Saturday, February 28, 2009

Late Night, NYC

A silver CRV navigates the streets expertly, turning onto a one-way with cars parked on both sides. It comes to a stop behind a cab, which is behind a green Honda, blinker on, waiting for a parking spot. The spot opens; Honda pulls up to get ready to park...and so does the cab, apparently trying to get around the Honda in the narrow street. CRV backs up a bit to allow room. Honda gets out of the car, yells at the cabbie to move, but nothing happens. Everyone waits. Honda leans against his car, undeterred. He cannot park with the cab there, but is determined to keep the priceless spot.

Cabbie unloads his passengers; perhaps they see what is going on and don't want to be involved. Horns honk. The minutes tick by. A passenger from the CRV decides to talk to Cabbie, and returns looking angry; "He won't back up. Thats all it is." By now the street must be jammed back to the West Side Highway, and more and more people are getting angry. Some other drivers hear the Cabbie won't move, and and also try to talk to him, but more angrily. They gather around his cab, about five or six guys, all getting riled up as Cabbie refuses to move. They hit the cab. They yell. A few return to their own cars. Still, Honda leans patiently, watching, waiting. A crowd is gathering on the street. More horns honk, people are yelling. CRV cannot believe this is happening...

Fifteen minutes into it, a miracle...Cabbie announces he will move. Cheers all around, and comments from the sidewalk that Honda better park perfectly. Honda parks, the cab moves, and finally! It is over. Until: stopped at a traffic light at the next corner, Honda runs up to the cab, having successfully parked. He yells, kicks the car; Cabbie is yelling too. CRV is saying just go through the intersection please! Honda leaves, Cabbie drives away, and now it is over.

You can't make this stuff up.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Heart-Shaped Things

At Irene's request (ok I wanted to post it too), here is my recipe for heart-shaped pizza flavored ravioli. Yes, pizza. I wanted to make something interesting for Valentine's Day, and I cannot get enough of my heart cookie cutter, having made pancakes* and cookies and now this.  I love cutting things out of other things. Besides, the only other one I have is a gingerbread man. So heart ravioli it is.  Start with a basic pasta dough; I don't remember where I got mine, so I might have made it up based on various recipes.  So anyway put about 2 cups of flour and a little salt right on the counter and make a well in the middle. Crack in two eggs (errr...or was it one?  Try one and add if it doesn't seem like enough. I should write things down more.) and start mixing gently, taking flour from the sides.  When it started to come together I added a little water too, and just kneaded it, adding flour or water as needed (ha! "kneaded").  When the dough is pretty smooth, cover it and work with sections to make it easier to roll out.  And just roll roll roll roll roll roll till it is very thin..the ones in the picture were about 1/16" thickness and it was too much. Maybe try about 1/32".  Putting them together was easy, just sandwich them with some filling and crimp the edges together with a fork to get the pretty edges.

The filling was ricotta, mozzerella, parmesan, and spices: oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. It definitely had a pizza flavor. We had them with pizza sauce instead of regular sauce for authenticity.

They went well with a night of cookies and video games.

*Tip: use a lot of cooking spray on the cutter first, then pour batter in.  And tongs. USE TONGS.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Someone please explain Twitter to me.  Is it really just so that you can post comments about what you are doing constantly? Why would someone want to do that? Doesn't that become a pain, having to update it every time you engage in a new activity?  Better question...why would someone who already has a blog need to do that?  You spend time updating a blog so you can say "Now go somewhere else and look what I'm doing, which really has nothing to do with my blog content"?  Why don't you just put it on your blog? As a reader, I can safely say that I don't care if you are at work or home or at the dentist...just post things I'm interested in, or don't post anything.  That is where our relationship ends. 

Besides, saying "Check out my Twitter!" just sounds dirty.  Ick.

Nifty Trick

This is a super-duper-down-n-dirty way to fix an image in Photoshop that has a color cast to it. I use this a lot and felt it neccessary to share with whomever hasn't seen it. This might work in Photoshop Elements too, not sure.
Heres a cute pic of my peanut butter chocolate cupcakes:

It's blueish because of the lighting in the kitchen. To fix it quickly, go into your Curves adjustments. 

Under the curve, you'll see three eyedroppers: Dark, Gray, and Light.  With the Dark dropper first, select the darkest area of the picture (I pinpointed it as 1 - click for larger image). Then, with the Light Dropper select what should be the lightest area, which will give Photoshop a frame of reference for what areas should be whiter. I selected a light highlight on the frosting; you should not pick any stark white highlights such as sunlight reflections, there is no color there at all. Next is the midtone value, which can be a little trickier. If there are grays or beiges you can select those. Here I used the edge of the shadow on the plate (it's a black tone). Clicking in different areas gives you a different result, so a lot of it is trial and error.

From there, you can then change the curves to get the look you are going for. To finish the adjustments, I used Brightness/Contrast to bump up the contrast and open up the image a little bit. Thats it, and it was done!

We love easy around here, don't we?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pita Power

When I finally got off the couch to take a shower Wednesday, I decided to make pita bread. It takes time to let the dough rise, and since I didn't have to work, I had some spare hours to kill.

A quick search of Tastespotting yielded this food blog: Always Order Dessert. It's a cute site, definitely browse it later.  The dough was pretty simple to make, and was easy to work with.  We went to get dinner while my dough disks were rising the second time, so they sat for about an hour instead of the recommended 20 minutes. I have no idea how this affected the final product, but I had satisfactory puffing of my pita!  If you're making this, I think you just need to make sure you don't handle the disks too much before baking.  Also, they say to use a bread stone to bake them on, but I just used a cookie sheet in the oven, and it worked fine.

That Guy enjoyed them, as did I, so I will be making these again. Yay success!


Last night I asked The One I Live With (hereafter: That Guy) if I could lay on the couch all day Saturday so he would wait on me and let me control the TV. He was unsure that he would be able to make me meals. Selfish.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A First

Well, I had my first official Baking Total Failure (BTF) today, so I figured that was a good time to start blogging about my cooking escapades --something I'd been kicking around in my head for a while. I had the blog already, having signed up for Blogger years ago, so it was easy enough to start. There are pictures of everything I make, and people often ask how I do things. Well, now I can say "Just check out my terrible amateurish blog with horribly lighted photos!"

I've decided that Wednesdays are a good baking/laundry day. This is my day "off," from work, where everyone's hours have been cut to 32. To fill time, I do chores around the house and bake stuff. Seems like a good use of a day to me.

Anyway, I had bought this big canister of "rolled oats" a couple weeks ago, with the intention of making blueberry oat muffins. Turns out, the muffins required other stuff than blueberries and oats, so I was not prepared to make them, and the canister sat in the cabinet (I did eventually make a simpler blueberry muffin, and they were DE-lish!). I had wanted to try my own granola bars, so this seemed like a good opportunity. On a side note, I also made pita bread from scratch today, which was NOT a BTF. Post to come. Or not.

I found a recipe online here that looked tasty and simple. And indeed, it was quite simple. I followed all the directions, and cooked the liquids together as told; except I used a handful of peanuts instead of what I didn't realize was a full two cups of dried fruit. I pressed the granola mixture into a pan, and sprinkled chocolate chips on top. "Yum!" I thought, and left it to cool while I practiced yoga. Upon my return, I found the contents of the pan to be one very hard, flat rock. A quick trip in the microwave did not fix things, but softened the rock a bit so I could at least taste that it was....not good. It was just ok. Eventually I determined that I should have reduced the liquid sweets to account for less dried fruit and whatnot. Pretty dumb on my part. I do not have a photo, but if I did, you'd be confused, because that rock looked pretty darn delicious.

Also, oats toasting in the oven smells bad. Or did I manage to screw that up to?