This is why I don’t make sugar cookies

I spent the last hour looking for my cookie cutters. I know I had several. After going through most of the boxes of stuff that we packed up when the house was on the market, I could find none. Before packing I knew right where they were. I can’t remember when I had last used the cookie cutters, if ever. Somehow one would find it’s way in my stocking every couple of years. Now, an hour later I am pretty sure I had a conversation last July that went something like this: “Cookie cutters? I don’t ever plan on making sugar cookies, I don’t even like sugar cookies, I might as well take these to Goodwill.” Of course. Could I remember that before going downstairs and ripping through 20 boxes, of course not.

Strangely enough, for Christmas one of my dear friends got me some St Patrick’s Day kitchen towels and they came with a shamrock cookie cutter. I adore St Patrick’s Day and love anything shamrockie, but thought, when am I ever going to use this cookie cutter, but it is a really cool cookie cutter. Strangely enough my mom, who loves sugar cookies and would bake and decorate them for almost any holiday when I was growing up gave me a bag of Gluten Free Sugar Cookie mix in my stocking this year. This time I thought, that is probably the only way I will ever make sugar cookies and told her, what a coincidence as I had just received a shamrock cookie cutter.

I was thinking about what I could get my sweetie for Valentine’s Day and since the smoking jackets on Amazon were all party costumes (he smokes a pipe while roasting coffee and drinking homebrew outside) and pretty sleezey looking, I thought a very stupid thought: “I will make him some sugar cookies shaped like hearts drizzled with white chocolate that is turned red or pink from food coloring.”

Since I couldn’t find the heart cookie cutter I know I had, I diligently cut out three cardboard hearts to use as a tracer. I did heavily debate just using the shamrock with the pink white chocolate (that sounds a bit odd, pink white chocolate). I may still do that if the cutouts don’t perform.

So, I have had a very busy week this week, but happen to have a couple of hours that I could take off this afternoon since I worked last night and thought, I must make the sugar cookies while he isn’t home so it is a surprise when he gets home this eve.

I loaded the butter into the KitchenAid and set it to cream. The bag said to pour the mix in slowly to the bowl while mixing, so I opened the bag and it wouldn’t come out. I so I opened it wider and gave it a shake and then another shake and all of a sudden the whole mix comes out in a plastic bag. In the blink of an eye I reached to turn the mixer off and ppooooofff ! The mixer caught the bag and it exploded all over everything. My face was white, my sweatshirt and tee shirt coated, all over the floor and counter, it even went down my bra and up my nose. I paused and then all i could do was laugh. I think you would have been on the floor laughing if you had seen me and the shock on my white powdered face. Luckily the camera was near by on the counter and I snapped a pic before going to wash my face, change shirts and then begin the cleaning. Oddly enough we finally ordered a dust buster for the kitchen as the kitchen floor gets messy quite fast when I cook and bake, how handy was that to have in the next room?

This is why i should never make sugar cookies. So, I had no idea how much mix I lost to adjust my ingredients! There was quite a bit of butter on the exploded bag, so perhaps I decided to just follow the recipe with the remaining ingredient amounts. It is now chilling in the fridge.

I never thought there was a bag within the bag! He he he, I will check from now on though!

i’m out and I am rolling cookie dough.

 

Victory Garden Drive

Photo by Asparagirl

garden at dusk

I plant a garden every year. Some years I have planted one at the community garden too. This year, since we took our house off the market, we are making some big plans : raised beds and a small green or hoop house. The garage/shed will come down and be converted to something useable like a small storage shed and the cement flooring will be part of the base of the green house. When I couldn’t plant a garden in the ground, I used to plant the essentials to make me feel alive in large pots. Herbs and tomatoes generally. We just looked up the city ordinances and it looks like we might be able to have some chickens in the backyard too – how eggciting! ha ha 🙂

Changes ahead! With the raised beds we should be able to more intensively garden and I am insisting that my dear BF plant those veggies that he will eat. I do a pretty good job of canning and freezing the produce. We have two small freezers downstairs, one for our sustainably raised pork, chicken and beef and one for all the veggies, fruit and misc stuff that one tends to collect in the freezer. It probably seems a bit much to most of you, but eventually, we do plan to move and get our little farmette going, but for now we have decided to pretend like we have it here in the city. Our basement stays pretty cool and is usually stocked full of apples and potatoes from the farm. It keeps our wine cold too, not quite castle temperature, but close enough. I think I have this stock up and be prepared for a large scale disaster mentality. Well, I know I have it. However, by having it, I am more self sufficient and never need to purchase canned tomatoes. I have all the green beans I need in the freezer and roasted green chiles and tart cherries too. I did not get a very good broccoli crop this year as it got too hot too fast, so we have eaten all of it unfortunately.

Last year, in the back of the garden, we planted asparagus for the first time and I planted a couple of strawberry plants too. Then we put the house on the market and the whole summer I wasn’t sure if I would be able to reap my harvest and hoped that whoever bought the house would enjoy the asparagus next year. I will be so excited to see the first asparagus spears popping up. Maybe I will even find some more morel mushrooms in the yard again! I have been rinsing them (when I find them up North) and always throwing the wash water out into the borders of the yard and now for two years, they pop up in the strangest places.

morels morel mushroom

The herb garden will spring back with life as soon as it is warm and the snow melts. I did bring several pots of herbs indoors for the winter and have enough rosemary for the neighborhood in our little “greenhouse” room. We installed some grow lights to keep them alive over the winter and overall, this first year, the cost was more expensive than buying fresh herbs all winter, but by next year, we will be saving fresh herb money! I need to figure out a way to keep the basil alive longer. The room is probably a bit too cold for it to thrive.

I recently heard about the Victory Garden Drive and wanted to share it with you. Having your own garden allows you to be self sufficient and “vote with your fork”. Your produce travels feet instead of miles and you have the satisfaction of seeing things grown and ripen. All of this increases food security too. I work in the agricultural and natural resources field, I know how quickly things could go bad for our food supply. We are really lucky to have the supply of food that we do have and yes, it is cheap, far to cheap. I will leave the Farm Bill, or the Food Bill as I like to call it, for another discussion another day. Never enough profit makes it’s way back to the farmer, unless they are directly marketing their produce at a farmer’s market. Quality foods taste better but do come at a price. You have the opportunity to know the person who raises your food when you shop at farmer’s markets or from the farm directly. We are striving to eliminate all meat, seafood and poultry that was not locally, sustainably and environmentally friendly raised, but this takes time and it definitely takes money. I have been on a lot of farms, some of them great and extremely well managed, some of them the exact opposite and I certainly would not have wanted to consume anything that was raised there. In the store, you don’t always know what you are getting, unless they take the time to market their specialty and package it as such. The innovative farmers have realized that the biggest part of their business is no longer growing the food, once they have that down, it is marketing to consumers like you and me, telling their story of how their food arrives on our plate.
I think the Victory Garden site above states the need to have our own gardens very clearly and very well. Please read it and let’s start a garden revival! If you need help planning your garden or wonder if it is possible to plant something in your soil contact your local Master Gardener through your local Cooperative Extension office. There is one in every county and they are connected to whatever university in your state is the agricultural university (Here that is Michigan State Univ). They have a wealth of information and not just on gardening, but on preserving your food that you grow too.

Photo by cwage

If you can’t plant a garden in your backyard, see if you can join a community garden.  In our city they ask for a $5-$10 donation if you can afford it and then they give you seeds and plants, typically from area greenhouses that are overstocked.  If you have space in your yard but can’t afford to buy plants, you can still sign up at the community garden, but not for a plot, just for plants.  They will even come and get the ground ready for you. At ours you might have to sign up for a job to help out at the garden, like filling the water barrels or helping rototill in the spring, but not all require this.  If you don’t have a community garden, go for pots on your porch or deck and fill them with the items you pay the most for, probably herbs.  If you can’t do any of the above, well, keep shopping at your local Farmer’s Market and smile.  When you are out in the countryside and see the land worked up, pull over and jump out of your car and take a deep breath and enjoy the smell of the freshly tilled earth.

i’m planning for food security and

i’m out

 

-1F

People, it is cold here! I just looked at the weather to see what is coming as it is super windy out, but sunny! We haven’t seen the sun in at least a week, so nice to have our friend back.

It is -1 F outside. With the wind chill it is -23 F. It is not like I live on a prairie. For mid Michigan, this is cold. Of course we are out of firewood too, so no cosy fire today. We do have gas heat, no worries. This is a more normal temp for Northern MI where I am from. At least we have plenty of snow to go with it. I opened the back door and snapped a photo of the garden area so you can see what it is like, for those of you in nice moderate (read Southern or West Coast) climates.

The garden at -1 F

Just the same….I PLAN ON GRILLING MY WILD BOAR BURGERS!!!! I will not be defeated by a wind chill that could instantly freeze something, I don’t know what, but something. Ha, and I was thinking we should go build a snow person earlier. I think I will skip that. If I hadn’t planned on wild boar burgers (not often one can plan on those to be sure) then it would definitely be a chicken stew day or soup or something liquidy and hot.

I will be attempting the 2 mile drive to the grocery store to grab my supplies for the week. I can finally wear my thickest, warmest wool sweater. The one I reserve for tailgating on those cold November football days (we are all Michigan State University fans in this town!) – the JCREW roll up sweater. Come on, you know you have one from your college days somewhere in the closet!

We had a nice warm Southern Indian Crab Curry based on a recipe from Jamie Oliver for lunch/breakfast/brunch. Three things I was amazed at. 1. My boyfriend cooked an Indian curry (he is always telling me we need a break from curry). 2. He used fresh cilantro (although he didn’t use it for the garnish as I did, but he did chop me some for mine!). 3. He asked me to buy crab for the curry, stating as long as he doesn’t have to take it out of the shell, he likes crab. I think I am wearing off on him.

The curry was great, light and tasty. I really recommend that you run out and check this book out of your local library “Cook with Jamie”.

Now, to go put my sweater on and brave the wind and snow…. soon it will look like this:

garden

i’m out

Menu of the week Feb 10th and Valentine’s Day

This week’s menu swap is being hosted by Ginger Lemon Girl and the theme is chocolate! Since it is Valentine’s Day this week, I thought I would send you all some flowers and remind you that spring is on the way:

catulpa pollenation

If you look closely, you will see a honey bee flying in to the nectar reward!

Saturday: My sweetie did the shopping!

I always love it when my boyfriend runs to the butcher or some specialty store.  He always comes back with the best stuff, stuff I would have a hard time spending loads of money on, but stuff that we should all enjoy once in a while as a treat.  So, tonight we are doing a mixed grill with gigantic butterflied grilled shrimp scampi – these babies are huge, a well aged T bone steak (I have never had a truly aged one before), spicy goat sausage, and herbal lamb sausage.  In addition he is still perusing  Jamie’s Cookbook and plans to make an asparagus, mint and lemon risotto.  He is quickly becoming the weekend chef and I don’t know what to do with all of my spare time!  Guess I will go downstairs and pick out a bottle of wine.

Sunday: Hunter’s Feast for lunch

Wild boar burgers (yes, the BF found some at a butcher in AnnArbor) with BBQ sauce (Jack Daniels is my fav – love my whiskey), cheddar, bacon and a grilled onion and some red cabbage green onion slaw. I think some tater tots would go great with this, of course tater tots go well with everything.

Pan Asian for dinner: Crab curry  (once again from Jamie’s book)

Monday: Hungarian

Chicken Paprikash and home made spaetzle with braised red cabbage and apples (Rotkohl). Smoked paprika is out of this world!

Tuesday: American

Slow baked potatoes topped with broccoli and cheese and/or with GF blue cheese and bacon. Green salad on the side.

Wednesday: On the road for a meeting, blah, road food, likely Wendy’s chili, at least they have GF stuff on the menu. The BF will either grill brats (yes, we grill all winter, even in the snow and 5 degrees) or will eat at the brewery in Ann Arbor)

Thursday: Valentine’s Day and ode to Aphrodite

Champagne or a French 75 cocktail, oysters on the half shell with shallot vinaigrette (for me), herbed goat cheese bites wrapped in prosciutto (for him) drizzled with caramelized honey, grilled pork loin rubbed with cocoa and red chile, grilled asparagus, hasselback potatoes, red wine, arugula salad with herbs and olives and for dessert chocolate fondue with fruit and home made shortbread cookies. This menu is designed around foods that are aphrodisiacs and that would be easy to feed to one another (except for the salad – I plan to eat that with my own fork).

Friday: French

Cheese Fondue with sourdough spelt bread (wheat free but not gluten free) and apples for dipping and green salad with Dijon vinaigrette. Served with a nice dry white wine.

This week seems a bit heavy on the starches, esp potatoes, but having grown up on a potato farm, I love my potatoes!

I have to say, since I started participating in the menu swap, it really has saved me lots of time and effort. I know what I need at the beginning of the week for the rest of the week and I spend less time thinking about what to have. If you haven’t tried creating your menu ahead of time yet, give it a try, even if it is for a half a week, you will be surprised at how much time you have left for blog reading! 🙂

Happy eating!

i’m out