In Which Stephanie Does Not Punch the Guy Behind her in Line for Ice Cream

1 06 2010

Oh, you’re still reading?
I thought that after giving you the synopsis in the title, you’d be off reading about something else.
Alrighty, off we go then.

Concluding my weekend of sun and fun (read: sit under canopy, avoid sunshine, shower multiple times a day, mow the lawn, get slobbery tennis balls thrown at my feet) on our way home from a friends house, I made the executive decision to stop for some ice cream.
I left Steve and Bailey in the YOT and waddled walked to the end of the line. There may have been 7-10 groups of people in front of me, but I didn’t care, I was getting ICE CREAM. Plus, it gave me time to flounder between a candy-and-ice-cream-swirl, a sundae, hard serve and soft serve. My brain is doing the happy dance of deduction.

“hhhhhhhhhrrrrrrrrrrmmmmmmmhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaa.”, comes from behind me.
Like an antelope at the watering hole, I am alarmed.

Now my mind is racing… Do I look, do I not look? Wouldn’t people be running, screaming (not for ice cream, but in terror) if there was someone lining up with say, an axe or chainsaw? Or would they be all ‘let the pregnant lady take it, she can’t run as fast as we can!’?

What would a guy in a goalie mask sound like?

Then. It Spoke. “hhhrrrmmmmaa. Dey only got hhhhhhrrrrrrr one person werkin’ mmmmmmaaaaaa in dere?” And I can FEEL this person getting closer to me.  Is he talking to me? Do I look like I work at the stand, you know, standing in line with a tank top, skirt and flip-flops? Does he want to engage me in conversation? Is this one of those times where I should take a look at the people around me and decide if this is really where I need to be?
I keep quiet. Meanwhile, he sits on the picnic table, still huffing and puffing.
“mmmmmrrrrrraaa. Oh. Dare’s two of ’em in dare. hhhrrrrrmmmmm.”
Pft, I certainly hope he doesn’t consider asking me if he can skip ahead, though, it does sound like he’s going to die if he doesn’t get an ice cream soon.

For the next seven minutes, I have to listen to Jabba huff-n-puff-n-stuff behind me because standing up is such a task.
Look buddy, I’ve popped about 15 pounds in four months, don’t lecture me about how hard it is to stand around… you’ve clearly been dealing with it for a while now.

The couple in front of me (who also made me reconsider my desert of choice) get to the counter and I can feel Jabba getting excited.
Until, that is, they place their order. It was something like, 2 small cones, both with one scoop of butter pecan and one scoop of tracks but one on a regular cone and one on a sugar cone.
What a bizarre order!
Jabba lets out this exasperated sigh, the world is going to end!
Perhaps I should order something complicated.
“Medium vanilla soft serve with rainbow sprinkles, please.” And I pay (mu hahaha, I did dig for change) and step to the side.
Jabba practically crashes into the window. Putting both sausage-fingered-hands on the ledge, he breathes his order, thus blocking the delivery of MY ice cream and retrieval of napkins.

I did not punch him.
The ice cream was worth it, BTW.

Fondue In France

5 03 2010

Yesterday, I touched upon American Fondue and French Fondue.

On Real-French-Crepes-Louvre-Eiffel-Tower-More-Crepes-Day in Paris, it was round about 10pm before we made it back to the area of our Hotel.
We had walked a good 15 miles that day (from the Grand Opera section, to the above  mentioned P.O.I., Metro back) and were famished.
By this point, my tolerance of the French had diminished greatly*.

Settling on a cafe around the corner from our hotel, we pushed through as much of the menu as two-Americans-who-hadn’t-really-used-French-since-1995 could.
On the menu, I saw bourguignonne fondue, which I knew from Melting Pot to be yummy.
Not feeling de poisson ou de poulet, I opted for something I knew. And some French Beer.
In about 10 minutes, the waiter brought out a plate of meat and veggies.
Steve’s salad came and went. No fondue.
Steve’s entree came.
Excuse-moi, fondue?“, I asked the waiter.
He looks at my plate of raw meat and the empty table, “ils n’ont pas d’être fini?” (they didn’t bring that over yet?)
And shortly there after, I had a bubbling pot of hot oil.  Said pot damn near caught the table on fire- FLAME ON.

Accustomed to how we roll in the US, I popped the pieces of meat into the oil.
The Nice French Lady next to me nearly choked on her salad.
“NON! NON! NON!”, she exclaimed, laughing. “Pousser la vache! Pousser ici! Ici!” (“Push the cow! Push here! Here!”, she really did say “Pousser la vache”. t’was awesome.) as she skewed my beef onto a tong and placed it in the oil.
Eyes wide, “OOOOOHHHHHH! je vois! C’est tres different! Merci!” (“Oh, I see! This is very different! Thanks!”)

After filling up on fondue, the Very Nice French People next to us had fun playing “who can extinguish the hellfire of this fondue pot!?” with us before we put a plate on the flame and laughed, knowing we were out of danger.
* Upcoming post, the difference between Nice French People and the Vast Majority of France.

The Kindness of Strangers

4 03 2010

Yesterday, after mid-afternoon running about, we sat down for a nice dinner at Melting Pot*.

Were enjoying the spicy “appetizer” fondue, there was a couple at the table across from us  flip-flopping on what to get and I had the impression that this wasn’t the place for them.
Steve and I are laughing and enjoying the experience and the couple comes up to our table. I figured they were coming to see what we were eating or to ask for advice.
The lady walked up to Steve. “Here are two gift cards, we won’t use them. Please, take them. Enjoy them!”
We were awestruck. “Are you sure?”
“Yes! Yes! PLEASE, take them!”
“Well, thank you very much.” I’m sure we sounded as bewildered as we looked.

In between courses, I opened the envelope.
There were two $25 gift cards enclosed. FOR REAL.
Our jaws dropped.
With the $25 coupon I had from my gift card and the $50 in random mystery cards… Dinner was VERY affordable.

Plus, it’s 12 hours later and I’m STILL full. Not to mentioned baffled.

*My last fondue experience, in France, culminated with a French woman instructing me, in French, that I was doing it all wrong. American Fondue Cooking is QUITE different than French Fondue Cooking.

Om nom nom nom

22 02 2010

It’s Monday.
The alarm clock buzz/beep has been incorporating itself into my dreams, making for groggy/confusing mornings. Ugh.
Oh, and there’s ANOTHER icky afternoon commute storm coming our way and Weatherbug just started it’s “OMG FREEZING RAIN!” blink. Double ugh.

But you know what makes me feel better?

Whilst surfing the webs, I came across a new food site (closed the window, sorry) which publishes “5 Dinners” on Monday.
Looking through the archives, I noticed someone had posted chipped beef (A.K.A. “Shit on a Shingle”) which while ranking VERY high on the comfort foods listing, is also one of the meals I can make from scratch without a recipe and without measuring cups. Mom taught me how to make this when I was very young. Typically, I serve mine on toast, sometimes mashed potatoes (boxed, pft, who do I look like, Betty Crocker?). Grandma and Grandpa served theirs on Eggos; at dinner.

Thinking about it, I was trying to figure out what else I can make from scratch with little to no assistance.

  • Meatloaf
  • Chicken Noodle Soup (cheater!)
  • Salmon/tuna cakes (though it’s been a while)
  • Pizza (the rise-your-own-dough-kind)
  • Buffalo chicken wing soup
  • Buffalo chicken wing dip
  • Stuffed pepper dip
  • Crock-pot-roast (1 bottle BBQ sauce, 1 bottle stout beer…)

Well, I’m sure there’s more, but we’re working with limited neuron capacity here.

Often, I’ll find a recipe to use as base and will pretty much make it my own…

So, snowed/sleeted/rained in reader(s), what can you make from memory?

Continuing with the Food Irks

5 02 2010

If I haven’t mentioned before, Steve’s a picky eater. “What’s that?”, “I sure hope that’s not going in there!”, “Are those onions?”, “Why are you buying that pasta? It’s whole grain.”, Taco Tuesday, “It smells like garlic in here.”, “Too many beans!”. Some days it feels like I’m living with a toddler.
Don’t get me started on Bailey’s Special Dog Food (to keep her ears from inflaming) and Wet Food (to keep her butt from clogging up)… or the cats’ indoor diet.

Clearly, I’m the only one with any culinary sense in this house.

Seeing as ONE MEMBER of our house won’t* eat: fish, beans, tofu, ground turkey, shellfish, “weird” vegetables, anything too carby, anything he can’t pronounce…
Meanwhile, I do not eat veal and pork (as I do not care for the texture and taste), beets, pickled eggs or Spam  and I’m just learning to love eggplant.
ANYWAY, so seeing as I’m tiring of the same-old-same-old, I’ve been scouring the interwebs for new recipes, which brings me to the subject of this post.

Dear Recipe Sites and/or Cookbooks,

Please note that the following items are NOT recipes as it would take an IDIOT to not know what goes into preparing:

  • Peanut Butter and Jelly
  • Grilled Cheese Sandwich
  • Grilled PB&J
  • Ham & Swiss
  • Spaghetti
  • Spaghetti and Meatballs
  • Nachos
  • Pizza
  • Chicken and spinach Wrap

I think you catch my drift.
My recommendation is that if you find out someone is searching for how to make a PB&J Sammy, you log their IP address, head to their home and hit them over the head with a slotted spoon.


For the record, last night’s dinner:
Cubed up chicken breast, cooked up in hot sesame oil.
When cooked about 75% through, added a (large) drained can of chunked pineapple.
Simmered for 3-5  minutes.
Added 1 bottle of chili sauce.
Simmered another 3-5 minutes.
(didn’t want you to think I was all “You people can’t cook!” whilst feeding the fam Mac&Cheese or Ramen noodles)

*and by “won’t” I mean reverts to a three-year old

In the Kitchen with Stephanie

28 01 2010

Last night, upon hearing that we’re going to get socked with about a foot of snow in 24 hours, I decided it was the best time to bake something. Plus, all this talk about kitchen gadgets has got me to hard-crack phase.

And of course, as all chefs know, you need to be dressed appropriately for the job.


(cowelneckedwaffledknitted sweater, yoga pants and the apron I got for Christmas)

I decided that the victim would be CRUMB CAKE


4 cups all purpose flour, divided into 1.5cups and 2.5 cups
1 cup white sugar
2.5 tsp baking powder
.5 tsp salt
1 large egg
.5 cup milk
.5 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup butter- melted
2 tbls veggie oil (though, in the directions, it said canola, while the ingredient list said vegetable)
Oven to 375

Mix 1.5 cups flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in one bowl.
In another bowl, wisk the egg, milk, oil and vanilla.

At this point, I felt it was necessary to show my functional butter-melting microwave.
Also at this point, I was trying to line up the focus grid and realized that the butter had not only melted, it was boiling- as shown here:


Anyway, mix the flour etc. with the egg etc. and spread into the bottom of a greased pan.
Unless you bake in silicone, in which case, it’s probably already greased.

After that’s made a mess, mix the remaining 2.5 cups of flour with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Pour the butter over the mix and stir with a spatula (or flatula, depending what you prefer) until large crumbs are formed; a couple minutes.

Bake for however long it takes your oven to ruin things (mine took about 30 minutes because the sides were cooked at 23 minutes, but the center was still all jiggley… must be the silicone)

Stick a cake tester (a.k.a. “toothpick”) into the cake and remove. Your cake is done when nothing sticks to the extracted pick.



25 01 2010

The Missing Taco Spoon and The Unnecessary Excess

22 01 2010

Raising the chaos level of Casa Mak to unprecedented heights, we have been without our beloved “taco spoon” since fall.
Steve thinks he took it camping (“There are certain things you’re not supposed to take camping for fear of losing them. The Taco Spoon was one of those thing!”, I tell him) and/or it fell behind/into something. Regardless, it’s lost.
“What’s the big deal?”, you ask… Well, a certain engineer seems to think that all other spoons are inferior for taco beef production (and heaven forbid we make chicken) because The Taco Spoon allowed for proper size beef nuggets and seasoning distribution.
So, giving up the ghost that The Taco Spoon will magically reappear in our service utensil drawer (though he’ll check every Taco Tuesday) I have decided to see about procuring a new taco spoon. The thing is, I don’t know where The Original Taco Spoon came from, less to say it came with me when I moved.
Was it something from when mom worked at Lechter’s? Was it part of a set? Was it something that someone left at my old house and we claimed?
The Taco Spoon is hard to define… slots like a slotted spoon, mix between spatula and spoon (not flat, not totally curved) angled at one end…

In my efforts to find at least what The Taco Spoon is properly named, I searched (in addition to my local outlets)…
Besides not finding a replacement taco spoon thingie, I found the following items which I do not understand:

Breading Trays

(I use bowls/plates.)

Salad Dressing Mixer


A Chestnut Knife

(How much do you have to love chestnuts and/or eat chestnuts to warrant a$16 knife? While I understand you don’t want to bend your good knives…)

Personalized Branding Tool

(Is it still mooing/bawking? No? Down the pallet it go- Oh, wait, this is YOUR steak.)

Salad Sissors

(*looks at hands*)

Trash Bowl

(a trash bowl. Come here so I can hit you with it. Do you not have other bowls? What makes  trash bowl different then say, a bowl?)

I guess my main question is: At what point do you decide that you love something enough to have a dedicated tool? I mean, maybe it’s because I got kicked out of culinary school*, but a knife’s a knife. Well, except the serrated ones. And the butcher… and I guess if you’re worried about cross contamination…

What tool(s) do you use the most?
The least?

I use my fancy-ass-knife set ALL THE TIME, while my zester is gathering dust.


Pumpkin Pasta

9 10 2009

In Typical Stephanie Fashion, I thought I read about pumpkin pasta in one of my zillion cookbooks.
So, I procured a “sweet pumpkin” (not called so because it’s AWESOME, but because it’s not a jack-o-lantern pumpkin) A.K.A, a pie pumpkin.
And there it sat on my counter until I remembered I could use the internets to find pumpkin pasta recipes…

After roasting it (cut in half, score both sides, spray with oil, place fleshy side on a cookie sheet with some water, 350 until mushy) and scooping it, I realized I should probably photograph the adventure.


it's hyper orange and I don't know why... perhaps the radiation?

So we start with a photo of the inside of my trash can. Classy San Diego.
Anyway, once cooled, I scooped out the pumpkin innards.


Have a mentioned yet that I LOVE my circa 1980s Bisquick vessel? Because I do.

Once I got the pumpkin pureed, the directions said that I would need “a lot of elbow grease”.
I laughed.


Pfffttssss, elbow grease? Hell no, I has a KitchenAid.

Have I mentioned that I’ve never made pasta before? Yeah, that’s gonna be important.


So, apparently, there are more types of flour than whole wheat and all-purpose.
In the regular baking aisle, there was semolina flour, but it was $5 for a little bag and I have NO idea what else it’s used for.
Thus, I went to the organic section and found this perfect sized bag for $3.
Granted, the cost per pound was more, but this stuff is going to go stale before I use it again.


Flour, flour and salt…. ends up that I picked a vegan recipe because it had the least amount of stuff I didn’t already own.


And with two cups o’pumpkin, I was ready to go.
Also, I heart Pyrex.


While the glop was mixing for five minutes, it gave me time to figure out how to use my pasta maker.


Did I mention I have a pasta maker?
Did I mention that I’ve never made pasta?
Did I mention I purchased this in the spring?
And that it was in fact, a dollar?


Oh, or that I can’t read Italian?
Or that the photos weren’t helpful?


Thus, my pasta looked like the above.
It’s okay to shriek in terror. “Charlotte” did the same thing when she came over.
Thank goodness she’s Italian-ish and knew what she was doing.

Because this is what the pasta looked like afterwards.
Much less like retard at day camp.

Anyway, it’s not poison… but, it’s not fantastic either… a bit doughy.
At least Sweet Pumpkins are out still.

Now playing: Wham! – Everything She Wants
via FoxyTunes

Campfire Fare

21 09 2009

Another nifty part of camping is being able to cook outside, all primitive like.

One thing we cooked, and excuse the absence of photos but yours truly should not have been handling expensive pieces of equipment while her equilibrium was all screwy, was Hot Wings.
You Need:
* raw chicken wings, skin on (available at your local butcher)
* Frank’s Hot Sauce… well, probably any hot sauce, but Frank’s has a complex taste
* A grill. We prefer charcoal as it gives a nice smokey flavor.
* Tongs. (Learned this one the hard way)
You Do:
* After the grill’s hot, put the wings on the cooking surface
* Douse in hot sauce
* Let cook
* flip
* Go to 10
* repeat as needed until wings are salmonella free
*Watch fights ensue over who eats the last one

Also, Joe brought a dutch oven.
No, not like this:

(fart in the sheets then throw the blanket over your bedmates head)

(fart in the sheets then throw the blanket over your bedmates head)

or this (first couple seconds are of the previous bit, which includes an anatomically correct, yet blurred, play-doh man):

(well, kinda)

but like this:

Dutch Oven Proper

Dutch Oven Proper

The Girls made: “Stuff we Found at Wal*Mart and Thought Would Go Well Together”
You Need (we used all canned products):
* Family/large size Cream of Chicken soup, condensed
* Black beans
* Chili Beans
* Red Kidney Beans
* Mixed Veggies (corn, carrots, beans)
* diced potatoes
* (optional)2 fresh zucchini, cut into 1/2″ pieces, then into quarters
You Do:
* Dump everything into pot. Do not drain beans/veggies, everything goes in.
* Stir
* Place on embers
* Stir/rotate
* Serve
* Watch people fight over who gets the last of the stew