Archive | November, 2008

on secrets (a game of tag)…

22 Nov

Stephanie tagged me on this, and Jen has done one too, and I have never done it, so, now I will.

1. I threw up on the Superman ride at Fiesta Texas. Like, on the ride. While I was on the ride I threw up, and the ride was going so fast that it blew back on me, Jon, and the seat itself. Jon quickly escorted me off the ride when it was over and we never looked back to see who ended up in that seat later. I am really scared of heights. And I get motion sickness.

2. Brittany and I made really horrible fake IDs (out of our already not-professional, handwritten-by-the-principal, laminated junior high school IDs) that said we were 18 (we were 13), so that we could get into abar to see Semisonic. With our dads. 

3. And I am scared of needles! Am I high-maintainence? I know shots and getting blood taken doesn’t hurt, but it’s the idea of something going into my vein and some cold, sterile fluid traveling so quickly through my bloodstream. 

4. Before we moved to London, we went for a visit to check out school and houses. There were lots of signs on residences that said “to let.” I asked my dad what that meant and he said it meant that the place had a toilet, but in Britain, it was vulgar to say the word “toilet” so they just left out the “i.” (like writing sh*t?). For a week, I went around pointing at places saying “they have a toilet, they have a toilet!” “wait, that place doesn’t have a toilet?” Then we moved there and I thought the same thing, and I thought Brits were just really vulagar because they always ask “where’s the toilet” instead of “where’s the bathroom.” a few months later I learned “to let” meant “for rent”, and I realized how much of my brain space had been used questioning about and pondering on something that turned out to be crap.

5. When the song Californication hit the UK I was in 9th grade. I asked my dad what californication meant. It was awkward.

6. When I was two-going-on-three, I sucked my thumb. Bad. I was starting to wear grooves into my bone from my teeth biting at the base of my thumb. My dad would come home from work and tell me it was going to turn green and fall off. I kept sucking. He kept telling me the same thing. One day, when I was taking a nap on a weekend, my parents came into my room and painted my thumb green with food coloring. I FREAKED out when I woke up. They made a “phonecall” to the doctor, who said if I wrapped it in gauze and didn’t bump it all weekend and never sucked it again, maybe it would be salvagable. I did just that. By the time we took the gauze off the food coloring had gone away. I never sucked my thumb again. And then, I didn’t know that my parents had painted it green until I was probably 16, when my then-boyfriend/now-husband was over at my house. I actually still thought I had sucked into turning green. The best part about this is that Ben, my brother, has a similar childhood experience that he has yet learn to be a farse, instrumented by mom and dad.

7. I can sing every word to every song on Jewel’s Pieces of Me CD. When I was 13, we went to Germany, rented a car, and toured the country via auto. I forgot all my cds and only had Jewel’s that was already in my discman. 

Wow, those were all really embarassing.

I tag Amber-Rose, Olivia, Carey, Carrie, Kendall, Erika, and Mandy


Photo Tag

22 Nov

Jen is sweet, and has beckoned me back here. I have been cooking a fair amount, but remained stagnant over here. Jen knew just the trick to tempt me out of hibernation. Photos! This is a fun, oh-so-little-time-investment survey photo thingy. 

Here are the rules:
1. Go to your pictures
2. Upload the 4th picture of the 4th folder
3. Post it
4. Tag 4 friends

Here is my picture:

From 4×4

 Jon and I took a break from Lifeguarding 50 hours a week to go to Colorado. He got to show me where he grew up, and I got snot on by giraffes. No, really. We went to the Colorado Springs Zoo, and at the giraffes were really mucousy. This doesn’t sound that bad, because their heads are so far away from my own little body on the ground. But at this zoo, giraffe access is different. I walk up onto this bridge suspended over the giraffe pen. The giraffes are eye-level (nose-level) with your head. It is full giraffe-access. I buy feed from an old quarter-gumball-machine-turned-giraffe-feed-dispenser. Then, I hold it in my hand and let them eat out of it. Black tongues of giraffes licked the feed out of the crevaces between my tightly closed fingers. It’s all very engaging. I try and get the giraffe to stay by my head long enough that we can have Jon have a photo of us together, like we’re long-lost friends, reunited at the zoo. Other people are doing the same, and an older guy with a fancy camera its trying to get a close shot of a giraffe. His wife points out the next giraffe, who has a buggar hanging from his nose. It is all fun and games until the giraffe snots. Everywhere. Projectile snot. I would say this was about a cup total of snot, all out of one nostril, and all onto myself and other spectators. I don’t think a drop of snot was wasted onto the ground or on the bridge. It was gross. And also awesome.

I tag HilStreet, Amber-Rose, Erika, and Stephanie.

Pumpkin Cake with Carameled Apples and Strudel

21 Nov
From pumpkin strusel cake with carmelized apples

I look at fall desserts like my cat looks at catnip: longlingly, for a second, and then entering into them face first. More pumpkin. This one is as good as its photos.


From pumpkin strusel cake with carmelized apples
From pumpkin strusel cake with carmelized apples

If you don’t like pumpkin, that’s ok, you can tell me. I probably won’t listen, but you can tell me. My mom loves pumpkin, so I guess that is where I get it. This recipe is another Wednesday-morning breakfast recipe. The apples carmelize with the sugar and provide sweetness and texture atop a moist pumpkin bread base. The pumpkin bread is rich in flavor but light in your stomach–pumpkin and sour cream take presence instead of oils or more butter. 

From pumpkin strusel cake with carmelized apples

Pumpkin Cake with Caramelized Apples and Strudel Topping 


Apple Layer:

3 tablespoons butter

4 large Granny Smith apples (or a combination of your favorite baking apples), thinly sliced

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon


Cake and Strudel Layer:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh roasted)

1/3 cup sour cream

2 large eggs

Butter and flour an 8-Inch springform pan

Preheat oven to 350°

Saute the apples in a skillet  with butter butter on medium heat, just until they start to soften. Remove from heat and add the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

With an electric mixer, combine flour, brown sugar and salt. Add the butter and blend well.

Measure out 2/3 cup of the mixture into a separate bowl to make the streusel. Add the sugar and pumpkin spices to this separate bowl, blend and set aside.

Add the baking soda, pumpkin, sour cream and eggs to the flour mixture left remaining in your mixer.

Blend until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Layer the cake batter, then the sauteed apples and finally sprinkle the streusel over the top.

Bake, uncovered, for about 1 hour. Allow to cool in the pan and then remove the springform. Serve plain for breakfast, or with vanilla ice cream afor dessert.

From pumpkin strusel cake with carmelized apples
From pumpkin strusel cake with carmelized apples

Never Downplay a Good Shortcut

19 Nov
From pumpkin bars

Cake mixes, full of crap that is clearly not good for you, are a brilliant shortcut for every I-need-something-to-bring-to-tonight’s-event-and-it-is-already-5pm moment. Fear no more. Keep a few cake mixes on hand and you will be saved time and again.

On the top shelf of my bookcase (above the real Bibles) are reads like The Cake Mix Bible, 101 Things to do With a Cake Mix, and 101 More Things to do With a Cake Mix (can’t have too much of a good thing, right?). According to these books, you can do anything with a cake mix. Banana bread, muffins, cookies, pancakes, biscuits, bars, brownies, cornbread, and much, much more can all be made with a cake mix. 

These pumpkin bars are made with a cake mix. Try them, and then go buy one of those books above (I recommend this one first, it’s the best and Amazon has it used for $1.90 right now).


From pumpkin bars

Pumpkin Pie Bars

makes about 15 bars.



1 (18 ounce) package yellow cake mix (reserve 1 cup)

1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted

1 egg


2 cups pumpkin

2/3 cup milk

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2  teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup brown sugar


1 cup yellow cake mix (reserved from crust)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup margarine


Grease a 9×13 pan and preheat oven to 350.


Mix all but one cup of the cake mix with the melted margarine/butter and egg. Press firmly in pan and prick with a fork. Bake 8 minutes until just lightly brown.


Mix pumpkin, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, 2 eggs, and brown sugar. Pour over crust.

With a fork, mix the one cup of reserved cake mix, cinnamon, sugar, and margarine together untill crumbly. Sprinkle over filling.


Bake at 350°F for 40-45 minutes. Let cook before cutting into bars.

Like pumpkin pie, these are really good cold with whipped cream!

All in a Name

18 Nov
From pumpkin butter

Pumpkin Butter is a wonderful mystery. It is pumpkin, but it is not butter. Tricky, huh? Pumpkin Butter is so tasty, and making it fills your house with the aroma of winter spices. 


Also, I am all about buying organic, but pumpkins don’t make sense. I got my pie pumpkin from HEB for $1.69, but an organic pie pumpkin is something like $1.69/pound, and to get 5 cups of pumpkin you’re going to need a 4-5 lb pumpkin. Because pumpkins have such thick skin, the effect of pesticides on the innter fruit is negligble in compariston to say, grapes.

From pumpkin butter

Pumpkin Butter

makes about 5 cups.

5 cups pumpkin, seeded, peeled, and diced into 1 inch pieces.

1 cup apple cider

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups brown sugar

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon kosher salt


Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan, stir occasionally as you bring the mixture to boil. Once boiling turn down the heat and simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat and strain any excess liquid. Puree in a food processor or blender. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge.

From pumpkin butter