Tags: cooking

*gen - tiffany

Crushing cake disappointment.

A word of advice: no matter how delicious the cranberry bread mix might look on the Trader Joe's shelves, do not buy it. Now, I *love* TJ's other bread mixes. The pumpkin bread is divine, and the deep dark gingerbread is perfect for the holidays. But... well... Mr. Joe does not know how to bake with cranberries (my favorite of all the berries in our fine nation). I first encountered this devastating problem with their orange cranberry muffin mix, which would turn out way too moist and heavy every time I made it. You'd think I'd learn the first time, but I kept on trying. I thought things would be different this time. It looked gorgeous on the box. They'd taken out the orange, so maybe the company had reformulated the mix. Oh, but no. NO. *sob* Despite my following the instructions to the letter, the "bread" turned out like a soggy, spongy brick.

So. I'm spreading the word, in hopes that my friends can avoid this tragic cranberry-related disappoinment. Now I shall curl up in bed and cry (though I might try one tiny slice of the bread first....)
*gen - tiffany

Veggies, fic, quilts, fezzes, and zombies.

1. As I mentioned before, I'm not fond of vegetables. Luckily, I just found something that I really love: roasted asparagus with a bit of lemon and nutmeg. Marvelous! I'm also a fan of steamed green beans with a bit of butter. Now I just need to find more vegetables that I like.

2. I have absolutely nothing in the fic pipeline, and that makes me sad. Can't see myself writing any more BSG, which is fine since I wrote more than enough over four years. (Guess it's a good thing I never posted that WIP!) I expected to write more Hunger Games fic, but I only have one vague story idea that is probably too ambitious for me to tackle given that my interest is waning. I just want to be writing something again!

3. Any tips for how to machine-sew a baby quilt? I'd like to make one for NephTwo, but quilting is intimidating. ;) I've only ever made one before, and that one was very, very basic. Maybe I'll do some research online after I finish all my holiday knitting, since my second nephew won't arrive until February.

4. Yesterday I watched some of the Doctor Who marathon on BBCA. I thought about tracking down my .avis instead, because BBCA uses way too many screen bugs and crops most of the picture; when the hell is Comcast going to pick up the HD channel? I did enjoy the Van Gogh episode again, especially since I did a Van Gogh descriptive writing lesson with my students in September. And I'm now tempted to knit a felted fez!

5. Collapse )
*gen - tiffany

Apparently, tonight's theme is "hunger".

I've been rereading The Hunger Games, and I'm buying into Katniss/Gale a lot more than I did before. Collapse )

Last fall I tried to cut way back on my sugar intake and did a pretty good job of it. So why am I relapsing like hell? Sugar is the *last* thing I need, but I am its slave.

I'm also realizing that I have so much to learn about basic cooking techniques. I bought some fresh chicken breasts at TJ's yesterday, but I don't really know how to prepare them -- I'm always afraid I won't cook them long enough. And that's just the tip of my culinary illiteracy. Maybe I should find out if there are any cheap cooking classes in Atlanta. I know the rec center down the street offers some, but I'd have to pay a premium since I'm in an unincorporated part of the county, outside city limits. Sigh.
*gen - tiffany

We're just blowing through naptime.

1. I've grown to love baking bread, though just the easy recipes so far. This one is my favorite. A pro would call it laughably simple, but I've managed to master it. Tonight I'm trying out a 50/50 mix of whole wheat and white flours. I set it out to rise about 20 minutes ago, and so far it looks and feels like a brick, especially compared to white bread's usual soft doughiness. Since I'm rather skeptical that it'll turn out at all, I then made a second loaf of good ol' white bread. Guess I'll see how it bakes in a few hours!

2. Once again, I'm watching Arrested Development reruns because they magically appear on my TiVo (and I'm too lazy to put in the DVDs.) I think I'm the only one who prefers GOB's "A trick is what a whore does for money... or candy!" to the "cocaine" in the DVD version of the pilot. Prostitution and cocaine are both awful, but putting it with candy in front of an audience of kids? Evil!

3. I listen to a lot of podcasts on my commute, and I'm really tired of those cheesy instrumental music intros that most podcasts use. Yeah, I know it must be difficult to find royalty-free tunes, but hearing the same grating song over and over tests my sanity!

4. callmeonetrack and I have been collaborating on a fic. When she sent me a scene last night, I told her that it was really good *writing*. By that, I meant the actual paragraphs themselves, independent of the characters or overall narrative (though those were also great!) It made me think about how I react to fic and what I've seen in feedback on various stories. When praising a fic, many people say that they loved what the characters did/said, or point out a specific moment in the fic. I don't often see readers praise the writing itself. I'll concede that when I read fanfiction, I certainly pay more attention to what the writer does with familiar characters than how she puts together a sentence, because that's a key attraction of fic. But I would love to see more recognition of those who excel at the writing itself. :)

5. Linkspam time!
-- Salon explains the toxic ingredients in many shampoos. A few years ago, my stylist told me that although Pantene conditioner leaves my hair really soft, that's due to a waxy buildup.
-- The NYT Magazine has a long article about the Beatles and Rock Band. Plus, a surprisingly interesting one on how Monk has influenced TV drama.
-- Okay, two more from the Times: when visiting the Louvre, few people really look at the art, and cold temperatures improve sleep.
-- In Esquire, Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter argue about celebrities and Twitter.
-- Newsweek explains how being right- (or left-) handed shapes judgment. Proud lefty here!
-- Jez offers four tips for understanding girl geeks.
-- Slate talks about Google, Twitter, and brain circuitry, and Ji Lee gives 10 levels of communication intimacy.
-- Listsgalore, er, lists 150 things to do when you're bored.
-- And finally, Ken Levine has a funny post about when Dollhouse almost filmed in his backyard.
*gen - tiffany


1. Since I had such great luck last time, tonight I've been making minestrone soup and white bread from scratch. I have this weird creative streak. I always have to be making something, even if the results aren't all that great. (And, as evidenced by the past few days, I also have a need to play Spider Solitaire non-stop.)

2. In today's Dear Prudence column on Slate, a debate broke out on the necessity of thank-you notes. Several people have said that they should only be sent when you can't thank the giver in person. While I'm not very good at sending them, I'll weigh in on the side of sending a note even if you've already said thanks. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I like the formality of acknowledging a substantial gift.

3. The intrepid asta77 broke the news that Jamie Bamber will guest star in the Dollhouse season premiere. In fact, I think Asta got the word out even before the media outlets! Aww, Helo and Lee together again. With him, I'll make a selfish exception to how I've been a bit annoyed by Joss's tendency to reuse his cache of actors. It yanks me out of the story.

4. Although nobody tagged me, I feel like doing the meme that has been making the rounds! Collapse )
*gen - tiffany

Muppets, Mojo, and Zombies

1. Yes, I'm reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Got it on a lark at Costco, even though I'm not really an Austen fan. Thirty pages in, I have to admit that it's kind of awesome in a total-crackfic way. The Bennet sisters are kickboxing zombie killers, while also being proper Regency ladies. I have no idea how much of Austen's plot remains because I haven't read P&P since college (and had no desire to see the movies, despite Colin Firth.) Basically, it seems to be P&P itself with random zombies popping up, though I do admire Grahame-Smith's ability to mimic Austen's voice. "Jane had not beeng one long before it rained hard, and the soft ground gave way to scores of the disagreeable creatures, still clad in their tattered finery, but possessing none of the good breeding that had served them so well in life."

2. I have cooking mojo! My problem has always been that I know the basics of cooking and enjoy the process, but I never like the taste of the results. Yesterday I got it in my head that I wanted to try some simple recipes in a chef's memoir that I've been reading, so I headed to Publix and spent way too much on ingredients. Hours later, I had two huge pots of minestrone and chicken noodle soup that tasted GREAT. Love 'em! Today I made a loaf of bread that turned out perfectly. I have no illusions that my cooking abilities will last beyond this week, but right now it's fun.

3. queenofthorns linked to a neat story about a pregnant fighter pilot. The first photo made me want to write babyfic. ;)

4. Mental Floss has another hilarious quiz: Harry Potter Character or Hideous Skin Disease? I only got a 67%.

5. And I got a kick out of 101 Muppets of Sesame Street.
*gen - tiffany

How many weeks? How many sheiks?

1. Ah, the power of traffic to rule one's summer schedule. One of my projects for ESOL certification class is to visit DeKalb Farmer's Market and write about the cultural representations that I observe. I really wanted to go today (and get in some grocery shopping while there), but unless I'd left at noon, there was no way I could get across town and back without hitting the rush hour wall that lasts from 2-8. Lovely. Guess I'll go tomorrow.

2. Speaking of farmer's markets, I need to find a list of all the fruit/vegetable stands in town. Seems like they're popping up all over the place, but they're usually held at inconvenient times like Saturday mornings. I keep meaning to go to the one on Tuesday nights at the Episcopal church down the street, but every week I forget about it until five minutes after they close.

3. I used to be such a noctural person. Still am, to an extent. But lately I've found myself getting rather sad at around this time of the evening when I have to close the blinds and turn on the lights.

4. I know some of you are also old Sports Night fans, so here's a heads-up that Sepinwall has started reviewing the first season. Yay! I rewatched the first two eps last night. Damn, I loved that show. (And nope, never really liked The West Wing.)

5. A favorite quote from Conan the other night: "YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook will merge to create one super time-wasting website, YouTwitFace." (And speaking of late night TV, the theme song from "Where and When Is Stephen Colbert Going to Be in the Persian Gulf?" is my current earworm. Gah!)

6. Many thanks to padabee for bringing us more half-naked Jamie Bamber. Also, Pilots-loving friends, mintenergy has finished Signal Fire. As I plan to say in the feedback that I promise to leave tonight, it's very lovely and *fulfilling* after what happened in the finale. Do go read it and give her lots of great feedback!

7. My dad wants a subscription to Wine Spectator magazine for Father's Day. Amazon has it for $50, which is nearly half the cover price, but that's still a bit steep for my current budget. Any idea where I could find it a bit more cheaply?

8. I'm sad that The Hangover looks like a crap movie, because I still have a tiny crush on Bradley Cooper. ("Will Tippin" remains my favorite fictional name. Such fun to say aloud!)

9. Nominations for the Television Critics Awards have been announced. I'm dismayed that out of ten nominees for "Individual Achievement in Comedy/Drama", only two (token) women made the cut. While I'm sure all the nominees did a marvelous job last year, would it have killed the critics to find more women for the lists?

10. While I was never a huge fan of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, I wish it had stuck around. Even those of you who weren't fans should check out this blog post by its executive producer about its cancellation. Both hilarious and depressing.
*gen - tiffany

A fangirl without a show.

1. What is it about school vacations that makes me want to cook and cook? Especially since the results seldom turn out well. But! Yesterday I had a strange yen to make bread, so I started poking around online for a good recipe. Despite my not being Jewish (or even really Christian anymore, for that matter), I found myself making challah! And it turned out perfectly. Wow. Pretty enough for any Seder -- er, if it weren't leavened. Oops. Still, it's quite awesome. Collapse )

2. I have also been making other things, specifically knitting. Big surprise. Friends, I have fallen in love with a new brand of yarn: Madelinetosh Sock. Oh my god I love it so much. Maybe even more than I love Dream in Color's Smooshy. Collapse )

3. In more bittersweet news, I find myself fading away a little bit from my show. I've been working on a fic, but I can't really get the vibe back or even the urge to rewatch episodes. I'm sure it'll come back soon -- I need to rewatch S4.5, if only to start cleaning out my TiVo -- but this tends to happen to me at the end of a show. No hard feelings, except re: the finale, and I hope I can get the vibe back long enough to finish the fic!

4. My fandom history is that once my connection to a show begins to fade, I almost immediately find another one to throw myself into. Collapse )

5. Since this post is already so long, I'll add a linkspam:
-- Two posts about '90s music loves: PJ Harvey is not actually a crazy wailing banshee and why Morrissey's voice still breaks my heart.
-- Here's one for Dionusia: Odysseus's Twitter feed!
-- Mental Floss has helpful tips on what to do if you meet the Queen and an interesting post on a writer's visit to Vanuatu. And on that note, a great series of articles about Lagos, Nigeria, and a train trip from Vienna to Pyongyang.
-- Boston.com takes a peek inside a Netflix mailing facility.
-- Check out The Smithsonian: By the Numbers.
-- While baking last night, I read Vanity Fair's long article about the Iceland banking crisis.
-- Looking for a summer job? A friend told me that the Census Bureau is hiring. I might actually look into it.
-- Kiosk has some very cool things to buy, including an Obama stamp. Want!
-- And, to end on a silly note: if you're currently shopping for formal wear, why not get the vagina prom dress?
*gen - tiffany

A slow simmer.

1. I've developed a mini-addiction to making pasta sauce in the crock pot, and I'm not usually a tomato sauce fan! I'm using this recipe, which has worked out well so far. Crock pots are lots of fun, huh? If y'all have any good crock pot recipes, I'd love to hear them. Thanks!

2. According to this post, ITV appears to be splitting L&O:UK into two seasons, with the last six episodes airing in September. Drat! I'd begun to really look forward to my Monday dose of Jamie prettiness. On a much more cheerful fandom note, Indi found this: "Obama Depressed, Distant Since Battlestar Series Finale".

3. EntWkly's cover story about heroes and villains included a photo of Kate from Lost. Okay, I'm NOT a Kate-hater like many people. I don't find her all that interesting, but I like her just fine. But. A hero? Granted, I don't watch the show very closely these days, but she seems to spend most of her time either reacting or carrying out others' plans. I dunno. Maybe I'm reading her wrong. (Or maybe EW was desperate for more women to include. Sigh.) Which brings me to Jezebel's post asking who are your pop culture heroines? Quite pleased to see Kara's name show up several times. And I especially appreciate how, unlike many other "kickass chicks", she was never glammed-up or sweetened in the process. She's bitchy and yucky and completely normal-looking, and I love her all the more for it!

4. I'm watching Seth Rogen on The Daily Show right now. I really don't like him, though I don't quite know why.

5. Linkspam:
-- TimesOnline lists six words in danger of extinction, and the NEA worries that poetry readership is declining. Happier lit news: an excerpt from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I must read that.
-- Boston.com picspams the undersea volcano explosion near Tonga.
-- Mental Floss reminisces about the uproar over Dungeons & Dragons back in 1985.
-- Ever noticed how many songs sound similar? "Four chords, 36 songs.
-- Slate wants to know why you still watch ER. (Years ago, I got tired of those "Most! Dramatic! Episode! EVER!" promos.)
-- Sheril Kirshenbaum of Discover blogs about her frustration with sexism in science. And Jez wonders why many women are so worried about being Tracy Flick?
-- The Chicago Tribune educates us on the life cycle of a Peep. And when that life is over, here are 100 ways to kill a Peep.
*gen - tiffany


1. Snow! In Atlanta! In MARCH! Wow. I know our measly 2" is nothing compared to up north, but it's a huge deal here. I'm hoping that the sub-freezing temps cause the roads to ice overnight; I'd really love a snow day tomorrow. Yeah, we overreact to snow, but then we only get this sort of thing maybe once a year. Municipalities don't have sand trucks, and most people don't own snow tires. Our roads are so hilly that even a light coating of ice can make them treacherous, especially for all those school buses. Collapse )

2. On The Amazing Race, there is a (not very good) team named Jaime and Cara. I find this way too amusing. Pretty happy with the season overall, and Mel & Mike are awesome.

3. Last night I made chili bake, though I decided to use a crock pot of homemade chili. Yum! It's quite easy and would probably work with some substitutions if you don't have frozen latkes handy. Just use frozen hash browns.

4. During homeroom, I showed a few kids one of those gorgeous photos of Barack and Michelle from the first White House black-tie event. After the oohs and aahs (and a couple of "I wish they were my mom and dad!"), I mentioned that Earth Wind & Fire had performed at the event. The kids gave me blank stares. (One parent later said, "C'mon, I played their greatest hits to her in the crib!") Chagrined by their musical ignorance, I went over to Amazon and played a few of the .mp3 samples. I couldn't stop laughing during "September" when K's face went from "huh?" to "OMG I KNOW THIS SONG!" ;)

5. Linkspam.
-- A few from Jez: Why don't designers cater to the average American woman?, why don't we value intelligence in women anymore?, and a great story on quinceañeras.
-- Mental Floss explores the history of marketing feminine hygiene products. Also, Coraline from A-Z, and can you name the Bluths in four minutes?
-- Slate writes about the terrible, entertaining beauty of tornadoes. (Well, I suppose unless you're caught in one.)
-- The NYT has a Q&A with Bret and Jemaine. They also want to know why even Obama messes up "Michelle and I". And for Sarmoti: taking the Snuggie to the streets.
-- Oooh, a Blur reunion at the NME awards last week, where they played my all-time favorite of theirs, "This Is a Low".
-- And for the handful of you who haven't yet seen it: Jamie Bamber goes shirtless for PETA.