Monday, November 26, 2012

Another Duh moment in the kitchen.

We LOVE fresh squeezed lemonade in our home. I have used the leftover rinds for scrubbing, freshening up my disposal and feeding my compost bin. But now I have another use, saving dried lemon zest for flavoring my cooking. 
I start with squeaky clean lemons. I use my smallest feature on my wonderful multi-faceted grater and grate to the pith.

I spread it out on a glass plate and pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds once or twice depending on how many lemons I have done. Then I let it sit on the plate for a few hours in my gas oven (not on) to be sure the moisture is gone. Simply pop it in a jar and you are done. I recommend opening the jar from time to time and sniffing. Heavenly! 

Here are some muffins we made with our zest and our homemade yogurt!

Here is a link to the recipe I used, Lemon poppyseed muffins.  I used my plain yogurt, so I added a teaspoon of lemon extract. I have cast iron muffin pans, and they give the muffins such a nice crisp bottom. I totally love that, and as you can see, so does Wolfie, my assistant in the kitchen!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Tanuki Day! Please do not read if you are offended by giant magical scrotums

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Yesterday we celebrated a beloved Hoffman holiday, Tanuki day. To the uninitiated, a Tanuki is a Japanese raccoon dog. In Japanese folklore, these creatures are featured as mischevious shape-changing hedonists. As if this isn't enough to make you love them, they have abnormally huge scrotums which they can pull out into vast sheets, creating sails, multi-roomed buildings and trampolines, as a few examples. They also can do battle with these multi-tasking testicles. These enormous testicles are seen as a sign of financial luck. According to wikipedia, children sing a schoolyard song:
"Tan Tan Tanuki no kintama wa,
Kaze mo nai no ni,
Bura bura
('"Tan-tan-tan", tanuki's bollocks ring/The wind stops blowing/But they swing, swing, swing')[12] It continues for several verses, with many regional variations. It is sung to the melody of an American Baptist hymn called "Shall We Gather at the River?".[13]"

Here are some pictures of their swiss army-like appendages;
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Useful for fishing
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Keeping warm whilst camping.
Tanuki are usually pictured in a straw hat with a bottle of sake and an I.O.U or empty purse. They are known to beat on their bellies and, um other prominent features in happiness, producing the sounds "pon-poko-pon".
     We celebrated by having a dinner of homemade ramen and a showing of "Pom Poko" by Studio Ghibli.

Click here to see the movie trailer
This movie has more scrotal tomfoolery than you can shake a ...ummm, giant magical testicle at? Plus, if you are a Studio Ghibli fan, you will enjoy looking for some characters from other Ghibli productions in some of the scenes. As if that wan't enough for me, my beloved Man With The Yellow Hat (Jeff Bennet) does voice over work in the English dub! Gods bless T.M.W.T.Y.H., for he is a harbinger of peace and quiet in my home.
     We also broke out our own collection of Tanuki and dolled him up a little, as the Tanuki do so love to party!

This Tanuki was lovingly handcrafted by my Dad-in-love as a gift.  He is a photographic cutout that is large and in charge. The Tanuki, not Dad.

At any rate, Happy Tanuki Day To all of you!

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Well, we finally have heat and power after a bout with a Ohio! On Monday, we were hit by hurricane Sandy. Personally, the storm didn't seem nearly as bad as many others we have weathered. However, the rain saturated tree roots and combined with gusting winds to create a perfect storm (pun intended) to uproot many very large residential trees. So, Power went out Monday at dinner and stayed out until Friday afternoon. Mind you, many suffered much worse than we did. We had no loss of home, life or limb (human or arboreal, other than some easily moved branches). But, the effect of not knowing when it was coming back on was terrible. The house got down to 48 degrees by Friday. We had lost a full fridge and 2 freezers of food, despite much effort made to save it. Losing several hundred dollars worth of food just plain sucks! Especially food that was made from scratch and frozen to use over the winter. Here we are, getting by during the outage.
Hats at the table, no longer rude, but required! The ever-present crayons. I thank you Crayola, you saved some of my sanity.

I was 2 rows into a pattern for a barbie dress for Ollie's birthday when the power went out. I hadn't printed it :(  So, I winged it! My goal was a non-skanky style dress and I think I met that goal. Knitting with the smallest needles kept my frozen fingers nimble!

Halloween was postponed! Aunt Robyn visited with a ghoulish treat! Her treat? Power was on at her place when she got home!

Hats, many layers of clothes, more crayons...this is getting boring! and colder! The Poochies moved in with the generous Grand-Poochies for warmth and some Curious George episodes.

"In Case of Emergency" Hot chocolate
In a pan, mix 3/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, pinch o'salt and 1/3 cup boiling water.
Mix well and add 3 1/2 cups milk. heat until perfectly warm.
turn off heat and add 3/4 tsp. vanilla. Mix and pour.
Top with marshmallows and warm your insides!

Many candles!

Very important to keep the flashlights from wandering off! This was treated like a tabernacle of light!

Cold noses! Toast made on the stove top.

Hermes guards a pink bunny slipper while wearing a sock.

Some things I am glad about
  • Gas stove! We couldn't run the oven, but we could hand-light the burners!
  • Gas water tank meant hot water if it ran long enough!
  • Having enough pantry items to make oatmeal, cocoa, homemade spaghetti sauce (?!?) and fresh squeezed lemonade.
  • Postponed trick-or-treat meant we ate the candy we had for it.
  • Having a really good children's library and art supplies. We read A TON!!!!!!!!!
I am so sorry that there are others that still don't have power. I hope that they are getting the help they need. I am so thankful for all the wonderful people that helped and offered us help. Times like this really lets you know who cares about you. Hugs, hugs, hugs to all of you!
I will end with Wolfie's exclamation as he realized that the power was on,
"I am drunk on electricity!"

Another party? You bet!

Shortly after the party for my mom-in-love, it was time to celebrate My Dad-in-love's birthday as well! I tried this recipe for a flan and I thought it turned out really well, although the pic isn't great. This is a great recipe if you love coconut flavor but don't love the stringy bits of coconut in your goodies.

Coconut Flan
6 eggs
1 can (14 0z) of sweetened condensed milk
1 can (12 oz) of evaporated milk
1 can (15 oz?) creme de coco
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 tsp. coconut extract flavoring
1 cup white sugar

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • melt the 1 cup white sugar in a saucepan until melted and golden, pour into a 2 or 3 quart dish (2 quart will require longer baking), so that the bottom is covered. Set aside.
  • With mixer: beat 6 eggs well. Add sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, creme de coco, whole milk and coconut extract. Mix well, at least 2 minutes. 
  • Pour this into the glass dish, on top of the sugar and place the dish into a larger dish with at least an inch of water in the larger (outer) dish.
  • Bake approximately 80 minutes, checking after the first hour. May need more cooking, especially if using 2 quart dish. A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean when done. 
  • Remove from outer pan and cool on a rack and then refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • To serve, run a knife around the edge and turn onto a serving plate. 
  • Top each piece with whipped topping and enjoy!

Here are some pictures of the shindig!
Wolf helps learn Grandpa's secret pizza techniques!

Singing and presenting Wendy's delicious brownies!

Coconut flan! Whoops, I started cutting it before I snapped the pic!
Gift time!

Who invited Gilligan?

Such a wonderful weekend was spent celebrating! It was nice to see Adam and Wendy, as schedules don't usually allow us to all be together. We also got to skype with Bret and Elizabeth and see baby Mae in motion! This is what makes times like this so special---family!