Archive for the 'kitchen' Category

13
Dec
07

Booze and Cookies 2007

Linda (John’s mom) said she thought the cookies this year were the best ever, which is high praise. It wasn’t the largest number of cookies we’ve ever made at Booze and Cookies* (I think about 32 dozen came out of the oven), but having fun is probably a better measure of success. As long as we have enough to munch on during the party and a few left over to have with coffee for the next week, I think most people are happy.

It was fun walking around seeing the random acts associated with baking – like Jennie putting the boxes together.

Shellin' Snicker Bars

Lori, a first-timer brought a peanut butter dough to wrap around small pieces of Snicker bars (what Jennifer and Jennie are doing here. Jennie prides herself on making perfect spheres). The final result was a warm, soft, chewy wonder. To prep them, the candy bars had to be unwrapped and cut. We referred to the process as “shelling the Snickers.” It was a porch activity.

Team Kifle was full of brave, new folks this year, but Lora, Scott (can’t see him here), and Katie were naturals. Rob (aka Titanium) added his cool to the dough from a distance.

Team Kiefle 2007

BTW, we tried using a tortilla press to flatten the Kiefle dough, and it worked pretty well until we broke the press and had to go back to smashing by hand (more fun anyway, imo).

The Arkansas and Ohio contingency changed into Griswald-ish Christmas clothes mid-party and ducked outside for a surprise caroling at the door. When someone came to get me for the show I was so overwhelmed by kitsch my knees buckled and I nearly swallowed my tongue. Look at how ‘neck J.’s leather hat is, especially nice with his beard.

Ugly Sweater Carolers

Red Shoes

I have to say Felley’s festive bell choir vest (above) is a close style second though. Even funnier to me is that the vest actually belongs to Jennie. She has to wear it during bell choir performances at her church (You know some sweet woman made a whole set of them.)

Normally the party starts around 12:30 and winds down around 5:00. But this year Tommy snuck back into the kitchen around 5:30 and started Date Cookies and Kolaski, two cookies that haven’t worked out too well for us in the past. Clever Tommy figured out a key ingredient was missing from the recipe (butter), and this time they turned out great!

Beating Kolaski Dough

John and J. pitched in to help Tommy, along with Jennie and David in the kitchen. We ended up with two great bonus batches. In the picture above it looks like Tommy is gold-bricking, but I can testify that the man was baking up a storm, especially once he got his second wind. We may not have made the most cookies this year, but I think we can safely say that we baked as long as we ever have.

My favorite action shot of the day:Happy Baker

*B and C is actually its unofficial name. John’s mom refers to it as “The cookie bake.” It started with John’s mom as she baked cookies for her family. Her three sons were home from college one year. As they helped her in the kitchen, the boys mixed a few cocktails to liven things up a little and, voila! The cookies got even better.

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06
Dec
07

Holiday Friends Arrive

Street Clothes

This year we had special guests come by car and by plane from Arkansas and Ohio to be a part of Booze and Cookies (actual event post coming soon). Some of the out-of-towners came in a few days early so we could get some visiting in.

And when these friends come, they never arrive empty handed – Lori and Felley brought mountains of food, including Miss Judy’s (Felley’s mom) cinnamon rolls (Jennifer called them Crack Rolls)  so I wouldn’t have to do all of the cooking.They brought fun paper dinnerware so I didn’t have to wash as many dishes, and even my favorite Caldrea dishwashing liquid and counter spray (Patchouli and Green Tea) and cutlery (Jennie read on my blog that I’d lost my paring knife). 

Jennie and J. talked two other friends, David and Jennifer, whom I only knew through David’s blog, which I love to read, into coming with them. They are so fun! And I’ve heard of host gifts before, but I teared up a little when they pulled THIS out of their bag.

Claire Painting

They took a downloaded picture of Claire from my blog and gave it to an artist from Box Turtle Imports and Gifts on Kavanaugh in Little Rock to turn into a painting. I told Jennie later that Jennifer and David were a joy to be around, but even if they’d turned out to be complete turds, that gift would have kept the welcome mat out for them (I know, love for sale, but try to tell me you would feel any differently).Visiting

Once we got everyone settled in, we had time to make a trip out to Duane and Todd’s and to stop into Country Friends (Julie had never been and wanted to go). I feel sure that the people who work at CF must whisper under their breath, “him, again?” whenever I walk in the door these days. Here’s that holly I talked about but didn’t photograph last weekend (not much left).

Good Holly

And I loved these vintage “Maggie’s Memories” collectables.  I bought the little Santa Clause.

Sweet Stuff

If I didn’t already have a front door wreath I would run to CF to buy this one. It is simple but inspired and would look great at either a traditional or a rustic entrance, and the price point was awesome – $59.00 I think (don’t quote me).

Christmas Wreath

Julie made the big retail score of the day with this 19th century crazy quilt that she’s going to back with velvet and make into a wrap.

Sold

Julie, send me pics when you get it finished. Our house isn’t big, so every bed and sofa was filled. We even had a pallet on the floor (after some discussion we realized that either northern folks don’t sleep on the floor or they have another word for it. Can anyone from Indiana confirm or correct me on this?). And our neighbors opened up their garage apartment for us, too. It must have seemed a little like camp, but with the exception of Jennifer and David, all the rest of us had slept in close quarters together before on church youth retreats, choir trips or even at actual camp.

I was wishing I’d hung out a little with Practical Pat when she was cooking huge breakfasts for Lori, Julie, and Jennie and the rest of their clan because I was slow! But never bored. One morning while I was cooking I could hear David, whose roots and accent are pretty heavily Ozark, sporadically yelling “PAAY-pur!” in the living room. Jennie brought a voice activated Brain Age game with her, which was keeping him entertained as he tried to predict as quickly as possible what would counter rock in a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. But he couldn’t get the game to work so he kept yelling “PAAY-pur” louder and louder (turns out it was in instruction mode).

Chocolate Gravy and Cinnamon Rolls

David (aka PAAY-pur!) using one of Duane’s Chocolate Gravy Pitchers.

From then on, any quiet moment would be filled with someone randomly yelling “PAAY-pur!,” which is just the kind of joke that this group is happy to take way too far. Fortunately, David understands the value of a good laugh whatever it costs.

25
Jul
07

What Makes a Handy Kitchen?

 I’m rethinking how our kitchen is organized.  Nothing firm in mind at this point, but I’m fishing for tips on ways to keep things “handy.”  I’m a big believer in keeping things were we use them.  We have a fairly small kitchen and we both cook so minimal crossing of paths is a good thing. 

An example: we pretty much only eat cereal and drink coffee at breakfast time, which is also when we use our mugs and cereal bowls. As a result, the cabinet over our coffee maker is our breakfast cabinet where we keep all of the cereal, bowls and mugs.   Coffee filters and coffee are both within an arms reach.  No steps, which is good for me in the morning since I can barely walk before 8:30. 

Anyway, those are the kinds of step-saving tips I’m looking for.  I’m also looking for kitchen cabinet organization and space saving advice.  Don’t assume something will be too obvious.  I’m someone who has yet to put shelf paper down and we’ve been in our house for 5 years!  Speaking of, what is the best kind of shelf liner? If I come across any tips I’ll let you know.  If you have any, please share.