Sunday, December 25, 2011

December 25th...We Made It!

I know, it's like six days until the real year end, but I'm celebrating all the baby steps at this point.
Besides, I work all next week, so it'll be new year's eve before I know it.

For this year's LBJ birthday-stravaganza I spent some cash at the local Daiso store. (Do you have Daiso?  It's the Japanese dollar (-fifty) store (unless otherwise marked).)  Oh yea baybee, this year's tree?  $1.50.  Or maybe a was already on sale by the time I decided to update my Xmas decorations and not try to kill my "Charlie Brown Xmas Plant" that hates me enough already for Seattle NOT being the tropical weather it thrives in (I rescued it from being an office plant, where it was really dying; you just can't win).

Just a note for me for next year:  I need a better backdrop, maybe a cork board where I can pin all the awesome "Kid" xmas cards, which are all currently on the refrigerator...maybe dress up the make-shift "table" (which are currently discarded speakers...classy, I know) with a green cloth or something.

I used to think putting these kinds of hints for me was silly, but seeing as I just dug back into the blog to remind myself how to get the image details so I could post the above picture from iPhoto?  Not at all silly.  In fact, I feel like I should pepper my posts with more hints.  If I were better at knowing how to search the HTML after publishing, I'd document my code the way all my computer science friends did when they were in school!

As is usual (and preferable) for me, Xmas eve was spent calmly watching the 4 hour version of "The Sound of Music"on network teevee.  Yep, filled with commercials galore.  What better way to clean up the mess from the days'-worth of cooking?  See, I attempted tamales again.

The chicken mole part is fantabulous!

The masa?  Weeelll, the texture is good.  The flavor?  Kinda bland. I  followed the suggested proportions on the web and the bag of masa harina. Unlike previous years I did not follow my mom's... (you don't call them recipes...suggestions?  Hints?) letter describing how she makes 80-100 tamales (with no real measurements of course...).

I was aiming for 3 dozen at MOST.  I just don't have the capacity, nor the minions required to mass-produce the way my family did when we were kids.  Nor do I have the access to a fresh masa I used the bag flour again - but a different version, one specifically ground for tamales!  Like I said, good texture.  But maybe the way it's processed leaves it missing something?  (Like taste?!?)  And also?  I didn't use lard.  (I KNOW! What was I thinking!!!)  In years past I've used a corn oil/butter mixture to get the needed fat in...but last year I used vegetable shortening and it worked...this year?  Different can/brand, different result.

It's like using a random ball of yarn instead of the suggested ones will not give you the object the pattern describes...I get that now.  Thankfully there is extra mole which can be drizzled on top for more flavor and/or this is why God had us invent salt shakers :).

But next time?  (Yep, another note.)  2 tsp of salt to 4 cups of masa harina is BS and was written by people who are watching their salt intake and/or using bullion cubes/canned stock instead of the homemade stuff I made.  LISTEN to the little voice that actually read the entire recipe and noted that they were using BULLION CUBES instead of blindly going forth!  And also?  Must get someone else to taste the masa. I am not a very good judge of how salted/seasoned something is after I've been cooking all day.  Palate = ruined.

However, still a successful endeavor as now there are tamales in the fridge-but not too many, and I've figured out how to make them better for next time!

On that note, Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 04, 2011


...but I'll touch/knock on wood, and toss some salt over my shoulder just to cover all my bases.

I left my yearly LA visit in November with the thought that I really really really need to get my act together and start looking for my niece and nephew's birthday-xmas-birthday (in that order) presents RIGHT NOW as Turkey day would be upon me before I knew it and I would find myself born upon the wave of too-many-shoppers and not enough parking spaces as I did last year.  (There is nothing more bizarre to me than being at at a crowded toy store at almost 11PM, I really didn't want to repeat that experience.)

I should have been more determined.

In the same WHHHHOOOOOSH that has been time this year, hello, really?  We last touched base in September and since then even Blogger's desktop has changed so radically I'm not sure how badly I'll mess up this's DECEMBER.  Black Friday had come and gone and all my plans...well...not so much achieved.  I did manage to procure and wrap at least the bday gift before I boarded the plane for home...but in no way managed to even start the xmas shopping, for anyone...

Until last night.

I've known what I wanted to get my niece for xmas for a while, ever since a friend of mine posted about their existence on FB in...was it October...I will slyly link to their main page here with no picture preview or name because they keep SELLING OUT, possibly from the cuteness, if you are into dolls, that is, and toddler-aged looking ones especially, and I was actually finally defeated and wondering what my plan B would be, when I purchased the one I wanted the other night by sincere and happy accident.  I was lamenting to my supervisor that I was going to actually trudge my sorry self over a tolled bridge in order to try to procure, one last time, the item in question...he was intrigued, so I showed him the site and the doll, and it was IN STOCK.  To his astonishment, I logged in right then and there and put it in my "cart." (Yes, I even created an account just in case.) I couldn't whip out my credit card, even I have limits, but I was NOT going to just let it pass.  Could not. 

That just left my nephew, for whom I'd have to venture into stores, gulp, during the official maniacal xmas shopping period.  There is no link to his present.  Not because I'm being all secretive, mostly because I could not find any!  The goal was coloring book based.  Remember those?  Didn't we have a jillion of them?  You could get them anywhere and everywhere for all the characters of your commercially branded favorite cartoon/movie/heart's desire.  Not watercolor or activity or, dear god, really - STICKER books, but good, old fashioned COLORING books.  If this blog exists into a time where he is reading this, I hope it to be a little bit of evidence as to how much I love him.  Because added to that, this weekend in particular, beautiful and sunny (yet bitterly cold) as it is?  Is also experiencing a pretty bad "Air Stagnation" alert.  It's just smog, in a place where the winds generally dissipate it.  Imagine one of those tar boiling machines driving into your neighborhood...and stopping for a visit.  The smell isn't that bad, thanks to our 40-degree highs, but your eyes, throat, and lungs sense that there is a great disturbance in the force.  The air feels "thick" in places.

But out I did go, and I might have gone down streets I had not intended as the crowds of people was at times a little hard to wade through (up hill, in the snow, both ways!  I know, I sound like such a sufferer :).)  Suffice to say, people smell bad.  Downtown Seattle does not smell like roses right now.  Paint thinner and used sweat socks are a better description.  Despite all this?  I'm done.  And it's only the 4th. I have about 10 days to gather wrapping and shipping supplies, and maybe bake some cookies if I really get on the ball,  as I patiently wait for that one item to arrive so I can ship them all together, and it feels deliriously wonderful.  

I'm not trying to rub it in, really, I just wanted to share this feeling of bliss.  If it makes anyone feel any better, I'm only speaking of the little ones' gifts here.  I've only just purchased the yarn for one gift, and still have to figure out where to go to best obtain items for the adults on my list.  Nor have I achieved the gift buying for the January bday.  Like I said, I definitely need to be more determined next year.  If this whhhhooooshing trend continues, I won't have long to wait.