29 October 2005

Whale of a Good Time @ The Mohegan Sun

The Husband has been driving me hither and yon so that I might collect more Whale Trail photos before it was too late. The whales are only on display through the end of October and I am nowhere near collecting all fifty of them. Granted, a whole bunch are out of state, but even some of the local ones are missing from my collection.

I have, I think, twenty-seven whales photographed. I've seen a couple more than that, but they proved impossible to photograph well -- which just annoys me. There seems to be no requirements as to how whales are displayed. Some sites do a really nice jobs, putting their whales smack out in the sunshine with some nice landscaping around them. However, too many sites just seem to stuff their whales in any odd corner and tracking down the whales takes more effort than it ought to.

One of my favorite whales is "Gunche" over at the Mohegan Sun. On Friday, The Husband drove me up there on Friday so that I might photograph it and that we might also get some Krispy Kremes. The whale was the excuse, I think, but the donuts were the true motivator. We didn't know where the whale was, so had to ask many staff persons where to find it and none of them really had any idea what we were talking about. One blue jacket said they didn't have a whale. Someone else tried to direct us to some whale themed gambling game. Happily, we finally found another blue jacket who knew what we were talking about and we managed to get some decent pictures of der walfisch.

Since we were there at supper time, we did stay to eat at the buffet. Haven't eaten there in a while, but the food was as I remembered. Mostly standard buffet line stuff -- lowest common denominator cuisine -- but the salad bar had a couple interesting things. There were two seasonal salads, in particular, which impressed me. The first was made of whole roasted baby beets, toasted pecans, and dried cranberries tossed in a nice marinade and the second was made of sweet potatoes, golden raisins, and dried cranberries tossed in a light herb-y dressing. Both equally nummy.

Then we went and bought some Krispy Kremes! Yay!

26 October 2005

Leftovers In Disguise, or, Hasty Poultry Pie

Working tonight, so I made the "hasty pie" described in Susan Purdy's Easy as Pie (Atheneum, 1984) for a late dinner/early supper and it was pretty okay. Very much of the shepherd's pie "let's disguise the leftovers" school of cookery, but a nice, hot, and filling dinner for a blustery October day. It was quite easy to make, as well, and who doesn't like easy?
Hasty Poultry Pie

4 c mashed potatoes
6 Tbsp milk
1 egg
1 medium onion, chopped small
½ cup sliced mushrooms
2 cups leftover turkey or chicken, chopped
½ cup mixed frozen vegetables
½ leftover gravy
thyme, as desired
salt and pepper, as desired

Mix potatoes, milk, and egg together, Spread half the mashed potato mixture on the bottom and up the sides of a 9" square baker.

Sauté onion and sliced mushrooms until softened. Add turkey or whathaveyou, frozen veggies, thyme, salt and pepper, and gravy to moisten. Pour over potatoes and then top with remaining potatoes. Bake at 350F° for 50-ish minutes or until dish is bubbly and potatoes are golden. Serve topped with gravy.
The Husband declared it "quite good," but maybe because it reminded him of English school dinners? There certainly was a lot of potato in this dish and while that made for a hearty meal, I would tweak the recipe if I made it again. For instance, I might give it a pastry crust bottom or skip the bottom crust altogether, double the amount of veggies, and sprinkle a little shredded Cabot Extra Sharp cheddar on top of the potatoes. Because, you know, cheese makes everything better.

21 October 2005

Butternut Squash & Apples All Lovely in My Tummy

Did not make pie. Could not make pie without pie crust. Well, not a real pie. Could have made some kind of Bisquick "Impossible" pie, but that's not "pie" pie. Could have made my own crust, yes, but didn't have time what with the mowing of the lawn, the raking of the nuts, and the frantic cleaning of the house after The Husband invited The Parents over for supper. We did not actually cook for them -- took them to the rib place -- but the house had to attain a certain level of cleanliness pretty damned quick, because The Parents were going to want to visit after eating and my mother was bound to make some gentle comment about how busy I must be and how dusty my drapes are ...


I did make a nice apple and butternut squash bake that was all yummy-yummy. The recipe was off the back of a wrapper and, of course, I threw said wrapper away in my mad dash to tidy the house. However, it was a pretty basic recipe and I'm pretty sure it went something like:
Peel, core, and slice a couple apples (mine are small so I used three) and toss with a pound of bite-size squash chunks in a greased 13x9 baker. Mash ¼ cup butter (I brought mine up to room temp, because warmer seemed easier to mash than colder), ¼-ish tsp. of nutmeg and cinnamon, 1 tsp salt, and ½ cup brown sugar (I used ¼ cup of white). Sprinkle mix over top of squash/apple combo and cover. Bake at 350° for 50-ish minutes.
While lovely in my tummy, this dish came out less chunky then I had anticipated. As I stirred it round the casserole after cooking, the apples almost completely dissolved and most of the squash looked on a more "mashed squash" consistency. Next time, I might leave the squash in bigger pieces and chunk, rather than slice, the apple.

Still, the squish bake was really excellent with baked chicken breast and also very fine on its own for lunch the next day.

Anyway, I have pie crust now. Pie crust that now comes with its own spice sachet, creepily enough. Because there are people in the world who don't keep cinnamon and nutmeg in their pantries? Barbarians! You do not deserve pie!

(And, I'm pretty sure, the pie crust fanatics feel the same way about me).

14 October 2005

I Like Pie

It's supposed to stop raining this weekend and it had better or, by god, I'm going to have to give someone a talking to.

It would help if the cats, understanding that I know the weather is shit and that I know they don't want to go outside, would stop both surreptitiously (Hawaii) and flagrantly (Hedwig) throwing up. Why now? Is it some kind of rain born panic driving them to barf up chunks of dried kittie kibble? Or is it some kind of contest of will? Something like: "Oh, you think you have their attention what with surreptitiously barfing on the stove? Hah! I'll vomit across the living room while they try to throw me out the door, you fucker!"

Made pie. Pie is good. We like pie. Almost as much as the moon (but not as much as a spoon). Used the recipe on the side of the pie crust box (Pillsbury's "Perfect Apple Pie") and it came out pretty damned perfect. Sweet, but not cloying. Moist, but not oozing. Yum.

13 October 2005

But Can She Bake a Cake?

I am not much of a baker of cakes. I am all about the eating of the cakes, yes, but I am not at all about the baking thereof. Oh, I can follow back-of-the-box instructions with the best of them and have even been known to take liberties with said recipes to good effect. But stand me at the kitchen counter with a "from scratch" recipe and I will fail. The cake will be too heavy. Weirdly chewy. Raw yet crispified.

Certainly, the apple bundt I made earlier this week was all those things -- despite following the recipe to the letter. Ought it not have been the most perfect cake ever rather than the sorry piece of ass it so resembled?

The problem is I bought a tote of apples at the farm stand and need to use them. I was planning on sharing apple bundts with work and my parents, but am too pissed off to try the recipe again lest the results be even less wonderful. Yet I still have many pounds of apples. While I have used three in the slow cooker sauerkraut and pork "stew" earlier in the week and will use another three with tonight's roasted butternut squash ... so many apples! But it would have been impossible not to buy them! Glowing ruby and garnet in their rustle-y brown sack, taunting me with their unblemished skins, and intoxicating me with their heady scent! So delicious! So desirable!

Farm stands. Never a safe place for me.

Fine. I will bake a pie. I do pretty good with the pies. Some people ever speak of my strawberry-rhubarb pie with longing. I just wish I knew why I can't do cakes from scratch. I mean, I can make pie crust from scratch quite well (just usually can't be bothered when doctored ready-made can taste as good) so why can't I make a cake from scratch?

And all this because I didn't take Home Ec. as an elective in high school. No, too busy doing the college track thing to learn how to budget household finances or bake a cake. Explains a heck of a lot, really.