Stop Touching Things

"Miss! you can't touch the artwork..."
"He means you, too, G-ma"

Monday, August 31, 2009

Behold The Newest Header!

The Queen of Howktown Riding a Bike in Her Apron
Photo by Czarina of Saarisburg

She does not lie

In reference to the blog post below, I must say, Howktown does not lie.
I recommend anyone who has a significant other with a sweet tooth try those doughnuts, as my hubby, not a typically lovey-dovey man, went nearly gaga for an entire day after I surprised him with hot fresh doughnuts one Saturday morning.
In full disclosure, I surprise him with a different breakfast every Saturday morning, so I was unprepared for the appreciation I received this particular day.
I think they key could be in making them while he sleeps, for he truly has no idea how simple and quick these little beauties are, and he seems to have the impression I gave up a good portion of my morning in service to his breakfast. And why would I spoil this illusion?
Seriously people. Try it.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

More Photo Excuses!

Yoinks, Folks!

I have a slew of photos on my phone for at least two posts about what the Rubdown in Howktown is all about!

For example: Did you know I participated in the American Political System and attended a Town Hall Meeting on health care? INDEED! In fact! I tweeted the whole thing! Until my phone died. I have a picture and commentary (of course I do!) all electronically held in multiple locations (um, your brain produces electricity, so I think it should count as a electronic device).

Also, I had another kitchen disaster that while horrendously ugly, was delicious. All I can tell you is that it involved a stick. If you're from Minnesota, you know what that means. Somehow food is involved in being attached to that stick. You know it.

I promise to write on those posts as soon as I can gather them together, but seriously, this "no camera" thing is beginning to be a bother.

::::: THIS JUST IN:::::
A State Holiday soon approach-eth? I beseech upon the loyal subjects of Howktown (and all my friendly sisterly neighbors as such) to put a good word in with the Minister of Birthday Presents to somehow arrange for me to acquire a camera. It could be as simple as a gift certificate to (the official Howktown shopping mall) to use towards this necessity. Also, please forgive this vulgar begging for trivial stuff, when we all know the Mental State of Hilarity is all we need to be satisfied with life.

Right? Okay, Good.

Anywho. SO, I'm sure your wanting to know what the 'take away' portion of this post is. What are you bringing back to your life to make it a better place. I'll tell you what it is... Doughnuts.

1 cup warm milk
5 tsps of yeast
2 cups of flour
1/2 cup of mashed potato (I kid you not)
1/2 salt
1/4 tsp of sugar
2 TBSP of oil

Warm the milk (not HOT about 100°) and add yeast and sugar. Set aside to proof about 5-10 minutes (should be foamy)

Mix flour, potato (just nuke a smallish potato in the microwave for 5 minutes, scrape it from the skin and add to the flour -after you measure it of course) and salt in a mixer.

Add milk to the flour mixture and mix with the dough hook attachment (but Erin what's a dough hook? I don't have that kind of mixer!" I'll tell ya what to do, sister! Get yer hands in that there bowl and get 'em dirty!) and mix on slow until combined. Add the oil and then mix on medium speed for three minutes (or until the dough is throughly mixed, not too sticky, and workable)

Knead that dough on a floured surface three or four times and then pat the dough out flat until it is 1/2 inch thick. Oh, go ahead and use a rolling pin if you want to.

If you happen to have a doughnut cutter (really, you do?) cut out some doughnuts! Other acceptable tools are biscuit cutters, tin cookie cutters, overturned glasses, and of course freehand. Don't forget to cut out the holes in the middle (small cookie cutters work great! I know you've always wondered what those were for! I mean, who makes such tiny cookies! Well except the Cookie Crunch guy.)

Set those aside to rise about ten minutes.

Start heating up 1/2 inch of oil in a heavy bottomed skillet, cast iron skillet, or if you want to roll like they do in Howktown... a wok.

Is your oil at 350°? Have your doughnuts risen? Start placing them in the oil to fry. The take less then a minute per side, so been ready. Have a paper bag of cinnamon and sugar near by and after letting the excess oil drip off drop them in the bag. When your first batch is in the bag, give it a good shake to coat and then place doughnuts on a cooling rack, or like my mom did, directly into her mouth.

There you go! I made this for breakfast this morning with some good coffee, and it took about 20-30 minutes total. Kylie gave me this recipe which she found online after her husband renewed his vows right at the breakfast table after his first bite.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sometimes you Fail, and that's a good thing.

The truth is, sometimes you try to make something and it's a miserable failure. That shouldn't deter you.

For example: This weekend.

Jo Jo Potato made the trek down south for a day of cookery and winery. She thought "Hey, remember that ceviche we had while in Mexico! We should try and make that!"
Great Idea! The only thing holding us back were the fact that we live in the Midwest. No where near fresh limes, fish, or Mexican breezes off the beach. That and neither of us had ever had ceviche prior to going to Mexico, nor had we since.

With that in mind, we made it anyway.

Jo, Kitchen Commander, and I break out the new cutting boards and start a choppin'

Though we were encumbered by some important facts mentioned above... we did have the following things going for us: Plenty of cutting boards (Thanks Queen of Howktown for finally buying that three pack at Target that you've been eying for months because you're tired of sharing the one cutting board we had in the house) and garden fresh tomatoes. We also do know our way around a kitchen, and we fit three adults in this tiny one. Go US!

Tuna Ceviche, Trout Ceviche, and good ol' Guac

We also made some guacamole for good measure. Why? [everyone answers in unison] Because it's a SUPERfood!

Ultimately it tasted like fish covered in lime juice. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't the amazing mouthwatering, 5 trips back to the buffett to get more before anyone else did treat that we'd had before. meh.

I felt like I was being a bit stuck up or something when I didn't like it, but then I looked around and my compatriots were not impressed either. I did not feel too let down, however! Now I can say that I've tried to make it, and this is where you learn about cooking, when you make mistakes. It's these disappointments that teach you about flavors and cooking methods that will help you in the future.

Better luck next time... either that or another trip to Mexico!

P.S. My parents, who haven't had the pleasure of tasting the original, loved it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Good Ol' North Carolina

There are some things that you can always count on in Howktown.

  • Guacamole will always be a superfood
  • Everything is funny in Haiku
  • Fake bands are way funnier than real bands
  • Trey will always provide amusing and often hilarious internet destinations
Trey, whom I affectionately refer to as North Carolina around Howktown, since nobody seems to remember whom I am referring to unless I add North Carolina at the end. So I just dropped the whole "Name" thing since it is so passe`.

Anywho. Good ol' NC has been one of my most diabolical fiends... er friends because of our mutual love for haiku and fake bands and he has passed along this link which has been amusing howktown for a better part of the day and thought I would share it with you.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

More Science and How I was Fooled by Marketing... once again.

Now you already know that Howktown approves of taste tests, because they are very scientific. All you need it food to taste, blindfolds, and people who still have the ability to taste things! This means NO zombies, which is good because Howktown does NOT approve of Zombies... bleeeaaaggh

Anywho, I like to have taste tests for several reasons besides just scientific discovery.
  1. It is creative together time with your fellow tasters
  2. It is an excuse to buy something special in larger quantities
  3. You get to eat things that generally taste good
  4. You get to give your opinion about such things and tell everyone else why they are wrong and/or
  5. Form alliances with foodies that agree with you... at least until the next taste test.

This months taste test: Kerry Gold Cheese

When I was perusing the artisan cheese pile (seriously, do they ever stack these cheeses? It's like a scavenger hunt sometimes through the Pile O' Cheese!) at the local HyVee, I was looking for something specific when I spied a block of cheese with a black wrapper. I impressed by the Aged Cheddar's black package. "Ohh, it's wrapped in black! It must be some sort of 'can't see the light until you're ready to eat it' specialness about it. I held in my hand momentarily and then set it back down in the pile.

I proceeded to search for the cheese that I was originally looking for, the house favorite, Dubliner cheese. It is always a search for this one, I can wade through 2 dozen blocks of swiss and cheddar and only come across one of the Dubliner. I immediately grabbed it and cheered "AHA You can't get a way from me!" (But only in my head, because I didn't want to be carted away without my cheese).

Then I spied the black wrapped aged cheddar and thought, "you know, we always buy the same cheese because we don't want to miss out on it's yumminess, but what about these other cheeses. What if we are missing out on THEIR yumminess?" that's when it occurred to me. TIME FOR A TASTE TEST!

Doug did the honors of preparing the samples, he has a special way that he likes to cut the cheese (snirk). He slices it really thin, then he slices a Pink Lady or Honey Crisp Apple really thin as well. We ate some slices of cheese alone, and some with slices of apple. All the cheeses were put on a plate unlabeld and Doug didn't tell us which was which until we had made a decision over which we liked best. I was secretly voting for the Aged Cheddar, because of the black packaging, but I didn't tell anyone that.

We tasted three varieties: Blarney Castle, Dubliner, and Aged Cheddar.

The Blarney Castle cheese was very creamy and reminded us of Gouda. It was a semi firm cheese that tasted good, but wasn't very exciting. The texture was very different from the other two cheeses and you could tell right away it was different, just by looking at it. Oh, by the way, this wasn't a blind taste test, because I totally forgot to blindfold everybody.

The main debate was between the Dubliner and Aged Cheddar. These two looked similar, except one was a little more golden in color. The cheeses were firm and slightly flakey. I picked up the lighter cheese and put it in my mouth. It was moderately sharp and had cheddar flavor. It went well with the slices and apples and was overall pretty good. It had a slightly familiar taste, so I thought for sure it was the Dubliner and then went for the next cheese. The Golden One. This cheese melted in my mouth, the sharp flavor was strong and the aroma was robust. This was a cheese! As I laid it on my tongue, I tasted little crystalline nuggets of goodness. My oh my, it was my favorite. This cheese has personality!

What Doug revealed was the Golden Cheese was the Dubliner and the lighter cheese was the aged cheddar. Doh! Suckered by packaging again! All the cheeses were good, but everyone agreed that the Dubliner was by far the best. I suggested you hop on over to your local cheese pile and pick some up.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Spam Flu

Ahhh Spam. How many ways you've tortured my childhood with your sickly pink color and gelatinous goo that schlurps you out of your can.

My father tortured us with Spam breakfasts and Spam salads as kids. We may have really liked it, but the idea of it was just off putting. Living within driving distance of the birthplace of Spam led me to threaten potential first dates with trips to the Spam Museum. They all declined.

That was then. Since that time Spam has become COOL. There is even a musical about it.

So, what does this have to with HOWKTOWN? Well, let's just say I heard a rumor this weekend at the Howk Family Reunion about a Spam Cook Off between my dad and my aunt. That of course led to the rest of the weekend thinking up crazy Spam recipes.

My dad wants to take a loaf of Spam, drill a hole in the middle, spread some cream cheese in there and then insert a pickle. He was telling me this over breakfast and let's just say the egg covered fork stayed perched in front of my open mouth for a good 20 seconds as he described this 'entry'. He wasn't finished, though. Then after all ingredients are combined, you slice it. "Like a Pimento Loaf!" he exclaimed!

Oh, that idea was added to the list of about 40 things he wants to try... including Spam Jelly, and Spam Ice cream.

Yesterday, some of us weren't feeling too great. We made a joke about hoping it wasn't the swine flu, "I think I know what the problem is, it's the SPAM flu. Not exactly swine in either case." reported the Mayor of Ingvaldia. This morning, a full 3/4 of us had fevers or upset stomachs. Oh, I know it's the Spam Flu, and I don't have it so I'm steering clear of the place and eating lots of vegetables... the furthest thing from Spam there is.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

When your Snot becomes Self Aware

***Hey! Wanna know something funny. I didn't write this post today. I wrote it the other day in the midst of my brain fog and then forgot to post it! Yay! Here it is a little late.***

People think that is awesome having a Nurse for Mom. While I readily admit my mom is AWESOME, the fact that she was a nurse was a double edged sword.

It's hard to fake sick when someone can pull out their stethoscope, tongue depressors, and take your blood pressure all between breakfast and bus stop.

The Mayor of Ingvaldia tells a story of her youth when she complained about a sore throat. She complained and pleaded with my mom, until finally she took a peek inside and her tonsils were green. "Oh, I guess you are sick". You'd think that would have eased my mother a bit and let us be sick a little more often, but instead it became a standard.

Me: "Mom, I don't feel good"
Mom: "Is your throat green?"
Me: "um, no."
Mom: "get ready for school"

Kylie got around that by going to the school nurse. They weren't allowed to give you any type of medication, so they just let you take a nap for a half hour or they sent you home.

It is a big joke around the house now, but then it was torture. We really just didn't want to go to school, like every teenager... but we secretly wanted our mother to believe we were desperately ill and stay home from work and pamper us.

As an adult, I try to only call in sick when I'm actually sick, and I don't think I've used a sick day for illness in years.

Imagine my surprise when I find out I'm actually sick! That cold I had a week ago transmogrified and my snot started to become self aware. Moving from sinus cavity to sinus cavity trying to take over the world... until I had my very first sinus infection!

It is awful! The anti-biotics make me feel tired and woozy... and as of yet the snot is still holding down the fort.

Howktown approves of Naps in Hammock.