Saturday, January 31, 2009

Some Days...

Some days are better than others. Sure, everybody has them. Those days where everything goes wrong. But what about days when NOTHING goes wrong? Nothing went wrong today. And yet I still feel like I had a terrible day. I spent the day with my mother. No, that wasn't bad. I got a haircut (it looks great by the way), I had a date tonight. I canceled the date. I didn't feel like I could handle being out in public. I broke down in tears twice today. For no reason. No reason that I can figure anyway. I hate winter. This mood used to hit me right before Christmas. I used to hate the holidays. Now, I get hit at the end of January. STOP THE WORLD, I WANT TO GET OFF!!! This is how I feel right now. I can't point to any reason for WHY I should feel this way. All I wanted to do today was stay curled up in my pj's, in bed. I wanted to crawl into a hole and disappear. I still want to. So, I guess tonight is a pity party. Table for one. I just wish I knew how to get out of this funk.
So tomorrow I am making the shrimp pasta. As sad as it sounds, this is something I am really looking forward to. Yes, I really love this particular dish. Sometime during the week I plan on making sugar cookies with lavender icing. Flavor AND coloring. I hope they turn out. Because I do NOT have a recipe for this. This will be trial and error. Hopefully more trial than error.
Anybody out there have ideas for getting out of a funk? I could use some input.

--Little Bird hiding

Monday, January 19, 2009

Root Vegetables

So last night we had the soup. It was fantastic! We altered it just a little, not putting IN bacon (we used it like a condiment) and putting sour cream in during the blending process, We served it with home made bread, and stuff to sprinkle on the soup. Oh yeah, we also didn't use turnips. The store was inexplicably out of turnips. They had beets, and rutabagas, potatoes and other root veggies. Just no turnips. Either way the soup was great! Mama Bird loved it and My stepfather had THREE helpings!
We had a bit of a heat wave here, we got up to double digits! Woo-hoo! I still need to get new earmuffs. I have learned the beauty of polar fleece. It's warm. Especially if you wear multiple layers of the stuff. Sure, it makes you look like you've gained 50 pounds, but you're warm. And if you're just running errands, who cares?
I am also in the process of thinning out my kitchen. No, I am not getting rid of new and fun appliances. I am getting rid of old and rarely used glasses. And some vases I have multiples of. Oh, and the counter top dishwasher that no longer fits the faucet on my sink. If I give away or dispose of these items, I might have room for the new toys. And for MORE new toys in the future. Like the bread maker. And the stand mixer.
Here is a great winter/fall recipe to keep you warm.

Roasted Root Vegetables
serves 6

1 2&1/2 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 &1/2 lb Yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 bunch beets, trimmed and scrubbed, not peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium sized red onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Oil two large rimmed baking sheets. Combine all ingredients in a very large bowl; toss to coat with olive oil. Divide vegetables between the two prepared cooking sheets; spread evenly. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast vegetables until tender and golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
What do you know? Turns out I DID have a vegan friendly recipe after all!

--Little Bird is making room

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Negative 2

I HAVE A BLENDER!!! And it is orange! Yippee!! Now I can make milkshakes! And daiquiris! And, and... well, I'm sure I'll find plenty of things to make. It came in yesterday, this Christmas present of mine. And like the frydaddy, has yet to be used. Primarily because it is -2 outside and I am trying to not go out there. And my cupboards, while not bare, are not all that well stocked. Tonight is the night I am supposed to do dinner with the folks, but seeing how that would require me to walk to the store (about 4 blocks, in a town where 8 blocks = a mile) I don't see that happening. Unless my mother goes to the store on the way home and calls to find out what we need. But as cold as it is, I hope she opts not to do that. So tonight's meal will likely be whatever I have in the house. Pasta. As usual.
Let me explain the weather situation here. I have ice on the insides of my windows. LOTS of it. INSIDE. And my room is actually warm. The heater is over-enthusiastic. I think that caused condensation on the windows (which are directly above the heater) and the insanely low temperatures outside caused that to ice over. But really, ice? Inside?
I'm thinking I should be making soups with that new blender. Anyone out there have any good ones?

--Little Bird is attempting to stay warm

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Nothing Important

Snow, snow, and more snow! I had no idea I was coming home to this much snow! And we got more of it! At this exact moment it appears to be blowing around rather than falling from the sky but still...
And the cold! Damn it's cold out there! And yesterday while making a grocery run I broke my earmuffs.
I don't have all that much to report. I survived the birthday week from hell. My train was late getting in. I slept until about noon on Monday. My sleep schedule is STILL out of whack. I HAD plans for this evening, but the person I had those plans with is sick, so, raincheck. Seeing how I really want to avoid going outside if I can, this isn't all that bad.
If you're planning a FANCY cocktail party, this might be a crowd pleaser. Or it might just impress the hell out of your guests.

Fresh Corn Madelines with Sour Cream and Caviar
makes about 36 hors d'oeurves
For Madelines
1 Tsp unsalted butter, plus more for brushing pan
1/3 cup yellow corn meal -- not coarse
2 Tsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 large egg
1/3 cup well shaken buttermilk
1/2 cup corn (from one ear) chopped

For Topping
1/3 cup sour cream
50g caviar (preferably north american sturgeon)

chopped chives

Notes: You will need a madeline pan with 20 mini (1/2 Tsp) molds for this one. You may also want a small pastry bag with a star or leaf tip. Also VERY IMPORTANT do not use a metal spoon or utensil with the caviar, it will cause the caviar to go rancid almost immediately. Use horn, mother of pearl (not as pricey as it sounds --$6 maybe), or ceramic.

To Make Madelines
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush molds with melted butter.
Whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and pepper in a bowl.
Whisk together egg, buttermilk, 1 Tsp melted butter, and corn.
Blend the two mixtures together.
Spoon 1 tsp batter into each mold and bake in middle of oven until madeline are golden around the edges and spring back when pressed lightly. 5-6 minutes
Turn madelines out and make more in the same manner until out of batter.

Top Madelines
Put sour cream in pastry bag (if using) and pipe (or spoon) about 1/2 tsp onto each madeline. Top with a rounded 1/4 tsp caviar. Sprinkle with chopped chives.

I'm gonna go take a nap now.

-Little Bird is a bit discombobulated still

Saturday, January 10, 2009

How Many Parties Are Too Many Parties?

So I'm in St. Louis. Have been since Tuesday evening. Let me tell you, the train ride was a little boring. Short but boring. Except for that moment when I could have sworn I saw a monkey in a tree. In central Illinois. I winter. It was too big to be a squirrel. It took me until today to even consider that it may have been a raccoon. Stop laughing. I had to get up early that day! And I think Starbucks puts mild hallucinogens in their bottled frappuchinos.
I have been at a party EVERY night so far and have another to go to tonight. I go home tomorrow. Evening, thank god. It's been lots of fun though. Staying with a friend from high school, sleeping late, cooking for said friend. I also go to hang out with some friends from GRADE SCHOOL! It is weird seeing people I knew when they were 5 all grown up and adult-like. Yes, it's true that when they were 5 so was I, but still.
It wasn't until very late last night that I discovered the next door neighbor has WiFi and I could get on the 'net. I had been developing withdrawal symptoms. I couldn't get on FailBlog!! The horror!
I am returning home with some classic St. Louis only (or maybe just not in Chicago) items. R&F kluski noodles for one thing. Two bags of 'em. Every other brand just doesn't taste right to me. And Old Vienna's Red Hot Ripplets. These are potato chips. Incredibly hot, spicy, ADDICTIVE potato chips. My friends and I call them "crack chips" because they are SO addictive. We contend that they are sprinkled with crack. They are heaven. I might suggest though that you don't eat too many in conjunction with too many beers. The next morning feels like hell. But of course I will continue to buy the damned things when ever I can!
The following is one of my hosts favorite pre-dinner munchies. Whenever I make these and she's around they disappear in record time.


One or two packages bacon
two or three cans whole waterchestnuts
brown sugar

Remove bacon from packaging and cut in half. Cut any particularly large waterchestnuts in half too. Wrap each waterchestnut (or half) in half a strip of bacon and hold together with a toothpick. When all chestnuts are wrapped (or you run out of bacon) coat each piece with honey and sprinkle with brown sugar. Place on a cookie sheet (with a lip) or the bottom part of a broiler pan and broil on high for 5 to 6 min. Keep an eye on the toothpicks, they very well could catch fire!
And yes, they did catch fire on me once. I now know to soak the toothpicks in water for a few hours beforehand.

--Little Bird has been tripping down memory lane

Monday, January 5, 2009

On the Road ... Again!

Busy times here! I'm off to St. Louis tomorrow, for a quick visit and a birthday party (not mine). My folks just go in last night and I've barely had time to talk to them. My mother arranged my train tickets while I waited in the DMV waiting area for the renewal of my ID. What better way to spend your Monday morning than in the DMV? It never ceases to amaze me how rude people are. And I'm not talking about the folks that work there! The good people who work there were perfectly pleasant. It was a few of the "customers". Pushing, shoving, the regular stuff. What I really would like to know is why ID photos are always so awful. This new one is not so bad, as far as ID pics go, but still...
I still have laundry to do (it's in the machine), and then packing. Oh, and some vacuuming before I go anywhere. I managed to get a gift for the birthday girl (thanks to mama bird), and aside from wanting to grab a few munchies and sodas for the train, I'm good!
Here's one of my favorite recipes, adapted from a restaurant in St. Louis

Linguini with Shrimp and goat cheese

Green and white linguini
1 lb cooked Shrimp, deviened with shells and tails removed
2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes
10-15 sundried tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

This is an easy one. Saute tomatoes, crushed red pepper flakes and walnuts.
When pasta is done, toss with the sundried tomatoes mixture, and shrimp; sprinkle with feta and serve.

--Little Bird is on the move

P.S. Christopher, too many is (in this case) when your liver starts looking for a new home!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Progress Report

It's been a day or two. I have given myself time to recover. As I so obviously needed to. Miraculously there was no blinding headache. No nausea. No spins. I survived! And this coming week I may get to do it all over again. My bestest friend in the entire world has a birthday on Tuesday. My mother, Mama Bird (saint that she is), has offered to help me get back to where this friend lives so I can join in the festivities. This is her birthday present to me. This is a damned good present!
The friend in question is two years my junior. And oddly enough we are (extremely) distantly related. I have known her for 17 years. She has been the best friend a person could ask for. I wish I could convince her to move to my town!
Here is a recipe to keep you warm on these cold winter nights.

Aztec Sluggers
Makes 2 drinks

1 Cup freshly brewed strong coffee
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 oz Kahlua
2 oz finely chopped bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
6 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon sugar

Heat coffee, bourbon, kahlua, chocolate and 2 tablespoons cream ia 1 to 1 1/2 quart heavy saucepan over low heat, whisking constantly, until chocolate is melted, about 1 to 2 minutes (Don't let it boil).
Whisk remaining 1/4 cup cream with sugar until it holds soft peaks.
Divide coffee mixture between 2 large mugs, then top with the whipped cream.

Don't drink too many of them!

--Little Bird is about to be on the road again

Friday, January 2, 2009


Ok. It's not all that late in the evening, but I am a wee bit drunk. I blame Maggie. And the Jamesons she suggested we drink. I am 34 today. I wish I could say that I have some great wisdom to impart. But, alas, I do not. I feel no older or wiser than any other day. I have no breaking news for you. No startling insights. I am merely older. I would love to tell you that I have discovered the meaning of life. I cannot. Except to say that without friends to share those meaningful moments with, life is not worth living. I was born on a day that is not conducive to getting one's friends together on. And yet I had one friend who made it happen. She went out when she probably shouldn't have, and spent time with me. To make sure I had a good time. On my birthday. I can't tell you what that means to me. (She also did a wonderful number on my hair {it looks great}).
This has been a great birthday. And for that I must thank Maggie. Hopefully I will get a chance to show my thanks soon. I'm sure an opportunity will show itself soon.
I have no recipe for you tonight, but I will soon.

--Little Bird is (again) one year older

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Beer and Butterflies

Well I survived. Mainly because I stayed home. Being out in public, near traffic on amateur night was not something I intended to do. Yeah, I stayed up. I toasted the new year with beer, the store nearest me did not have splits of champagne, and I didn't want to waste any. And I couldn't have had an entire bottle of champagne by myself. If I had tried, I wouldn't have made it out of bed this morning. Champagne is a headache just waiting to happen (for me) if more than three glasses are imbibed.
I have noticed that I have readers now, and I must say thank you! For all your kind words and suggestions. This is new for me, I hardly know what to say or do now. It's great to get feedback on the recipes! I'm glad they're so well received! So this post's recipe was picked for one such commenter.

Saffron Butterflies
Farfalle allo Zafferano

This is an adaptation from Patricia Wells' Trattoria. It quickly replaced mac & cheese as a comfort food.
Sea salt
8 oz dried italian farfalle or butterfly shaped pasta
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp saffron threads
sun-dried tomatoes julienne to taste
fresh basil chopped finely to taste
1 clove garlic minced
Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese for the table
Optional: Italian sausage 4 links.
Add pasta to boiling water, cooking until tender, about 8 minutes. In a small sauce pan over low heat, mix butter, cream sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and garlic. stirring until butter is completely melted. Add saffron slowly, bringing up the heat just a little. Drain pasta, and in same pot add cream sauce. If serving with italian sausage, broil sausages on middle rack at high until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Serve on plates or pasta bowls with sausage either along side or across pasta.
serves 4

--Little Bird would like to thank her readers/commenters