Tuesday, March 30, 2010

2010 Spring Cure: Week 2

I have been trying to stay diligent and focused on my Spring Cure Duties.

Deep Treatment Duties
Clean Kitchen
Prepare and Outbox
Fix something yourself

One Room Treatment
Create a Floor Plan

How I did...

Well I did clean my kitchen, but not quite to the extent that was required by Apartment Therapy.   I gutted and indexed my freezer; I mopped the floors; I wiped down the cabinets.   I missed: cleaning out the cabinets and drawers; cleaning the wood blinds (holy gross); cleaning the windows; and cleaning my spice rack.    Result: lose.

Creating my Outbox is easy... I have a constant pile in the garage for donation, the hard part for me is getting it to the Salvation Army.  Result: win.

Fix something myself.   Well...I finished patching and taping the drywall in the bathroom.   Result: win

Create a floor plan.   I did draft a floor plan for each of the rooms I would like to tackle.   I know know the furniture and other items that I will need to complete the project.   Now I just need to find the pieces.   Result: win.

Bedroom Floor Plan

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hello Daddy, hello Mom... I'm your ch ch ch ch ch cherry bomb

So... I have been very, very upset with the casting of Kristin Stewart and Dakota Fanning to play Joan Jett and Cherie Currie in The Runaways movie!   I mean really these girls have no grit, how on earth are they going to pull this off?   And have you ever seen Kristin Stewart in an interview... she is like talking to a wet rag, I am not sure if there is a less interesting person alive.  

Alas, for the past few days I have been listening to the soundtrack... and I have to confess Dakota sounds really, really good.   I will have to give the movie a shot.

In other news, I have a cold... so I haven't been very productive this week, either in the kitchen or in my house...boo.

Also, someday I hope to figure out how to properly link Youtube to my blog.  

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Glenwood Caverns

From Glenwood Caves

Please try and view this in High Quality (see HQ button at upper right corner of video...if it says view standard video...then you are watching the HQ version). Otherwise it looks really lousy.

After all this tinkering and figuring out how to put together this video, I never realized how wretched the web upload would be. I am thinking I might need to upload the pictures. Lesson learned... or maybe I took the wrong class.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Cure 2010 Week One: Creating Your Vision

(picture from Apartment Therapy)

The Apartment Therapy Cure provides two different options for participation: Deep Treatment and a One Room Cure.   I have chosen to do a bit of both.   Involving spring cleaning, as a deep treatment for my house and a One Room Cure, working on remodeling my bathroom and redecorating my bedroom.   As usual, I have probably bitten off more than I can chew, which is normal for me... so I am sure something will have to give as the weeks progress.    The assignments for the week were:

Week One: Deep Treatment - Whole apartment: clean, list repairs and remove (edit) one item from your home, sadly that went into the garage Goodwill pile, so the task isn't really complete.   I have created the list of repairs for my house and I can tell you it is so long and extensive that it has completely overwhelmed me.   I will need to address those one room at a time, granted the list includes all repairs, many of which are add switch plate to kitchen light... so they are not in the category of big gaping hole in living room needs to be fixed.

Week One: One Room Remedy - Create vision and check budget.   My vision is complete for the bathroom.   Budget on the other hand is an entirely different thing all together... I will do what I can.   My bedroom is progressing a bit slower.   I am waiting on the wallpaper samples hoping I can get some color inspiration from them...

On to week two.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I really dislike the spring snow storms in Colorado.   Here I am chomping at the bit to get outside dig in the dirt and clean up from the winter... but instead I have to shovel snow and play fetch with this beast...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Note to self...

So... I will tell you all I was obsessed with Planet Earth when it came out... obsessed.   So I am very excited that Discovery Channel's follow up series, Life starts this Sunday.   Don't forget they are showing two episodes per night.  

(Pictures from Discovery Channel)

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I have been loving a new site I stumbled upon called DigginFood.com, which is all about cooking and gardening (oh and some canning).   I have learned so much from them, for example I always thought a Victory Garden was a show on PBS, it is not.

DigginFood also has some great trellis ideas on their site.   I need some trellis ideas, my tomato cages aren't working and I am quickly running out of space.

Haven't quite figured out what this trellis is made of....
(Photo from Country Living)

These are the trellises I intend to make... I have the wood, I have the mesh, I have the hinges... now I just need the time.
(Image from DigginFood.com)

I have slowly been running out of garden space and I have been trying work in some vertical gardening into my space. This is the best idea yet... they have used welded wire mesh, the kind used in concrete and attached it to the fence. I will be doing this, as I believe I have some of this sitting around leftover from my concrete countertop project.   (The only problem with using this material is that it is SO hard to cut).
(Image from DigginFood.com)

(Image from DigginFood.com)

Here an old window is used as a trellis.

There is even a tutorial here for this container trellis.

Ok, this is a random picture in my trellis montage... but who doesn't want a salad table?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

February Can Jam: Carrot Cake Jam

Yes… I am still behind on my monthly canning goal for the Can Jam…I guess it is a good thing that I missed the sign up for this challenge.

The challenge for February was Carrots… which I must admit baffled me. But, look at what everyone canned… there are so many great options for carrot canning… I want to make more! I mean who can resist a Thai Carrot pickle or Carrot and Onion Sandwich Slaw… Wow.

When I put this recipe together I thought it was a strange combination with a large quantity of spice in it and once I cooked it and tasted it I thought (and told Mac) this is either going to be really good or really weird. I haven’t tried it yet… thought I would let sit for week. So I will give you an update once I crack that can open.

Stay tuned… I am going to try and get caught up with the Can Jam next week and do March’s challenge… in March! The Challenge for March is alliums, which might be pretty easy seeing it is one of the largest plant genera in the world.  I might just be making that Carrot and Onion Sandwich Slaw after all!

Carrot Cake Jam
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Makes 6 half pints

1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped cored peeled pears
1 3/4 cups crushed, canned pineapple, including juice
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
6 1/2 cups sugar (I only used 3 cups… seemed sweet enough for me… you all know how I hate overly sweet jams… which is why my jams are always “looser” than others. *
½ cup of chopped, toasted walnuts

Combine carrots, pears, pineapple and juice, lemon juice, and spices in a large saucepan and bring to boil. Lower temperature to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

All ingredients, except for the nuts into a heavy sauce pan and simmer until mixture reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer. Once thermometer has reached desired temperature add nuts and a splash of lemon juice and stir for another minute.
Ladle hot jam into prepared jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

*If not using pectin you will need to use a candy thermometer to cook your sugar mixture to a temperature in order to "firm" it up.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Last week I ordered some wallpaper samples from Tangletree Interiors to add to my bedroom renovation project.   I would like to use one of these papers on one wall or maybe to cover the back of some bookcases to give the room a bit of color.   Tangletree is awesome: their samples are cheap and shipping is reasonable, especially since it is coming from the UK.   I can't wait to see my selections in person.   What do you all think?

The last picture listed is Osborne & Little, Boheme in Tamara, which is one of my favorite wallpapers ever.   It was used in a pattisserie/confiserie I used to frequent in San Franciso when I lived there... I went there so much I couldn't figure which I loved more - the wallpaper or the sweets.   The store was called Miette...

(Miette Pictures from Yelp)

(Miette Picture from Urban Baby)

Broccoli Soup

I had a head of broccoli left in my vegetable drawer from my last produce delivery and dinner time had arrived.   I scrambled to think of what I was going to make for dinner.   My fridge was pretty barren since I am traveling two weekends in a row.  What shall I eat... a broccoli stir fry, roasted broccoli, pasta with broccoli... I settled on a quick broccoli soup.   Delicious.

Broccoli Soup

1 Tablespoon of butter
1 head of broccoli, cut into pieces
½ of an onion chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
2-3 cups of chicken broth, or more for thinning
½ cup of cream or half and half
Salt and pepper

Melt butter in stock pot. Once hot add onion and sauté for two minutes; add broccoli, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes; add garlic and sauté for 1 more minute. Pour in broth (I used vegetable broth because that is what I had in the pantry) and simmer for 20 minutes, check soup for seasoning and add more salt or pepper to taste. Puree soup with a hand blender and stir in cream or half in half to give it some body (you can use less or more). Serve alone or topped with a bit of cheddar cheese or some croutons.

Recipe note: Most broccoli soup recipes only call for using the florets; I use all of the broccoli including the stems. To prepare stems I usually cut them away from the florets and then peel them with a vegetable peeler and chop. I also do not puree my soup; I prefer a chunkier soup so I always leave my soups whole.

Bon appetite

(Picture from Food and Wine)

Monday, March 15, 2010


It is nice to get away during those long weeks when you are longing for spring and realize that the snowiest month in Colorado is March (Mac will disagree with me of course and say April, but still)!  So we spent the weekend in Tucson enjoying the sun, the Sonoran Mexican food and some softball.

A few places worth mentioning: Lerua's where they served the most fantastic green corn tamales, they were sweet, spicy and unforgettable; and Daisy Mae's where they cook your steak outside on a mesquite fired wood pit and serve it with pinto beans laced with green chile... the best steak I have ever had. And good news Denver... the owner is considering putting a location near Coors Field (mainly because I think most of the Rockies live at this restaurant during spring training)!  Coloradans will be lining up to eat here and we won't be able to get in the door!!

Had a great weekend but it was too short and came home to snow... yuck.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Focus Brooke, Focus...

I have spring fever in a bad way and I have been itching to not only plant seeds but clean my windows; organize my drawers and cabinets; pull out my outdoor furniture; paint my house; redecorate my bedroom; and clean the closets.   The Spring Cure is starting again over at Apartment Therapy.   I signed up for the Fall Cure last September and failed miserably and this time I am determined to stick it out and finish it all up.   So I will state my intentions here for you all to witness...  I state and affirm, I will finish the bathroom and redo my bedroom... I will keep my eye on the prize and not be distracted by sunshine and/or by friends bearing bottles of wine on warm Saturday afternoons. 

Above is a picture of my gutted bathroom... as it looked after we took off all of the plaster and lathe.   Admittedly, that was sometime ago and although it has progressed it is not finished (we have had a lot of gliches with this project and christmas did get in the way a bit too).  

Other projects I need to work on: finish recovering my outdoor furniture; clean the garage; find a new dresser and nightstands (and hopefully silver leaf one or all of them... loving all things silver and gaudy); and rake the poop filled yard.

I am headed out for a weekend in Tucson, Arizona to meet my family for a few days of warmth and softball/baseball.   I have my flip-flops and my Apartment Therapy book packed so I can read the first assignment.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Flea Market Finds...

So I spent an afternoon this weekend avoiding all of the seeds beckoning at me from the drawer, "plant me plant me... go ahead it isn't too early", by enjoying some sunshine and exercise at the Flea Market.   I was hoping to find a large gawdy mirror for my new (almost finished) bathroom.     Here are my finds...

aren't they beautiful...

and they cost next to nothing.

Mixed Tape: February Edition

Currently listening to...

Rich Man’s World – Ellen Jewel
Solitary Gun – Rogue Wave
You’ve Got the Love – Florence and the Machine
Technicolor – Tim Meyers
I Want You So Bad I Can’t Breathe - OK GO
Straight Lines - Dawn Landis
Ordinary Day - Emilie Mover
The High Road - Broken Bells
Taxi Cab - Vampire Weekend
Lemon Tree - Josh Rouse
Sweet Disposition - The Temper Trap
Paradise Cove - Pete Yorn
Train Song - Simone White
Sing, Sang, Sung - Air
Bunny In a Bunny Suit - Simone White

P.S. Folks this Rogue Wave album is fantastic!!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Weekend of mishaps - Cookies, English Muffins, Fried Chicken and Mac and Cheese

Like everyone else... I have kitchen failures and this weekend I was on a roll. It started off on Friday with Momofuku’s Milk Bar Compost Cookie, which is a brilliant idea for any home cook who, like me, is constantly left with bags of chocolate chips that contain a half of a cup floating around in the pantry. The concept is that you will make a basic cookie recipe and throw in 3 cups of random baking bits. One and one half cups would be your favorite baking ingredients, i.e. chocolate, chocolate chips, Rollo, Carmelo, Payday... and the other one and one half cups would be of your favorite snack foods: potato chips, pretzels, etc. I think the concept is brilliant, I ended up making: potato chip and chocolate chips; pretzel and butterscotch chips; Rice Crispies and Reece Cups. Unfortunately, once cooked my cookies came out flat and greasy... I wasn't happy with the outcome AT ALL. I think that either my butter was too soft or that the recipe called for too much butter altogether.. But all over cyberspace (here and here) everyone else has had success with these cookies... so I will try these again.   Plus I think the recipe in the cookbook is different than the one from Regis & Kelly... weird.   I am still on the library waiting list for a copy of the cookbook...

My other failure was Peter Reinhardt’s English Muffins, which tasted good but didn't rise like I wish they would have. More on these tomorrow, along with photos of said hockey pucks.

But I did have some successes this weekend: I worked on creating a light box to hopefully improve the pictures I am taking of all my creations; and I had a fruitful jaunt to the flea market. I also made two of my more dependable and comforting recipes for a memorial service I attended on Saturday: Bon ton Fried Chicken and Macaroni and Cheese. Alright, I did try a new Mac and Cheese recipe out, but it is only because I read this recipe on Pioneer Woman and she makes it exactly like I do... by using cheese remnants from her cheese drawer. No need to buy specific cheeses and by subscribing to this philosophy you can always be assured that no two pans of Mac and Cheese are the same. Plus you are using precious ingredients before they go bad.

Momofuku’s Milk Bar Compost Cookie
(recipe found on Amateur Gourmet and Regis & Kelly Website)

1 cup Butter
1 cup Sugar
3/4 cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Corn Syrup
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Large Eggs
1 3/4 cups AP Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 tsp Kosher Salt
1 1/2 cups Your favorite baking ingredients (chocolate, chocolate chips, nuts, fruit, peanut butter chips)
1 1/2 cups Your favorite snack foods (chips, pretzels, etc... I think the bakery cookies have Frito's, potato chips and pretzles in them)

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugars and corn syrup on medium high for 2-3 minutes until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.

On a lower speed, add eggs and vanilla to incorporate. Increase mixing speed to medium-high and start a timer for 10 minutes. During this time the sugar granules will fully dissolve, the mixture will become an almost pale white color and your creamed mixture will double in size.

When time is up, on a lower speed, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix 45-60 sec just until your dough comes together and all remnants of dry ingredients have incorporated. Do not walk away from your mixer during this time or you will risk over mixing the dough. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.

On same low speed, add in the hodgepodge of your favorite baking ingredients and mix for 30-45 sec until they evenly mix into the dough. Add in your favorite snack foods last, paddling again on low speed until they are just incorporated.

Using a 6oz ice cream scoop, portion cookie dough onto a parchment lined sheetpan.

Wrap scooped cookie dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 1 week.

DO NOT BAKE your cookies from room temperature or they will not hold their shape.

Heat the conventional oven to 400F. (350F in a convection oven)

When the oven reads 400F, arrange your chilled cookie dough balls on a parchment or silpat-lined sheetpan a minimum of 4" apart in any direction.

Bake 9-11 min. While in the oven, the cookies will puff, crackle and spread.

At 9 min the cookies should be browned on the edges and just beginning to brown towards the center. Leave the cookies in the oven for the additional minutes if these colors don't match up and your cookies stills seem pale and doughy on the surface.

Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pan before transferring to a plate or an airtight container or tin for storage. At room temp, cookies will keep fresh 5 days. In the freezer, cookies will keep fresh 1 month.

Yield: 15 6oz cookies

Bon Ton Fried Chicken
(Recipe from Gourmet)

1 qt water
2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons cayenne
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

About 12 cups vegetable oil

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon white pepper

Marinating Chicken:
Whisk together all marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken, making sure it is covered with marinade. Chill, covered, stirring twice, about 24 hours.
Dredge and fry chicken:
Heat 2 inches oil in a wide 8- to 9 1/2-quart pot over moderately high heat until a deep-fat thermometer registers 365 to 375°F. (Our pot was 12 inches wide and 5 inches deep; if you don’t have that wide a pot, you can fry the chicken in two batches.)

Meanwhile, whisk together all dredging ingredients in a large bowl. Drain chicken, discarding marinade. Dredge each piece of chicken in seasoned flour and put on a large baking sheet. Let stand about 10 minutes.

Fry chicken, turning a few times, 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown, then drain on a rack.

Pioneer Woman Mac and Cheese

My usual Mac and Cheese recipe

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Spring Planting...

Since we have been experiencing such warm days in Denver my not-so green thumb has started itching and the seeds are beckoning from the drawer.   I am having to constantly remind myself it is only the beginning of March and we have more snow to come.   But... I am still dreaming...

Two more weeks and I will start planting inside.

This weekend I will be doing some cooking; watching the Oscars; checking out Martha's new paint line at the Home Depot (still looking for a color for my new bathroom); trying to construct some new tomato cages; and hopefully working on a project or two.   I haven't really been working on ANY projects...   Maybe I will just make some hypertufa pots.  

(pictures 1 and 2 Country Living)
(pictures 3, 4 and 5 Better Homes and Gardens)