Wednesday, January 28, 2009


When Jenni was home for the holidays, we went shoe shopping. -- Hark, Is that a heavenly chorus I hear?

Yes, shoe shopping. The location was the place I refer to as the Mother Ship of Shoes. DSW. OK, the dominatrix-style shoes on the current banner of the website aren't exactly my style. On this trip I wasn't buying shoes. Shocking, I know. Jenni was the one making the purchases, and she said she needed a pair of plain black flats and plain brown pumps.


Seriously, plain?

OK, I can do this for my daughter.

After a game of "Love This One/Hate That One" (played by only me because Jenni was serious about the plain thing and was on a mission), Jenni pointed out that there is a fuzzy line between shoes I like and shoes I don't like. As I held up a pair of sparkly white Sketchers and declared that the verdict hadn't come in yet one them, I innocently said, "I don't know what you mean." (I later put the sparkly Sketchers in the "Hate That One" category, but Jenni thinks I secretly love them. )

Then I found a clearance rack of wonderful slides and sandals that all spoke to me. I went wild, "Love that one, love that one, REALLY love that one!" Jenni's eyes audibly rolled.

I pointed out that Meghan and I have similar tastes in shoes and she tries to steal them when she's home; only her feet are smaller. Yet Jenni and I have the same shoe size but our tastes don't match. She said that she likes my shoes, she just wouldn't buy them.


Anyway, with iPhone in hand, I started taking photos. Jenni asked (sarcastically), "Blog fodder?"

Why, yes, actually. Sadly, only three of them are viewable. Earthquakes seemed to have hit while taking most of them.

Jenni asked if they could have included any more animal prints in this shoe. I refer to it as "Something Unfortunate Happened At the Watering Hole."

To make this shoe, we think they swept up all of the scraps left on the floor.

This shoe photographs well. In real life, it's atrocious, but it actually looks almost good here. The blue is a satiny electric blue. It's so electric you could almost hear it sizzle and hum. And it did not cost $109.95. Those are for a a pair of boots that were actually kind of cute, but they were out of my size. *sigh*

I didn't buy any shoes that day, but did go back a week later and bought these. They go great with red trousers, or a great pair of tobacco-colored jeans.

I told you, I don't do plain. Also, I can't seem to shrink this photo. Oh well.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Update on Bialatti Mukka Expresso Maker

A little over a month ago, I posted about the annoying explosions I've experienced when I used my Bialetti Mukka Espresso maker.

Today, Williams-Sonoma sent me an e-mail entitled "Tips for Using Your Bialetti Mukka".

Some of those tips are below, with my comments in italics:

If your cappuccino or caffè latte is not hot enough:

Increase the temperature before serving by leaving the unit on the stovetop for up to one minute after the brewing and frothing are complete. (basically, let it cook longer)

Carafe overflows:

Fill water using the measuring cup (Gas water level = 1/2 Cup, Electric plate water level = 1/2 Cup + 1 tablespoon). Fill milk to milk line located just below the handle. (In other words, don't fill it so full)

If the unit leaks between the carafe and base:

Be sure the carafe is properly screwed in place, without any loose grounds obstructing the threaded connectors. (In other words, clean it)

If the carafe does not screw apart from the base:

Let the unit cool entirely or rinse it under cool water before unscrewing. If necessary, remove the pressure valve first. (Refer to the online instructions.)(OR -- ask a hunky neighbor for help.)

If cappuccino rises slowly or minimal froth is produced:

Be sure that the filter is not clogged and that the pressure valve is clean and positioned properly. (Refer to the online instructions.) Use only finely ground espresso. (In other words (1) read the instructions and (b), again, clean it)

If caffè latte has no foam:

Traditional caffè latte is brewed and poured into a cup of hot milk. By nature, it has no foam. For foam, use the setting for cappuccino. (In other words, again, read the instructions)

And yet, there is nothing about how to prevent explosions.

Maybe I should go read those instructions.

Or clean it.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Today's weather report says that our low for the day will be 26 degrees; the high will be 44 degrees.

Current temp is 18.



Friday, January 09, 2009


It's been awhile since I've ranted. Hasn't it? Well, except for the Rams. And that wasn't so much a rant as an outburst. Because, well, come on. That was a pathetic season.

But that's not today's topic.

Today's topic is the American Casserole, or what I'm beginning to refer to as "One-Dish Heart Attack." Canned soups, and canned ingredients of many kinds, seem to be the required ingredients. At some point in time, was legislation passed that all casseroles in the United States MUST include at least one condensed "cream of" soup? And that you get extra points for multiple cans of soup? Campbells obviously has one big lobby. Most casserole recipes I've read in the last several days included more than one can of "cream of" soup. Based on the recipes I've read, I have come up with a dish I will call "Southwest Chicken One-Dish Heart Attack Casserole".

Two cans cooked chicken cubes
one can of cream of chicken soup
one can of cream of mushroom soup
one can of cream of celery soup
one can of corn; drained
one can of Rotelle tomatoes
one can of button mushrooms, drained;
8 oz sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
one 8 oz block of velveeta cheese
one pound elbow macaroni; uncooked
buttered bread crumbs mixed with 1/2 cup of that parmesan cheese crap that comes in that skinny green can
one package of tortilla chips.
Don't even think of using salt because there's enough sodium in this already to cause you to stroke out.

Mix together all ingredients except for the tortilla chips. Place in well buttered casserole dish (because this dish just screams for more fat). Sprinkle with bread crumbs/cheese mixture. Bake at 350 for 1/2 hour or until the ingredients start to ooze to the surface. Sprinkle tortilla chips on top and bake another 5 minutes. Serve with a side of Lipitor. NOTE: This recipe has not been kitchen tested, and probably shouldn't be.

I am in search of a GOOD casserole recipe for a church event and am desirous of one that has fresh ingredients. So far, I'm finding recipes featuring canned and gloopy stuff. Ingredients that would make Paula Dean's diamonds sparkle with excitement and are worthy of one of Sandra Lee's cocktails served on one of her horrendous tablescapes.

Nearly desperate, I started searching cassoulets, knowing how the French abhor canned anything. MUCH better. And really fairly easy. I just need to find a duck.

So why is it that so many people seem to think that opening a can of this and throwing it in with a can of that is easier than chopping a couple of ingredients and adding to a bechamel sauce and topping with grated gruyere cheese? The term "Bechamel sauce" may sound intimidating, but it is merely a white sauce made by adding scalded milk to a roux made of flour and butter. I use skimmed milk and the amount of butter for a casserole serving 8 is minimal. A couple of years ago, my mom mentioned how much she likes my green bean casserole. My sister asked what I did that made it special. Mom said that I made it from scratch. Sis paused and blinked and said, "Isn't it already a scratch recipe?"

THAT'S what I'm getting at! Opening cans instead of thawing out a Swanson dish is NOT making something from scratch. (I must be fair and point out that my sister makes her own greeting cards. I don't. I cook from scratch, she does greeting cards from scratch. Different strokes)

I am going to make the cassoulet for a family dinner; but for the church event, I'm going to make a chicken and rice casserole that features the dreaded canned gloop; BUT! BUT -- I will be substituting a bechamel sauce kicked up with cayenne pepper and nutmeg for the gloop and will be using all fresh ingredients; just to show that it can be done. And that my garbage can won't fill up as fast as it would using all of that canned crap.

Interestingly, one of the cassoulets I found was a recipe called "Easy Cassoulet Casserole". I suppose it's served with a cup of chai tea.

But that's a rant for another day.