Fried Green Tomatoes

This is not a movie review. You can actually make fried green tomatoes and they are friggin’ delicious! When I find the rare few green tomatoes at the store, mixed in with the red ones, I snap them up right away. This last time, I realized I was digging frantically like a squirrel looking for acorns, and looking around furtively to make sure no one was trying to steal them from me. I realized what I was doing, but that didn’t stop me from being grossly over-protective of my soon-to-be treats.

The greener they are, the better. You can see a couple of these are starting to ripen a bit, which is fine, but they just don’t stay as crispy when you fry them. When I bought these, the cashier actually thought they were apples, which I found amusing. I then had to explain to her and the bagger how to make fried green tomatoes. You will need:

in addition to the tomatoes, of course. Also one egg, and about 1/4 cup of milk. It doesn’t take much to coat these. Slice ’em up real nice, maybe 1/4 to a half inch thick.

Put enough vegetable oil in the pan to come about halfway up the tomatoes while they’re frying.

This is your basic frying set up: one bowl with an egg beaten with the milk, and a second one with some flour mixed with garlic salt and pepper. I set it up like an assembly line, so it goes cutting board, egg dip, flour dip, frying pan, plate with paper towels, from left to right.

Be careful setting them in the oil, so you don’t fling it everywhere. When they start to look golden on the edges, flip them over.

Dip #1:

Dip #2:

These are getting a little more done, and as I’m cooking, some of the breading inevitably falls off into the oil, and keeps cooking, making everything in the pan get coated with the darkly brown stuff. I have no idea how to fix this, but maybe it’s just part of the frying process?

You can see here that 6 tomatoes gave me four layers worth of tomatoes, even after my frequent “testing”.

Fried green tomatoes are one of those foods that somehow defy logic and taste so good it causes instant addiction. These things are way more than the sum of their parts. That’s the only way I can really describe it. If you stumble across a green tomato at the store, it’s very easy to make a small batch and try them for yourself. I may have to go watch that movie now, just to say I have.

March 31, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . Cooking. Leave a comment.

More Fun with Blocks

This is the second session of me wandering around the house playing with blocks. Lots of people seemed to find the first one pretty funny, so I hope ya’ll like these too!

Tinkerbell was sleeping upstairs, so she avoided torment the last time. I love how Flapjack photobombed the background!

Sadly, it’s true.

Random thrift store things:

After this, I made the pink octopus, which is just a plastic kid’s toy, into a necklace (like in this previous post). I was then promptly complimented on it at Home Depot. I am so amazing, I hardly know what to do with myself sometimes! Then I almost set my house on fire, and my swelled head goes back to normal proportions.

And this one is just for my sis, Beans, who is almost a celebrity now, thanks to my blog!

cause SHE LOVES TIGERS!!!

March 29, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . Arts and Crafts, Random typing. 3 comments.

How to Cook Bulghur Wheat

Bulghur wheat is kind of a weird food. It’s basically wheat kernels that have been barely broken up into smaller chunks. Here’s what it looks like from my grocery store’s bulk section:

It has lots of protein and fiber, and it’s a whole grain. There are lots of ways to prepare it, and here’s the basics to get you started. Whatever amount you want to cook, you need twice as much water as bulghur wheat. Boil the water, throw in the bulghur, and simmer with the lid on for 15-20 minutes, and make sure all the water is absorbed.

This is what it looks like cooked, but plain:

You can add olive oil, parmesan, garlic salt, and dill, or any kinds of cheese. It is great when you add a little garlic salt, and mix in some cooked vegetables. You can also throw it into soup, add cooked bulghur to meat loaf, or any number of things. I love to make it for breakfast with margerine, splenda, and a touch of brown sugar.

This stuff is basically a blank canvas, so you can do almost anything with it.

March 27, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . Cooking. 2 comments.

Sherwood Forest Faire

I had the opportunity last weekend to get dressed up as a gypsy and walk around in public like that. Jealous? Don’t be! Sherwood Forest Faire is still going on! It ends April 3rd though, so get on it if you want to go. If you haven’t heard of it, this is a smaller, newer version of the Texas Renaissance Festival, that is much closer to Austin. The whole thing is themed around Robin Hood, and it has many of the same shows as other Renaissance festivals around the state.

There were lots of shops, and food vendors, and the place wasn’t that crowded. If you haven’t been to one of these before, I highly recommend it. Tons of people wear normal clothes, and tons dress up in “historical” clothing. Believe me, there are no history police walking around pointing out errors in anyone’s costume, so feel free to wear what you’d like. The shows are funny, you can walk around with beer and funnel cake, and this festival is in the midst of tons of trees, so it was nice and shady. The place is also very kid friendly, with a couple rides, face painting, and photo ops.

Our friend Todd competed in the archery contest:

A couple of our men-folk tried their hand at throwing knives (only my Hubby made anything stick :D)

I got some great shots of the Oskar Hasselhoff fighting school, and the Ded Bob Show was there also. I had never seen it before, and it was hilarious! A little tip from my friend Todd: If you’re in costume you are less likely to be called up on stage during these types of things. For me, that was comforting, because I really like to watch other people get teased on stage, rather than me.

Hubby and I were both dressed as gypsies, until he found an AWESOME pirate hat. Apparently gypsy + hat = pirate.

Obviously, I didn’t take pictures of everything available to do there. We circled around the whole place a few times, and spent a lot of time at the pub. There was a lot of conversation along these lines:

“Oh look! A pub! We should probably stop and have a drink!”

(not long later) “Oh look! The pub! Well, we want to stay hydrated!”

(a short time after that) “Hey! The pub! Well, the beer wenches have already seen us. I wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings by walking away now”.

(an even shorter time later) “Oh my! Is that a different pub?” “I don’t think…” “We should go in and check, just to be sure.”

After everything was over, and we were dusty, sunburned, and exhausted, we needed some sustenance. I sent Hubby into our favorite pizza joint, thinking hilarity would ensue. Nobody batted an eye!

We had a blast, and I would recommend it to anyone.

March 25, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bucket List, My Quest to be more Interesting. 3 comments.

Today’s Soundtrack

For some reason I’m listening to lots of Western/Indie/Kunf Fu type stuff this morning.

“My Body is a Cage” by Arcade Fire – the fan created video using clips of Once Upon a Time in the West. *SPOILER ALERT* It will ruin the end of the movie if you haven’t seen it yet!

“Knights of Cydonia” by Muse – sorry the video quality isn’t great.

All that of course leads me to “Man with the Harmonica”, the theme song from Once Upon a Time in the West.

It’s kind of strange, since I’m going dancing to 80’s music (hopefully) tonight.

March 25, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . Random typing. Leave a comment.

Book Review: The Fire Rose

I’m am a huge fan and uber nerd for Mercedes Lackey. She writes tons of fantasy books, and I’ve read most of them. That’s why I was super excited when I came across a new one at my local Half Price Books: The Fire Rose. This is basically a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, within Lackey’s Elemental Masters series. I loved it, and I wanted to do nothing but sit down and read it cover to cover.

You can read excerpts if you click the link above, and it has a description of the plot. Basically, a young girl is left at loose ends with no means to support herself once her father passes away. She receives a job offer that sounds too good to be true, and requires her to move across the country to San Francisco. She begins work as a translater for a mysterious employer she never sees, due to his disformity caused by an unknown accident.

This one is really well written, with fully fleshed-out, and likeable characters, and a plot that keeps moving, without feeling rushed or sluggish at any point. On the Clever Chick scale it rates as “Earned a home on my shelf, will be reread, and will only be loaned to friends grudgingly, followed by constant pestering until I get it back”.

March 23, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . Book Reviews. 2 comments.

Curry-rific

Hubby has always been a huge fan of curry, and pretty much anything spicy. I have been attempting to increase my tolerance for spicy things, and have discovered that I actually like curry, too. I’ve never been able to make it at home, until my friend Black of Two Tokens recommended this:

The directions on the side are for meat, but I used it before to make a tofu, cauliflower and onion curry and it was fantastic. This time I decided to use cauliflower, onion, and cooked lentils. I chopped up and sauteed and entire head of cauliflower, and a medium onion.

Once it started to get brownish, I added 2 1/2 cups of water, as per the directions, and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. I added my fully cooked 2 cups of lentils, and then let everything heat back up, since they came from the fridge.

This is what comes out of the package:

The whole thing is made like a chocolate bar, so you just break it into chunks, and mix it into the food. They start to melt, and thicken in the liquid. Make sure to stir constantly, and try to avoid lumps.

Here’s the finished product! It was really good, and the lentils kind of melted into the sauce. I think I might try chick peas next time, since they might hold up a little better. I may have used a bit too much cauliflower for the amount of sauce created, but it was still really good.

Even though the package says medium hot, I don’t find this to be hot in the slightest. They do have mild and other version, and I found it at my normal grocery store in the asian section. It was maybe $2.50 for the box? Not too bad. This is not the type of curry that has the coconut milk in it. I love those sooooo much, but again, have no idea how to make it. I am starving right now, and writing this post is torture. Time to acquire snacks!!

March 21, 2011. Tags: , , , , . Cooking. 4 comments.

Maybe “Clever” is too strong a word

We had an “incident” at the house the other day. As with many other such occurences, I can look back and see that there were ample warning signs; warning signs that anyone who had not ironically dubbed themselves “clever” would be sure to notice. Me however? Hell no! You may have to start calling me The Hubris-filled Chick. It was bad. Here’s the epic story:

I have recently acquired a tiny ceramics kiln, much to my delight. I’ve been wanting one for years, and I was excited to finally start firing. The one problem is the kiln has to have 6 feet clear all the way around it when firing, but the cord is nowhere near that long. We used the extension cord pictured above to make it reach. The test firing went off without a hitch. I loaded all the stuff I’d made into the kiln, and got it ready for my first real firing!

Looking back, the warning signs were obvious. This extension cord is supposed to be 3 pronged, but the third one, the ground, was missing. We’d used this same cord before to run the lawn mower, and it worked fine, so I kind of ignored that. Apparently, that is pretty important. You can also see electrical tape on the left hand side of the photo up there. That’s where the cats chewed it, and we electrical taped it back together. The third problem was that the orange plastic around the base of the plug had worn away, so that you could see about an 1/8th an inch of the interior wires. In my mind these were all separate incidences, but they should have added up to a major warning. Alas, I just went ahead.

Hubby started the process for me while I was at work and he was off for the day. He followed the correct procedures, and checked on it, then went and ran an errand at my request. When he came home, the whole house smelled of burning plastic. He found the cord, melted and turning to charcoal. He quickly unplugged it so the kiln would shut off. That was probably not the safest choice, but that’s what he did.  He had to open all the windows and the garage to air the house out, and we left them open overnight.

The plastic is fused to the chair. I know we had a super close call, and I’m sure in an alternate universe, our house caught fire. I am so thankful that my husband and all our pets are fine, if slightly retarded from the plastic fumes. We now own a heavy duty extension cord that is used only for the kiln. Anytime we fire, one of us checks on it every hour or two. The stuff that was inside the kiln during the melt down was not affected, and the kiln seems to be working great also. So there’s the whole gory story. I’m glad my misfortune amuses you all so much!

March 19, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . Arts and Crafts, House Stuff, Random typing. 11 comments.

Swap is my new favorite word

Thank God for Facebook, because my friends hear about the coolest things. Kathy Phan of kathyphantastic posted a link for a style bloggers conference. Believe me, I am aware I don’t fit into that category. But, they were having a clothing swap as part of their event, and I definitely fit into the “Cheap as all get out” category.

My friend Jessica and I showed up at the place, somewhere down on 2nd. Jessica was driving, and I was looking for parking spots, so I didn’t pay much attention to where we were. It was one of those gorgeous, Austin-y nights that we cherish around here. You stand outside, feel the clean, fresh air on your skin, and everyone in the city seems to be in a good mood (but don’t move here, it’s terrible).

We dropped off our clothes to be sorted, and paid our $5 cover charge. That may seem odd, but there were actual employees, or volunteers of some kind organizing everything, and the amount of loot I got far outweighed the $5, which is what I was counting on with a bunch of fashion people donating clothes. Here’s what I made off with:

Super comfy, casual, and very flattering on me:

Jessica initially grabbed this, and apparently I made too many “jokes” about stealing it, so she generously gave it to me!

This is a close up on the pattern:

This one is super hot on me! And it’s a nice long shirt, but it doesn’t look like maternity wear! Double win!

Yes, this one is electric orange. If anything, the camera dulled the color. But it was free and fits me really well. We’ll see how often I wear it, but I figured, no harm in going outside my usual color pallette.

I know those of you who know me are saying, “What? A dress? Surely, you can’t be serious!” I am serious, and it looks cute on me! And it’s comfortable! And don’t call me Shirley! (Hey-yo!)

I’m not completely sure about this one, but something about it just said “awesome”.

This one is backless, and the brand is “Rocker Stalker”. That cracked me up, plus it’s super soft. I definitely gravitated toward cotton that has been washed a lot.

It’s hard to tell on the hanger, but this is a super cute 1950’s style halter top! SCORE!!

This one, I’m not going to lie, is a mumu. I liked the fabric, and in the frenzy I just grabbed it. Jessica has tried to convince me that by wearing it with a belt, it will look fine, but I’m still not sure. This may reappear in another post, such as “How to turn a mumu into something a real person would wear”.

This dress, even though it says size 6, fits me PERFECTLY! It’s very 1950’s, which is my favorite era for clothing. Double SCORE!

This is one of those ambiguous “is it a shirt, is it a dress” type things. This is the back. It fits me really well down to my hips, then everything gets horrific. I’m planning on this becoming just a long T-shirt, so hopefully that will be a future post as well.

You didn’t think I forgot accessories, did you? Cute quilty hippy purse made me think a small project like this would be a great way to learn how to quilt. Hmmm… third post?

Look at the cute!!

This was my favorite find of the day, and all by itself was totally worth the $5 admission. An orange pea coat!!! And it fits me like a glove. I know it may not be everyone’s taste, but when I saw this across the room, I would have punched people to get it. Fontunately, there were no cat fights.

So I got rid of clothes I didn’t want, got a bunch of new to me clothes, and the leftovers were given to charity. Plus all the t-shirts have already been washed to super-softness. Win, win, win, win!! It’s gotten me thinking about having my own swap at the house, instead of a garage sale. Or maybe a virtual swap, where I take pictures and post everything on Facebook for my buddies to check out. Anyone interested?

March 17, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . My Quest to be more Interesting, Thriftiness is Cool. 13 comments.

Book Review: The Quickie

James Patterson is definitely not my usual reading material, but when I had to take my car for an oil change without reading material Natty Light, one of my coworkers, was kind enough to loan me “The Quickie”. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t generally read this type of book, but I did not guess the plot. It starts with a woman who sees her husband go into a hotel with another woman, and he later lies to her about where he was all day. She assumes the worst, and has a revenge fling. From there, more poo hits the fan than one person should be able to deal with.

There were several twists in the book, some of which I didn’t suspect. It was a very fast read, with bizarrely short chapters. It would be really good for traveling, and was great for waiting at the mechanic, because there were ample stopping points. All in all, I’d give it a rating of “I’d give it to a friend who needed something to read, but not ask for it back”. I think this is my 9th book for the year. I started another one, but it’s so dry I might have to give up. Can I add it to the list if I don’t finish it?

March 15, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . Book Reviews. Leave a comment.

Veggie Dip

When we had a party recently, I was at the store loading up on snack foods, and of course, box wine. When I mentally totalled up what was in my cart, I got a little gun-shy. I opted for chips and salsa, and left out the queso. I made homemade hummus, with veggies, and then I wanted a veggie dip as well. At $4 for 16 ounces, I was not happy. Then I remembered what my Sis-in-Law Lis always does:

Just mix it in the sour cream container, let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour, then stir and enjoy. Oh yeah, and that’s about $2. Half price? Not bad.

Lately, I’ve been trying to rethink all kinds of habitual purchases, and see if there’s a cheaper way to accomplish the same thing, with very little effort on my part. For example, I used to buy those sausage and biscuit breakfast sandwiches which cost $0.75 to $1 each. One a day adds up quickly. Now I started buying the pop-can biscuits which are $0.87 for ten, and the fully-cooked, frozen sausage patties which are $5 for 30. That works out to about $0.25 for breakfast instead of $1. I’m now wondering about bisquik, or something similar to make my own biscuits, but I’m also looking for a high-protein, cheap, lazy alternative. Possibly something with eggs. I’ll let you know if I find anything worthwhile.

March 13, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Cooking, Thriftiness is Cool. Leave a comment.

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