Monthly Archives: December 2012

Holiday Hogs

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hamWhen there are just two people getting together (the Mother Unit and I) for a holiday, buying festive food should be simpler. Not really. I made hopefully the last foray into shopping land today for a few food items. I decided to get a ham. Ham doesn’t rock my world, but I like making bean soup w/ the ham bone. You have to go through a lot of ham to get to that bone. She Of The Slight Frame will have to take home many lbs. of ham.

Looking at the half-hams, the smallest I could find was 8.8 lbs. How big are these hogs, anyway? That’s one big butt. OK, so I don’t know exactly where the ham is on the hog, but I try to disconnect from that aspect as long as I’m still a carnivore.

Holiday Items

Today, this is what I bought. Not strictly a single people list since I’m having company, but it reads like one.

  • Two nice bottles of white wine – An Albarino and a Torrentes, a bit above my usual $10 limit, but hey, it’s a holiday. I had some Prosecco from Trader Joe’s, but wanted some “regular” white.  (If you think you have to buy $$ Champagne or that dreadful other fizzy crap, try a Prosecco. Usually cheaper, but w/ the bubbly thing, it’s a fun Italian sparkling wine. You have to trust me on these things.)
  • Bailey’s Creme Brule Coffee Creamer – Coffee snob that I am, I don’t usually go for frou-frou, sweet coffee “enhancers.” But I had a coupon and also thought it would be good in the Kaluha knock-off I bought last week.
  • Pears – Needed those for the decorative holiday fruit collage I have going.
  • Milk-Bones – The pup might get a more fancy treat for Xmas, but these are a necessity.
  • A Brie-like product – The first time I’ve bought Brie since Bokhara, my cat, died. He loved the stuff. Again, a coupon and the Mother might enjoy.
  • Jeni’s Brown Butter Almond Brittle Ice Cream – Dear God, can you imagine? Can’t wait to try it.
  • More stuff I can’t recall or it’s too boring to list – This all added up to $103, which was surprising.

No Baking

I normally bake at least a few things at holidays. Not in the mood or no energy or both this year. But check out that ice cream above. And there’s wine…and ham…

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Burning the Latte

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"Medium" Starbucks Pumpkin Latte

“Medium” Starbucks Pumpkin Latte

After recently paying over $4 for a festive holiday latte at Starbucks, I’ve started making my own at home. Don’t get excited. I didn’t buy one of those insanely expensive new coffee/espresso/latte/single-serve machines. I use leftover coffee, a couple hits of Hershey’s dark chocolate syrup, cinnamon and fat-free creamer. It’s not bad. There’s no foofy foam on top or sprinkles, but it’ll do.

The other morning, I actually burned the latte. I was doing remote cooking in the style of  HWNLI (“He Who No Longer Inhabits” or the “new” Voldemort) and left the pot simmering away while I was distracted by the pup. My gas stove that goes from gentle simmer to fry the hell out of it in under 8 seconds made a boiling, sticky mess all over the burner. Lovely. I drank some of it anyway.

Carbo Load

What is it about this time of year, besides my rampant SAD (seasonal affective disorder – kind of depression “lite”), that makes me put every sugar-laden item in a five-mile radius in my mouth? Brownie bites are no longer satisfactory alone – they must have a scoop or TWO of peppermint ice cream on top!

This would be a good plan if I wanted to be a sumo wrestler. Reminds me of something a psychiatrist with whom I used to work (not as a patient, a colleague) said when I mentioned trying to lose weight. He said, “Maybe you should just revise your goals to become as big as possible.” I worry sometimes that he gave similar advice to his patients.

Fruit

In an attempt to cool it w/ the sweets, I had a clementine orange today. OK, let’s quit pretending that fruit is just as satisfying as a hunk of chocolate. Seriously. I love apples, but this time of year, they need to be baked w/ brown sugar or dipped in something.

To Ham or Not to Ham

Not unlike the masses, I think about buying one of those spiral-sliced, glazed (see brown sugar above) hams this time of year. If I do, I then have to eat 34 ham sandwiches even after splitting leftovers w/ my mother. But it’s often worth it for the bean soup I make w/ the bone. But now these suckers are like $4.99/lb. and of course the smallest you can purchase is 73 lbs. I may have to opt for another meat du jour this year.

Okay, I just proved my own point that most blogs go on and on with the most inane drivel disguised as interesting stuff. But maybe now you too are inspired to chuck the expensive latte habit and burn your own at home?

Alter Ego

When I’m not writing this blog about trips to Trader Joe’s and wine selections, I actually write for a living. I know, I know. That’s hard to believe, but I often pay my bills w/ writing income. In the interest of cross-promoting (like cross-dressing, but w/ less flair and mascara), here’s an article I wrote that was just re-posted on the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop blog. Thanks to author Tim Bete for his assist. Check it out and then stay and read about other humor writers who don’t have side jobs…

“Ahoy Matey: Pirate Parenting Eases Stress of Moving”

Is Peanut Brittle a Vegetable?

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I got an unexpected check this week (from what I assumed was a deadbeat client) which facilitated a long overdue TJ’s trip for staples like dark chocolate peanut butter salty caramel truffles. I also went to the reg. grocery store and stocked up. It’s amazing how much your menu-planning becomes more creative when you have actual food.

Holiday Food

I used to look forward to making holiday food like peanut brittle, lemon pound cake w/ lemon glaze, cheese balls, etc. Not really up for it this year, but I did find some raw peanuts from last year. Evidently, I wasn’t up to it then either. Still w/i the use-by date, I think I’ll make some.

My grandmother taught me how to make peanut brittle the old-fashioned way – cooking on the stove and spreading it out on a marble slab to cool. I make it in the microwave. I know how to make other candy-type things like caramels, but it’s a tricky process. You can end up w/ mortar if you don’t watch that thermometer. So, microwave it is.

Shopping Spree

Here’s the Trader Joe’s bounty:

  • case of wine – haven’t been able to afford that in a while. It makes sense because essentially you get a free bottle w/ the 10% discount. BTW, try a Gruner Veltliner if you can find one. Don’t worry if people scoff at your pronunciation.
  • gorgonzola – the real Italian version
  • smoked salmon – I swear I could live on it
  • sea salt pita chips
  • fig butter – for that apple pizza I’ve talked about
  • garlic hummus
  • spinach and kale dip – better than it sounds and low-fat
  • rosemary and raisin crackers – ditto
  • other stuff I can’t remember

At the reg. grocery I bought:

  • 2 lbs. of frozen E-Z peel shrimp – like the salmon, I could live on this.
  • brownie bites
  • green beans – I steamed them for me and the pup. Maybe eventually we’ll just eat the same diet. No comments, I’m kidding, people.
  • booze – I’m not a booze drinker, but I wanted a coffee liqueur for the occasional after-dinner drink and rum for a hot-buttered rum recipe I love. (see above holiday “food”)
  • other veggies and fruit
  • almond milk – it’s better than soy and I had a coupon
  • other boring stuff I can’t remember

Design-a-Tote

Hey, if anyone is interested (and why wouldn’t you be? I’m an artist, too!), I’ll design you a SPGL tote like the one below. Just send me your nutty grocery list (leave a comment and we’ll go from there) and I’ll design a tote for you. How fun is that? Well, you probably have more fun than I do, so it’s relative. This isn’t about trying to monetize my blog, I just like to tote cp (240x240)make the totes and they’re really affordable.

I Need a Wobbly Food Dispenser

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Because my pup inhales her food and then amazes me w/ loud belching, I bought her one of those treat/food dispensers that has a small hole and is weighted so it wobbles on the floor. This makes feeding time more challenging and lasts longer, so she eats slower. It’s also hysterical to watch. If I had means to make a video of her, I’d share it. She’s smart, so it didn’t take her long to figure it out and now it’s a game.

Human Food Dispenser

Watching her work for the food and realizing I must be subconsciously training to be a sumo wrestler if my recent eating habits are an indicator, I think I need one of these devices. If I had to roll something around on the floor in order to get my truffle brownie w/ peppermint ice cream on top, at least I’d get a bit of exercise. It wouldn’t be pretty and certainly not entertaining to watch, but I might be less likely to give in to a craving.

Wal-Mart Shopping List

I’m not a fan of Wal-Mart. Don’t get all righteous on me, I’m not a shopping snob (I go to Goodwill sometimes.). I don’t like their labor practices (sexist, racist, ageist, etc.), but damn, they have some good prices. Best for pet toys, drug store stuff and their food is good.

While visiting the Mother Unit this week, we ran in for a few things. I don’t know what she bought because I was distracted by the elaborate plan she laid out for us to meet up after shopping. We didn’t synchronize our watches, but there was way too much discussion.

Here’s what I bought:

  • two lemons
  • loaf of wheat bread
  • Milk-Bones (small multi-flavors version)
  • nightlight bulbs (my only concession to holiday decorating is those little electric lamps you put in the window. I do that in memory of special folks and beloved pets.)
  • gum

Still money challenged, that was it. But it kept me from having to go out amongst them in any other retail environment for a while.

I’m not going to say “Happy Holidays” because I wouldn’t mean it. But if I like you, I’ll wish you some down-time and less exposure to the dysfunctional family crap than usual.

If I get a check this week, I’m buying a case of wine and will report in later.

Cheers….