Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy End of Year 2012

Having Traveled a lot this year, I'll be calming things down a bit for a while after I drive back up to San Fran to get a dog. Because I'll have a dog. And not one that will be flying coach. Bruno is some sort of large, short haired dog and probably part of the mastiff family. He's down to about 105 pounds.

You might wonder what I would do with a large dog in a small condo, but everyone (his foster families) assure me that he doesn't need much indoor space if he gets a few good walks during the week. He's about 6 or 7 so he's not a hyper puppy. In fact, his favorite things are snuggling with people who are watching TV and riding in cars. Walks are kind of a distant third.

So I'm excited to get a pre-trained dog that mostly just needs food, water, shelter, walks, a safe bed, and love. The rescue folks are so happy to have a home for him that they're driving him to CA from Seattle for me, so I only have to go so far as San Fran. Bruno is my New Year's indulgence.

My New Year's resolution is to walk a lot more!

  • I would like to blog more (yeah, yeah, you've heard that before). I'm going to aim for 1/week.

  • I'm going to try the food blogging again. While I like baking, I'm not going to restrict it to just baking; I need to be using my cook books. So at least once a month, I need to blog about a recipe I made from a cook book. If I want to do an old favorite, I'll need to double up.

  • At work, I'm going to do more up front project planning, keep the projects up to date, and my desk cleaned off.

  • Lastly, I will try to date. Maybe the dog will help with that.

Have you got any plans or indulgences for the new year?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cookie Party VI

Once again, I made a big push to not only clean my place up for the Cookie Party, but to also make improvements. I'm pretty much down to one large, one medium, and one small hoarder pile (indoors) with my exterior closet being in need of more TLC. But no one goes there during the party, so I got a lot of good feedback on the place and I'm pleased with it too.

My cool new mods are the crumbstoppers I devised for the sides of the stove. I hate when crumbs and spills run down between the cabinet and stove. Eeew. Last year I put blue painter's tape over the gaps...and left it there. It worked well enough but was a ratty eyesore. I looked for specially designed treatments and found a couple but didn't like them for one reason or another. At the hardware store, I considered getting a metal threshold to cover the gap but it was too costly and not quite right. Then I found vinyl tubing. It's sold by the foot for wicked cheap. $0.31/foot! I got 5 feet of 5/8" clear tubing and crammed it into the spaces on either side of the stove, angling it forward slightly and making sure it doesn't stand proud where it could get grazed with a hot pan. You can almost not see it, and it stops crumbs, and wipes clean easily. If I get something really hard to clean on it, it's easy enough to pull out and reinstall.

I also bought high temperature magnets for the party to keep the parchment paper from sliding off the baking sheets. Since 4 of the 6 pans were magnetically interactive, this worked pretty well. They did grab on to the spatula, but that's a small price to pay for keeping all the cookies in line. I need 2 more full sized cookie sheets. I'll make sure any new ones will hold a magnet.

The cookie list was most of my standards: chocolate hotties, craisin pistachio biscotti, zaletti (currant rum cornmeal), icebox, and oatmeal cookies. But this year, we actually had time and resources to make actual chocolate chip cookies!! yay! I think it's the first time we've managed to squeak them in and they are always tasty. We also tried some cardamom cookies and an almond-cocoa meringue. Those might make it back next year too. Someone reminded me that I'd bought candy canes, so we also smashed some of those to put on top of cookie candy canes we made by coloring the icebox cookie dough with my gel colors.

There were kids here who were old enough to use cookie cutters with minimal supervision, or roll out those candy cane cookies, so there was good non-hot stuff for the kiddos. We were able to crack out the Star Wars cookie cutters I got for my birthday from mom, and they were really cool. I'll have to use those again. Friend C was a total champ and took on bake timing responsibilities for most of the day.

We also remembered to drink wine this year so the party ran on after the baking petered out. It was fun! Whew! Thanks to all my local friends who showed up. For those that didn't make it, or anyone really, I've decided to do another day on February 10th. This is Chinese New Year, so I'm looking for Chinese recipes, or anything with rice flour.

The cookies are long gone but I'm still getting feedback. I gave some to my trainer and he was able to recall 4 varieties and then say, "and there were others that I don't know what all they were but they were delicious too." We make good cookies here! I had a great time, the place was fairly easy to clean up, and a good mix of people came and went through the day. I felt like I mostly had my act together this year, which was also nice. No frantic last minute stuff, just a calm saturday afternoon shopping spree to get 7 pounds of butter to use of a sunday.