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I Made It Myself: Milkshakes, Donuts, etc.

19 Jan

I’ve been making lots of things!

First, Julia and I made milkshakes with a fancy milkshake maker!



(Thanks, Julia, for the awesome photos and milkshake support.)

Then, Marjorie, Jess, Justine and I made a gazillion gluten-free donuts!

Marjorie is pleased with the donuts.


Other things I’ve been making recently include illustrated instructions for solving a Rubik’s Cube, new friends, mistakes, and a mess.

Also, my niece is coming to visit me soon, and I want to make something with her – either food or crafts. Any ideas?



Theme Party Inspiration: Rainbow Party

13 Dec

You may have noticed I haven’t had too many theme parties to write about lately. My family made a conscious decision to cut back on our theme party tradition this year. There was a while there where we were having several a year, many on very short notice, and they were starting to feel a little rushed and even burdensome. We’ve decided to pursue quality over quantity, and make sure we put the necessary time and care into each one to make it memorable.

Since I’m not sure when our next one will be, I’ve decided to capture all of my theme party ideas by using Pinterest, which is a great online tool for sharing images. I’ll put together collections of photos that can serve as inspiration for a particular theme. In a way, this is going back to Everybody’s Invited‘s roots, since this blog has a rich theme party history. 🙂

My first theme party inspiration board on Pinterest is for a Rainbow Party. You can see the full board here, but here’s a sneak peek:

Photo courtesy of This Nest is Best

From Elizabeth Bonifield's Fun Food Pinterest Board

From Twig & Thistle

Don’t worry, not all of the images on the Rainbow Party board are of food.

This board is actually multi-purpose. It could serve as an inspiration board for not only a Rainbow theme party, but also a Rubik’s Cube Party, a children’s birthday party, or a Pride party.

Thanksgiving Recap

26 Nov

In addition to the traditional fixings (my favorite dish this year was my sister Sarah’s sweet potatoes with goat cheese; recipe below), my family added a few new elements to this year’s holiday celebration.

First, a post-dinner haiku contest. Here are a few memorable ones:

Wild birds land on lake
Farm birds land on dinner plate
Wonders never cease

Potatoes and bread
The devil’s carbohydrates
Thank you, stretchy pants

Cozy in men’s socks
Watching trees dance in the grey
Wondering always

Taters, turkey, peas
Drop from my fork to the floor
Here kitty kitty
(I think this last one was adapted from a previously published poem, but it was performed with great enthusiasm by a 5-year-old, so we gave it the grand prize.)

After the haikus we had some desserts. This year we averaged 1/3 of a pie per person. Needless to say, we had a lot of leftovers.

From the left: classic pumpkin; gluten-free orange almond cake; chocolate/banana/caramel; and apple.

We also heard a variety of readings including poetry by Margaret Atwood and Paul Laurence Dunbar, a couple chapters from The Pushcart War (so timely!), an essay by E.B. White on subsistence farming, and a short remembrance of my mother’s mother. Kris read this poem by Mary Oliver that I quite liked.

Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety –

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light –
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

Finally, we all brought books for an exchange and each got to take home a few new finds. I’m thankful for books!

Spanning high brow to low brow

Recipe to save for next year, courtesy of my sister:

Sweet Potatoes with Goat Cheese and Bacon

4 large sweet potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch
4-6 slices bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pt heavy cream
8 oz goat cheese
salt and pepper
Chop and cook bacon. Remove bacon to towel to drain.
Cook onion in bacon fat, slow and low to caramelize.
Add cream and gently heat, add goat cheese, stir to melt.
Return bacon to pan once the cheese has melted. (Add a little cream or, alternatively, GF pancake mix to adjust sauce until it resembles homemade mac & cheese sauce.)
Layer sliced sweet potatoes with sauce (seasoning each layer of potatoes with salt and pepper) – 3 or 4 layers deep – in a 9×13 pan.
Bake, covered, at 325 for an hour or so.
Remove foil, broil for a few minutes to brown top. Could add a bit of cheese at that point, too.

My Halloween To Do List

12 Oct

Also: Listen to Tracy Jordan's Halloween novelty song about cross-cultural celebrations, "Werewolf Bar Mitzvah"

Here’s what I have to do to get ready for my most favorite holiday!

  1. Acquire finishing touches for Halloween costume. (Hint: finishing touches include astronaut helmet and moon boots)
  2. Get lost in a Corn Maze with Celly and Meg. Maybe this one.
  3. Make gluten-free Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Icing for co-workers.
  4. Make Bourbon Pumpkin Pie Milkshakes for grown up members of family.
  5. See if I can carve my face into a pumpkin as well as GlueGunAnnie did (or maybe instead of my own face, I’ll do someone more awesome like Steve Jobs or Amy Poehler).
  6. Watch Michael Jackson’s Thriller video a few times.
What’s on your Halloween To Do list?

P.S. I have a lot of unfinished To Do lists lying around, so some things on this list may never happen. I want you to know that I am okay with this.

I Made It Myself: Macarons

7 Oct

In addition to being part of the regular I Made It Myself feature, this is also the secret bonus addendum to my Sabbatical series, since I made these macarons during the France part of my trip.

My mom and I decided that we wanted to take some sort of cooking class while we were in Paris. We found a great English-language school, La Cuisine Paris, that offered the perfect gluten-free class: macarons! Highly recommended if you’re ever in Paris.

Our workstations

One team made lemon macarons, while the other team made pistachio.

Here's my mom mixing up the pistachio dough. We learned the Italian method, which is a little more complicated than the French, in that you have to make a syrup, rather than just mix in the castor sugar. Our instructor explained that this method is more forgiving, though, and therefore a better choice for beginners.

Here's how the cookies look coming out of the oven. The little ridges are called "feet" and they're the mark of a successful cookie!

Here's me having a go at piping in the filling. You can see that I'm trying really hard not to mess up!

Everyone in the class got to take home a whole box!

We had an extra lemon and an extra pistachio, so we did a mix-and-match version. I ate this one soon after this photo was taken.

While I can’t give you the recipe we learned, I can point you to this recipe from the You Can Do It…At Home blog. The author explains the method in detail, and provides a nice recipe for a chocolate ganache filling. Yum!

…and we’re back!

23 Sep

Apologies for the long silence. I was in Alaska. And on a road trip. And at Space Camp. And in Egypt. Oh yeah, and in France. I had thought that I might be blogging during my adventures, but near the beginning I realized that it would be more effective to do a series of posts looking back on the whole trip. I found lots of connections between seemingly disparate things on my trip, so I think this way of doing it makes sense.

So, this will be the first of several entries featuring photographs (that I actually took for once!) and a few stories and observations. I’ll try not to bore everyone.

For the first entry, I’ll focus on the most important thing of all: food.

Here's a not great picture of a very great steak I had in Anchorage. Delicious! I wish I had a picture of the s'mores I had in Denali Park, because those really were the standout item of my Alaska adventure. Hooray for gluten-free graham crackers!

Amber and I stumbled upon a peach festival while driving through Berlin, Maryland.

I got back to NYC just in time for Hurricane Irene. Craig and I went out for brunch and awaited the storm (that never really came to our neighborhood).

My Space Camp team designed a mission badge and then they put it on a cake! (We were trying to be optimistic about the end of the Shuttle program.)

One of the ultimate highlights of my Egypt trip was the day and night I spent on a felucca on the Nile. This is the amazing food we ate.

Then I ate my way through France, starting with fromage.

And including huîtres.

And poisson.

And lots of fruit.

And lots and lots of mousse. Since it was one of the only gluten-free options (I think), I was forced to eat it several times.

France really was the winner when it comes to food. Basically my entire France trip was just stopping by a couple museums between meals.

p.s. Stay tuned for an upcoming “I Made It Myself” featuring the macaron class my mom and I took in Paris!

I Made It Myself: Cookie Cutter Tortilla Chips and Jalapeño Lime Hummus

30 Jul

I have to say, IMIM is getting weird. I do love that I never know what’s going to happen when Julia comes over for a cooking session/photo shoot. So much improvising. And snacking!

The tentative plan was homemade tortilla chips and jalapeño-lime hummus (recipe courtesy of the gluten-free goddess). But that didn’t seem nearly interesting enough for an IMIM photo shoot. Fortunately, my mom, who is awesome, had sent me both a musical note cookie cutter and a palm tree cookie cutter, and Julia and I had the idea to make tortilla notes and tortilla trees to accompany the dip. (Note to self: Find boat-shaped cookie cutter and make tortilla ships.)

Here’s what we came up with:

Chickpeas and jalapeños hanging out. Do they know they're about to become the world's greatest party food?

We practiced with some standard triangle-shaped chips...

...and they looked pretty good

Then we broke out the cookie cutters...

...and snacktime became awesome.

p.s. Looking for a good homemade tortilla chip recipe? Here’s one: cut up some tortillas into your favorite shapes, and fry them in oil on the stove, then drain them on a paper towel. Prep time: 45 seconds. Total time: Two and a half minutes. Serves: you and a friend. 100% of the people who wrote this blog entry would try this recipe again.