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Start Date 2005-12-15 17:55:55 |Comments 161 |Entries 112 |Images 14 |

Category: food

01/09/06 08:00 - 36ºF - ID#24922

Kara's Honey (Yogurt) Muffins, v. 1.0

I took a quick, random poll of e/peeps to see what I should try tonight: mini pies or honey muffins. The muffins won.
I read a very old cookbook at Jeremiah's grandma's over Christmas, and the theme was zen macrobiotic cooking. The main idea I grabbed from this wacky book was that cooking is best done alone, and while you're in a good mood, so that's what I did. To get in a cooking mood, I cleared off a spot on my counter, put on my apron and a headband. For Christmas, my brother crocheted me an awesome scarf with a matching headband; I wear it inside, sometimes. This put me in a beatific baking mood.
Anyway, from that same shelf, I borrowed a book called The Complete Yogurt Cookbook. This inspired me to use yogurt, that of course I made myself. Hooray for yogurt makers. It's a healthy, natural way to add moisture and nutrition to baked goods, without the hydrogenated ickiness of oils.
Here goes ...
Ingredients, dry
1 1/2 c. a.p. flour
1/2 c. corn meal (I used white corn meal)
1/4 c. sugar (to taste)*
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon (or more)
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. ginger
Ingredients, wet
2 eggs
1/2 c. plain yogurt
1/3 c. honey
1/4 c. milk*
1 tsp. vanilla
large bowl
spatula/spoons for mixing
muffin tins and/or bread pans
Steps, short version
Combine dry ingredients; add wet ingredients; bake as muffins or bread at 350 degrees for 20 minutes +.
Steps, long version
Combine the dry ingredients. I read on a baking blog (yes, they do exist) that using more baking powder makes for a fluffier muffin, so that's what I went with.
For my next attempt at these muffins, I'm going to omit the ginger completely. Ginger adds a strong flavor, and I fear I added too much in this version. It threatened to overpower the honey flavor; instead, I may bring out the vanilla flavor even more with more extract.
I used vanilla sugar, instead of "regular" sugar. [To make this sugar, just take a container (I used an empty salsa jar), pop in a whole vanilla bean, and fill with sugar. Shake each day for a week or so, and voila - vanilla sugar. You can replenish the sugar for a long time, which is useful, as vanilla beans can be expensive.] More sugar will make a much sweeter muffin, but will also alter the texture and make it more carmelly/sticky. Alternately, you can use less sugar or use sugar substitute. Brown sugar would work well with this.
Combine the wet ingredients. Whisk the eggs with the honey (melt in the microwave if it's too stiff) and vanilla. Reserve the milk. I used "real" honey - raw, unprocessed stuff that I bought at a place called the General Store down in Colden.
Combine the dry and wet ingredients. Mix thoroughly, and add the milk (or up to 1/3 c.) if necessary. You want a "muffiny" dough. I don't know how else to describe it. It has to be thick, not runny. Fill the tins to about 2/3 - do not overfill, or else you'll have a mess.
The yield was 12 muffins and one small bread loaf. I used my (new) silicone bakeware (muffin tins) and a small loaf pan. The silicone bakeware is fantastic, leaving a lightly crispy crust and a fluffy, beautifully textured inside.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, at least 25 minutes for the bread loaf.
Store in an airtight container. I plan on eating most of these myself, just to make sure the taste of each is acceptable. Call it my rigorous quality control process.
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Words: 604
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: fun

01/06/06 01:24 - 22ºF - ID#24921


Think of Wannaspell as the most anarchic Scrabble game that you've ever seen. It's as though someone took all the pieces, threw them on the floor and said, to a worldwide audience, "Ha ha, now you figure it out."
I just "played" it for a few minutes over lunch, and was amazed at how, through brief glimpses, you can see order in that chaos.
After doing the normal things that one could do (spell out my name, spell out "IMPEACH"), I tried to introduce this "room" to the joy of alphabetical order.
And for the next few minutes, it worked: people took the letters they needed, and restored them when they had finished their words and phrases. While not at all scientific, I think this would qualify as the type of homeostasis? There's another term from organizational communication theory that is related to this, but it escapes my mind at this point.
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Permalink: Order.html
Words: 158
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: shop

01/05/06 12:27 - 36ºF - ID#24920

The Stock Exchange

Thanks to a fantastic deal from the Stock Exchange, the decor of the apartment has transformed from garage sale/hand-me-down chic to a more adult style.
Though it required two trips with a trailer and station wagon, minor scrapes and bruises, and a lot of muscle, we hauled a dresser/mirror combo, two bookcases, two end tables and a gigantic coffee table from Hertel Ave., up a narrow staircase, and into our humble abode.
I will say this about the Stock Exchange: the quality and beauty of this furniture store's pieces is extraordinary. Antique desks and postmodern sofas sit side by side in a showroom that is filled with enough items to qualify as cramped. This is a good thing. Everywhere your eye turns, you will see something different.
This probably reads like an advertisement for the store: it is. They have an awesome (40% off) sale going on right now, and the folks who work there are good people.
Images to follow: I'm not comfortable taking pictures of the furniture until I've done a bit more organizing.
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Permalink: The_Stock_Exchange.html
Words: 177
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: food

01/04/06 02:20 - 44ºF - ID#24919

Kara's Superveggie Soup

Soup. The best soups combine hearty vegetables with a delicious blend of liquid and spices. For a cold winter day, canned and processed souplike products from the likes of Campbell's and Progresso do not fit the bill. I based this soup on a recipe from Rachael Ray's newest cookbook, 365: No Repeats--A Year of Deliciously Different Dinners
Behold: a 15 minute soup

Olive Oil
Crushed Red Pepper
Marjoram (or, any green spice: name your flavor)
Garlic (not powder)
4 cups fresh or frozen vegetables (thin sliced carrots, celery, onion, zucchini, green beans, yellow beans, sugar peas, peppers)
1 can/1.5 cups chicken broth
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 jar tomato sauce (plain)
Parmesean or Romano cheese
Italian or French Bread
Large saucepan/pot
Sharp knives for cutting veggies
Can opener
Line up your ingredients: chopped/sliced veggies in a bowl; spices; cans and can opener.
Add a few tablespoons of OO to the saucepan, medium heat.
Add a few (chopped) cloves of garlic. You can't have too much garlic!
Add a sprinkle of crushed red pepper.
Add the veggies. Mix to coat with the oil.
Cook the veggies, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
Add the cans of broth, tomatoes and sauce.
Add another sprinkle of crushed red pepper and whatever green spice you're in the mood for.
Heat through, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat, top with a dash of parmesean/romano cheese.
Serve with a few slices of fresh italian or french bread for dunking.

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Permalink: Kara_s_Superveggie_Soup.html
Words: 257
Location: Buffalo, NY

01/03/06 02:16 - 38ºF - ID#24918

Ski Bummed

With my move back to Buffalo, one of the things I looked forward to the most was being close to the ski hills to the south. Kissing Bridge and Holiday Valley offer just enough variety for a new skiier like myself.
I'll never be a fast and furious skiier, racing down a slope at breakneck speeds while doing tight little spins, like Jeremiah. I won't even be as mobile as the four year olds I've seen zipping along at Kissing Bridge. However, I ski slowly and steadily, with occasional slips and falls. For someone who hadn't even encountered the Bunny Hill until she was 24 years old, I do fine.
We bought our Schussmeisters ski passes; our equipment (boots and skis) is in great condition; and, we have most evenings free to hop on the Schuss bus.
While walking outside today in the mud, I'm just bummed that the ski conditions are, to put it bluntly, totally sucking. We won't be back in business until a few more heavy snowstorms come our way.
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Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: food

12/23/05 09:04 - ID#24917


Last night I whipped up a concoction that, though I call it tapenade, according to the true definition should just be called "a tasty spread for crackers and stuff."
Tapenade generally contains a combination of black olives, capers and anchovies. I will eat exactly none of those foods. I don't even know what capers are. So, based on how I've seen my hero, Rachael Ray, prepare her "tapenade," here's my recipe.
1/2 jar (12 oz) marinated artichokes (found in the pickle aisle; save the oil)
1 jar (6 oz) roasted red peppers
3-4 tbsp. minced garlic (or, a few cloves of chopped, fresh garlic)
other condiments in your fridge (i used 2 tbsp. of sliced pimentos; you could also use seeded pepperoncini, pickled veggies, olives, hot sauce - go crazy, it'll work)
1/4 c parmesean cheese
2 tbsp. lemon juice (fresh, if you have it)
several dashes of parsley or italian seasoning (or fresh chopped herbs)
dash of salt
Food processor. This is essential.
spoons for adding/removing the ingredients
clean, delabeled jars (you can use the empty jars from the rrpeppers or artichokes; I washed mine thoroughly with soap, then a mild bleach solution, then rinsed. The ingredients are mildly acidic, so bacteria growth potential over a few days isn't likely, but super-clean is better).
a towel (I made a mess w/ my food processor)
Add all ingredients to the food processor
Blend (on pulse; you don't want it too watery)
Add the leftover oil from the artichokes as needed; the final result should be thick, not chunky, not watery; add olive oil if you need more
Spoon into clean jars.
Store in the fridge
Goes well with pita bread (or any bread), triscuits/crackers, polenta (We first tried this as a sample at Wegman's - it's delicious). You could also take some italian bread or a baguette, slice it on an angle, top with the tapenade and mozz. cheese and heat until the cheese melts.
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Permalink: Tapenade_.html
Words: 324
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: food

12/20/05 09:52 - 24ºF - ID#24916

Holy Mackerel

An unpleasant mix of odors has taken hold in my apartment; the faintly vinegar scent of a sourdough starter that is well past its prime; the sour smell of an apple juice-alcohol concoction that, I have been told, is part of a Christmas gift; and, the gag-a-rific stench of canned mackerel.
The first two components are fine; we make our own bread every week, and have taken to brewing various drinks quite often. Fish have never been part of our diets. When we went to Maryland a few summers ago, we were on the Atlantic shore, surrounded by fantastic meals of seafood, specifically crabs. We ordered some crabcakes because that was the thing to do, and uniformly agreed that they were not that good. Their only redeeming quality was the extraordinary amounts of butter used in the sauce that came with it. Butter makes everything better.
Why was I cooking with mackerel? Well, in trying to come up with a secret santa gift at work, the coworker I randomly selected loves cats and animals. So, in addition to the blah donation I made to the Erie Co. SPCA in her name, I baked some homemade cat treats. Using mackerel. Here's the recipe. Make this on a day you can open the windows, light a candle and get the heck out of dodge.
2+ c. flour (I used white whole wheat; go for the whole wheat if you can)
2 eggs
1 can of mackerel (find it with the tuna fish)
Large bowl
spoons and fork
cookie sheet
cooling racks (optional)
rolling pin
cookie cutters
Whisk the eggs
Add a cup of the flour, mix well
Pin clothespin on nose
Add the can of mackerel. It comes in large, disgusting chunks, so chop it up well with the fork - it crumbles
Add the rest of the flour; you will need more to keep the rolling pin from sticking, so keep it ready.
If the dough feels very sticky, add flour in 1/4 cup intervals and mix thouroughly.
Transfer to a flat surface, and roll into a 1/4- 1/2 inch sheet; cut with cookie cutters and transfer to the cookie sheet. I also rolled a few into disks, and made a few pretzels with coils of dough.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Greasing or leaving the cookie sheet ungreased didn't seem to matter. I prefer ungreased.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until firm.
Remove from the oven, and cool completely. Then store in the fridge or freezer.
Dump all utensils and bowls into a sink full of hot soapy water. You'll thank me later.

My puppy taste-tested these soon after they cooled. It's been an hour, and she seems ok. Then again, she brought me a frozen mouse this weekend, so her tastes are not very discerning.
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Permalink: Holy_Mackerel.html
Words: 466
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: food

12/19/05 10:58 - 25ºF - ID#24915

Grandma's Dangerous French Silk Pie

Many years ago, my family sat around the table at Thanksgiving, finishing a delicious turkey dinner and anxiously awaiting a selection of pies for dessert. With this holiday, as with all others, I wasn't going to choose which kind of pie to devour; why choose, when you can have a piece or two of each?
Long story short, the homemade apple and pumpkin got to stay on the table, while the French Silk Pie met an unfortunate end. That's right - after it was cut, plated and set in front of us, my mom took it away and wouldn't let us eat it: "raw egg is dangerous." And yes, this pie contains not one, but two raw eggs. Of course, pregnant women or people with compromised immune systems shouldn't eat raw eggs in any form. However, at the time, my brother and I were young, strong and hungry. To this day, we can't hear the words "French Silk Pie" without thinking of that horrific day. And of that delicious pie.
Here is the recipe, so it can live long on the internets. I stole the recipe right out of my grandma's recipe box because my mother, bless her heart, would have thrown it away.
1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. white sugar
1 square baker's unsweetened chocolate
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
Mixer/hand mixer
prepared pie crust (graham cracker or chocolate works well)
Cream together the butter and sugar; melt the chocolate, and add to the butter/sugar mixture when cooled.
Add the vanilla to the mixture.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for 5 minutes each. The only way to describe the final texture is - it looks like the inside of a three musketeers bar, but it is not nearly as gooey.
Chill in the 'fridge for a few hours. Garnish with (fresh) whipped cream, chocolate shavings, or plain old chocolate sauce. Or oreo crumbs. Or nuts. Go wild.
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Words: 323
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: food

12/19/05 10:37 - 25ºF - ID#24914

My Mom's Spaghetti Sauce

My mom, while not Italian, makes a mean spaghetti sauce. As with any recipe, you may use fresh spices instead of the dried variety, just adjust the ingredients as needed.
1.5 lb. ground beef
1 can tomato puree
2 cans tomato paste
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp minced onion
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/4 tsp red pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
(cooked pasta of your choice; I like regular spaghetti with this)
Large saute pan/fry pan
Large pot with cover
Spoons and knives
Brown the beef in the fry pan, seasoning with salt and pepper.
When the meat is almost done, add the cans of tomato to the large pot, followed by the spices. The spices can be adjusted to taste; I go heavy on the garlic, and adjust the other spices up accordingly.
Heat the tomato mix on medium, and add the ground beef. Keep the heat on until it's warmed through, then turn the heat down to a simmer for another 20 minutes or so. I never know how long to leave it on there.
This recipe freezes well.
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Permalink: My_Mom_s_Spaghetti_Sauce.html
Words: 184
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: food

12/15/05 11:16 - 33ºF - ID#24913

Kara Kanes

(for theecarey)
These are based on a Martha Stewart recipe for Candy Cane cookies. The premise is the same, but I just roll them into sticks, as my dough is always too sticky to make into the full hooked candy cane.
My married name will be Kane, so Kara Kanes seems appropriate.
2 sticks butter (unsalted if you have it)
1 c. conf. sugar
1 egg
splash of peppermint extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups ap flour (you may need more)
several drops of red (or any other color) food coloring

2 bowls
mixer + bowl
many spoons
cookie sheet or pizza stone
parchment paper

Cream the butter and sugar together; beat in the egg, vanilla, peppermint and salt, then add flour cup-by-cup until you have a smooth batter.
Running the mixer at high for a few seconds allows most of the batter to spin off the whirly beater things.
Divide the dough in half and color one of the halves with the red food coloring. Use a spoon or a pastry mixer to distribute the color evenly.
Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Remove the bowls from the fridge; preheat oven to 350F.
Line the cookie sheet and/or pizza stone w/ parchment paper.
Take a teaspoon of (red) dough and roll it into a 3+ inch long cylinder. Do the same with a teaspoon of plain dough. Place the two side-by-side, twist - candy cane stylin' - and place on the parchment paper.
Bake 8-10 minutes, and do not allow them to brown.
I think this made at least 30 cookies, but I don't remember how many I ate before they made it into their airtight containers.
Give the recipe some flair by creating Kara Kane wreaths, letters, and other shapes. Though the true candy cane is red and white, imagine cookies that were red and blue (for Bills fans). How about hot pink and green? The more imaginative you are, the bigger your cookies can be. In my book, big cookies are good cookies.
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Permalink: Kara_Kanes.html
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Location: Buffalo, NY



New Site Wide Comments

mike said to grandma
I'm so glad you made it safely!...

mike said to grandma
I'm so glad you made it safely!...

joe said to grandma
OMG welcome!...

joe said to mike
New years resolution to top (e:strip)?...