Monday, November 19, 2007

baking success

This past weekend I baked my first turkey by myself. I learned how to make a turkey this past summer at our cabin, with my mom giving me directions since I had never before had a reason or chance to venture into the large bird baking world. I was so surprised at how incredibly easy it was to make a turkey, seeing as how everyone is so scared of them.

So when it came time to sign up to cook something for the ward Thanksgiving dinner, I confidently put my name down under turkey. My bird arrived early on Saturday morning, ready to be rinsed, covered in butter and sage, and then very gingerly placed in a baking bag and into my oven for the next 4 hours.

I have to admit that baking bags are brilliant. No mess and your bird is incredibly moist and golden brown. I also took the time to make my homemade stuffing, since I am not one to cut corners. If anyone is looking for a great stuffing recipe, here you go:

4 T butter
1 onion, diced
5 stalks celery, diced
ground sage
curry powder
2 c water
1 bag of stuffing mix
1 c craisins

Saute the onions and celery in the butter for about 5 minutes until soft.
Add the water and sprinkle ground sage into mixture. Add 1-2 t curry powder and
bring to a boil. Once boiling, add stuffing, remove from heat, and fluff with a
fork. At this point, taste for seasoning. I tend to add a few more shakes of
curry powder to give it a bit of a kick. Add craisins once seasoned.

The curry gives the stuffing a great "warm" flavor, especially with the craisins. I know it sounds crazy, but you really need to give it a try.

My turkey looked beautiful when I pulled it out, all golden brown. Sadly we didn't get to eat it warm since the drive to the church took an hour longer than usual due to an accident in the road. But luckily I am dating the most incredible guy, who is brilliant and knows to play Enrique to make me happy. And it worked. Thanks Ben.

Sadly, I will not get to test my turkey ability until next year, since we are headed out to the Virgin Islands on Thursday to spend six marvelous days snorkeling, relaxing on the beach, and watching movies on my personal DVD player while laying in bed.

tis the season to craft

Ben has decided to join me in the crafting season that is upon us, so this Saturday we worked on his Christmas present for his sister-in-law. Ben mentioned that she loves to cook, so I suggested a cooking apron. After a trip to Joanne's we were set to get Ben sewing. (Yes I showed him how to sew an apron, but for the record he did everything himself.)

Ben does look pretty pleased with his ability. Check out his mad ironing skills.

Ben picked out the green fabric, and I found the fabulous red star fabric, which went really good together. Above is a pocket on the apron.

Ben putting on the last finishing touches, the ties of the apron.

I have to admit that Ben is a better at sewing than half of the women I know. He is incredibly patient (which I am not when it comes to sewing, ask my mom), detailed oriented, and careful. I think I captured his seriousness about sewing in this picture.

Me showing off Ben's work. I think the apron turned out incredibly well.

And last but not least, Ben modeling his fine work. Looking hot Ben!
Next up, matching placemats to go with the apron. I am also working on some craft aprons for presents.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

pumpkin ravioli

For those of you who frequent the side bars of this bar, you have noticed that I have updated my latest favorite recipe, pumpkin ravioli. Let me just give one more shoutout to this brilliant recipe, which was very easy to make and tasted incredible. I was actually surprised at how healthy it was (only a tiny bit of butter) and yet how great the flavor was.

Ben and I tried out this recipe last night, since I am always looking for a new dinner idea. I really enjoy making new dishes and getting a sense of what combinations taste good together.

I love that I grew up cooking and that some things are just automatic for me. I never blink an eye when making a cream sauce since I have done it hundreds of times. Making bread dough takes me about 10 minutes flat. I still get a little nervous when trying to create something for the first time, mainly because I want it to taste great and sometimes have a hard time trusting a recipe. This often leads to extremely spicy foods (sorry Kim, this often affects you the most), since I think in my head, "a little more can't hurt, right?"

Any recent successes in your kitchen that you want to share? Favorite holiday recipes you want to post? Let's hear it.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

nothing beats a parade

Well, technically it was a foot race. Every year the city of DC hosts a Drag Queen Race in Dupont Circle before Halloween, but it is really more a parade of costumes than a real race. Sure, a few "ladies" give it there all in high heels and vie for the trophy, but most of the contestants enjoy the four block stretch of street and strut their stuff. Actually, most of the fun is the hour before the race when the queens arrive (often with their entourages, which I will get to later) and bask in the glory that could only be found in Dupont Circle.

I went two years ago with a friend, but we arrived late, so we barely got a glimpse of the race. This year I took two friends who were intrigued by this event, and we probably arrived 20-30 minutes before the race started. As we got near the street, we realized that we wouldn't be able to see a thing, since the street was lined on both sides 15-20 people thick trying to get a view of the pre-show show.

Then, in a flash of brilliance, a queen and her entourage walked right in front of me. The crowd immediately parted to give her room to get to the street, and without a moments hesitation I walked directly behind the entourage, squishing as close as possible and just kept on walking. Within seconds, Jill, Kim and I were are the front of the crowd. It was a Halloween miracle!

I tried to catch a glimpse of the fun, but Kim's camera wasn't being very cooperative. Here are some of the best shots.

Featured here, was our ticket to the front of the line.

The costumes were overall, incredible.

This falls into the not-so-creative category, but quite common at the race.

A lot of people dressed as groups. Here are the board games, each featuring a different game on their headdress.

When this group (three nuns and a priest) came up, they grabbed the girl in front of me and pulled her out to "spank the sin out of her." It might have been the funniest thing of the night.

The interesting thing about drag queens is that although they dress like women, I wouldn't say they are particularly feminine or reflect a woman's beauty. This photo is a little blurry, but I think you get the general idea.

Kim and Jill, not looking too horrified after the whole experience. Although, I will admit, there was a vast abundance of male upper thigh, which I would prefer to not see again.

This is what I am talking about when I say male upper thigh. I'm pretty sure that women fought to wear pants because it is more comfortable. Somehow that memo got skipped at this event.

Me, after the event, quite entertained.