Thursday, November 25, 2010

Victory tastes creamy with a lemony tang...

After our last attempt at hollandaise sauce, we figured that the next free Saturday morning we would try it again in hope of better results. But since free Saturday mornings are not something that shows up in our life very often these days, we did some recipe research and finally settled on a Wednesday afternoon to give it a go. This time we were victorious over the sauce.

First of all we gathered up the ingredients.

Just ignore how much butter there is - especially since this only feeds two people. Yes, it's really really bad for you, but it's just so dang good. Added to these ingredients were the lemon juice and some secret spices.

Now for those of you who read the other post regarding hollandaise sauce, you'll remember what we went through with the sauce separating. Well, we found a recipe that eliminated this problem. The original recipe had you cooking the yolk and melting the butter separately which requires adding the butter oh so slowly while whisking away like there is no tomorrow. The solution this new recipe offered was brilliant. First we melted the butter, then added the yolks to the already melted butter. Of course you have to cook it for longer this way, but there is no danger of the dreaded sauce separation.

 Paden then added some spices and lemon juice to the hollandaise sauce while continuing to whisk away.

While Paden was stirring up and making the sauce, I fried the ham and poached the eggs....

With this new sauce method, most everything went smoothly (except the eggs were started too early and ended up being a little over poached for our personal taste). Finally complete, he poured the hollandaise sauce over the prepped English Muffins.

Now tell me that doesn't look as good as it tasted....

So while we savored our successful egss benedict dish, we planned out the perfect meal: Eggs Benedict with salmon, asparagus, fried tomatoes and a glass (or two) of tangy white wine. So don't be surprised if we have you over and serve you the above menu. After all, when you work so hard to make such a delicious dish, how can you not spread the love?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Changing Time

I think we should start having daylight savings every week. When the alarm went off at 5:30 this morning, I felt as if getting up right then were not the worst thing in the world; a brand new Monday morning sensation. I went to work and felt no loathing toward that office that has enchained me to boredom for so many bygone hours of my life. When quitting time rolled round, I realized it had been one of the best Mondays I have ever spent at Parker Hannifin Manhattan. Imagine what the world would be like if every Monday were like that? It's not like we can see the sunlight locked up in our cubicles anyway.

In other new, I'm collecting boxes now. Turns out we won't be home on a weekend day from now till we move, so all the packing and sorting out what to take and what to leave behind must happen on a Monday-Thursday night within the next 6 weeks. Being busy is a very good thing right now - when there is a change that exciting about to happen in your life, the last thing you feel like doing is sitting around.

Also, Kara got engaged to Peter Rapp on Friday; there is much rejoicing. :-)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

New Shoes

Changing the picture on my blog profile to one of our wedding photos turned out to be more work than I thought. I guess it's like getting that amazing pair of shoes that require a whole new wardrobe to match them. Thus the new look.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Moving Forward...

We recently made the decision to let the Bagel back into our life. Permanently if the Bagel shows no objections. The boss of the Bagel Shop in Moscow espied enough promise in Paden's Bagelling skills that he has invited him back with wide open arms. With those open arms, he offers the opportunity to delve deeper into the lesser known components that are so vital to the art of Bagelling. This new move will not only tender us Bagel savvy, but will portend to a satisfactory future of Bagel inoculation

It will be up to us to change the world. One. Bagel. At. A. Time.

So goodbye Manhattan, KS and hello again Moscow, ID.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

From Bottles to Boxes

At the end of the month I look through our spendings and categorize everything in order to see where the money flows. It is a great way to see where your priorities really lie. As a general rule we keep within our budget, but a few things stick out... well, one thing in particular: the alcohol budget.

For the past year or so we have been attempting to bungle our way into cultivating some kind of taste and appreciation for good wine. It's been fun, but perhaps we should have waited a few more years to do that when our budget would actually allow for it.  Part of the problem is that wine just isn't as cheap in Kansas as it was in Idaho. There is no Safeway with their "buy six bottles to get 10% off entire wine purchase if you show your Safeway card" deals. Plus they don't sell wine in the grocery stores (nor any alcohol on Sundays altogether). Since we are not made of money quite yet, we decided something must be done about this. Giving up wine did not seem like a good option since those health experts are always telling us that people who drink wine in moderation will live longer than those who refrain. So we looked into boxed wines.

We asked the guy at the store (who I'm afraid may be at risk of recognizing us) which boxed wine would be the best choice. He recommended two and we picked the cheaper one. When you calculate the difference, the amount you are saving is actually quite astonishing. Instead of spending $12 on a bottle of Lindeman's Australian Cabernet Sauvignon (one of our fav's for the price), you get a little over 6 1/2 bottles of a Californian Almaden Cabernet Sauvignon for just $17.99. That's a saving of $9 per bottle. We bought our first boxed wine.

Both of us were determined to make this cheaper alternative work, so after the first taste we merely pursed our lips, squinted our eyes, and nodded solemnly like those posh wine tasters do on TV. One of us then made the suggestion that food would probably enhance the flavor, making it noticeably more palatable. Fortunately that proved to be quite true. In fact, by the time the box was emptied, we even enjoyed it. One can only hope our wine taste buds aren't slowly being silenced into the grave. However, the choice was not difficult to make. Although breaking up is never easy, we just can't take the toll of this affair with the bottle. After we've had a little space and time, we can hope for a joyous reunion; for now we look for consolation in the box.

We wine connoisseur wannabes are giving up the bottle and embracing the box.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

On a Saturday morning...

We made eggs benedict on Saturday.

Actually, it was Paden's project, not mine; and to be honest there was a lot more 'trying' than actual 'doing.'

Since The Chef Cafe is a thing of the past, we are both at home Saturday mornings for the first time. So Friday Paden checked the pantry for ingredients and I stopped by the store on the way home from work . Little did we know what we were in for.

When making Eggs Benedict, one of the most important things is getting the thickness right. The melting of the butter went smoothly. (You really don't want to know how much butter is in that stuff!) I assume the mixing of the other ingredients went well also, but I was busy over the coffee pot so I missed that part. The first tricky part came pouring the butter into the other mixture. This is where reading ahead would have helped us out a little and perhaps have even saved the dish. (Although I must say it is a great improvement on following a recipe from Paden's first attempt at making cookies a month or so ago. He wasn't aware you had read the directions and just mixed all the ingredients for fudge filled cookies together all at once and baked them. They tasted alright... but they weren't cookies.) Back to the Eggs Benedict. The butter must be poured in as slowly as possible. So I poured a tiny little itsy bitsy teeny weeny little stream into the butter while Paden whisked and whisked and I poured and poured. Once all the butter was poured and the mixture was whisked very thoroughly, it came to our attention that it was much too soupy. I grabbed for my coffee. I was needing it by now. Then I read the recipe and saw that you were supposed to watch as you poured in the butter in case it got too thin.

So Paden got ready to cook some more egg yolk to thicken the mixture. This is where things went really wrong. I'm pretty sure it happened somewhere around the time I was holding the bowl with my left over the boiling water to keep it hot while Paden separated the egg yolks and whites. I made the horrible mistake of stopping the whisk for about three seconds. The butter was separated.

It ought to have looked like this.

Instead it looked a lot more like this. Except waaaay worse. Imagine those little chunks are much bigger and that there are a lot more of them.

The recipe assured us that if we were newbies, a quick whiz through the blender would solve our problems. It didn't. But we had the ham prepared and the English Muffins toasted and the eggs poached and I was about to pass out from hunger, so we sat down at the table and cautiously put the "Hollandaise sauce" on top.

Yeah. It didn't taste so great. Too much lemon for one. And the recipe wasn't exaggerating when it said separating was a chef's worst nightmare. It just meant we had to drink more coffee.

But it was a great learning experience on so many levels. If you know me when I'm hungry, you can probably guess that patience wasn't in surplus. So there we were. Struggling through a recipe that wasn't working. Desperately rushing back and forth trying to save the sauce, meanwhile the clock ticking the hour away, and our tummies, which are not used to waiting more than fifteen minutes to eat, are getting hollower.

 I'd like to say the lesson I learned was about patience and how to get over how hungry I am while helping my amazing husband make this new breakfast he's wanted to try for quite sometime. But I'm afraid it only reinforced an old, dear and ever-true lesson I learnt four years ago: in a tight spot that caffeinated, warm, appetite suppressing, comforting drink will always be there to keep out chaos.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For

     I can't remember the exact number of Mustangs we counted during out ten day Hawaii trip, but it was an impressive amount. Ems, Carmel, Tabitha and I were very faithful in our counting. If we happened to be separated for different activity, the first thing we would do when we returned to the villa was tally our counts together. When we each picked out which color Mustang we would drive, we took the decision very seriously. We even made sure to get our picture with a nice flashy red one. (My sincerest apologies to the owner of this car - in defense I believe one of us did protest against sitting on a stranger's car)
     After we left Hawaii, Mustangs were only merely a token by which we could remember the best vacation we had ever had.
     When Paden and I started looking for a more fuel efficient vehicle (not to mention one I can see out of), a Mustang was the last one either of our minds. To me a Mustang meant luxury, it meant Hawaiian warmth in the dead of winter, it meant windy roads by crashing shorelines, it meant driving with the top down and letting wind mess up your hair. These are not typical attributes of my daily life. Or so I thought.
     When we spontaneously decided to take a trip down to Wichita and visit the Morgan family while looking at a few cars, a Mustang was definitely not on the list. There was a some Japanese car starting with Mitsu at the top of the list. From what we saw on Craigslist, it looked like a steal of deal. Apparently it was, because it sold before we hit the road. There was also an adorable little white Volkswagen convertible that, according to Jeremy Morgan, would have threatened Paden's manliness. Oh, and there was this sweet Suzuki Sidekick. It was electric blue and looked like a ton of fun to drive. Then there was a 1990 Honda Civic at a mechanic shop that somebody never picked up. The only one we actually looked at was the Honda civic. But no air blew out of the vents and the passenger side door didn't close all the way. Seeing as we were not in a hurry to buy a car, we let that one go.
     Back at the Morgan's, while Linda prepared some delicious tacos for lunch, Paden called about a few other cars. It is amazing how many people won't answer their phones. Finally, we got a callback and it was for the Mustang. His first reaction was to comment on how hideous the car was. But the price was rather attractive.
     The man selling the white 1990 4Cyl Mustang clearly had an eye for beautiful cars. I didn't know a car could be so beautiful till I saw the Corvette in his garage among other fancy looking cars. Nestled among these beauties was our Mustang. It was love at first sight for me. It was clean, inside and out - even under the hood. Maybe it's not the sporty red, convertible Mustangs we counted in Hawaii, but maybe it is the name that counts after all.
     I never believed I would actually drive a Mustang; perhaps this just goes to prove: be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

To Begin with...

The Little Apple is a awesome. Most people who live here will attest to how much they love it. After all, it's small enough for traffic to be no concern and big enough to have a Super Center Walmart. There are two things that drive this town to be the hot spot it is. One is the large military base a few miles out of town. (I've been learning military lingo) Second is the college - more specifically the football team. Purple is the predominant color in this town because purple is the Wildcat team color. Last week we had to get a new laptop and yes, they sold it in Wildcat purple. The house without a purple wildcat mailbox is the odd one out. If you drive by campus one in every five people will be wearing a purple shirt. The Homecoming game sold out at over 51,100 roaring fans all wearing purple (okay, some wore white). Half of the clothing section in Walmart appears to be devoted to purple. If you like purple, you really should move here.

People in this town are very friendly. Actually, Kansas people in general are very friendly. If you are driving on the back roads and pass another truck, they will  wave at you without fail. Walmart people in the checkout line may be painfully slow, but they are easy to engaged in pleasant small talk.

Oh, and to be girly for a moment, people in Kansas dress with a lot more style than people in Idaho did as a general rule.

Another great thing about this place is their thunderstorms. In the past three months we've been here, I've seen more thunderstorms than I have in my entire life combined. One particularly memorable one was when I was driving to work at 6:20am and watched the lightening streak form spiderwebs over the entire sky. Very impressive.

Speaking of natural beauties, when Paden and I first drove to Manhattan KS in June, we were greeted by more fireflies than I ever knew existed. Entire fields on either side of us twinkled with their blinking lights for mile after mile. When one was unfortunate to meet its demise on our windshield, its remains glowed for quite some time. I haven't seen that many again, but they are plentiful around here. I think the north west would be greatly improved by their presence.

Lest you begin to think KS is paradise, let me tell you about another kind of bug. My first meeting with the chigger was, ironically, while performing the good deed of helping a neighbor move into an apartment in our building. Hot weather is the norm here, so naturally I was wearing shorts and flip flops. Bad idea. When the Bible speaks of the worm that never dies, I'm pretty sure if you researched it, you would discover it is referring to the chigger. After first being bitten you might be tempted to think a chigger is not so bad. The itchiness is not even as bad as a mosquito bite and goes away sooner. But the story does not end there. When that little bugger bit you, it left its eggs buried in your skin. Yeah, I know. Creepy and oh so gross. About two weeks later, all of the sudden the itching is back with a mighty vengeance. This is the kind of itching that drives you crazy. No mosquito bite can even compare. The desire to itch permeates your every waking - and sleeping - thought for a full two days. Yeah. The fireflies may be beautiful, but the chiggers are fearsome.

You may appreciate a fine display of lightening or fireflies, friendly people, and even a bright, obnoxious shade of purple, but before coming here you must be ready to face the chigger.

You have been warned.