Friday, January 4, 2008


There just aren't enough hours in the day... I always start each day at an absolute zombie like crawl, and then speed up frenetically as the day progresses if my caffeine doses kick in as planned... and here I find myself at 10:26 pm involved in 6 projects with no end in sight.
I ended up having the entire week off, but somehow didn't manage to get a whole lot done until this afternoon, when I tried to squeeze in every last opportunity to get the weekday stuff done. Yet in spite of all the millions of things I really hoped to accomplish and the inevitable lethargy, I think I've done fairly well:
I got my laptop back last night after a crazy trip to Waukesha, and after giving up in a drunken fiasco finally managed to get it hooked up this morning to the the wireless network I set up a few weeks ago (I forgot to push the "wireless" button last night, and thus couldn't figure out why it wasn't connecting to the system. Der!)
Words cannot express how fantastically cool it is to have my laptop on the counter where I can look up recipes, etc, while I'm cooking.
Tonight, I found out at the last minute that I had to prepare a dish for a brunch tomorrow am, so I frantically started perusing the recipe sites. I located a really decadent looking bread pudding (my favorite!) and started pulling ingredients out, whipping it together while using the laptop as a reference... fabulous! And can I mention for a moment that I loooooove how my kitchen is so well stocked these days that I can look up almost ANY recipe and have each and every ingredient (even if you have to use really good hot dog buns for your bread pudding--oops!), from the coconut milk I used in my curried butternut squash to the 6 cups of heavy cream and 2 cups of pecans for my bread pudding (and almost a dozen eggs-- thanks girls!).
It's been an adventuresome week for cooking, in my week of idle unemployment. We made a pilgrimage to the Whole Paycheck on New Year's Eve, where I bought $250 of "almost nothing to show for it". At the spur of the moment I pulled together an impromptu menu of things I've wanted to make for a long time, staggering their presentation throughout the evening:

I started with pan seared garlic infused scallops, followed by curried butternut squash soup (please o please do NOT use more than 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes), and then ended the night's meal with a *perfect* medium rare rib roast, potatoes topped with mushrooms sauteed with a sherry reduction, and seasoned brussels sprouts. After we shot off some fireworks at midnight, I served up Ghiardelli fudge brownies with vanilla bean ice cream, and then waddled off to bed, fat and happy.
Since becoming a new subscriber to Cooks Illustrated, I have really become even more intrigued with the science of cooking and have been waiting to try out a few of their recipes.
To get started with the recipes I chose, I needed to pick up an enameled cast iron Dutch Oven (a la Le Creuset, a $250 pot I've fantasized about but never knew could be found SO MUCH cheaper). Since I was a little slow on the uptake, almost every dutch oven in 50 miles was already sold out, and after about a half dozen phone calls, daily visits to the Wal Mart website, and a pilgrimage to a store far, far away (thank you, Garmin! you make scary adventures for a wimpy girl like me possible...) I finally got my hands on the 6.5 qt Tramontina Dutch Oven they recommended. Whew!
I then eagerly whipped up their "Best French Onion Soup" and served it with the Swiss gruyere they recommended....

But... nobody liked the soup, and we had a ton left over:-(

Even though the soup wasn't a winner, Jacob and I were still able to marvel at the process of reduction, the development of the "fond", and how deglazing built up the body of the soup. I think Jacob was a little sad that our first genuine attempt at "French" cooking wasn't so tasty, but I'm pretty sure he's still holding fast to the notion that French food somehow is his favorite (and why? was it the Alton Brown Coq au Vin episode?).

Since the prep was a wee bit of a pain in the arse, and the ingredients somewhat costly, I strained out the mass of pulpy onions this morning, fed them to the worms, and froze the broth for future use as soup base.... maybe it'll enjoy a second life as a tasty beef barley soup.

I made their "French Chicken in a Pot" tonight, with (separately, in the 3.5 qt dutch oven I got) oven roasted new potatoes, carrots, sweet potato, and onions, roasted with the strained and de-fatted jus from the chicken. The chicken was *beyond fabulous*-- tender, juicy, and flavorful, and well worth the scary Wal Mart trip.
Many of the recipes in this month's issue seem to be pretty time intensive, so I resolved to get a jump on tomorrow's dinner of roast beef and no knead bread this afternoon so it would be all ready to go when I got home from my party. Oh! If I could always be this organized... makes staying home to be the family domestician seem somewhat less mind numbingly dull when my meals have an 18 to 24 hour prep time.
To be honest, I know that I'm just trying to keep myself entertained during these (hellish) cold months. Being off work doesn't help in these 8 degree days either, even tho it really *was* nice to get a break after the chaos of the holidays, surgery, camp, and root canals (and then another flippin holiday!-- couldn't they space these out a bit and give a girl a break?)...

On a completely unrelated note:
I had a job interview yesterday, which I'm sure may come as a shock to some of my readers (please don't get mired in the heavy sarcasm).
In painful retrospect, which keeps playing over and over again in my head since it ended, it seems soooooooo odd to me that a 10 year, decorated veteran of serial interviewing would commit such a slew of interview faux pas....
Tell me honestly:
Is it really so bad to tell a prospective employer that you take criticism well because you make so many mistakes at your current job?
Really? You think that's bad?

I've gotten sooo many jobs lately without interviewing, maybe I'm getting a little rusty...

I think the flubs happened because, in spite of the later shift hours and low pay (and farther location), I *reallyreally* want this job and thus had to jinx myself, adding more angst to an already angst riddled experience. I have job interview #2 next week for a job I completely *don't* want. I'm guessing it'll go off brilliantly, without a single foible or stupid slip o the tongue, making me look like the perfect candidate for the wrong job. Shit.
Completely irrational, I know. But if you're expecting anything in my life to make sense, you really haven't been paying attention.

An oldie but a goodie. And me in a nutshell (no pun intended...)

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