Let me off the grid! A journey toward artful, holistic living in the middle of Sin City...

A journey toward artful, holistic living in the middle of Sin City...

Friday, December 28, 2012

Thrift Store Love and Cookies...

A little voice told me to stop into the Deseret Industries thrift shop this morning while I was out doing errands.  This is the first time I've been in there and I was specifically looking for a bowling ball to create this:

I have the pennies.  Where to find a bowling ball...which I found on Pinterest from a friend's page, the tutorial for which you can find here.

Not only did I find a bowling ball (complete with ugly bag, which will go right back to a thrift store, unless my daughter wants it), but also a wonderful glass decanter that I can use for my vanilla extract that I'll be making as soon as my vanilla beans arrive, AND a 100% wool plaid blanket that I intend to throw in the washer and dryer to felt so I can cut out shapes to make a garland.
Total price for these goodies:  $10.  Happy dances.

Now onto my new favorite cookies:  chocolate gingerbread drops.  The recipe arrived in the holiday King Arthur Baking Catalog.  I love these so much!

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

1 3/4 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. cloves

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. salt

1 T. cocoa powder

1/2 c. butter

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. molasses

1 c. mini semisweet chocolate chips

sugar (I used the sparkling sugar from Wilton that you can buy at JoAnn's)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease cookie sheets. 

Combine the flour, baking soda, spices, salt, and cocoa. In a separate bowl, beat the butter with the sugar until light and creamy.  Add the molasses and beat until combined.  Beat in the dry ingredients, then stir in the chocolate chips.

Scoop the dough a tablespoon at a time, and roll the top in the sugar.  Place the unbaked cookies 1 1/2" apart, sugar side up on the cookie sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until their surface begins to crack.  Remove from the oven, cool on the pan for 5 minutes.  Transfer to a rack and cool completely.

Yield: 30-32 cookies

Recipe from the King Arthur Flour catalog

I really, really wish I knew how to put a "print" box around my recipes so that it would be easier for you to copy.  If anyone knows how to do that, please let me know!

Off to mix the ton of documents I shredded this morning into the compost pile... 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dear Wal-Mart:

You suck.  I didn't much like you anyway, but now I'm sure I will never patronize your stores.

Nothing would please me more than to see you bastards go bankrupt.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Various and Sundry

There are two new arrivals at our house (both inanimate, praise the gods).  The first is a bamboo bread box:
outside of the bamboo bread box

bread box with 3-day-old Trader Joe's rosemary bread that is STILL soft!
Believe it or not, I awoke one recent morning thinking about bread boxes and wondered why people don't use them anymore.  The best answer David and I could come up with is that they put so many preservatives and crap into bread these days that they are no longer necessary.  I mean, why would you need one to keep Wonder Bread fresh when it has a shelf life of 28 years.  (Yes, I guess that is hyperbole.  David says I use hyperbole more often than necessary.)  Well I looked up bread boxes online and discovered that putting bread in the refrigerator actually dries it out faster than if you just leave it on the counter.  AND bread boxes keep bread fresher longer.  So, since I love to make my own bread (no Wonder Bread in this house, thank you very much), nothing would do but that I procure a bread box immediately.  This one is bamboo and boasts that it is naturally antimicrobial and made of 100% organic bamboo.  Sounded good to me.  Also, the price sounded pretty good - $29, plus shipping.  It was supposed to arrive right around Thanksgiving, which it did not.  I contacted the company 5 days later and was kind of whiney about it.  They apologized and said, "How about no shipping charges?"  Good customer service is what I said.  So it arrived a couple of days ago and it really works.  That rosemary bread is usually hard as a rock after 2 days.  It is still lovely.  Big happies.

Here's what arrived today:
The Whispermill!
Ooooooh, aaaaaaaahhhhh!!!  I've been wanting one of these for a long time.  It's so wonderful to grind your own flour.  And to celebrate, I mixed up some of these:
Gingerbread Scones
Tasty out of the oven, but even better the next morning.  I'll let them sleep in the bread box overnight and have one (or 3) for breakfast tomorrow.  I know you want to make some of your own, so here is the recipe:  (If anyone knows how to put this in a little box with a "PRINT" button, would you please tell me how?  I saw that on someone's blog, but I can't remember whose and I thought it was pretty cool)

Gingerbread Scones
2 c. flour
3 T. brown sugar
2 t. baking powder
1 t. ginger
1/2 t. cloves
1/2 t. allspice
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. butter
1 egg, separated
1/3 c. molasses
1/4 c. milk
sugar for sprinkling
In a large bowl, combine the first nine ingredients.  Cut in butter with a pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Make a well in the center.  In a small bowl, stir together egg yolk, molasses and milk.  Add all at once to the center of the flour mixture.  Stir with a fork until combined.  Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for 10-12 strokes or until nearly smooth.  Pat dough into a circle; cut into 8 wedges.  Beat egg white until frothy; brush over tops of scones and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake on an ungreased baking sheet at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes before serving.

Now, here are some things that happened when I made these.  I added a 1/2 c. of currants.  And after I put them in the oven I thought, "Oh, a little orange or lemon zest would have been good."  But, too late.  File that away for next time.  Also, the original recipe says that the dough may be a little stiff after adding the wet ingredients.  Ha!  So sticky when I turned it out onto the board, I had to add about 1/2 c. of flour.  Also, I put the dough onto the cookie sheet and then pressed it into a circle instead of trying to lift the circle off the board.

I have to go now because the scones are whispering that they would be a lovely bedtime snack and I am inclined to agree...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fish Update

No one has come forward to claim responsibility for the gifting of the  mystery fish.  They now have a proper home:
The mystery fish
and are providing hours of entertainment for Sophy:
What the hell is that???


I came downstairs at 4:30 this morning to let Murnie-the-Dog out, and noticed a plastic bag wedged under the courtyard gate.  In bare feet on cold concrete I walked closer to investigate, and found:
What is this?  Goldfish?  It's not bad enough that we're taking in stray dogs and feeding stray cats?  Now the goldfish are saying, "Hey, jump in the bag and follow me!  I know a great place where we can live?"  Seriously?  Why goldfish??? 

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Do you know what these are?  If you're from Ohio, I know you do.

These are buckeyes.  Not the kind off the tree, but lovely peanut butter-chocolate goodness.  I just got finished making a ton of them to give as gifts, along with rum balls (those were last weekend) and peppermint bark.  There hasn't been this much sugar in my kitchen since last December.  Kind of scary...

I KNOW you want to make these, so here's the recipe:

Mix together very well:
1 lb powdered sugar, 1/4 lb melted butter, 12 1/2 oz jar peanut butter (smooth or crunchy - I always use smooth, so I can't vouch for the results when using crunchy).  Form into balls the size of buckeyes (or walnuts, for those of you who are not acquainted with buckeyes).  Refrigerate overnight or until firm.

THEN, melt 2 1/2tablespoons of paraffin wax in a double boiler with 1 cup of chocolate chips.  Put toothpick in peanut butter ball and dip in melted chocolate.  Put on waxed paper and cool.

Big smiles, sticky fingers.