The streets in Red Fork are completely dry at the moment, but the sleet that fell last night apparently wreaked havoc on the roads in some of the outlying areas, prompting our superintendent to give us the day off. When I saw that the roads in my neighborhood were clear — along with my windshield — I didn’t bother to check to see if we had school. I just got up, went to work, and found everyone gone but a few custodians and a couple of secretaries.
Since the building was open and I had nothing better to do, I seized the opportunity to write a magnet unit that’s due on Wednesday and start working on some new bulletin boards.
The weather reports were dire enough that they’ve already called off school for tomorrow, which is nice, because Ron has the day off. If the streets aren’t too horrifying, I’m going to pester him to take me to Evelyn’s for lunch….
I made a double batch of truffles tonight, which turned out very well, and a single batch of divinity, which failed when my candy thermometer went on the fritz. (Long story, but the thermometer has serious problems that will necessitate replacement before I attempt another temperature-sensitive project.)
I also boiled a can of sweetened condensed milk for two hours and let it cool. If I felt ambitious, I’d nuke a bag of miniature Hershey Kisses and start in on my turtle project, but I’m starting to run out of steam after too many consecutive hours in the kitchen. I’ll just pick up a thermometer tomorrow and do another batch of divinity along with the turtles. I’m going to cheat and just chop the pecans and sprinkle them into the caramel this time. Arranging the pecan pieces to make the turtle’s head and feet results in a cute finished product, but I’m not sure it’s cute enough to be worth the time involved.
UPDATE: I went ahead and made turtles, cut some of the peanut-butter fudge into little heart shapes with a cookie cutter (it finally set up last night … just took longer than usual to do it), and formed the rest of the peanut-butter fudge into little balls, which I dipped in dark chocolate. Now, if I can just get a new candy thermometer tomorrow, I can make another batch of divinity and have my Christmas candy project all finished.
I just made myself what is quite possibly the second-best dinner I’ve ever eaten. (The best was duck ravioli from the late Cafe Balaban in St. Louis.)
I made up the recipe as I went along. Here it is, but be forewarned: This ain’t diet food.
Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 stick butter (use the real stuff, please)
8 oz. button mushrooms
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms
8 oz. oyster mushrooms
5 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 c. water
sprinkling of celery seed
1 tsp. rosemary, crushed
1/2 tsp. smoked salt
2/3 c. heavy cream
Chop mushrooms finely and saute in butter over medium-low heat until they release liquid. Add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Add bouillon, water, celery seed, rosemary, and smoked salt and simmer for 15 minutes or so. Add heavy cream. Cook until about half the liquid evaporates.
Yow. Za. What a great way to end a long, tiring week.
Oi. What a night. I had a meeting right after school today, followed by another meeting at 7 p.m. In between, I wrote the study guide for the final exam I’m giving next week, and when I got home from the second meeting, I wrote the exam itself.
Various and sundry claims of illness and other problems had left me feeling pretty run-down the past couple of weeks, but I finally reclaimed my rightful energy level tonight: When I finished writing my exam, I felt strong enough to make two batches of fudge — one peanut butter and one chocolate-walnut. Despite the fact that I did everything exactly right, the peanut butter batch wouldn’t set up. I am attributing this to the oil content in the peanut butter, which seemed a little high. I think I used a different brand last time.
Oh well. I’m planning to do truffles, turtles and divinity this weekend. While I’m in the kitchen, I think I can mix the failed peanut-butter fudge (which tastes awesome, even if it isn’t quite the right texture) with some powdered sugar, roll it into balls, and dip it in chocolate. I couldn’t remember how much chocolate I actually needed, so I bought about five bags of Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate chips and three bags of mini-Kisses. I figured anything I didn’t use for candy would be just fine in cookies or Hello Dolly pie. At least two bags of chocolate chips are destined to become truffles this weekend, and a bag of Kisses will end up coating the turtles. I may dip some divinity in chocolate just for giggles. I think we have established that I have no compunction about gilding any available lily within an inch of its life.
Part of me really wants to make fondant this year, but I need a set of metal candy bars and a marble slab, neither of which is available at Target. I’m sure Williams-Sonoma has what I need, but I can’t seem to muster the enthusiasm to brave the crowds at Utica Square just so I can add one more candymaking project to the umpteen I already do every year. I suppose I could start with a batch of the no-cook butter fondant from the Wilton candy book. I look at that recipe every year, and I wind up getting tired before I get to it every year. Maybe this will be the year I try that and the sparkly dishes made of hard candy.
For several months, I’ve been seeing something called “Grapples” at the grocery store. The gimmick is that they look like apples but taste like grapes (a concept I find vaguely reminiscent of that “Looks Like Orange, Tastes Like Grape” soda I picked up at POPS last summer).
I’m not generally a fan of trendy, prepackaged, flavor-of-the-week produce, but I did spring for a few of the doughnut peaches that were popular a couple of years ago, and the champagne grapes I took to a party during one of the Ya-Yas’ health-conscious-dieter phases turned out to be a fairly good decision, so I decided to give these weird little apples a try.
They’re not bad, but I was hoping they were the product of selective breeding, like broccolini or pluots, so I was disappointed to learn, via a Google search, that they are nothing more than plain old Fuji apples that have been soaked in grape-flavored water.
Six bucks a four-pack seems awfully high for what amounts to a handful of apples steeped in grape Nehi, but maybe I should just shut up and be grateful they’re not GMOs….
I’m not wild about the color, but it was the only one available at Mod50s … and it cost $700 less than the ones I’ve been looking at online … and I like supporting local businesses … and the guy who runs the place is cool … and his supplier won’t let him special-order just one chair … and I feel much better about buying a piece of furniture I’ve actually touched and seen and confirmed to be of good quality … and the main appeal of these chairs for me is their comfort and sound-reducing capability … and Ron didn’t think the color was too horrible to tolerate in his living room … and the upholstery color is actually sort of soothing when you’re curled up in it … and there’s something to be said for instant gratification, especially when you sit in a chair in a showroom and realize that you never, ever want to leave it … so with all that in mind, I am now the proud owner of this fabulous Eero Aarnio knockoff:
Here’s the best thing about it:
It’s on a stand with little ball bearings that let it turn around completely backwards, so if I don’t like something that’s going on in the room, I can just shut it out. Sweet. It doesn’t have speakers in it, like some models do, but that’s what iPod earbuds are for.
Somehow that stack of papers I have to grade tonight seems much more appealing now. 🙂
Instead of actually teaching today, I spent the day helping with a scholar bowl tournament, which was a lot of fun and brought back a lot of great memories from my own high-school days. Our kids brought home some nice hardware from today’s tournament, where they finished third and picked up a couple of individual awards.
It took about five minutes for me to remember why my life revolved around scholar bowl when I was in high school.
Too bad there aren’t any teams for grownups. If you’re into softball, cross-country, volleyball, golf, tennis, or even basketball, you can find an outlet somewhere — but old scholar bowl players are out of luck. I’ve never understood that. The closest I’ve gotten was when I went to the kids’ first game this year, and Zaphod and I sat in the audience, scribbling our own responses on notepads and then tallying them up at the end of the game to see who could come up with the most right answers. Entertaining, yes, but I reeeeeeeally miss being on the buzzers….