Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas week: "Strangle me. NOW." Edition

Ok, so let me first address the "Winter is here" post (below): When I typed that up on Sunday or Monday night (and scheduled it to post early this morning), I had no idea it would be 60 freakin degrees all week. Seriously, people: I am loving this.  No purple lips or numb fingers or toes for me this week.  Wahoo!

In other news, if I spend one more dollar this month, I'm afraid that my wallet will spontaneously burst into flames.  Really, I should stuff an oven mitt in my coat pocket just in case it happens.  Ugh, has it been a retail-nightmare-kinda week or what?  I am so sick of buying stuff and going to stores that it's not even funny.  On Monday, I wasted THREE HOURS of my life (that I will never, ever get back) buying and returning (TWICE) a watch that CANNOT BE RESIZED BY ANY DEPARTMENT STORE OR WATCH RETAILER IN PHILADELPHIA.

No: I'm not joking.  Apparently, a very well known watch brand that shall remain nameless (you can thank me later, Citizen) sells watches to department stores that require "A Special Tool" (this is Real Technical Timepiece Language used by overworked and underpaid salespeople at the mall) to remove links from the watch ... but nobody in PHILADELPHIA has Said Tool.  In fact, Ron and I managed to baffle EXACTLY seven (SEVEN) salespeople at THREE different stores trying to resize Said Watch.  It didn't end well.  Blah blah blah.


I just bought (seriously: 15 minutes ago) a last minute gift for my mom and then realized AFTER I FINISHED THE TRANSACTION THAT IT WAS ELIGIBLE FOR A 20% DISCOUNT.

Those bastards.  I almost started to cry because (I don't think any guys read this blog?) I was PMS-ing so bad and just couldn't take it anymore.  So I wrote this email to the customer service team at the website (this is a real email--not joking):

"Dear [website],

I just placed a $76 order with you (Order # 12345). Before I submitted my order, I failed to notice the button at the top of the page: "20% off 3 DAYS ONLY!"  Apparently, the offer ends this Saturday, 12/24. I missed this because it's out of the way at the top of the page, and--basically--I feel ripped off. I could have saved FIFTEEN dollars on my order.  Is there ANY WAY you would consider reimbursing the discount to the credit card I used to place my order?  (The coupon code is SAVEUS20) Retailers never fail to disappoint me ... won't you SAVEMYSANITY and ruin this trend?  PLEASE? Pretty please?

Thanks so much for considering."
We'll see if they get back to me.

Despite ALL OF THIS, it's been a good week because so much has gotten done around this place. Last night was Cookie Night.

Ron did biscotti last night.  "Biscotti" literally translates to "twice baked."  (Thank you, undergraduate Italian studies.)  You shape the dough in logs--like so, below--and put them in the oven for the first half of the process. *I have NO IDEA why the font is messed up here--just another reason why I hate you, Blogger!*

Then you slice the logs into individual cookies and bake them the second time.  Ron always does almond flavored biscotti, but I LOVE anise flavor.  My mother-in-law did chocolate almond biscotti earlier this week, and they were really chewy (like a brownie edge) rather than dry and crumbly like most biscotti typically are. I really couldn't pick a favorite if I tried.

Here's the recipe Ron uses.
When he finished the biscotti, I decided to try making peanut butter cookies. I've never made these before, so I went with this recipe.  I'm not gonna lie: they're not that great. I wanted a moist, chewy cookie and these turned out seriously dry and nearly dusty.  I'm thirsty just thinking about them. ("THESE PRETZELS ARE MAKING ME THIRSTY!!" hahaha!)

Here's a good trick when you make them: When you use your fork to make the cross-hatching, dip the fork in water each time so that it won't stick to the cookies and ruin them.

At least they're pretty.

I did have one kitchen success story yesterday: my mom's "holiday loaf." She asked me a few months ago to keep this in mind and make it for Christmas.

This recipe is out of a magazine from 2001 ... if you want it that badly, I'll type it up.  I will tell you that this is really good. It's not really a fruitcake: A fruitcake has a ton of booze in it and this has none.  This is heavy like a poundcake, very lemony, and really, really good.  Worth the work (which wasn't too bad).

More importantly than Holiday Loaf (that name totally cracks me up), Ron made MARSHMALLOWS this morning.  I don't remember the last time he made these ... I don't think he had time at Easter, so it was probably last Christmas.

We swear by Ina's recipe. It's not exactly easy (you can't zone out or be distracted while doing it), and you have to be precise. If you have a crappy thermometer and you don't know it, an overcooked batch or marshmallows will tell you to buy a new one. (I'm not picky though: There's no real difference between "good" and "bad" marshmallows.)

This batch turned out absurdly soft and fluffy.  If you're up for it, try these out: They will change your life forever.

After all of that, I had to give my kitchen chandelier its semi-annual cleaning.

Most of the people who come to my house for the first time ask about my chandelier.  It was a hand-me-down from my Aunt Debbie. Years ago, my great-grandmother bought it for my aunt's house. My aunt had it in her dining room for years, and when she redecorated a few years ago, the chandelier came down and went into a box in the shed.  I think my aunt felt really guilty about this (although I don't think she should have at all--sometimes you just need a change).  She told me, "If you ever really want it, just call me: It's yours."  The problem? I still lived in my childhood bedroom at the time.  A few years later though, I called her up: "So ... do you still have that chandelier?"  It was in my kitchen the next week.

Everybody who's a generation older than me says, "Ugh, a crystal chandelier? Those things are AWFUL to clean."

ummm, well, I don't know how you bothered cleaning yours (or how filthy your kitchen is), but it's actually really easy. I just take the whole damn thing apart, soak it in a huge bowl of hot, soapy water, and then put the whole thing back together again. It usually takes 60 minutes or less. When Ron helps (like today), it takes 30 minutes.  Don't forget to wipe off the bulbs with Windex--it makes a big difference. (I forgot earlier today, so that will get done tomorrow ...)

All done. That's it until June.
I only do this twice a year in December and June.  The only bad part about it is that it's a graveyard for every gnat that flew through our kitchen during the past six months. And the stinkbugs: Dear God, the stinkbugs.  Maybe it would be nice if I cleaned this four or six times a year, but life is too short and no one seems to notice anyway.

Ron's working on pizzelles right now.

This is a process that can last quite a few hours.  Again, I love anise flavored pizzelles, but Ron insists they have citrus as well AND they have to be see-through-paper-thin.  (I have to admit, there's nothing more pointless than thick pizzelle--store bought ones tend to miss the mark here.) The end result is still fantastic.  You do need a pizzelle iron to do these (obviously). When we were engaged, I never thought to register for one of these, but my Aunt Fil (as in "Filomena") had the foresight to make sure we had one.  It was one of my favorite gifts.

We skip the anise seeds and we forgot to buy an orange (oops).
Somewhere in the middle of all of this I altered a dress and a pair of pants, went for a run, painted my toe nails, and cleaned everything upstairs in my house right down to the bathtub.  What's funny is that an hour ago I was getting sorta mad at myself for failing "to accomplish much today."  Nevermind--I take it back.

Tomorrow, I fold all the laundry I did today and tackle all the surfaces and floors downstairs.  Merry Christmas to me! : )


Erin S said...

Can I tell you how excited I am to see the marshmallows?!? Yum!

Ron said...

I did put 1 Tbsp of anise extract in the pizzelle....

Cat Lady, Esq. said...

how come i never saw a trace, not a crumb of a peanut butter cookie? And how come i'm sitting here the day after christmas with not one christmas cookie to eat?

Jo Harper said...

I forgot to put the PB cookies out. Oops. I'll bring them over to you.