Sunday, January 27, 2013

Birthday Go-Carting

Pam turned 50 (or so she says!) a couple weeks ago.  I made my chocoholic friend a special card.


The Hershey's Kisses are made from Stampin' Up's glimmer paper.  It's my absolute most favorite paper in the world.  It's so sparkly, but it doesn't get all over the place like a lot of glittery paper does.

For Pam's birthday her husband Ralph bought a birthday package at Pole Position, which is the go-cart track on the third floor of Destiny Mall in Syracuse.  Pam was told she could invite a couple friends because they had some extra spots after all family members were accounted for.  So Pam asked me and Drew.  We said, "Sure!  Love to!"

Drew and I haven't been to Destiny in years.  Not since before the expansion or the name changed from Carousel Mall.  We didn't know what to expect.  First of all it sounded odd that there was a go-cart track on the third floor of the mall.  But indeed there was and it was wide open for spectator viewing.  Completely wide open.  For a good hundred people to watch.  Yep.  A hundred plus people standing at the railing, looking down at my fat arse shoved into a go-cart racing around a track at speeds up to 45 MPH.  (Or so the establishment said.)

I about had a heart attack when I saw this.  But it was Pam's day, so I bucked up and said, "You can do this.  You can do this.  You can do this.  You will not die.  You can do this."

We watched the short instructional video of how the cars work and what to do, then we put on our head socks.  Black fabric cowls that act as protective condoms for your head so you don't either give or get hair diseases from the helmets you have to wear.  Full helmet!  With a plastic sneeze-guard eye shield that could use a serious squeegee treatment.  I kept trying to push my eyeglasses up during the race and constantly poked the shield instead, like a moron.

The overhead boards told us what number car we had to get in.  We sat in them for a couple races, then we're let loose on the track under the watchful eyes of people who apparently have nothing else better to do than to watch a bunch of strange grown ups hit each other with go-carts.  Let the panic attack commence!

FLASHBACK!
Years ago my family joined Drew and I in Myrtle Beach over Thanksgiving break.  My niece was maybe 14 at the time.  We wanted to do something fun with her so we went to an indoor go-cart track.  The carts weren't nearly as nice as the ones at Destiny, nor were they especially powerful.  At one point my niece got turned around on a hill and I was forced to stop.  Once we were able to get going again, my go-cart did not have enough power to haul my fat arse up the hill.  A teenager who works there had to give me a push.  Embarrassing is not a strong enough word for the emotion I felt that day.  Mortified is much closer.

Today I'm 35 pounds lighter but I am still by no means tiny.  Did I have the same concerns?  Hell yeah!  But after seeing many, many grown ups, including some guys who were easily my size or larger, I wasn't too worried.  There's no hills at Pole Position.  But the memory was always on the tip of my brain.

Well, I'm happy to say my fears were completely unfounded.  Holy crap these cars are powerful and fast!  Wow!  I zipped around the corners with the best of 'em!  I ended up third after the qualifying and finished  fifth after the final race.  I'm not sure if my second cart was just too tight to steer or if I was too tired.  It does take some strength to turn the steering wheel on those puppies.  Especially if you're like me and love to skid around corners.  HAHA!

Pole Position was A LOT of fun!!!  I'm so glad we went.  And in the end, I didn't think much about the spectators.  I was too busy hittin' walls, getting bumped by Pam's psychopathic kids, and giving my fellow drivers the evil eye.  Yeah, Kyle, I'm comin' for you!!!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Slow Cooker Applesauce

I have a Stampin' Up workshop coming up Tuesday and I wanted to try out a couple new crock pot recipes ahead of time to make sure they were suitable for public consumption.  I tried to make Apples Compote in a crock pot, but the apples got too soft and my spices didn't blend as I expected.  It was really odd.  I had spots of cinnamon and nutmeg stuck to the apples even after many, many hours of them stewing in their own juices.  Weird.  

I decided not to make it for the party but at the same time I didn't want to waste what I'd cooked.  So I turned it into Applesauce.  Drew and I both agreed that that was probably one of my best ideas ever.  It was soooooooooooooo yummy.


Slow Cooker Applesauce

6 apples, sliced up
6 packets Stevia or 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice

Mix all ingredients in a crock pot.  Cook on low 6-8 hours.  Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Pulverize!  Chill!  Eat!


I used Red Delicious apples, because that's what was in my fridge.  Generally Red Delicious are not great baking apples.  It worked okay as applesauce.  I will probably do this next time with Honey Crisp (my favorite!) and cut back on the Stevia by 2 packets, and cut the cinnamon and nutmeg back a pinch hoping the apples will provide more flavor themselves.  This is a very spicy, but ice cold from the fridge it makes the best snack.

Additionally, I didn't peel them.  I don't mind the peel.  It's mostly broken up when I put it in the blender anyway.  Once in a while I had to chew, but I like it!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Welcome Wilma!

Today was a very exciting day at work.  Today was the arrival of Wilma!


Isn't she gorgeous!!  Wilma Flintstone Memorial Crock Pot is her full name.  And she's my baby!  I designed her myself at crockpot.com.  She's a cutie at 2-1/2 quarts.  Her outer shell has a purple damask design and is lovingly accented as a tribute to June Cleaver Crock Pot, who passed away a couple weeks ago.

Not to be outdone, her backside is tattooed with June's favorite recipes.


Her tramp-stamps are for Heavenly Slow Cooker Chicken and White Chicken Chili.  

Tomorrow I'll be putting Wilma up to her first challenge.  Slow Cooker Pork Chops.  Wish her luck!!!


Monday, January 7, 2013

Crock Pot 4-Packet Roast

I made a roast yesterday.  I was very nervous about it because I usually dry the heck out of a roast, but it came out falling apart & super moist.  It was incredible.


CROCK POT 4-PACKET ROAST

1 packet brown gravy mix
1 packet Italian dressing mix
1 packet Ranch dressing mix
1 packet Onion Soup mix
1 cup water
3 lb. Chuck Roast
(Or whatever meat you want.  I don't know a Chuck Roast from a T-Bone.  I just got what I could afford.)

Mix the packets of dry mixes with the water in your Crock Pot (I used Alice - my 6-1/2 quart).  Throw in meat and splash it around.  Cook on Low for 6-8 hours.  Mine was done at 6-1/2.

It's that simple and it's wonderful!!!

Some people put potatoes and vegetables in with the meat.  Except for onions & mushrooms (if I have them), I don't.  I think they're nasty like that.

Some people insist you have to cover everything completely with liquid.  I'm making a roast, not boiled beef. Seriously, you don't have to.  It's awesome as is.

Some people also use the sauce as a gravy.  Mine's usually too fatty to do that.  I suppose if you had a lot of patience you could refrigerate the sauce, scrape off the fat, and use the remaining juice for something.  That's like work.  No thanks.



Sunday, January 6, 2013

RIP June Cleaver

I named my first Crock Pot, a Rival 3-1/2 quart, after America's beloved stay-at-home mom June Cleaver.  June was played by the lovely Barbara Billingsley in the 50-60's TV show "Leave It To Beaver", who herself passed away on October 16, 2010.  My reasoning was that she stayed home and cooked all day while I was at work.

Last night Drew and I discovered that June Cleaver Crock Pot was dying.  She was trying to cook a full fresh chicken and it was taking a lot longer than normal.  So long that by 8 pm we made the decision to send Drew out for fast food rather than wait any longer.  (This decision was also supplemented by the fact that Drew & his brother had worked on our torn up bathrooms all day long and Drew was exhausted.  I don't normally argue with Drew's decisions when he's tired, hungry and cranky.)

At 10:30 pm I checked on June and the chicken was perfectly done as we like it.  Moist, juicy and falling off the bone!  But it had taken four hours longer than it should have.  And for the last three hours of it I turned it on High.  Normally when I do that it's only a matter of minutes before she's bubbling away like a chicken broth fueled volcano!  Last night she barely burbled at me.

I have certain inanimate objects that I've become irrationally attached to.  My computer and Crock Pots fall into that category.  The day I had to dispose of the first PC tower I had ever owned I cried like a baby.  It was a milky white Gateway tower that had been with me for a long, long time.  The insides were all different, having been upgraded over the years, but the tower was always the same.  When I got a new PC, it had to go.  

So it's with a heavy heart that I too have to say goodbye to June Cleaver Crock Pot.  She taught me the joy of slow cooking, which isn't really like cooking at all.  You throw a bunch of stuff into a ceramic tub, turn it on, go away, come back in 6-8 hours and wala!  A meal that is awesome!  Crock Pots can turn someone who normally can't fry an egg without setting the smoke detector off into a culinary goddess!  

I will have to get a new 3-1/2 quart Crock Pot.  Preferably a Rival because they have worked so well for me and I do show brand loyalty to products that provide years of service.  Meanwhile, my 6-1/2 quart Crock Pot named Alice (you can guess what show I named her from --- and if you can't --- "Brady Bunch"!) will be in charge of doing the majority of the cooking.  You may ask, "If you have another Crock Pot, why do you need a new one?"  Because you aren't supposed to cook anything smaller than 1/2 the size of the Crock Pot in the 6-1/2 quart one, and one of our favorite recipes is Slow Cooker Ranch Pork Chop, which is very tiny.


The late June Cleaver and Alice

Goodbye June and thank you for making me look like a helluva better cook than I really am.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have something in my eye.  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

"Match Game" Preview

The second book in The Lyssa Winfield Mystery series has a title!  It's not very dramatic, but it has a purpose.  When you read the book you understand what that is.

Match Game

As a thank you to my blog readers and Facebook fans, I've posted a preview of Chapter 1 on this blog.  It's a page on the menu above, or you can click on the below.


It's not the entire chapter.  Just a little teaser.  I love it, of course.  I just love these characters.

Match Game is due to be published in April 2013.  Hopefully I'll even have it written by then.  Ha!

* By the way, everything is subject to change, which includes the publishing deadline, the title, even Chapter 1.