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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Yes, Please


I haven't tried it yet but I can't imagine that this recipe from Self is anything less than delicious. My Grandma used to make pudding and leave it in the refrigerator in individual glass dishes, which I always thought was the ultimate treat. I am going to have to test this out for sure:
Serves 4
Ingredients
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups 2 percent milk
3 oz gianduja (hazelnut-flavored dark chocolate), broken into small pieces
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preparation
Stir cornstarch with 1/2 cup of the milk in a bowl until completely dissolved. Heat remaining 1 1/2 cups milk, chocolate, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally, until chocolate melts. Raise heat to medium; cook, whisking occasionally, until almost boiling (steam will rise from the surface). Stir cornstarch-milk mixture again until smooth; add to saucepan in a thin stream, constantly whisking. Bring pudding to a simmer, continuing to whisk. Simmer, constantly whisking, 1 1/2 minutes more. Pour pudding into a bowl or four 5-oz cups; press plastic wrap against the surface of pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Serve cold.

Monday, December 22, 2008

oops


My family will find this hilarious, I apologize to the rest of you. When I forced my Aunt, Mom and cousin into slave labor during Thanksgiving (I was operating on nine digits, after all) they were complaining like crazy about how crappy my grater was. I scoffed and began calling them names, like any mature woman would do..."wimp" comes to mind. The truth of the matter is that I don't think I've ever used the thing. I don't even remember how it wound up in the disaster that is our utensil drawer. Well, as luck would have it, I needed to use it this weekend and this is what came of it. Obviously, it was a crappy grater. However, this proves that I am still tremendously stronger than all of them. I can bend metal!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Inspiration

I haven't been feeling much in the way of inspiration lately (as evidenced by the fact that my last post here was on the 9th). The world seems like a scary place to me right now. A lot of people are struggling through some really hard times, I feel like I am living in an atmosphere of fear and stress. As a result, I've been on autopilot...putting some dreams and aspirations on the back burner while I focus on squirreling away as much as I can into savings and thinking about how we will make ends meet if our worst fears are realized. As such, the holiday spirit has yet to find me. I've gone through the motions of attending parties and putting up decorations but that feeling I usually have around this time of the year isn't there. Which, if I think about it, is a feeling of hope - one year is over and you gather with friends and family to celebrate what has passed and welcome what is to come. So, needing a little hope and inspiration, I turned to an old friend. Meet my quote book:

We've been through a lot together, me and the book. My best friend Jenny gave it to me as a college graduation present. She wrote a letter to me on the first few pages (which I've now read no less than 100 times over the years) and then filled the next several pages with some of her favorite quotes to get me started. It's since become my journal of sorts, when I read it I can both remember what prompted me to enter certain quotes and notice patterns that were going on in my life. There are passages in the book that both Jenny and I have used in our weddings. There are pages of quotes about love, about family, finding yourself, forgiveness, and actual quotes from friends and family that make me laugh so hard I cry.

So in case any of you are also in need of some inspiration, I thought I would share some of the quotes that make me want to get up off the couch and live life to the fullest. (And it goes without saying, thanks for the book Jen-o. Aside from my engagement ring it's one of the best presents anyone has ever given me).

"Above all, be true to yourself. If you can't put your heart in it, take yourself out of it." - Hardy D. Jackson

"I have accepted fear as part of life - specifically the fear of change. I have gone ahead despite the pounding in my heart that says: turn back." - Erica Jong

"And remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That's why it's a comfort to go hand in hand." - Emily Kimbrough

"Die when I may, I want it said of me that I plucked a weed and planted a flower wherever I thought a flower would grow." - Abraham Lincoln

"You gain strength, confidence and courage by every experience in which you face fear and then do the thing you thought you could not." - Eleanor Roosevelt

"I am not afraid of storms, for I have learned how to sail my ship." - Louisa May Alcott

"Old cemeteries remind us that until carved in stone, realizing your hearts desire is possible every day if we recognize what it is that makes us happy." - Sarah Ban Breathnach

"For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, or a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life." - Alfred D. Souza

"In every crisis there is a message. Crises are natures way of forcing change - breaking down old structures, shaking lose negative habits so that something new and better can take their place." - Susan Taylor

"Hope is like a road in the country. There wasn't ever a road, but when many people walk on it the road comes into existence." - Lin Yutang

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mean Cards


I suppose you've got to have a certain type of humor to appreciate them, but Mean Cards make me snort with laughter. They're kind of like tangible someecards and you can order boxes of them here. It's only a matter of time before I have to send one of my friends this card:

I would like to have a stack of these to just hand out to people in restaurants. Really, it's fine to use those things in your car, but it is not okay to sit and have dinner with someone while wearing one.

And of course, they have holiday cards available! Probably best to send these to friends with small children, who can't quite read yet...

Friday, December 5, 2008

My Favorite Color Combo


I am not sure there are words to properly express my love for this kitchen featured in this month's Domino. I almost shivered with glee when I saw it. There is no way the husband would ever agree to this in my wildest dreams, so I am resigned to admire it from a distance (sigh).

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Digital Prints


Made By Girl has the most adorable prints and cards, all in bright shades and colors. I am not sure what I like more about the picture above - the framed print or the combination of that and the wallpaper! I would normally gravitate much more to green than pink, but for some reason there seems to be a theme in my browsing. I also love this one:

The leaves on the tree are butterflies - it's just so happy. And these chair prints from The Cupcake girls are too cute. I can't say I have a real reason for looking at all of these - it started with thinking about getting some prints to hang over the bed and then etsy sucks me in!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Results (sort of)


The day after I attempted my first ever pie crust, I found this tutorial on Smitten Kitchen. Deb has never led me astray so as much as I wanted to toss the crusts I had just finished and follow her instructions instead, I was tired and at that point only had 9 fully functioning digits. It was full speed ahead with the original crusts and I am happy to say that they turned out pretty well! I somehow managed to take completely crappy pictures of them, but you can see the pumpkin above and the uncooked apple below. I made the pumpkin before we left for Thanksgiving, and decided to make the apple when we arrived at my cousin's so it would be warm when served.

I can't take much credit for the apple pie besides bringing the ingredients and peeling some of the apples. I was rolling out the dough while the rest of the ladies in the family mixed the apples with the seasoning, and I was having trouble even doing that! My Mom intervened and explained that I wasn't using enough flour, and she rolled it out on wax paper and then just flipped it upside down on the pie dish. Much easier.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Word of Advice


Let's say that you're the type of person who offers to make not one but two pies for Thanksgiving, despite the fact that you have never made a pie in your whole entire life. Ever. You might think it's a good idea to perform a "test run" of the pie crust, maybe on a Friday night when you've had a really long week and are almost deliriously tired. You might be all hopped up on confidence from having recently made a successful batch of cupcakes (you know, the Everest of the baking world) and you might be thinking you are now the invincible master of the kitchen. What, with your shiny new appliances and all, how could there be room for doubt? Well, totally hypothetical person, despite having every confidence in your baking prowess do not EVER stick ANY of your appendages into one of those handheld devil blenders. No matter how much butter is jammed up into that thing, you should never go fishing it out with your left index finger.

Just saying.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sip and Soak


It's a down right shame that I can't find this anywhere because it's possibly one of the greatest inventions since the telephone. They were selling them last year at The Container Store but this year they are nowhere to be found. I bought five of them as gifts last Christmas (saving one for myself, of course) and this year there are a whole new crop of friends who are in need! It's really just a piece of metal and two suction cups so I am sure I could somehow fashion one myself, but I am lazy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Office Decor


Another cute idea for making an office out of a tiny space - grouping clipboards together to make a bulletin board of sorts. I am thinking that I could get away with one shelf and a row of these in my office "space." You can read about how to execute the clipboard idea here.

I will try to take some before pics of the space soon so you can see how it transforms...and while I am at it I will share some pictures of the rest of our condo too. We bought it about three years ago and gutted almost the entire thing. I have a bunch of "before" pictures but haven't taken many since, long overdue!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hey there, Cupcake


I have a serious sweet tooth. No really, when I was 8 years old I wound up with stitches in my chin after excitedly running across a parking lot to ask for money to buy fudge. When I am in the mood for something sweet I mean business! So, it might be cause for concern that I've learned how to make these cupcakes. I am no baker by any stretch of the imagination and my first attempt turned out great (if I do say so myself). Now they're practically all I can think about. I've heard of gaining a few pounds as a newlywed but if I keep making these I am not going to fit into my clothes by Christmas. And while we're at it, how the hell do they get the frosting on those cupcakes to look so smooth? Mine looks like a monkey slapped it on.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Office in a Closet


We don't have a lot of space in our one bedroom condo, but I really want to carve out some room for a small office. Our closets are pretty much crammed to the brim (see: not a lot of space), but there is a little nook off the kitchen that could fit something like the picture above. There wouldn't be doors, but maybe a curtain like this could serve as a divider:
I love the idea of painting the inside of the closet a different color...and oh how I would love a green chair instead of that blue one!

Cranberry Muffins


Last weekend I bought some cranberries on a whim, without really knowing how I would use them. A quick google search later and I came up with this recipe from Martha, and just substituted the blueberries for the cranberries.
Makes 1 dozen

· 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
· 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
· 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 2 cups fresh cranberries (chopped)
· 1 1/4 cups sugar
· 2 large eggs
· 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
· 1/2 cup milk
· 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter a standard 12-cup muffin pan and dust with flour, tapping out excess; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Working over the bowl, toss cranberries in a fine sieve with about 1 1/2 teaspoons flour mixture to lightly coat; set aside the flour mixture and the blueberries.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a handheld mixer, beat butter and 1 cup sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. Mix in vanilla.

3. With the mixer on low speed, add reserved flour mixture, beating until just combined. Add milk, beating until just combined. Do not overmix. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the blueberries. Divide batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. If desired, in a small bowl, mix together remaining 1/4 cup sugar and nutmeg. Sprinkle sugar mixture on top of muffin batter.

4. Bake, rotating pan halfway though, until muffins are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of one muffin comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Turn muffins on their sides in their cups, and let cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
I didn't toss the cranberries with the flour, I just added them into the mix at the end. It would be admirable to point out that I have some secret culinary reason for that decision, but really it's just laziness. And instead of flouring the muffin tins I just used some paper cups - much less mess! The Man gave it his seal of approval, only requesting that next time I use "that coarse sugar on top, like the muffins at Dunkin Donuts." I suppose we can work that out...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Welcome!

As much as I still love writing about weddings, now that we're newlyweds I have some time to think about things other than seating arrangements and hair trials (phew!). So rather than bombarding everyone who comes to With This Ring for their daily wedding intake, I thought I would start another blog. There isn't any specific content so there shall be no promises of consistency, but I hereby pledge to do my best in the way of recipe sharing (you know, on those few nights a month I actually cook).

The lack of format and attempt to censor really personal details likely means this blog will be about a whole lot of nothing, but isn't that the essence of blogging anyway? It's the little, seemingly unimportant things that are fun to read about. Or you'll just wind up thinking I am shallow and annoying, in which case I request that you simply call me names under your breath and close your browser (seriously, I can't take a lot of hate mail). Be gentle.