Friday, February 28, 2014

See, THIS is what the Church needs more of

I am not going to weigh in on the various issues surrounding the status of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate right now.  Suffice to say that I was privileged for a time to sing in a small choir at a church where two of their priests alternated saying the Tridentine and Novus Ordo Masses, and found it to be a most fulfilling experience.  Great priests, both of them, and holy men.

However, I am going to post this video just because it makes me grin.  This, ladies and gents, is what Catholicism should be: joyful, free, and, through both of those qualities, evangelistic.  I mean, c'mon.  If you were walking along one afternoon and saw a religious brother in full habit skateboarding like a fiend, wouldn't you stop and chat with him?  :D  Catholicism isn't meant to be uptight or stuffy, folks!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Grill Saga

*le sigh*

TheAccountant and I have decided to throw a Super Bowl party.  When we decided to do this, we had an idea: why not use this as the excuse to purchase a grill, something we've been planning on buying for some time but just hadn't yet?  Excellent.  So, reviews were read, features compared, and a lovely grill was ordered from Lowes.com.

I ordered it on January 22.  That evening, I got an email from Lowe's telling me that my shipment had been delayed a day, and the grill would ship on the 23rd.  I need only contact them if this was unacceptable.  Okay, no problem.

January 23 was a pretty busy day for me, and I didn't have a chance to check my email until the 24th, when I saw that I'd gotten another shipment delay notice.  Now it wasn't going to ship until the 24th.  Okay, fine.  Except this time, the email explicitly stated that if I didn't contact Lowe's, my order would be cancelled.

Well, this directly contradicted the previous email, but whatever.  So I call the number listed in the email, only to be told that my call couldn't be completed as dialed, please try back later, bye.

Fail.

At that point, I looked up Lowe's general customer service number, and called it.

Same recording.

Double fail.

I tried again three hours later, and actually got ahold of a live human being.  Very polite, very professional, though she couldn't understand how or why I would have gotten the initial email indicating that I didn't need to contact them.  However, the grill would ship out the next day if that was okay with me.  Yep, so long as it would get here before Super Bowl Sunday.  Which, she assured me, it would, so I said the shipping delay was fine.

Now, this last part is hardly Lowe's fault, but it just adds the icing to the cake.  The grill was scheduled for delivery by UPS yesterday.  When it didn't arrive, I thought that was odd, but also thought that perhaps, recent weather in Houston having been what it was, that they had a bit of a backlog and it would be delivered today.  Now imagine my reaction when I got a phone call this morning.

"Hi, yes?  This is kind of awkward, but I think I have your grill.  I live on another street in your neighborhood, and it was delivered last night.  I found your number on the packing information, and it looks like we have the same numerical address.  Want to come pick it up?"

Yes, yes, I would.  On the bright side, it was delivered to the house of an honest person (and yes, of course DH will be going with me to pick it up).  Sadly, I expect a lot of people nowadays would say "FREE GRILL!  AWESOME!" and never call in the first place.

Ah, well.  Tasty grilled meats (and veggies...and fruits...) are worth even this.  Still, it's all a bit ridiculous, no?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

YUM, or an actually healthy recipe

Many of the recipes I post on here aren't all that healthy.  I mean, "pie" is in the name of this blog, and I try to live up to that.  ;)  However, I made something tonight that was both quite tasty and healthy, and thought I'd share.  Sorry for the lack of photos...it kinda got inhaled really quickly.

It started off as a recipe, but I proceeded to modify it beyond recognition until it became what you'll see below.  Without further ado...

Chicken in Orange and Lime Sauce
2-4 bone-in chicken thighs, one per person
2 TB corn oil or other neutrally-flavored oil
1/4 C flour or cornstarch
Salt
Pepper
1/3 C orange juice
1/3 C reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 TB lime juice
1/3 C shallots or green onions, chopped
Heat oil in pan over medium heat until quite hot. Season the flour or cornstarch generously with salt and pepper, and use it to dredge the chicken thighs. Place the chicken in the pan, and cook for 5 minutes on the first side, 3 on the second. Add the liquids and shallots or onions, cover, and cook for another 8-10 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted at the center of the thigh at the bone reads 165 or above. Place chicken on plate, and spoon some of the sauce (which will be a delicious, creamy orange color) over it. Serve with, depending on how healthy you want your dinner to be, buttered egg noodles (maybe with a touch of parmesan?), some rice, or a salad.  It goes especially well with a spinach salad tossed in a citrus vinaigrette with pecans, bell peppers, and red onions, which is--sans peppers and onions--what we had tonight.
 
Yep, this is definitely going in the "make again" recipe folder.  A splash of white wine added with the rest of the liquids might have made it even better, but there wasn't any in the house, alas.  Ah well...next time!


Friday, January 24, 2014

Quick Takes 8


1.  Any weekend which includes some of this is, by definition, a good weekend. 


Yep, that's my target.  *beams with pride*  Not bad for someone who, until that weekend, hadn't been shooting in *mumblemumble* years.  Need to do that much more often!  I've since pointed out to TheAccountant that a night at the range makes a great date night, and that the range has a thrice-weekly Ladies' Night on which Yours Truly would get to shoot for half price.  Hey, I'm not so much of a diva that I don't appreciate a good deal, and that goes double for when the deal involves shooty goodness.

2. Does anyone know if there's a way to turn off Etsy's new and highly annoying tendency to create an activity notification for your feed?  I didn't really want a feed in the first place--it seems to have been foisted upon me--but there are few things more irritating than checking my store and seeing what would have once been a notification of either a sale or someone "favoriting" one of my products, only to find that it's yet more random pictures of stuff I'm not interested in.

3. The Houston area had an actual, honest-to-goodness freeze last night combined with a 1/2" of sleet/freezing rain.  See, I have pictures to prove it!


Yep, those are icicles on a palm tree.  Look, and be amused.  Be even more amused, all you Yankees (and I are one, technically speaking, though I did move to Texas as fast as I could), by the fact that a huge number of the major local employers have told all their employees to either take the day off or work from home rather than try to drive in.  Not a bad idea, that--I've ranted about the utter lunacy of the average Texas driver here before, and can't imagine that ice would help the situation in the least--but for those of us who've spent significant time in rather more northerly climes, the idea of a 1/2" of winter precipitation leading to all this is more than a bit amusing.  The Houston area just doesn't have much of a system in place to deal with this, and I guess that's a good thing.  I mean, do I really want my tax dollars subsidizing salt/sand trucks that might be used once every 4-5 years?  Nah, not so much.

4.  Brigid at Home on the Range wrote a post on cake a few days ago, and it had me drooling.  I mentioned in her comments that I'd made our wedding and groom's cakes, and also mentioned the cookbook which helped me do it.  Then I realized that I'm pretty sure I've never talked about this cookbook, which is so awesome that I give it as a gift to anyone at all interested in baking.

Yep, TheAccountant is a proud Florida Gator, in case you couldn't tell.  Naturally, this required a "swamp" groom's cake, complete with gators.


Let me introduce you to Rose Levy Beranbaum, a woman who literally got her master's degree in cake.  This book is sheer genius for all sorts of reasons.  First, it's just plain written well: when I first bought it, I sat down and read it cover-to-cover because the author is one funny lady.  Second, the instructions are so detailed and minute that you can't screw them up.  Finally, and most importantly to my mind, she lists measurements by weight rather than mass.

Think about it: in a recipe, you're usually told to add two cups of flour and a cup of sugar and a tablespoon of baking powder and so on.  But the actual amount in those measurements can vary wildly.  If you scoop flour out of a bag or canister, there will be a lot more in the cup than if you spoon it in, and MUCH more than if you sift it in.  What one person measures as a cup, another may measure as a cup and a half.  As you can imagine, that makes a lot of difference in baking, and especially when baking something like a cake, which can be pretty finicky.  If you're told to measure 40 grams of flour and 20 grams of sugar, though, a gram is a gram is a gram.  Unless your food scale is broken, one person's 20 grams of sugar is another person's 20 grams of sugar is another person's 20 grams of sugar...see what I mean?

This might sound really OCD until I tell you that the cakes I pictured above have three layers of cake in each tier.  That's 18 layers total.  The bigger layers had to be baked one at a time because I made those cakes in a tiny little apartment galley-style kitchen with a similarly-sized oven.  It took quite some time, as you might imagine...and yet none of the layers, not even one, turned out badly.  In order to get these cakes baked, I'd written out a schedule and included in it time to rebake layers which I assumed would turn out badly just by law of averages.  Not one needed to be rebaked.  I credit that entirely to exact measurements and Mrs. Beranbaum's suggestions on how to get layers to bake evenly.

The book also includes a section on fillings and frostings, and let me tell you that the lemon curd recipe is to die for.  Not too sweet, and very tart and lemony.  Mmmm--mm!

The author has also recently released a book on pies which I'm lusting after. 

5.  Something to be filed under Things I've Learned This Week: if you like to pop your own popcorn (I do) and think to yourself "Aha!  I shall save myself some calories by popping the popcorn in a nonstick pan, thereby not having to use oil"...rethink this, and quickly.  You'll need the oil as a sort of barricade between the pan and the kernels, or you'll have a pile of burned, dried corn kernels rather than tasty, fluffy popcorn.  Especially if you like to add butter (real, thankyouverymuch, not that fake oil crap they give you at theaters), just accept that Popcorn Is A Sometimes Food, with all the caloric implications that has.  *sigh*  I dearly love a bowl of freshly-popped popcorn, though.  I don't like most other salty or greasy snacks, but popcorn has a special place in my heart.  Unfortunately, it also has a special place on my hips, so yes, Popcorn Is, Indeed, A Sometimes Food.

6.  TheAccountant wasn't here last night, so I decided to pop some popcorn (see #5) and watch a movie.  Out of morbid curiosity, I chose Star Wars II: The Attack of the Clones.

Goodness, it really was as bad as I remembered.  Oh, the teenage angst.  THE TEENAGE ANGST.  And the whining.  And the phenomenally awful puns and one-liners.  But most especially THE TEENAGE ANGST.  If any teenager of mine ever whines and angsts that much, I'll send him outside to repaint the house and mow the lawn.  Take note, oh future children!

The question is: do I watch The Revenge of the Sith tonight?  *grins*  Mind you, I'll be cheering for the volcano...

(Question: if I were to sacrifice a whiny, angsty teenager to a volcano in order to appease the volcano gods, would it actually appease them, or would they chuck it back at me and proceed to melt my village?)

7.  As I posted on Facebook a few days ago, but must post again here to express my utter joy at this turn of events...

We. Got. Tanaka.

For those of you who aren't moderately rabid baseball fans, let me give you a quick summary.  Masahiro Tanaka is a Japanese pitcher who had a bloody impressive season last year--he went 24-0 with an ERA in the 1.2s.  Yeah, he's that good.  He decided to come to America to play ball this year, and my beloved Yankees, channeling, for the first time in a loooooooong time, the attitude that just possibly they'd like to have a chance at a post-season, snapped him up.

Bonus: his quote on why he signed with the Yankees was to the effect of "he's coming to New York to win a World Series."

See, that's the sort of mentality I expect from my Yanks.  May it rub off on the rest of them.  (And may we get rid of that spectacular menace to my sanity, David Phelps, sooner rather than later, but I digress.)  66 days until opening day!


For more Quick Takes, head over to Conversion Diaries!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Madness du jour

This just boggled my mind so thoroughly that I had to share it.  Many thanks to Jay G. at Marooned, who posted it initially and caused me to stare suspiciously at my coffee cup for several minutes before I decided that the article was, in fact, serious.

Animal Advocate Proposes Bulletproof Vests For Deer

Y'know, I'd pay very good money to watch someone try to put a bulletproof vest on a deer.  *gigglesnort*

I've never gone deer hunting, and I'm not entirely certain I'd want to, much for the same reasons that I'll cheerfully eat a roast chicken but don't really want to go process one myself.  If it came down to "I need to feed my family," I'd shoot a deer in a heartbeat, but I cheerfully admit to being a bit of a diva as long as conditions allow it.  I don't like camping (mosquitoes, snakes, hard ground to sleep on, peeing in the woods...this is a vacation?!), I consider staying in a hotel with a shower rather than a bathtub to be "roughing it," and I, like Bilbo, prefer my meat to arrive in neat little butcher-wrapped packages. 

At the same time, if someone wants to go out and kill those hoofed rats in a reasonably humane manner, I say "go for it, and if you'll get it processed I'll be glad to pay you for some tasty venison."  In most areas of the country, deer populations are out of control thanks to the fact that most of their predators are gone.  It seems a lot more humane to me to shoot Bambi than to have him starve to death or get hit by a car (and possibly take out a human at the same time), but perhaps that's just me.

Having seen a fair number of deer up close, though, I repeat: I'd pay very good money to watch someone try to put a bulletproof vest on a deer.  :D

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The national anthem

I have a...thing...about the national anthem.  Specifically, I cannot stand to hear it butchered.  In fact, it annoys me to the point that unless it's being played by a marching band or sung by a group or person of whose rendition I approve (both cases extremely rare) I'll insist that the TV be muted for it when TheAccountant watches a game.  He finds this quirk of mine peculiar, but since I make him and his friends tasty foods to eat while watching the game, he doesn't argue the point.  Wise man, he.  ;)

Anyhow, we're planning a Super-Bowl-watching-party here.  Doing a bit of research on the game itself (what time is it, anyway?) I came across this delightful bit of information:  Renee Fleming--yes, the Renee Fleming--will be singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl.

Oh joy, oh bliss, oh rapture!

This is one national anthem that will not be muted, and anyone who talks during it will have a barbecue fork viciously shaken at them.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

State of the Hair

For all those waiting in breathless curiosity, that salon visit can be summed up in brief as follows.

Called salon.  Requested appointment with Stylist A who, according to sundry online reviews, is good with curly hair.  Stylist A no longer works at that salon.  *&%^!  Throwing all caution to the winds and being fed to the teeth with these horrible ends, I asked the receptionist if they had anyone there who was good with curly hair.  Yes, quoth she, let me book you with Stylist B.

Fine, sure, whatever.  I was desperate, I tell you.

Two hours before my appointment with Stylist B, the receptionist called.  Stylist B is out with a sick kid, but she's booked me with Stylist C, who apparently is also good with curly hair.

Yeah, right, sure.  Two stylists in the same salon who can both cut curly hair.  Tell me another one.

However, as I said, I was desperate.  Fine.  Go for it.

And, ummmmm....dang, my hair looks cute!

So the moral of the story is that sometimes ya just need to go with the flow, and you may find a competent stylist at the end of the rainbow.  Or something like that.

On which note, I'm off to deal with a water stain on my kitchen ceiling.  Back soon.