to act. :)

Well, that was lazy. Put this out without a title for awhile…

January 31st, 2015

IMG_4648

It is harder than you would think to lick whipped cream off of a steering wheel while driving. But my fingers were of questionable cleanliness, you know. And cheesecake & cream wait for no one.

IMG_4658

And now he has his own tea bowl so he’ll stay out of my cup. I begin to suspect dain-bramage in this cat.

All I need. A cat with an expensive tea habit.

January 23rd, 2015

IMG_4582

I was just curious to see what he’d do. He’s never shown interest in tea before. All I need is to have to fight him for tea as well as watermelon, yogurt, strawberries and olives. Weirdo cat.

Lazy, some would call it. I call it being efficient with my energy.

January 15th, 2015

If I sit still long enough, I don’t have to have the heat as high in the house. Conserving my fat energy, y’know.

IMG_4542

Furry blanket, heat radiating cat, rewatching first season of Downton Abbey, a nicely peppered rare roast beef dinner, great tea and some ADD obsessive planning going on and I’m a happy camper tonight. Despite having had an Office Space kind of week. You know, the ones where you think “I don’t like my job and I don’t think I want to do it anymore”. But I’d still kind of like for them to keep paying me. I don’t think I can keep myself in the style to which I have become accustomed on the salary of a self-employed event planner, which is really what is capturing my attention these days. Certainly, based on the balance book for the tea festival so far, I wouldn’t make enough money to even be broke. :)

In other news, I picked up a craft book tonight on making soap. I don’t need soap. And I’d undoubtedly burn a hole through myself or the cats with the lye. But… it may need to be tried. I have ideas, you see.

YMMV indeed

January 13th, 2015

Saw this recipe for Magic Dust popcorn seasoning a few days ago. I tried it tonight. Should have been suspicious when I looked up nutritional yeast and found it was a vegetarian protein supplement.

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (in health food section)

3 teaspoons garlic powder

3 teaspoons cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons gochugaru (I used the suggested sub of smoked paprika)

Mix 1/4 cup of mixture with 1 cup unpopped popcorn. Pop popcorn according to package directions. Sprinkle more mixture on popped corn.

Eh. It’s… okay. Nowhere near magic. And the yeast is not cheap. I ended up adding more salt after I tasted the first batch. And it should be noted that using the same pan for popping batches after the first will give you some burned bits of seasoning that aren’t very tasty. Wipe out the pan before doing a second popping if you are making a whole cup.

IMG_4526

A day late for Caturday

January 11th, 2015
Oh, this will so be done the next time a cone of shame is needed around here. Someone should seriously market these.

Oh, this will so be done the next time a cone of shame is needed around here. Someone should seriously market these.

Cat on a heating vent. Picture next to "smug" in the dictionary...

Cat on a heating vent. Picture next to “smug” in the dictionary…

hD920DB6E

Dustbury?

January 8th, 2015

Anyone else having issues getting to Dustbury lately? I’ve tried with 3 browsers from 2 different networks and all I get is blank white. I had a pingback on one of my posts just a few days ago from him so I think he’s probably still out there… :)

Wondering if it is just me.

Suck it, AT&T

January 6th, 2015
the technicolor bunny has arrived

The technicolor bunny has arrived. Evil or not, they are no worse than the Telecom Death Star.

Who knew

January 3rd, 2015

I had no idea there was a droid aisle at Sam’s Club.

Utini!

Utini!

Sorry, ma’am. I don’t really care what you wear but if you are under 5′-0″ tall in this outfit, you will be mocked as a Jawa.

Cats! And food. Again.

January 2nd, 2015

IMG_4478

Food – Had a simple but really excellent thing for breakfast this morning. Fluffy biscuit drizzled with white icing and then spooned over with a cooked mixture of raisins, dried cranberries and pecans in probably a brown sugar syrup sauce. Yum.

Yeah, as Lynn noted recently, I’m not sure I’m going to keep up with this blog on a steady basis. At least for the next few months. I find that I have lost things to say that anyone would find interesting. I’m increasingly less hopeful for a return to a semblance of sanity in the general populace and there’s really no point in discussing anything with people who already have the narrative they want to believe set in their heads. If you are so scared of life that you have to cling to your world view despite proven facts, then I don’t need to waste time talking to you. I don’t even mean convincing anyone to change their minds about anything. Every discussion doesn’t have to end with both parties agreeing. Simply that it’s a waste of time and breath to try to discuss anything with someone who won’t admit what is real and proven and what isn’t. Belief isn’t the issue for me either. Believe all you want to in things that can’t be proven or disproven. Faith is a personal matter and I hold nothing against you for any faith or belief you have. But when you insist that things are true that patently aren’t, I just don’t see the point in talking to you. Willful ignorance is worse than honest ignorance. Ignorance in pursuit of a political goal is detestable.

I’ll probably occasionally drop a cat picture here, talk about food, or link some stuff that I stumble over. My time is going to be largely taken up with tea festival work though and obsessing over that, so unless you like reading rants about city bureaucracy or my control issues, there’s probably not much reason for me to share much about that portion of life. :)

I am also now on Facebook (I know, I hate myself, trust me) because I have to be to administer the festival page. So I’ll occasionally drop pix there or comment on Twitter length stuff that won’t make up a post over here. If you want to friend me over there, you can look for nicole burriss. If I don’t recognize your name I’ll send you a note to see who you are. But I warn you, it won’t be likely to be much more active than things around here. :) I’ll still be wandering around to your blogs and reading the interesting things you all post. :)

So, I hope that 2015 brings you happy, healthy and sane things. I hope it’s better for you than 2014 was. I don’t want to say follow your bliss because that, in my opinion, is a stupidly simplistic piece of “advice”. But follow some of Nick Offerman’s tips for prosperity and you might find some satisfaction in the next year. Get a hobby, go outside, eat red meat, carry a hanky, say please and thank you, avoid the mirror and paddle your own canoe. Personally, I think that last one is the most important.

So… do you like drinks you have to eat with a spoon?

December 31st, 2014

If so, this may be for you!

Sticky toffee pudding eggnog. The gist: soak a sticky toffee pudding in heavy cream for a couple of days. Strain out the solid bits. Whip the cream. Beat egg yolks with cognac and rum. Whip egg whites. Fold everything together and chill.

That's some thick stuff.

That’s some thick stuff.

Maybe I whipped the cream too stiffly. Maybe I didn’t let things chill long enough. Maybe it will deflate after sitting for another hour or so. As it is, this is more like a highly flammable fluffy dessert. The alcohol is probably 25% of the recipe. It be stiff. In more ways than one. Oh, I guess reading the little blurb at the beginning of the recipe, it is intended to be stiff and spoonable. Okey dokey then.

We did have a good laugh about using it for pie topping. “Sir, have you been drinking tonight?” “No, officer, but I did have a lot of pie.”

I also made this tonight.

Golden Assam tea, sugar, pineapple and bourbon. I skipped the dash of bitters since I didn’t have any. I also didn’t use a “golden” Assam but just a plain Assam that I had a lot of. I’m fond of bourbon based cocktails, I love pineapple and I like Assam. This was almost guaranteed to be a win. Holy cow, too much lemon. I suspected as much when mixing it up. The tea with pineapple juice and sugar, though, is pretty tasty.

The food was better than the drinks tonight. Lil Smokies wrapped in 1/4 piece of bacon, sprinkled with brown sugar and broiled. Cream cheese, bacon and cheddar rolled up in crescent roll spirals. Chicken mixed with cream cheese, hot Rotel and spices – served with tortilla chips. And breadstick twists with mozzarella & parmesan mixed in with Italian spices, liberally slathered with Kerrygold butter when hot from the oven. Those were about the best, in my opinion. Oh, and mixed olives marinated in oil, rosemary and garlic. Simple and easy and excellent.

The brownies didn’t bake all the way through – fooled me when I took them out of the oven. So I rolled them up into balls instead of slicing into bars. :)

Here’s to you and yours. Hoping you have a better year ahead of you than behind you!

 

Another food post

December 27th, 2014

Since we are having our official Orphan* Christmas dinner tonight, I tried a new recipe.

Horseradish Crusted Roast Beef

One 6-pound sirloin tip roast, preferably grass-fed, tied
1/2 cup prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

Heat the oven to 375°F. Set a rack in a large, deep roasting pan and place the beef roast on the rack. In a small bowl, blend the horseradish with the salt, Dijon mustard, chopped parsley, ground pepper, sugar and sherry vinegar to form a paste. Slather the paste all over the top and sides of the meat. Roast in the lower third of the oven for about 2 hours, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the roast registers 125°F. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and let rest for at least 20 minutes. Discard the string and thinly slice the roast beef across the grain. Transfer the meat to a platter and serve.

I used a 3 pound roast and halved everything else. I cooked it too long. 125°F sounded way too rare for the OAM’s taste so I went to 150°F. First, I should have looked it up – 140°F would probably have been fine. And I also forgot that internal temp rises about 10°F after you take something out of the oven, cover it and let it rest. It was a bit dry, especially on the thinner pointed end of the roast. I asked for a sirloin tip roast at the meat counter. The guy told me that this was essentially the same thing. It wasn’t tied, though, it was one big roast. And it wasn’t grass fed. :)

But the verdict, despite those missteps, was TASTY. Has tang and heat from the horseradish and the mustard. At about 1/2 a jar of horseradish for a 3 pound roast, I have the stuff to make this again. If beef ever comes down from the stratosphere in price, that is. This being a special thing, I splurged on this.

*Yeh, we aren’t any of us orphans for real. And we all did things with fambly on actual Christmas. But sometimes we don’t have blood relations in town on holidays. And that’s where the orphan meals started.

Food musings

December 26th, 2014

Well, now that the last big food day of the year is over, it is time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t.

Rolo cookies with vegetable crackers don’t work.

Romaine, candied pecans, blue cheese crumbles and pears tossed with raspberry balsamic works. Adding spinach leaves and orange pieces would also go nicely.

Ham & black bean soup with ham cut into tiny little pieces and no salt to speak of doesn’t work (sorry, Mom).

Chicken & dumplings with boring gravy can be made better (and thicker) with the addition of cream of chicken soup.

Buche de Noel cakes sound hard, but aren’t and are impressive looking. I used this recipe for the cake. It doesn’t take but about 20 minutes of active time to make the cake. Make the filling while the cake is baking. Make the frosting while the cake is cooling. Mushrooms can be made days before and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

Filling
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Sprinkle gelatin over cold water. Let stand 5 minutes to soften. Heat and stir till gelatin melts. I nuked mine for about 20 seconds. Cool to room temperature but don’t let set up. Add to cream along with vanilla and powdered sugar. Whip to stiff peaks. Stir in 1 cup miniature chocolate chips if you want. Cover and chill while cake is cooling.

Frosting
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon softened butter

Heat cream and chips together, stirring till melted. Stir in butter while mixture is still warm. Cool till slightly thickened.

Assembling the cake
Unroll cake carefully. Spread evenly with filling to edges. Roll up again starting on a short edge, obviously removing the towel as you go. Use a spatula or straight edge as you roll to help towel to release if needed. Cover cake and let set at least 1 hour. Slice one end off of roll at a diagonal. Frost cake with frosting, leaving ends unfrosted. Place cut off piece on top of log like a cut off branch stub. Frost sides of stub. Run tines of fork lengthwise down cake to simulate bark lines.

You can make meringue mushrooms to serve alongside the cake if you want. 2 egg whites whipped to stiff, shiny peaks with 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Pipe onto parchment paper lined baking sheet in mounds to look like mushroom caps and piles to be mushroom stems. If you want to remove pointy ends from mushroom caps, let stand 5 minutes then wet your finger and smooth the caps. Bake at 250F for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off oven and let stand inside for 1 hour longer. With small pointy knife, carefully make small divots in underside of caps. Use a bit of the frosting to attach stems to caps. Don’t put the mushrooms on or around the cake much before serving or they will get soft and sticky.

 

Mare Egrets Moose Two Ewes

December 25th, 2014

Christmas

Oooo…shiny

December 18th, 2014

507B_1024x1024

The colors don’t do much for me here, but the concept is utterly cool. The saucer is the only thing that is painted. The cup reflects the saucer.

Didn’t feel like taking 2 hrs to get to work only to turn around 3 hrs later to get home before possible freezing drizzle in the dark. So I’m here browsing stuff I don’t need to spend money on. I am in appreciation only mode for now since property taxes are due at the end of the year. How my car license got to the point that it runs out in December I have no idea but it’s a horrible plan. Means before I can license the car, I have to pay the personal property taxes for the year. I remember in years past letting them slide till like February and paying the late fee rather than having to dump huge chunks of money all over the place in December. But I’m almost positive the car license hasn’t been out of date for longer than a month ever and I really don’t recall renewing it in December before. Sigh.

And it’s cold. But at least I’m here with tea and cat. :)