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Archive for December, 2012

What’s cookin’?

Confession time: I am a hoarder.

Let me be more specific. I am a recipe hoarder.

I rip them out of newspapers. I cut them off of food packaging. I print them from websites and I gather them from friends and family (especially my mom). I buy cookbooks. I have multiple files of recipes on my computers. I usually have a couple sitting in my printer waiting for me. I have a stack sitting on top of my microwave. I have a Longaberger basket (I know, right?) filled with recipe cards. And a few years ago I organized a big binder full of all those clippings and whatnot. Periodically I gather up all the strays littered around the house and add them to the binder.

This might lead you to believe that I cook a lot. Sadly, that is not the case. I’m kind of lazy, and cooking for one doesn’t often seem worth it.  Plus, when it’s just me the yield is such that it better be something that either freezes well or that I like well enough to eat for several days in a row.

However, a few weeks ago I was browsing for cookie recipes for Sunshine’s and my annual Christmas cookie fest, and I decided enough is enough. I need to make some of these things I’ve been clipping. In fact, given the timing of this, perhaps that should be a resolution for the new year. If I were feeling super inspired, I would aim for one new recipe a week, but who am I kidding. Based on how much I actually cook, that wouldn’t leave any room for recipes I already enjoy making (and eating). Howsabout once a month, a new recipe? Dig it, I can get on board with that.

Anyway, this epiphany of  “I should cook more” came when I was reading a page of brunch recipes I had torn out of the newspaper several years ago. And I thought ok, but who makes brunch for one? And then I said to myself, “Self, I’m gonna DO that!” There was a yummy sounding blueberry cream cheese French toast recipe that I determined I was going to make just for me on Christmas morning. Momentarily forgetting, of course, that Klondike was coming up on Christmas. But his arrival time was undetermined and I decided fuck it, I was making it for myself and if he was here, great, and if not, he could have leftovers. (Sorry, babe.)

As it turned out, he was here, and it was great, and it was decent the next day as leftovers, and I sent another big hunk of leftovers home with him. Perhaps next time I will halve the recipe. But hooray for new endeavors in the kitchen!

And since some of my friends asked for the recipe, here it is. (I snipped it from Eileen Goltz’s column in the Journal Gazette, eons ago.)

Blueberry Cream Cheese French Toast
Ingredients:

  •  1 loaf egg bread, cut into cubes (I don’t know what “egg bread” is – feel free to enlighten me. I used one of those bake-and-serve loaves of Italian bread, except I didn’t bake it – it was fully baked, it just wasn’t browned and crispy, it was still a bready bread, and it worked great.)
  •  1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, slightly softened
  •  1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries, tossed lightly with 2 tablespoons flour (The fresh blueberries were ridiculously expensive, so I bought some nice frozen ones and they worked just fine. I didn’t defrost them, since I knew they would have plenty of time for that, just coated them with the flour.)
  •  Cinnamon
  •  8 large eggs
  •  1-1/2 cups milk
  •  ¾ cup maple syrup (Please, for the love of god, use real maple syrup. Not just for this, but for every maple syrup opportunity you run across. You can thank me later if you haven’t already been using it.)
  •  6 tablespoons butter, melted
Midway through the layering - pretty!

Midway through the layering – pretty!

Coat a 13x9x2 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Layer one half of the bread cubes in the baking dish. Cut the cream cheese into cubes and scatter over bread. Layer the coated blueberries over the cream cheese. Cover the blueberries with the remaining bread. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon. In a bowl, combine the milk, maple syrup, eggs and butter. Whisk to combine. Pour the mixture over the bread and press the mixture into the bread with a spatula. This will help the bread soak up the egg mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight (I went the overnight route). Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Serves 8.

Next time I make it, I will use more blueberries – at least 2 cups (total), maybe more. Probably more. I really love blueberries. I also might use a little less bread on top. Like a handful less, maybe.

Hold me to the resolution, k? And if you have something delicious I should be making, please send the recipe – I’ll add it to the pile!

Ciao, babies! Happy New Year!!!

The Narcissism Project: A Year in Review

side mirror

One of many pics of Ruby Dogwonkafonka from the phone purge….

My blog reminded me recently that it was our one-year anniversary. To celebrate, let’s take a moment for reflection on what we have “accomplished”, shall we?

Looking back at my very first post, I find myself laughing that nothing much has changed, except instead of downloading 1200 pictures off my phone this past weekend, it was more like 1700. Most of them were of Ruby. Shocking, I know.

“Write more” was my New Year’s resolution, carried out here, with a desire to average a post a week. And with this being my 57th post, I achieved that. I think this might be the first time I’ve ever seen a resolution through to completion. Completion? What happens now? Was it only a one-year project?

Negatory. I like it too much.

I will say that blogging has made me a total narcissist. Hmm. Or perhaps it revealed how full of myself I was to begin with. I mean really, how impertinent of me to suppose you want to know what I think about anything – or perhaps more accurately, about nothing in particular. And about four seconds after publishing my first post, I became a stats junkie. I stare at the counts, I marvel over the countries, I laugh over the search terms bringing people here.

The countries, yes. WordPress started tracking for us what countries the views come from. It’s kind of fascinating. I have a friend living in the UK and another in Taiwan, so when I get hits from there I chalk it up as likely being them. But Bhutan? I don’t know anyone there, but I’ve had one view from there. Since WordPress started tracking this, I’ve had views from 31 different countries. I’m totally flattered. And mystified. And hopeful I haven’t made that one person in Moldova think that all Americans say “fuck” all the time. Some of us do. But a lot don’t.

Although, that’s another lesson learned through the stats: Apparently you people like f-bombs. Especially when in reference to my family.

I find myself incredibly gratified when a stranger likes or comments or follows. In some ways it’s more satisfying than from my existing friends – and that maybe sounds awful, and I don’t mean for it to. But a stranger doesn’t already have affection for me or familiarity with my sense of humor.  It’s nice to be appreciated. I like to state the obvious, too.  😛

The search terms people used that brought them to Wonkafonkaland….oh man.

  • “purple toaster” (you know you’re jealous of my purple toaster.)
  • “Weird squishy bump on elbow”
  • “rainbow shower head misleading” – clearly they bought a different model, less awesome than mine.

Some of them are horrifying, however, and I can’t even bring myself to share them with you. Suffice it to say, they were probably pretty disappointed when they got here.

I can see who my most frequent commenters are. Thank you, Coopy and Kristin.  😀  And which posts were most commented on.

Y’all like controversy. The most popular post so far was the one about my email interaction with the small-minded aunt of a former employee. But I’m pleased to see a happier post, the one with the oatmeal cake recipe, is a close second. And it’s good to see that why being single is awesome has almost twice as many views as why being single sucks.

Hmm…..this post feels like it’s getting boring…..enough with the “me, me, me”. Thank you for all the nice comments and supportive things you’ve shared with me over the last year. To celebrate, I got the blog and me a little present: our own domain. Woo hoo, wonkafonka.com is in the hizzouse! Yeah, that’s stupid. Pretend I didn’t say that last thing. Fo shizzle.  Let’s distract you with something funny. It’s your favorite: a member of my family and an f-bomb.

I think a lot of Damn You AutoCorrect is probably fake, and this isn’t that anyway. It’s my dad using Siri’s “dictation” feature and it’s flipping hilarious.

Dad - autocorrect

Thanks for reading. 🙂

A Farewell To Latkes

So, yeah, Happy Hanukah. 🙂

My family came over for brunch on Sunday for our annual Chanukah gathering. Noshing of food, exchanging of gifts, airing of grievances…..wait, scratch that last one, this isn’t Festivus.

Tangent: holy CRAP, there are a lot of websites for Festivus, including one where you can get your own Festivus pole. Are you freakin’ kidding me????

Anyway, back to Hanukkah! I offered to host, and I like to do brunch; it’s the meal I feel most comfortable making special occasiony. I can rock a couple of brunch dishes, yes I can.  And conveniently, traditional Chanuka latkes, a.k.a. potato pancakes, work nicely for brunch.potatoes

All latke recipes are essentially the same: shred some potatoes and onion, stir in some egg and flour, fry them in oil. Fried potato Chanukkah goodness. What’s not to love?

Hmm…..lemme make a list.

Let’s begin with my own stupidity. I always shred too many potatoes. Always.. Nobody could make or eat that many latkes. Seriously, it’s like the potatoes double in quantity in the process of grating.

One of the things I like about making brunch is I have a slew of recipes where you do all the prep the night before, stick it in the fridge overnight, pop it in the oven in the morning, and it’s fresh and awesome and delicious with little effort the morning of. Latkes do not afford this luxury. Theoretically you can make them in advance and reheat them, but there’s no way they’ll be crispy. (Please tell me if you have successfully accomplished this!) And you can’t do the prep in advance. Once you start shredding those taters, you’d better get to cooking or they’ll turn brown and/or gray and disgusting. Nobody wants gray food.

So it’s almost time for company to arrive, I’d prefer to be tending to final details and on the ready to greet people, but instead I’m in the kitchen getting sweaty and disheveled with a pan full of hot oil (I hate cooking with oil) and a ridiculously large bowl of latke guts. I put one test latke into the pan. It does not hold together. I add more flour to the bowl. I put another test latke into the pan. It’s holding together, but when it’s time to flip it, oil spatters my hand mid-flip and my reflexive jerking away causes the latke to fall into a clump in the pan.

Fuck. That.

I consider that all of my company has arrived, the caramel french toast in the oven is almost ready, and I have yet to make a successful latke.

I look at the bowl of shredded potato. The bowl of shredded potato looks at me.

I dump the entire bowl into the pan to prepare the not-yet-as-widely-celebrated Hanuka hash browns. Next time I’ll try to get them a little crispier. What I will not do next time is bother trying to make latkes.

And I haven’t even mentioned one of the worst parts yet, not directly anyway. Fried. In oil. My house reeks. Days later, my house reeks. It’s almost as bad as cooking bacon. (Bacon, not so much a traditional Channukah food.) And to exacerbate the situation, I don’t have an exhaust fan in my kitchen.

Hence, I believe I am done with my latke adventures. Food should not stress you out, in my opinion. And I’m pretty sure my family can successfully and joyfully celebrate Chanukka without them.

(I confess, I might just be looking for opportunities to work Hanukka into sentences.)

I have come to accept that there are certain foods that I’m not going to master, and that’s ok. Even if they’re really basic things like latkes or cutout sugar cookies (shut up, cookie cutters are tricky). Maybe someday I’ll try again, who knows. But life is too short to get bent out of shape over a potato.

Happy Hannuka! I mean Hannukkah! I mean Chanuqa! (Ok, not that last one.)

Ruby Dogwonkafonka wishes you a very Happy Chanukah!

Ruby Dogwonkafonka wishes you a very Happy Chanukah!

(I was going to look for some fun pic of the Muppets or something wishing a Happy Hanukah and then I realized I already have something much more fun, courtesy of my friend Mark Lahey from last year’s Great Photoshop Smackdown. It’s time to do that again!)