Monday, December 21, 2009

I'm dreaming of some snow cream

Since most of the blizzard in the Northeast has passed (at least that's what I hear), I should have posted this a couple days ago. But better late than never.

When my mom was growing up, snow storms meant her mother would make snow cream for my mother and her siblings. This tradition was passed on to me and my sister. Since my sister still lives in the Northeast, she's keeping the tradition alive and passing it along to her son.

Not surprisingly, this is a very simple "recipe." The ingredients are fresh fallen snow, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and sugar. That's it. If the snow is still falling, put a bowl outside and catch it while it's fresh from the sky. If the snow storm just stopped, you can scoop up some snow...keeping in mind to avoid...erm...discolored snow. In Brooklyn, we would open up the kitchen door, put our two bowls on the verandah (as we call our little landing leading to the sprial stairs), and wait not so patiently for the snow to fill up the bowls.

Don't use much vanilla - that stuff is strong, and if you put too much in, it's pretty nasty. Just do a tiny bit, taste it, add more if necessary.

The same thing applies to heavy cream - if you add too little, it tastes too much like, well, snow. If you add too much, the heavy cream melts the snow so much that you're really just eating iced heavy cream. Start with a little, and add more if it's needed.

Lastly, the sugar. This is a point of debate. One might think that you would want something like confectioner's sugar so the sugar would melt nicely into the rest of the concoction. But my sister and I agree - granulated sugar is the way to go. The grit is what makes it (and, as my mother says, what disguises the grit you might have gotten from the snow).

If you're in an area that is receiving snow, seriously, try this. It's one of my most favorite memories of childhood winters. And once you try it, you won't be able to go through a snowstorm without it. While other people might have been stocking up on salt or snow shovels, my sister (wise beyond her years) was stocking up on heavy cream.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What's one more?

I decided, that since I'm doing such a stellar job of posting regularly here (please note the sarcasm), that I'd begin another blogging project. My friend and former fellow hockey player and I have started a blog about Macaroni and Cheese. Well, she started it and I asked to join. So, we'll see how inspired we get, and hopefully I'll try some new recipes just to put them on the blog.

Check it out:

Yours in cheesy goodness,

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Getting "Caught Up"

My father, for what I can only imagine has been the entire length of his professional life, has felt that he needs to get "caught up." As his undeniable daughter in a variety of ways, I have found myself feeling and speaking the same way when it comes to work. (I used to speak that way about housework, but thankfully, my mother has staged and organizational intervention in a few sessions, and I think I've conquered that demon.)

But aside from work, the other thing I always need work on to catch up is my reading. There are just too many things that I'm interested in to read to my satisfaction. I get a ridiculous number of magazines (some I don't think I've paid for in years, others have been guests). Most of them, as you might imagine, are food-related. It's tough to keep caught up.

Then there is the robust internet world of food - keeping up with food blogs is a seemingly impossible task. Right now, I'm following about 15 food blogs and a handful of other blogs created by my friends. (If only I didn't have such smart and creative friends....)

So consider this a pledge (yes, yes, I know I've made and failed on some of them in the past, but I shouldn't be penalized for dreaming). I will consider reading my food blogs and my food magazines as a household chore. I have recently decided to pick particular days for particular household chores, and I think Saturday should be the "get caught up on food reading" day. It's the perfect thing to do with a football/baseball/hockey game on the TV with a dog curled up at your feet.

And since today is Saturday, I'm catching up on my food blogs. Only 95 unread blog posts to go. Magazines, I leave you to next week. Hey, I only created my pledge tonight, and the football game is already at halftime. (Go Horns.)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

back on the horse

I'm not sure why I didn't post in September. In October, I cooked a lot, so clearly didn't have a good excuse. But November, well, I did have a good excuse there. I participated in NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. An honor-system contest (there's nothing really to win other than bragging rights) that asks participants to compose 50,000 words in the month of November.

In case you've never attempted to write in such a volume, a single-spaced page with normal 1" margins and Times New Roman font at 12 (a common default on most word processing programs, one page is about 660 words. Now imagine writing just shy of three of those a day. It sounds easy, at first. And truth be told, it is easy towards the beginning of the year. Through our AuNoWriMo (Austin Novel Writing Month) discussion forum, this year I receved a spreadsheet that has all these bells and whistles to track your progress, check your mood (yes, there's a chart for your motivation level), and how many words you've written per hour on average. It was fantastic and completely spoke to the nerdy OCD/anal person that I really am. One of my favorite aspects of that spreadsheet predicts that, if you stay at the pace you are currently writing, you will be done by X date.

After the first day when I more than doubled my day's allottment of words, I was floating around, so pleased with myself. I knew I couldn't keep up the pace, but according to that column of cells, I was going to be done by mid-November. How encouraging! The next day I didn't write anything, but I was still slightly ahead of the game, so all was not lost. The first year I did NaNoWriMo, I only wrote about 10k words. Last year, I think I wrote about 17k. But this year, I wrote 23k. I could certainly have written more - I was not lacking for content - but it was just the time that caused problems. The issue with November is that this year in particular, I traveled up to spend time with my family. And while that is a complete blast (we're all a bunch of weirdos), it does't necessarily help me set aside time to write.

I'm determined to participate in NaNoWriMo next year, and it's looking like the schedule will work in my favor. It's an "Thanksgiving off year" as things go in our family (when my sister spends Thanksgiving with her in-laws and Xmas with us), so I'll likely just hole up in Austin and feed my dog turkey and stuffing while writing.

I know it's a little premature, but I've already scheduled to take the beginning and the end of November off work. Well, that is, I've entered it as such in my Vacation Hours spreadsheet that automatically calculates the hours I've acrued every day and how much I have taken to reveal the balance. Yes, I have a vacation spreadsheet. Feel free to chuckle.

For more on NaNoWriMo -