Category Archives: Cooking (disasters)

With extra maple syrup

Bloganuary: What’s your favorite meal to cook and/or eat?

I think we’ve already established how I feel about cooking dinner.

That being said, I do have some favorite meals:

  1. Lubia Polo: This is a Persian dish I’ve tried to replicate without much success. I spent an afternoon watching my mother-in-law prepare it, writing down her every move, asking her questions. I’ve attempted my sister-in-law’s version as well. And again, something’s missing. There’s some magical Tahmaseb ingredient that the rest of us simply don’t possess.
  2. Kashke Bademjan: This is another Persian dish, but I’ve only eaten it at restaurants. It’s an eggplant/garlicky concoction that also serves as an appetizer. I love it. I hope to grow some eggplants this year and try making this dish myself.
  3. Breakfast for Dinner: Pancakes, in particular, but all breakfast foods are invited. There is nothing like breakfast for dinner after an especially rough day.

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I, for one, plan on welcoming our dinner-cooking robot overlords

Bloganuary: What chore do you find the most challenging?

It’s not that I find cooking dinner exceptionally challenging. I’m just disappointed that, despite the fact it’s 2023, we haven’t found a way for AI to do it for us. Where’s my Star Trek replicator that will make me some tea, Earl Grey, hot? I ask you!

I can turn the lights on and off by myself. Thank you very much, Alexa. But why must I cook dinner?




And it isn’t even the prep time or the cleanup. It’s that it goes by so quickly. You do all this work and all this cleaning. For what? Five or so minutes of eating?

Granted, I may be doing the eating part of dinner wrong. I realize that I don’t need to inhale my food like I’m in the dining facility, and a drill sergeant is clocking my every bite.

Sometimes you really can’t take the Army out of the girl.

It’s why I prefer to bake. The same amount of work, but the results hang around for much longer.

With that in mind, I think I’ll go make some cookies.

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Weekly writing check-in: the one where I look back at 2014

Action is hopeHappy New Year! I hope it was joyous and safe and you have lots of plans for the new  year.

I’m going to take a quick look back before I jump into 2015 proper.

Words written:

For 2014, I wrote ~270,000 words.

Uh, yeah. That looks like a lot. You know what? It doesn’t feel like a lot. I don’t feel tired or drained from doing that. In fact, I feel energized, and to quote Mr. Bradbury, I’ll be damned, it’s been a good year.

270,000 words looks intimidating. But really? Divide that by 365. It’s only 740 words per day.

740. Not even 1,000 words per day. That’s doable. If you bump it up a bit, you can take weekends off. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again now. Daily writing is a lot like exercise. It isn’t sexy or glamorous, but if you commit to it, you’ll see results.

Of those words I wrote, I managed a couple of novels, a handful of short stories, and several novelettes. I love writing novelettes, but it’s hard to find a home for them.

Other stats:

I made 51 submissions this year (down ~ 50 from last year).

I sold six stories/poem thingies.

Of my fiction writing income, 30% came from selling to traditional markets (short fiction markets) and 70% came from publishing my own work. With this in mind, I will probably concentrate on publishing my own work in 2015, in a variety of ways.

2014 Publications:

Straying from the Path at Flash Fiction Online

A Most Marvelous Pair of Boots at Timeless Tales Magazine

Breakfast in the Desert at Every Day Poets

Playing Soldier in issue #9 of Vine Leaves Literary Journal (and best of anthology for 2014)

The Secret Life of Sleeping Beauty, in audio, at Cast of Wonders

Girl with the Piccolo, in audio, at Cast of Wonders

Incriminating Evidence in Fantasy Scroll Magazine, Issue #4

This week:

Writing Work:

  • Writing ~ 9,700 words (I’m on a bit of a tear this week)
  • Graphic Design tutorials


  • None


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Weekly writing check-in: the one at the end of December

cakeA quiet holiday week. To the left, you can observe one of my accomplishments. Seriously, that it turned out is some sort of Christmas miracle.

That I successfully sliced the cake in half to create two layers is an actual Christmas miracle.

So in between the baking and cleaning and wrapping and movie watching, I did manage 5,000 words.

Cake and words. Not a bad way to end 2014.

See you in the New Year! I’ll have a bit of news then, too.

Writing Work:

  • Writing ~ 5,017 words


  • None


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  • None


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Of clothes shopping and BLTs

So yesterday after work, I headed to the mall with my fashion consultant (AKA Kyra) to buy some summer clothes. Somehow every pair of capri pants I own has disintegrated or mysteriously vanished. And dude, it’s nearly 100 degrees outside. I CANNOT wear jeans, even lightweight ones.

So, off to the mall it is! I only shop at one store there, so this cuts down on the angst and decision-making. I figure if they don’t have what I want, it doesn’t exist. Upon entering the store, I went immediately for the earth tones, Kyra gravitated toward color. She wove her way through the displays, selecting outfits for me.

I know what you’re thinking: You shop with your nine-year-old? Here’s the thing: She’s really good at it.

We lugged our armfuls of fashions into the dressing room, where, amazingly, everything fit. I know. I saved the Kyra-selected outfit for last. Once I had it on, she spent about five minutes adjusting the drape, and so on.

Me: You’re really good at this.
Kyra:  Well, you know, I’m probably going to be a fashion designer.

This, of course, is when she’s not being a scientist, a veterinarian, or painting all her pets’ portraits.

Then she tried to get me to pose, hand on hip, the other arm just so, head tilted at a particular angle. No matter what I tried, it didn’t work.

Me: I’m not a very good pose(u)r.

Note: Only I found that funny.

So, not only did everything fit, it was all on sale, and I bought the lot. I’m set for summer. And we did it all in forty minutes. At home, I made BLTs for dinner. Kyra took her first bite and let out a Mmmmm most people reserve for Godiva chocolate.

Kyra: Mama, you may be plain when it comes to clothes, but you’re awesome at cooking.

Yes, when it comes to toasting bread, I know no rival.

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Filed under Clothes, Cooking (disasters), Kids, Musings

That’s how we (chocolate) roll

So, yesterday, Andrew and I made a trial run of the chocolate roll he needed to bake for the food unit in German class. Why does he need to bring in a chocolate roll for German class? I. Don’t. Know. It’s right up there with edible Australia. I’ve stopped questioning these things.

Of course, I’ve never made a chocolate roll. This does not shock my foodie friends. However, I do own a jelly roll pan*. Believe me, no one is more surprised than I am about this fact.

Plus! I showed Andrew how to separate eggs. Yes! I know how to do this! Don’t worry. This is the extent of my mad cooking skillz because I clearly have never baked anything in said jelly roll pan. We discovered it didn’t fit in the oven. And yes, we’d already poured the batter into the pan when we made this discovery.

I made a mad dash to Target and returned with a pan that would fit into our oven. We went for it and simply re-poured the batter.

It seemed to work. The whipped cream was easy. The rolling part? Not so much. I did discover that Smitten Kitchen has an excellent post on the whole rolling thing (which I found by searching on “broken chocolate roll”). Her recipe almost matches the one we used that came from the German cookbook in Andrew’s class.

Amazingly, our roll is almost roll-like.

I think we’re set for tonight.

*suspect that edible Australia is the reason behind the jelly roll pan purchase.

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Unintended consequence of the baking club

So today during her allotted TV time, Miss B decided not to watch cartoons, or the Disney channel, but surfed on by those to watch …

The Food Network.

She was enthralled. An entire channel where they cook! It was a baking club! On TV!

She watched a couple of shows. One was with some beefcake guy. I want to say he had an Australian accent, but I’m not sure about that. He did have the tight T-shirt to show off his gym-sculpted pecs and biceps, oh, and this faux hawk looking hairstyle. Tommy, Jimmy, somebody? I don’t know.

Whatever. The woman he was professing to help with her dinner party looked like she wanted to smack him upside the head at one point. But the fondue they were making looked pretty good. The next show, some woman claimed we could cook an entire meal in thirty minutes. Sure we could.

The second she popped some kind of exotic peppers into this recessed grill type thing in her stove, she lost me. One, if it’s not in my fridge, it’s not happening in thirty minutes. Two, dude, that stove thing. I can’t find it on Google, so I’m pretty sure we’re talking science fiction. Kyra, however, loved it.

Hey, if she’s destined to be a foodie, more power to her. She can start cooking dinner. I think we can all agree that’s a win/win situation for everyone involved.

Thanks to the little Coming Next feature, I knew we were threatened with would be treated to Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee. Fortunately, true disaster was forestalled. Miss B decided to go play pretend and forgot about the Food Network for the time being.

I mean, you’ve seen this show, right? Even I know this isn’t cooking. Below is the (in)famous Kwanzaa cake. She doesn’t sprinkle it with corn nuts in this version, but I know I’ve seen that. Corn nuts! On a cake!

Oh, the humanity.


Filed under Cooking (disasters), Video

In which the baking club meets

The first two meetings of the Baking Club went very well. You might have noticed the link in the Twitter feed to The Pioneer Woman’s Spicy Molasses Cookies. The kids were skeptical at first, seeing as neither chocolate chips nor frosting was involved.

They changed their minds when they got their hands on the dough. We had a lot of fun rolling the cookies into balls then chasing them around in the sugar. Then, after they baked, we all couldn’t stop eating them. I wouldn’t say they were gone in sixty seconds, but they did vanish in less than twenty four hours.

Last night, we had girls-only Baking Club. Andrew went off to earn his Boy Scout Soil and Water Conservation badge and Miss B and I stayed home to make cupcakes.

Now, earlier, she bought a cupcake kit with her Borders gift card. However, when I went grocery shopping, I managed to purchase a cake mix (just in case), but no baking powder for the from-scratch variety. (Hey, I’m a quick bread/drop cookie kind of gal; I almost never use baking powder, so don’t have any on hand. That thump you hear is all the foodies hitting the floor in a dead faint.)

So, next week perhaps we’ll tackle from scratch. Hey, it’s an object lesson. First, we see what a cake mix provides; next, we’ll break down all the component parts and mix it ourselves. Dude, I didn’t even plan it like that.

The cupcakes were a hit with one and all. We ended up with twenty. Then, one mysteriously disappeared. It wasn’t Miss B. She was too busy creating our likenesses with frosting, pink sugar, and those little candy red hots. The boys weren’t home yet. The cat was asleep. The culprit?

The dog, in stealth mode (and believe me, she doesn’t do stealth all that well), nabbed it, and just it, leaving its brethren intact, if a bit shaken.

Andrew had one when he came home, then doubled back for seconds.

“Are they good?” I asked.

“Cha yeah!” he said, accompanied with an eye roll.

This can be loosely translated as: “Why yes, mother, they are excellent.”


Filed under Cooking (disasters), Kids

The secret ingredient revealed

So this weekend-yesterday, actually-I baked banana bread and chocolate chip cookies. From scratch! I know. I’ll wait while the rest of you pick yourself up off the floor.

Actually, I like baking, as long as it’s not too complicated. Meals I’m pretty meh about. I mean, all that work, and it’s gone within thirty minutes, except for the mess. With baking, you can enjoy your efforts for at least twenty four hours or so, give or take.

Also, I cleared the clutter reorganized the kitchen, which makes it nice to bake in these days.

Miss B was all excited to help me bake cookies. Ever since I baked oatmeal raisin cookies with Andrew (a recipe from his Family and Consumer Science class), she wanted to bake her own cookies.

I was telling her something my mom told me about baking chocolate chip cookies-because cookies, along with 80s pop music, is cross-generational. Instead of butter, use shortening for better texture.

Miss B: What’s shortening?
Me: It’s fat.

A bit later, Bob wandered through and Miss B exclaimed:

Daddy! I know the secret to Mommy’s cookies and I’m not telling anyone at school. It’s a secret recipe and it’s FAT!

Now, doesn’t that sound appealing? I suppose I should be relieved she’s not telling her entire school that the secret ingredient is fat.

Here’s my whole point to this baking and cooking thing: why go all Martha Stuart when you can make your offspring ecstatically happy with a bag of Nestlé’s toll house morsels?

And fat. Don’t want to forget the secret ingredient.


Filed under Cooking (disasters), Kids

The sweet smell of edible Australia

So, today I bring you a recipe that may surprise you. It’s for Rice Krispie Treats. I know what you’re thinking: Dude, no way! You have to buy those at the grocery store–proof that they’re just too hard to make.

I used to think the same thing, but really, it’s not difficult to master the recipe. In fact, today, I’ll present both the basic recipe and some advanced techniques. You can thank me later.

First, what you’ll need:

Note: While it’s esthetically more pleasing to place the butter in the center of the dish, it doesn’t affect the actual recipe.

  • 3 tablespoons butter/margarine
  • 1 bag marshmallows
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies

First, melt the butter, then add the marshmallows. It will look something like this:

Mmmmm. Melty high fructose goodness.

When the marshmallows are all melted, add the Rice Krispies. This can be a little tricky:

Challenging, but worth it.

Spread the mess yummy goodness into a 9 x 13 inch pan that you’ve previously hosed down coated with cooking spray. Use a buttered spatula or waxed paper to keep the mess from sticking to everything in known creation press the treats into the pan.

And that’s it! And I know what you’re thinking: That’s easy! I’ll never buy Krispie Treats from the store again!

Now that you’ve mastered the fine art of the Krispie Treat, you can use them a launch pad for more experimental work. I give you: Edible Australia:

You’ll need a bigger pan because Australia is … big. We recommend you outline Australia beforehand.

Sometimes it’s good to have your map of Austalia by your side while you work.

Australia is surrounded by a lot of ocean. You’ll need blue frosting for that. But don’t panic. You can make your own.

Attention to detail is important.

Voila! All you need now is the finishing touches (brown sugar for deserts, cookie crumbs for mountains, and Swedish fish (?) for the ocean) from your classmates, and you have Edible Australia.

The real reward will come not in the post-quiz consuming of (some of) Edible Australia but whether older women (aka eighth and ninth graders) will ask you to share some of it on the way out of school.


Filed under Cooking (disasters), Kids