Category Archives: Cooking

Coffee Hot Toddy


Summer colds suck.  Let me just get that straight. I don’t want you to think for one moment that I’m enjoying this experience…

Except that maybe, perhaps, I have found a way to make them suck a little less.

Two days ago, my fiancé caught me doing a throat cough.  You know, one of those little coughs you don’t even think about because it’s like you’re clearing your throat.  Except that it was during the conversation about me being concerned about my daughter’s symptoms – runny nose, cough, congestion, but thankfully no fever.

This morning, I woke up at 3 am thinking I was going to die. Yes, I think one of my dreams was the funeral eulogy, in which I’m sure coffee was praised for its significant role in my life.

Rolling out of bed this morning, I imitated a toad croaking as I informed my fiancé that I felt as though the French resistance had installed barbed wire in my throat.

Immediately, he brought me water and medicine (Can you see why I love this guy?), which I downed and then realized that hot liquids would make me feel that much better, thank you.

Then I recalled my BFF mentioning a “hot toddy.”

This involves tea.


Now, tea in the abstract is a good thing. Tea in the specific is a good thing. It’s just that tea in my mind happens post coffee. 

Coffee is in its own food group in my life.

Morning: Coffee. Breakfast. More coffee.

Mid-morning: Ah, there’s my coffee.

Lunch: Water before more coffee.

Mid-Afternoon: Coffee. And, why yes, thank you, I’d love another cup of coffee.

Evening: Water. Hmmm… you know what would go great after dinner? How about a coffee? Oh, my cup is empty. Do you have free refills?

Now, it just so happens that I managed to procure Bailey’s Irish Cream the other evening.  And my fiancé just so happens to believe in a fairly well-stocked liquor cabinet.

So, coffee + whiskey + Bailey’s Irish Cream + whipped cream + chocolate syrup = coffee hot toddy = deliciousness = yay happy goodness.  The only sadness is that it is completely a non-menu-friendly food. 

**Update: a couple of hours later, my throat still feels happy, and my day is going great.


Early Morning Happy


Well, I’m not just jumping for joy, but I’ve got this great state of just general well-being.  Noticing that, it’s worth writing about.

I got up “early” – summertime early means any time before 8am, and was able to “Live Clean” by finishing yesterday’s tasks of yard work and getting things out to the trash before trash pick-up.  See, yesterday, we’d taken down a fence section, and I’d chopped down some evil vines and raked yard debris that previously was hidden by the fence.  Today, I was able to finish the job and strip some more vines from the standing fence line, get it all tucked into trash bins, and put away the tools.  It felt good.  Oh, and water the lawn, which was doing an impression of a west Texas dry plain.

I also made a great breakfast – homemade waffles for one child and husband (I realize that the way I said that may imply that I have extra husbands… Hmmm…. interesting concept), Malt-O-Meal for one child, and an omelet of sauteed mushrooms, onions, and egg whites for myself, garnished with diced tomatoes and avocado.  Pair that with delicious hazelnut coffee, and that’s a recipe for happiness.
Now I’m off to get new tennis shoes for me, search out shoes for the oldest child (I swear she lies awake at night gnawing on the shoes to wear through them as quickly as she does), and swing by work to get my bearings and start prepping my head for the upcoming year.
Sounds like it’s going to be a good day.

Thanksgiving, the Final Chapter


Happy Thanksgiving!

Yes, even after all my rants on the topic, today turned out to be one of the best Thanksgivings I can recall.  We spent a lazy morning, made pumpkin waffles with a recipe* that my first-grader brought home from school, watched the parade, and surfed through the newspaper ads.

Can I just say how remarkably calm and peaceful this morning was?  Okay, yes, I found that the dog had chewed the cover off of my daughter’s favorite book, and I didn’t get to watch much of the parade, and I managed to still do dishes and laundry, but overall it was calm.

It was so nice not to be worked up over cooking or who was bringing what or who was mad at whom or any of the other myriad family troubles we manufacture.

The biggest worry I had was being on time, and I was able to dictate the time.  As I said before, stress-free.

We arrived and were greeted by someone ecstatic to see the girls, and they all went off to play.  We brought in the pumpkin pie (store-bought), and the Velveeta shells & cheese (husband-made), and then had to lift not even finger one.  We weren’t allowed to help in the kitchen, set the table, or carve the turkey.  We were allowed to serve ourselves food and eat.  Now that’s a reason for giving thanks.

The kids weren’t even badgered (too much) about not wanting to eat anything except a smidgen of shells & cheese and pumpkin pie.

And all the women present were on the same diet, so no one badgered me about only eating green beans and turkey with a taste of the giblet gravy (which *did* live up to its reputation as extremely worthy).  If I’d tried that around just about anyone else I can think of, I would have been pressured to eat the mashed potatoes, macaroni, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, stuffing, gelatin with fruit cocktail, rolls, deviled eggs, and generous portions of dessert.  Instead, I got to choose exactly what went on my plate and exactly how much dessert I chose to get.  And, yes, I did enjoy a forkful of cherry cheesecake brownie and a sliver of lemon chess pie.

Granted, I’ll still be doing damage control drinking plenty of water and eating enough raw veggies to counteract the salt from the turkey and green beans, but it was nothing compared to the setback I’d be facing in a traditional family setting.  Add to that all the stress, and that would have been truly unhealthy.

It was such a relief to have a day where I didn’t feel my blood pressure spike. Well, except perhaps when I listed off the number of family’s Thanksgivings I managed to ruin (I forget precisely how this came up in conversation, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t originate with me).  I had it figured at 3 – my birth family, my brother’s family, and my husband’s family.  The moment was saved by the grandpa up and saying, “Make that 4!”  And we all busted out laughing.

After we ate, I discovered a new, addicting game on the computer which was a combination of all sorts of different puzzles.  I played that until I felt as though I had melded with the roly-chair, and then introduced the kids to a new board game, Sequence.  Now that was indeed fun.  My youngest doesn’t really like to play many games, but the oldest and her friend had a good time and declared it to be one of the all-time best games.

Then we enjoyed watching evidence of human stupidity, which is always good for a laugh.  We watched Swamp People, a show I never would have discovered on my own, but which had us give all the visceral reactions I can think of in the course of one show of watching these… people… catch and kill alligators.  Our definite favorite was where the big ol’ guy who was huntin’ by hisself decides to up and wrassle in a line of angry gator by standing up on his boat and pullin’ on a string.  It was like watching a train wreck.  You knew, just knew, it was going to be bad, but you couldn’t help looking.  An’ den dis ol’ Bubba done fall into the swamp water ‘long wit’ dis here big ol’ gator.  An’ danged if he don’ come on up the bank an’ shoot the sucker with a pistol.  Let me just say, it was an education.

Well, that was definitely entertaining.

Anyhow, we managed to have a great day, a day I hope my kids will remember fondly as one of the better Thanksgivings of their childhood.


*Pumpkin Waffles (Makes 8 large waffles)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 beaten eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt.
  2. In another bowl, mix the eggs, milk, pumpkin, and oil.
  3. Combine the wet and dry mixtures.
  4. Stir in the nuts and mix well.
  5. Cook the batter in a hot waffle iron.  Serve hot with butter and maple syrup or honey.

(I’d up the spices just a little bit or throw in a pinch of cloves, but these were heavenly.  Yeah, I ate some!)

Nail Polish and Pumpkin Bread


I just realized those two things don’t exactly go together.  However, in my world, that’s what I’m thinking about.

So, my step-cat had a tick tonight, and my husband calls out and asks me to get him some nail polish.

Nail polish.  Nail polish.  Nail polish.  Do I even own any nail polish?

No.  My older daughter is the only one of us with nail polish.  So we have a choice of sparkly metallic hot pink or “Hard as Nails” clear.  I don’t think the “Hard as Nails” was actually hers, but it was on her shelf in the bathroom.  (Well, and technically we have the Barbie nail polish, but since that is not actual nail polish but instead some kind of colored glue, I don’t really count that.)

I am such a traitor to my gender.  I need a mentor to just take me, dress me, force me at gunpoint to buy (and learn how to use) all kinds of make-up and beauty supplies, style my hair, and basically teach me how to be a woman.


But at least I can bake.  I can bake and sew and craft and drive people insane, so I must have at least part of the second X chromosome.

Today I made little pumpkin loaves to share with neighbors, and we made an extra one for us.

Ah, pumpkin loaf with cream cheese frosting.  It was divine.

I stole the idea from a casual comment someone made – just take a cup of pumpkin and add it to a basic cake recipe with some pumpkin pie spices.  I did that, added an extra egg for the richness factor, and poured it into little loaf pans.  I baked them a little lower and longer than the recipe called for, trying to account for the extra moisture.  Clean knife test and popped it onto the cooling racks.  Topped it with some store-bought cream cheese frosting, and it was a little slice of autumnal heaven: this delightful, moist, pleasantly pumpkin treat, which we enjoyed over cocoa and coffee (more of the super-yum hazelnut!) tonight.  It was like having our own private little Starbucks, but without having to spend $20 or more for the four of us to have a little something.

Okay, so I may not have the whole “female thing” down, but I at least I can bake.  Maybe now I should go paint my nails.

Pea Soup


I found out tonight that, yes, I can make thin pea soup.

It was not a premeditated crime against food. 

Actually, as with most evil acts, it started quite innocently.  This morning, before work, I set out the crock pot and the split peas I’d been soaking overnight.  I filled the crockpot with water, and I knew that I would have an effortless dinner to welcome me after a full day of stresses.  (If you have any gift at recognizing impending doom, this would be your claxon warning with flashing lights.)

I arrived home 12 hours later and asked my husband how the soup was doing.  He stared at me so blankly it was as though I was speaking Swahili.  So, I checked it.  I stirred it.  And just at that moment, at that very moment, I wished that I had a time machine so that I could take back that stirring action and instead simply scoop out the topmost strata of water.  But no.  No, I stirred it.  I took the lovely, beautifully cooked split peas, and I turned them into runny green water.

I am certain there is a circle of Hell reserved for people who stir when they should have scooped.


I also realized the pork chops which I had carefully planned this split pea soup around were actually steaks.  They were exactly the cut of meat that is so tough and tasteless that you could in fact mistake the beef for pork.  The thing is, had I known that these were steaks, I would have approached dinner from a completely different direction.  Instead, I had apple-marinated steak chunks and runny green water.  My level of yay just surpassed squished cockroaches.

On the positive side, I did discover a can of Campbell’s condensed pea soup abiding in the pantry.  I dumped in the whole can.  It made the green water marginally thicker.

But the astonishing thing?  The truly surprising aspect of all of this?  My husband just ate all of the strange beef-apple concoction and two bowls of the extremely thin pea soup.  And, to top that off, he took his own plate and bowl into the kitchen.  Hmm… maybe he’s ill.