Tag Archives: holidays

Birth-Month Challenge

I posted a few weeks ago about my Food Trials. At that time, in my own mind, I issued myself a challenge to post more frequently. I had plans for daily post themes. After a few days and no posts, I decided I would just make it weekly posts…and then a few more weeks passed by. So I am issuing my Birth-Month Challenge to the public because it’s harder to back out of a public challenge, right? (I hope! Because I really want to do this!)

It was a few years ago, during a particularly tough time in my life, that I decided I would celebrate my Birthday for the entire month. It’s February. It’s a short month. Humor me, people. I deserve to be spoiled, even if I am spoiling myself. So, what better month to issue myself a new challenge than this very special month. I won’t bore you with all my daily spoilings (or maybe I will. I guess I haven’t decided yet.), but I will share my challenge with you.

My challenge (which goes well with my Food Trials!): I will try one food I have never tried every week this month. I will cook one thing I have never tried to cook or never had success cooking at least twice this month.

Oooohhhh….double challenge! Can I do it? Of course I can! The question is: What do I cook?

First up: Lamb! I have never (that I can remember) had lamb. I find myself with the opportunity to have a weekend alone at home. So I will shop some local markets and get some lamb and make myself a great dinner. I will report back on my results.

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Reusable Memories

Stacks of Memories!

I use real dishes. Yes, even for parties with many people in attendance, I use glass plates, glasses, and flatware, and I even use cloth napkins. It’s not that I’m a snob about dishes. Not at all. I have a hodge podge mix of plates, bowls, glasses, flatware, and napkins. There are matching sets among the mix, but for a large group, nothing matches, and I rather prefer it that way. It’s casual. It’s fun. It’s me.

When the party is over and all the guests have left, I walk around and pick up stray plates, glasses, and whatever else is sitting on tables, window sills, next to chairs… and this brings a smile to my face, because I know that everyone enjoyed themselves and as I stack up the plates and line up the glasses, it’s like I’m stacking up memories with every clink of dishes hitting against each other. And those memories will get to come out and play again and again as those dishes are used for nightly family dinners, dinner with friends, parties “just because”, impromptu get-togethers, and much more. And those memories are worth more than any possible breakage might cost to replace.

Remember: Use the good stuff. Today is special.

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Happy New Year 2012

I am finally feeling settled in our new home. Just in time for the New Year! I have spent New Year’s Eve baking and cleaning and preparing for what is going to be an amazing 2012. How do I know it’s going to be amazing? Well, because I said so! Someone once told me that having a great day is a choice, and I think the same is true of the entire year, so I’m making a choice right now to have an amazing 2012. I hope you’ll join me in that choice.

Tomorrow I will re-enter civilization with the installation of internet at home. We also have cable being installed, but ssshhhh… that’s a surprise for the kiddos. 😉

Happy New Year! It's going to be amazing! xoxo

A toast to you in this New Year. Happy New Year! My wish for you is to always remember that you deserve to be happy. xoxo

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The Great Pumpkin Hunt

The Great Pumpkin Hunt of 2011

Saturday morning, just 2 days before Halloween, and it occurred to me that we still had not gotten our pumpkins for carving. It was already going to be a busy day, but we were determined to make time for our carving tradition.

We begin our hunt, before heading to the soccer fields, at the Farmers Market where I made my usual first stop to see Bambi at Parke Creek Farm. This stop was not only for getting some great fresh veggies for our weekend food as we continue the move, but to say “good-bye”, since my “home” market will be in our new town next year. She didn’t have a lot of pumpkin choices as far as carving choices go, but I did pick out some great small pumpkins that she said are called “cuties”, but admitted she had yet to actually cook with one. That’s ok. I’ll experiment and report back to her. We said good-bye with promises to keep up via our Facebook pages at Parke Creek Farm and That Cook Girl. You can keep up with us there, too! </end shameless plug. Heehee>

As I mentioned in opening, we had a busy day planned. So, here’s just a quick rundown of the rest of the day before we got to continue our Pumpkin Hunt:

  • Soccer game (we won! Go RED BULLS!)
  • Quick visit with friends before leaving the fields
  • Load car with boxes from storage
  • Stop at house (that was filled with people and food… it would have been rude to
    not have a quick visit with them as well, so we stayed there longer than we had
    planned)
  • Add a few more things to the car, hoping there would still be room for the kids to
    sit (there was)
  • Drive and hour+ to the new place
  • Unload the car (to the 3rd floor apartment)

Now that we’re unloaded and sufficiently exhausted, it was time to head out for some shopping and pumpkin hunting… our first stop had the last-minute costume things we needed, and the food, and the other home necessities we were looking for…but no pumpkins. But what they did have was squash. Butternut and Spaghetti. Both made their way into the cart for the night’s carving activities. When all else fails, we carve squash, because the carving must go on. (Wait… that’s the show that must go on… nevermind. 😉 )

We did make one final stop before ending our hunt. There is a grocery store near our new apartment, so we swung in there, to find they still had plenty of pumpkins sitting out front. We made our choices and headed for our new home.

Enjoy! Our first Fireplace Decoration in our new home!

While I began cooking dinner, the kids set to work on their pumpkins. But they weren’t happy with carving just pumpkins. They wanted to carve the squash, as well. Afterall, that is why we bought them, right? I listened to their talking and giggling while I cooked and
put some more things in order in the apartment and started to feel like we really are at home, wherever we are together. I love you, kiddos!

 

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Cherries to Cheer You

Yesterday was National Cherry Cobbler Day. Cherry Pie is one of my favorite desserts (not that I eat it, or any other dessert, very often… In fact, last time I had Cherry Pie was when I had lunch with a friend back in October at Twede’s Cafe.) As you know, I’ve never really been great at making pie crust, so Cherry Cobbler is second best, since it does not require the labor (of love) of making the crust.

So, in order to celebrate the Holiday, it seemed appropriate to make a cobbler. And since the day’s work brought me to Prosser, home of Chukar Cherries, I took a moment to stop in. I had never been to their store previously, and I was greeted by one of the best smiles backed up with the most excellent customer service I’ve experienced in a long while. (Thank you, Tami! You were a true bright spot in my week.) So, I was happy to pick up a beautiful jar of cherries, along with a snack pack of nuts and dried cherries to stash in my desk for a quick “pick me up”. And because I was made to feel important while in that little shop, I will definitely be stopping in again.

Now, I know that what you’re actually waiting for is to see the cobbler come together, right? So, without further ado:

Triple Cherry Pie and Cobbler Filling from Chukar Cherries, and some Dove Dark Chocolate

Pour cherries into ungreased casserole dish, and grate chocolate over the top.

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Bake at 400* until biscuits are browned and filling is bubbly.

Invite a friend over and enjoy with ice cream and laughter to cheer you!

I was blessed to have my best friend and her kiddos join me and my kiddos for this cheerful dessert. We agreed that the chocolate grated over the top of the cherries made all the difference in this wonderful mid-week treat. Thanks for joining me, friend!

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Let Them Eat…

A sleepover birthday party for the boy child. This means a house-ful of pre-teen boys. And THAT means food…and lots of it. It also means I had the pleasure of being part of great memories for a group of young boys. They will hopefully forever remember the night their friend’s mom bought too many pizzas (who knew there was such a thing for so many boys, huh?), made brownies for dessert (while they were here, so they were yummy and warm and they got to smell them while they were baking), let them run through the house with nerf guns, play video games, watch movies, eat, drink, eat some more, be loud…oh AND their friend’s mom even attacked them with silly string. Not once, but twice. Now THAT was the best laughter I’ve ever heard, and I was even able to snap a group picture of them all while I was shooting the string at them. They will each get a copy of the picture to help them remember the fun night.

We have leftover pizza and leftover veggies (now made into tonight’s stir fry), and possibly some Otter Pops in the freezer (hard to tell… I did find an awful lot of wrappers around the house today 😉 ), and as I said earlier, memories of the laughter and happiness echoing through the house.

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I’m a Flake

Yes, you read that right. I’m a flake! Finally, after years of practice and being taught many times by self-proclaimed “flake experts”, I have finally, yes, FINALLY made a perfectly flaky pie crust!

Yup, 45% of you voters got it right! My surprising kitchen success was a flaky pie crust. Many people are often surprised to learn that I use “cheater” pie crust most of the time, simply because the frustration of pie crust was too much for me and since I didn’t enjoy making it, it just was never worth the frustration.

So, why the change of heart? Why make my own pie crust after deciding to give up on it years ago (with a few failed attempts after making that decision, helping me stick by that choice!)? Funny story.

I have a friend, I’ll call him Dean, who in a matter of just a few weeks heard me talk excitedly about cooking. Everything from homemade bagels (for which I’ve just realized I still owe you a recipe and pictures! Must see what I can do about that soon, huh?) to roasts, cookies and basic dinners (yes, even my corn dog dinner and kitchen “mishaps”!). Well, one night in December, he invited me and my kids over for a game night and dinner with his daughter. Upon our arrival, he proudly announced that I was going to make pie crust. This was, obviously, laughable to me. But he insisted that it is easy and that I could do it. He patiently talked me through every step (though he really did much more of the work than I did!) and there it was… perfect pie crust. (Which I secretly decided I would probably never make, but was glad at his attempt to teach me.)

Fast forward a few months. It’s Mother’s Day weekend and I have decided that for my Mother’s Day dinner (that I would be cooking for myself) I wanted to have a Quiche, made with goose eggs from Triton’s Farm. So I contacted them and arranged for delivery of 3 goose eggs, along with a dozen duck eggs (for my breakfast that my awesome kiddos would serve me in bed. 😉 ). And then my kids asked me if I remembered how to make the pie crust like D taught me. Um, maybe? Kinda? I think? I’ll give it a shot! With the boy reminding me to add salt (I rarely add it to anything, so I know I would have forgotten!) and the girl asking me if I remembered the measurements, and both by my side, anxious to see if it would flake or flop, I got to work and was pleased to end up with an amazingly flaky, buttery pie crust for my Quiche. Below is the measurements, kinda… but I can’t explain the technique… so I hope you know what you’re doing! 🙂

PIE CRUST INGREDIENTS:

  • 2.5 cups flour
  • salt (1 tsp?)
  • 1 cup butter (put in freezer to make sure it’s super cold)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ice water (this is a technique thing… I don’t know how much, several tablespoons, I guess?)

The egg yolk I think was the trick! Oh, and NOT working the dough too much! And keeping it cold. Sorry I’m not more helpful on how to actually make it, but, as you know, I’m a FLAKE! (Who can now make flaky pie crust! THANKS D!!!)

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…To be Continued

It’s time for some upgrades to That Cook Girl! My server goddess will be transferring my blog data to a new platform this week. What does this mean to you?

  • If you are a current subscriber, you will need to resubscribe once the new platform is up and running.
  • My posts-in-progress about the Farmers Market, Quiche, and my newest kitchen success (stay tuned! I’m excited about this one, and it is one that may surprise many of you!) are on hold until I come back up under the new platform.
  • And, I think that’s it. The web address will remain the same (www.thatcookgirl.com) and you can still find me on Facebook

I leave you now, with a picture of my Mothers Day dinner that I made yesterday, which I will tell you more about in my next blog post, once I return, which I think will be later this week? I don’t know anything about server stuff, etc… My Sis takes care of all that, for which I am always thankful!

Mothers Day Dinner… To Be Continued

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Fortunate

“Kung Hee Fat Choy” (or Happy New Year… Chinese New Year, that is!)

I am fortunate enough to have been able to share a blessed Chinese New Year dinner with my 2 favorite kids. I hope you will all benefit from this fortune cookie message in this Year of the Rabbit: “You will enjoy peace and harmony in your home”

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The Year of the Rabbit

Today is the Chinese New Year. And I forgot all about it! I arrived at work this morning to find baskets filled with goodies and New Year wishes “Kung Hee Fat Choy”. It is now the Year of the Rabbit. A lucky year that will be followed by my personal favorite, the Year of the Dragon, next year (I was born in the Year of the Dragon and find the creature to be fascinating, but I think that’s a blog post for another day. 😉 ). This year, though… THIS year is my son’s year. The Year of the Rabbit. A lucky animal, indeed.

Several years ago, I began celebrating this holiday with my children, simply because we like to celebrate things and it’s a good excuse to eat Chinese food. Tonight’s dinner plans are now changed. The Tamale Pie will be frozen and can make it’s way onto next week’s menu instead. (It’s a lucky year already! I’ve got a dinner ready for next week, and it’s not even the end of this week, yet. 🙂 ) I will pick up some potstickers and some other of the kids’ faves on my way home. We would usually cook up a big Stir Fry, and had I remembered, I would have made some Chinese BBQ Pork as well. But tonight will be about sitting around and celebrating the New Year together with some fun Coloring Pages and crayons instead of making a mess of the kitchen.

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