Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Doch an Doris

Tonight, will be another batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and if I'm feeling really ambitious, a pumpkin mousse. I've yet to verify this, but apparently the actual 12 days of Christmas starts on the 25th, so I've got some time yet to finish my quest.

I was watching The Lady Eve, directed by Preston Burgess, starring Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck. Fonda's character has a body guard type whose last name is Murgatroyd. I almost didn't catch it, because he is generally referred to as Muggy (even in the credits), but I went back to the dinner party scene and put the subtitles up, and there it was.

I was watching the most recent Spectactle: Elvis Costello with . . . James Taylor. Costello asked if there was a better term for the type of songs that are categorized as "introspective." Taylor immediately responded, "causa sui." Elvis asked for a clarification and James provided it. This will be my twist on this season's resolution making. I'm going to try and define my causa sui.

I hadn't caught it before, but in "Tears of a Clown" by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, they mention Pagliacci, the famous Italian clown. I was quite impressed that they were able to work such a tricky, kinda obscure name into a pop song like that. Then again I'd hardly noticed, so it wasn't that much of a feat.

Tonight, instead of tippling some Moet or Chandon, I'm going with Ommegang Brewery's Rare Vos.

Oclivery Jones

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At January 01, 2009 10:37 AM, Blogger Curly Sue said... made an actual figgy pudding? Did you steam it? Is that figgy pudding? I'm impressed with all the Christmas cookery. You should write a book called Christmas Cookery.

At January 05, 2009 6:40 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

Unsure of what an actual figgy pudding is, I did make a bread pudding with figs. I didn't use a bain marie or steam it. And while I'm liking much of the cooking that I'm doing, a whole book might be a bit much. Plus my enthusiasm has been tempered by my pumpkin mousse, in which the orange zest is dominant.

At January 22, 2009 2:05 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Doesn't real figgy pudding have blood, or something else gross, in it?

At January 22, 2009 2:05 PM, Blogger Ellen said...


how appropriate for me.

At January 22, 2009 6:37 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

There's so many ways to read "nowcu," Ellen. Now see you. No W, see you.

How do you mean that it's appropriate for you?

And Yorkshire pudding is a puff pastry made from the drippings of a roast. There are black puddings that are like blood sausage but drier. Still unsure about figgy (haven't looked it up). But another fun British dish is spotted dick.


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Friday, December 26, 2008

Follow Up

So I went to my English Bible and looked up Isa. 8:3 and the liner notes for 8:1, which also has Mahershalalhashbaz, says that it is literally Speed the Spoil, Hasten the Booty. What a good name for a pirate or pirate ship.

And I've finally had a piece of that cardamom fig bread pudding, and I'm very happy with how it turned out.

Last year I expressed my appreciation for the concept in the hymn O, Holy Night about souls finding their worth when Jesus appears. This year my hymnal nugget of interest is the second verse of O Come, O Come, Immanuel:

O Come, Thou Wisdom from on high, And order all things, far and nigh; To us the path of knowledge show, And cause us in her ways to go.

I don't remember seeing a lot about wisdom and knowledge in hymns, and I like it here. Of course Wisdom here is another name for God/Jesus, but that's okay. Too often I think this aspect is missing.


At December 26, 2008 2:04 PM, Blogger CëRïSë said...

I agree that Wisdom is too often missing. I wonder what is to be done about that?


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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Mahershalalhashbaz Ali

That isn't his birth name. His birth name is Mahershalalhashbaz Gilmore.

He plays Tizzy Weathers in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. According to the trivia at IMDb, his first name is the longest proper name that appears in the Hebrew Bible (Isaiah 8:3).

But that is getting ahead of myself, and my day.

I made the figgy bread pudding in the morning. I soaked a half cup of chopped and partially seeded figs (I quartered them vertically then cut out the center core of seeds.) in honey and rum with craisins and golden raisins. Also, instead of cinnamon, I freshly ground cardamom. Then I went and picked up my new tv from Scott. Then it was off to the pictures. Doubt was first. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, and Viola Davis were all really, really great in their respective roles. John Patrick Shanley brought his play to a most excellent life on the screen (writing the screen play and directing). And the more I think about it the more I appreciate the writing. But without the stellar cast to bring it the attention it deserves, I might have missed all the rest. I highly recommend the film.

My schedule was right on, with less than ten minutes between the end of Doubt and the start of Benjamin Button. I liked The CC of BB. I can't say it moved me like I've been moved from other performances by Mr. Pitt and Ms. Blanchett (the last time they were together on screen, Babel, is just one example.)


Probably not really, but just in case, I always wanted to put one of those in a review. The frame of the movie is like those of other epic romance films English Patient, and apparently The Notebook. There is a character on their death bed who is read the memoir of someone, which breaks up the movie by periodically returning to the narrative set. The only exceptional thing about the film is the reverse aging thing. I don't know what I was expecting from the film, but it was more than what I got. If you go to see it, you'll enjoy it, as I did, just open your schedule (168 minutes) and heart.


And I suppose this post is over now too.

PS "Post" is really ancient terminology, almost as much as webmaster and domain.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

__ Days of Baking

So I made another batch of eggnog, those oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (they turned out really good. nestle tollhouse's recipe is great.), and this morning, I made the generic marshmallow fluff's recipe for "Fantasy Fudge."

It wasn't as simple as the peanut butter fudge I made earlier, and it wasn't as smooth as I'd prefer (a bit of the ol' crystallization took place), though the end result is still sweet and chocolaty. One thing that seemed to work, though I was anxious to see how it'd turn out, was that I only had 7 squares of semi-sweet chocolate to 5 squares of unsweetened instead of all semi-sweet. It's not too bad and maybe has more of a semi-dark thing going on. I think part of my texture issue might stem from inexact methods. The sauce pan I melted my sugar, evaporated milk, and butter in before adding the chocolate and fluff was too short to hold my glass candy thermometer, which made it difficult to just bring it to 234 degrees, so I had to go with the 4 minute rolling boil method instead. There could have been some sterilization issues that might have let to crystallization but I'm not trying to make truffles or ganache.

On the agenda next is a bread pudding with mission figs soaked in honey. It has worked the past two christmases, so I'm optimistic. My only dilemma this time is whether it is worth it to try and de-seed the figs.

My other plan for tomorrow is to watch Doubt and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in the theatre, and maybe The Spirit depending on how I'm feeling.

Many complain about Christ being left out of Christmas, but I'm wondering what we've done with the Mass of the event.

In other news, I now have my favorite Ella Fitzgerald album again, Pure Ella from Verve. I got a used copy at Homer's, and it is just as good as I remember it.

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At December 26, 2008 2:02 PM, Blogger CëRïSë said...

What is your eggnog recipe? I've never made it myself, but this year had my first homemade eggnog at a party. It was made using a blender method, and was frothy and delicious!

Also, the Nestle Tollhouse recipe is our Old Family Recipe, and it's brilliant. We do have a special family twist, though.

At December 26, 2008 2:07 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

I use Alton Brown's Eggnog recipe from Roughly:

4 egg yolks, 1/3 c. sugar, 2 C. whole milk, 1 C heavy cream, 1 tsp. freshly shaved nutmeg.

You mix all that together and then you take the four egg whites and a T. of sugar and whip them to stiff peaks and then whisk the egg whites with the rest. You can also include 3 ounces (just over 1/3 c.) of bourbon to add some winter spirit.


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Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Old Kentucky Home

So last night I compared my three bourbons side by side by side. I started with just the Knob Creek and Buffalo Trace, but then added Evan Williams to see how it stacked up.

The Knob Creek had a rounded fruit/vanilla taste with stronger alcohol notes than the Buffalo Trace which had a touch of the smoke you get from scotch, earthier you might say. Evan Williams, with its charcoal filtering, was the easiest of the three to drink (though that isn't necessarily a good thing), and its ease allowed me to think I picked up the sweetness of corn. I'm glad I've been using it in my eggnog, because it wouldn't really hold up to a sustained solo performance as an aperitif or digestif.

So I had grand designs to bake/make something different each of the twelve days leading up to christmas, but so far I've only made three, with 7 days to go. I made a virgin and sullied batch of eggnog on Friday, some peanut butter fudge on Sunday, and chocolate chip cookies on Tuesday. I hope to make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies tonight, and in the coming days, normal fudge, bread pudding with figs, pumpkin mousse, cheese buttons, cinnamon rolls, no knead bread, raised doughnuts, pizza, and a mincemeat pie.

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At December 18, 2008 2:28 PM, Blogger Curly Sue said...

That's a very ambitious plan for baking, though it sounds fantastic.

I've noticed the same qualities in the Evan Williams and the Knob Creek, but I'm not sure if I've had Buffalo Trace. I agree that Evan Williams is perfect for your mixed drink needs. And Knob Creek is pretty strong, alcohol-wise.

At December 19, 2008 12:57 AM, Blogger Karen said...

That's a great song, and I still have your key. Are you in the Dakotas for XMAS? I can keep it and check on Merle for you if you need me to.

At December 19, 2008 2:26 AM, Blogger Randomness said...

bring me some figgy pudding.....

At December 19, 2008 4:30 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

Karen, I'm in Lincoln for the holidays, but you can still bring over the key sometime, and if I'm around there might be some fudge or cookies just laying around :).


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Thursday, December 11, 2008

[Submissions for title requested]

Wednesday morning there was a scratching sound in my hall around 6:15.

Of course Merle was quite interested/concerned about this, evidenced by his anxious crouch while looking toward the source, the decorative plate that covers the air duct that terminates at my hall near the ceiling. So I hit the plate a couple times with a rolled up newspaper, and the scratching stopped. This did not, however, cease Merle's interest in the source.

After my breakfast of steel cut oats and French-pressed Rwandan coffee, I gumptioned up and took the plate off the wall. What I didn't know was that it had two wires that were "spring loaded" that kept it on the pipe. So when I took it out the two wires snapped, startling to drop the plate, which also had a bat attached to the back of it. I figured that the bat was pinned to the plate by one of the wires. I scooted the whole thing, plate and bat, into a plastic grocery sack, tied a couple knots with the handles and set it outside my door to release the bat outside when I was leaving the apartment.

I finished my morning routine, reading my complimentary copy of the JournalStar from Russ's while watching Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN2. With great trepidation, I took the bag out on my front stoop and opened the top of it. The bat didn't come flying out at my face and neck. Because the bat was no longer in the bag at all. It apparently escaped while sitting in front of my door in the entryway.



At December 11, 2008 7:39 PM, Blogger Curly Sue said...

Ha! Remember when Ellen had the bat in her apartment? That was funny too.

At December 11, 2008 8:11 PM, Blogger CëRïSë said...

Eeps, a bat! And a wily one.

Ellen's bat story was pretty classic.

At December 11, 2008 8:16 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Since I'm somewhat of a bat expert I know that they can get through a hole the size of a dime. The disconcerting part is that it is loose in your entryway.

At December 11, 2008 10:17 PM, Blogger Wishydig said...

you could have rabies. you might never know that it bit you.

ira glass told me so.

At December 12, 2008 4:48 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

Yes, I hurriedly posted or I would have linked to Ellen's bat adventure. What I need though is a clever title like with Houdini or David Copperfield.


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Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday Favorites

Billy Stewart, 60s singer whose rendition of Summertime is one of my favorites.

Spectacle: Elvis Costello with . . . This is Elvis' new talk, performance, music history show. The first guest was Elton John, and Sir Elton referred to the aforementioned Billy Stewart as a "30 stone man." That is quite hefty.

Ed Ruscha, one of the pop artists from the LA scene. He and Stella McCartney were featured in the Iconoclasts episode on Sundance Channel last night.

Sundance Channel, Spectacle is another of their original shows, along with Iconoclasts, and Live from Abbey Road. If Robert Redford had done nothing else, I would still appreciate him for giving me the Sundance Channel.

Bespoke tailoring, I'm not quite certain what this is in its entirety, but Stella McCartney said her shops are some of the few remaining that do bespoke.

328, My favorite three digit number. When I registered my car in August, I had the choice of three digit numbers at the end of my license plate. I wasn't expecting to have a choice, so I said any would do (and ended up with 171). But now I realize that I do prefer 328; it doesn't hurt that is is my birthday. What is your favorite three digit number?

The Sham Wow! Guy. I've seen this commercial a few times, and I'm always impressed by the pitch man. He's not too attractive, but his charisma and presentation carry him quite far.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Russian Cheese Buttons

So I've made and enjoyed this recipe twice now, and I figured it would be good to share. I'm going to try halving it tonight, so I'll let you know how it turns out. Don't worry about the calories from baking it in cream; as I said to a relative at Thanksgiving, it was calorie neutral for me because I made it. I got a 4 quart Pyrex mixing bowl that works perfectly to mix everything in.

1 qt (8 cups) DRY CURD cottage cheese
2 C Sour Cream
3 Beaten Eggs

3 C All-purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp. Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix wet ingredients, Mix dry ingredients. Add dry to wet for a fairly dry mixture. Scoop with 2 Tablespoon "ice cream" scoop onto parchment covered cookie sheets leaving an inch between scoops (about 12 per sheet) Bake 20-25 minutes at 350. Yield around 40 cheese buttons that can be frozen or stored in refrigerator before baking in cream (heavier the better) another 20 minutes @ 350 for service.

When baking them in the cream, cover buttons with cream. I used a quart of cream for a whole recipe when I baked them in a 10 x 15 Pyrex dish. My other serving suggestion is to eat with raspberry preserves.



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