Thursday, June 13, 2013

Further adventures in no-bake

So I am sure most people are familiar with no-bake oatmeal "cookies".  They are usually misshapen lumps of chocolatey, peanut buttery, oatmeal yumminess.
I can remember gobbling them down at holiday parties and family reunions when I was a kid. Today I tried a variation on them - the oatmeal scotchie no-bake.
I found the recipe here at Shugary Sweets. I did make a slight change - I only had 3/4 cup of butterscotch chips, so I made up the other 1/4 cup with semisweet chocolate chips. The kids are scarfing them down, and while the recipe does call for a LOT of sugar, these things are also packed with fiber.
I am still looking for a way to make these healthy, and have yet to find it. I have tried subbing honey and agave syrup for the sugar - no good. They fell apart... although, it was pretty good on top of ice cream.
I have also tried subbing coconut oil for the butter, but it separated from the sugar and created a giant mess. So, if anyone knows a way to make these nuggets of awesomeness healthier, I am all ears.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

No-bake in the summertime

It's hot. It's June, in North Carolina, and it's hot. And it is only going to get hotter.
Just before school let out (yesterday) I got to work looking for some activities I could do with the girls. I decided that this could be No Bake Summer.
Making no-bake items like granola bars and such is a good kid activity - let the grown-up deal with the cooking and cutting parts, let the kids stir and squish.
I just finished making a batch of no-bake brownies. I did these by myself, the girls were worn out from the pool earlier. I started with this recipe that I found on Pinterest, and was originally posted at Domestic Rebel. I made a few changes to suit the troops. The Man isn't a huge fan of peanut butter in anything but a classic PBJ, so I  subbed peanut butter Oreos for the Nutter Butters. The rest of the recipe remained the same.
No-Bake PB Brownies
30 Peanut Butter Oreos
1 King Size Butterfinger
1 bag Peanut Butter Chips
1 14oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk

Pulse cookies and candy bar in food processor to fine crumb.
Line an 8x8 baking pan with foil and mist lightly with cooking oil
Melt chips in a double boiler or microwave safe bowl.
Add the condensed milk to the melted chips, then begin folding in the cookie crumbs a bit at a time.
Press the dough into the baking pan and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes until set.

The original recipe said to store them for 3 to 4 days in an airtight container at room temperature.
As previously mentioned, this is June, in the South, and we live in a 73 year old house with pretty hinky air flow. So I opted to store mine in the fridge. If you choose to do the same, do your teeth a favor and let them come up to room temp before you eat. :-)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Teh blahs, I haz dem.

So, I really suck at this whole blogging deal. And really, most everything right now.
I punked out on the strawberry cook-off. I didn't feel my recipes were quite where I wanted them to be, so I didn't enter.
This month has been busy. May is always busy. Mother's Day, four birthdays in the family, including daughter-the-elder, and at the end of the month she has end of grade testing. So much all at once. When June rolls around I can finally take a breath again.
Until then, blog posts will be hit or miss, so bear with me. ;-)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

It's festival time!

Years and years ago, there was an annual strawberry festival held in the town where we currently live.  I can't find information about when the first festival was, but I know it was being held as far back as the 1930's and ended sometime around 1971 or 1972.
It really was a big deal here, and in 1937 was even attended by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt! She wrote about it in her "My Day" newspaper column. June 12, 1937 and June 14, 1937
This year is the third for the resurrected Strawberry Festival here in Wallace.  The first two years I participated along with the local art guild and had craft items for sale. This year, since I have been busy with the kids and working on the house, I am entering the cooking contest instead.
I have decided to enter the Salads/Entrees/Appetizers category with a traditional strawberry spinach salad. I have devised (what I think to be) a rather agreeable strawberry balsamic vinaigrette dressing - and I don't even like vinaigrette.
I am also entering the dessert category. For that I have decided to do a peanut butter and jelly bar cookie with homemade strawberry jam. I did my first test run today, and while I found the flavor good, I think the texture leaves something to be desired. On the whole, it wants to fall apart. The jam did not thicken sufficiently, and left the whole bar too moist.
Still, it tastes really good and would kick butt with some vanilla ice cream.
If all goes well with the Strawberry cook-off, I think I am going to enter the one in the Blueberry festival as well. It's in June, in the next town over.
I will post recipes once I have worked out the kinks. Stay tuned...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Z-day... not so much

My husband works at a nuclear power plant. Yes, he is Homer Simpson, stfu. We were just discussing nuclear reactors and both realized that their very existence causes the whole "Zombie Apocalypse" scenario to fall apart. Think about it. For whatever reason most of the population has been wiped out or zombified. The handful of survivors that remain are too busy surviving to be like "Hey, the power is out pretty much everywhere. Perhaps I had better get my ass to the nearest nuclear power plant and monitor the reactor so it doesn't go critical."
So really, about a week after the world turns into a zombie smorgasbord, it won't even matter, because the whole planet is going to go kablooey anyway.
Problem solved.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Makin' Groceries

Confession time: I... am a bag hag. I am not talking about designer purses either. Reusable shopping bags - cheap, available everywhere, and oh so easy to accumulate.
I haven't counted my bag collection lately, but I do know I literally have more bags than I can use in a single grocery trip. We once took every bag I could lay my hands on when we did the shopping. We  filled TWO full size grocery carts, used my bags for everything we purchased, and I still had at least a dozen bags left over.
If I am out shopping and I see a sign that says "buy product X and get a FREE shopping bag!!" I will buy product X. Whether I need it or not. Seriously, I have a problem.
My issue with using my bags is that no one seems to know how to load the damned things. "Oh, let me take the biggest bag you have and load it so that the Incredible Hulk couldn't even lift it." Without fail. Every. Time.
On today's trip, a single bag was loaded with two cans of beans, ALL of my produce, and the seven pound ham I bought for Easter Sunday. WTF dude, really? If my avocado gets squished, I am coming for your ass.
I know that grocery retailers train their checkers and baggers on the proper loading of the standard plastic bags. "No more than X canned goods. Ice cream and frozen items go in these. Double bag raw meat products." Would it really be so difficult to stick up a note at the register regarding cloth bags?
"REMEMBER: If you can't lift it, your customer probably can't either." DUH.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Don't call it a comeback

After 4 weeks with bronchitis, I am finally back in the land of the living.
Now that I can breathe again I am attempting to get back on my weekly cleaning/productivity schedule. Hopefully that will include lots of fun and interesting things to blog about, right now the only thing I have been doing is coughing up lung monsters and no one wants to read about THAT.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Hummingbird Cake

Since I am beginning to feel human again, I decided today would be a good day for my next installment of Cooking the Books. I decided that this time I was going to make a Southern classic - Hummingbird cake.
This cake was mentioned in The Caster Chronicles, and The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen. Allen is, like me, from North Carolina and sets all of her books here. They are fun, quick reads, and all figure food prominently. She has all of the recipes from her books available on her website. I had planned to use her cake recipe, but since I am still feeling puny, I went with the Cake Mix Doctor's recipe instead.
Most of the recipes I looked at called for pecans, this one did not, so I added them to the cream cheese frosting. It made it a little hard to get on the cake, but the texture is great, so I don't care that it got a little ugly.
Overall, it is a good cake, and I might make it again, next time I have a potluck to go to.

Monday, March 4, 2013

I'm only 39 dammit!!!

I nearly forgot about this, but I dragged myself out of bed to share it.
Last month I saw an orthopedist about my tennis elbow. I was basically told "It's wear and tear. You're almost 40, it comes with age."
Then, last week, I had an eye exam and was told "You're going to need bifocals within 5 years. It's probably going to be closer to three."
As if that wasn't bad enough, today at the doctor's office, the nurse who took my vitals asked "Period?" and I said "I just had it last week." She then replied "Oh, so you still have it then?"
I am THIRTY NINE. I have not been through the fucking change!!!
The next person who calls me old is going to get punched in the throat.

I haz teh plague

So it seems I have gotten behind on my blogging. Every member of our family of four is sick right now. Started out as head colds, but things have progressed. The girls and I went to the doctor today, turns out the 3 year old has a double ear infection, and the 9 year old and I have "acute bronchitis".
Honestly, with the mouth-breathing, snot filled, feverish wreck that I am right now, there is nothing *cute* about it.

Husband is on his way home with antibiotics for the kids, and 4 scrips for me. Hopefully, in a few days, I will be back to my clever self.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Crafty Crap with Carter

It is still sweater season here in NC, and I noticed the other day that two of my favorite sweaters had holes that needed to be repaired. One is a black wool pullover with 5 moth holes in it. At least, I assume that's where they came from. The other is a lovely moss green cotton affair with a smallish hole in the back, that originated Lord knows how. Last night I got a bug up my rear to fix my sweaters.
I am a big fan of Pinterest, and I have something like 40 boards on my account. (You should check them out, they're actually pretty awesome.) :-D
Anyway, I knew I had pinned a link about darning knitwear, but last night I could not find it to save my life. I ended up doing a search for "mend a sweater" and mixed in with pins of Eva Mendes wearing sweaters, I found some helpful info and got to work.
The green sweater was mended with 100% cotton embroidery floss. I wouldn't say it's an invisible repair, but I don't think it looks bad for a first try.

Since the wool sweater has multiple holes, I thought I would have a bit of fun with it. Inspired by this article on Martha Stewart dot com and this amazing sweater metamorphosis at Prick Your Finger, I got to work on the black sweater. I had a skein of alpaca/silk sock yarn that, let's be honest, will never be socks, so I grabbed it and got going. So far I have only fixed one hole, and I wasn't impressed with my darning stitches, so I went a step further and did embroidered satin stitch over the repaired hole. I think after the repairs are finished I will add some random embroidery to other spots, and make wearable art out of it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Let's go to the mall!

I hate shopping for clothes. Well, clothes for myself anyway. I LOVE shopping for my two daughters. There are so many choices, many of them budget friendly, and the girls are easy to fit. I, on the other hand, have a hell of a time. See, I am what you would call a "curvy girl". While retailers are slowly beginning to expand the choices for robust folks, I have a bit of a height disadvantage. Simply put, I am short like woah.
Unfortunately, most women's plus size clothes are designed for women who are six feet tall. The assumption being, if you're a "big girl", you must be big all over. Sadly, that is not the case. I, for example, barely graze five foot two in my bare feet.
"Just buy what you want and cut off the extra length" one might say, but alas, that doesn't always work. Nothing is properly proportioned for shorties like me. The arm holes are too big, the sleeves too long, the hips never land on my hips, instead they are always vacationing down south near my knees. The back pockets are usually end up in that zone where butt meets thigh... So finding clothes is a chore.
It had been three years since I bought jeans. Of the three pairs I own, one is simply unflattering and tends to sag due to some minor weight loss. As I am not a 14 year old boy, this is not an acceptable look for me. Pair number two were similarly huge, but fairly comfortable. Usable, but not suitable to wear in public. This pair was sacrificed to the DIY gods and is now covered in paint, sports a burn from a heat gun, and a small rip in the ass where they got caught on a nail. Of course, on me, that rip is somewhere mid-thigh.  Finally, my favorite and most flattering pair, is simply wearing out.
The husband and I are planning a trip with our girls for Spring Break, and Mama needs jeans for the trip. We are headed north, in March, and temperatures promise to be chilly. So husband sent me to the mall to buy jeans.
With much trepidation, I entered Big Name Plus Size Retail Shop, armed with a credit card and on a mission. Now, don't get me wrong, I buy new clothes pretty regularly, but 90% of the time it's either new shirts, or dresses. Sometimes I will go nutty and buy a skirt, but I had not even tried on jeans or pants (other than those of the  "yoga" or "lounge"  variety) in three years. So, I wandered around the store, faced with far too many choices. A girl with a name tag approached, cautiously, as one would a deer or other frightened woodland creature. I explained my situation, she did a quick assessment of my figure, and sent me into a fitting room with an armload of jeans to try on.
I ended up spending two hours in that store, and tried on no fewer than 17 pairs of jeans. Among the choices were the floral print "jeggings" that were unanimously voted "Most Likely to Resemble Pajama Pants", the distressed jeans featuring "Knee Wear on Your Shins", and the pastel floral skinny jeans with a double shot of  "AW, HELL NO!"
With help from the Most Patient Retail Employee EVER, and texted pictures to my dear Megan, I was able to walk out with 2 pairs of jeans that fit adequately. They're still about 5 inches to long and the back pockets linger somewhere south of the border, but they will do for now.
There was some discussion of buying bras, but after being measured and having terms like "Special Order" thrown around, I decided I had been traumatized enough. I still need to buy a bathing suit for the trip, but that is an ordeal for another day. Right now I'm thinking something retro...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Cooking the Books

No, this isn't about some hinky accounting, it's about actual cooking.
I like to cook. A lot. I also like to read. A lot. I have found that a lot of authors of fiction make references to food in their books.
Three years ago I saw Julie and Julia. While I didn't love the movie, I did love the idea of a year long cooking project. After several weeks of planning and plotting and research, I launched the Global Cook-Along Project. I and some friends on Livejournal and Facebook spent a full year exploring the globe from our kitchens.  With the exception of a month I missed due to major surgery, it went really well. It's been almost two years since the project ended and there are dishes from that project that are still on my family's monthly rotation.
Recently I have been reading Kami Garcia's Caster Chronicles.
Throughout the first book, there is a lot of mention of food and its importance to the small South Carolina town that is the book's setting. Buttermilk pie is the pride and joy of Gatlin, SC - I had never heard of buttermilk pie, so I started doing some looking around online and the recipe looked pretty easy. I had all of the ingredients on hand, so today, the Cooking the Books project was born!

I used the recipe at - you can check it out here. It was super easy and the prep took no time at all. Now when it comes to desserts and the great Cake VS Pie debate, I am firmly in the cake camp. I don't even need frosting - it's all about the cake. I like the component parts of pie just fine. I love a nice, flaky pie crust; and fruit is perfectly tasty. There's just something about the texture of pie - especially a custard pie. Mama's not down with soggy food, you know?
That piece of pie you see in the photo there? It sacrificed itself for my taste test. It was both photogenic and delicious.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The role of women in 1950's advertising

While setting up this blog, I decided I needed a new user icon for my profile page. I decided, since I am the mom and housewife of the duo, that my icon should reflect that. As I was perusing pictures of moms and housewives, I came across the picture I ultimately used. 
When I pulled up the larger view of the image, I cracked up. It was just hilarious to me and so typical of 1950's advertising. This woman is in her kitchen, twirling about (judging from her skirt), with a blissful, almost psychotic look on her face. Is it an ad for appliances, cleaning products, or pharmaceuticals? 
What could she be saying? "I LOVE this kitchen, bitches!"
Or perhaps it's "Valium - behold the fucks I do not give!"
Anyway, I chose this picture because A) this is how I hope I feel when my kitchen diy is complete.
And B) this is also how I felt the last time I had valium. 

But that's a whole other story.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Legend of Cartermegan

September 1988, I was sitting in tenth grade Geometry class when the girl next to me passed me a note - "I know I'm just a stinky Freshman, but do you want to be friends?"

From that moment on, we were inseparable. So much so, that we were both dubbed "Cartermegan" by our Geometry teacher.

Now, twenty four years later, we are sharing our hilarity with the world. You're welcome.