Tuesday, October 31, 2006

An Open Letter to the Kids in My Neighborhood

60. Number of full size candy bars at the ready.
2. Number of occupants on Halloween stand-by at Casa Splatgirl.
1. Number of enthusiastic dogs ready to help pass out friendly greetings.

0. Number of tricker treaters that showed up to claim the Casa Splatgirl booty.

Dear children: You should know, had you bothered to show up...any of you, that you would have received not one but TWO FULL SIZE CANDYBARS. That's right. You missed it. Bigtime. And now Halloween is over, and I have this shitload of regular old kid-friendly candy bars that I don't know what to do with and will most certainly end up eating myself, whereby rendering me fat and crabby and impatient. Keep this in mind should you ever decide to show up for Halloween in the future.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Busy with the Boy

The furry one, that is. There have been walks and outs and rides in the car aplenty, and all seems to be pretty well in dog world. Aside from completely refusing to set foot on the stairs, that is. We discovered on one of our walks to the coffee shop that he's perfectly fine with other kinds of stairs, seemingly regardless of height or number, so I guess there's something about those inside our house that he disagrees with.

Friday my pal Knit-Whit came over to meet The Pup and we enjoyed a lovely sunny afternoon knitting and chatting. Never being one to let another critter steal the show, M-Ah was there to help, too!

I managed to finish the body of my Noni Bobbles Bag and got a start on the bajillion bobbles. She, crazed knitter that she is, finished almost an entire Fiber Trends clog! Aside from the excellent company, another highlight of the afternoon was the arrival of the FedEx truck with a package from my candyswap partner! I squealed with delight when I realized what it was...two fabulously amazing bars of chocolate from MarieBelle.

It doesn't get much more fantastic-er than that! Thanks Andrea! A better Halloween treat has not been had, EVER!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

What's for Dinner Doggie?

First, the promised Duck a l'orange, with smashed potatos and sauteed spinach with garlic. This was the first time I've made duck. I followed the very straightforward recipe exactly and it was delicious. The sauce was perfect and a tasty compliment to both the meat and the potatos. We each enjoyed a leg and a breast, leaving plenty more to reincarnate into other deliciousness tomorrow which I'm looking forward to. Try it with chicken if the duck thing is too much for you...

Thanks to everyone for sharing our enthusiasm and excitement over New Boy. His homeboy name is Mast, his racing name was Center Mass. We're considering giving him a more charming nickname but so far nothing that seems suitable has popped up so I guess we'll stick to Mast for now. He's just celebrated his third birthday, and he's still a little gaunt at ~80lbs. In an extremely weird coincidence, he happens to share the same birthdate as #1 Boy. Kind of freaky, doncha think? He came to us via Northern Lights Grehyounds and we're looking forward to a long and fun-filled life with him! So far he's most enthralled with the mirrored closet doors (and being so dang handsome, can you blame him for wanting to admire himself?). And on the flip side, the stairs and the glass floor are the biggest drool and pant inducing features of residential life.

Here's dear M-Ah, probably wondering what she did to deserve this and why it's gotta involve her favorite crash pad...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


At long last, the new Boy!

The Boy ratio has gone up and we are now proud parents of a retired greyhound. We adore him already!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

There Will be a Slight Delay

The good news is the What's for Dinner Wednesday menu is planned.
The main:
Duck A L'orange, probably with rice and some sauteed or steamed veg of some sort.
The slightly bad news is this weeks' Casa Splatgirl WFDW will be taking place on Thursday so that we might, maybe, *possibly* be bringing you a special delivery tomorrow.
Here is your one and only clue, and nary a word more shall be uttered about it by me until I have further photographic and physical evidence of said thing, if it EVER happens, because this has been a totally jacked up situation from the get go, much to my pissed-offed-ness and basically, I'll believe it when I see it.

Rumor has it Knit-Whit has some fab eats on the dockett for her WFDW.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Late Night Treatie Crafting

It seems like I get more done between the hours of 8pm and midnight than I do the entire rest of the day...

Pumpkin sugar cookies with royal icing. Happy Fall!!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

In A Pattern of Cooking

I was all poised in front of the TV yesterday in plenty of time to catch the second episode of Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie, unlike last week when I had been awaiting the premier for a month, planned to be home on Saturday morning and even had the TV on and then forgot to watch it because I was too busy vacuuming or something. Ugh. Anyway, yesterday I was parked on the couch nice and early and also caught America's Test Kitchen, another public television show that I really enjoy but rarely remember to tune in to. They happened to be making sticky buns...one of my favorite things and I just coudn't shake the idea of hot, yummy rolls for breakfast.

I baked these up last night and we enjoyed them with omlettes this morning. They are delicious, although I have to disagree that they are the perfect sticky bun. I'm not crazy about the sweetness and extremely soft texture of the dough but they were pretty quick and easy in comparison to some of the recipes I've tried. Regardless, it's worth a once-over for sure. Registration is required to view or print the recipe but there's a lot of other useful information to make it worth your while.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Fishermans Shrug

As you can see, it's finished.
What you can't see is how weird it looks on. I'm not sure I can wear it.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Last Nights' Dinner

Pina Colada Mojito. File under: delicious drink recipes to make again. Boy's verdict: "yea, I could get drunk on these."
(note that the recipe has you making them in martini-sized portions which is retarded, IMO, because they're not at all excessively alcohol-laden. This glass was completely full with ice before pouring but it's still about three recipes' worth)

Roasted Pork Tacos with Mole
The unknown: The quality or authenticity of this mole recipe. It's the first one I've made, but not the first I've eaten.
The established: I didn't like this one.
After a taco or two I decided I'd be enjoying them more without the sauce. And considering the sauce is pretty much the point, this recipe is going in the trash. It's just plain weird tasting and it looked a lot like baby poop which pretty much matches my opinion of its' author since way back anyway. The roast pork was ok, but the minimal pre-roasting treatments didn't do much of anything for the overall flavor of the meat which, IMO, is a problem when the finished dish has so few ingredients. I think there are much better techniques that can be applied to a cut of meat like shoulder or butt that requires a long cooking time to achieve tenderness. In fact, after dinner I remembered a recipe in my file that has the shoulder being braised with beer that is fabulous. Next time I'll use that one...

So, another interesting WFDW. Let's hope for a winner next week!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Revisiting Paint Hell

Soon to be red, perhaps evident by the chips stuck to the wall:

Since I seem to be incapable of choosing the perfect color for the one remaining monster wall, I figured I'd move on to something quicker and easier to make a decision about and this week that happens to be the foyer. Of course it's another intense, multi-coat color, but I'm only going to do the wall with the door (and all the windows, yikes) and one wall downstairs.

I'm hard at work roasting the pork shoulder (in my new LeCreuset!) for tonights' Whats For Dinner Wednesday. I've already made the mole sauce and I gotta say I think it's a little weird tasting at this point...not like other mole I've had. I'm waiting to taste it in context with the meat, queso and lime before I commit to anything, however. Is it too early for a Pina Colada Mojito??

Are you ready for the Project Runway finale? I'm crazy with anticipation! I don't have a real favorite (gasp! I know!) because I think each of the designers are fantastic within the context of their individual styles. I really just can't wait to see all of the collections but I'm also so sad that it's going to be over!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Balancing Act

This is Angela providing the entertainment at Saturdays' dinner party. She cultivated the railing walk several years ago in our rambler, where the stakes were rather low given the nice soft carpet and short drop. While I will agree that the railing in our new house is quite a bit more accomodating of kitty walking, the potential for it to go horribly wrong is also quite a bit higher. And Angela isn't getting any younger.
Or skinnier.
Or more spry.
So we watched her act with our breath held (Boy and I especially, since we know she hasn't been practicing much), hoping a misstep wouldn't cause her to turn our torilla soup into kitty soup and ruin an otherwise lovely meal.

I have nothing much more at the moment but rumor does have it there are some extremely exciting developments on deck at Casa Splatgirl.
Today I spent at Boy's mom's house playing plumber. Her new Silestone countertops were being installed and I had to put in the fixtures and hook everything up once the counters were in. They're gorgeous, and I must say she has pretty darn good taste for an old Minnesota girl. Had I been thinking instead of in a fog from having to get up WAY too early and spend rush hour on the road, I would have remembered to bring my camera and been able to show you the fruits of my few hours spent on my knees under the sink. I'm going to be tiling her backsplash so hopefully I'll remember to get some pictures when that happens.

I've gotten the official memo from Boy regarding his pick for this weeks' What's for Dinner Wednesday:
Roasted Pork Tacos with Mole
and my addition:
Pina Colada Mojito

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Kitty Stew

For some reason I've had an unusually busy last few days but without much to show for it. In fact, I can't even identify what has been accomplished, but I know I've been doing something!

Since the arrival of furniture, (or at least seating options, not to imply that the house is in any way "furnished") we've gradually been getting back into the entertaining groove we so enjoyed prior to beginning work on making the house baby. So we had guests for dinner last night and had a nice time catching up and sitting down beside friends we've gone way too long without hanging out with. Anyway, for me the food star of the meal which included Tortilla Soup (one of my stand-by's) and Green Chili and Monterey Jack Quesadillas, was a dessert recipe, Pumpkin Bread Pudding. As I explained to Ms. Knit-Whit, it's warm, smushy, spicy carmeley dessert sex, and I know that now for sure because I even dreamed about it last night. And despite the fact that I am rather Republican when it comes to holiday foods, I believe my new lover will be taking the place of pumpkin pie on my Thanksgiving menu.

I also received the most fabulous non-motorycycle related housewarming gift EVER. Coincidentally, it's one of the things that was topping my list of kitchen wants:

I think I can hear you oohing and aahing from here! I'm so exicited to use it, and it's the perfect compliment to the season and my new cooking resolution. Thank you dear friend!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Dough Time

Our recent cold, wet and generally ishy weather spoke "bread" to me today, at least long enough to interrupt itself from saying "couch", "blanket" and "book", which have been the major activities of note.
Since I needed to replenish my freezer stash and I wanted something that would leave me with dinner possibilities for later, I decided on pizza crust. Consulting my favorite stand-by, the Joy of Cooking, I used the pizza crust recipe found there, substituting Italian-Style Flour for AP, and made a double batch...better to stuff the freezer with, you know?
Continuing on what seems to be a recurring circle-shaped-food-with apple theme around here, crust number one:

This is a round of dough topped with sliced Brie and Honeycrisp apple, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with chopped fresh rosemary, salt and pepper. Perhaps this is better described as pizza but I'll just describe it as yum. I think Honeycrisp may be the pefect apple pairingfor Brie. Sweet enough to be complimentary to the sutbleness of the cheese but acid enough to cut the richness a bit.

Crust number two was the result of my discovery that I had some spare baby portobello mushrooms standing by in the fridge. And having been informed earlier that I was to be sans Boy the Mushroom Hater for the evening, fungi-centric food seemed like the perfect little naughy home alone indulgence...

This is sauteed mushroom, shallot and shaved parmesan with a sprinkling of fresh thyme and pepper.

Boy would have hated them both :)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

WFDW, the Porn:

Chili Roasted Game Hen with Jalapeno Orange Glaze (from Bon Appetit...sorry no link) served on a bed of Spinach and Rice with Lemon (link in previous post)

Delicious, although game hens are too much work to eat. I'll definitely use this recipe again because the glaze and sauce are delicious and easy, but next time I'll do it with a chicken breast instead. The rice dish was fab. Quick, easy and very tasty. Plus it looks nice with the bright green of the sauteed spinach.
For dessert, the tart

I think this is a more elegant and interesting version of a simple apple tart that still provides that satisfying comfort-foodishness. The crust with the nuts embedded in it looks and tastes really good, and the combination of the apples with the cardamom and honey is amazing and unexpected. I really enjoyed eating an apple dessert spiced with something other than cinnamon.

So, another successful WFDW adventure at Casa Splatgirl. What did you make?

What's For Dinner Wednesday

But first, the studio sink is done!

I love it, and I'm not sure if it's the pink wall or what but it turned out looking SO girly.

On the stove side of things...I guess I was influenced by Boy's suggestion of rabbit from last week, because tonight's first recipe is Roasted Game Hen with Jalapeno-Orange Glaze. Not exactly out on the rabbit limb or even very serious cooking (the recipe calls for that red jalapeno jelly), but it does count as outside my food box because I'm pretty sure I've only ever made these trial-size chickens once or twice. Plus I think I can tell Boy that I've roasted up a couple of the crows that are always yelling and fighting in our trees. I'm going to serve it with Spinach and Rice With Lemon, and for dessert, Rustic Apple tart with Honey, Dates and Nuts.
I'd love to hear what you're making, and, as usual, check in after dinner for the porn :)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

More Mosaic-ing

Today's project, mosaic tiling what will be the counter for my studio sink:

This was an IKEA Laxan vanity table, but I decided I had to wedge their Domsjo sink and a big faucet into it and that necessitated constructing a new, slightly bigger top. I set the mosaic yesterday using sample tile and leftover glass from this project and now I'm just waiting for the grout to set. After that, I'll put in the sink and faucet, cross one more house project off my list and celebrate having a dedicated clean-up spot right in my workspace. Hurray for no paint and goo gobs in the bathroom and kitchen sinks!

Monday, October 09, 2006

One BIG Yarn Ball and Some Parts

Despite the annoyingness of the pattern and all its errors, (did I mention the original even had the gauge wrong?), progress has been made on the Fishermans Shrug:

That is the beginnings of sleeve number two, accompanied by sleeve number one and the back. I'm skeptical that I'm going to have enough yarn, but I guess I can only hope for the best at this point and see where I come out. I'm finding the big gauge, the delicious Baby Alpaca Grande and the HUGE yarn ball it makes when wound a lot of fun to work with after toiling away on tiny needles and socks all summer. And despite my history of ill-timed projects, I'm confident that this one might even make it off the needles in time to wear.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Errata Rage

Why do I never knit garments???? BECAUSE THE PATTERNS ARE ALWAYS FREAKIN WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!! Hello??? I mean really, people. If I buy a pattern, or in this case, a magazine with the pattern in it, I think it's reasonable for me to expect that it's somewhere on the near side of accurate, you know what I mean? But instead, I spend forty five minutes trying to figure out how I'm supposed to end up with two aysmetrical sleeves that are mirror images of each other when the pattern has me knitting them exactly the same. And in case you're putting up with this temper tantrum, THAT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE. In stockinette stitch, at least. So then it finally ocurrs to me to check the stupid website, and joyfully, I am forced to register in order to see this:

"There are MANY changes to this pattern. Please download a fresh copy -- changes are marked in red."

Thanks for that. And no kidding. Seventy five percent of the stupid thing is wrong. Congratulations on one quality piece of publishing.

You may recall that I was bitching about a similar problem with the Noni Bobbles bag pattern and if I remember correctly, I sent them a little bit of a nastygram because it took me so long to even find the errata on their website. To their credit, I notice that they've now got it front and center and it appears that the "issues" that made me crabby with that pattern have been addressed.
So, to whom, do you think, shall I address the nastygram this time? The shitty-ass magazine publisher or the plasticyarn people at Lion?

It's in the Bag

Less than two days from computer to doorstep, yarn for the Fishermans Shrug has arrived! Cheers to Alpaca Direct for super quick shipment and great prices on this incredibly soft and luscious yarn. It's some serious fiber crack. Plus I got another $10 off for using Google checkout. Yippee!

And that's a nifty new tote that I just couldn't resist. Well, actually I did resist it the first time but I ended up obsessing about it the whole evening thanks to a conversation with my pal Knit-Whit and I had to go back and buy it the next day. But lavender leather and ballistic nylon? I dunno what I was thinking putting it down in the first place, and obviously she was right. I NEEDED to have it.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

WFDW, the Porn:

OK, first, the steak, and no, I didn't eat that whole piece of meat. It was ginormous. Boy said he could really taste the Hickory smoke, and seriously, how could you possibly go wrong with Bacon Butter? I followed the recipe exactly and it was really good. I have zero criticism other than to say that I think I'm a steak purist at heart and I really would have liked it plain just as well. Plus, the whole butter thing just screams to be put on cornbread, IMO. And it just so happens that I have leftovers that shall be united with cornbread just as soon as I have time to bake some.

Then...the Asparagus Gratin. I have three words. Oh. My. Fork. It was GOOOOOD. Really, this dish speaks to the whole point of WFDW for me in the first place, which is to find some new favorites and expand cooking horizons and the entertaining dish repertoire. I'm definitely putting this on my holiday menu, like, forever. However, I'm also going to simplify it a bit and instead of trying to hold the asparagus, putting on the breadcrumbs and running the still warm dish through the broiler just to brown the topping at the last minute, I'm going to just put it all together to be refrigerated and then reheated in the oven, broiling at the last minute if the topping needs additional browning. I also think the fresh breadcrumbs can easily be replaced with panko, perhaps with an even more delicious result which would save even more on the prep. With this in your file, you have absolutely ZERO excuse to go making those nasty green beans ala canned crap. And yes, I do think this recipe would work equally well with green beans instead of asparagus.

So, kudos to Boy for picking a couple of winners!

Whats For Dinner Wednesday

You are playing, right?

Just a teaser...tune in after dinner for pictures and a critique
Asparagus Gratin (I know, I know, it's not asparagus season but Boy picked the recipes and I couldn't bear to dis him, plus it sounds delicious.)
Hickory Grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Bacon-Molasses Butter
And I think I'll add a nice green salad or maybe some sweet corn if I can still find it.

So we're not super high on the gourmet scale tonight, but considering the only thing Boy ever asks for to eat is a grilled chicken sandwich or a ham and cheese, I gotta give him credit. Plus, the first thing he came up with I had to veto. Lamb stew. Me: "do you even like lamb? Have you ever even eaten lamb, like in a less quesionable form than stew?" And the next thing: Paella with rabbit. Me: "Do you even know where to get rabbit?" Boy: "Yes, in the back yard. Maybe you can get a kitty to help."

Needless to say, Paella, yes, rabbit, no.
He's always half jokingly coming up with these classic, cliche dishes, which means I'm almost guaranteed to have to make Beef Wellington or Rack of Lamb at some point, since the deal has become that we'll take turns choosing the WFDW menu. But that should be made up for by the fact that his job is to bring flowers for the table EVERY week :)

See you after dinner!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Knitting Kitty

Apparently M-Ah has something to say about the Bobbles Bag:

Either she wants me to finish it ASAP, or it's a protest, I can't tell which :)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Noni Bobbles Bag: Part Two

Even though the weather is very un-woolish, I've resumed knitting on the Noni Bobbles Bag that I started way back when.

Fresh from my afternoon trip to Coldwater Collaborative, these are five of the sixteen skeins of Cascade called for to make the bobbles. Originally I tried looking up the color numbers from the pattern on the Cascade website but things weren't matching up so rather than drive myself nuts trying to track down sixteen of the 220 colors, some of which are either misnamed or misnumbered on the pattern, I decided I was just going to wing it and choose colors I like.
I also picked up the flyer for this weekends' Shop Hop. Is anyone out there planning on doing the full circuit? I'm thinking if the weather is nice I may attempt it via motorcycle....

In other knitting news, I just ordered five skeins of Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande to start another winter project, the Fisherman's Shrug (the pattern is from Lion Brand...ssshhhh. It's also free which, had I known would have saved me having to buy the magazine). As much as I hate spending a bunch of money on yarn for a FO of questionable flattery to my figure, I really wanted to knit this shrug and I absolutely cannot stomach the idea of using acrylic yarn. For ANYTHING. Anyway, my history suggests you can look for this one to be done just in time for spring :)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sunday Dinner

Grilled shrimp with stir-fried vegetables and Basmati rice:

I brined the shrimp for an hour or so and then brushed them with garlic butter before grilling. The veg got a quick sauce of soy, ginger, rice wine and sesame oil. Quick and delicious.

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