Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bottle Shopping

The other night I stopped by this wonderful little shop in North Dallas. Homebrew Headquarters is one of the few places that sells cases of wine and beer bottles at reasonable prices. I know, what's the fun in empty bottles, right? Well, actually, they can be lots of fun depending on what you put in them. (Chortles of glee...) Anyhow, it was exactly $20 for a dozen nice-sized claret bottles and screw-on tops, so that's not bad.

So, I've never been to a beermaker's haven before. It was interesting and it smelled delightful, kind of like root beer! There were bags of powders for making beer, wine, and soda. Boxes of bottles, jugs, kits, books, etc. were stacked up so neatly. Everything was in its place and clean to boot. Well, except for a bit of dust on the trophies and award ribbons on display.

All in all, it was a fun outing. What am I going to do with a dozen bottles, you ask? Well... A. and I made Coquito. It's a yummy drink made of eggnog, Coco Lopez, and rum. You would not believe how delish this is. Mix a 1/2 gallon jug of eggnog with 1 can of Coco Lopez. Throw in plenty of rum, vanilla, and cinnamon. Yes, cinnamon. Not nutmeg. Cinnamon has wonderful properties and makes this a healthy drink, good for your heart. Or so I told myself as I helped to polish off about a gallon and a half of this over the past week!!

Anyhow, the Coquito was bottled up and passed out to friends and coworkers. I tied on little penguin tags from Tricia Rennea's blog with strips of white polar fleece. Very cute. The polar fleece looked nice and fluffy. It reminded me of snow. You'd like the full effect, but of course, I'm not posting pictures since I still need a good digital camera. :) Okay, okay. I'll go and find cables and a battery for my hubby's old camera. That should do the trick. In the meantime, here's a link for the tags. These are so cute!! Since they don't say anything Christmassy, they can be used anytime when it's cold out. Or year-round if you live on Antarctica.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Turkey Day, Revisited

Hm. Christmas is only two days away and I still haven’t posted much about what we did on Thanksgiving. It looks like I don’t have this blogging thing down yet. In my defense, I don’t have a good camera with which to photograph all of the wonderfully seasonal things that are going on at our house. Truth be told, though, it’s not all *that* seasonal!

Regardless, with gusto (Spanish gusto, not English gusto) I am happy to finally tell you about Thanksgiving dinner. Tell you about it this time, instead of complaining that it wasn’t perfect.

Anyhow, A. and I put up yellow/orange/brown paper chains. So cute & elementary-schoolish. We put chandelier beads on the light fixture in the dining area. For the tablecloth, we used yellow cloth and a brown cloth with cute little turkeys. We had turkey salt and pepper shakers. There was even a yellow-candle centerpiece. It was two candles stuck in a canning jar with rock salt. The jar was tied with yellow and brown ribbons. Very simple and kind of cute. We had white disposable plates, real silverware, and glass goblets. Oh, yeah. We also had brown paper napkins. All very convenient. It made for easy cleanup.

We were also going to do toilet paper pumpkins for the bathrooms. I found the cute idea on Ramblings of a Crazy Woman, but A. & I didn’t have time to get to it. We should have done it as a take-home activity instead. Oh, well. Maybe next year. A. & I did get to them a few days later. We used orange cloth, green wired ribbon for the stem, and curly green chenille for the vines. Also, by using extra toilet paper wrapped around the circumference of the toilet paper rolls we ended up getting a rounder pumpkin. So far, we still have two pumpkins that remain unused. They’re on the living room coffee table. I figure we’ll go through them bit by bit as we run out of toilet paper.

As for the grub on Turkey Day, we had Adobo Turkey with Red-Chile Gravy. I found Lillian Chou’s recipe at Here’s my version. It’s pretty much the same, only with tweaked amounts adjusted to the size of our turkey.

Adobo Turkey with Red-Chile Gravy

For adobo:
6 dried guajillo chiles, wiped clean
4 dried ancho chiles, wiped clean
1 t. ground cumin
1 ½” piece cinnamon stick, smashed
3 whole allspice
¼ t. ground cloves
6 garlic cloves, smashed
2 ¼ t. dried oregano
2 ¼ t. dried thyme
½ c. cider vinegar
4 ½ T. water
3 T. oil

For turkey and gravy:
1 21-lb. turkey (okay, that’s the size we had, but I’m sure you can adjust to your personal turkey size)
1 ½ c. water, divided
1 ½ T. oil

To make adobo:
Slit chiles lengthwise, then stem and seed. Heat a large heavy skillet (not nonstick) over medium heat until hot, then toast chiles, opening them flat, turning and pressing, until they’re pliable and have changed a bit in color. This takes about 30 seconds.

Transfer to a bowl and cover chiles with boiling water and soak until softened, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix cumin, cinnamon, crushed allspice and cloves together. I put them into a food processor, but it didn’t do the best job. Using a molcajete would probably be best.

Drain chiles, discard liquid, and puree in a blender with the spices, garlic, herbs, vinegar, water, oil, and 3 t. salt until very smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside ¾ c. adobo for gravy.

To marinate the turkey:
Rinse the turkey inside and out. Pat it dry. Sprinkle 3 t. salt evenly in turkey cavities and all over the skin. Rub the remaining adobo all over the turkey, including the cavities. Fold the neck skin under body, then tuck the wing tips under the breast. Transfer to a roasting pan and marinate, covered with plastic wrap and chilled, at least 8 hours and up to 24. (We put it in the fridge to set overnight.)

Roast turkey:
Let it stand, covered, at room temperature for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350F with the rack in the lower third part of the oven.
Add 1 ½ c. water to the pan and roast the turkey for 1 hour.
Brush turkey with oil and add the remaining cup of water. Then tent it loosely with foil and rotate the pan. Roast until a little popout thermometer pops out. It was three more hours in our case.

Carefully tit the turkey so juices from inside the large cavity run into pan. CAREFULLY transfer the turkey to a platter and let it stand, uncovered, 30 minutes.

Make gravy while turkey stands:
We found that this method of cooking the turkey produce a LOT of turkey juice/drippings. The Epicurious recipe has a precise method of doing the gravy. What we did instead is we got a bunch of juice/water. We skimmed off as much of the grease as possible. Then we heated it up with the reserved adobo. Add flour to thicken. Whisk as much as possible. Then, when you still end up getting flour lumps, just strain it. Yes, I know that cornstarch is better than flour for thickening. But someone made off with it in the middle of the night because we couldn’t find it on turkey day!!

We ended up making a ton of the gravy. That’s a good thing, too. This stuff is delish. We made so much that my gorgeous hubby ended up using some of it a few days later. He made short ribs, I guess they’re called. Then he served them in the gravy. So yummy.

Ms. Chou’s note: The adobo can be made 1 week ahead and chilled in an airtight container. Well, that would be convenient, wouldn’t it? Okay, next time, I’ll plan ahead and do it her way!

Makes a lot of servings, maybe about 12?

Yes, I know the descriptions are lacking a bit. Pictures would be nice. Maybe Santa will bring me a nice digital camera that can take (and hold) a picture. Instead of the camera that I currently have. It goes through batteries amazingly quickly. Sometimes it will even eat the pictures, even when the batteries are charged up. When it doesn't, the pictures are pretty low-quality and they all have a strange blue cast. It would be funny if it wasn't so frustrating. Then again, maybe I'll just hit the after-Christmas sales and get one on my own. :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Just One. Nobody Needs to Know...

Today is the last day for biology class. Yay!! Normally I’d be running around looking for the books for the next semester. At this time of year that would be the Decembermester. Yes, that’s a word. At least it is where I go to school. Anyhow, a few months ago I told my hubby dear that I’d take a semester off. Can you imagine free evenings? Sigh. Bliss.

Well, I didn’t tell him that I am still going to take a class. Just one, mind you. That’s down from the three or four I usually take. I figure it’ll be so easy that I can do it all at work- with him none the wiser. Hm. Sociology? Spanish? Developmental math? It’s got to be something easy so that it won’t be too time-consuming and L. doesn’t find out!! That's not really lying, is it? I mean, I *am* skipping Decembermester.

Friday, December 5, 2008

What a Cutey!

A warm, little thought for these chilly days we’re starting to have in Texas:
“One kind word can warm three winter months.” – A Japanese proverb

Yesterday, I was doing some online flipping through Craigslist & I found a gorgeous mare, in foal. For only $950. So pretty and muscley. So, last night I showed it to my dear hubby. He was impressed but said that we don’t have the money for another mare right now.

Well, actually, we do have the money, but it’s being saved up for a short trip to a family wedding in just a few weeks. However, there’s no guarantee that we can take the trip, since my lovely husband's work is slow at this time of year and I haven’t even asked for the time off yet! And who knows what can befall us from now until then. So, it’s still up in the air.

Anyhow, since I’m so metiche (another word for busybody or someone who goes on and does something that she really doesn’t need to be doing), I called and asked about the mare. She’s from 8 to 10 years old. And yes, she’s registered. Not as a quarter horse, as we’d suspected. Nope. She’s a registered Pony of America. That means that although she’s pretty, she’s a shorty. We already have one of those, thank you, very much. Surely this is a horse deal that wasn’t meant to be.

Maybe it’s a good thing that I never have any money. As soon as I do I start looking for ways to spend it! :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mid-Night Disturbance

When I woke up this morning, one of the blinds in our bedroom was not on the window where it should have been. According to my dear hubby, it fell off in the middle of the night. For some reason he's blaming it on Loca, who always sleeps with us. I don't believe she would do something like that. Of course there's no way a sweet little kitty like her would have done something so naughty.

If the blind fell in the middle of the night shouldn't my husband have been asleep? That means that there's no way he would have seen what really happened. I think it's a setup. Obviously hubby dear was goofing off in the middle of the night, knocked the blinds down and now he's blaming it on Loca. Sweet, innocent Loca.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

This Thanksgiving went well. Despite my dear hubby telling me that the stuffing tasted like bread and chorizo. Despite me not making cranberry sauce and my dad noticing and mentioning it while chowing down. Despite the fact that I forgot the topping for my absolutely delish sweet potato casserole. Yes, despite all this!

Then, too, my aunt was lecturing me that my family is pretty much going to fall apart because I work too much and am going to school, too. Although I quite vociferously told her that my second job is only going to be for a month or two longer and I’m also going to take a break from school in the spring. Sigh. Elders.

However, my uncle was an angel. He swept into the kitchen (no white horse) with a huge bowl of mashed potatoes. He finished making the red chile gravy (from an epicurious recipe, I’ll post it tomorrow), and buttered up the rolls. He put the turkey on the platter and delicately gave advice on how to pretty up the platter. We, okay- I, decided on alternating scoops of mashed potatoes and stuffing. Not only did my uncle offer kitchen assistance, when he arrived he brought in disposable plates, napkins, and a few cases of soda. Which reminds me… he also brought me some chocolate. Yahooo! Guess that’s going to get cracked open tonight. :)

All in all, it was a good Thanksgiving. Sadly I was too busy in the kitchen to hang out with my folks, my sister, and her son. Oh, well. Maybe Christmas??