The Ripsnorter Post

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The other day when W asked me what I was doing I told him I had to go see what my space people were up to.  How’s that for a ripsnorter of an answer.

“Ripsnorter” was the word of the day last whatever day it was, I can’t remember and it doesn’t matter, but it stuck in my head because my dad used to like that word to describe something he thought was particularly great.  Or terrible.  Or bizarre.  I liked the “ripsnorter of a storm” nights when he woke everyone up and herded us all downstairs into the living room where we waited for one of our big old maple trees to be struck by lightning and crash through our roof.  Best not to be on the top floor if that happened.

I think he might have called my sister Ann a little ripsnorter when she would jump into the pig pen with the dog making him bark and move the pigs around, generally causing mayhem in an enclosed space. It’s a wonder she didn’t get trampled.  She has calmed down a lot since then.

We have had such a mild and pleasant winter until just lately when the temperatures decided to plummet.  And I mean plummet in a completely ripsnorter-y fashion.  I am wearing big socks and a hoodie and drinking hot coffee mostly to warm up my hands.  Even turned up the heat at one point.  And I’ve hauled out my winter coat.  I think old bones feel the cold more intensely.

Or perhaps physical inactivity is a contributing factor, for example, sitting under a blanket watching multiple episodes of “Dark Matter” on Netflix and having a hard time remembering what the series is called and referring to it as a space show.  With space people.  They all woke up from stasis on their space ship with their memories erased.  Sort of like I feel some mornings before getting out of bed. What day is it?  Why am I singing “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence” in my head?  Why is this floor so damned cold??

The best character is an android. I love her. She has ridiculous hair.  It’s a ripsnorter of a hair do.

Also i am busy doing some Christmas baking even though I can’t eat any of it.  The fudge is done and also some rolled up concoction consisting mainly of chocolate and mini marshmallows and coconut which my kids once named the Christmas turds before they were unwrapped and sliced in to more appetizing cookie like shapes.

Shortbread today I think.  Then some butter tarts.  I came across a recipe for cranberry meatballs so I tried those last night.  Kind of sickeningly sweet, so maybe more of an hors d’œuvre than a main dish.  And this year I am going to make some kind of a steamed pudding and make everyone try some.  That’s the one thing I miss from my childhood Christmases.  Being absolutely stuffed but still digging into a plate of hot Christmas pudding covered in a rich butter and brown sugar sauce.

Neither my kids nor W liked it so I quit making it.  My moms version was the ripsnorter one for sure but I will make one less like a Christmas cake and tell them it’s something called sticky toffee pudding cake.  ‘Tis the season to be cunning and devious.  I love how steamed pudding makes the kitchen smell and steams up the windows, which will turn to ice which will make W freak out.

He has ripsnorter freak outs.  He will vehemently deny this, but its true.  After my baking I will be tired and grumpy so I’m looking forward to my space people having way worse lives than I do cheering me up.

In other unrelated non-holiday news, I have gone for my pulmonary breathing test from hell where I had to wear a clothes pin thing on my nose and mouth breathe into a tube for 30 minutes in various strange ways as instructed by some guy who has a very weird job for sure.  I will venture out into the cold again tomorrow to get some shopping done.  Less than two weeks to go.

Hope you’re having a ripsnorter of a December.  Stay warm.

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Number Eleven in the Book of Days

Why does December always seem to go blasting by us like a rocket ship on crack?  Not that I’ve ever seen one of those, but it’s the eleventh already?  Really?

Gingerbread

Gingerbread (Photo credit: Stuck in Customs)

Today was another very productive day for me at work where I compiled several long lists of things I have to get done in the next 14 days.  The gifts are pretty much finished (YAY!!) and now we’re on to ingredients for things that I just might get around to making, if I have the ingredients.  I try to bake shortbread cookies and butter tarts, and make at least one pan of fudge.  And that’s it, because the adults complain that they shouldn’t be eating any of those things.  (They also complain if they’re missing.)  And it’s best not to have an unlimited supply of sweet stuff and risk having the kids go into a sugar coma.

I even got around to doing some menu planning and thinking about kid activities like building a gingerbread house and making a fruit punch.  (To which the rest of us can add copious amounts of vodka after they go to bed.)  And that reminds me that we have to take a trip to the liquor store and make some kind of educated guess as to how much red wine grandma will need to make it through the holidays.

Here’s some great music to do your Christmas baking by – but I’ll warn you now, it will make you want to add a dash or two of Jamaica Rum to your gingerbread.

Cookery Advice for the Cooking Impaired

Timer

Timer (Photo credit: bargainmoose)

All the delightful cooking/baking/recipe-laden posts out there which should have an uplifting and inspirational effect on me are just not doing that.  Instead they’re making me feel mildly despondent and vaguely depressed.  Similar feelings of inadequacy wash over me when I flip through a cookbook full of glossy pictures of perfect end results, supposedly attainable by someone like me.  Of course that ‘someone like me’ would have to be able to follow directions and use the proper ingredients and not take short cuts.  Or suffer from delusions.

There are a few recipe books in my house which I rarely open.  And yet, there are many things I make that are nutritious and edible.  Some of them are even delicious.  People have asked me for my recipes.  Perhaps they were just being kind.  It doesn’t matter.  My point is, you’d think that after over 50 years of doing stuff in a kitchen I’d be a great source of information and have collected a lot of family heirloom type recipes and have a few priceless and wise cooking tips to share.

Well, I’ve let my sister be the keeper of the recipes since I never follow them anyway.  But I do have tips.  All gleaned from my culinary experiences of learning things the hard way.  And not being an expert on something has certainly never stopped me from sharing advice.  So here it is.

1.  Do not change your mind about what you’re making halfway through the process.  Once I was putting together a lazy cabbage rolls concoction in the crock pot and suddenly didn’t feel like eating rice so I left it out and threw in some beans and things instead, hoping to change the whole thing into chili.  The results were interesting.  But hard to describe.

2.  Set the kitchen timer.  Stay within hearing distance of the timer.  Do not second guess the timer.  The timer was invented so that you would be less likely to end up with results which are black – never a good cooking color.

3.  Keep the oven clean.  If you paid for the self-cleaning feature, you really should learn how to use it.  The next thing you bake does not have to smell like a smoky version of the last thing you roasted to death.

4.  Never skimp on wine, regardless of what you’re making.  Be sure to consume a sufficient amount of it.  I’ve found a good ratio to be 1 part recipe to 3 parts self.  An empty bottle should be your ultimate goal.

5.  Serve your guests copious amounts of alcohol before the main course.  And during, and after.  This ups the odds that they will thoroughly enjoy whatever you serve them and have no idea later what it was.

6.  If you are following a recipe, right to the end, good for you!  Just keep in mind that substitution of ingredients should not be based solely on color.  All orange things are not created equal.

7.  Give yourself a break and stop trying to make Aunt Edna’s mustard pickle relish exactly the way she did it.  Try to accept the fact that it is never going to be the same, and you are doomed to failure.  Unless you have some kind of obsessive compulsive glutton for punishment personality disorder, in which case I suppose no one can stop you, so carry on.

8.  If you don’t know how to skin a hazelnut, there is no shame in googling it to find out.  Although perhaps your basic problem has less to do with HOW,  and more to do with WHY you need to know that.

9.  Clean as you go.  This cannot be stressed enough, especially if something monumental like A Big Holiday Dinner is in the works.  The worst cooking experience I ever had was when my kids were small and we invited some other families over for a big meal and it took me all day to prepare everything,  less than half an hour for them to eat it all, and all bloody night to clean up the mess.  So wash things as you use them and put them away.  Especially those sharp knives.

Mongolian Beef with rice and noodles

Mongolian Beef with rice and noodles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

10.  Have fun.  Be creative.  Try new things.  Keep that recycle compost bin ever at the ready.  It can swallow up a lot of failed attempts even when you can’t.  Toss things in a slow cooker and hope for the best.  When all else fails, take-out chinese is just around the corner waiting to soothe your battle weary culinary soul.

Name that Cookie

 

Name your favorite type of cookie.

Huh. Here’s a topic that might spark more interest. “Name the kind of cookies that Jesus likes.”

And before anyone decides to accuse me of being rude and blasphemous, I could quite possibly be referring to my friend ‘hey-seuss’. Who shall remain anonymous and imaginary but I’m just sayin’.

I’m leaning strongly towards oatmeal date, because 2000 years ago there were probably not a lot of cookie recipes floating around in the desert, never mind ingredients and ovens and cookie sheets and cutters shaped like zoo animals. But my reasons of course don’t matter, since the prompt wants me simply to ‘name’ something. No explanation necessary. No deep thought required.

Just give me something big and chewy and loaded with sugar, named George, for all I care. That should shut me up until tomorrow.

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