Safe Word: Will Smith

This time of year is typically spent with me grading 94379384769384 papers, watching “Love, Actually” all day, every day, and spending entirely too much in Jeff Bezos’ love den. This year, I’ve been busier than ever, and haven’t seen my lovey Liam’s movie ONCE. The tragedy of this falls somewhere on the scale between Old Yeller being shot for going rabid, and a bad cappuccino at Starbucks. (I said ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY DEGREES. THIS IS CLEARLY ON FIRE!!!)

Shut up, you know you have a peculiar order now and again as well, miss “do you have any butter I can add to my coffee? Can you maybe just keep shaking that whip cream until it becomes butter? I’m bullet-proofing it this month.” –I am not making this up. People are drinking greasy coffee. It’s a “DIET” thing. Meanwhile, I put bourbon in my morning coffee and it’s a “problem” thing. double standard if you ask me.

(just kidding. I hate bourbon. It’s vodka)

I haven’t even compiled my best books of 2013 list for the blog, yet. I am behind Time Magazine, NPR, Goodreads, Entertainment.com, and that weird guy who works at the Strand bookstore who’s always trying to convince me that I’ll like sci-fi BDSM erotica. Not just aliens invading the Earth, but aliens with safe words and now ever-larger anal probes.  There’s probably no need for whips if you’re rocking tentacles. Just a guess.

“Small Wonders” meets “50 Shades” and suddenly Anastasia is fighting back.

I am, however, trying to do my best to take at least an hour every night to just zone-out. I don’t read, I don’t write, I don’t grade or work on my own graduate school work. I just chill. I walk, or I hit the gym. During the rest of the year, I am a social beastie a few times a week at the gym, mostly for motivation…not at the end of term! This time of year I can fully sink into my introverted nature, and say “sorry freeeeands, you’ll just have to know I love you, but Eff off a bit, k?” Ok, I may be nicer than all that.

The solitude feeds me. It nurtures me somewhere deep in my being that cannot be reached when I’m around people. I can think about recipes or next semester’s syllabi, or just the sound of my own breath. The demons don’t get to me as much when I’m in motion. It’s like they can’t catch up to me. I am apparently a really fast walker. Much like Jason Vorhees or Michael Meyers. Keep running, bitches. I’ll catch up to you at a leisurely pace.

As I said, I brainstormed recipes while running. Today’s is PERFECT as hell for this season. I’m kindofalittlebit obsessed with Swedish glögg, aka mulled wine (only drunkier) and I wanted to put a bit of a spin on the classic. The Swedes are pretty boss at the imports, read: Ikea, actors, rye bread. The original Swedish warming bevvie calls for nuts (which have no place in wine) and raisins (which terrify my sister) along with honey, brandy, and cab sav. I ditched the raisins and nuts, added cointreau, and POACHED PERSIMMONS IN IT. BOOM!

mike drop. minds blown.

Persimmon Mulled Wine or Swanky Swedish Glögg

Persimmon Mulled Wine Persimmon Mulled Wine

Persimmon Mulled Wine

Persimmon Mulled Wine

Ingredients

  • one bottle deep red wine (cab, shiraz, malbec)
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/3 cup cointreau
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 vanilla bean pod
  • zest of one orange
  • 3 sticks of cinnamon
  • 2 cloves
  • 3 persimmons, sliced

Instructions

  1. bring all ingredients together on the stove on LOW heat
  2. let heat until just simmering
  3. strain all but persimmons and orange
  4. put in warmer/crock pot for serving
  5. drink.responsibly. (keep your phone turned off so you don't take any naked selfies in front of the julgran--Christmas Tree)
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Petit Mort (Not the Good Kind)

I have a terrifying, crippling fear of spiders.

I can barely tolerate the plastic sort.

When I belonged to a large, chain gym in NYC, I stopped going to one of the locations because it was beside a pet store that had a tarantula display in the front window. I avoid the entomology lab on campus like it houses the Governor from the “Walking Dead”. I have made my five year old kill one for me. (I’m not proud) I suffer from hypnogogia; otherwise known as “near-sleep hallucinations,” wherein I see spiders everywhere. 

I wake the man up and demand he remove the spiders from my ceiling and our bed. I used to charge into my sister’s or parents’ bedrooms and do the same. Thank all of the gods they’re accustomed to my very strange behaviors.

So, that’s why when I woke up to this story about black-widow spiders being found in bags of grapes, I determined that the only grapes I would be eating for the rest of my life would be highly fermented. At least that way, if I eventually see a spider in that bottle of grapes, I won’t give a damn.

You know how when you watch a horror movie that’s particularly gruesome, you immediately decide to watch a Disney Movie, or something featuring a topless Michael Fassbender so as to mitigate the effects of the horror movie on your psyche? That.

I went full-on happy feel-please G-d-get-that-thing-out-of-my-brain-and-produce on my Netflix queue.

I have never been happier working with a company on my blog. Why? because black widow spiders. Because arachnophobia. Because sometimes, books-to-film need to act like RAID on your medulla. (like after watching congress on C-Span) 

So I buzzed on the ol’ Netflix and instead of falling into an “Orange is the New Black” k-hole (because my daughter is sitting RIGHT here, and she’s not quite ready for a trip to women’s prison, yet….baby jail…aka her crib, is where it’s at for her) I decided to watch possibly the best book-to-movie-for-brain-cleaning, ever. I may be partial….”The Little Prince.” Because it’s the anti-black widow. You know what little princes on asteroids don’t have? venomous creatures. Have you seen? Have you READ? You need to do both. Seriously, people. The book came out in 1943. Get on that, already. This version is visually stunning. Absolutely brilliant…even if every time the fox appears on screen, your daughter sings “tchuff, tchuff, tchuff, ta chuff ta chuff.”

I’m not going to lie. “The Little Prince” also kept little hands in their little lap, and well-occupied for the 8.5 minutes I spent staging my petit fours. Petit Fours befitting a Petit Prince.

Peppermint Mocha Petit Fours

peppermint-mocha petit fours peppermint-mocha petit fours peppermint-mocha petit fours peppermint-mocha petit fours peppermint-mocha petit fours

 

These could not be simpler. I used this recipe for peppermint mocha brownies, doubled it and baked until done in a jelly-roll pan, cubed, froze, dipped in melted white chocolate, and topped with crushed candy canes. It’s very easy to keep the white chocolate pliable if you melt in small increments and keep the bowl on a heating pad, hot water bottle, or warming plate set to LOW. Yes, you WILL get covered in white chocolate…but I am sure you can come up with new and interesting ways of cleaning it up while your child is otherwise occupied with Netflix.

Disclaimer: Netflix has compensated me for these posts, but all opinions (even if I think a movie is total crap) are my own.

Check Out My Space Suit.

Hey look! I have a blog!

To be honest, I’ve not been as attentive as I’ve needed to be, because the Captain’s first year of school has been very difficult, and it’s required much TLC and fancy footwork, and other words that begin with the letter F.

I cannot remember how much I’ve discussed it on the blog, but my son has special needs. When in school, this can become tricky. You see, he has fairly severe ADHD and SPD or Sensory Processing Disorder (previously known as SID/Sensory Integration Disorder) He’s also quite gifted. This makes things even more tricky.

I know most of you have never heard of sensory processing disorder, let alone know someone affected by it. I’ll do my best to succinctly explain it. There are two types of SPD, Over-feelers and Under-feelers, though most children with SPD exhibit aspects of both, with one side being dominant. Over-feelers tend to shy away from highly sensory activity, aren’t particularly physically affectionate, may or may not have issues with fabrics/clothing/touch, etc. Under-feelers are precisely the opposite. They touch everything–firmly. They tend to love highly sensory activities, and are very physically affectionate.

The Captain is very much an underfeeler with a few feely-quirks thrown in.

Imagine going through your day in a space suit. This is essentially how it is for him. Because he feels things so subtly, he has a tendency toward inappropriate behavior like stomping, mouthing, yelling, hugging too hard, touching everything, etc. He also loves his showers HOT and his food SPICY (not a sweets fella…his reward for not fussing over the polio vax? wasabi peas) he loves lying in his undies on shag rugs, and frequently bounces up and down or wrings his hands just to feel the friction and grounding it provides. His “feely” quirks are on the range of skin issues. He hates socks, shoes, gloves, and hats.

Because he doesn’t feel things in the manner of most of us, this makes his manual manipulation very poor for a boy of his age. His handwriting/buttoning/zippering/shoe-tying are a few years behind his peers, whereas his mental acuity, problem solving, reasoning, and logical skills are several grades above his peers. (I pity the poor fools who will one day play him in Warcraft.)

As you can imagine, this makes it difficult for him in school. Throw the ADHD on top of that? Yeah, it can be a cluster fuck. Right now it’s a bit of an uphill battle to keep him in the classroom he loves, balanced with the needs that he has. More than once, the man and I have turned to one another, completely confounded as to what to do. Do we homeschool? Move him? Keep fighting against the tide where he is currently? There are seldom satisfying answers to any of these questions.

Because of this, I spend a disproportionate amount of my time researching everything I can about how I can make his life just a little easier. Mostly, I’m also wringing my hands, because I get so frustrated for him.

So that’s where I’ve been. Yesterday, when I should’ve been posting Sunday Sweet, I was intermittently hyperventilating and trying not to get upset in front of the Captain, because he was having a very rough day, and I was worried it would bleed into the school week. He was off-the-charts excitable and was having an especially “low-feeling” day. He was mouthing EVERYTHING, and stomping everywhere, and I eventually spooned red pepper flakes onto his spaghetti, just so that he’d eat it.  I was so worried he’d have it rough today, and I was feeling guilty, because I felt like I was neglecting everything and everyone else just so that I could focus on his needs. Thank all the gods he’s had a great morning. (and that no one cares that I’ve neglected the vacuuming!)

Now that things are, *fingers crossed* starting to settle, I too can begin to once again form a solid routine. More than anything, I just want the Captain to be able to relax a bit. No five-year-old boy should worry about school as much as he has.

If only I had a magic wand.

I have cookies, though, and that’s close.

Browned-Butter Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

photo 2 (83) photo 3 (80)

Browned-Butter Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Keywords: bake dessert cookie

Ingredients (3 dozen cookies)

  • 1 stick butter, browned (cooked on medium until brown)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate, melted

Instructions

preheat oven to 350F

brown butter on stove on medium until brown and clear

remove from stove and whisk in sugar until lighter

when cooler, whisk in eggs

scrape vanilla bean into mixture

sift in dry ingredients

set chocolate aside

bake 10-12 minutes or until crackly

drizzle when cool with dark chocolate (melted in the microwave)

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Feliz Chrismahanukwanzukah.

Sorry for the blog break yesterday, but it was the Captain’s Christmas Pageant at PreK, and I was so overcome with cute, I couldn’t put pen to paper (or hand to keyboard, as it were).

In true NYC fashion, it was Chrismahanukwanzukah with Feliz Navidad thrown in. They sang, and they swayed, and they wore Santa hats and it was good. I don’t know if you know this, but I have the cutest kids on the planet. The entire time I was watching the Captain’s program, the Peanut was trying to get to her big brother on stage.  The cuteness was overwhelming.

When the whole thing was over, the Captain ran up to his little sister and kissed her nose. She squealed and he exclaimed “Mommmmaaaa, she was trying to get to me the whooooolllle time!!! She really wanted to play with me!” Yes, my love. Yes she did.


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Because I can’t possibly say anything better than that, I give you today’s recipe.

I like my butter like I like my men…no wait, that doesn’t work (greasy and brown? brown, maybe..).

I like browned butter. It’s delicious. I also like Christmas because I get to bake until my hands bleed. Shaddup about the blood on your cutout cookie, It’s extra iron.

These are cinnamon browned butterscotch blondies. That’s a mouthful, but who gives a damn when your mouth is around one? These are sweet, but the bite of the extra cinnamon helps ease it back a bit.  I know you scamps are oft drawn to leave out the salt in a baking recipe, but DON’T DO IT. ADD THE DAMN SALT. These blondies would also be specfriggentacular with chopped pretzels in them, or crumbled potato chips pressed into the top of the batter before baking. They’d also be killer with some chopped smoked almonds or salty pistachios inside.

Cinnamon Browned Butterscotch Blondies

cinnamon browned butterscotch blondies

 

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Cinnamon Browned Butterscotch Blondies

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Keywords: bake dessert bars

Ingredients (2 dozen bars)

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375F

in a saucepan on medium heat the butter until brown stir in sugars, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon

remove from heat and stir until cooling

stir in baking powder

stir in eggs

sift in flour and fold in until just combined

fold in butterscotch chips and pour in a greased 9″-13″ pan

bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

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Take A Break at the Pussy Machine.

My interwebs is supppppper slow today. I find this highly irritating. I may be forced to kick the cable box in the teeth. If it had teeth. I have a tendency to anthropomorphize things I don’t like. Therefore, there are many inanimate objects that surround me that I have named. Take for instance, my pillow, George Clooney. It’s so comfortable and sexy, yet it can’t seem to commit. WHY CAN’T YOU JUST STAY WHERE YOU ARE, GEORGE CLOONEY. That asshole generally leaves me around 3 am. The man folk then THROWS IT ON THE FLOOR LIKE A TOSS PILLOW.  What the f???? Can’t really blame him, though. If I were a dude, and my significant other was sleeping with George Clooney, I’d totally toss his ass off the bed, too.

I may also anthropomorphize things I do like…and name them too. It *may* point to a larger psychosis I have, but I’ll never know. I prefer to be left in the dark about my own batshittedness.

This might be why I love Crossfit so much. Every damn thing is named. We name our WODs (more on that in a minute) our barbells are named, (I use Trixie and Pixie, don’t let their names fool you, they’re 20 and 25lbs, respectively) We name our jump ropes, mine is Jack Flash. The box I jump on? “The Death Eater”. The rest bench? Well that’s the “Pussy Machine”. I didn’t name that one, I simply endorse and make use of it. Actually, I only named Jack Flash and Sumner (The pull-up bar…get it??….ok, you’d get it if you studied economics or poly-sci…I work out in Park Slope where the currency is not the car you drive but by the letters that appear after your last name.)

Beyond the fact that Crossfit makes me feel like a super beast of an awesome burden, their WOD names are deceptively sweet. Last night was my “#1 I effing hate that bitch” WOD. Angie. Lemme tell you about Angie. She’s a total evilbitchfacemcgoo. 100 pull ups, push ups, squats, sit ups. Just to be awesome, my box added 100yard dash. Because the owner of my box is a torturous mother trucker whom last night was yelling at us “ARE THERE NO PRISONS??? ARE THERE NO WORKHOUSES???” Because he was “feeling the Christmas spirit”. I tried to level him with my 1000 yd stare, but he stood unmoving. Although it is totally ok that I cannot move today, because it was worth it. Why, you ask? Because I chose the playlist, and on it was “Starships” by Nikki Minaj, and alllllll of the menfolk sang along to it.

What is funnier than gigantic, very much too good looking men singing a falsetto chorus about starships being meant to fly.

I’ll tell you…nothing….except maybe cookies….or one of you scamps changing the Peanut’s diaper for me..she looks so cute,  but she smells like the men’s room at Penn Station.

These cookies to be exact.

Peppermint Snowballs.

peppermint snowballs

 peppermint sugar cookies