Thursday, August 31, 2006

Kitchen Time with Cara: Mac n' Cheese

Mmm. Nothing is better for a cozy dinner than cheesy macaroni … unless it is Chinese take out … or ice cream straight out of the container. Everyone seems to love this recipe, except for those people who hate creamy things, and really what is wrong with them? I like the fact that it is super easy. You can also dress it up by baking it in the oven for a few minutes and throwing some bread crumbs on top. Who wouldn’t like tossing bread crumbs around? And it is even better reheated on the 2nd day. Here it is, enjoy.

Microwave Mac n’ Cheese

2 Cups uncooked macaroni
2 Cups hot water
1/3 Cup butter or Margarine
¾ Tsp. Salt
¼ Tsp. Pepper
¼ Tsp. Ground Mustard
1/3 Cup Flour
1 ¼ Cups Milk
8 ounces cheese cubed

In a 2 qt Microwave safe dish, combine the first six ingredients. Cover and microwave on high for 3 ½ minutes, stir. Cover and cook at 50% power for 4 minutes until mixture comes to a boil, rotating a half turn once. Combine flour and milk until smooth; stir into macaroni mixture. Add cheese. Cover and cook on high for 6-8 minutes or until the macaroni is tender and sauce is bubbly, rotating a half turn once and stirring every 3 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings. For a change you can ad ¾ cup of bread crumbs mixed with 2 tsp. of melted butter and parsley to taste. Bake for 15 minutes at 400.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Gift that keeps on giving

I don’t mean to shock you … in fact you had better sit down … but I have made another great discovery.


Yes, yes, I am so untechnological it’s hard to live with myself but … I have just found the on/off switch in my Blogger menu that allows me, to allow you, which then allows your dearest friends, and so on and so forth, to pass around little bits of me electronically.

“Just what I always wanted,” you say.

I do what I can.

So, let me draw your attention to the little tiny envelope perched ever so smugly at the bottom of each post. Email. So much better than snail mail. See, the email envelope even looks faster, with its little arrow pointing off the page as though it had somewhere else it needed to be, yesterday, and you are holding it up by reading slow. Yes, very smug, I’m sure you will agree. Simply clicking on the baby envelope will allow you, gentle reader, to forward the link to this post or indeed any post the envelope is attached to, to any number of your friends … or enemies … you pick, who am I to judge? Your ‘cough’ persons of interest can be as entertained as you are … or thoughtlessly tortured beyond their wildest dreams. Depends.

Though how anyone could fit a couple words let alone a whole post inside such a small envelope is beyond me. Ah, the magic of the internet. Its sweet mystery amazes me.

I wonder if it knows how to change lead into gold?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Fantastic Fun

The most wonderful thing happened today. There was a coke fountain right in the middle of my kitchen. Yes. It’s true. An actual, spurting fountain of coke.

I was so excited. The last time I saw something of this magnitude I was six years old and enjoying my sandwich in the gym. A little boy across the room started screaming and all the other kids shuffled their bums as fast as they could in another direction. There, right where the boy had been was a giant, glorious stream of pop, flying straight into the air. It almost touched the ceiling.

“He shook it a lot.” Whispered a little boy.
“Yuck! I’m all sticky! My dress is ruined!” the girl next to me moaned.
“Who was that boy?” I asked, “I want to marry him.”

It’s true. Since that day I have been trying, with no success, to figure out how to get a can of pop to shoot straight into the air. Call it a hobby. Perhaps it is one of the sad side effects of being too curious. Good thing I’m not a cat.

Well, today my husband decided to carry up three cans of pop from the basement … which he then promptly dropped on the kitchen floor. The pop in two of the cans started to spurt out everywhere … all over the table, walls, me …
“Open your mouth!” I yelled “It’s a coke shower!”
“Are you crazy? Look at the mess!”
“Wee!” I said, skidding through a bubbly puddle and into the cabinets.
“Well, make fun if you want. Everything’s all sticky, and now we’re going to have to clean up.”

You’d think he’d be excited. I married the cool kid with the coke.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sunday Intellectual Discussion: Money, Money, Money

If you had $1, 000, 000 at your disposal what you do with it?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Neither Shall She Eat

When my husband arrived home and announced that he was going out to visit a buddy… tonight … a deathly foreboding filled the air. I wasn’t sure what it was, or even exactly when … but it was going to happen. Sure enough, moments after he exited the premises a chain of events leapt into action that threatened my very being. Well, at least my stomach. And, as my kids know, my temper is attached to my stomach.

  1. With no one to cook steaks on the BBQ (One person operating an open flame with 4 small children in attendance is not recommended) I would have to figure out how to cook the defrosted meat fast or come up with another meal. “Oh well”, I said, “forget the steak, I can still use the barley from the side dish and make a different main.”

  2. The barley burns. Yes, burns so badly that I will be scraping carbon off the bottom of the pot for the next ten days.  “Oh well,” I said, cringing at the advancing time, “I’ll be 15 minutes late but we’ll have pasta instead.” I stand by the pot so it won’t burn and feed the girls bits of muffin. The pasta cooks unscathed. I lovingly garnish said dish. Call the children.

  3. The older two come up stairs screaming. She pushed him; he tried to turn off the button on the TV… that’s exactly how the Gulf war started. I get her calmed down and turn to talk to my son. My daughter takes that moment to “respice” the pasta. The pasta now tastes like the salt lick on Uncle Bills farm. I load everyone in the van. “That’s ok,” I said, “we still have half an hour before the babies go to bed, we can get things at McDonalds.”

  4. After more screaming and pushing from all the children we are on our way. The children are happy with their meal and start to tuck in. I get a couple fries and the pop from my son’s nugget meal. I decide to go get a bagel instead. Toasted with Strawberry Cream Cheese.

  5. I eat said bagel. It is burnt on the inside and, somehow, the cream cheese is almost entirely residing in the middle hole.  “That’s ok,” I said, “My pop is still pretty good.” The babies start screaming. I take everyone home, making several trips to the car to retrieve all the children and food baggies.

  6. I arrive back inside to find that my daughter has now drained my pop. Great … she’ll be extra hyper.

So, if you’ll excuse me now I’m going to find something to eat that does not involve heating elements. It will most likely be bologna straight out of the fridge. Wish me well.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

My Landlord

I recently decided to try renting someone else's blog. There are so many weird things you can do on the "net" so I guess living in two or three places at once is not so strange ... not really. Question though, Kat, there's a couple burnt bulbs and an old furnace at my place ... can you let me know when you can get to it?

Check out Kats blog in return. She's a great writer and very funny so it's worth the visit.
Kats Knoll

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Life at the Big Top

I think I'm going to give the van a paint job.

That way when I'm racing to get all the kids in the car, and I'm frustrated because child number one won't stop pushing the over head light, child number two has decided his life will not be complete unless we either stop at McDonalds RIGHT NOW or give him his sister's sunglasses, and children number three and four are both crying because I lost their soothers in the rain puddle outside ... my life may feel like a circus ... but my van looks like one. It would be perfect.

My children would tumble out of the van ...

"Why look!" Someone would gasp. "That boy is rolling around on the pavement. What a cute acrobat!"

"And that little girl," another would say, "she's dressed in a ball gown and a pirate outfit, what a clever clown."

"I don't know if they're as good as that tight rope walker there," a man would bellow pointing to one of the twins pulling herself to standing on the tire rim, "or the complusive eater," pointing to the other twin eating someone's discarded cracker and a small sticker right off the ground, "they're great, and they look alike. It's like watching one of them do two things!"

Then I would pass around the hat and take home enough spare change to pay for University.

Yes, I think a paint job would be a good idea. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Playing with People: Smiles

When I was little I had one friend who could get me to do almost anything. Honestly, she just had to open her mouth and my brain would immediately shut off. Of course, she would play tricks on me all the time. Her best one, and one that I laughed at a lot later, was getting me to read the menu at McDonalds.
     “Hey Cara, what does it say on the bottom of the menu there?”
     “Can’t you read? It says Smiles, free.”

She knew she was about to reel me in. I never could resist a good deal.

     “Why don’t you go ask for one?”
     “What, a smile? It’s just a joke.”
     “Oh, no. This is different. It’s special.”

Boy was I excited now. Something other than the Treat of the Week was free and I was about to get one of my very own. I skipped up to the counter. Peering down at me was a very tall teenager. I wouldn’t let that intimidate me, no siree bob.

     “Welcome to McDonalds, make I take your order?”
     “Yes, I’d like a smile please.”

She looked at me and smiled.

     “Ok, could I please have one?”

She glared but her mouth smiled even larger.  

     “Please? Could I have one?”

She wasn’t even trying now.  “Look kid. Very funny, ha, ha. Stop asking.”
I couldn’t understand, I wasn’t laughing. “But it’s right up there on the menu … Smiles Free.”
“I get it kid. Go away.”
“But can I have it? It’s like a treat of the week, only better.”     
She would have walked away if she had not noticed my friend and her brother giggling away at me just off to the side.
     “Sorry kid,” she said, “smiles are just smiles. Have a treat of the week … and go kick your friend in the shins for me.”

Monday, August 21, 2006

Kitchen Time with Cara

I thought I would post a couple of favorite recipes.

My family receives a small rotation home cooked meals and the rest is supplemented by pizza, a fine dish for any occasion. Sometimes, they are subjected to strange concoctions that I think should “go together”. My Irish blood believes that things thrown randomly into a pot will come out favorable, robust and standing straight up on the plate. Unfortunately, most of the items the Irish considered “random” were potatoes … which instantly decompose the moment they are brought to our house. So my concoctions do not always quite work. However, I can read, thanks to my grade one teacher Mrs. Skelton, and I am reasonably good at measuring, after much encouragement from my mother, so I stick to the culinary geniuses behind any book or recipe card.

Here for your enjoyment is the first of several good, reliable recipes. Trust me, I know.

Pancake Deluxe
By Susan Scace from Take Me With You Please: A “How-To-Cope” Book for the Newly Independent

My mother gave me this book for my first year of university. It is full of invaluable tips on etiquette, cleaning, laundry and cooking. I love this pancake recipe as it is fast to put together. You do not have to stand there flipping pancakes, the sweat pouring down your face while your family eats all but the smallest pancake. No, you can actually join them for dinner, or breakfast, whichever, because it’s all done in the pan. I generally use a deep cake pan which I place on top of a cookie sheet so I don’t have to clean any spills in the oven (yes, I did spill some in the oven the first time I made it.) To save time I put the butter in the pan and place it in the oven while it heats to 425. By the time the oven is heated the rest of the mix is usually ready to go into the pan and the butter has melted and turned lightly brown. Enjoy!

4 eggs beaten
¼ Cup Butter
1 Cup Flour
1 Cup Milk
1 Tbsp. white sugar

Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C) and melt the butter in a 9” pie plate in oven. Beat Eggs. Stir flour, milk, and sugar into beaten eggs. Pour into melted butter in pie plate. Bake 15-20 minutes at 425 F (220 C). It is ready when the sides have risen and browned. Remove and fill the centre with fruit. Sprinkle with icing sugar if desired.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sunday Intellectual Discussion: Love and Lost

For my first question in a long time I thought I would take my cue from the poets:

Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?

I think we may be of varying opinions depending on our stage in life but that would make it all the more interesting. Let me know what you think.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A for Affort

Spell Check was invented for me. It’s true. On the day I was born the doctor took one look at my bulging blue eyes and called in a squad of computer geeks, a squad so secret that their location was only known to their mothers.

He said, “Boys, this little girl is going to need all the help she can get.  Spelling, Grammar, word count, you name it. It’s an impossible job but do what you can.”  

In those days taxes were low, interest rates high and government funding for odd problems at an all time boom. So, they applied for the appropriate grants and five years later they got right on it. It was difficult manipulating the cumbersome supercomputers of those days, who admittedly, were testy and none too bright (come on, anyone can add on their “processors”) but the geek squad persevered. They created the Super Computer, then the larger COMPUTER and finally became so frustrated with sleeping in a dusty corner while the computer took up all the better floor space, they created the smaller “portable” Icon computer. They worked hard. Though briefly distracted by their creation of the game “Q-burt” (rightly so, anyone would be distracted by the combination of such skill and beauty) they finally invented the Spell Checker.  Word Processing was merely a derivative. The whole program as well as the operating system that housed it was then sold by the Canadian government to Bill Gates for five dollars.

It was kind of them to help me out. Anyone who has read a fraction of my replies will find them riddled with odd spellings. When in doubt I feel it is always best to add a few extra letters. I could take letters away but it looks more ambishious to add.  I firmly believe in A for effort.

There should be a rule about adding letters.  Like s after s makes word success.  As in assesssment or supersseed.  

Or words hard to say should be spelled that way. Like Catapullted,  Pedelumn, Anemmony, plus any words used by banks, lawyers or scholars with unusually large brains.

Unfortunately no one has seen fit to write these rules down on any official documents … no matter how many letters I have written to Canada Revenue. Come to think of it they were all hand written. Hmm. Never mind. Thank you Geek Squad for making writing possible… you can come out of hiding now.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Salute to Summer

My parents always told me that time flies fast when you get older … like time flies fast when you’re having fun. You just can’t pick the kind of fun you’re having! I can’t believe the months have literally passed me by with hardly a pause for breath!  How can it be that summer has already crawled off into fall and I have hardly sat still long enough to write a simple post? Sigh!
Summer: with its sunny days, steamy pavement and drippy cream cones. Summer: of the early mornings, short nights and freckled faces. Summer: when everyone sucks their tummies in to put on those dreaded bathing suits. Hands up those who would vote to bring back the bathing dresses of the 1900’s!
Sweet, sweet summer we salute you.

We salute:
     The Air Conditioning Unit: Thank you for taking all our hot air with grace.
     The Flip Flop: Humble, yet stylish and convenient foot attire. You cushion our soles from the grit of life.
     The Hammock and Lounge Chair: Oh graceful swans of the patio, you turn our days into sweet, sweet slumber and tattoo our limbs with rope burns and basket weaves. So trendy and yet so comfy. Thank you.
     The Giant Bottle of Aloe: When we have soaked in too much of the searing sun and transgressed against our bodies, you heal our wounds. Never do we hear you complain about your shameful duties, you always steadfast, always sure. Live on in our medicine cabinet forever.
     Ice Cream Bicycle Guy: You make us run so fast to gain the prize always carefully balancing exercise, and economy, with calorie loaded treats. They tempt our tummies while you tone our tush.     

We salute all the heroes of summer: the noble beach ball, honored Bucket Hat, victorious Patio Umbrella. You fill our days with such light (and shade).

Goodbye. Parting is such sweet sorrow.