Sunday, June 29, 2008

Midwestern Recipes: Lemon Zinger Crisps

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 small lemons
5 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar, plus additional for dusting
1 large egg, separated
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 sheets parchment paper

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Grate zest from 1 lemon directly over another mixing bowl. Squeeze 3 tablespoons lemon juice into a third bowl; set aside. Add butter to lemon zest and beat with an electric mixer on medium until combined. Add sugar a little at a time; beat 1 minute. Add yolk (cover egg white with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use) and half the flour mixture; beat on low until just combined. Add lemon juice, vanilla and remaining flour mixture. Beat until just combined. Form dough into a log about 8 inches long and 2 inches in diameter.

Cover tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 3 hours.

Heat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut dough into 40 thin rounds and place on baking sheets. Whisk egg white with 1/4 teaspoon water; brush on top of cookies. Dust each with a bit of sugar. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are golden. (If baking both sheets of cookies at the same time, alternate positions halfway through.) Let cool on baking sheet 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Punk Rock Flea Market Finds

Thanks to my friend, Dana, I was able to attend the Punk Rock Flea Market in Philadelphia today. I had no idea what to expect except for a lot of music in all of its forms. Crates of vinyl and shoe boxes full of CDs. My purchases ranged from the reasonable $7 to the almost a steal of $2.

Best Buy of the Day
Greetings From Michigan: The Great Lakes State by Sufjan Stevens

Next to a pile of old earrings, homemade journals, and an old Monopoly game was this dandy of a CD for $2. Sufjan Steven's mellow sound is worth so much more than $2, but I wasn't going to tell these two girls this. This is the type of album that you listen to when you are deep in conversation with someone or when you want to be thoughtful on a Sunday night.

Why Don't I Already Own This Find of the Day
Transatlanticism by Death Cab for Cutie

Ever since the song "Transatlanticism" was played on the television show "Six Feet Under", I have ranked it as one of the most beautiful songs. It is a long song at 7 minutes 55 seconds, but worth it. I am glad to own the whole album now. My favorite lyric from Transatlanticism is " The rhythm of my footsteps crossing floodlands to your door have been silenced forever more."

Back in the Day Purchase
Best of Inxs

Oh man! I am sure if we took a close look at my INXS Kick cassette tape, it would be on its last leg. I played that tape so damn much on my duel-deck tape player in my room back in 1987-1989. INXS was one of the rare bands at the time that I listened to that actually had songs on the radio. Most of my radio and cassette time was spent listening to the oldies station or public radio folk station. As I listen to it this afternoon, I still dig it.

A New Tool

This bad boy has a new home in the corner of my kitchen. I purchased the KitchenAid Artisan Mixer today and plan to spend the next forty-five years using it to make sweet treats and more.

Like all prized artifacts in my life, it is deserving of a name. I don't name things lightly. He might remain unnamed for several weeks until an event takes place or a treat is made and it comes to me.

It is onyx black and that might lead to a name too. Now, I just have to take better pictures of my food that I make. I have been experimenting with a different feature on my camera that helps focus on the food item that I want to see in each photo.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Berry Good

Does anyone else want to jump for joy for berry season? I came home from Produce Junction today with the works. I put those berries to work and made a pie. Of course, I saved some too just for snackin'. This is a photo pre-pie.

During the week, I am usually at work. However, I get each Friday off during the summer. I drove around more today than I usually do since I am hunting for decorating treasures for our three-season porch. Unfortunately, other people were driving too. I forget how impatient people are. I forget what bad drivers people are. Rude too.

It takes a lot of mental stamina to go on errands and not come home vexed. As I stand in line watching a middle aged woman lose her patience with the 80 year old woman taking too long to bag her groceries, I get angry. I offer to help the lil' old lady who accepts my help. She confides in me that the middle aged lady is making her feel uncomfortable. I reassure her that she is in the regular check out and if the other woman was in such a hurry, she should have gone to the express or self-check out. I say it loud too. The middle aged woman looks at me like she wants to say something to me, but realizes that I am right and just waits. Now, who is feeling uncomfortable. Not me.

I am so tired of the impatience in the world. I want people to stop honking. I want people to relax. I want people to stop complaining...oh, wait, I am doing that right now. UGH.

Well, you know what I mean.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Adventure: Carly Simon at Free at Noon

Another Friday has come and gone with another free concert at WXPN. After last Friday's treat of James Hunter, I couldn't wait to see who would be performing. Then, I received the email that the legendary singer/songwriter Carly Simon would be performing!

Not only did Carly Simon grace their stage, but Yael Naim who is a newbie to the music scene. You might be more familiar with her Apple commercial song "New Soul" for the new thin ibook.

Carly Simon was promoting a new CD so she performed several songs from that CD. They were quite sentimental, but I was patient for some of her classic material. That has to be frustrating for artists. There are some musicians who I love everything they have ever done. But...with Carly, I just want to hear "You're So Vain", "Let the River Run", and "Haven't Got Time for the Rain". Well, she sang the first two with new arrangements that made the old songs fresh and interesting.

Her son, Ben Taylor, also performed with her. Without knowing the connection to Carly Simon and James Taylor, I had become a fan of his music. I actually had more Ben Taylor on Iris the ipod than his mom. I still can't believe that I live so close to such a great opportunity each Friday. Thankfully, I have the luxury to have Fridays off of work and can venture downtown to enjoy it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Good Ten Minutes

This was an interesting idea to be self-absorbed and creative...two of my favorite ways to waste time!

The rules of this project...
a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One Word to describe you.
12. A picture that you took.

Save the mosaic to your computer and enjoy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Don't Steal. It's Wrong.

In honor of my first victimization, I am going to write about what I would buy if I stole someone's credit card and went bat-crazy with it. Yes, my credit and debit card were stolen yesterday and someone had a heck of a day with it. $2000 later, someone had a great afternoon on my tab. Thankfully, the banks will cover those expenditures, but it can shake my faith in the decency in humanity.

Wishful Pilfered Purchase #1
Plenty of people who are lesser cooks than myself have this bad boy and I want one. I have wanted one for many years and I think this might be my birthday present for myself this year. We are to the point where we just buy what we REALLY, REALLY want for our birthdays. It will be mine.

Wishful Pilfered Purchase #2
I would like nothing better than to put a beach vacation on someone else's credit card. Tim and I were discussing if we were the type of people who could do nothing for a week on the beach or a cabin in the woods. We decided that we just might be. I would like there to be a daiquiri, margarita, or pina colada in my hand at the beginning of each hour on this stolen vacation.

Wishful Pilfered Purchase #3
True. I can't buy Barack Obama, but I could give him a big chunk of coin to help him defeat John McCain. Maybe I would buy some sweet t-shirts that would show people exactly where I stand in this election season. doesn't make sense to steal someone's credit card to donate the money. I am not a natural at this sneaky, illegal stuff.

Wishful Pilfered Purchase #4
This is my new desk. Right now, I have a lovely mission style desk but it is a bit of a monster. It is huge. I am transforming my mud room into an office and I need a slick desk and this cutie of a desk is at Crate and Barrel and wants me to buy it. I'll have to wait until I can steal someone's credit card because it just isn't a priority until then.

Wishful Pilfered Purchase #5
Well, I guess if you are going to steal, steal big. Why not buy a car. Since sitting in Dana's lil' Fit, I have pined for one. Not only for the size, but for the gas mileage. I would like to zoom around in this silver bullet and not have to pay for it.

Ah, but it just doesn't fit me. I am not a criminal. My sense of justice is just too strong. There is a right and a wrong. If I want these things, I must work for them. To steal for them is just not as satisfying.
To the one who stole the cards, you can have them. I still have the ethic to work and the pride to save my pennies.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Midwestern Endorsement: James Hunter

James Hunter is as cool as he looks. We were lucky enough to see him at WXPN's Free at Noon concert series this Friday.

A blue-eyed soul artist, James Hunter and his band wrap up a tight package of upbeat songs with plenty of jams to keep things interesting. His voice is amazing in all of its highs and lows. I almost felt like I had taken a time machine to the early 60's with his similarities to Sam Cooke, but he is an original and absolutely contemporary in his sound. He has no problem stepping back from the microphone to let his five piece band to share some of the spotlight.

His website has full versions of the songs off of his new album, The Hard Way. You can also find James Hunter on itunes.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

He Will Be Missed

It is rare that we are emotionally affected by the passing of someone famous, but the sudden and untimely death of Tim Russert is a loss not only for us but for America too.

Tim Russert was on our side. Not just on the side of the left or right, but on the side of Americans. He was one of the rare journalists that we trusted to ask politicians the questions that needed to be asked and he didn't let them leave that table without getting the answers.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"I Couldn't Help But Wonder..."

I am definitely not one of the people that go to a movie the first night it comes out. I am more likely to go to a matinee during the weekday about two weeks after it premieres. Well, I wasn't the only one who thought of this. I shared the theater with two senior citizen ladies. Together, we enjoyed Sex in the City.

I have heard complaints about the length of the movie. I could have watched it for another couple of hours. It might be because that is how I watched the television series, episode after episode.

The ladies are so stylish. They wear heels all of the time. They accessorize very well. I felt very dressed down. I could not hang with these ladies and their labels and clothes. I don't think they would appreciate a good pair of Birkenstocks. However, I would like to say that I bought a party dress yesterday. I have no where to wear it, but I have it ready when the hip and happening event occurs.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Strawberry Shortcake, Now and Then

This is the Strawberry Shortcake that I grew up with and loved very much. Maybe it was that she was named after a baked good and her friends had similar sugary names like Lemon Meringue, Crepes Suzette, and Angel Cake, but I just couldn't get enough of them in my formative years. Along with my lovely Strawberry Shortcake doll, I had a board game, coloring books, lip gloss, and record. Look how innocent and sweet she is. She is dressed in a huge hat and she has freckles to boot! Just perfect for a little girl, right?

Well, here is the updated version of Strawberry Shortcake. Yes, she is a little more relatable with her trendy jeans and hoodie tied around her waist. She also still looks like a little girl. Her chubby cheeks are still there and her sweet freckles. Oh, let's not forget the enormous hat that smells like sweet strawberries.

Sadly, they (whoever "they" are...) have decided to update Miss Shortcake one more time. Look at her. She is pretty, yes, but she is no longer the child-like sweetie of my youth. The hat is only reasonably sized. The freckles have been replaced by small and pale colored cheeks. And is she wearing lipstick!? Thank goodness she is not wearing a belly button ring ! What happened to her awkward little tom-boy hair cut? First they changed the ringlets to tom-boy haircut and now, Hollywood hair.

I don't think I am the only grown-up out there that likes their toys simple, sweet, and innocent. True, the new Strawberry Shortcake is trendier and not that insulting, but it is just fine to keep things the way they were. I don't just say that out of nostalgia. If little girls liked them then, they will like them now. I am sure there is some marketing genius behind this one. Chances are she never played with dolls in the first place.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rhubarb, Where Do You Hide?

I have rhubarb on my mind. I am in the mood for some delicious rhubarb crisp, but first, I have to get my hands on a few stalks of the tangy stuff. I also have a great recipe for strawberry-rhubarb pie, but I don't want to even attempt anything in my oven during this heat wave. Instead, I will drive to two places to look for it...gas prices, you know.

Rhubarb would be a great name for a cat. I always think food names fit cats. I like Butterscotch and call him Butters. I like Snickers too, the candy bar and the cat name.

Whatever I come up with during my rhubarb hunt, I will post a picture of the sweet treat because I have become mildly obsessed with taking pictures of the food that I cook. It seems strange but it is a good reference and if I post it on the blog, I always know where I can find the recipe. For example, I am making some Maple Vinaigrette Dressing tonight for a gathering and I always google search "Midwestern Position" and Maple and it comes up as the number two hit...only after the sad departure of the Maple Frosted from Dunkin Donuts. I must have a thing for maple because I am making a Maple Garlic Pork Loin tonight for dinner too!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Midwestern Recipe: White Bread

Simple White Bread

This is my first attempt at making fresh bread without my bread maker. It was surprisingly simple and I am always pleased when the dough rises as it should. (I have become kind of obsessed with taking pictures of food that I make.)

3 cups warm water
3 tablespoons active dry yeast
3 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup white sugar
8 cups bread flour

In a large bowl, combine warm water, yeast, salt, oil, sugar, and 4 cups flour. Mix thoroughly, and let sponge rise until doubled in size.

Gradually add about 4 cups flour, kneading until smooth. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn several times to coat. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled.

Punch down the dough, let it rest a few minutes.

Divide dough into three equal parts. Shape into loaves, and place in three 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch greased bread pans. Let rise until almost doubled.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 to 45 minutes. The loaves may need to be covered for the last few minutes with foil to prevent excess browning.

Three Paragraphs

It is brutally hot today in Philadelphia. However, I am one of the lucky ones who can find relief with our air conditioners. Driving to work today, I told Tim that we are lucky because we do not have to work outside or have a long walk to work on a day like today. Sadly, you have to belong to a swim club if you want to beat the heat at the pool. It isn't like in the midwest where you just go to the public pool and pay a few bucks and get to swim. So, I water my flowers and get a little water on me too.

On a different note, I think I might be done blogging. I know this is shocking and I am only considering it, but I feel like I do not have anything to write about lately. I am not throwing in the towel, but I wanted to let you know that I am thinking about it.

Tim is forcing me to watch "War Games" tonight. Not good.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


I have been pretty busy lately. The last days of kindergarten are a doozy. However, I have said my good byes to the five year olds and sent them on to new schools and that leaves me with a summer to enjoy.
I will be teaching summer camp for four mornings a week and will have every Friday off and all of my afternoons off. It hasn't really hit me that summer is here. That is amazing too since it is 95 degrees outside. Maybe on Monday morning when I do not have to get up early and I can leisurely walk to the coffee shop and get my daily dose.
So, I should have more time to write on this little blog and share all of my mild adventures with you.