Coffee Chatter – Sunday Edition

Happy-Mothers-Day-Graphic-Design-4While I wait patiently for my mother’s phone line to free up so I can wish her a happy Mothers Day, I have been trolling around on Pinterest, pulling weeds out of the garden (it’s raining right now so I’m on a coffee rest break), and checking up on some online friends.

I’m not sure about your lawns but ours seems to be over run with dandelions this year. Last year was bad enough, but this year they’re back with a vengeance. I blame the local township banning all kinds of chemical weed killing products.

badweedsMy hips and lower back hate weeds more than I do. They will only allow me to bend down while pulling for a half hour at a time before they seize up on me. I have been thinking a lot about one of those pole devices that leave holes in the grass big enough for gophers to pop up out of. My body’s not getting any younger, and my next door neighbour lent me hers last year for a quick trial. My pride wasn’t quite to the place it is this year back then, so I passed on picking one up at Crappy Tire. But this year… I might just break down (before my back does). πŸ˜€

nappingGuess what? I guess I got too much sun weed pulling that I fell asleep on the couch halfway through this post. LOL I woke up and a few hours of my life disappeared. And it’s about to rain again. It started raining when I fell asleep, so perhaps I should just stick a fork in this day and put my PJs on now.

And no, I still haven’t gotten a hold of my mother. I have no idea what’s going on over there, but she did birth seven of us, and she is legally blind, so my best guess is she didn’t hang up the phone properly after one of the others called her to also wish her a happy Mothers Day. I will have to try her again tomorrow after work. *sigh*

hotcoffeePS: When I fell asleep, my freshly brewed cup of coffee was HOT. When I woke up it was cold. That’s quite the feat given how hot it is outside and in the house today. How long was I out cold, anyway!? Jee-bus! Oh, well. It’s nothing a few ice cubes couldn’t sort out. πŸ˜‰

[ All images found on ]

Coffee Chatter – Sunday Edition

hide-and-seekSo. It’s been four months already, has it? Huh. Well, how is everyone?

I suck at this blogging thing. I know, I know. So sorry. The last four months at work have been hectic and then Christmas rolled around before I knew it, and well…

Ok, here we go. I should probably give you the rundown on what I made for Christmas baking gifts since that’s the most interesting part of my absence, and really the only part most of you care about besides the sweet, sweet new sink faucet the husband bought me for Christmas and installed himself. Don’t lie, I know you want to see pictures of the new faucet! πŸ™‚

Before - hated this one. Really couldn't deal with it. It came with the house. Good riddance!

Before – hated this one. Really couldn’t deal with it. It came with the house. Good riddance!

New one - Love this high swan necked faucet. LOVE.

After – Love this high swan necked faucet. LOVE. I don’t mind dishes as much now.

You like?? Haha. Ok, I’ll shut up and go back to the baked goods now.

I found this lovely recipe on Martha’s website for what looks like coffee bean cookies. And indeed they are designed to taste like espresso beans, too. I had a lot of fun and flashbacks to my time as a child playing with Play-Doh and modelling clay.

Martha Stewart's Espresso Bean Cookies

MSL’s Espresso Bean Cookies

The indent was tricky for me because the instructions didn’t give any hints on how to make them look authentic, but I figured it out after a few tries. I think they turned out well. And I loved the taste of them so much, I co-opted it for another recipe I created this year.

The trick is to make a centre crease with the skewer, and then push down on both sides tapering inwards as you go till you reach the middle of the crease. That opens the crease up and emulates the split bean look perfectly.

The trick is to make a centre crease with the skewer, and then open it up with the skewer by shaving down a bit of each side, tapering inwards as you go. That emulates the split bean look perfectly.

That recipe was for my Gingerbread-Espresso Christmas Cookies.

Ginger-Espresso Christmas Cookies

Ginger-Espresso Christmas Cookies

They were easy to make and retained their cut-out shapes well while baking (much like some of the better sugar cookie recipes will get you). I’m not the best cookie decorator in the world and I struggle each year to find a pleasing look that I can duplicate on a few batches of the same cookie in a short amount of time before the icing hardens up. I think I stumbled on to something this year with the blue swirl over the snowflake shape. I really like it. And it makes for a fantastic photo composition.

I will post each of the cookie recipes in their own posts so it will be easier for you to search for them later if you want to make some yourselves.

I can’t believe I typed all of the above without a drop of coffee in me. Let me hit publish on this now, and I will stop to make a coffee before I post the recipes. πŸ™‚

Coffee Chatter – Saturday Edition

embarrassmentI know, I know. I keep doing this disappearing act on you. I’m sorry but life has this way of sucking up all of my time and attention. And to be honest, I really haven’t had much to say lately on anything. Ironic, right? Anyhoo…

IRSo, this morning’s coffee was a lovely Starbuck’s VIA Italian Roast pack that I spiked using the pumpkin syrup I made a week or more ago. I have to use it all up before it goes bad in another week, so the race is on. πŸ™‚ No latte for me today; just a straight up coffee, syrup and a splash of 10% cream did the trick. But, I did enjoy it with two (eek!) yummy, fresh buttery croissants, so I guess I win? Maybe? Hee.

Auntie Stacey’s Pumpkin Spice Coffee Syrup:
1C Sugar + 1C Water
2 Tbsp Pumpkin Puree (not the pie filling)
2 Tea Pumpkin Pie Spices

Stir the sugar around in the water till the cloudiness disappears before adding the pumpkin puree and spices to the pot over med-high. Bring all of the ingredients up to a boil. Let it boil for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so the sugar doesn’t burn. Remove from the heat and let the pot stand covered for about 1-2 hours till it hits room temperature. Pour it into a jar with a tight lid and store it in coldest part of the fridge up to two weeks. Pour 1 Tbsp or more per mugful of any hot beverage to enjoy.

My summer break is almost over, and I still haven’t finished my damn Spring quilt yet. (snort) I’m slower than molasses in February when it comes to sewing this sucker. The biggest problem is, although my sewing table is big, it’s apparently not big enough to fit my quilt properly so I can do the actual quilting part of it (where you run the sandwiched material layers pinned together in place under the needle to create pretty patterns with the sewing machine all over).

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX A503A lightly less aggravating problem is there is so much material, I have to constantly hold it taunt and roll up the excess as I slightly raise my arms to run it thought the machine, and that causes improper posture which then bugs my compressed shoulder issue that causes the nerves in the same area to become compressed, sending pain and numbness all down my arms and fingers, so I can only do a few runs a day, and each run is taking on average five minutes to do because I picked a patterned stitch to jazz my quilting up instead of using straight stitches in random patterns.

stitchesOh, I just HAD to be fancy!! Had to be. Oy ve. Sometimes I am my own worst enemy.

So, perhaps at this rate my quilt will be done in time for Spring of 2015? One can only hope. πŸ˜‰

Work is picking up nicely. Even though I’m on summer break, most of the staff that stayed behind are getting me to cover them for a few weeks here and there so they can have their time with their kids at one job, and the students at my other job suddenly realise summer school is ending and now they need time to study and complete projects to finish up in time for their regular classes to start two weeks later, so there has been many frantic S.O.S. calls being put out over the bat channel to see if I can cover them. Of course. I’m happy to help students who are serious about their studies. Always.

COLLARBONEslingAside from that, I have been busy cooking for my mother-in-law while her broken collar bone healed. She told me last night she doesn’t need me to help her out anymore, that she’s fine now since she’s out of the sling she hilariously kept wearing incorrectly the whole time she needed it, but we immediately noticed she’s very forgetful. Upon further chatting with her, the husband realized she’s not eating properly (and sometimes not at all as in only coffee for lunch) the way she’s supposed to as a diabetic, so I don’t feel right about not cooking for her anymore. I think I will continue to do so, but will keep a better eye on what she eats and when.

coffeeAnd her coffee maker seemingly died yesterday, so we bought her another one. When we got there last night, the husband unplugged the existing one and plugged it back in, and hey it worked. He then discovered another broken coffee machine in her basement sitting in a box beside a twin coffee maker to her existing one that was still sealed in its box. She insisted on keeping the one we brought her for some strange reason after that discovery, but we brought it home with us instead. It didn’t make sense to us for her to keep it, but to her it did. We’re still baffled by that. Especially after she made a crack about how the new unit comes with a two year warranty and she’s not even guaranteed to live that long herself. (raised eyebrows) Ok, then.

And then there was the equally confusing discussion with her about not needing a model with a timer on it since she’s retired and she only used the timer when her husband was still working, but he was retired for 25 years before he died in June, so… But, she insisted on the timer model despite being the only person in the house who drinks coffee, and that she brews it after she wakes up instead of setting it up before going to sleep. (head scratching)

ActifrySpeaking of my MIL, she gave her other DIL and me Actifry machines for Christmas last year. It’s been a very slow start for me to warm up to using it because, frankly, I felt it was a dud after multiple tries at making french fries in it according to the manufacturer, the recipe book it came with, youtube videos and lots of food blogger attempts (including Oprah’s famous gleeful video about her successful french fry try) and I STILL couldn’t get the machine to work for me.

I would put the fries in – whether they were freshly cut or frozen, it didn’t matter – and then the recommended amount of oil in, closed the lid and 20 minutes later I always found a wadded up pile of fries that somehow managed to fuse themselves together like a moon rock that fell out of the sky. So frustrating and maddening!!

That was back in January – March. Roll forward till about a month ago when I finally decided to dust the machine off and try again. My first instinct was to re-watch some of the same demo videos I bookmarked since I didn’t remember all of the prep involved. A few of those links had gone dead, so I had to do more googling to find new ones. There is one from a lovely New Zealand woman that was uploaded after my first attempts that states that if my potato has a high starch factor, I should use about 1/3 of the recommended oil, or none at all, to get the fries to remain dry and crisp up.

Ding-ding-ding, we have a winner!

Nowhere in the documentation or online was that ever stated by anyone else but this lovely woman. She was right on the money with this tip. When I cooked a batch without oil, only then did my yellow cooking potatoes crisp up into individual fries instead of a singly fry moon rock.

So this is what successful Actifry french fry baking feels like! Me likey.

mooshueggrollsTwo nights ago I made some very tasty Moo Shu (chicken and beef) Egg Rolls and put them into the Actifry to crisp up. OMG. These were the best non-oil fried egg rolls I have ever eaten, and I’ve eaten a lot of egg rolls in my lifetime. Haven’t I, Ellen? Not to mention frozen chicken balls straight from your dad’s restaurant locker freezers. πŸ˜‰ I even cooked all of the filling in the Actifry machine before rolling it up in the wrappers. It was a fair amount of time to make the egg rolls, but probably no more than making them to cook on or in the stove, really. Egg rolls will always have multi-cooking steps involved, so I don’t feel like this isn’t worth the effort. Especially when I consider I used a whole pack of wrappers with the amount of ingredients I cooked up and it came out to 18 egg rolls in the end. I used the leftover for lunches the husband took to work this week. He was happy to have them.

And then I challenged Oprah to out do my egg rolls in her Actifry. LOL (Ermine is going to love this story when she hears it. “Oprah? Stacey, are you insane?!?” And the answer will be, “Of course I’m insane! But, you already know that about me, Erms!”)

Michael Brown Receives His DiplomaAnd finally, onto something serious. I’ve been glued to the media and Twitter reports about the Ferguson, MO story since it broke even though I haven’t talked about it much in social media. I’m very upset about the killing of an unarmed black youth who was on the cusp of starting his adult life in college, about to make some of his dreams that he dared to have come true. That’s Michael in the above picture at the moment when he received his high school diploma. (He did something I never did – he graduated from high school. I’m one credit short but never bothered since I have two college diplomas instead. And there have been a few instances where that has hindered me while seeking employment.)

Such a horrific loss of life and potential for his family to be forced to deal with. And the cop responsible is in hiding. Why? If was a justified killing (which it most certainly was NOT), why didn’t he stay to file a report and face the public with his truth, his version, his account of how he felt that child should be put down like the animal this cop treated him as? WHY IS DARREN WILSON IN HIDING? What does he have to fear if he was in the right, if he was doing everything by the book that day on the street?

Oh… right. (nodding)

Jesus H. Christ on a cracker. That Wilson man better come forward to face his music before someone who isn’t a part of the blue brotherhood finds him first. It will not be pretty for him if it goes down that way. Even George Zimmerman stuck around, Darren Wilson. Are you reading this? Are you hearing what I’m saying here??


I have to change the subject now. I am too upset, and honestly, what can a white girl from Canada do anyway beyond keep this story alive online until some kind of justice is served?

And that is where I will end this chat. I’m sorry if I’ve bummed any of you out with my final subject matter thoughts, but you know me. I’m not one to hold back when an injustice has been done.

Coffee Chatter – Saturday

2014-04-29 17.36.21[ We have become enamoured with the local Wok Box franchise. It’s our new go-to takeout spot. For the days when I don’t want to make us lunch or dinner. ]

I’ve been thinking about takeout food today. And foods I’m so over. What’s on your list of foods you’re over? I need to know, so share! Here is mine:

Can I just say how exhausted I am of cakes, cookies, and desserts in general? It takes a lot to get me interested in any of them, let alone into the kitchen to make them. They’re just so… pedestrian at this point. I guess it’s because there is so much of each already in the world, and it seems like that’s all people think about on Pinterest. Sugary crap. I get it, I used to be the same way. But then I grew up, my hormones changed along with my taste buds, and here we are. I much prefer steak & eggs over a bag of chips and greasy hamburgers. (Sidenote: while spending a lot of time at the hospital, I discovered the hot Kettle Chips Tim Hortons sells for $0.99. Amazing! Perfectly cooked and salted? C’mon!)

I like burgers – I do! – but not all the time. I like pizza, but only when I make it at home. I like to use ingredients I know are fresh and tasty, not overly produced and globby. I’m a bit of a snob like that. I’m sorta kidding here, but one time we ordered a custom pizza made fresh in front of us while we waited, and by the time I got to eat it 15 minutes later at home, it was disgusting. The drive home was less than 5 minutes door to door, and still, it was a soggy mess. And it was overly salty and overly greasy, and the pieces were so soggy I should have drake them. I couldn’t deal after half a slice. What a waste of money, time and materials.

soggy pizza[ Not my picture, but my pizza slice was just as wet on the bottom as this one.]

Funny aside to this story is the owners of that pizza shop stopped by our store to hand deliver menus and coupons about two months afterward. I said no thank you to the coupons. They were stunned, so they asked me why. We had a lovely chat about that pizza I bought. Coincidentally, (or possibly not) 6 months later they sold their franchise location. Huh. Perhaps I was one of many to have a similar story for them to hear? Maybe. Doesn’t matter. The current owners are doing well and I haven’t heard anything negative about their pizzas since. Still. I won’t. I can’t. I refuse to let anyone else make me a pizza from scratch.

So, yes, I know! I know I have been AWOL lately. My father-in-law died, and his wife (my mother-in-law) had a mishap where she broke the tip of her collar bone and spent 13 days in the hospital. She’s home now but we’re all pitching in the help her with cooking and gardening chores she’s been banned from by the doctors. And I have an odd work schedule that’s due to expire in a month, so all of the things I wanted to do this summer are off the table. I will see what I can do in my limited time, but don’t expect much. πŸ™‚

selfwatering planterI am, however, growing some tomatoes from a dozen tomato plants I grabbed from my FIL’s garden after his funeral. They’re doing well in the self-watering container we built a few summers ago specifically for tomato and peppers plants to grow in.

My FIL was sick in the hospital almost a full month before he died, and he wasn’t feeling well leading up to that stay, so he didn’t get a chance to do anything with his garden this year. Nothing. Zip. Nada. After the funeral reception held at the house, some of us went out to look at his beloved roses and garden space to see what we could do to help the MIL out.

What we found was a bunch of tomato plants and leaf lettuce that had sprung up from the ground on their own from seeds that fell into the soil last year in a very random pattern and have really started to grow all on their own – without any human help or intervention. Amazing, non?

garden-2Here is a picture of his garden as of last week when we stopped by the mow and water the grass, and to check on the raspberry bushes like the MIL asked us to. Again, all of it’s growing out of control on its own. On. Its. Own. Look at how densely packed in that tiny space they are! I can’t even get to them to weed let alone count, but I’d guess there is close to 100 in there now. That’s thanks in large part to the beautifully fertile soil the FIL spent over 25 years cultivating. I used his soil in my tomato planter after I transplanted them. They seem to be flourishing well, too.

raspberries-2We picked a lot of berries that night. And I’m told, less than a week later, there are way more ready to be picked this weekend. I’m thinking about raspberry syrup right now. (stroking my chin) I already used a bunch from the first picking to make a yogurt parfait that I included in the husband’s lunch today.

2014-07-08 12.54.32And finally, the last thing I have been distracted with is this cute little preemie, my new niece. I knew you’d want to see a picture of Thea, so here you go. πŸ™‚

Coffee Chatter – Thursday Edition

CosmosI’ve been watching this series starring Neil de Grasse Tyson called Cosmos: Spacetime Odyssey since it started a few months back. There are only ten episodes in the first season, but it’s taken me more than 10 hours to watch them all. I would venture to say it’s take me roughly no less than 15 hours, and probably more like 18-20.

Why, you ask? Well, it’s not because the subject matter is so dense and it’s been 25 years since high school science classes, but because I keep falling asleep.

Why, you ask? Well, it’s not because the subject material is boring, because it’s not, and it’s not because I was tired because I had just did a power walk and I was wired. It’s just that… well, Neil’s voice is so lovely (it really is), it lulls me into a slumber on average of every 20 minutes. And I’m not kidding. I have yet to watch the last seven minutes of the season closer because I feel asleep THREE times.

Let me break it down for you:

Nap #1 – started 12 minutes in; woke up to an episode of Parks & Rec – a show I’ve never watched but it was playing live on the tv which tells me the recorded Cosmos played to the end and the DVR switched to a tv show afterward.

Nap #2 – started 32 minutes into the second watching of Cosmos, and I woke up to the middle of a Big Bang Theory episode, again for the above reason.

Nap #3 – started 51 minutes into the third attempt at staying awake to watch Cosmos to the end. Again, I woke up to another tv show airing on my tv. This time it was an unfunny Just For Laughs show. Oy. I gave up at this point. I turned it all off and vowed to finish it another day.

Sadly this isn’t the first time this has happened to me with this show. The husband has a running joke now where, whenever I fall asleep on the couch, he asks me if I was watching another Cosmos. Har, har.

But, in all seriousness, kids, I think I have found a permanent cure for insomnia if anyone needs it. Tell everyone who can’t fall asleep about this magical man’s voice!! πŸ™‚

PS: I’m imagining Dave’s head exploding and Sanjay giggling at my plight as they read this.

Coffee Chatter – Wednesday Edition

cheeseObscene: Using 3/4 of a 500g Jalapeno cheese brick to make a pan of 8 small chicken enchiladas for dinner last night. Whoops. My bad, arteries! πŸ˜€ (Ermine would have said I was being stingy, though. Ha!)

So… I’ve been around but not blogging for two months. I’m not sure how that happened, because I have been cooking, baking and coffee drinking in all that time. I have also been preoccupied with being trained at one job in a different position, relaxing on my downtime, landscaping the front of the house to add curb appeal, and laying my father-in-law to rest this past week. I gave his eulogy. He was the kind of man whom everyone loved to dearly, no one thought they could get through standing up to speak about him without losing it. I volunteered to do the deed, and I almost got through it all without tears till the last three lines. The tears formed, started to roll, and then the ugly crying started. I was a mess by the time I sat down. His void in our lives will be HUGE.

oneshotToday we started the annual Battle Royale Of The Ants in front of the patio door. I can’t recommend a product by Wilson called One Shot Jet Foam more. It’s a fantastic foam that dries up after 20 minutes and coats the cracks ants enter homes from, and like magic, the ants are never to be seen again! Love this product so much. You will, too.

windexI’ve also been trying a few new products out around the house, and another one I will give my seal of approval to is the Windex Touch-Up pump dispenser. It’s super handy. Only one hand is needed to push a cloth down on it and get wiping up your spills and messes off of every surface you can touch with a cloth. And it’s refillable. I bought a large jug of Windex disinfectant cleaner, and I have been able to filled it up over and over. I leave it up on the counter near the sink for the most part but it’s small enough I can drag it around the house as I clean bathrooms on both floors. I loved it so much, I bought one for my sister-in-law when she first moved closer to us, and now that she is pregnant, I can easily see her giving her dispenser quite the workout. πŸ™‚ Give it a whirl.

8-bread-pan-nonstickl_744_detailI have been test driving are a set of professional size non-stick, textured baking pans my mother-in-law ordered through some catalog. They perfectly match the long meatloaf pan I picked up last year in silver. I already see this being a collection I will keep growing. The pans themselves came in a box without paperwork or even a company name, so my guess is as good as yours about who makes them, but they are wonderful. They bake up perfect loafs in bigger sizes you can only get when you buy fresh bread from bakeries. And that is what I was after. ‘Mmmm… Fresh bread. (drooling)

And with that, I am off to get a few loaves of bread started so I can bake them up before the husband comes home from work.


P.S.: I am a part-time blogger, not a professional one that does these product reviews for money, endorsements or even free swag. I pimp products I buy, test and love only. No one asked me, or has ever asked me, to talk about the items I highlight. This is strictly from one consumer to another.

Coffee Chatter – Sunday Edition

calendarFour years ago as of four days ago, we picked up the keys to our first, and current, house. We love being homeowners. I’m not a fan of the house layout with its L shape bleeding our small living room into our spacious dining room, but I can’t imagine us moving any time soon. We’re too settled in, and one of us is change adverse (I’ll let you guess which one of us it is), so we’re putting some roots down in this little hovel of ours. πŸ™‚

A year ago this weekend, we closed our retail store. I see a LOT of our old regular customers at my new job, and I’m asked all the time if we miss the store, the work, and owning our own business. For the most part, hell no we don’t miss the headaches, the constant money pie dipping by everyone under the sun, and the customers who treated us like dry cleaners expecting their stuff fixed and returned in under an hour.

We also don’t miss answering phone calls. Our store phone would ring constantly every day by someone looking to sell us services we didn’t need (think debit/credit terminals, search engine optimization/website work, and advertising in things like phone books that no one uses anymore), or it was a random gov’t body calling to say we need to pay this or that because we had employees – the bookkeeper, and me. (Mostly it was the workman’s comp board drumming up business but we’d politely end the calls and shake our heads since it’s only suppose to apply to businesses that have more than something like 15 employees.)

Oh, and I also don’t miss the constant calls and walk-ins asking us for donations to private school fundraisers. *LOL* Sure, I’d love to been poorer than I already am by giving you our products and time services for FREE. Sure. Whatever, soccer moms. (And stop sending your precious kids into stores to beg while you stand outside talking on your cellphone as you lean up against your $160K SUV tank of a vehicle. We can see you through the windows. It’s embarrassing for everyone involved.)

Of course we really did enjoy helping the best customers a business could ever hope to have in our vast customer pool, but it was time for us to do something new. Plus now we get benefits at our jobs, and perks that we could never give ourselves as we struggled to make even the slimmest of margins on our goods and services. Honestly, so many people thought we should have been swimming in profit given our business and industry, but the opposite was the norm for owners like us.

There are a few downsides to not working for yourselves (the autonomy, the working together, the making our lunches daily in the back of the store, the baking cookies when the mood struck me or when I was really PMS’ing, the getting to say no to certain customer requests because they were beyond ridiculous and/or offensive, and the carpooling to name but a few), but they were never enough to make us change our minds about closing our doors.

A lot can happen in 365 days. A lot of good things. Don’t ever believe otherwise, kids.

Coffee Chatter – Sunday Edition

[ After I cleaned out the fridge, I realized I had many mason jars that I really should sterilize instead of simply hand washing them, so I pulled out my big stock pot and did just that because we don't have a dishwasher ]

    [ After I cleaned out the fridge, I realized I had many mason jars that I really should sterilize instead of simply hand washing them, so I pulled out my big stock pot and did just that because we don't have a dishwasher ]

[ After I cleaned out the fridge, I realized I had many mason jars that I really should sterilize instead of simply hand washing, so I pulled out my big stock pot and channelled my grandmother. ]

[ Korean Beef ]

[ Korean Beef ]

[ Mongolian Beef I made a few weeks back that was too salty for human consumption, but was lovely otherwise. Will have to make this again revising the salt and soy sauce. ]

[ Mongolian Beef I made a few weeks back that was too salty for human consumption, but was lovely otherwise. Will have to make this again revising the salt and soy sauce. ]

Yesterday I spent the day puttering around in the kitchen, cleaning mostly (the oven, the stove top, mason jars, dishes, the floor, etc.) but also making a big portion of dinner (Korean Beef) and setting up lunches for the husband since he’s working a lot this week to cover a co-worker who went home to visit her family for the first time in at least 5 years. And luckily since I tired myself out yesterday in the kitchen and at work, we were finally able to go to bed early for the first time in a long time. In fact, I was so tired, I tried to start this post in bed but I fell asleep shortly after logging into the website. (snort)

[ Sushi / maki roll mold ]

[ Sushi / maki roll mold ]

2014-03-22 22.11.36I also found sometime to play a bit with food, and a new gimmicky tool I bought on clearance. I was drawn to this trough looking toy that purports to help make the best rolled rice and filling for maki versus hand rolling, so I figured it was worth $3 to find out. All in the name of science. Tasty, delicious science. ‘Mmm… Ahem.

[ Typical maki roll hand rolling produced by moi. ]

[ Typical hand rolled maki produced by moi. ]

Well, they aren’t lying. Check out this tight maki roll I made using jasmine rice (rinsed two times to keep some of the starch needed to stick the filling together) and carrot sticks. All I did was wet the nori sheet at the ends and a bit in the middle as I went along, and it pulled it tight with the bamboo mat as I rolled it over. And I didn’t have get my hands dirty and tacky at all?? I’m impressed.

In other news, we’re on the hunt for a new oven. I dislike this old cheap version that came with the house, and it now only cooks and bakes on the left side of the oven. I mean… I just can’t even begin to figure that one out other than it’s the broiler or the main element going and simply needs to be replaced, but no matter because we’re taking the opportunity to get something different.

By the way, this same model of old school stove is still sold in stores for less than $400. Good dogs!

All I know is, this stove is making baking quick and yeast breads a nightmare. I have to practically sit beside the oven and watch the action like a hawk as they bake lest they burn or take an extra half hour to cook all the way through. Who has time for that crap? Not me!

[ A Cinnamon Raisin Bread recipe idea I'm experimenting with for the husband ]

[ A Cinnamon Raisin Bread recipe idea I’m experimenting with for the husband ]

What type and brand this new stove will be, I don’t know. We don’t have gas lines on our street, and the kitchen is located too far inside the house to even consider a propane hookup for a gas stove, so I have been researching and reading up on new electric range models. I’m sufficiently frightened by how shoddy new appliances seem to be these days. Worse than when I first starting hearing horror stories 17 years ago from an old boss, if you can believe that.

I get that major appliances will never be built to last ever again, but this seems ridiculous. I don’t have a job where I can take X number of random days off to wait for repair people to come fix or replace parts in a NEW stove just because something like the self cleaning feature runs at a high temperature and burns out the convection electronics, or the dashboard circuit blows on its own a month into owning the damn thing.

Honestly, I should just keep the old stove, but I am loathe to do so. Did I mention the wonky, uneven burner elements on top? No? Well imagine trying to pan fry something and the liquid rolls off to one side of the pan instead of staying in the middle where it’s supposed to be. (It’s my personal nightmare holding the handle as I tilt the pan so food cooks properly because that further compresses the nerves in my neck, which makes the hand I’m using go all pins and needles numb.) At first I thought the floor was uneven and that made the whole stove uneven, but my husband proved it wasn’t using a level. Oy ve. So after bending down and looking at the elements, and pulling each one out and putting them back in, I have concluded these burners have been through hell and back. Enough!

Anyway, back to shopping. I hate Samsung anything (they make good appliances on the whole, but they keep repeating known design flaws for YEARS, over many of their models, so forget that nonsense. I’ve already broken the middle freezer drawer because they use the same weight distribution design flaw that causes the drawer to stick and stall as you pull it in and out of the unit.), and I’m leery of the now crap reputation Bosch has. Moving on, the next three players are: Maytag, Whirlpool and Kitchenaid (all owned by Maytag) who also have their own design flaw — the self cleaning feature that never seems to work. At this point, I’m not even looking for a stove with that feature. I’m happy to hand clean my oven every so often as required.

So that leaves me with a small brand name pool of: Frigidaire, LG and two others I can’t recall right now. All have their detractors online and known past issues with certain models. So far I can’t find one stove, or even one brand of stoves, that stands above the pack. It’s like we’re left to decide between poop and diarrhea. Greaaaat…

And then there is the issue of range surfaces. There are great reasons to go with induction, but my understanding is it requires new pans that work with the magnet attracted elements. I don’t want to replace my pots and pans if I can help it, and I’d really love to continue using my big ole cast iron Dutch pot up top if I can, so that leaves us with an enamel tops but good luck finding one. I’ve looked around and so far came up empty. I suppose I could go back to coil burners but they’d have to be in a certain arrangement that I like (two big elements up front, two small ones in the back) that won’t lead to more neck compression leading to more nerve compression leading to more pain in the ulnar nerves causing me loss of hand use – all because stoves tops are set at 36″ tall and I’m barely 5′ 2″. I just need some KISS platform boots to work at my stove, right? πŸ˜‰


I’m starting to give myself a headache just typing this all out. Hahaha. Ok, that’s enough for now.

[ My knock-off Tim Horton's tangerine-yogurt smoothie. ]

[ My knock-off Tim Horton’s tangerine-yogurt smoothie. ]

Moving along, I have been testing a few new drinks to add to my Summer Drinks category. The first up was a promising banana latte, but it turned into something that my taste buds rejected outright, and the next one was my attempt at coming up with a Tim Horton’s tangerine-yogurt smoothie knock-off, and this one proved easy to do, and it was tasty! I’ll post that one soon.

Until next weekend, ttyl.

Saturday Coffee Chatter – March 15

ShamrockIt’s St. Paddy’s day soon. This is the one day of the year for me to acknowledge and quasi-celebrate the 1/8th of Irish blood that courses through my veins. I don’t have much Irish pride since our family is basically 80% English, a bit Scottish, and a smidgen French Canadian, but I do like to jump on opportunities to try out food fare from different corners of the world whenever a ‘holiday’ comes round.

Green mashed potatoes, anyone? A-yup. My mother made the effort for us each year. Bless her Protestant heart. And I swear, they were this colour every time, too. LOL

Green Mash[ Kinda looks like pistachio or spumone ice cream, non? ]

So basically, I state I’m 100% Canadian and leave it at that all year long. I don’t feel the need to proclaim any heritage to one nation or another beyond this country’s borders. It seems… fake to me since I’ve always lived here, and rarely travelled outside of her four corners.

In recent years I have made traditional Irish stews, but they were too bland for my liking; I was thrilled when Carrie gave me her late mum’s recipes where she took the old, made it bold, and let it soar. Her colcannon is particularly fantastic, so of course I’ll be making that. Of course! No question there. None!

I am also thinking of making a roast of some sort but I haven’t yet rooted through my freezer chest to see what’s in stock. πŸ˜‰ I have green beans and shallots I want to use up, and I’ll serve dinner with a McDonald’s Shamrock Shake knock-off. I just happen to have all of the ingredients in the house for that to happen. Hee.

For dessert, I think I’ll keep it simple and just make a small batch of Bailey’s Shamrock Macaroons for the husband and me.

Saturday Morning Coffee Chatter

pastasauceStill trying to locate that awesome banana bread recipe I used at Christmas, but so far no luck. πŸ™ Will post it here when, or if, I ever do get it again. In the meantime, I’m home on my day off (so far – work may still call me in yet) enjoying a latte while my Marcella Hazan tomato sauce bubbles on the stove.

I wish you could all smell the inside of our house today. It smells like what I imagine the afterlife will smell like. I’m almost in a dreamlike state of hypnosis. It’s *that* delicious!

I’m also planning to make some sugar cookies for the express purpose of using my new giraffe cutout cookie cutter my husband made me using the MakerBot III 3-D printer. How cute is this sucker?!

2014-02-21 09.33.36So, what’s going on with all of you this lovely Saturday morning? Talk to me.