Dec 28, 2010

 
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Beam me up, Scotty!

tags: rant
For the third time in as many years, we are moving. This is so much not fun I don't even know where to begin. I swear, I'm at the point where if someone gave me the perfect house I'd be like, you know what, just keep it.

The thing is, it's not like I'm not excited about moving. I truly hate the house we are currently renting. It's a long story, but we were moving states (that sort of makes it sound like Liquid -> Solid, but what I mean is: Oregon -> Arizona) last year and had to rent a place online. Can you say: bait and switch? Or: lying jackass managment company? The pictures online? Beautiful. The house we moved into? Rathole with the bogs of Mordor in the backyard. So yeah, we pretty much decided we wouldn't stay longer than a year the week we moved in. The new place is nice, clean, almost double the size, lovely pool, a hot tub... I have such an enormous dining room I've already called dibs on Thanksgiving next year (and don't kid yourself, I've even started menu planning) - so really, I'm looking forward to this.

Or, I guess I should say, I'm looking forward to already being there. The whole packing my stuff up and moving it? Not so much. We sign the lease in 2 days and I haven't packed one box yet. I haven't even thought about it except to think about how much I don't want to do it. I could really use a transporter about now. Beam my crap over Scotty! Please?
 

Dec 24, 2010

 
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Maybe if I'm a good girl...

Santa will leave a Star Trek Enterprise Pizza Cutter in my christmas stocking?

(Or young Kirk. I would be fine with that too.)
 

Dec 23, 2010

 
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Garlic Rosemary Rolls



I've been making these Garlic and Rosemary Cloverleaf Rolls for a couple years now and they have never failed me. I don't particularly think they are any more time consuming than any other bread-thing you might make, unless it somehow bums you out to spend an hour roasting garlic.

I follow the recipe almost exactly - except (this is me we're talking about) I double the garlic, and on the rare occasion I use dried rosemary, I double that too. As a result of the extra garlic I find the dough needs more flour - I'd guess I use probably 3 1/2 - 4 cups. Honestly, I don't measure beyond the first 3 cups, I just do that whole add flour by the spoonful as the Kitchen Aid mixer is doing it's thang, til the dough clears the bottom of the bowl. It's a little tacky when I pull it out, but nothing that isn't solved by the first rise.

Also, I don't know, I guess because I'm lazy, I don't baste them with butter before I bake them, instead I add about 1 1/2 teaspoons of dry milk to the dough when I'm mixing it, and that sort of makes everything evenly brown.

Apparently these freeze well, which I've never tried - but to save myself time come holiday season, I do bake them about 2 days in advance, and toss them in the fridge. Then on feast day I wrap them in aluminum foil and reheat at 375 for about 10 minutes.
 

Dec 21, 2010

 
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Who makes the pierogi? I make the pierogi!



My mother is not fond of cooking. Which is not to say that she isn't good at it, just that she'd rather not. So it might seem odd then that she's the one who always hosts Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, your birthday, his birthday, etc... It's not because no one else will, in fact you pretty much have to fight her to host it yourself.

In any case, now that we live in the same state, I try to take some of the pressure off her, and while I have yet to have any success at wrestling a holiday out of her hands, I do make about 30% of any given feast and truck it over to her house. Which leads me to the pierogi...

See, mom's mom, well, I don't know if she loved to cook, but she was certainly awesome at it. Not awesome like gourmet chef awesome, awesome like Polish Grandma awesome. So every holiday, mom's kitchen split personality emerges, in that on one hand she complains about cooking, while on the other she laments that she never learned how to make any of the dishes that her mom made.

Now one would think that growing up with Grandma she would have just absorbed some of this knowledge, but it apparently it didn't work that way. Also, there's no, like, Long Lost Grandma Cookbook because she didn't have one. She never wrote a recipe down, never read one, never ripped one out of a magazine. I don't think she even owned a cookbook. She never measured anything, she just tossed stuff in a bowl, mixed it up with her trusty wooden spoon, and viola! feast. So there is no recipe for grandma's pierogi or sauerkraut, or kolachky, or nalesniki, or that plum cake thing she made, or whatever the hell that stuffed cabbage thing was called.

There are many differences between me and mom, but with respect to this post the main one is this: I LOVE TO COOK. And as I mentioned, I try to make things a little easier on her by at least taking care of veggie main dishes (I'm the only vegetarian in the gene pool), and various side dishes, and bread, as I like to bake too. I mean, seriously, why eat those crack-the-can crescent rolls when you can make your own?

No really, I'm getting to the pierogi. Here we go.

It's a couple days before Christmas and we're going over who is making what. Oh, I just want it to be easy, she says. Don't worry mom, I'll make those garlic rosemary dinner rolls you like, and sure, no problem, I can make a couple sides, so on and so forth. And then it hits me: when grandma was alive, and she was the host, there was no such thing as dinner without pierogi. So I think to myself: I'll surprise mom!

Off to The Goole I go. And what I discovered in dough recipe after dough recipe was sour cream. Please. I may not have grandma's kitchen IQ, but I know she never used sour cream. This is a woman who started life in the Ukraine, got shushed around Europe during WWII, eventually landed in Germany, and then left for the US after the war. I don't think she had electricity or running water most of the time, much less sour cream. But she always had pierogi.

So, trying to be as Authentically Grandma as possible, I turn to my Treasured Polish Recipes For Americans cookbook, which I picked up in Chicago in a previous life, and have giggled at often, but never used. The dough recipe in that book is much more grandma-like: flour, eggs, water, salt. PERFECT. Grandma's fillings were: potato, sauerkraut, cheese and plum, so I chose the first two and sort of made it up from there, trying to keep everything as simple as possible, because that's how grandma would have done it.

SUCCESS. I nailed that pierogi on the first try. I knew it before I even plopped it into boiling water just by the smell of the dough. And suddenly I remembered being a little-elle in her kitchen, I remembered the juice glass she used to make the dough circles, her giant mixing bowl, her wooden spoon, her rolling pin.

So now I have a freezer full of pierogi which I will take to mom on Christmas day. I guess I will truly be able to say I nailed it (or not) when I see the look on her face, but I have a feeling all will end well...
 

Dec 19, 2010

 
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Meat-tasic Christmas

I've been a vegetarian for 20+ years. I don't expect anyone to cater to me. I don't roll my eyes, or wrinkle my nose, or sigh loudly, or lecture. If the only thing I can eat is potatoes, then I just eat the potatoes. It's not like I'm going to starve to death.

That said (rant on) I know from experience that 20+ years ago when I said "I'm a vegetarian" people looked at me like I had a 3rd arm growing out of my head. Today, however, I'm more likely to get: "Oh, my (sister, brother, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, mom, best friend, roommate, neighbor, girlfriend, boyfriend, I) is/am too!" So I found it just a little bit surprising that I went to TWO Christmas parties this weekend that were both straight up, top to bottom, 100%, all out, meat fiestas. I mean, like, not even a piece of lettuce. Come on people, it's 2010. (/rant off)

(Ok, I never said I couldn't roll my eyes, or wrinkle my nose, or sigh loudly, or lecture on my own blog. Also, there were saltines at the first party.)
 
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