So, kids are mostly raised & I've just gone back to work…

Archive for the ‘food’

Christmas in July: Sugarplums

July 15, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: Clement C. Moore, Godecookery, Uncategorized, food, plum cobbler, plum recipes, plums, recipes, sugarplums, writers 1 Comment →

Today is Clement C. Moore’s birthday.  The “Night before Christmas” guy? And you were just wondering what a “sugarplum” was.  

Come on, I know you were.

And I was eventually going to tell you about the website, anyway.  I ordered medieval cookies from them for a big university party once, and they were a terrific hit.  It also so happens that the Gode Folkes at GodeCookery have a late 16th-century recipe for sugarplums, which actually calls for actual plums. 

Clement C. Moore, writing about sugarplums in the early 19th century, most likely just meant sugar candy, which is how Wikipedia defines sugarplums, too.  But sugarplums made out of plums sound a lot more fun, and –Ta Da! — July is the season for plums. 

Here’s a yummy-looking recipe for sugarplums, using dried fruit, that would be nice for actual, December-style Christmas.  As would, yum, this Sugar Plum Pudding Cake. 

For Christmas in July, though, you can use this season’s fresh plums in a salad, or in main dish even, with one of these fresh plum recipes.  I might call you a Christmas- In- July- Spoil- Sport if you do, though.   Sugary plum-ness is part of the deal, here, so bake me a wonderfully-Southern Fresh Plum Cobbler with Oatmeal Dumplings, or Plum Cobbler with Cinnamon Biscuits, and I’ll love you so much I’ll want to marry you.

Summer Potluck for Monday, with Blackberries

July 07, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: Iowa summer festival of writing, Uncategorized, blogging, food, friendship, humor, interviewing, parenting, polyvore, umemployment 6 Comments →

Last year, it was a terrific party.  The fireflies came out after we’d done picking berries, and we ate and talked and sat around until we filled the country farm house and sun porch and spilled out into the yard where we sat on creaking lawn chairs.  Kids shot off fireworks while the adults sampled jars of genuine Southern moonshine, the origins of which our host couldn’t actually reveal, for legal reasons…

We missed it last night.

It’s complicated.   The Husband got stuck at a long meeting – yes, on Sunday.  The Son needed to have some staples taken out of his head, also on a Sunday, and subsequently discovered that the Minute Clinic model is, perhaps, misnamed.  The Daughter was very mad to miss the blackberry-picking part, even though last year she got two ticks in the process. 

The Mother just pulled out some pork chops, warmed up the grill, and sighed.

Even though her mother is very maddening, I’m very glad that my daughter is willing to load the dishwasher anyway.

I have received three job rejection letters in two weeks.  However,  I met an author at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival who has already received thirty-six rejection letters for one of his manuscripts, and he cheerfully plans to go for an even one hundred. 

I have some catching up to do.

My amazing brother faithfully reads this blog, and has been very helpful with some of the technical problems I run into from time to time. 

He also periodically sends this English major a quick note when I’ve misspelled something.  Thank you, *dearest* brother. ;0)  

Since I also now have completed my most recent set of interviews, and was not offered that particular job, I can now go ahead and post a response to this post about handling rejection by friend Peggy of the Career Encouragement Blog.  

Stay tuned.. 

Cupcakes From Another Planet

July 02, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: Cupcake Recipes, Savory Cupcakes, Uncategorized, cupcakes, food, humor, recipes, reviews 8 Comments →

Photo: Fine Furious Life

Now here’s something different: Meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato frosting. Michele over on Fine Furious Life whipped them up for us, and we have at least one independent confirmation that they are not only edible, but delicious.

Okay, I’ll happily bite, but without the half-bottle of red food coloring, please.

Runners-up in the Weird Cupcake Category:

And over here, in a separate, ”Impress the nearest 8-yr-old boy” category, we have

 Eyeball Cupcakes

Bleeding Heart Cupcakes

Brain Cupcakes 

all from   Give me an Eww!!” 

Related Posts:
Why Cupcakes?
Cupcake Competition
Cupcake Art: I’m Hooked On Polyvore

Cupcake competition

June 25, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: Uncategorized, cupcakes, dogs, food, humor, parenting, reviews 4 Comments →

Following our disappointing venture to Local Cupcake Shop No. 1 earlier in the week, my 12 yr. old daughter and I decided to pursue Deb’s suggestion and check out Local Cupcake Shop No. 2 today.  Here’s my daughter’s verdict, eagerly rendered in rapid, time-lapse fashion as she also wields the camera:


(Translation: YUM.)

I had a tiny bite, and admit it was better than the other place, at least.  But I’m just never going to be a cupcake fan.  In fact, I think we all just need to face the fact that

Says Ms. Manifesto, who has been reading my blog again.  And on a final note:

Indeed.  Now give me back my camera, kid.

Why Cupcakes?

June 21, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: cupcakes, food, marketing 17 Comments →


Creative Commons image by bookgrl

We have a new cupcake shop in our neighborhood. 

I am no cave-dweller:  I understand that shops selling cupcakes are the new thing, very trendy and urban-chic, which seems to have started in New York at least six years ago.  But why CUPCAKES?  I liked them at birthday parties as  a kid, sure, but the things have basically three ingredients:  white sugar, white flour, and white shortening.  Have you ever seen a recipe for professional buttercream frosting?  Crisco and sugar, I kid you not.  Plus lots and lots of air.

Many years ago, when my husband was in graduate school in Toronto, we discovered that Canadians love donuts.  There was a donut and coffee shop on every corner, and on the corners where there wasn’t a donut shop, there was one that sold over-sized muffins.  For poor kids like us, muffins were a terrific and fairly cheap treat, and if we bought them “take out” we avoided the 15% sales tax, too.  We could make a whole dinner out of a muffin. 

My husband and decided to investigate the new shop today.  Mostly it seemed to be candles and cards and other cutesies, but eventually we saw a small assortment of cupcakes to choose from, too.  They all looked like… cupcakes.  There were no prices, so I bought four, one for each of us, and it cost me over thirteen dollars.  We brought them home and ate them.  They tasted like cupcakes too,  pretty much just as Betty Crocker invented them.

I don’t get it.

Muffins are infinitely variable, and they’re so good they don’t need sugar and shortening glopped on top of them to make them edible.  They can be light and fluffy or spicy and dense.  You can feel them in your mouth as you eat them.  They linger on your tongue and on your tastebuds.  Muffins have a personality. For that matter, so do cinnamon rolls, croissants, and danish.  Scones slay me.  Cheesecake is amazing.  I also like pie, crullers, and cookies.  Bakeries that sell these things, especially if they also have good bread and maybe serve lunch on the side, these are among my favorite of things. 

But cupcakes?  Someone, please explain this to me. 

Spinach just wouldn’t be as funny

June 16, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: Iowa flood, Iowa summer festival of writing, Nora Ephron, Uncategorized, food, humor, writers 2 Comments →

Adam Smith Puzzle

Image by Bob Janes, with permission

I’m still uploading my flood photos, but want to point out that even when we were being evacuated from our hotel and helping build sandbag levees and watching our plane tickets become useless as the only road to the airport was closed due to flooding, we kept on writing.  

Well, and drinking.  That was for the anxiety.

We talked about a lot of humor writing last week, and one title that came up was Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck. Kroger’s had the book on sale today, so I bought it. Here’s my favorite paragraph so far, from the essay “Serial Monogamy: A Memoir”:

Just before I’d moved to New York, two historic events had occurred: the birth control pill had been invented, and the first Julia Child cookbook was published. As a result, everyone was having sex, and when the sex was over, you cooked something. One of my girlfriends moved in with a man she was in love with. Her mother was distraught and warned that he would never marry her because she had already slept with him. “Whatever you do,” my friend’s mother said, “don’t cook for him.” But it was too late. She cooked for him. He married her anyway. This was right around the time endive was discovered, which was followed by arugula, which was followed by radicchio, which was followed by friseé, which was followed by the three M’s — mesclun, mâche, and microgreens — and that, in a nutshell, is the history of the last forty years from the point of view of lettuce. But I’m getting ahead of the story.

Top Ten Topics to Discuss at Lunch

May 08, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: feminism, food, friendship, humor 2 Comments →

Art Deco Ladies who Lunch

 Image: The Fine Art Company

Our kids all go to the same high school, and we meet for lunch once a week at the Gourmet Market Café. That is, those of us who can get away from work that week do so. It’s been a different group each time.

However, as we are all highly trained professionals, our conversation is always on-track as well as brilliant. 

Today’s topics, to wit:

(1) How John likes Harvard. 

(2) What it’s like volunteering in the High School Guidance Office (and) when you are supposed to call 9-1-1.

(3) How excited Hannah is to be going to Japan.

(4) Whether the middle school should even bother staying open after state testing is over in April.

(5) Whether a knitting club will EVER work at the High School. Particularly in a room that smells funny.

(6) What will happen to Gourmet Market Café’s soup menu now that their regular chef has left.

(7) Touch Therapy: Should a Nurse Seriously Study This, or Not?

(8) How many of us could move to Seattle to become potters and writers and other wild and interesting things before this city (and our families) would even notice.

(9) Whether, if you let your lawn grow so tall that your 11 y-o daughter starts to take daily “how far over the city codes you are” measurements, the neighbors will think you are going through a divorce, will call you with their very kind concerns, and then report you to the authorities.

(10) How hard it should be raining before you leave the Café patio and move to an inside table.

International Woman’s Day: Toasting Pink

March 10, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: International Women's Day, Padma Lakshmi, Uncategorized, feminism, food, humor, salman rushdie 5 Comments →

Last Satuday, March 8, was International Woman’s Day (IWD).  One hundred years ago, in 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay, and the right to vote.

One hundred years later, IWD’s 2008 global theme is ‘Shaping Progress,’ in honor and celebration of all that women have accomplished in the past century, and with the hope that women around the world will continue to see advancements in their working and living conditions.

I celebrated International Women’s Day largely in the company of other women.   I blew off several afternoon errands to have tea with a friend instead, and later I dined with seven other fabulous chicks in my moms-only supper club, where we enjoyed several items from Cooking Light’s Tapas party menu and drank Cosmopolitans. 

Oh my.  Almostgotit LIKES Cosmopolitans

Cosmopolitan Photo by
“No Prawns” (Creative Commons Licence)
However, she doesn’t like traditional Spanish tapas (the kinds involving lots of squid ink,  tentacles, and sea urchin roe), and as I was too late in signing up for what to bring,  the other fabulous chicks had already divvied up the good stuff from the Cooking Light menu.  So I googled tapas recipes until I found this spinach and chickpea recipe which sounded good.  It also turned out to be coincidentally-perfect for International Women’s Day as it is credited to Padma Lakshmi, the Indian supermodel-actress-author-cook who also happens to be Salman Rushdie’s latest Ex

Well.  Fabulous chick though Padma may be, hers turned out to be a pretty blah recipe, so below is fabulous-chick-Almostgotit’s new-and-improved version

Chickpea and Spinach Tapas or Salad

March 10, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: Uncategorized, food, recipes 4 Comments →

Makes 4-6 servings; 10 minutes to prepare.

  • 10-12 ounce bag fresh spinach leaves, rinsed
  • 19-ounce can (2 cups) chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
  • 1-2 lemons, juiced (or 3-5 Tablespoons)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder

Put spinach in a saucepan with no additonal water (save that left on leaves from rinsing); stir and cook on low just until wilted.  OR, if bag gives steam-in-bag directions, put bag in microwave (do not open or even pierce!) and steam for about 3 minutes, just until wilted.

Drain spinach in collander, pressing to get rid of as much water as possible.  Chop both spinach and red bell pepper finely and put in bowl.  A food processor makes this an even faster job.  Add remaining ingredients, stir, and serve immediately or chill.  May be made several days in advance, as it keeps well.

Serve as is, or stuffed in pita bread.  Goes well served with grapes.  Goes particularly well served with Cosmopolitans.

Recipe adapted from one attributed to Padma Lakshmi.

To see more of Almostgotit’s recipes, click here.

More Honeymoons-with-Recipes

February 26, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: Emily Anderson, Uncategorized, blogging, food, humor, photography, recipes 4 Comments →

Ten honeymoons in ten days, hoo boy! I’ve just written and posted the last of them for The Rocky Road of Love blog.  While the honeymoons are pretend, every one of these places really exist and really would accept visitors (that was the “rule” I made for myself when researching them.)  Anyway, here are links to the final five. (You can revisit summaries of the first five honeymoons by clicking here.)

Treehouse in Olympos, Turkey Tree House: Turkish Wedding Soup with Spiced Sauce

A treehouse, a freehouse,
A secret you and me house,
A high up in the leafy branches
Cozy as can be house.

A street house, a neat house,
Be sure and wipe your feet house,
Is not my kind of house at all –
Let’s go live in a tree house.

I was inspired by Shel Silverstein’s poem, then I found a real funky-looking treehouse hotel in Turkey and a romantic recipe to go with it.

Divi Tree in ArubaTropical Honeymoon in Aruba: Baked Bananas with Rum Sauce

Guilt drove me to give the couple a brief respite at a more typical honeymoon locale.

The “Baked Bananas with Rum Sauce” recipe seems to have been particularly popular, too.

Gee, bananas. Who knew?

Lighthouse in AustraliaTo the (Australian) Lighthouse: Lighthouse Cocktails

In researching this one, I fell in love with the Straviken lighthouse in Sweden, but still felt guilty. (My life.  Guilt.)  This time I worried about sending the lovers to someplace so cold in February.  So I found a lighthouse hotel for them in Australia, instead.

There followed a lively exchange (see post’s comments!) with the Straviken’s owner about whether or not there are polar bears in Scandanavia. 

N.B.: There aren’t.

Honey, let’s play (Spanish) Caveman: Quick Vegetarian Paella

I used my own experience staying in a Spanish cave hotel near the Alhambra in Grenada for this one.

And have been yearning for Flamenco music and sangria ever since.

I also finally figured out a way to cook paella that doesn’t call for a million weird ingredients and doesn’t take all day to cook, either.

(Unlike this post, which is giving me absolute fits, probably because of all the pictures.  Wordpress codemakers have some ’splaining to do!!)

Ice flower bowlRomance on (Ice Hotels) Ice: How to Make an Ice Bowl

Sam and Harry are due home later today, but I have one last honeymoon fantasy to spin for them. This time, it’s a hotel entirely made of ice.  I wanted to make a hotel entirely out of ice too, but decided to settle for making an ice bowl instead.  It took me a while to work out the directions, finally settling for a sort of “Ice Bowls for Dummies” approach (the kind I’d prefer myself) and was quite pleased with it. 

Here’s a link to summaries of my previous five “Honeymoons”, which I’ve just updated.  Don’t expect pictures, though, because I’m done messing with them!


Treehouse Image: Kadir’s Treehouses in Olympos, Turkey
Divi Tree Image:
Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa, Aruba 
Lighthouse Image:
Cape Otway Lightstation (original photo source unknown)
View of Alhambra from the Sacromonte: Photograph ©
John Willer and used with permission.
Ice Bowl: Creative Commons photo by