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Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Frigits from Chixulub on Vimeo.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Stuffed Punkin

Dinner party at a friend's. A friend who is pretty into hosting dinner parties for old friends, a league I'm honored to be included in. I've known the hostess since 9th grade and she knows me about as well as anyone who's not a blood relative can, yet she continues to invite me.

A couple of the guests I hadn't seen in over twenty years. We were last together in Youth Symphony back when the plains were black with buffalo.

Anyway, I braved some fairly scary roads with my honyocks to get to this shindig but my contribution to the pot luck made me late. Well, one of them. The sweet potato pie was ready to go, but I stuffed a pumpkin.

The Kansas City Scar runs a lot of recipes, and because it's on the break room table at work, I see them. It's not the foodie side of me, the side that subscribes to Cooking Light, it's the side of me that digs the Weird News and Zippy. They just happen to be in the FYI section where these recipes run.

So the first sweet potato pie was more or less the Scar's recipe. As was this stuffed pumpkin recipe.

Actually, I followed the pumpkin recipe much more closely, even using the cheese specified, Gruyère. Well, I added some Valdeón bleu crumbles for more bite.

Pie pumpkins turned out to be a scarce commodity. Since most people make them into pies for holidays that ended a few days ago, I'm sure the demand drops to zero. I found a few left at Whole Paycheck Market, though, along with the cheese the recipe actually calls for. Gruyère is about $20 a pound, and I'm pretty sure I could substitute Cabot Cheddar that's a fourth that price. But it is a delicious cheese. My thought is Gruyère when you're serving cheese & crackers, use something else in this recipe where any tangy cheese will get the job done.

For that matter, any winter squash would work. I may try stuffing acorn or butternut squashes next. Which is to say I was happy enough with the result to make this again.

Without the shuck & jive:

1 pie pumpkin (3 lbs), hollowed out
About 10 oz. croutons
1/2 stick butter
1 onion
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 cup chicken broth
6 oz. (or so) shredded Gruyère
2 oz. Valdeón bleu cheese crumbles
1 tbsp. rubbed sage
1 tbsp. thyme
Salt & Pepper to taste

Sauté the onion and garlic in the butter, then add chicken broth and croutons. Toss thoroughly, adding most of the shredded cheese and bleu cheese, thyme & sage. Fill the pumpkin with the stuff. Bake with cap on for 90 minutes. Remove cap, top with remaining Gruyère and more salt & pepper, and bake for 20 minutes more to brown the top.

Slice & serve.

Anyway, the stuffed pumpkin seemed to be well received, as did my much revised sweet potato pie. The combination of good friends and good behavior on the part of my honyocks perfected the evening. I could have chickened out on the basis of the roads being crappy, but I'm so glad I didn't.

Amazingly Amazing

This is my Bro's amazingly amazing Cheez-It trick.

Amazingly Amazing Cheez-It Thing from Chixulub on Vimeo.

I'm in awe.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Em's Henry Moore

This was my Christmas present from Em. I love it. I'm a big fan of Henry Moore.

A guy I used to work for, a true right wing maniac, had the best line about Moore ever. He said it was wrong to take tax dollars from the working poor and use it to 'put steel art turds on the lawn of the Nelson.'

The beauty of the line was any liberal hearing it would be rendered incapable of speech for almost an hour.

Anyway, I like steel art turds even if they are funded by theft. I like them even better when they're my daughter ripping off a famous artist.

Solving Rubik

I've never been able to solve a Rubik's Cube. The one I had growing up had a 3x3 grid, nine squares to a face. The only way I could get the colors back to right was to pry it apart with a butter knife and reassemble it solved.

So Em got a 4x4 Rubik's Cube for Christmas. They have them in a 5x5 now, too. I wondered how on earth they did that. I mean, I know how the original worked because reassembling it was my 'solution,' so how you add more rows was a great (or at least adequate) mystery.

Em dropped it and dislodged a corner piece and one adjacent to it. I couldn't figure which way the pieces should orient since the puzzle wasn't solved, so there was nothing to be done but tear the sucker apart and put it back together solved.

This turned out to be a puzzle worthy of the Rubik's Cube. The way it works, it's a sphere with tracks in it. The center four pieces of each face have a foot that fits into the tracks, and they form a track themselves to hold the corner and edge pieces.

And you end up trying to hold an impossible number of things together as you go. I had to use masking tape to hold sections together as I reassembled until I had four sides more or less done.

As much trouble as it is to solve it the stupid way, anyone who can solve it legitimately should be treated with suspicion. It's possible that aliens live and work in our midst, and an ability to solve this puppy would be a pretty obvious tell.


Where to even begin?

Thing is, when we divorced, the artist formerly known as Frau Lobster wanted to align custodial holidays with her brother. Which is fine, but the result is a feast/famine cycle. This year, as two years ago, I got Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, next year, as last year, I get Christmas Eve to bedtime.

So after we did Christmas morning at my house, it was time to do Christmas morning at my Mom's house. Then Christmas afternoon at my Dad's.

Mo got a rubber chicken from Santa, something she's asked for every single time we've been to Moon Marble this year. It took her less than 24 hours to destroy the thing. Go figure. See also the Silly Putty. She asks me for it constantly, but I say no because she has a habit of eating it. Santa left her an egg of Silly Putty and she had it eaten the minute I turned my back. Santa must have rocks in his head.

Em got, among other things, a key to her bedroom door. Being able to lock things up from the destructive forces of Hurricane Sister is important, but in a show worthy of Short Attention Span Theater, she has managed to lose/misplace the key three times in three days. I have a key, too, of course, but I'm like 'It's going to be a long weekend, you sleeping on the couch.'

Santa came through with the new Sarah Mlynowski book which was only released two days before Christmas. It's the fourth installment in the trilogy I got Em last year.

Me? Santa left me, not a lump of coal, but a tropical shirt.

An aunt I don't see very often, and her son I see even less often, were at my Dad's house this year. One of my stepbrother's fam's was absent this year, so there were only seven children wreaking havoc. Only seven kids, like only seven IED's by the road.

The big difference this year, though, was my stepmom, who normally does everything and then some managed to sprain her ankle and was hobbling about on crutches and mostly keeping her feet up. It was kind of surreal, and I could tell it was killing her to let other people do stuff like cooking and cleaning up.

After Christmas dinner, a puzzle was brought out, as usual. But unusually, I started working on part of it. I didn't think I liked puzzles, but once I started trying to find fits, I couldn't stop. Just one more piece... It was a bitch of a puzzle, too, 2000 pieces and some pretty large areas of relatively uniform color.

Em and her cousin had fun with sparkling grape juice in wine glasses, practicing to be alcoholics.

I thought the girls would collapse when we got back home, but Mo was so psyched about having a computer in the kitchen again, she played on it until I couldn't take it anymore. And Em had to make herself some hot chocolate and snuggle into her new PJs.

Friday, December 26, 2008

'Twas The Night Before...

I had made my calendars, my pies, got the girls, and finally, at 11:00 or so Christmas Eve, got down to business.

When I got my iMac last year, I kept my PC on the same desk on the theory that I'd use both. I've had the PC on once in the time since to look up a phone number I remembered putting in my contacts.

The kitchen computer went tits up a few months back and this was my opportunity to swap out for one that works and maybe un-clutter the desk in my den a bit.

But I had to quietly move all this crap upstairs and make sure I got my stuff cleared off and the stuff I wanted the girls to be able to access on.

I was up so late, by the time I got done with it all, Santa had come.

Sweet Potato Pie (Xmas Edition)

So I made Sweet Potato Pies for Christmas. These are very different from the ones I made at Thanksgiving. Those ended up tasting more like spice cake than any kind of pie. They were good, but I couldn't prove in court they had any sweet potatoes in them.

Taking the advice of a friend, who told me sweet potato was way too delicate to treat like pumpkin, I eliminated two spices, the ginger & cloves. I cut the cinnamon and nutmet in half, too.

I upped the butter but just a bit. I baked the yams in the conventional oven while I wrapped presents Christmas Eve to cook more water out. The extra half stick of butter took the place of water I hoped I had shed baking the potatoes on a bed of rock salt instead of microwaving them.

I was going for more of a custard style pie this time. The one thing I forgot, again, was to buy brown sugar. I normally have it around but this is the second time I've reached for it only to realize I didn't buy it again.

Here's the recipe:

2 lbs baked sweet potato, mashed
3 sticks softened butter
5 oz. can evaporated milk
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
2-1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. lemon extract
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg

I mashed the sweet potatoes and butter together and started mixing with the hand mixer. I added the ingredients and blended each until it was thoroughly incorporated. Then I filled two frozen pie shells with the stuff and baked at 350ºF for an hour.

It's a step in the right direction. I need to try it with brown sugar and maybe play with the egg/yolk combination to try and get the consistency I want. That, and I need to quit being lazy and using frozen crusts: I should be making my own from scratch.