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. 🙂 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. 😉

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. 😉 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??

(sigh)

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.