Mom and me cooking club failure

We had our first failure at the Mom and Me cooking club this weekend. A totally inedible, throw them in the trash failure.

Mom picked this recipe for us to make. It sounded good. A little sweet, a little savory. They looked just like the picture from the recipe before they went in the oven. When they came out of the oven, all of the cheese had melted out of the apricots and burned. Each piece was sitting in a puddle of charred cheese. I’m kind of thinking that the temperature in the recipe (425F for 15 – 20 minutes) is a mistake. 225 until warmed through seems like it might be a more reasonable instruction. But I’m not that good a cook. I generally make things by the book the first time around. I don’t get creative with recipes until I’ve made it once and have some idea of what I’m doing. On the plus side, I now have some mascarpone and some ricotta and I think some manicotti is in the future.

Spent most of Saturday potting up succulents. I have a hard time matching the plant to the pot sometimes. I got several nice pots from Seaside Gardens in Carpinteria. They had both long tom pots and shallow terra cotta pots. It’s hard to find anything ordinary pots at the local nurseries, so when the opportunity comes around I try to stock up. I’ve had several glazed pots that I got just because I liked them, but hadn’t put anything in them. I did my best at matching the needs of the plant to the pot. I’ve had some trouble with root rot this year because of the rains. The way my yard is set up it gets shade in the winter and sun in the summer. Not an ideal situation.

It was a beautiful day for working in the yard Saturday. Not too hot. Had several butterflies hanging around for most of the day. A couple of large monarchs floated around.

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And a less countable number of gulf fritillaries. They move so fast.

First Fritillary

The fritillary larvae are all over the place. Most of the passionflower vines that come up all over from seed are chewed leafless. I’m always tempted to put a bunch of them in my bug jar, but I’ve been resisting. The yard can only support so many, so I’ve been letting nature decide how many I have. I let all of the passion flower vine and milkweed that sprouts grow, despite the fact that they don’t add to the aesthetics of yard, being perpetually caterpillar eaten.

It’s funny how I can work in the yard all day and no one but me can tell the difference.

Friday Favorites – Korean Barbecue Pizza

This is a brand new favorite. Last night I made a Bulgogi chicken pizza based on this recipe. I used chicken instead of beef, and skipped the corn and pepper and sauteed onions and mushrooms with the chicken. Instant favorite. I did have some errors in technique. I did not immediately realize that temps were in Centigrade, although that was only during the time I was warming the pizza stone. Outside of having a crust that wasn’t as crispy as I’d like, it was great. Definitely something to add to the dinner menu rotation. Providing that I can make it the same way twice. Consistency in cooking is something that often evades me.

Seriously grumpy day

Starting out with not enough sleep. That’s never a good way to start the day. Then the drive through at McDonald’s was closed. When I went inside, their whole computer system was down. The staff was doing the best it could; accepting cash only and writing down orders, but people were acting like they’d done it on purpose just to mess with them. Made me want to slap them. They work at McDonald’s; aren’t their lives miserable enough? Don’t make it worse by treating a computer issue like it’s a personal affront. I did find one thing amusing. They’d put traffic cones in the entrance to the drive through to keep people from going in and there were a couple of people in cars just sitting there like someone was going to come out and let them through. I was surprised at how long they sat there.

Then there’s the stop sign that isn’t there. There’s a school crossing I pass on my way to work. There’s a cross walk and a crossing guard, but no stop sign. The car in front of me decided it was going to stop there anyway. There was no one in the crosswalk and no reason to stop. And once they stopped, they didn’t want to go. Made me want to get out of my car and push them through the intersection.

Of course, if I’d gotten enough sleep I wouldn’t even remember any of this stuff.

4/16/16 Weekend activities

Had a friend that we hadn’t seen in a couple of years over this weekend. He brought his not-quite-5 year old with him. Picked up with our friend where we left off. Like no time at all had passed. The son took a little while to warm up, but I play one of the same games on my iPod that he does, that got his attention. Found out that our friend is trying to get a board game group going and he thought of us as possible members. Not too surprising as we used to play D&D with him and some others. We went to lunch and caught up. Showed the tortoise to the kid. He wasn’t very interested. Oh well, no accounting for taste.

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Sunday is ‘Cooking with Mom’ day. This week was Loaded Mexican Pizza day. Mixed reviews on this one. We didn’t use jalapenos, as Mom doesn’t like hot foods, and it was pretty bland. The crust was also tough because we didn’t have a pizza stone. I draw the line at hauling breakables back and forth. We’ve decided to add desserts to the menu. We’re kind of running out of appetizers that she wants to eat.

I wanted to bring Mom a bouquet of flowers from the yard. I’d like to do it for Mother’s day, but I don’t think the majority of the blooms will last that long. Unfortunately, I totally forgot about it. Maybe next week. Maybe.

I haven’t been keeping up with my 365 Days of Decluttering, so before I left the house this morning I picked several things to get rid of. A sweater that I don’t like, a pair of shoes that don’t fit, some reading glasses with only one lens. I kept hoping to find the other lens so I could use the glasses again, but it’s been months. Out they go! Let’s see if I can do it again tomorrow morning.

As good as it gets

The garden is about as good as it gets right now. Most of my time out there now is spent deadheading, collecting seed or sweeping. Or just being outside.

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Most of the things that are going to bloom are blooming. I’m hoping enough of them last long enough for me to put together a bouquet for Mom for Mother’s day.

As you can see I’m a bit of an over-planter. When you have a garden as small as mine, you cram every corner as full as you can. I’m also a compulsive seed collector. And once I’ve collected it, I’ve got to use it.

I’ve started to do studies for the embroidered shirt I want to make. The more I work on it, the more ideas I have. I’m afraid it will be too heavy to wear in the end. Flowers and vines, birds and bees, lizards and tortoises and cat faces peering out from the nasturtium jungle.

Friday Favorite 4/8 – Nasturtiums

I love nasturtiums.
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I think they are one of the main reasons I got into gardening. They’re one of the first things I planted in our yard when the Spouse and I got married. When we first moved in there was this two foot wide planter all around the edge of the yard. The then owner of the house had stuck in some pansies just so they wouldn’t be empty. I planted nasturtiums and cosmos. It rained a lot that year and the nasturtiums just took over.

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They only lasted a couple of months but while they were there I delighted in the lush green and bright flowers.

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I think of them as generous. They fill up the blank spots in my yard every year and the leaves and flowers are edible. Of course you have to get to them before the cabbage worms and aphids.

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I don’t plant nasturtiums much any more. They come back every year anyway and I enjoy the show until the Southern California sun dries them out into potato chips.

In which I make cake

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I have never been much of a baker. I had one little baking disaster in my 20’s where I learned that you actually have to measure correctly (twice as much baking soda as needed really doesn’t taste good) and decided it was too much work.

Until a couple of years ago when I tried actually decorating a cake. Didn’t do that much. Stuck sprinkles to the side of the cake. To my amazement, it was well received. So I did another one for my Mom’s birthday. It too, went over pretty well for a cake out of a box and frosting out of a can. When Mom asked for a cake for Easter, I had just the thing in mind. I eventually went with another recipe, but this one was where I got the idea. It was nice colors and not the usual thing. I planned well in advance and had everything ready to go.

So of course I messed it up. Used the wrong measuring cup and ended up with almost twice as much water as I needed. It took me a few minutes to figure out why the batter was so runny. I dumped, spilling it all over myself in the process, and back to the store I went to get what I need to start over. This whole experience has given me some new rules to bake by.

1. Buy twice as much as you need, that way if things go horribly wrong at least you don’t have to go back to the store.
2. Do not hurry. The picture doesn’t show that the cake is 1/2 taller on one side because I tried to make three layers and the sides of the pan touched the sides of the oven. It seems obvious in retrospect, but I didn’t think about it at the time.
3. Don’t make cream cheese icing unless you have a stand mixer or really strong arms. That stuff takes some power to mix. However, if you have either of those, it’s totally worth the effort. The cake was good, but I would eat that icing with a spoon.

On the plus side, I had some extra batter and made cupcakes. I realized as I made them, I have never made cupcakes in my life. Here I am, nearly mumblety-mumble years old, and never made a cupcake. Had to look up how long to bake them on line. Brought food into work. Something I seldom do.

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