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The Misadventures of Mrs. B

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The Misadventures of Mrs. B: 2011-02-06

Cook. Writer. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Klutz.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Red Writing Hood: The Love of My Life

I'm happy to be linking up for the first time this week with The Red Dress Club! Squeal!

This week's prompt involved starting the submission with "I could never have imagined" and ending with "Then the world shifted".  I would love any comments and any constructive criticism, and am looking forward to visiting the other participants.  Thanks!

I could never have imagined that I would meet the love of my life on Craigslist.

Yes.  Craigslist.

It wasn’t the sort of ad through which men and women usually meet on that site.  There were no come on’s, no propositions.  Just a girl writing an ad, venting about the shallowness of the men she had met to that point and laying it all on the line for anyone who cared to read it, and a boy who found that ad and felt compelled to respond.

Out of all of the replies I got that day, his in particular stood out.  He had clearly put a lot of thought into it.  Hell, he could spell and knew how to put a sentence together.  That alone put him ahead of the pack.  But it was more than that.  As I read I became increasingly interested in getting to know him.  I laughed out loud once or twice.  He had a dry sense of humor while at the same time an openness, a friendliness.  He seemed eager to hear back from me.  So he did.

Two days later he told me he would happen to be in my area that night with a couple of his friends, and asked if I would like to meet up with them.  My exact words were, “I’m in a what-the-hell kind of mood, so why not?”.  

I have to admit that it wasn’t an instant love connection.  I later found out that up to that evening, he had habitually driven himself crazy getting ready to meet a girl for the first time, only to be disappointed time and again.  This time he decided to play it cool to the point of underdressing.  So no, I wasn’t exactly bowled over.

Over the next month we emailed back and forth several times a day, and I’ve saved every single one of those precious messages.  Sometimes when I’m having a bad day I go back through them and laugh over those early days, the delicate getting-to-know-you dance we performed together.  I was still unsure – this was completely new territory for me, and as much as I wanted to be a part of a relationship, there was something to be said for the comfort of knowing what to expect from life.  Change is scary.

Still, a month after our first meeting we went on an actual date.  After dinner we spent a lot of time talking in the car, as he drove in circles trying to find a parking spot in my hectic neighborhood.  Finally, after 45 minutes or so, he decided to give up – he was working on Saturdays at that time and had to be in early the next morning.  Wouldn’t know you it, though, that as soon as he decided to simply drop me off, a spot opened up almost directly outside the door leading up to my apartment? Fate’s a funny thing.

There we stood, in that crucial moment.  I remember how my heart raced, wondering how this would turn out, not knowing what to do.  My palms were sweaty. 

Something had changed that evening.  He was prepared this time, he was on his game.  That plus the deepening of our friendship over the several weeks prior sparked something in me.  

After a minute or two of small talk, I knew that it would be up to me to take matters into my own hands.  And so I took a deep breath and went in for the kill.  Right there in the dingy entryway of my dingy apartment building.  Our first kiss.

Then the whole world shifted.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fried Pickles

The funniest things happen when you're on Twitter.

Just the other night I was on there, and somehow the topic of Sonic was brought up and the fact that I've never been to one (no, I haven't.  A moment of silence, please).  And either Shell or Kim brought up the fried pickles they sell.  I think it was Kim.  Shell was too busy taunting me with cherry limeade or whatever it is that I've never drank but which is supposedly the nectar of the gods or something but I'm not bitter or anything.

Jealousy aside, my curiosity was piqued.  Fried pickles, you say?

I knew we had to be together, fried pickles and I.  It was meant to be.

So I started looking through recipes for fried pickles and found one that I liked on - or rather, in the comments section (the first comment).  Battering sounded to me like the way to go.  So that's what I did.  Of course I made my own alterations to the ingredient list - don't I always?

They weren't the prettiest things I've ever created but boy were they delicious.  So delicious, in fact, that I ate...almost all of them over the course of the day.  In other news, I never want to see another fried pickle again.  

At least, not until I forget how sick I felt afterwards.

Fried Pickles

2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 jar dill pickles (I used 24 oz, you could use more)
1 cup vegetable oil for deep frying (Or more - I made sure I had 2 -3 inches of oil in the pan)
Salt and pepper to taste

Pour oil in pan or fryer.  Heat to 365 degrees F.  (I used my meat thermometer up to 300 degrees, then dropped bits of batter into oil to check how it fried.  Maybe not the most scientific way to go about it, but it worked)

While oil is heating, pour pickles into a strainer and drain liquid.  Lay pickle spears on paper towels and dry as thoroughly as possible.

In a large bowl, combine wet ingredients with flour and spices.  Drop a bit of batter into oil once heated and taste to test spices, adjusting batter as needed.

Dip spears into batter, making sure to coat thoroughly.  Carefully drop into hot oil and fry until golden, making sure to turn over to ensure even frying.  This will only take a few minutes at a time.

Carefully remove fried pickles from oil and drain on paper towels.  Immediately sprinkle with additional salt and pepper, to taste.

Next time I'll dredge and fry to instead of battering to see the difference.  I was really satisfied with the way these turned out - as is evidenced by the number I ate.  Sigh.

Have you ever eaten fried pickles? What did you think?

Sharing with House of Hepworths, Miz Helen's Country Cottage, Designs by Gollum, Simply Sweet Home, 504 Main, A Southern Fairytale & Balancing Beauty and Bedlam - stop on by to see what everyone else has come up with this week!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Top Ten Kitchen Essentials

Little known fact: I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. knew that? For real? Wow.  There I was, thinking I was all mysterious about how I spend my free time.

For someone who lives in the kitchen, there are bound to be tools which are absolutely essential to ensuring that your finished product is, well, edible.  There are others which are not quite so essential, but they sure do make life easier.  In my little old opinion, here's 10 which I know I couldn't live without.

My Favorite Non-Essentials:

1) Stand mixer - In how many ways has my stand mixer changed my life? How much time have you got to read this? Seriously, I don't know what I did without my girl (Yes, she's a girl.  Say something, I dare you).  Whether being used to knead dough while I'm doing something else, to mix ultra thick cake batter which I know my hand-held mixer couldn't manage and then whip up the frosting, or to help bring cookie dough together in a KitchenAid is truly the superstar of my kitchen.  Next to me, of course.

2) Slow cooker - Our slow cooker gets used at least 3 times a week, sometimes as many as 4 or 5.  Like the stand mixer, the slow cooker has changed my life in many happy ways.  There is absolutely nothing like coming home to the smell of a roast or stew which has been cooking all day long.  We've used it to make chicken, meatloaf, pork roast, soup, meatballs.  Most recently, Rob made a jambalaya in there which knocked my socks clear off my feet.  It was fabulous.  Plus it helps keep food warm during parties, which is a huge bonus.

3) Food processor - Where oh where have you been all my life, glorious food processor? I've had mine for just shy of a year and, honestly, I have no idea what I did without it (see a trend here?).  From breaking down tons of veggies and fresh bradcrumbs for a vat of meatballs and sauce to mixing the creamiest deviled egg filling imaginable to making quick work of chopping jars of olives and shredding cheese for olive cheesy bread, I've used this baby a lot over the past 52 weeks or so.  Oh, and most recently I made a killer pasta dough with it.  It's so versatile and a total workhorse.  I love it.

4) Wooden spoons - Wait, what? Not another small appliance? Well, no.  Not all superstar tools have to be plugged in to be amazing.  My wooden spoons have seen me through a lot of cooking projects and, except for the one that broke (RIP old friend), they're going strong.  I have around a half dozen and would happily keep buying more and more...only I don't have enough room for them.  And I think there's a good possibility that Rob would kill me if I cluttered up the kitchen more than I already have.  I'm tempted to move these into the "essential" category - they're just that important to have around, and plastic tools can melt and warp.  But they're not really a 100% must-have.

5) Someone to clean it all up when you're finished - This one needs no explanation.

The Essentials:

1) A Sense of Humor - Please don't take yourself too seriously in the kitchen.  As long as you're abiding by the rules of food safety and not allowing cooking oil to explode into flames, it's all fair game.  Laugh at yourself and your mistakes.  Burned dinner? Sounds like a good excuse to order takeout!

2) A Sense of Calm - BE CALM.  Panic hurts people! Panic hurts appliances! Panic possibly hurts entire kitchens and/or homes! If you're in a panic you're that much likelier to cause an accident, and no one needs that.  Just relax.  It's only cooking.  The food will be done when the food is done.  And again, if you don't succeed there's always pizza.

3) Common Sense - When you read a recipe for the first time, especially if it's not printed in a cookbook (but even if it is), really read it.  Does it make sense to you? Do you think there's a typo? Everyone makes mistakes, even recipe writers.  Just keep an eye out and you may avoid making the same mistake as someone I know who, due to a problem converting a recipe from a website to their iPhone, added 3 cups of soy sauce to a dish instead of 1/3 cup.  Guess what they had for dinner that night...? You can't always trust what's written down.

4) Imagination - Do you think you could make a dish taste better by adding your own little flare? Do you wonder what this ingredient would taste like if you mixed it with that one? Give it a shot! What do you have to lose? Worst case scenario, it doesn't turn out well.  Now, do I suggest experimenting with expensive ingredients? Um, no.  Just be fearless when and where you can.  You never know - you might make magic happen.

5) Knowledge - Do you know what to do in case of a cooking oil fire? Do you know how to avoid cross-contamination? When using your knife to slice or chop, what do you do with the fingers of your inactive hand? Should you use a damp dishtowel to grab a pan out of the oven? You need to know the answers to these sorts of questions - ask someone or use the trusty internet.  Play it safe.

Are there any essentials in YOUR kitchen - the sort of stuff you just can't do without?

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Deconstructed Pierogi

I've been craving comfort food lately - had you noticed? I mean, the homemade pasta, the ultra-meaty and rich bolognese, the braised onions to go in my stew.  Yeah.  Comfort city, kids.

And here's another example of the sort of food that makes me wanna curl up under a Snuggie (yeah, I said Snuggie) with a bowl and dive on in.  A really big bowl.

Ever since I was little my mom has made this dish - what's better, it's something her mother made.  I love the idea of carrying on tradition like that.  Until I started making my own pierogi, the ingredients seemed sort of disjointed to me - I mean, who combines macaroni, cottage cheese and sauteed onions? Um, Polish people who make pierogi, that's who.  I had the big revelatory moment while making a batch.  One of my favorite meals, one I ask my mom to make on my birthday, is merely deconstructed pierogi.  And boy, is it comforting.  I could eat it every day.

Seriously.  It's ridiculous.

I added a little touch of my own, by the way.  The crumbled bacon lends a whole new level of texture and flavor.  Of course you don't have to add it - I just happened to have a couple of pieces left over from breakfast the day I made this! 

Deconstructed Pierogi

1/2 pound marcaroni
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup cottage cheese
1-2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook macaroni according to package directions and drain.  Return to pot.

In saute pan, melt butter.  Add diced onions and cook over medium heat until softened and browned.  Add to pot of cooked macaroni, along with cottage cheese, salt and pepper.  Stir well to combine.

Serve with bits of crumbled bacon on top.

Stupid easy, isn't it? But the flavors meld so well - I promise you, you can't go wrong with this.  It grosses my husband out when I eat it, but he just doesn't know what he's missing.

What's your favorite comfort food?

Sharing with A Southern Fairytale, Skip to My LouFrugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, 33 Shades of Green, All The Small Stuff, At The WellRook No. 17, House of Hepworths, Miz Helen's Country Cottage, Designs by Gollum, Simply Sweet Home & 504 Main - be sure to stop by and check out all of the awesomeness!