Monday, January 21, 2008

Random Odds and Ends

We've been on a bit of a kitchen splurge lately. My dear husband is turning into quite the chef and he decided to take advantage of Amazon's free shipping policy to beef up our culinary gadget stockpile. I can only hope that our next home has a giant pantry.

This was the kitchen device about which I was most excited... An APPLE PEELER

I spent significant time deciding which one to buy: the clamp or the suction cup style. I finally went against my gut instinct and bought the suction cup one because it got better reviews on Amazon. So far, so good.

Despite the fact that my Joy Of Cooking advises pie makers to use red delicious apples instead of a blend of fuji and granny smith varities, a recommendation that is almost blasphemous in our household, they did manage to come up with a pretty good pie crust recipe. It's very flaky which makes it difficult to roll but the resulting taste was excellent.

On the whole, I'm rather disappointed with my Joy of Cooking version. Not only do they recommend mealy red delicious, but they specifically poo-poo our very favorite granny smiths. The ratio of fuji (or like kinds) to granny smith's is a hotly contested topic in my home , spanning at least three generations. We take our apple pie very seriously in this household.

Besides, look at the cool shapes that you can make with quality apples. You could never pull that off with a red delicious.
Chris was most excited about our waffle and panini makers. My grandmother gave us her ancient waffle maker several years ago and it has been a faithful appliance for close to 40 years. However, I used it for both waffles and paninis and our waffles seemed to have acquired a rather strong burnt cheese flavor, no matter how well I cleaned the machine. So, it was time for retirement.

Enter the very cool new waffle maker. So cool, in fact, that I got waffles in bed this morning. A girl can't ask for anything else!
Here is your interesting Italian sandwich fact of the day (courtesy of wikipedia):
A panino (pronounced /pəˈniːnoʊ/) is a sandwich made from a small loaf of bread, typically a ciabatta. The loaf is often cut horizontally and filled with salami, ham, meat, cheese or other food, and sometimes served hot. A grilled panino is buttered on the outside and grilled in a press.
The word "panino" [pa'ni:no] is Italian (literally meaning small bread roll), with the plural panini. "Panini" is often used in a singular sense by speakers of languages that borrow the word, including English and French, and pluralised when necessary into "paninis".

In other culinary news, I've found that I have a bit of a moral dilemma on my hands. I am an unapologetic consumer of exotic fruits. You name it, I probably love it. I'm known at work for eating kiwis, mango, and papayas on a daily basis. We always had lots of fresh fruit in my house growing up and my mother purchased the stranger items so we could add them to our repertoire. Also, in Costa Rica, bananas, pineapples, and papayas were served for breakfast every morning.

Anyway, the dilemma comes from the fact that exotic fruit, especially in the winter, definitely isn't locally grown and has probably traveled thousands of miles to reach our table. This isn't a great use of fossil fuels when there are several local alternatives (oranges, strawberries, apples) to those grown near the equator. I willing to give up my delicious (and healthy!) diet staples in favor of environmental consciousness? I'm still struggling with that decision.

This was our stock of lovely non-local fruits as of last weekend: I'm skipping around here, theme-wise, for this blog post. I've decided that it's time to ditch my wedding bouquet. It was beautiful on my (our) wedding day but by the time we'd arrived home from the honeymoon it was pretty sorry-looking. I've had it hanging in my closet every since, hoping that it would magically morph back into its once-beautiful self. That didn't happen of course. Instead it's been slowing shedding petals and collecting cobwebs.

There's another reason that I hung on to it for so long: good old sentimentality. I'm not usually a victim of that sort but here I think its understandable.

Speaking of weddings, I absolutely adore this wedding cake that was featured in the newspaper the other day. It's gorgeous. I probably love it so much because it's covered in dog wood flowers, a tree that I'd like to have in my yard someday. Chris' grandparents used to have a dogwood tree in their yard in Redmond and it always looked so fresh and pure. Of course, they also had a yard maintenance service that cleanup up all the moldy flowers so I guess I'm a bit biased here...

Maybe I'll have them make this cake for our 10 year wedding anniversary or something. Or perhaps our 5th year. I'm not sure I can wait all the way to the 10th (in terms of cake, not marriage longevity!). Of course, they used fondant on the outside which is absolutely tasteless. Give me creamy frosting any day.
Hmm. I really need to apologize for the randomness of this blog post. I went through my photos and discovered all the pictures that I'd been meaning to post for the last several months but never got around to.

Ok, last but not least, your dose of daily events from my office. It's a rather well known fact that I'm not a huge football fan. Not a huge fan of most organized sports in general. My office mates have been absolutely obsessed with a fantasy football league for the past several months. It dominates the lunchroom conversation. I made a tactical error early on by declining to join the league. Had I joined, I would have had something interesting to discuss. But no, I thumbed my nose at fantasy football and consequently suffered through the rest of the season. It was all in good fun, of course. I have a lovely group of coworkers that are a delightful bunch. But still, I would have thought that football talk would have run its course...eventually.....not the case.

Fantasy football wrapped up last weekend and in honor of my public football disgust, they named the first place trophy after me. I'd like to present to you: The J Trophy from the Waterstone/Millennium Fantasy Football League.

It was paraded around the office today and everyone (me included) got a good kick out it. At least they didn't name the loser's trophy after me! And who knows, maybe next year, I'll join get my own fantasy team.