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Archive for the ‘dessert’ Category

As some of you may know, I was in Orlando when Hurricane Irma came a knockin’ at Florida’s door. Yes, I knew it was going to hit somewhere in Florida. Yes, I knew people were starting to evacuate. Yes, I knew it probably wasn’t a good idea to fly INTO a hurricane. Yes, I went anyway. Hey – it’s Disney and I’m an addict. (more…)

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I know I live down here in the Bible Belt, where you can’t swing a cat without hitting a church, but I had no idea until recently just how seriously these Southern folks are about their Bibles, Jesus and going to church. (They’re also very serious about their mamas, sweet tea, Coca-Cola, and dessert, but that’s a whole different post.) (more…)

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I subscribe to a lot of Disney related websites, blogs, newsletters, etc., because, hey, I am a Disney geek. That’s right, I love all things Disney. Well, almost all things. I’m not a fan of Dole whips. (more…)

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Improvisation: noun: the art or act of improvising, or of composing, uttering, executing, or arranging anything without previous preparation. (Musical improvisation involves imagination and creativity.)

dinner-plate
So, we got through our very first Detective’s Comedy Mystery Dinner event a couple of weeks ago and let’s just say, it wasn’t without a good bit of improvisation. And, I’m not talking about just the actors either; I’m talking about the whole event.

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iced teaWhen we made our decision to move to the south, there were certain things I expected to change about my diet. I anticipated that I would be eating more spicy food; foods with a Cajun or Creole flavor. I knew that gumbo and jambalaya and red beans and rice would be prevalent in most restaurants, along with sweet tea. Let’s not forget about the sweet tea. It is a southern staple. In fact, if you order iced tea and you don’t specify unsweet, you’re probably going to get sweet tea.

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roller coasterDo you make up your mind about some new experience before you even experience it? Do you take one look at a roller coaster and say, “no thank you,” before you even ride it or watch it whiz along the track to learn it’s pattern? Now, if you are prone to motion sickness, I think you make the appropriate decision not riding the thing, but . . . if you’ve never ridden before, how do you know you’re not going to like it?

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Valentines Day

So the BIG long weekend is nearing completion. Time to go back to work. Well, for most of you. I’ve been working all weekend and it’s been great! Full house for Valentine’s eve with delicious breakfast treats on Valentine’s morning.

red velvet wafflesThe red velvet waffles were a hit even though they were sort of a brown-gray-pink color. I used a lot of food coloring too, but they still weren’t all that red after cooking. The batter was a killer hot pink color though. They looked like they were going to be red. Oh well, I just slathered on a little extra cream cheese icing and it was all good. Add some Baer House eggs (a house speciality) and some bacon and a fruit parfait and you’ve got yourself a sweet feast.

Anyway, we had two couples celebrating their anniversary; one just completed their first year of wedded bliss (aw), the other 13 years. That was fun. Another guest surprised me with a small box of chocolates and chocolate covered strawberries. That was unexpected and very sweet!

And my own sweetie stopped to get be a bouquet of candy hearts on his way home from the store that morning. All in all, a good weekend.

candy hearts

How about you readers? Anything worth sharing? We romance writers like to know these things. Fodder for our books you know.

Have a great week!

Word of the Day: Zymotic

Fun fact about me: I’d rather have flowers than chocolates for Valentine’s Day.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, February 2016. Photos courtesy Google Images.

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Pecan Tree. Courtesy Google Images

Pecan Tree. Courtesy Google Images

Dear lovely ancient Pecan Tree:

Thank you for the lovely fruit. How I adore baking with the tasty nuggets you drop to the ground each fall. I do, however, have a request, if it’s not too much trouble? Would you henceforth please drop your tiny morsels of goodness in one neat pile on the pavement instead of scattering them all over the yard. And, while you’re at it, could you make it a nice sunny spot instead of those inticing shady areas where pesky mosquitos and mud bogs and snakes tend to lurk.

It’s not that I mind bending down and picking them up so much, but because they are all one lovely, non-descript shade of tan, they tend to blend in with everything, making them much harder to locate. Each morning it is like I am on some outlandish Easter egg hunt for the tiniest Easter eggs ever, all cleverly disquised as clods of mud and pebbles and chunks of cement. I am sure you surreptitiously watch me with merriment as I try to locate the delicatable treats through squinty eyes.

Photo coutresy Google Images.

Photo coutresy Google Images.

And finally, after dumping your nutty deliciousness in a tidy pile in the warm sunshine, perhaps you could talk to some of your feline friends, and ask them to protect the mound of morsels from thieving squirrels until such time as I can make my way outside to collect the bounty?

For all of your helpfulness, I shall reward you handsomely by trimming your foliage in an attractive fashion so as to inspire greater productivity next year and to keep your sturdy branches from overload and thus the threat of breakage, like what happened to the gentle giant in the driveway. I promise to take better care your support limbs and to admire the shade and beauty you provide each day, if only would you do your part by helping with the harvest.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation. I am sure by working together we can both become better living beings as a result. Oh sure, we’ll piss off the squirrels, but all in all, who really cares about pissing off the squirrels?

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Forever your most humble servant,

The Innkeeper

And so I ask you dear readers: have you ever harvested your own pecans? Walnuts? Almonds? Any advice for finding and gathering them? Not to mention cracking open those suckers?

Word of the Day: Kulak

Fun fact about me: I don’t really like pecans, but I have a lot of recipes that list pecans in the ingredient list.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, October 2015. Photos courtesy Google Images.

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Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

I enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating. I enjoy trying new dishes and recipes. I love reading and collecting recipes and flipping through cook books. I would love to take some cooking classes. I want to learn how to cook like a pro, flipping omelets with ease, flinging pizza dough over my head, frying up the perfect sunny side up egg. I’m excited just thinking about tying on a pristine white apron.

When I was growing up my mother prepared well-balanced, colorful meals, but painfully lacking in variety. Every week saw the same dishes set before us, spaghetti, meatloaf, tacos, the occasional casserole. These dishes were accompanied by over cooked vegetables or boring green salads with vinegar and oil for dressing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my mother to pieces and she never failed to have those healthy meals on the table for us each evening, for which I am eternally grateful. But, she lacked imagination or innovation or creativity of any kind when it came to cooking. Her spices of choice were salt and pepper and when she did get a little crazy and add herbs they usually consisted of dehydrated chives for the baked potatoes.

I think my husband wishes I were a little more like my mother in that regard. He’d be happy to have hamburgers or pizza (or both) every night of the week without ever seeing a vegetable or anything he can’t pronounce on the table. And don’t even say the word “fish,” when he’s around.

My poor, poor husband. I’m afraid his destiny is to endure experimental meals; meals prepared with love from the caring hands of the woman he loves. At least that’s what I keep telling him.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

After many years of experimental cooking, let me give you a tip, read everything before doing anything. The preparation instructions are just as important as the list of ingredients. On more than one occasion I have been whipping and stirring and folding in things only to discover that my delicacy must marinate or some other such process for several hours before moving on to the next step. There goes dinner for that night. And, how often have you been mixing like mad, adding dashes of this, and pinches of that, only to discover that the next ingredient is something you’re either out of, or have not idea what it is? Yes folks, that has happened to me. I’ve learned to read carefully before assembling products and gathering dishes and utensils.

While cooking is fun and eating is enjoyable, the preparation process can be tedious and downright frustrating. Here are some examples of ingredients I’ve come upon while preparing to serve an outrageously delicious meal: Amchur powder, garam masala, bulls horn peppers, ground sumac, elderflower liqueur, locatelli cheese, dry prosecco, Taleggio cheese, furikake, sharp pecorino, wattleseed, Fleur De Sel. That last one is just sea salt and why in God’s name the recipe doesn’t just say sea salt is beyond me, but what the what? I guess, “sprinkle liberally with Fleur De Sel” does sound better than “salt at will,” but really, do I need to go to the trouble of locating and purchasing glorified salt?

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

Well, if I’m anything, I’m persistent. Google is my best friend and the store manager at my local supermarket has learned to run and hide if he sees me in the store, because I have sent him on a wild goose chase on more than one occasion looking for that special ingredient for my dinner. After I discover what furikake or bulls horn peppers are, I will spend way longer than necessary trying to find them at the market. Or, special order them.

And then there’s this quandry: you locate the item, or a close equivalent if you’ve been lucky enough to find out what that substitute item might be, only to discover that it costs like $100 for a half an ounce. You only need an 1/8 of a teaspoon and you’ll probably never use it again, but should you buy it – just in case it makes or breaks the dish you’ve been longing to try? I mean will you even notice if the wattleseeds are not present?

Ah yes, the joys of cooking and experimenting with new recipes. I have an impressive collection of spices and quite an assortment of colored salts (they’re all the rage now apparently), but my pocketbook is also considerably lighter. Was it worth it? Don’t ask my husband.

How about you friends, do you enjoy experimenting in the kitchen with crazy new ingredients and recipes? What’s the most money you’ve spent on something for a recipe? What’s the weirdest ingredient you’ve come across in your cooking adventures? How often have you Googled an ingredient in a recipe? I’d love to know. Please share.

Word of the Day:  Jaup

Fun Fact About Me: I sometimes try a recipe just because I like the name of it (can you say “Pasta Ponza?”)

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, April 2015. Photos courtesy Google Images.

 

 

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So, the all-the-rage Christmas gift this past year was apparently the Fitbit or it’s cousin the Jawbone. If you’re unfamiliar with these little devices, they are designed to help you keep track of your healthy habits. Or so they tout. Personally, I don’t get it, but I’ve noticed a lot more people in my zumba class with these little babies strapped to their wrists.

Photo courtesy Google images.

Photo courtesy Google images.

Now, if you are a lover of these technological devices, and they are “working” for you, please don’t be offended by this post. I love that you’re working on getting or staying healthy. For me, they seem like a gimmick.

First of all, the only people I see wearing these things look like this:

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

If you look like this, you are already are a fit bit of feminie loveliness. You are already doing all of the right things and you don’t need a fancy schmancy device to let you know it. Just carry on you well-toned beautiful women. I love and hate you all.

The number one problem I see right off the bat with a device like this is – you have to remember to put the thing on. That’s going to mess up quite a few people.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

Assuming you remember to strap it on, it’s my understanding that these thingeys tell you the amount of steps you’ve taken. I’m not sure why that’s important. I mean, let’s face it, if I’ve had my ass in a chair all day writing, or in the sofa watching TV or reading, I can pretty much guarantee you that I haven’t taken more than about 16 steps, and those were undoubtedly to the refrigerator for a snack. I really don’t need a device to keep track of that or to remind me of my lethargy. Likewise, if I’ve been working out or jogging I can say, with some certainty based on how much my muscles are screaming and the amount of sweat pouring off my weary body, that I have experienced a good work-out. I don’t really care how many steps I’ve taken; I feel good that I’ve worked out.

The next problem is that these devices don’t hold you accountable. I mean if you set a goal to take 5,000 steps every day, nothing happens if you fall short. If I wear the thing all day and then check my stats when I get home and I’ve only taken 1,100 steps and my goal was 5,000, am I going to go run 16 miles to make up the deficit? Hell no! I’m just going to say, “screw it, I’ll walk more tomorrow,” and go to bed.

Photo courtesy Google images

Photo courtesy Google images

Now, what would be really helpful is if those little wristbands thingeys had pre-recorded messages. What would be exceptionally motivating is for a really annoying voice, like Gilbert Godfry or someone equally nasally and whiny, to say something like, “get moving lard ass,” every time I sat in one place for more than about 10 minutes. Or, “you’re slowing down fatso,” when I switch the treadmill from jog to walk. That would be motivating. However, I do see a potential problem with this, especially if you’re working out at a gym or other public place. You would not want that thing going off and have somebody other than yourself thinking it was directed at them. No sirree, I would not want some Rambo over in free weights to come over and konk me on the head with a 200 pound barbell because my Fitbit offended him.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Although . . . if he looked like that guy . . . maybe a visit wouldn’t be so bad. Hmmmm.

But I digress. Maybe instead of a pre-recorded message, a squirt of pepper spray to the face every hour could be used. I mean nothing would get me moving faster than pepper spray in my face. Think of the amount of steps you’d take with that crap on your skin. You couldn’t run to the shower fast enough and you’d be dancing a jig the whole time you were in there. Or, every so often a shock treatment like a taser blast could go off to remind you to get up and drink some water. That would get me hopping out of my chair for sure.

That’s right, these puppies supposedly will keep track of how much water I’ve drank during the day. Hmmm. Is that necessary? If I fill my glass 4 times then I can pretty much rely on the fact that I’ve had 4 glasses of water that day. And, taking this one step farther, if I know that my glass is 20 ounces, and I fill it 4 times, then I’ve had – say it with me – 80 ounces of water that day. No device required. And how does that thing distinguish between water and gatorade, or soda, or . . . oh I don’t know . . . wine? ‘Cuz, if it measured wine in-take I’d pretty much meet my quota every single day.

And, supposedly, they keep track of your sleeping habits (again – if you remember to wear them). At the risk of sounding redundant, what is the point of this? If I wake up at 3:00 in the morning and lay there awake for 2 hours, my clock will give me the same information as that little plastic strap on my wrist. I don’t need a device to let me know that I was awake for 2 hours in the middle of the night. Contrarily, if I wake up refreshed, having slept straight through the night, I don’t need to check my wrist to see how I’ve slept. This “feature,” makes no sense to me.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

I’m thinking a much better electronic device to invest in to ensure good health is one that requires you to solve a trigonometry problem before you can open the cookie jar.  Or do 20 jumping jacks before the refrigerator door will open. I’m thinking that would successfully solve this problem:

Photo courtesy Google images.

Photo courtesy Google images.

How about your dear readers, do you have a Fitbit, Jawbone or similar device? Do you like it? What gadgets would be helpful in your life to keep you fit and healthy?

Fun fact about me: I am not really into fancy techy gadgets.

Word of the Day: Vugh (alternate spelling)

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, January 2015. Photos courtesy Google Images.

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