Dec 31, 2009

Last day of 2009

Another exciting day in cooking.....a good way to end the year. Of course all the stuff from our trip is still all over the house in either it's unpacked or half unpacked state. I have just been too busy cooking :)

The neighbors are having a new years eve party tonight so as my contribution I made some Ginger Cream Cookies (pg 190 for the cookies and pg 202 for the icing from the Betty Crocker Cookbook).

Molasses and shortening was no challenge for the mixer!

Now the icing on the other was such a small quantity that the mixer couldn't quite get to it all so I needed to hand whisk it after. And here is the finished results with icing:

Don't worry, I made a lot more than what is here. The batter made about 4 dozen. These aren't like ginger snaps. They puffed up in the center like biscuits almost and are very chewy. Hopefully they will like them at the party tonight!

Yesterday I mentioned I wanted to do something with the breaded fish. To spice up the plain green beans and breaded fish I decided to make my first white sauce! (pg 387)

At the top of the page it says "A good cook masters this basic sauce". Boy did I master it. I made the Mushroom variation since we bought fresh mushrooms during our shopping adventure on Tuesday. Oh, just FYI, if you click on the pictures I took of the books they enlagre enough that you can read the text fairly well, just in case you wanted the recipe! I wonder if I might get in trouble for posting these photos? It is my copy of the book anyway and it's very hard to find so I wanted to share its wonderment with people. Anyway, the suace came out great and really jazzed up the fish (which was quite salty) and the green beans:

Exciting, right? There is nothing planned for tomorrow yet. I figured left overs would do or maybe some pasta and homemade sauce (since we are still waiting on our tomoatoes, we bought some canned diced ones).

Have a happy new year everyone! And since we are back in Florida, it is approprpate to share this photo with you:

This is actually not a Florida gator and this photo was taken about 2.5 years ago in Ohio (my friend used to have this beautiful animal as a pet).

Dec 30, 2009

Absolutely Amazing

First Day!

Normally on lazy days, which today would have been if I didn't have that magical machine waiting in the kitchen, I would sleep in until about 8:30 or 9, depending on when the dogs felt they were hungry. Not today. I was up and ready to go by 8, after laying in bed for about 2 hours thinking about all the yummy things I was going to make.

Before I start with today's food, let me talk about the wonderful cookbook my Mom picked up at a garage sale for a steal and is so lovingly letting me borrow so that I may fix the binding as well as cook everything I can out of it (my own little Julie & Julia). The Betty Crocker's New Picture Cook Book text edition. Now I really can't find a good website for it and the prices for it range all over the place, but my Mom got a really good deal on it none the less. Here is our copy:

It is the ring binder edition with tabbed sections. I think the first few pages are missing since I couldn't find any copyright information in it. 

My first recipe from the cookbook as well as my first recipe for the mixer was the Stir-n-Roll Biscuits on page 77. Here is that page for your viewing pleasure as well as the mixers first use :)

Yesterday I also got a french style rolling pin (from the Paula Deen line at WalMart), my first rolling pin! Instead of making  my normal drop biscuits I decided to try out the rolling pin only to realize I did not have a circle cookie cutter. But this glass did the trick.

They were just simple biscuits, no fancy flavors (I can't wait to try my onion and herb biscuits using my new blender and mixer!), so we ate them for breakfast with jelly and butter. I think next time I need to use a bigger cup since they came out a little small.

The slow cooker needed some use, so after the biscuits I started some sweet pork chops with onion and green peppers to be ready for the evening.
Of course I had to make cake and frosting with the new mixer. What is better than cake and frosting made from scratch? Nothing! I decided on a yellow cake with butter cream frosting (I didn't actually use cream, but evaporated milk instead). Both recipes were from the little cookbook that came with the mixer. Action shot during frosting mixing:

I only made a one layer cake since it's just the two of us (granted Mike does need the calories but I definitely don't).

The butter cream frosting came out so smooth and lovely. I used to make it by hand (which would take about 9 hours....) and it never came out this nice. I haven't tasted it all together yet but I am sure it will be super awesome.

To round off dinner, I made some crushed potatoes with garlic and basil from 400 Three & Four Ingredient Recipes and Honey Glazed Carrots. I don't normally buy frozen veggies with glazes incorporated, but Grandma gave them to me and I thought they would go with the sweet pork and they did. The potatoes, not so much, but they were still good.

I haven't decided what tomorrow holds. We had some frozen breaded fish squares (I know, weird) that we got through Angel Food Ministries (more on Angel Food in February when we start talking about surviving a month on a $150 budget) that I am going to try and work around tomorrow.

Another picture for you to enjoy as you wait. This is baby Trogdor, the green iguana, in the bath. He is now a super huge big boy who lives with Mike's parents in Ohio in his sweet custom cage:

Dec 29, 2009

Kitchenaid Mixer = Happiness (and my new found green thumb)

Current Ohio Temp: 7 degrees Fahrenheit
Current Florida Temp: 37 degrees Fahrenheit

37 is still better than 7 : )

After a wonderful drive (i.e. no ice or snow or rain), we are back in Florida. The house is still standing and our backyard is finally growing grass. Speaking of the backyard, look at the fruits of our labor!

The rectangular planter in the back has cilantro and basil. The terracotta planter in the front just has some random wildflowers, the middle planter is lavender, and the end planter is Florida avocado. I have never really been able to grow a garden or keep plants alive for that matter, but all my hard work (plus the Florida weather) is starting to pay off! Yay!

Here is a close up of the lavender. I hope to make some lavender infused butter or lavender pork, yum!

We also got one of those Topsy Turvy planters and planted roma tomatoes in it. The only place we could hang it was in our backyard, so it kind of grew funny.

But when we got home, look what surprise we found!

Hopefully it will be a full blown tomato soon! Wondering why we planted all these things? Free tomatoes, basil, and cilantro sounds good to me (especially on our budget). Granted we have to wait a bit on the tomatoes, but it will be totally worth it.

Since we just got back from our 2 week trip, the fridge is what dose that mean? Shopping trip! After Walmart and Aldi's, look what we came home with:

A Kitchenaid mixer!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!! This is totally what I wanted, now I can really cook up a storm. It is my Christmas present from Mike, he's so wonderful : )

To complete my new cooking passion we also got a mini slow cooker and a blender. The last blender I had died after making mixed drinks at a party and then to replace it I got the tiny Hamilton Beach mixer.

What an eventful day it has been. Tomorrow will be the first test run of the kitchenaid mixer (I am tingly just thinking about it). Sorry to brag so much about my new toys (and my plants) but I am just so excited....I guess I really am becoming a housewife, but that's not so bad.

Please stay tuned for tomorrow blog.....see how the magical mixer worked and check out the sweet antique cook book I borrowed from my Mom (thanks Mom!) but as you wait please enjoy this picture of our babies (Charlie and Pineapple) waiting for their bath:

Dec 27, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Just wanted to say a quick Happy 17th Birthday to my little brother Mikey!

Dec 26, 2009

Manicures, Pedicures, and Facials OH MY!

Mike, the 2 dogs, the 2 geckos, the chameleon and I have been in Ohio for the past 2 weeks (we will be heading back to the comforting warmth of Florida on Monday). For my Christmas present my mother took me to the Off Main Street Salon for my first real spa day. I received a manicure with a hand massage, a pedicure with a foot massage, a deep cleansing facial, and much needed professional haircut. It was wonderful! I have never had a real manicure, pedicure, or facial before! No wonder why people go all the time, they are so relaxing! Sitting here typing and looking at my french tips makes me really feel like a sophisticated woman. Working with animals and in the lab doesn't normally allow one to look like a woman. My main wardrobe consists of jeans and graphic tees, slip-on shoes and sneakers, and very little jewelry. Now that I have a lot of time to my self I am starting to learn the ways of a pretty woman. Boy did the spa day help. Mom, if you are reading this, I had such an excellent time, thank you so much! I feel like I have missed out on a lot of the fun of being a girl....maybe all this sewing and cooking is making up for lost time.

One more present left to make (yes I know Christmas has past and I was an idiot trying to take on such a large embroidery project) but in the mean time please take a gander at a project I did last Christmas for the high school girl I tutored:

It's a brown tote bag with felt monkeys. The monkey patterns I got from the Cute Book. Please be forewarned, completely original ideas are not my forte. I prefer to peruse books and blogs for inspirations and then make them my own. If I ever forget to tell you where I got the starting idea or pattern, please let me know so I may update my blog and give credit where credit is due. The same goes with my cooking. New tricks and techniques are still being learned, but hopefully one day I will be able to run a test kitchen out of my house.

Now I am off to try and make chicken gravy in my father's kitchen (which relies heavily on the microwave for food preparation) with left over chicken stock, butter, olive oil, flour, and whatever spices my father may have. Yay cooking!

Dec 25, 2009

And so it begins....

Fun fact: College students who graduate during an economic recession feel the pain for at least 15 years after economic recovery (something I heard on the radio in Ohio).

Second Fun Fact: Unemployment rate for people aged 20-24 is hovering around 16%.

Lucky me.......

So to say the least, I am unemployed recent recipient of a Master's of Science in Biology. What a useless degree. I wish I had known that I could apply directly for PhD programs right after undergraduate. Or maybe no one wanted to tell me because the knew I wouldn't be ready (but I so am now). With my master's degree I am either way too over-qualified or one degree short under-qualified for any real job I want. To make things better, I recently moved to Florida with the long time love of my life, Mike, so he could pursue his PhD in medical sciences. You may or may not know that Florida was hit super hard by the recession (just look at the Florida housing market) which makes finding any job almost impossible (I can't even get a freaking job at Publix! Seriously?!?). 5 months and counting of unemployment....

What have I been doing? Well I work sporadically for my Aunt's home improvement company that is located about an hour away from my home. Let me tell you that this job dose not take up any my time. So I have finally had a chance to pursue interests in needle craft, sewing, and cooking (pretty much homemaking). I honestly don't know why I didn't start this blog sooner, some pretty funny shit has happened since we moved. My mother is a seamstress by trade (she owns a bridal shop - All Brides Beautiful Main Page - and be sure to check out their blog - All Brides Beautiful's Blog) but I never really got to spend time learning all she knows. My grandmothers are both excellent cooks but, again, I never got to spend time learning from them. I grew up with three younger brothers and the most supportive, loving father ever but he is a sports buff who works with computers and always told me to do what makes me happy. So I am learning and doing all this stuff on my own now and it is making me happy (granted I would love to be in a PhD program learning and teaching, but I am trying to make the most out of this time). I hope to use this blog to share some of my creations with you......

Like this one (a squirrel shirt I made for Mike since he hates squirrels):

I recently completed a massive amount (at least for me) of projects for Christmas presents (no money!) this year, so photos should be in order soon of the stuff I remembered to take photos of. Now please note that I am not a photographer. Mike is really good and hopefully I can convince him to take photos for me.

I am also exploring the world of cooking and cooking on a budget. Since I have no job we are on a very tight budget. We have been trying (unsuccessfully by a few dollars) to stay on a $150 a month meal budget for 2 people. Some one suggested that I blog about all the food I make and what I did for a month so that other frugal people may learn from it. I am thinking that February may be a good time to do this (since I have company coming in January for a week and I don't know how that is going to work into it). Please stay tuned!

In case you were wondering about the "Okay Tokay" thing. I did all my master's reasearch with geckos, inparticular tokay geckos (Gekko gecko) and have quite a fascination with them (and really with any reptile in general). When ever I would ask my advisor to do something for me, he would jokingly say "okay tokay".