Saturday, November 30, 2013

Holiday Repeats: Cooking with Christine

I can't wait to spend lots of time hanging out with Christine watching her create culinary magic. I also can't wait to get more material for my imaginary Food Network screenwriter. Nettie needs some inspiration. She's been not using that side of her brain enough lately. (Which reminds me, as I create this post for future airing, where is The Shushing Librarian? She's been altogether too quiet lately.)

Also, given recent experience Food Network host's recent on-air finger slicing on live t.v., this just cracks me up more. "That's not in the script! We're live. THIS is why we pre-tape and EDIT!"

You know you've watched too much food t.v. when, you imagine things happened this way:
TRANSCRIPT/Editor's notes:

Scene: Cape Cod Kitchen

(fade from title shot, bring down theme music, and cut into full shot of kitchen set-up)

"Welcome back to Cooking with Christine."

(Audience cheers and applauds, fade audio down and out, cue host)
(cut to 3/4 shot of host)

Host: "I'm your host, Christine, and I'm pleased to present the second installment of Cooking with Christine. Today we're going to show how to prepare Emeril Lagasse's Chile Pepper Lobster."

(cut to audience wide shot)

(Audience oooohs and aahhhhs)

(cut back to wide shot of host and guest at kitchen set-up)

Host: I'm very pleased to have a special guest, The Shushing Librarian, or as we call her, SL, who is here today to learn about this labor-intensive, yet delicious recipe.

(cue 3/4 shot of special guest)

SL: Hey there, great to be here. So, Christine, can you tell me what all is in this recipe?

(cut back to wide shot of host and guest, show kitchen tabletop with prep)

Host: Well, SL, the full recipe can be found on our web-site. We've made some exceptions. We completely cut the two kinds of onions, and we added some chopped shrimp.

SL: So, to recap, Chile Pepper Lobster over Saffron Linguine usually contains the following:

(cue close shots of prepped ingredients as they are read off the notes/split screen with ingredient lists)


1 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons peeled, seeded, and chopped Italian plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
4 turns freshly ground black pepper
4 servings Saffron Linguine
1 pound cooked lobster meat (from 3 live 1-pound lobsters), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup coarsely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped green onions

(cut back to high shots of stovetop)

Host: That's right. First you, combine the oil, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, garlic, chili powder, red pepper, cumin, salt, and black pepper in a large skillet over medium heat and cook for 6 minutes. As you can see, we already started this process.

SL to audience: I wish you could be as close to this as I am. It smells delicious!

(cut to audience shot)

(audience applauds lightly and laughs)

(cut to long shots down countertop)

Host: SL, since I see you have an injured arm, hopefully you have a helpers on hand to chop the cilantro and seafood, so you can add the other ingredients and make sure they don't burn.

(cut back to host and SL 3/4 shot)

SL: I'm a better eater than chopper, so I'm glad you have helpers. What's next?
Host: Once the onions and tomatoes are ready, turn off the heat and allow the mixture to steep for 10 or 15 minutes.
SL: So during this, we should also be preparing our pasta?
Host: That's right. You should prepare the Saffron Linguine, and when finished, cover to keep warm.
SL to audience: Isn't the magic of television great?

(audience laughs knowingly, yet hungrily)
(cut to 3/4 shot of host)

Host: That's right. I'm so happy to have my kitchen helpers. They are working like "house elves" to prepare the seafood; prepping our pre-cooked, cleaned, and pre-shelled shrimp and lobster. No snacking now guys.

(Cut to shots of kitchen crew:
Ed note: Crop to tight shots of kitchen crew, no one needs to see them grimacing!)

(back to the wide shot of host and guest)

SL: Whoops! Things are getting hot in here!
Host: What's a little heat in the kitchen? Let's just turn the heat back up ON THE SKILLET, to high. When the mixture bubbles, add the seafood and stir.

(cut to overhead shots of skillet)

SL: I was going to grab a piece of shrimp, but it all got in the skillet! I guess I have to wait.
Host: No worries. It's almost ready. Continue cooking the sauce, shaking the skillet, for 3 minutes, and then remove from the heat.

(cut back to wide shot of host, guest, and table top)

SL: That looks and smells incredible! I could dive right in. I see in my notes that you varied the recipe from the original at this point.
Host: That's right. Usually, you divide the pasta into bowls and put the sauce on top. I think adding the pasta directly to the sauce adds flavor to the pasta and a new dimension to the sauce.
SL: Thank goodness for more television magic. This bowl just appeared in front of me, and the Parmesan is already melted into yummy goodness. Can I dive in?
Host: Go ahead. Let me just tell the audience that this usually serves about 4-6 as a main course. Many thanks to Emeril for letting me adapt the recipe and for my Kitchen Crew. I really couldn't do this without them. How's the pasta SL?

(cut to 3/4 shot of SL)

SL: (Muffled slurping, while nodding appreciatively as mouth is full, hand gesture)

(cut back to tight shot of host)

Host: Well, I just got the thumbs up from SL. I'm Christine, and this has been another episode of Cooking with Christine. Thanks for tuning in. I'm just going to .... try ... a ....little bit of this sauce.
(Host forgoes pretty prepared bowl of pasta and uses fingers to get every last bit of sauce out of skillet.)
(audience applause grows)
(Theme music fades up. Credits scroll over long shots of host and guest licking bowls and skillets)

The End.

Parts 1 and 2 originally "aired" in November 2011

Friday, November 29, 2013

Holiday Addition: Sweet and Spicy Candied Nuts

Despite the rising market costs of pecans this year (which I figured out and still had Mom and Dad ship me many pounds from the Thompson Family Pecan Farm in Hurricane, UT ... please support your local small business/farmer ), I was in the mood to use up the extra nuts from my pecan pie tartlets and NOT make brittle. My friend prefers spicy over sweet in her flavor palette, so I wanted to try to make a version of  of sweet and spicy candied nuts.

I found this one on the Internet late on Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, and given how much of it I ate before I bagged it up for travel, I'd say it was a success.

I used other nuts than the recommendation, because that's what I had taking up space in the pantry. Little bags of leftover seeds and nuts take up room, so I have no specific quantities. I also used more butter than called for because of leftover stick remainder from other baking projects.

Real Simple
Sweet and Spicy Candied Nuts 

Serves 8
Hands-On Time: 10m
Total Time: 45m

1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter(maybe I added a bit more)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (maybe I added a bit more) 
1/2 cup almonds*
1/2 cup pistachios
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup granulated sugar


Heat oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment; set aside.

Combine the brown sugar, butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and cayenne in a large pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until melted, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the almonds, pistachios, and pecans and stir to coat.

Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and spread in a single layer. Bake, tossing once, until golden brown and glazed, 17 to 22 minutes. Stir**, then let cool; break into clumps. Toss with the granulated sugar.

Tip: If you don’t want the nuts to be spicy, try substituting 1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon and ginger plus a pinch of nutmeg.

* I used pecans, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, and leftover cinnamon&sugared whole almonds for sweet to offset the spice. 

**I forgot this step until the stuff was almost hardened. I broke it up while it was warm, and then once I LIBERALLY coated with the white sugar, I broke it up more when I mixed it.

 Taken on Thanksgiving Day.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Holiday Repeats: Donna's Thanksgiving Fudge Pie

Forget your mince pie, or your apple pie, or even that old traditional Thanksgiving staple of pumpkin pie.

There will always and forever until the end of the universe ONLY be one pie for me on Thanksgiving. 

Donna's Chocolate, NAY-- I must name it for what it really is -- a FUDGE pie. 

That's all. I won't cheat on it's memory with another. This is the only pie for me.

Chocolate Pie

6 tablespoons butter
2 cups sugar, white
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups milk
4 squares chocolate (unsweetened?)
2 teaspoons vanilla

In a double boiler; cream sugar, butter and flour. Mix milk and eggs together. Add to sugar mixture. Stir in chocolate and vanilla. Cook until thick. Pour into a 9 inch baked pie shell. Let set. Serve with whipped cream.

Originally posted in November 2011

Holiday Repeats: Pecan Pie Muffins

Happy Thanksgiving!

In the spirit of the season, we are going to give thanks for good friends who host, do most of the cooking, and let you hang out with them over a long holiday weekend. You also give thanks for lots of blog posts, so you can mimic the television programs and mix in repeats with some limited new content.

The last two late nights I have been mixing up these seasonal favorites to take as hostess requests/gifts, bags of yumminess for all and sundry. I MAY have eaten a bunch of them myself. They always disappear before I remember to take pictures. 

Pecan Pie Muffins (really, they’re tiny tarts)

1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans, obviously!)
½ cup plain flour (all-purpose is fine)

2/3 cup butter (regular, salted)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Spray little muffin pan liberally.
Do not overfill tins. Batter will run over the side. Place a pan on a rack underneath your baking tin to prevent having to clean up bottom of oven. Scrubbing your oven the next day is no fun at all.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Let cool for about 10-15 minutes. Important to let them cool down and set so you can get them out of the muffin tin. You may have to coax them out with a knife.

If you are reusing the same pan for rest of batter, clean out tins with paper towel and respray liberally.

Depending on the size of your little muffin pan, you can get 24-48.

Like little tiny decadent bite-sized pecan pies. Good warm!

Originally posted in May 2010

  Taken on Thanksgiving Day 2013

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Christmas Countdown: And so it begins

Twas a month before the night before the night before Christmas.

Out of all the nooks and crannies, and drawers, and storage, and trunks, and buckets have come the
cards, ribbons, cookie cutters, notes, baggies, bows, pens, labels, birds, bits and bobs ... and tape ...
to start production on the various groups of holiday cards, partridge in a pear "little birdie" secret gifts, kitchen elf neighborly treats, tokens for drivers/engineers/supers, etc etc etc that are part and parcel of this time of year. I have to start now, despite it not being Thanksgiving yet. My countdown until D(eparture) Day is already on.

What I don't have is stamps!

What I probably will have is carpal tunnel syndrome.

If you would like to be added to the holiday card list, good luck. ... I mean, e-mail me to be added to the roster. Another two or three will not make a difference when the list is already over - wow - 80 something.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Happy 50th Anniversary Doctor!

via the Twitters
Trust me. Watch the Doctor.
The Doctor?
Doctor Who?

Don't disturb. 
Geek girl,
Geeking out. 

 via the Twitters, Geek and Sundry (above)
 In front of NYC's Tea & Sympathy, 

 P.S. It's a whole different universe than this mashup.
So wrong, it's right.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Photos of the Day: Sacred Spots and Spaces

P-Town Library
Wellfleet Preservation Hall
  The Majestic Oaks

 Nature's little monuments
 Cape Cod, October 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Photo of the Day: Surfside

Cape Cod National Seashore, October 2013

The sea has a way of making you feel so small. Even when you are riding the waves.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Photos of the Day: Sun, Sand, Sculpting

 Cape Cod, October  2013

Whilst we wait for Mother Nature to put on her nightly show, Mother waits, and I take Nature's bounty and create more of a tribute in the sands - with streamers, ribbons and purses from the sea.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Photos of the Day: Black & White & grey

Cape Cod, October 2013

When the Cape gives you a cloudy day, you get photos with which to play in photo effects. Playing with the shadows and contrasts, you can finally see the grains in the wood and illusions of auras.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Photo of the Day: Illuminating Island in the Sand

Cape Cod Beach, October 2013

A Tiny Grain of Sand
By Pearl Sturgis

I'm just a tiny grain of sand
upon the beach of life.
It's hard for me to understand
my part in peace or strife.

What service could I render
contributing my all?
How could I help or hinder,
for I am just so small?

Full poem can be found here.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Photo of the Day: Up & Down

Cape Cod Beach, October  2013

If tourists on a beach can follow directions to come up and down the dune stairs, why can't New York's subways have similar arrows to direct foot traffic?

Friday, November 15, 2013

National Bundt Day - November 15

Courtesy of The Food Librarian, designed by JustJenn
Courtesy of The Food Librarian

Proud Bundt baker for many years, I still have my I Like Big Bundt pin from The Food Librarian from 2011. While nowhere as ambitious as Mary the Merry Bundt Baker/Food Librarian, I did make two this week.

I cheated a little and doctored two cake mixes, but I still chopped nuts, and grated baby carrots (and my knuckles), and I still used Grandma Ollie's trusty and now well used bundt cake pan for:

Mail Room Matt's Carrot Cake Birthday Bundt
Frosting on the side

Though, the surprise was on me. He took the whole week off. Whoopsie Daisy. His colleagues were happy. I hope it tasted okay. I went back today, and no one saved me a piece. WHAT THE...?! You always tithe the baker, people. Feed her and she may be fat -- and happy to make you more food.

Also, a stressed person may just bake up a storm to try and use other parts of her brain.

Case in point.

I got home really late last night, after going cross-eyed late at the office in the throes of data streams. (SO MANY DATA STREAMS) I don't like spreadsheets with over 65,000 lines and countless columns. (I like deadlines of next week even less.) It's handy to know some filtering tricks, so that you don't get too sour on the whole project(s). In honor of National Bundt Day, I was determined to bake something - that would then end up in the office, and so as this bundt baked, I also balanced my checkbook, paid my bills, and worked on this blog post all the while wondering how many poppy seeds I'd have to consume before the opiates took effect and I could sleep.... (Consuming the other 1/2 cup of powdered sugar glaze frosting certainly didn't help with the whole sleep situation!)

But I digress.

Dump, doctor, mix, and dump
Bake, test, touch, remove and cool
Flip, pray ... and Cheer
Et viola

An  Excel -- ent Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt to Blunt our Sour Pusses Stuck in Data Tables with a generous coating of SugarRush to Power Through The Night Shift Sweet Glaze
A long name but apropos, as pieces should be taken home by another colleague to thank her husband, the font of all knowledge on Excel formulas. We drink so gratefully from this font, and it makes our day sweeter. Thank you Jeffrey.