Hopefully, this post finds another home cook who has never baked a pecan pie but always wanted to... before they actually have a hand in that attempt.
See that picture up there? That's my first pecan pie right before I put it into the oven. I loved how it all came together up to that point:
- Chop the pecans and layer them along the bottom of the pie crust. (yes, this one was store-bought and I promise never to do it again. I was out of shortening that day and had this one handy).
- Pour the filling all over the chopped nuts.
- Watch the nuts float to the top. See picture again.
Next step was to bake. Which I did.
1/2 way through when I went to rotate the pie (I have that kind of oven... hotter on one side), I realized I smelled burning... caramel. So I opened the oven and saw to my horror, and bewilderment, that my pecan pie had exploded. All over. That burning smell was the syrupy filling smoking all over 4 of the 6 surfaces in the oven. I scraped the filling from the baking sheet back into the oven. Nothing burnt there. And scraped and discarded the charcoal bits around the electric burner itself.
I skeptically eyed what was left of my pie and shoved it back in the oven. After I rotated it of course. What did I have to lose, right? So it wouldn't be so... thick.
I researched high and low and it took me some time but I finally came to the conclusion that I hadn't chopped the pecans small enough.
See above image again. Those pecans you see? Go smaller. Much smaller. Chop them into little morsels. That's it. And that's my big baking tip today.
If you're like me, and you like big pecan chunks - layer them on top in some nice, and open, pattern. Because you see my big pecan chunks when they rose to the top stayed there and formed a kind of wall that blocked the syrupy filling from properly boiling in the oven. So it had no choice but to bust loose.
Next time on the Homecook Disaster Channel: Getting ready for lattice pie crust. Brought to you by every mom's must-have: anti wrinkle creams.
Image courtesy: I'm Not Bored Anymore
Matt Lesko, eat your heart out.
Apparently, you don't need to buy those books and DVDs to find out the secrets in to getting 'FREE GOVERNMENT MONEY' aka 'taxpayer money'. All you need to do is cozy up to a Democratic Congressmen here or there and just ask him for some government cash to get your at-home business off the ground. Really! That's it.
Go ahead, get crazy. Ask for something like a million. Or ten. Maybe even 100 million. I don't know if it matters if your at-home business exists. Submit paperwork on it anyway. To make it all look good. It's not as if you have to worry about losing to another bidder on some online auction.
Go for it. Ask for a cool billion. B-I-L-L-I-O-N. Aka, 1000 million.
Starting to sound a litle like Austin Powers? Not quite serious and totally stupid?
Not so. You see, it can be done. From the one and only Gateway Pundit comes this Jaw-dropper: A husband and wife who run a child day care center from their home lobbied Rep Cleaver (D-MO) for some cash and he was kind enough to take that and run with it in the manner of a 48 billion dollar earmark for the couple.
That's not a typo. That's 48 Billion. With a B.
That earmark might land in Missouri in some day care. (and that must be Some Day Care).
But every American's going to have a hand in paying for it. You can count on it.
Image courtesy: America's Future
I'm thinking of renting my own ekg machine. Something along the lines of those blood pressure machines they place in front of the pharmacy counter. How many times has my heart stopped this past week as I go over my to-do list in my head seventeen times an hour?
I don't have a dayrunner or filofax anymore. I think they stopped making those in the 80s and 90s. And digital reminders on my computer get buried behind tweetdeck. One can only have so many start up items after all. So I further streamlined my efficiency motto this year and shaved off some items to increase my productivity. Scary how much this sounds like math.
I cut my usual 1/2 a dozen cookie samples and a few candy samples to 1/2 a 1/2 a dozen. Plus a candy sample. Gotta have the candy. It's Christmas, after all. One down.
I finally selected the food dishes I'd bring to the family gatherings both before and after Christmas day. Two down.
Shopping days are the final equation. Balancing everything else I think I have somewhere along the lines of 2x+y(2) hours per day left to shop. And that's only if I do all the shopping online.
I've got my calculator in one hand and my bankcard in the other.
Image courtesy: Bogoboo.com
We have a giant map on the wall in our home. The map is so prominent, we've taken to calling the room it's hanging in, which is technically a dining room, the Map room. It's been an amazing teaching tool, especially for homeschool geography (and history) lessons, homework and just daydreaming.
It's hard to sit in front of a map and not fall into it. I had a great bit of fun showing daughter L the other day the route that Magellan took when he said from Europe to the west coast of North America. Our ancestors were on a boat that took that exact same route, so it helped bring the story to life for her. I think.
It's also an amazing destination in itself: the Map room. Instant stress relief. Park yourself in front of it and pick a name.
Inaccessible Island. What a name!
Now if I was weighing the possibilities -- I might think that has to be the place to go when you want to leave it all behind. Turn off the htc sense, turn off the TV and satellite radio, close up the computer...
But it could very well be some foreboding rock rising from the depths of the very Southern Atlantic. Something luring sailors to its shores but wrecking their ships with hidden coral teeth... like Something out of King Kong.
Better to dream.
Image courtesy: Ixday.com
My mind is always wandering this time of year. Even worse than usual.
Often when I'm relaxing, or perhaps I should say - trying to relax, I'm thinking about the current and the future. I can even be engaged in a pretty decent show we're blazing through on Netflix and I'm debating gift ideas like ubiquitous Kindles, HTF Kinects, a fancy new lexmark x2550... I need to get those cookies done, did I get that card list yet?... oh and do they still make tinker toys?
I found an amazing cookie recipe the other day. Of course I haven't actually made it yet, but it looks amazing. And the name: Spumoni cookie. Hello, childhood.
I can't wait to try that one out and then to mix it in to the tried and trues this Christmas for the goodie boxes.
It's always a lovely revelation when one of your favorite authors shares your beliefs.
I stopped by a couple of my favorite haunts this past week: the used book sale at the library and the local Mennonite used book store. The used book sale at the library is a challenge. Buy a plastic grocery bag for $2.00 and all the books you can fit inside are free. Of course, one ends up scouring the stacks for probably way too long in a bid to find something... good... and buying things not normally of interest, just to fill the bag.
At the Mennonite store, I'm always scanning the shelves for a few favorites as well as the must-have and hard-to-find authors. I'd just finished reading, again, one of the more recent thrilling Vince Flynn books, so it was a thrill to find the immediate sequel available for a mere $2.00. Hardcover. And in the adjoining new outlet store: a first edition William F Buckley Blackford Oakes novel. I could barely contain my glee as I made my way to their state-of-the-art
POS systems to pay for my treasure. (How DOES one pay for such a thing when books as wonderful as this cost a mere 25 cents?)
Said the friendly woman cashier who by now knows I'm, well, a regular: "I'd ask if you found what you were looking for, but that smile is somewhere between Mona Lisa and the Cheshire Cat."
Said I: "As for me, myself, personally I prefer the short-cut."
Image courtesy: Elements Village
I miss you, Grandma.
Christmas is upon us and I am not calling you every other day checking this cookie recipe and that measurement on a scaled menu and what about trying this ingredient instead? You were more than just my go-to for all things foodie. What a force you were... and I know if you were here reading this over my should you'd scoff and walk away at the absurdity of it.
It's true though. And even now... since you went home to God this Mother's Day I still feel the love of you all around. I keep wanting to pick up the phone and run something by you. Hear your indredulous laugh when we dish on the latest Pelosi shenanigans.
People say: it's hard to come back from such a loss. They're right.
You work on getting your bearings to stand up again.
Some of us just work on getting back on our way... knowing you're right there with us.
I'm starting to panic. I can't believe it's almost 2010 and I've yet to make an apple pie! Of course, I've been experimenting with a myriad of different tantalizing goodies so it only stood to reason that I'd keep pushing that traditional necessity to the back of the line. I keep walking by the apples in the produce section and filing the available 'breeds' in the back of my mind as I make my way to the "need it now" items. I'd even be shopping for Christmas clothes for the girls and ads for apple bottom jeans reminded me to get on with it. Seriously.
It doesn't help that none of the girls have apple cravings. Generally it's things like chocolate-mint, oreo-types that get their attention.
I'm going to make it real easy on myself. I'm going to stop procrastinating and just buy the last ingredient from that specialty spice shop grandma tipped me to. Christmas present to myself.
Who says a hearty warm Apple Pie isn't a good Christmas or New Year's Eve dessert? 'Specially when it's spiked with a lovely bit of cheer like the above?
Photo courtesy: Jeni Yantis, Better Photo
I meet people every day who are going through some of the most amazing trials I've ever heard. Ordinary people just like most of us doing things noone in this country should ever have to do, just to survive.
I recently discovered an acquaintance from the northeast has had no hot water since the spring. The spring! She shrugs and relays tales of afternoons at the library making her way through online ads glistening like Vegas lights: "click here to find affordable life insurance quotes and rates" all while trying to find at-home work to continue caring for her very children. Does she click it, I asked? She already has some, and keeps that up as a necessity, for her kids, too.
This woman can still laugh and smile and tell a joke. It's humbling to know that as bad as things can get for any of us - someone very like us is going through it, too. I try to let them know we are here. They are not alone.
We 'adopted' 4 children this year at our local school to receive Christmas presents they otherwise would not have been able to receive. One or two has 'parents' in the Wars. Gifts are an afterthought while praying for their safety every day. It was our honor.
Life insurance before hot water.
Image courtesy: Stripers Online
It should be no surprise that law-breaking traitor megalomaniacs admire each other. Bill Ayers, traitor and terrorist washup and Friend of Obama is back in the news offering up his observations that WikiLeaks is just like Weather Underground. Crazy, man!
Just for fun, here's a replay of WPtG's viral video of Elections 2008... William Ayers & the Weather Underground:
Remember, this creep has our current President's ear.
I have no doubt that most sane Americans would like nothing better than to treat him as if they were popping a pimple or smashing a fat little worm under their boot. As amusing as it is to watch this unrepentant murdering has-been spew hateful utterings about our country, we must never forget how very dangerous he has been and can be again... this time without the benefit of bombs.
I've discovered an amazingly rewardingnatural fat burner this year while planning Christmas activities.
It wasn't the Christmas cookie swap, which strangely, is a physically and mentally exhausting activity that should result in the loss of dozens of pounds in the preparation alone.
It wasn't walking miles upon miles through stores searching for the perfect toy/gift/shirt/game/electronic/book for everyone in my family.
It wasn't running all over town desparate to find a pack of AA batteries to finish wrapping that must-have present.
It was: adopting 4 children in our community to give Christmas presents to. Their families are having a rough go of it this year and need some extra help giving their kids gifts. Some are fighting overseas, some are still looking for work, some just can't make it with the continuing rise in grocery and gas prices.
I'd been wanting to help some people out who were having a hard time this year and stumbling upon this opportunity felt more than right. Energy, focus and determination fell upon me - along with a burst of metabolism. What's that about?
It was again: finding out that the older children I had selected were often the last to be chosen because everyone wants to buy babies gifts and don't think 15 and 18 year old are kids anymore.
It was and will be: knowing that I may have been able to let a child, even a teenager know, that they matter and people care.
Here's to the kids of all ages.
Next in the list?
Adopting a military family from Soldier's Angels this Christmas.
I can think of nothing better than giving a soldier putting his life on the line in Afghanistan or Iraq than peace of mind that his family is being taken care of this Christmas.
If you can, or if a group of you can together, please do.