Friday, October 30, 2009

Foodie Friday

I pretend to being a foodie.  I like good food, but my cooking repertoire is not as varied as I would like it to be.  Perhaps that has to do with my children's, and, for that matter, husband's, limited tastes.  Mr. Wild is much more adventurous than he used to be, but there are many dislikes of his that limit my cooking and many of my childhood foods do not get made because he just doesn't like it (chicken divan comes to mind as being one of the dishes I miss on occasion).

But today is about some lovely items with which I created a new tradition in my own little family.  And it's about time to start making them for the holidays.  In fact, I have geared up by buying some supplies for the season.  They can be kind of a pain in the butt to make, but are so gorgeous and yummy to boot.  My own brother is perfectly satisfied with two tinsful of them for his Christmas present.

Oh, but where are my manners?  Let me introduce springerle cookies to you:

They are actually very tiny.  This one is about 1 inch by 2 inches or so.  They are made using molds.

Look at the detail.  There's even steam from the cup.  You can barely see it in my actual cookie, but it is there.  The mold picture is from the enabler website from where I get most of my supplies.  I just put in for a new mold.  Mr. Wild was like, "Oh, well, Merry Christmas to you!"  But it was a really good deal, because you get 6 different cookie designs for $30, when many single molds are at least $24. So he said, "Were you getting tired of all the designs you had?"  Well, yes I was.

Here's my new mold.  I can hardly wait!

That and I got hartshorn (baker's ammonia) and orange oil for flavoring.  I already have almond oil in stock.  My brother and son love the almond flavors (my favorite, too), but Willa and Mr. Wild like the orange flavor.  And one year I got creative crazy and brushed the backs of the orange flavored ones with dark chocolate.  Oh, that was decadent!

So by now you're wondering about the recipe.  I could retype the whole thing here, but I use the House on the Hill recipe all the time, in the booklet where they give loads of hints and tips on how to make them.  My method may be slightly different than yours based on weather, humidity, oven temperment, and so forth, so, for me to put in my recipe is pointless.  And it changes all the time depending on the flavors.  But I would recommend the following:
  1. Don't skip the hartshorn.  It really is so much better than the baking powder.
  2. Do experiment with one or two cookies when baking in the oven.  You don't want them to overpuff and size of the cookie can make it change drastically.  I have a large hornbook mold and the small coffee cup and both react differently.  I bake low and slow most times.
  3. Adjust your oven temperature a lot!  Use the tricks they offer in the tips and hints.  It really makes a difference.
  4. Use real flavoring oils (and do not pour them into or onto anything plastic.  I poured it on something plastic and it kind of melted it).  Extracts are not strong enough.
  5. Try to dry out the cookies for 24 hours if you can, but a couple hours will do fine as well.  Some drying time is necessary to help "set" the print.
The molds are not cheap, but buy a big one with several cookie designs on it for cost effectiveness.  I've never tried the rolling pins, so I can't say how easy they are to work with.  I prefer pressing them in.  This insanity all started when I was introduced to them while working at an 1880s German American living history farm.  I used to live near where the House on the Hill company is based and I would go in person to their store to buy "seconds" at a lesser price.  They were no less beautiful and it's amazing walking in and seeing the shelves full of all the gorgeous molds.  So addictive, you wish you had one of each.  When I first started, as I understood it, they were the only importer of these fine molds, made of resins, many copied from historic examples.  They have even been featured in Martha Stewart Living.

I am leaving you with a few more photos of my previous work.  The frenzy has yet to begin this year.  I am awaiting my new mold.

These are orange flavored which are enhanced by using fresh orange peel in the batter.

This says "Merry Christmas" in German.



You can find this mold here.

Both the wreath and the house were seconds. The wreath is discontinued.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Memeless: History Lesson

Attention class!  If you did not sign up for Costume History 101, you may leave the room now.

Thank you.

We're going to start today with a look at how stupid costume people on stupid television shows cannot be bothered to go do proper research, of which there is even plenty on-line and can take no more than five minutes to look up a historical painting or photograph to correlate with whether or not you got the historic clothing right.  It is especially agregious when the time period is the American Civil War and there are 50,000 reenactors as of 2000 (Wikipedia, 2009).  With so many people interested in this time period, you'd think the costume people could try a little harder.

First, let's start with the people that are supposed to be portraying "slaves" in this show:


Let's compare with an 1862 photo of slaves:

There are NO shirts and skirts in the 1860s!  I hate that!  Well, ok, caveat, there was occasionally, but not to the extent that all the slaves should be wearing it.  In the top photo, the "slave" has a blousy, unfitted shirt and a skirt with way too little fabric to be right for the time period.  In the second picture, what the heck is the slave companion wearing?  That particular slave lady also has a corset, which, usually, is fine, but in this case, check out the real photo.  NONE of the women are wearing corsets.  You can tell, because much is sagging or otherwise loose.  If there was a corset, you'd seen the straightness of the body up to the bust line.  Also, in the real photo, the skirts and bodices are attached and made of the SAME material.  Really, it's not that hard to put that together.  Here, get a pattern.  Or two.

While we're at it, look at the young lady in the second picture.  While the jacket she wears is decent for her age and the time period and the skirt is really not that bad, a little too much skin!  A blouse on her would have been appropriate.

This one of the main young lady is also horrible:


Oh, come on.  In the time it took me to write this, the costume designer could have checked out this website: Wikipedia, 1860s fashion or looked up these lovely patterns of which there are many and decent ones that they could have used on the girl character.  Simplicity even carries some really decent 1860s outfits in their current line.  That's right.  She could have gone to the fabric store, or WALMART and looked these up in their pattern catalogs. Sheesh!  (Did you hear that Susan De Laval and Jennifer L. Bryan?)  And seriously, if you don't have the time to make the costumes, you can buy plenty of decent ones. Oh, and that's just the tip of the ice berg.

And don't even get me started on the men's clothing in these pictures.  Double ACK!

Class dismissed.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts


So, I am stuck at home with two children with fevers.  I am hoping it is not the bad stuff, because we have a week packed full of fun times that we may all have to miss.  We're missing the school's monster mash fundraiser tonight already.  Willa is very sad, because in PE they learned some dances to monster mash music and now she can't join in.  I'm sorry for her.  She even wanted to try out the haunted house.  Andrew, on the other hand, really isn't bothered.  He doesn't even want to do trick or treating.  His words, "Candy isn't good for you, it will rot your teeth."  I asked, "But don't you like candy?"  He said, "Well, I can't eat most of it anyway." (he has orthodonture appliances in his mouth, not braces, other stuff)  I said, "Well, you could go and then trade for the chocolate in your sister's stash."  He said, "Nah, it just seems like it's for little kids." (my jaw drops, I'm so sad, when did he decide he was a big kid?)

We have school Halloween party tomorrow, which they may miss, then Andrew was invited to a sleep over for Friday, and we have a family Halloween party on Friday and then on Saturday.  Trick or treat is on the day of Halloween, so exciting, if we aren't all sick at that time.  Bummer!  And I was looking forward to the parties, too.  The only consolation is that this year I broke my tradition and bought costumes instead of making them.  So I'm out the money, but not the time.  Perhaps they will fit next year.

Remember that episode of Friends with the "freebie list?"  This is my freebie list.  Unfortunately, there can only be five.

Val Kilmer (have had a crush since Real Genius came out.  Unfortunately, getting older has not necessarily made him get better.  It would have to be the Val Kilmer of The Saint or Willow.)
Hugh Jackman (who didn't like him playing Wolverine in X-Men Origins)
David Tennant (most awesome Dr Who evar!)
Jack Davenport (I think I have a thing for sensitive British guys.)
Jensen Ackles (younger, but not by that much.  Guess I like some ghost hunters, too.)

Um, apparently my celebrity worship has been shaped by sci-fi and fantasy.  Ha, go figure!

Compare that to my elementary school crushes:
Shaun Cassidy
Parker Stevenson (The Hardy Boys, remember?)

Mark Hamill (now when I watch Star Wars, I just think of him as super whiny.  Why didn't I notice that at the beginning?)

Oh, then there are those really older men who aged pretty well:

Sean Connery
Pierce Brosnon
Harrison Ford

I was going to put up all these photos, but you will have to settle for the links (thanks to IMDb for all the links).  Seriously, that would have been a lot of pictures.  Plus, I'm all worried about copyright, so I think the link will do.  That took me long enough.

Both kids are quietly sleeping in the den.  No protests.  No fighting.  I'm a bit worried.

For more randomness, click on the badge above.  I'm done.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

More pudding recipes

Amy over at Bitchin' Wives Club is living the dream in England.  She shared a recipe Friday that seemed suspiciously familiar to me.  I went to the cupboard to see what my great grandmother's recipe for date pudding looked like.

Here's my family recipe:

2 c. chopped dates
2 t. soda
2 c. hot water
2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1 c. nutmeats
1 t. vanilla
2 T. butter

Mix dates, soda and hot water, set aside to cool.  Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, cut in butter.  Add date mix, nuts and vanilla, stir until mixed.  Bake in a greased floured 8x8 pan at 350 degrees until toothpick comes out clean, about 40-50 minutes.

My recipe is a little simpler, but it comes from a family recipe and may be 70-80 years old and is not fancied up by coffee flavors and other things.  It seems that my great grandmother truly used a recipe from Scotland, which is where my great grandfather is from.  Family legend has it that my great great great grandfather might have been a gardener at the Queen's summer retreat (this would have been Victoria) at Balmoral.  That I do not have verified, but I had great aunts attest to that fact.  I need some time and money to travel to the UK to check out my heritage.

Thanks for sharing the recipes Amy, I think I'm going to try the sauce on my pudding next time.  And maybe get cute little bowls for my puds, too.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Memeless in Madison: History Lesson

Well, I'm not quite in Madison, but it is a town in my state, so close enough.

I was hoping to find another meme as enjoyable as the Random Tuesday Thoughts, but not yet.  I am looking for a couple of days a week to keep my blog turning over more than once a week.  Actually, kind of sad that I have to go looking for an excuse to write.  This should be easier.

Instead, I'll leave you with a movie preview that may or may not be made about the World War II prisoner of war camp in Algona, Iowa.  Why do I care?  Well, as you watch the clip, you will see a nativity scene.  This was made by the German prisoners of war residing at that camp for the people of Algona.  They left it there, after they all returned to Germany.  That nativity scene has been restored, not once, but twice, by Mr. Wild.  He's done a nice job, I think, cleaning them and in-filling the paint so that they look almost new again.  So, who will play the part of the recent college grad who restored them back in the 1990s?  He has to be tall, red haired and maybe have a goatee.  Go to the movie Algona.

In an interesting, but strange twist of fate, my parents were raised in the other town in Iowa that had a German prisoner of war camp, Clarinda.  My paternal grandmother, a farm wife, told me how she and Grandpa used to have one of the prisoners come to the farm to work.  Women were not allowed to ride in the same car as the German prisoner.  However, gas was rationed (of course), and if Grandma wanted to get to town, she wasn't going to sit at home, no sir.  She rode in that car with Grandpa and the prisoner and then got out at the outskirts of town, walking into town while Grandpa dropped the prisoner of war back at camp.  Grandma is such a stitch!  More on the camps here.

And to add another strange twist of fate, my maternal grandfather was a WWII prisoner of war in German hands, but on Polish soil in Oflag64.  I cannot even begin to imagine that for him.  He was in the North Africa campaign, shot and wounded in the arm, taken to Italy for treatment and then shipped to Oflag64 for the rest of the war.  Apparently there is already a documentary on that POW experience.  Ten years too late for my grandfather to comment.

That's your history lesson for the day.  Thank you for attending.
(Hmm...this could be my very own meme)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Joining many others in the blogosphere, just cause I need a kick 'n th'pants to jumpstart my writing.  Thank you Un Mom for giving us writing excuses.


OH, for heaven's sake. (Or should I have said "for Pete's sake?"  That is one of Grandma's favorites)  I'm not a girly girl.  I don't mind getting my hands dirty.  Heck, I helped birth a calf one time, and had my ARM stuck all the way in there.  The calf in womb would even suck my fingers, WHILE ALL THE WAY IN THERE.  You know where I mean.  So by no stretch of the imagination am I afraid of some dirt.  I moved one peony plant today.  It is my test peony, to see if I killed it.  So my hands were dirty today, once.

So, I wanted to replace my headlight.  That shouldn't be so hard.  I looked at the manual.  It seemed like a piece of cake.  Then, I opened the hood and tried to reach the apparatus.  What they don't draw in the manual is all the other crap parts in the way of the "easy" access point.  I don't think Mr. Wild could have changed this bulb because to get in there I needed my small hands.  It was fifteen minutes later, a screw removed, a strange shifting of the light apparatus and several minutes of trying to yank the bulb out of the electrical portion it is connected to, after I pulled it out of the housing.  And we have the wrong tools for removing that bolt.  Way more effort for one small light bulb.

Moving on, how about my thoughts on fall television, some newbies, some oldies?  Grey's Anatomy jumped the shark for me when they had a main character die, become sort of a ghost, then come back to life.  Yeah, I dumped that a while ago.  But, I think Kate Walsh is a fun actress, so I moved on to Private Practice.  Is it possible for an adult show to get as angsty as a teeny bopper one?  I think it is.  I removed it from my DVR recording list tonight.  I'm done with Private Practice.  Sorry Kate.

But how about that FlashForward.  It is just as intriguing as Lost, but not as weird.  Which I am ready for.  Something along the lies of pretty realistic, but still absolutely crazy.  I really like FlashForward.  It doesn't hurt that Jack Davenport is in it (sigh).  Show of hands.  Who also likes Jack Davenport?  What, don't you know who he is? You know, Jack:

That Jack Davenport....

Jack Davenport

I would have put up a Swingtown, Coupling, and FlashForward photo too, but then my Random Tuesday would be all about Jack Davenport and you might think I'm obsessed.  (No, really, I'm not that obsessed. Sigh.)

Another show I've really and surprisingly enjoyed is Glee.  I didn't think I'd like it.  First, a glee club is usually a choir that stands in rows in robes or suits and ties and sings.  What they really have is a swing choir or show choir.  I should know.  I was in some.  Well, that would be three....

(It was the early 90s, please forgive the big hair)

But how much fun?  It's really great and the song selections are fabulous.  I wish my show choirs had sung less 60s pop and songs from I don't know where and had gotten to do more current music.  I guess Glee isn't all current, but they are some great songs.  You just want to jump up and sing.  I wonder if any of my old show choir mates can still bust a move.  I hope all those Glee kids really do sing, because if they do, they are awesome.  I sure hope it's not dubbed over.   But even if it is, it's still fun to watch and listen.

Does anyone else feel that keeping track of your kids book bags, assignments, papers coming home from school, field trip permission slips, parent-teacher conferences, lunch boxes, and so forth is like going back to school all over again?  I feel like I have assignments every night, signing the box where it says my son did his homework, the line to say my daughter's conference is fine.  It doesn't help when dear Willa comes home to say, "Mommy, you have homework."  Didn't I put in my dues?  Sigh.  Ok, I suppose when I have grandkids I don't have to worry about all that, yes?

Finally, something really weird for the Star Wars fans.  This came via FaceBook friends, but I was giggling about it, so I better share.

Doesn't that just about make your day?

Happy thoughts everyone.  My second day off is done, back to the grindstone.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Random stuff for favorites....

I'm so excited that Aliceson shared the Over the Top Blog award with me.  She's so sweet.  Now, we have to find a halfway point to have an Irish beer.  Really, she should just come visit me, my Irish friend and our Irish pub in town and have that beer. Tonight me and the ladies are having mom's night in.  Just as good as mom's night out, except don't need a babysitter.  We head to someone's house who is sans husband and everyone else's husbands watch the kids.

The award rules are:

Answer the survey below…you can only use one word answers! (I tried to follow them exactly)
Pass this along to 6 of your favorite bloggers!

Where is your cell phone? counter
Your hair? limp
Your mother? Iowa
Your father? Iowa
Your favorite food? Chinese
Your dream last night? none
Your favorite drink? hot whiskey
Your dream/goal? publish
What room are you in? office
Your hobby? sewing (if I only had the time)
Your Fear? death
Where do you want to be in 6 years? here
Where were you last night? computer
Something that you aren’t? tall
Muffins? blueberry
Wish list item? trip
Where did you grow up? Iowa
Last thing you did? eat
What are you wearing? scarf
Your TV? on
Your pets? none
Friends? best
Your life? wonderful
Your mood? content
Missing someone?no
Vehicle? corolla
Something you’re not wearing? nametag
Your favorite store? Target
Your favorite color? green
When was the last time you laughed? morning
Last time you cried? forgot
Your best friend? fantabulous
One place that I go to over and over? work
One person who emails me regularly? Moy
Favorite place to eat? Mexican

Ok, six other bloggers.  That's a bit difficult, because I haven't been blogging too much lately.  I really would like to see Pseudonymous High School Teacher, Vodkamom, Strange Pilgram, Amy@Bitchin' Wives Club (check out her adventures where she moved from the midwest to England, I am so jealous), True Blue Texan, and Heather.

I think I need to take part in Random Tuesday.  I've been wanting to hit My Town Mondays, which look pretty neat, but that would require me getting out of the house when I'm not working and going somewhere other than the grocery store in town.  Got to be at work two more days, then two days off.  One will be without the car as they figure out the brake situation.  If it's warm on Monday, I'm contemplating moving the peonies from the back to the front yard.  Wonder what Mr. Wild will say.

Happy Weekend!

Monday, October 12, 2009

I just don't get it...

I don't get why people are so afraid of universal health care.  Or even afraid of the government-run system.  I have friends on both sides of the issue, but I cannot understand the position of those that think that something like Medicaid and Medicare are not good examples of how government can run health insurance.  I understand that these things are not perfect, but who's to say they couldn't be improved upon?  And I understand that people on those get the care that they need.  I knew someone who was just waiting until she turned old enough to get started on Medicare.

I had a link in my Facebook today from here. In it, a Canadian doctor does a compare and contrast of the Canadian vs. US health care systems.  Why do people say that the Canadian system is bad?  Because there's a wait to see doctors?  Hello, it can be a month or more for me to get to see my doctor for a regular appointment.  When I call to set it up, I have to have a clear calendar two months in advance sometimes.  If I need to be urgently seen, well yes, I can get in, with a different doctor.  But the same can be said for Canada.  I know this is published in the LA Times (ooo, big scary liberal paper), but on the other hand, it was written by a Canadian doctor.  What does he care about what we get for a health care system?  He's not going to use it.  To me, this makes sense, so what is the fuss about government run health care?

Is it because it costs more via taxes in Canada?  According to that article, 16% of the US economic engine is contributed to healthcare, as opposed to 10% in Canada.  So, taxes go up?  But what if your up-front costs are lower or non-existent?  What if they no longer take that monthly payment out of your pay check for health care, but your whole family is covered?  And what about the small companies who could never afford it?  All their employees could get covered.  Those without care, covered.  Seriously, I always say that you'll pay for it one way or another.  So what if it comes out of my taxes instead of my pay check?  Either way I didn't have the money in the first place.  And people moan about government bureaucracy.  What about insurance bureaucracy?

And what is so bad about paying taxes so that those that cannot afford it can see doctors?  And get treatment?  To me it is so selfish to moan and groan about taxes going to people getting a check up and healthy.  Are you kidding me?  Really?

What my work contributes to my family's health insurance on a yearly basis (and that does not include my share) is astounding to me.  To know that another half of my salary covers my insurance.  Which means that's a huge chunk of the budget.  I am grateful to have it, but I keep wondering why better insurance prices aren't negotitiated when obviously the place is taking a big hit in the budget for this.  It's a big group of people; they really could have the insurance companies bowing down for price control if they wanted to play hard ball.  UPDATE: This is an interesting podcast that seems to corroborate what I know about the cost of my own family's health care costs. This American Life

But, in the end I'm afraid we won't dig ourselves out of this mess.  There's so much bad information, it's hard to find the good and its hard to keep everyone focused on the same goal.  And in some cases, I think our democractic experiment is not working all that well anymore.  We just seem to get more and more entrenched in two sides and it is harder and harder to find a common ground.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wardrobe Wednesday

I'm a sometimes Wardrobe Wednesday participant.  Check it out at the original post, with Heathen Family Revival.  Today I couldn't pass this one up.  Granted I took this picture almost a month ago.  And finally got around to downloading them into my computer.

All girls love their mom's shoes.

But I think the next fashion photo shows the best taste....

Nothing like heels with one's jammies.

Quite the fashion statement.

For more Wardrobe Wednesday, you can also check out my blog friend over at Feet Off the Table!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Anyone need a shrink ray?

Willa says: How do they shrink ray the oranges so they get so small?
(this in reference to her favorite treat, mandarin oranges)

Me: Laughing so hard I can't answer.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

So nice to be a grown up

Good food, good wine and beverages, good friends.

What a combination! Sometimes it's so hard to remember the pleasures of the company of other adults. Really, as a parent, you have to try to force yourself to make time to go out and enjoy the company of others. Going to each other's houses can be fun, but taking the kids with can be such a distraction. Just something about a few adults getting together, sharing stories of mutual and separate pasts, stories about our own parents, stories of our children's trials and tribulations (at least in the child's eyes) and topics of interest that just make the conversation silly or fun.

Another good combination to this equation is to explore other cultures through food. Our small gang (can I call it a gang? maybe) has so far visited an Indian, Thai, Mexican, and Spanish restaurant. We enjoy our tour of the world via our plate.

I remember when I first thought I was a grown up. The younger me who enjoyed a few club visits, late night parties lasting into the wee hours of the morning, some overseas travel, some dates, some extra schooling. It was fun, those are great memories.

But it's really nice to be at this point, kicking back, relaxing and enjoying some simple things. An interesting red Spanish wine, octopus and calamari (two items that I never thought I might really like), a warm cup of decaf coffee at a friend's house after the sitter is sent home and the kids are in bed, long, various conversations. Sure, I was home by 10:30 pm, but it was a great night.

I think these nights out remind us that we are cosmopolitan people. We are citizens of the world and hope for the best for all residents of the world, not just our small town. I think it reminds us to remember life beyond our small families and town and to enjoy the diversity that life has to offer.

Cheers to my friends!