Better get going if we're going to stay ahead of the weather...

Last night, hubby and I were delivering orders from a Southern Living At Home party I threw earlier this month... Of course, we choose the first real wintry day to do so. I can't complain much, we have had a very mild November. And this was our first real snowfall of the year. We've been lucky. However, a 40 degree drop in 2 days doesn't give you much of a chance to acclimate. It was 5 F when we were delivering last night, -7 F when I woke up this morning and about 2 F right now. I'm betting hubby wishes he hung the Christmas lights this weekend when it was 40F.

All day long I hear from various people I'd talk to "It's cold out there today". Which makes me want to start quoting Groundhog Day... Every time someone said it, these lines would play through my mind...

DJ 1: All right, campers, rise and shine! — and don't forget your booties 'cause it's cooooooold out there today.
DJ 2: It's cold out there everyday. What is this, Miami Beach?
DJ 1: Not hardly!


So, if I start quoting Groundhog Day, blame it on the weather...

Evolution

My friends and I are particularly fond of a wine called Evolution from Sokol Blosser winery in Oregon. It's soooooo smooth and easy to drink, that you have several glasses down before you know it.

So, for the cocktail party/drink fest, I had 1 1/2 bottles, bought 2 more, 2 other people brought 3 more bottles between the 2 of them. We had 6 1/2 total for the evening, along with an assortment of other wines. After about 3 hours, approx 4 people give or take a glass or two finished off the 6 1/2 bottles and more would have gone if we had it.

Every year after the party, my hubby makes a list of what we ran out of or are almost out of. He put all the alcohol on the list, and added Evolution to the bottom with a note "(Buy by the case next year)"

"Now Everyone is More Important"

Ok, I thought I was doing him a favor...

My hubby wants green bean casserole with Thanksgiving dinner, and since it always gets all gloppy, and is really high in sodium, I told him I was going to try a few substitute recipes and see if he likes any of them better as a replacement.

So then after watching too much FoodTV Thanksgiving Specials last week, I told him that Alton Brown said that the only acceptable Green Bean Casserole is the one with all the French Fried Onions and Cream of Mushroom Soup. So I thought about it and figured all the sodium on one day shouldn't kill him and I was going to make his Green Bean Casserole. I thought I was doing something nice for him... I was wrong.

Instead he says it's not enough that he wants it, I have to listen to the opinion of a chef instead... and that it's not just the whole world wide web that's more important, now everyone is.

*sigh*

Oh well, I was trying to be nice... By serving him high-sodium glop...

Christmas Shopping Already?

Ok, normally I'm fairly creative and at least have some ideas as to what to get adults for Christmas. This year, I have nothing, nada, zilch, zip, zero... Kids are easy, plop a bit of cheap plastic in wrapping paper and they writhe in delight upon opening. (Actually, no cheap plastic this year, too many toy recalls are freaking me out!  Books and the like for all of them.)

I don't think my hubby would be too thrilled to open a box of nothing Christmas morning... "It's um... quarks... from um... the planet um... Pluto..." And of course, I'd be caught in a lie, because well, we all know Pluto isn't a planet.

My hubby is an Electrical Engineer, so when I look at lists they tend to be the "Gifts for Geeks" type lists. Problem with this, as anyone married to a tech geek knows, is that these tech geeks do research.

They don't want just any gadget, they want this brand, this model, with this and this and this option in this color. And they know this because they did a gazillion hours of research to figure out which one they want.

And well asking for all those specs while scribbling furiously is just a little too obvious.

So unless you are super-crafty and discrete and can get him to give you all the specs above without him knowing it, you will inevitably get the look when they open the gift.

The look is really a 3 for 1 deal, you get the "This Is Awesome" look followed by the "Quizzical Analyzing Specs" look followed by the "Not Quite Right, I Wonder If I Can Exchange It Without Her Noticing" look.

This look is also commonly seen after a gift of tools...

Apple Galette

Ever since I saw this Apple Galette at Angry Chicken, I've been wanting to make one. Since I had a TON of apples, well more like 8-9 lbs, I finally threw some spiced apples together for canning and used some of them to make one. This is an easy substitute for an apple pie, when you want a pie without all the hassle of a perfect crust and sealing the top and bottom crusts together. Simple, but just as tasty.

For a Galette Pie Crust, you want enough for about 1 1/2 pie crusts. This is a basic pie crust, yielding a great flaky crust. To make this quick, I use my food processor, however you can use your fingers, two knives, or a pastry blender to cut in the butter.

Apple Galette

Apple Galette
INGREDIENTS

Crust:
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, cut into Tbsp sized pieces
ice cold water

2-3 cups Spiced Apples

DIRECTIONS
Mix together flour, sugar and salt (Pulse twice if using FP)
Add butter, toss in the flour to separate, cut in butter into flours mixture until butter is in pea-sized pieces (Pulse 5-8 times if using FP)
Drizzle in ice cold water 1 Tbsp at a time, until just moistened and sticking together, usually 4-5 Tbsps (Pulse after each Tbsp)
Lay out a sheet of plastic wrap, and pour on dough bits
Form dough into ball in center using the plastic wrap to pull it together.
Pat down to about 1 - 1 1/2" round
Let rest 20 minutes in the refrigerator
Lightly dust surface with flour and roll out dough into circle (adding as little flour as possible, but enough to keep it from sticking)
Transfer dough to circular pizza pan or stoneware circle
Fill center with Spiced Apples about 3/4" thick, leaving about 1 1/2" crust at the outer edge
Fold the outer crust with no filling on it up over the Spiced Apples
Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until crust is lightly brown.

1 party down, 2 to go

For the past 2 years in the middle of December, we throw a cocktail party. This year it will be next Saturday, so I have to start planning a menu. Figuring out what mixers we need. I made nice little elegant looking PDF invites...

Cocktail party, you say?

Are you imagining wine and quiche and women in cocktail dresses?

Reality:
Yeah, there's a little of that. There is about 10-15 wine types/brands, 3-4 beer options... oh, and about 75-100 bottles of different liquor types, combined with webtender.com's In My Bar feature and the Pick A Random Drink option.

That's the reality.

By the end of the night most people have sampled about 15-20 half shot sized portions of who knows what...

This year I'm going to actually make an effort to keep track of what we try.

Usually by the time my 5th shot comes around I don't really care anymore anyway.

Then we have the annual tasting of the Brennivin, an extremely strong Icelandic Schnapps. Those new to the party that year get the honor of tasting it first. There will be a few grimaces to look forward to.

Last year they decided to scour the list and only sample the drinks with at least mildly offensive names. I have to say I kinda liked the "Duck Fart".

The whole web is more important?

I was trying to figure out ratios for my Balsamic Vinaigrette for Kitchen Comforts and asked hubby for a little taste testing assistance.

What was I thinking?

First of all, I'm a dump cook, I don't measure things out. However, for this foray into food blogging, I have to try to be better about amounts. I have to give verifiable quantities, not a pinch, dash, bit, smidgen, shake, etc. So, I had my measuring spoons out.

Second of all, I'm a dump cook, I don't measure things out. This drives my hubby crazy when he's helping, as I tell him to add a pinch of this, a dash of that...

Well, I was adding more honey and since I had to keep track of how much, I added another tsp.

"You're using a measuring spoon?"

"I have to, so I can give amounts for the recipe."

"You never give me real amounts."

"It's different, I can watch what you are doing, and see whether it's right."

"So the whole web is more important than me?"

"It's a dressing, I have to give right amounts or it won't taste right"

"So the whole web is more impor..."

As I stuff a piece of bread soaked in vinaigrette in his mouth...


For the record, I still didn't get the vinaigrette quite right. It's much easier to gauge just the right squeeze of mustard, it just didn't look right sitting in the teaspoon.

Hot Mamas Know



Ok, I'm sure some of you are wondering what that last Hot Mamas Post was all about. It was getting late and with no explanation I interrupt our regular programming to jump in talking about body oil and scrubs. So, here's the scoop.

Jen over at Absolutely Bananas has come up with a way for women (real women!) to share their beauty secrets. What works, hopefully even some of what doesn't so we don't all make the same mistakes. I love this idea and will be posting my favorite beauty tips on the 1st of every month, along with lots of other women. Click on the Hot Mamas Know graphic to find all the tips and learn more. Hopefully, I'll be able to get my hands on some of the recommended items, not always easy in ND. What would a girl do without the internet?

Oh, and next month there will be an EXTRA SPECIAL Hot Mamas Know PARTY GLAMOUR edition, woohoo!

Velvety Soft Hands



I go through this routine about once a week and just love the way it makes my hands feel. A similar oil, scrub, cleanser routine was used on me during a manicure, and I just adapted it to use products I could find easily.

I douse my hands well with Neutrogena Body Oil, it's a light sesame oil.


Then I put about a dime sized about of body scrub in the palm of my hands and massage my hands thoroughly, especially my cuticles and nail beds. St. Ives Apricot Scrub is easy to find just about anywhere, I use Clinique 7 Day Scrub Cream Rinse-Off Formula.


I rinse this combination off and lather with whatever moisturizing body wash or soap I have handy, usually Oil of Olay or Dove Body Wash.

Of course, don't forget to moisturize your hands daily as well. This is especially important in the winter months.

Tuesday in the Nursery: Janie & Jack

I love Janie and Jack's clothes for children. I've been very happy with the quality and the details. My husband likes that you can buy from the same collection and not worry about whether it matches. Purely guessing, but they seem to come out with 35-45 new collections each year rotating with the seasons. At any given time you can pick your favorite of about 7-8 collections for girls or boys and 2-3 for layette. These numbers are purely estimates based on what I've seen over the last 12-18 months. Their newest layette collections are called Little Penguins and are just adorable.