Experiments in Cookery

Dear Erin,

As we begin our third (!) year, I’m not going to make any rash resolutions about doing more of X and less of Y here on the blog, because, let’s face it, the kids are probably going to remain the most consistent source of material to write about, and neither of us has much time to read, watch movies, cook, or craft. Little Mister, for example, has been pushing the button on his Fisher Price zoo to make the bird noise and singing along with it, if by “singing” you understand I mean groaning like Frankenstein’s monster and then grinning at me.

standing grinning

On the other hand, to a certain extent I have given the lie to the above statement this week. I have finished a book, I’ve gotten a little knitting done, I’ve even managed to watch the last twenty minutes of a one-hour piece on Hampton Court. I only started that thing two weeks ago. I also – and this is truly rare – did some experimenting in the kitchen.

smore brownie 3

S’more brownies.

When I was little, I used to love creating new foods. I would come home from school and, often, I’d have a bowl of cereal, but sometimes I was in the mood to try something new. And there were some weird concoctions that came out of that mood, believe me. Probably the most normal – and that’s stretching the term – was a piece of American cheese melted on to a piece of toast, and then a banana sliced on top. It was better than it sounds.

Charles hasn’t been a huge fan of me experimenting with anything he eats, for some reason. So for quite awhile now, I’ve been a follow-the-recipe kind of gal. It makes for a much more even level of success.

But that recent history sort of flew out the window on Tuesday. The life group was coming over, and I needed to make something sweet. I was in the mood for brownies but not just boring, normal brownies. Looking at my recipe cards I found one I had made before from Bakingdom with some success, and while I didn’t want to make those again, there was an intriguing little note at the end that suggested variations. I’m not sure where I got the suggestions – probably out of my own head.

One of the suggestions was “marshmallow and graham crackers,” and that sounded about right to me on Tuesday. The problem was, I couldn’t find anything online that matched what was in my head. So I decided to just try to make what I wanted and rely on my experience to guide me and help me avoid pitfalls. (It works with knitting. Sometimes.)

I made a graham cracker crust, divided it among 12 greased muffin tins, pressed them down and baked them. When they had cooled, I made this batter and cooked them for 10 minutes until they were pretty well set but still gooey in the middle. Pulled them out and placed one marshmallow in the middle of each, then cooked them for another 10 minutes.

The marshmallows swelled and then deflated and disappeared, leaving me with basically a crater in the middle of each brownie. Not what I was hoping for. For a s’more you need a toasty marshmallow, not melted marshmallow goo (as tasty as that is). So I tried another tactic: I put another marshmallow in each crater and stuck the brownies under the broiler until they were toasty.

The end result wasn’t perfect – I wish the second marshmallows filled the craters better as they look a little strange to me, and the graham cracker crust ended up being a little too crunchy (LM woke up crying right before I was going to pull them out, so I just turned off the oven and left them in there. They cooked a bit too long.). But overall, they came out pretty darn well for an experiment. (Although you might be forgiven for thinking my judgment is suspect, considering what I told you about my banana-cheese sandwich concoction above.) Gooey and sweet and chocolatey and rich. Kind of s’more-ish, but better because the graham cracker flavor (always my least favorite part of a s’more) was minimized. One was plenty, even for me. There was really only one problem.

Charles didn’t like them.

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Year 2!

We set out two years ago, today, to write about…whatever we felt like!  The goal was to do something together, even though there is a whole continent between us, and that has been a success by our standards.  What developed was a place to share our loves of crafting, knitting, reading, movies, cooking, and our kiddos to whomever wants to join in.  The result has been fun for us and entertaining for potentially 10 other people, so I’d say our little piece of the internet has been worth it.

Maybe not as much about being a Cracker has appeared as I thought.  Or crafting. Or cooking.  But that’s okay – flexibility ain’t that bad!

For this – our two year anniversary – I’m sharing our top 10: the 10 most “clicked” posts of the past year (plus one for good measure).  Thanks for being a part of our year!

1. So That Happened (Or the Difference 5 Weeks Makes…)

IMG_17702. The Holidays…

IMG_19293. That Was Scary

4. A Mom’s Love Affair with Drive-Throughs

IMG_20505. Pumpkin Redux

punkinredux66. Room for Improvement

EmptyShelfNov1

7. Getting It Done

IMG_21758. Absolutely Fabulous

munchkin Christmas sweater9. They Don’t Write These Things on Cards

IMG_5014-00110. It’s All New the First Time

Cousins1stXmasAnd for good measure….how it all started:

Cracker Sisters

1st

Netflix Tangents

Dear Erin,

Congratulations on having the room finally done! It looks wonderful; I think you got the right balance between whimsical and practical.

As Little Mister has been all about the movies lately, I thought I would tell you about this random movie that Charles and I saw the other day.

This is from a couple weeks ago, but I'm looking at a new pile of them from this morning.

This is from a couple weeks ago, but I’m currently looking at a new pile of DVDs that he pulled out this morning.

We don’t go out to the movies much right now, so thank goodness (once again) for Netflix. We were scrolling through last week, just looking at what their new stuff was.

Actually, I was knitting, and Charles was scrolling, which is how we stopped on The History of Future FolkI probably would have skipped it, despite the fact that Netflix thought we would like it at 5 stars. (Considering the schizophrenic combination of movies that Charles and I like, Netflix does a pretty good job at rating things for both of us.) But Charles knew it would probably be right up his alley – low budget, slightly campy sci fi? Yes, please!

About halfway through, I think, I turned to Charles and said some paraphrase of

Future Folk is the story of an alien warrior whose planet is in the flight path of a large asteroid. He is sent to Earth to prepare the way for his people to move there so that they aren’t destroyed when the asteroid hits. “Preparing the way” basically means killing all humans. But soon after he arrives, he hears music for the very first time, falls completely in love with it, and can’t complete his mission. The problem is that his people still need saving. So he must foil assassins, save the Earth and save his own people. Oh, and keep his family safe and his marriage intact despite the fact that his wife thinks he’s just an engineer and aspiring musician.

So this is a film that is really about love – love of music primarily, but also romantic love and parental love. Kevin (one of the alien assassins, but not a very good one) is so overcome by his raptures over music that he can’t at first fathom how beings that created music could be anything other than kind and good. It takes a brief stint in jail for him to learn otherwise, but his disillusionment doesn’t really change his enthusiasm – his love – for the people and the world around him. After the aliens have broken out, he still goes tango dancing with one of the policewomen who arrested him.

The movie is totally goofy, no question. This is a hipster indie film that feels exactly like you’d expect a hipster indie film with a sense of humor to feel. The two protagonist aliens form a bluegrass band and sing songs about farming space worms, so consider yourself warned if you’re thinking about checking this one out. But I thought the music was pretty good, the performances are committed, the story mostly makes sense, and even if it’s not visually transcendent, it was a delight to experience – very much like my experience with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. In fact, much of what I wrote in that post is exactly how I felt about this movie. Sometimes – not always, but sometimes – the tangents Netflix offers really are worth 5 stars to me, and this was definitely one of those times.

Phase 5: Finish It Up!

Dear Kristen,

Sounds like Little Mister’s shoe issue is a lot like Little Man’s sock problem – I’m ALWAYS missing one…or two.  I’m glad it didn’t keep the field trip from happening – great job going with the flow!

Well, Munchkin’s room is done!  Actually it isn’t done – the pictures aren’t hung like I thought they’d be, but I realized I needed to find/make one more thing for it to be balanced (see below), but that’s a minor reality so I’m calling it done.

Here’s the art and decorations:

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Here’s the linens – I sewed the throw pillows and did the applique on the seersucker bedding:

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Here’s the to do list again:

Munchkin’s Peter Pan Room:

  1. Clear out room: give extra furniture away, donate what we don’t need, etc.
  2. Paint room a light grey – Sherwin Williams Light French Gray
  3. Touch-up white on trim – Polar Behr by Behr
  4. Settle on a color and paint inside of closet a different color – Airy by Behr
  5. Remove accordion doors on closet and replace with curtains – Curtains from Ikea and embellished by with fabric from Joanns
  6. Clean and arrange furniture
  7. Paint mural on wall – Peter Pan and Co.
  8. Replace outlets and light switch covers
  9. Build/install window seat and toy storage area complete with seat cushion – Ikea Kallax with seat cushion made by us.  Baskets are from Target
  10. Build shelves for books in the closet
  11. Set up reading nook in closet
  12. Buy a bed
  13. Find a kids table and chairs – Pottery Barn table found on Craig’s List and painted
  14. Hang art
  15. Make any extra decorations/art we need for the room: star garland, picture of Captain Hook, etc. – See above
  16. Update lighting in the room – This has happened, but we’re not sure when we could do that
  17. Install curtains for the window
  18. Add any extra decorations to the room – Croc and Tinker Bell (see below)
  19. Applique anchor and stars on duvet cover
  20. Make shams and throw pillows
  21. Move-in!

Surprise Field Trip

Dear Erin,

Your reading nook appears to have come out perfectly! Isn’t it a wonderful feeling when you can make reality match the picture in your head? Things don’t often seem to work out that way, but I love it when they do.

So far, it’s been a week of the small but unexpected for us. Sunday was an early morning for me, as I woke up at 3:30, not with any purpose in mind, just because I couldn’t sleep any more. I had been having restless dreams (I had a deadline for something that morning, and I hadn’t done it yet, which I think contributed to the restlessness. It was an uncomfortable feeling, but I’m not unhappy about it because I think it means the Lord is working on my deeply, deeply rooted procrastination issues.), and I had the beginnings of a cold, so once I was awake I was too pained in mind and body to stay in bed.

That’s all well and good – it was an enjoyable few quiet hours, but it also means that I was dragging by the end of church. We did a quick lunch and headed home, and then we realized that we were missing something.

Not Little Mister, don’t worry. But one of his shoes had disappeared between lunch and when we looked for it at home. He only has one pair of shoes, so he needs both of them, and this one’s walkabout tendencies got blamed on my 4 hours of sleep. So on Monday, he and I set out to buy him a new pair of shoes. Only, as I pulled out of the garage,

IMG_20150119_134532-nopm-

there it was. It had been hiding under the car.

So that changed our plans. Now that we were ready to go, I didn’t want to just turn around and head back inside. So we went over to the Los Gatos Creek Trail. It was cool and sunny, and the water in the creek was the highest I’ve ever seen it (which isn’t saying much, but it made the “waterfalls” over the little concrete retaining walls slightly more dramatic). LM was old enough and awake enough to be interested in watching the world go by. And when we got to the park at the end of the trail, he had a treat.

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He got to play on the swings of course, but he also had his first ride on the rocking-horse type things – you know, with the spring on the bottom. He was happy just holding on and more or less balancing while Mommy was there to spot him. He also enjoyed tasting the turtle (it was a turtle). And then he got a little exploring time, to check out the grass and the leaves. I think he had a lot of fun.

What I expect for the rest of the week is more fun – like meeting a new baby – so I hope if the train of unexpected happenings continues, it only adds to a great week over all.