It's Tuesday: Lazy Tacos And Getting Rid Of Paper

Mishing and mashing is what this is going to be, because I just don't have it in me to make a thematic post. I have three or four incredible well thought out and written posts, all of which are ¾'s of the way completed, which means they'll never see the light of day. In lieu of writing yet another one of those, I'm doing this post. Enjoy.

I made the tastiest whole chicken the other day, and I don't think I told anybody about it except one friend and it was just too easy and yummy not to share here. 

Whole Chicken in Crock Pot

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons paprika (I used a blend of chili powder instead of paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon thyme (I was out of thyme, I have no idea how, but I was, so I used some oregano, I think)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne (red) pepper (I used a blend of chili powder instead of cayenne)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large chicken

Directions

  1. Combine the dried spices in a small bowl.
  2. Loosely chop the onion and place it in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  3. Remove any giblets from the chicken and then rub the spice mixture all over. You can even put some of the spices inside the cavity and under the skin covering the breasts.
  4. Put prepared chicken on top of the onions in the slow cooker, cover it, and turn it on to high. There is no need to add any liquid.
  5. Cook for 4 – 5 hours (for a 3 or 4 pound chicken) or until the chicken is falling off the bone. Don’t forget to make your homemade stock with the leftover bones ! (I fucked up this part, because, well, I did. Shh…don't tell. I'll get it right next time.)

I used this recipe, with some modifications, because rules are hard. Anyway, once the chicken was done, it fell right off the bones as promised. I served it with spanish rice, beans, and tortillas. It was so moist and delicious. To die for yummy. The kids loved it, too. So easy.

I have been playing with some new apps you might enjoy. One is called Typic. It allows you to add typography to photos. It includes a few in-app filters, as well, and exports photos to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, email, or your phone's camera. Here are samples of a couple of shots I've created. 

Drive

Autumn #typic

Kind of fun, right?

The next apps are actually my secret to a paper-reduced world. I've used them for a while, but they keep improving, and I don't know what I'd do without them. I am severely paper-averse. I hate filing. I hate managing paper. I hate trying to search through the mountains of paper produced by a large family. Our answer is making sure as much of our paper as possible is converted to searchable PDFs and, unless we absolutely need to keep a hard copy, it's shredded/tossed. Better yet, it never becomes a piece of paper. How do we do it? 

First, we use an app called SignEasy (available for iPhone and Android). This allows us to sign and fill out any forms or paper we receive without having to print them out. I know, crazy. SignEasy is my BFF. Once I have signed the forms, I convert them to a PDF or JPG, save them to DropBox or another service of my choice, email them, "fax" them, or print them wirelessly to my Epson printer (God forbid). If it's a document that doesn't arrive in an online format (like something the kids bring home from school or a something received via snail mail, I simply take a photo to "scan" it using an app called TurboScan. TurboScan and SignEasy work well together, and both communicate with DropBox and email. I can literally fill out contracts, sign them, and return them without touching a pen, paper, fax, or envelope. Plus, they're legible. Bonus!

Alrighty, that's all the wisdom and beauty I have to impart on you today, kids. Go stick some words on your pictures and sign some stuff with your phone. Maybe toss a chicken in the crockpot. Until we meet again.

 

 

Contrasts In Culinary Endeavors

Last night I made stuffed summer squash with some of the bounty from our garden. I forgot to take a picture. I really should have, because it tasted as good as it looked. I'm going to try to remember what I used to make it, so that I can perhaps repeat it. I suck at using recipes, as I've said a gazillion times. Here's a rough explanation of what I did:

Sausage-­Stuffed Summer Squash

INGREDIENTS

4 to 6 summer squash (I used greyzini, because that's what we grew this year.)

4 links Aidell's artichoke & garlic sausage (or another sausage of your choice)

6 oz. feta, approx. (I used a North American brand, name of which I cannot recall right now.) Ricotta or chèvre would work, too.

1 can (14.5oz) organic diced fire­-roasted tomatoes and green chiles (Muir Glen is my go­-to brand)

Bread crumbs to sprinkle on top (I used some leftover croutons.)


INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cut washed summer squash in half, scoop out small trough in each half where filling ail reside, and reserve pulp for another use. (I chopped up my pulp and tossed it into the sausage mix in the next step.)
  2. In cast iron skillet, crumble sausages and pour can of diced tomatoes and chiles. Heat over medium-­low flame until liquid has mostly cooked off. My sausage was precooked, so no need to worry about that, but if yours isn't make sure it is by the time you've finished this step.
  3. Next, crumble cheese into pan with sausage and tomato mixture, stirring until cheese is throughly blended in and melted.
  4. 4. Sprinkle each squash with a bit of sea salt and ground pepper before scooping sausage mixture into sliced squash that is resting on a foil­-lined baking sheet. (Pro tip: slice a bit off the bottom of each squash so it will rest flat on the baking sheet.) Top with dusting of bread crumbs. Bake at 375ºF until squash is fork-­tender (time will vary based on size of the squash). I also stuffed a couple of heirloom tomatoes and tossed them in just for fun. They came out great, too. Oh, and I put a sprinkle of mozzarella on the kids' squash to tone down the spice a bit for them. 
Squash
 
Today, I had a Hershey bar for lunch. I'd give you the recipe for that, but I think you can figure it out.

Nearly Bilingual

So, I bought this house, as you may recall. And because I descend from a long line of people who can't leave a kitchen alone, I decided this house needs a new kitchen, which means I'm learning Swedish.

I'm learning Swedish for #mothersday. They don't have any words. Or women.

In Sweden, there are no women or words. There are only men, sinks, and directional arrows. 

It turns out that these arrows MEAN SOMETHING. 

Back to Sweden. #ikea #kitchen #casabesttogether

This is a "before" shot. Before I spoke Akurum.

I know this now. I know this after building SIXTEEN cabinets. (I still have six to go, but I'm fluent now, so it'll be fine. Also, I discovered how to stay hydrated with beer/water, aka Bud Light.)

Five More #ikea #kitchen

I swear not all of the cabinets are the same, just these five. I think. I hope. Shit.

Eventually, we'll have a sparkly new kitchen, but right now we have a fuckton o' cabinets. Really awesome, well-built cabinets THANK YOU VERY MUCH. 

Oh, and if anyone needs to know how to install IKEA cabinet hinges, I'm your girl. Also, drawers. Oh, and shelves. Akurum. Rationell. Ädel. See? Bilingual. 

And, I look bitchin' in a tool belt, I'll have you know. At least, that's what the 80s throwbacks tell me, because they're the only ones who use bitchin' to talk about how cool they look in a tool belt. Whatever. My man digs it.

Oh, and I planted a tiny organic garden with a little help from the kids. We went with the square-foot approach in the raised bed. For the rest of our plantings, we just worked things in where we could find sunshine and space. With all of these giant pine trees, sunshine is a rare commodity. We managed to squeeze in four tomato plants, a few varieties of basil, some oregano, and some seeds for a few things to see how they do this first year. Oh, and strawberries. You have to have strawberries. I think we'll end up doing a greenhouse at some point since we have a well for water. We'd love to be able to grow goodies year-round and the sunniest part of the yard has a perfect spot for a greenhouse.

Growing things. #garden #herbs #squarefootgarden #raisedbed #organic

Sneaking food into the corners. #maters #herbs #organic #garden

Maters planted. #garden #tomatoes

IMG 7868

Gonna wrap it up with some fig porn. Our fig tree is just so darn happy. Now, if I could figure out why we have only four food-producing trees out of the fifty-plus trees on this lot, I'd be so very happy. Time to fix that. I do not like watering things I can't eat. Gotta get these citrus trees in the ground before we get another heatwave! Mama needs her fresh-squeezed citrus cocktails!

 

 

Breakfast In Bed

Every morning. Not just special occasions like my birthday or Valentine's Day or Mother's Day. Every day.

That's when he makes me breakfast in bed.

Every single day.

Coffee. Eggs. Fresh fruit and whole grain cereals with greek yogurt on top.

All brought to me while I snuggle under the warmth of the covers.

And every single day that this happens I am the most grateful, thankful, appreciative woman there ever was, because I don't know how I got so lucky, so blessed, or so fortunate to have found this guy who wants to do this for me.

Every day.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7176/6803340374_e4ec880ca8.jpg

Tomayto, Tomahto, Donkey, Rabbit, Prick

So, I'm killing time, waiting to hear some news. No matter what happens, my day has been made perfect by this:

I've also discovered, after twenty+ years, that I CAN DRINK BEER. Well, some kinds of beer. So, I'm enjoying a lovely bottle of Tangerine Wheat from Lost Coast Brewery. It is, le yum. I highly recommend it.

Another fun find from the past week: Richmond Prick (which, is not penis, I swear) at Up & Under in Point Richmond (EAT IT. Be brave, just do it!) They also have tasty fish tacos and flaccid rugby balls masquerading as light fixtures–how is that not full of win? Also, you should seriously hit this place up if you're looking for the fellas. It was full of men of all shapes and sizes when we were there. Get after it. Or just eat and drink and enjoy your present company. That's what we did.

 

Telling My Secrets

Tonight, I made a couple of big turkey pot pies out of our Thanksgiving leftovers. I already had some pie dough, so it only took a few extra minutes to chop some carrots and an onion and simmer things before pouring them into the casserole dishes and pop them into the oven.

The thing that really made them taste great, in my opinion, was the crust. You can't beat a homemade crust, yet so many people get scared off by the idea.

I talked in a prior post about the importance of ice-cold ingredients when making pie dough. Super important. Keep everything chilled and chill the dough overnight, at least, until you're ready to roll it out.

Don't be afraid to flour your surface for rolling out the dough. And flour that rolling pin, too. The less you handle the dough, the better. If you can remember, flatten it into a pancake shape before chilling it. I do this in a gallon-sized Ziploc freezer bag.

Now, my recipe. This is a variation of my family's "Never Fail Pie Crust" recipe:

3 c flour (I prefer King Arthur's)
1 1/4 c butter (cold, cut into 1/2" cubes)
1 t salt
1 egg well-beaten
4 T ice-cold water
1 T white vinegar

Cut butter into flour and salt until butter is size of peas. Combine egg, water, and vinegar in separate bowl. Pour liquid into flour at once. [I make a volcano shape in the flour mixture and pour the liquid into the center.] Blend with a spoon and then work with your hands until all of the flour is moistened and dough can be formed into a ball. DO NOT OVER-HANDLE. Keeps in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. Can also be frozen. Handles best when refrigerated overnight.

I use an inexpensive pastry cutter to mix my dough, but you can do it with a fork by pressing the tines through the butter and flour. If you have a food processor, that's another option, but again, be careful not to overmix it and break down your nice, cold butter.

Now, go get baked! Wait, that's not what I meant.

Favorite Reads: Cocktails, Photography, Shopping, And Laughs

Alright kids, it's time to stop reading the drivel I post and get your eyes over to some other sites for a bit. Here are a few of my favorites:

When I want to learn about booze, and I mean learn not just tip up the glass, I head over to American Drink. Some people will blog about a cocktail they've whipped up in their makeshift kitchen bar, but these folks have dialed it in. Posts are provided by some of my friends, acquaintances, and occasionally inspired by some random folks I like to laugh at on stage when I get the chance. If you want to impress your friends during the holidays or maybe host a whisky tasting, check out this blog. If you want to learn why tequila isn't the evil shit that made you puke your guts out in college, take a gander at American Drink. Learn about the agave plant and why you don't need to do shots with lime and salt like a frat boy on spring break. Grow up with American Drink.

When I need to get inspired and find ideas for photography, I hit Photojojo. Not always, but frequently enough that I want to share. They have the best gadgets. Like this little doohicky right here: a lens cap holder for your camera strap. How fucking genius is that? They also have a feature called Time Capsule that sends you an email twice a month with photos from a year ago—also, genius. It links to Flickr; poof, done! I love that.

Now, on to my favorite shopping site. I am well and truly addicted to Hautelook. It's a downright embarrassment how often their packages show up on our doorstep, but I have scored some seriously good deals. Want a teaser? If you're into True Religion or Seven jeans, they have them right now for $56. I've found cashmere yoga pants, bamboo kitchen cutting boards, children's books, makeup, and a host of other treats. It's all name brand stuff. It's all deeply discounted. Shoes, furniture, clothing, housewares, toys, Hautelook has it all. The site updates daily and closes out items as they sell out. If Hautelook isn't your thing, head over to my other favorite shopping site, Etsy.

Need to wrap your day up with some shits and giggles? The Bloggess will deliver. My girl can make a chronic disease funny. She can make a sex tour in Japan funny. She can make a dead animal funny. If you have trouble finding your funny, let Jenny help you. She's a professional. I should warn you that you should not attempt her brand of humor at home unless you are wearing safety equipment and a Depends. Plus, sometimes she lets me take her picture in precarious locations, for which I am eternally grateful.

The Bloggess Holding Court in the Pisser

Other times, she wears my shoes and lets me pose WITH her in precarious locations. Again, grateful. (Precarious locations is code for bathrooms, by the way.)

Loubis

(Photo by the lovely Missdisgrace)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uniquely Them: Cooking On The Fly

Bug ate dinner after the rest of us tonight and wanted to cook it himself. He decided to make pasta and asked me for some advice on making the sauce. He was making spaghetti and wanted a cream sauce, maybe a cheese sauce to go with it. He wasn't sure how to start.

I gave him a few tips to get him going, led him to my great grandmother's cast iron pan, the olive oil and crushed garlic, and then watched him take over. He directed me to grab him some white wine, the parmesan cheese and heavy cream, and then I watched as he sniffed spices and herbs, deciding what he'd add and what he'd leave out.

His sister is just as comfortable in the kitchen, but Peanut prefers to cook the same way she prefers to learn. She likes to follow recipes. She likes to know where she's going when she starts her journey in the kitchen. She lays out all of her ingredients before she starts. She likes structure.

Bug doesn't work that way. He works more like me. He wings it. He likes to know the science and the reason why certain things are done, but then he wants to make his own decisions about how the flavors come together, and I have to say, he's typically spot on.

Tonight, he nailed it. A little garlic, a little onion salt and white pepper, some parmesan cheese and heavy cream with olive oil over a plate of spaghetti. Divine!

chef bug

Poached Eggs and Cheese...heads

Packer

Image by cdw9 via Flickr

Bob’s on a plane to Wisconsin—his first post-cancer flight. (He even has hair.) Fortunately, this trip's for pleasure, not business.

He’s on his way to the Sea of Cheeseheads for Sunday’s Packers v. Bears game. They don’t make football like that in California; you have to travel to Green Bay to get it. Thanks, John, for making this weekend happen.

While Bob’s off bumpin’ cheese wedges in Green Bay, I’m holding down the fort with the kiddos. Big plans on deck here. Oh, yeah. First, I’ve decided to do our taxes. You know, the ones we were supposed to do around the time Bob got his diagnosis? Seems that extension’s only good until October, which turns out to be next month. Shit.

Ever the Master Procrastinator (did I mention that my apartment in college was never cleaner than during finals week?), I’ve mastered free-form egg poaching (first try!) and whipped up a kickass batch of biscuits (at 2am) in an effort to avoid both sleep and productivity. I’ve also located a recipe I’ve been meaning to try for Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Anyone want to place bets on whether or not there will be a loaf rising before Sunday afternoon?

Hopefully, my CPA isn’t reading this. In case he is, I promise to throw a biscuit and a loaf of bread in the box with the rest of my mangled paperwork, Mike. And can I just send you pictures of my BlogHer swag from last year and let you figure out the value? Awesome! You're the best.

(Hey, at least it’s not chicken shit. He has clients that give him receipts with chicken shit on them. I’m way classier than that. A booger here and there, maybe, but no chicken shit.)

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Happy Towel Day

Towel with the words "Don't Panic" o...

Image via Wikipedia

Or Memorial Day. We celebrated both with a little bit of everything, all of it rather low-key.

There was some family time, celebrating Hubs’ brother’s big racing win, which he dedicated to Hubs.

Peanut did some baking, a tasty loaf of banana bread, and Hubs continued to perfect his skills in the kitchen with more delicious dinners. Chemo may have stopped him from doing the manly chores, but he has become quite the chef, especially since he can’t eat restaurant food.

The weather finally cooled off enough that I got to do a little gardening. The front yard is beginning to look more intentional than haphazard. I’m loving how the xeriscape section has taken shape. The sage and lavender smell delicious.

We didn’t see much of Bug this weekend. He was outside playing with his neighborhood friend every chance he got. If he had to come in for lunch or dinner, his friend would ride his bike around until Bug was done. I so clearly remember those days from my own childhood.

Peanut got together with a friend from her former school, and then went to a BBQ/birthday party for another friend from that same group. She’s a full head taller than so many of the girls now, but doesn’t seem to mind a bit. In fact, I think she rather likes it.

I wrapped up Towel Day by soaking my aching gardening back in the tub, and then drying off with a nice fluffy towel. Seemed the best way to end Towel Day.

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Finds: Mint-Chocolate Chip Flower Pin and Other Goodies

I’m trying out a new feature on my blog. You’ll have to let me know what you think.

In the sidebar of CalifmomReviews I feature my online finds. These range from fashion to tech gadgets. I may be the only one who thinks they’re cool, but maybe not.

Therefore, I’ve decided to share a few of them here. I’ll be posting a few in this post, but will probably just post a few each week, as I stumble upon them.

I’d love to have your feedback.

I switched our family off of the plastic goods awhile ago, and we no longer have babies in the house, but this thinkbaby set was just too cool to pass up. If you know someone expecting, or have little ones yourself, this would be a great feeding set.

These Alpaca Celestial Scarf sets are so fun. I love the shape of the hats. Not your average beanie. I mean, I’m all for looking like a pinhead in the name of warmth…but you know. The circles, so cool. Makes me think of squid tentacles. In a good way. I love me some sea creatures.

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Olives Under Your Pillow? Blame Your Brother

It’s about time for another peek at the funky design features of this ol’ house and the stuff I’ve stuffed into it. Don’t ya think? No? Tough shit.

That’s the beauty of it being my blog, not yours. You may not have to read it, but I get to indulge my whims at my whim.

When I was visiting with T last week in beautiful San Diego, we were discussing olives. Why wouldn’t we be? I was having a dirty martini at Dick’s Last Resort. Dirty martinis contain olives. My dirty martinis contain three olives. The really good ones contain olives stuffed with bleu cheese. Oh, yes they do.

T doesn’t like bleu cheese. I’m sad for T.

T of SendChocolate

Bug likes to put jars of olives under Peanut’s pillow. For fun. He’s twelve. It makes sense to him.

It does not make sense to Peanut.

It makes Hubs laugh, especially after finding out it wasn’t me accidentally leaving a jar of olives under Peanut’s pillow.

Hello! Just how spacey does he think I am?

Anyway, back to the olives. The reason, I theorized, that Bug chose a jar of olives as his instrument of torture for his sister was because he regularly bumps into the bar cart, jostling the jar of olives. This annoys him. Hence, he removed the jar from the bar cart and needed a place to stash the offending olives. Under his sister’s pillow. Makes sense.

T was impressed that we have a bar cart. She wants to see proof.

In the name of design and honesty, I offer you proof.

Deco Bar Cart

Vintage Art Deco Bar Cart

See how relaxed T looks now that she’s seen the bar cart? It does that to me too.

relaxed T

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OMG Bacon Cupcakes

I made two (yes, two) visits to Heavenly Cupcake while in San Diego. The first day, T and I ordered four cupcakes to go. I got a red velvet for me and a s'mores for Hubs. T got a dark chocolate for her and an orange chip for her hubby.

This morning, rather than eat a typical breakfast, my feet took matters into their own hands? feet? toes? soles? and carried my butt back to Heavenly Cupcake where I ordered some of their organic coffee and a carrot cupcake. Oh, the yummy.

They even serve shots of frosting. Should you feel the need.

All this cupcakey-ness got me thinking.

What about bacon cupcakes?

And then, I was led to this recipe. Can you think of anything more divine?

Vanilla Garlic: Maple Bacon Cupcakes with Maple Frosting.

I cannot.

Must bake some.

Must eat some.


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Best Scones Evah

A monkey could make these, and they'd still come out great. I got this recipe from my mom in 2005. I have made them multiple times, and they've never once flopped. I think it's a Weight Watchers recipe, but I couldn't find the actual source. The greatest thing about them? You probably have all the ingredients already.

Scones

  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/3 c. butter or shortening
  • 1/2 c. raisins, snipped dried apricots, dried cranberries (I just made them with dried cranberries and diced pecans.)
  • 3/4 c. milk

Optional: milk & sugar for brushing on scones prior to baking

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, 2 T. of sugar, and salt. Cut in butter/shortening w/pastry cutter until mixture has texture of cornmeal. Stir in dried fruit and 2/4 c. milk just until dough clings together (very important). Roll or pat to 7" circle 3/4" thick. Cut into 6-8 wedges. Place on ungreased baking sheet (I used a seasoned baking stone), brush with milk, and sprinkle with granulated sugar if desired. Bake at 425 F for 12-15 min. until golden.

Enjoy!

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Congratulations to The Graduate

This weekend, we celebrated the high school graduation of my friends' son, William. Here are some pictures of the event, including a new invention:Dr. Paul's Pork-On-A-Fork. We ate, gamed, drank, and laughed. Fortunately, the weather was kind, and stayed below the sweltering temps we'd had all week. Carol and her mom did an amazing job with getting the yard and house all gussied up. It was gorgeous! Kudos to Peanut, my assistant photographer. She did a wonderful job capturing the guests and mood of the evening. Take a peek.

www.flickr.com

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