Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The new dishwasher

Remember Hieronymus Bosch, and the Bosch stove? 

We now have a Bosch dishwasher.

I had to shut Jeoffry into the front room when it arrived.

The Bosch is now installed but the problem is, we are afraid to use it. It requires fresh powdered detergent which, all I have is Sunlight liquid detergent. Also you need a Rinse Aid. At this rate it might be quite a while before we actually fire it up.

Perhaps it will sit for years while cooking magazines, measuring cups and Leonard Pennario albums accumulate on top of it. And while I spend hours washing dishes.

Bosch, bosh!

Meanwhile though it is earning its keep because it is fun to look at.

Already the kitchen seems more under control. Working on a book it is easy to let your life slide but here, look, I have fixed one thing.

This is Step 1.

One step at a time!

Monday, January 19, 2015

The hunger game

Remember my bento lunch box?

And my subsequent second lunch box? Hahaa... reading back on what I wrote, I started laughing about the idea of a Leonard Pennario lunch. I do appreciate my own humor, tailored specifically to me.

Anyway, good things come in threes and now I have a third lunch box. It was a Savers score and cost me $4. It looked spiffy and new and sure enough, when I got it home and investigated it more closely, its papers were still inside it. Probably it was a present. Or else someone bought it intending to pack lunch and gave up on the idea. Hardly anyone packs lunch, in my experience. That is a pity. It is a game that is fun to play. If you have to work today, which is Martin Luther King Day, you are not losing a day off. You are gaining an opportunity to pack lunch!

This new lunch box is, ahem, designed by Black and Blum, a British team. You have to watch that word "designed." Meaning, it is probably made in China. Oh well, I bought it second-hand.

Up above is a picture I found of it on Pinterest. Here is another picture. Mine is this color, lime green.

Here it is dissected.

It seems to retail at between $20 and $37, a rather wide range.

The whole lunch box is on the small side which cost it some criticism on sites where they review such things. I am not the only one who likes to eat a lot! But it has potential. I intend to find that potential.

No matter how many calories it takes!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Planet Cupcake

We were baking again today. There was no stopping us. After church my brother and my niece and nephew, pictured above, came back to my house. End result, as we say here in Buffalo: More cupcakes than we can eat without major attacks of conscience.

I will violate my rule against taking food pictures.

There are cranberry cupcakes, gussied up in pink frosting, and chocolate chip cupcakes, for whose frosting Barbara chose an orange theme. She is like Leonard Pennario. She breaks rules.

So much fun on a drizzly Sunday. The Christmas tree is still up and we plugged it in. The kids have been enjoying getting oriented to the Latin Mass and while they were decorating the cupcakes we heard them humming the Kyrie.

The cat napped on the couch with my brother. That is what is called a catnap.

Our cupcake recipes came out of a book I had picked up somewhere and barely glanced at until now. The recipes were really simple, so they could be thrown together while Georgie was beating a Christmas cookie tin like a drum and Barbara was chasing the cat through the kitchen.

It is a British cookbook. Oh, look, I just found it on Amazon. Wow, what is this? The people who rated it gave it really low grades. One comment goes: "Unbelievably a waste of my money. Good thing i did not purchase another copy as a gift - this is so shameful. Total garbage to be exact. If there is a zero rating.... this book will qualify."

"Total garbage to be exact." What, can't they follow directions? We did two different kinds of cupcakes and we sort of mixed and matched frostings with other recipes on the book but they both turned out great.

And this is why it pays to buy second-hand cookbooks: The book keeps calling for Self-Rising Flour which, of course, nobody has that. But on the back page the previous owner had helpfully written in beautiful handwriting: "1 cup self-rising flour is equal to 1 cup flour, 1 1/2 teas. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt."

Thank you, previous owner! No need to look it up.

Now it is back to work. But it is fun to take a break. You enjoy it while it is going on and afterwards you feel ready to take on the big challenges.

That is what is called the frosting on the cupcake!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cat and mouse

The cat hears things we do not hear and he is fixated on a corner of the dining room. Sometimes out of nowhere he will go flying and zero in on this sliver of space between the wall and the china cabinet.

Something is there!

All I can think is that it is a mouse. Well, I am pretty sure that it is.

Once when I was sitting at the dining room table working on my Pennario project I heard this rustling. It was the tiniest sound but I picked up on it.

And so did Jeoffry.

Suddenly, soundlessly, he came walking in. He crept up to that spot and waited. And waited.

He did not nail the mouse on that occasion but at some point he will. Either that or the mouse, if it is smart, will go down the street to a house with no cat.

Meanwhile that is a picture up above that Howard took of the cat and his toy mice. The mouse in the lower left-hand corner is his particular pet. Sometimes he sleeps with it and I have seen him grooming it. We hope he will not have that relationship with the real mouse, one that fateful eventual day when they meet. But we do not think he will.

It changes my relationship with mice, to know that I am not alone and undefended. As Howard has said, every house has a mouse. And the cat is on duty. Meaning, he is always on duty! And he knows where the critters are. He shows marked interest in the lazy Susan which, we remember what once happened there. There was one other time that, again sitting working on the book, I heard a tiny rustle. On that morning the cat was napping in his carrier in the back room. I heard the rustle and thought, oh, too bad Jeoffry is in the other room asleep.

But no! I glanced back there and he had raised his head.

He was listening.

He heard!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Going bananas

Going on about Sunday yesterday I forgot to mention a very important and exciting thing.

I made Banana Coffee Cake! And it was a big hit at the after-church coffee hour.

What makes baking so darned much fun? My father used to tell me that before he was married one of the things he used to do was bake on a Saturday afternoon while listening to the Metropolitan Opera. There is something so relaxing about that! I mean, you can bake and at the same time give a good amount of attention to the opera.

Saturday baking dovetails nicely with church on Sunday because then you have people to eat what you bake. I am trying to think of the things I have tried. Last week, when it was Epiphany time, I made a Mexican Three Kings bread. It was a yeast bread but I made it more Three Kings-like by adding a glaze and then sugar in the colors of the Three Kings, which as we discovered last year are purple, gold and green.

People at church were praising my Three Kings bread because the children loved it. And the grown-ups liked it, too. It is the kind of sweet bread that all ethnic groups know by some name or another. I heard an Italian woman passing a slice to another Italian woman and saying, "Panettone." Both of them looked pleased and I felt very complimented. As the biographer of Leonard Pennario I take pride in being able to cook Italian delicacies. Or delicacies that can pass for Italian!

But for now, the Banana Coffee Cake. The recipe I linked to called for macademia nuts but who has those. I used toasted walnuts. Yum.

Also I heeded the people who wrote comments and said to double the topping. I did that, yessirree. It is that Cooking Light syndrome when sometimes they skimp on things to save a couple of calories and you are up a creek. You learn to double certain things and question certain things.

I actually doubled the recipe and made two cakes because when it came to servings, eight was not enough. The only thing is was, I forgot in the heat of the moment to take a picture. Alack and alas and Alaska! So I used the picture from Cooking Light up above. It did look pretty much like that.

Anyway, as we learned previously, leave the food photography to the pros!

Monday, January 12, 2015

My extraordinary life

I almost hate to admit this but when I went to church yesterday it was still Christmas.

All the decorations were still up! And we sang "The First Noel." On Jan. 11! How great is that? We also sang "Puer Natus Est." It is becoming one of my favorite chants.

And "Corde Natus Ex Parentis," at Communion. What a beautiful melody that is. It is a very old Christmas melody going back to before the Middle Ages.

And at the end of Mass when you are allowed to sing in English that is when we did "The First Noel."

The church still shone with crimson and gold. The creche, pictured above, was still up. It felt as if we were getting away with something. I hear that in all the rest of the Catholic Church, the people who do not do the Tridentine Mass, it is back as of today to Ordinary Time. Green vestments, nothing to see here, move along.

Our Mass in Latin is also known as the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Dignum et justum est! That means "It is right and just." Because we have no Ordinary Time. As one of my friends at church said, "No time is ordinary."

All of it is extraordinary. The Christmas Cycle lasts until Lent. This is where we pay the piper: Lent for us begins three weeks earlier than for our brethren in Ordinary Time. That is not fun, I must admit. It was confusing to me when I first got into going to the Latin Mass and I remember asking Leonard Pennario about it, and he explained things to me. We start Lent with Septuagesima Sunday, which I believe is two and a half weeks ahead of Ash Wednesday.

Well, it is worth it, being able to extend the magic of the season as we do. I feel sorry for all the garden-variety Catholics stuck back in Ordinary Time.

I am going to celebrate my extraordinary life.

Perhaps I will make some Bailey's.

Friday, January 2, 2015

On the eighth day of Christmas...

This Christmas is eating all of us. Or should we say... We are eating this Christmas!

Remember the gingerbread cookies?

And the frosted oatmeal cookies?

And that is not even counting all the cookies I have made on my own, for church or caroling or whatever. Buttered Rum Meltaways. Cinnamon Snickerdoodles. Pumpkin Cranberry Bars. There are many more I cannot even remember. When did I become to the kitchen what Leonard Pennario is to the piano? How did it happen?

The sweets got so overwhelming at my brother George's house that his wife sensibly said enough sugar, enough. But no such rule was imposed on my house! Hence the Creme de Menthe Cupcakes that my little niece Barbara and little nephew Georgie and I made on New Year's Day, aka the Solemnity of Mary, aka the Eighth Day of Christmas.

The recipe came from "Cupcake Heaven," this book I gave Barbara for Christmas. What do you know, I found this particular treat online. Someone has always posted a recipe, you know? You just have to look for it.

Our recipe is in American and the online recipe has British measurements. But the math would be worth it in my opinion. If just for the batter alone. This cupcake batter was amazing. And so was the frosting, which we tinted mint green. Above you may observe Georgie sampling the batter.

The proud baker.

We decorated the cupcakes with chocolate chips and crushed candy canes. CVS had candy canes, a package of 18, on sale for 75 cents forever and so I just kept buying them.

Closeups of cupcakes.

Seeing that most people are not aware of the true Twelve Days of Christmas, this creates an opportunity. I am going to go looking for "post-Christmas" sales. There may be festive cupcake wrappers to be had. Or different sugars or sprinkles.

We have not yet begun to bake!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A very happy new year

Here is Jeoffry last night enjoying his New Year's Eve nip of catnip.

Howard and I were saying, What would humans not do for a drug that made us feel that good? I do not think even crack cocaine -- not that I have ever, ahem, tried it -- would make you roll around on the floor like that, oblivious to what anybody thinks.

It is a wonderful thing!

And then Jeoffry snaps out of it. He suffers no hangover or ill effects.

We were all bright and chipper this morning!

A new year! Perhaps the year when I finish the book. Most definitely the year when I finish the book. But meanwhile today was the Eighth Day of Christmas with chocolate mint cupcakes to bake and decorate with chocolate chips and crushed candy canes, with the assistance of my niece and nephew. That is a story for another day.

For now, a Happy New Year to all. I agree with Jeoffry that it will be a good one.

By the way, the Web log is telling you below that Howard is posting this. It is I, Mary, doing the posting. But the video was in Howard's camera. I wanted to be able to post it.

It is not something the world should miss!