Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Back to Peruvian Gillian

Oh my, it has been awhile hasn't it?

Awhile for a lot of things-

Awhile since I've been in Lima.   Awhile since I've spent the night at the Lima airport.  Awhile since I've made it through customs with a green button of victory.  Awhile since I've spoken Spanish.  Awhile since I've gotten a Peru stamp in passport and awhile since I've been home.

I landed tonight in Lima a little before midnight, and even though it's different, it's the same.  My heart feels at home again.  I'm only a few mere hours away from seeing Jamesson after a year and a half.  This trip has finally become reality, despite all the times when I was convinced that time had honest to God just stopped completely, this trip has proven that time was in fact marching on.  Perhaps not as quickly as I wanted it to, but it did march on, and I am finally going to see him again and we're finally moving forward.

I'm so excited to be back in Trujillo, back near Huanchaco, back with good friends, good food, and fantastic weather.  More to follow on my trip for sure, but for now, I bid you a restful night and sweet dreams of cuyes dancing in your head.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weekend Project

About a year ago I found a wonderful table in a wonderful little antique store here in Denver.  It's the perfect size for 2-4 people and then has a built-in leaf then is the perfect size for 6 people!

The only drawback to this table was that it didn't have any chairs with it.  I didn't think anything of it at the time.  I thought it would be pretty easy to find chairs that I would like to complement them.   Only two little problems with this -  First, It took me a long time to pick out what style of chairs I would like.  Second, the chairs that I like were way out of my price range.

Thus began my search for dining room chairs.  I checked Craigslist constantly, I was always on the lookout  at vintage stores, thrift stores and any other type of stores that might carry affordable dining chairs.  I had all but given up on finding chairs and was juuuust about resigned to the fact that I might need to expand my budget.

And then the pieces all came together last weekend.  As I was driving to run errands, I saw a sign spinner advertising for a new thrift store that had just opened up.   I stopped in on a whim and then I saw them.  6 cane back chairs for 50 bucks.  And thanks to my wheeling and dealing, I sweet talked them down to 40.  The cane back was in great shape and the structure was good.  The upholstery was nasty, but my creative spark ignited the fire to take on a new project.  New foam, great fabric (on sale) and a little paint and voila!  I have dining room chairs.  Results below!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Falling Into the Technological Future While Hitting Every Branch on the Way Down.

Yesterday I partook of something I had never partaken of before.  Black Friday.

But not the "trample-your-grandmother-when-she-tries-to-go-for-the-same-ipod-you-want" kind of Black Friday.   It was more the, let everyone else go crazy first, and then show up at the stores at 9:30 with the other sane people.

We're up in Montana visiting my Brother's family.  They wanted to head out to Billings in order to catch a few of the Black Friday deals so I went along for the ride.  We stopped at Lowe's first so that Marcus and Tiffany could pick up a grill; then we headed over to Cost Plus World Market where I found probably my most prized find-

They're Russian Doll Measuring Cups!

Amazing, right?  I know they are.  Well after that, we headed to the Mall and I somehow stumbled into the AT&T store.  You see, I've been mentally preparing myself for the last 2 weeks to possibly be mildly ok with the thought of maybe potentially upgrading to a smart phone.  So my plan was to just go inside ask how much it would cost, and then be content that it was too expensive and not get one.

This is what actually happened.  

Me:  Hello, I'm technologically incompetent and might be looking into upgrading to a smartphone from my current feeble-minded phone.

Clerk:  OH! Well, lucky for you!  Our Blackfriday deal today means that this normally $100 Motorola Atrix smartphone which can type what you speak into the phone, navigate the internet, predict your future, aid you if you ever need to stop a missile crisis and brew two cups of coffee simultaneously is a completely free upgrade today! 

Me:  Oh...well. Umm...maybe'm going to go take a walk and think about this.
           ***30 minutes later***

Me:  Ok Joseph,  I think I might be ready to take the plunge.

Clerk: Wonderful!  We'll just get you set up really quickly and you'll instantly know how easy this is to use and how smart you'll feel too as long as this is in your hand and you are using it.

Me:  Uhh....

           ***30 minutes later***

Clerk:  Here you go! The Sacred Goblet of Knowledge and Wisdom.  What do you think??

Me:  .....  I'm confused.

And thus began (and continues) my first step into the new wave of technology.  I'm sure that I'm functioning at a second grade level when it comes to this phone.  Actually, scratch that. I can't use that analogy anymore because I'm pretty sure all second graders these days would actually be able to stop a missile crisis using only their phones.  

At least I know how to work my Russian Doll Measuring cups

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pumpkin Fest 2011- Spiced Pumpkin Fudge

Pumpkin Fudge

Yield: 3 pounds of fudge

Prep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 12 min-15min

3 cups granulated white sugar
3/4 cup melted salted butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
½ cup canned pure (unsweetened) pumpkin
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice *I generally just throw in a bunch of cinnamon, cloves, and a few pinches of ginger, nutmeg and allspice*
One 12-ounce package white chocolate morsels (chips)
One (7-ounce) jar marshmallow crème
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Line a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil. Spray with nonstick spray.

2. Stir together first 6 ingredients in a 3 1/2- quart saucepan over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer registers 234° (soft ball stage) or for about 12 minutes.

3. Once mixture reaches 234°, remove from heat and quickly stir in the white chocolate, marshmallow creme, pecans (if using) and vanilla until well blended.

4. Pour into the prepared pan. Let stand 2 hours or until completely cool; cut fudge into squares.
Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pumpkin Fest 2011- Pumpkin Scones with a Spiced Glaze

Pumpkin Scones.


I just wanted to give you a minute to take in all the glory that is the recipe I'm about to share for Pumpkin Scones.  It's a winner every time.  Starbucks pretends they have good pumpkin scones.  Puh-lease.  These are much better.  Delicious...Nutritious (maybe not)...and wonderfully heartwarming enough to remind you of all the good things in this life.   What more could you ask for in a recipe?

Pumpkin Scones with Spiced Glaze Frosting

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 7 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon*
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger*
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1-inch cubes **
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin (You should know by now the trick is pumpkin that you puree yourself and NEVER from a can)
  • 3 tablespoons half-and-half (or substitute about a 1/6th cup of milk plus 1/3 tsp melted butter if you realize at 10 pm after you've started the recipe that you have no half and half)
  • 1 large egg
Scones Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. 
2. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.
3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large mixing bowl.
4. With a fork, pastry knife, or your hands, cut butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and no chunks of butter remain. Set aside.
5. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk pumpkin, half and half, and egg.
6. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Form the dough into a ball.  Get your hands dirty child.  It's worth it.
7. Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick rectangle (about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide).
8. Use a large knife to slice the dough into three equal portions. Cut diagonally to produce 6 triangular slices of dough.
Alternative Option- Use an ice cream scoop to get equal portions and don't bother with the triangles
9. Place on prepared baking sheet from step 2.
10. Bake for 14–16 minutes until scones turn light brown.
11. Place on wire rack to cool.
*  I ALWAYS add more of the spices than what pumpkin recipes call for
** Cold butter is important for scone making endeavors
Spiced Glaze Ingredients: and a quick side note - The original recipe calls for a plain glaze to be spread over the scones BEFORE putting on the drizzled spiced glaze...I personally don't think you need it, but if you have a super sweet tooth, don't add the spices to the powdered sugar/milk combo quite yet, you can go back after you spread the plain base glaze on and add those spices in" 
1 cup powdered sugar  **This is too much if you only do the spiced glaze, cut it in half (but not the spices)
2 Tablespoons whole milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch ginger
1 pinch ground cloves
Use a whisk to mix all the glaze ingredients;  Drizzle over cooled scones 
Saturday, November 5, 2011

English Skillz

At the urging of my dear friend Julie  I am going to post tonight.

I am a little scattered though so bear with me.  First of all, don't worry!  Pumpkin fest 2011 is not over yet.   There is always a little hiatus between Halloween and Thanksgiving.  There is certainly more to come.  Especially because I just got 3 giant pumpkins for free today.  If you wait until after halloween, people (especially roadside pumpkin vendors) begin to despise the pumpkins that haven't been sold yet (fools), and they choose to give them away.  So of course I nabbed 3 of the orphan pumpkins and a Merry Thanksgiving/Christmas/Rest of Pumpkin Fest 2011 will be had by all.

Secondly, I've actually been kind of busy lately, in a good refreshing way.  So that sort of not at all explains why I haven't posted that much.  But don't you worry my 2 faithful readers.  I'm here to post now, and when you see what I'm about to post, you're going to say "Really?  That's what she chose to talk about after 3 weeks of silence?"

So I'm not sure exactly why, when, or how this started, but I'm pretty sure learning Spanish had something to do with it.  Once I got back to the States, I knew that I was going to need to brush up on my English skillz (with a "z" makes me more does spelling gangster incorrectly).  What I didn't realize was that I had developed a strange form of dyslexia along the way...but not really dyslexia. I'm not really sure what to call it as a matter of fact, but I noticed that I'm having trouble spelling out the word that I'm actually trying to say when I type and write.

What usually happens is that it comes out as its homophone or even a word that is close but no cigar to the word I'm trying to say.   It often comes out the way you would spell the English word if you were saying it in Spanish and vice versa or just a word that is almost the same, but definitely isn't

For example- In my mind, I want to say the sentence I'm going to see a movie today.   However, as I'm typing or writing that, it may come out "I'm going to si a movie today"  

Another example-   I was trying to text a friend the phrase "At some point"  It actually came out "At some paint".

I don't know what's wrong with me.  Has this happened to anybody else?  Should I get checked out for a brain tumor?

Cartoon by Dan Piraro

And yes...this is what I chose to talk about after 3 weeks of silence.
Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pumpkin Fest 2011- Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins 
1/2 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled 
3/4 cup pumpkin puree 
1/2 cup yogurt or sour cream 
2 large eggs 
1 tsp vanilla 
2 cups all purpose flour 
2 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp cinnamon 
1/2 tsp ground ginger 
1/4 tsp allspice 
1/4 tsp cloves 
pinch freshly grated nutmeg 
1/2 tsp salt 
1/2 cup brown sugar 
1/2 cup white sugar

Streusel Topping 
1/2 cup butter, softened 
1/2 cup sugar 
3/4 cup flour 
pinch salt 
1/2 tsp cinnamon 

Preheat oven to 400° F. Line twelve muffin cups with paper liners or lightly grease the tin. 

Make the streusel: 
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and rub the butter in until the mixture is 
crumbly. This will be a bit of a sticky operation because the butter is soft, but take your time. Once it is crumbly, gently squeeze bits of the mixture together to form larger 
pieces of crumble/streusel. Set aside. 

Make the muffins: 
In a large bowl, combine melted butter, pumpkin, yogurt/sour cream, eggs, and vanilla and 
whisk until smooth. 
In another large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, spices and salt, then stir in 
the sugar. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture and sir until just combined. Divide batter 
evenly between the prepared muffin cups and top with streusel. **Note- these rose a lot for me, so don't fill your cups too full**
Bake for 16-19 minutes at 400F, until a tester inserted into the center of the muffins 
comes out clean. 
Cool muffins in the pan for about 5 minutes to allow the topping to set up, then turn out 
onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
Makes 12 muffins.