Monday, December 29, 2008

Pimento Cheese

Okay, we love homemade p'mento cheese.
One of my favorites, is the "homemade" (in the store) pimento cheese
from Conrad & Hinkle's Market in Lexington, NC.

The smooth & creamy, yet slightly lumpy spread is unlike any store bought.

I've always strived to make a batch just as good as Conrad-Hinkle's.

Most recipes have too many ingredients. And are too dry, and well, just not right.

So, Here is how I make pimento cheese.

Velveeta (2-4oz)
Duke's Mayo
Shreadded sharp cheese (about 1 cup)
Shreadded 3-4 cheese blend (about 1 cup)
Sugar (no more than 1 Tablespoon)
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Diced Pimientos, reserve juice (2-4ounce jar)

In a food processor, blend until smooth: the Velveeta, half of the cheeses, the sugar, and a touch of the reserved juice.

In a large bowl, stir together the processed cheeses, the pimentos, the remaining cheese and seasonings.
Add additional mayo to reach desired consistency. (It will absorb some of the mayo if you get too much the first day.)

Refrigerate overnight & add additional mayo to again reach spreading consistency.
This will about fill a 2-pound yogurt or sour cream container.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!

We made it to the Mountains. I had to leave the office at 1:15 pick up the kids & we were on the road by 2:10. We made excellent time. I stopped for gas in N. Wilkesboro and then back on the road. It was cold & windy & the temps were dropping.

But we were a mere 30 minutes from our exit off of the highway & onto mountainous back roads. Then traffic S T O P S. We were in a stand still. (Fatal head-on- with 2 small kids involved.) After a little over two hours we were going again. But, remember I mentioned that the temperature was dropping? Well, during our wait, it sleeted a little, rained a little & got a L O T colder.

Meaning ice on the roads. Because the salt trucks couldn't treat the roads because of the stopped traffic. We slipped a little & the kids were nervous as the white 4 wheel drive SUV in front of us slipped & slid around. We were rolling at a mere 20-25 mph. And the kids were fussing about being trapped in a slow moving car. I kept reminding them to be thankful we were alive & to be considerate of my concentration while I was driving through less than idea conditions(aka -- be quite!)

So, a little over 3 hours after getting gas we were heading up the back "road" to the house. Imagine a dirt path, full of big rocks, natural springs that trickle over the way, and tree limbs. It was actually better than it had been in past years. I guess most of the people have been using that way up the mountain, as the state paved the steep way (regular way up) and the switchbacks are not possible to maneuver, even with chains and 4 wheel drive.

Oh. I also want to mention the wind we had up here after our adventurist drive. 110 mph gust. I didn't sleep a wink.
I'll be traveling home Saturday, to start the major clean-out/redesign of my house. The kids will be staying here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

To-Do List leading up to DEC 24

The dreaded LIST...
1 cover letter! PRONTO
2 find battery charger-- camera needs fresh batteries!
3 pay power bill
4 pay daycare
5 get secret gifts from C's
6 pack holiday gifts into trunk
7 order thumb drives-- dad, C & me (total #??)
8 pack away extra sheets
9 WORK: Billing for W & MB

1 1-2-3 dough crust
2 Grand Mariner Bars
3 Red Velvet Cakes
4 Prep: S.Pot topping, Cream Cheese frosting ingredients
5 Pack kids clothes
6 Pack yarn projects (maybe just hooks & patterns??)
7 Thank Cleve

1 WORK: Billing for MB
3 Finish packing
4 PILLOWS & Woobies in car

Cream Filled Chocolate Cake with Fudgie Frosting

Cream Filled Chocolate Cake with Fudgie Frosting

Last night I had to make a chocolate cake for my niece's 15th birthday.
She likes chocolate cake. Chocolate frosting.
I don't like chocolate cake. AND I still haven't discovered the perfect formula for a yummy chocolate buttercream.

I made the most yummy (looking- I can't taste it until tonight) chocolate cake, a rich & creamy pastry cream filling & tried a new chocolate frosting.
This chocolate frosting is fudgie & smooth. ♥ I LOVE IT! ♥ The formula makes a rather small batch- about 2 cups- but I think it will become a new staple for my recipe collection. It's right off the back of my cocoa powder-- I just can't believe how good it is. And a simple recipe too!

I topped the cake with a fine layer of grated milk chocolate, bordered the top with chocolate curls & chilled the cake overnight. This morning, I piped more chocolate to add "Happy Birthday!" I even remembered to take a photo- I'll add it soon- once I get the card downloaded.

{I've tried twice to upload the picture. All the way through the click "DONE" to add your picture & then it sends me back to the post but the photo isn't here. =( I'll keep trying. I wish I'd remembered to take the camera tonight, so you could have seen the thick layer of yummy pastry cream inside. It was almost as thick as the cake layers!}

PS- the cake WAS SOOOOOOOO yummy. One of the best chocolate cakes I've ever made. The fudgie frosting was thinner than I normally use on top of a cake, but it was SO rich. More would have been overkill.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Peppermint Cookies

I made these peppermint cookies.

they look yummy.
they taste like toothpaste.
maybe I need a new toothpaste.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Last night I was inspired after drooling reading through some yummy blog entries. I had a hankering for oatmeal cookies and chocolate. I have a favorite oatmeal cookie recipe (its Quaker's Famous Oatmeal Cookies) that has just the right soft-chewy consistency. I like adding white chips & dried cranberries it that recipe, but chocolate chips in a plain oatmeal cookie wasn't what I was craving.

I turned to one of my favorite cookbooks that doesn't feature pictures. (I HATE cookbooks without photos.)It's Best Recipes: From The Backs Of Boxes, Bottles, Cans And Jars and compiled by Ceil Dyer. All of these recipes were published by name brand companies and printed on packaging or advertisements. I've used this book so much! I love the fact that there is a little history with each recipe.

I ended up making Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies, featuring Gold Medal Flour. (I even actually used Gold Metal Flour!) It is a good recipe although I tweaked it a bit. I used 1/2 Crisco shortening, because I like puffy oatmeal cookies, and I followed basic creaming procedures instead of just dumping ingredients together as the recipe indicated. Which, I'm sure would still make a satisfying cookie, but much money was spent so I could obtain a pastry degree, so I might tend to make things more complicated. (Whoa, complicated, like this paragraph's structure! But that's the fun in blogging-- ) I also used my special blend of cocoa powders and milk chocolate chips.

Anyway- I didn't take photos last night- but these are good. I also must mention to WATCH THESE COOKIES while they bake-- as chocolate cookies can fool ya. The first pan is a bit crisp, although still quite edible, the 2 & 3rd pans are the perfect chewy-ness & I have more dough in the fridge for later. I must admit, I don't like them as much as Quaker's Famous with the added cranberries & white chips. Maybe the dark dutch process cocoa over did it? Hmm. I think a big pan of brownies would have been just the thing-- but the brownie blogs I read yesterday might be swaying my focus a bit! I'll take pictures tonight-- Right after the Kindergarten's' Christmas Program. (oh. fun. do I really havta go?)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas vs Yule

I was raised in a house where we celebrated Christmas.
Throughout my childhood & adolescent life, I went to church. Through college I tried to find a church that I wanted to attend regularly, but I did not succeed.
I've been attending the same church for the past (almost) three years. Even being a regular in Sunday School.
My current series of lessons in class has really brought forth a reoccurring thought to me. I'm not sure that I believe all of this stuff. Parts of it- yea. But some parts, big parts-- I might add, Nope.

So, here is my dilemma. Do I keep "celebrating" Christmas with my kids, or do I research more into other belief systems & their holidays? How can I help my kindergartener understand what & why-- when I don't even have the answers.

I LOVE decorating a tree & having lights, I LOVE the idea of giving gifts-- Do I just start calling our celebrations something else? Kind of in reverse of what happened when Christian Holidays were plastered over the existing ones? Reverting back to the old days?
But what about Christmas Music-- I LOVE me some Christmas music.

I want my children to be able to choose their own beliefs, and not just slide along the accepted way. But I don't want them to have a stigma attached as they progress through school age.

If anyone has any pros or cons-- or ideas-- I'm open to reading them.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tunisian Stash Buster Blanket Help!

Okay-- I was asked to spell out how I did my red-purple-orange tunisian stash buster blanket. So-- Here is my best attempt at outlining what I did-- hopefully the gist is transferred & you can develop your own lovely creation!

This afghan-blanket is made with a 19mm cabled tunisian crochet hook. Mine is a lovely Jenkins Woodworking Hook.

*Most color changes happen before starting the reverse pass (RP). This makes the horizontal colors slightly different than the vertical bars that encase it.
*For a few super bulky yarns, I used on the RP only.
*One yarn was itchy to me, so I only use it on the forward pass (FP) so it hardly itches at all when you are under it!

General Note on Tunisian Simple Stitch (TSS) structure: FP creates the vertical bars shown on the front of the afghan. RP makes the horizontal rows & is heavily seen on the back of the work.

My afghan is primarily red & purple, with touches of orange & yellow.
Here is a sampling of the yarns in my afghan. Please note, some yarns are used in multiple colors.

red afghan yarn samples

Top Row:
Mystery Super Bulky single ply (from LYS I lost tag)
Lion Brand Incredible Ribbon Yarn
Patons Rumor: two colors included: this orange/red (Hibiscus?) and a purple one (plum?)
Fanta: the red plied with a black/multi This is the one that ended up being itchy & used on FP only
SWS several colors used in blanket (3 or 4?)
Mystery RR Ribbon yarn (from LYS I lost the tag)
Trendsetter Finesse: the ribbon yarn with tuffs- Rusty Orange & yellow

Bottom Row:
Worsted Wool: Several different red wools, one variegated with purple (Russian?)
Purple Reclaimed sweater yarn
Angora Extra: orange, purple & dark purple
California Caramel: The slippery shiny red
Super Fine wool dark purple Reclaimed sweater yarn

Here is a scan of the first few rows: Starting chain is shown on the left side, work is shown sideways.


And here is how I mixed the yarns:

CO: Rumor
1: Rumor
RP: 2x Caramel + 1 Purple Sweater
2: same
RP: 1 Caramel + 1 Purple Sweater + 1 Orange Angora (- 1 caramel)
3: same
RP: 2 Purple Sweater + Orange Angora (- caramel)
4: Fanta only
RP: 2 Purple Sweater + 1 Dark Purple Angora
5: same
RP: 1 Purple Sweater + 1 Dark Purple Angora + 1 Caramel (- 1 purple sweater)
6: same
RP: 1 Orange Trendsetter + 1 Purple Sweater + 1 Caramel (- 1 Dark Purple Angora)
7: LB Ribbon only
RP: 1 Purple Sweater + 1 Caramel *only 2 b/c ribbon was so wide on vertical bars
8: 1 Orange Angora + 1 Purple Sweater + 1 Caramel * just added the orange
RP: Rumor only
9: Rumor only
RP: Orange Angora + 1 Purple Sweater + 1 red ww wool
10: same
RP: 1 Purple Sweater + 1 red ww wool + 2 SF dk purple (- Orange Angora)
11: Same
RP: 1 RR ribbon + 1 Purple Sweater + 2 SF dk purple (- 1 red ww wool)
12: Same
RP: 2 Purple Sweater + 1 RR ribbon (-+ 2 SF dk purple)
13: Fanta only
RP: 2 Purple Sweater + 1 yellow Trendsetter
14: 1 Caramel + 1 Purple Sweater + 1 yellow Trendsetter
RP: Super Bulky
15: Rumor
RP: 1 Purple Sweater + 1 caramel + ww red wool

Now, I tried to spread out my work to see if I needed a touch of a certain color or if it was too close to the last row—the novelty yarns are used less often because they are more noticeable—the purple sweater yarn and the caramel are the “staple” yarns throughout.

This is not an exact pattern to use, and has not been repeated through the rest of my afghan—I just kept changing one yarn at a time. I’ve left the tails on the ends, and when I get finished I will add more to fill out the fringe.

And lastly, an over-exposed scan where this is stretched to its most open state.
(Slightly more than normal)

over exposed scan

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Orange Julius

I ♥ Orange Julius.

I haven't had a REAL one in YEARS.
But I like to make my own version at home.
I have a commercial blender (a REAL commercial blender, not a overpriced blender that says its commercial.) and I'm not afraid to use it.

I'll share my version:
8/ oj (With pulp & w/o calcium or added junk)
8/ water
2T pasteurized egg whites
splash of vanilla
1/4-1/3 cup sugar
Ice- one tray's worth

Pop the lid on & blend. (I use the #3 pre-programed setting- but that is really intended for frozen berry smoothies) so it sometimes can over whip the whites.

Pour into a big insulated mug & enjoy with a jumbo straw!
(One of the local drive-thru places has the red straws that are made of thicker plastic & are "wide-mouthed" we try to grab extras & save them for our frozen drinks at my house!) Regular straws & bendy straws just collapse & aren't worth the hassle when it comes to these drinks!

Oh Wow.
Apparently they will be opening one somewhat near-by (an hour's drive) soon-- or it may now be open, by as I don't go to malls (Hey! I used to work at one-- and shopping just isn't the same now that I have two kids!)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


A fresh new to-do list:

1) call for shot records
2) call about job application
3) pay rent
4) Post Office
5) Clean out chair
6) Garland for Office
7) pay gas bill
8) scrub out tub
9) water plants
10) chicken for dinner

Monday, December 1, 2008

Long weekends put me SO far behind!

I really don't like long weekends.
Not only do I get behind at the office, but I also get behind on my housework. You see, when kids are home for an extended amount of time, they somehow forget how to do things for themselves. They forget that shoes & coats have a designated place. They forget that they must eat in the kitchen. They forget that lotion goes on hands, not into the carpet.
And long weekends = relaxing? Not for me. I ended up with WAY TOO MUCH STUFF ON MY TO-DO LIST. So much, that I didn't even post it here. I did type a list on my computer, but I never even got the chance to blog-- and that WAS on my list. I had some BIG things that I needed/wanted to do-- I never even had to chance to pre-plan doing them.
The only way I can remotly get things done is when the kiddos are either in school/daycare or they are away with my folks. And THEN, I end up resting/recuperating too much & STILL don't get my list done. I don't ever think I'll get a Win-Win situation out of long weekends.