Saturday, August 28, 2010

Frozen Delights!

I had a moment a few weeks ago where I decided I was no longer going to buy one of the staples of my kitchen: No Sugar Added Fudgsicles. It just grossed me out thinking that I was eating what essentially amounted to a frozen chemical stick. So, I decided to fulfill my sweet cool cravings, I was going to buy popsicle molds and make my own. So I did.

I settled on the "Groovy" molds from Tovolo that I bought at Hill's Kitchen. (If you want to buy these, call Leah at Hill's Kitchen and she'll hook you up...Amazon's good but no cheaper...so why not "buy local." :))

So, I've become a bit obsessed. (These were taken w/ my iphone, so sorry for the quality...)

Honeydew pops...basically just honeydew, some honey, and a little yogurt:
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I believe these were my personal favorites...Blueberry Limoncello. I would give you the recipe, but I didn't have one. Basically, blueberries, limoncello, freeze!

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I also made delightful Fudge Pops from a Taste of Home recipe that are now on my "do not make" list. Why? Not because they were gross. Quite the opposite--they were delish, but way too caloric and delicious to make regularly! You can find that recipe here.

I do highly advocate making frozen treats...they are generally healthier than what you'd get in the store and you can come up with some cleverly delicious recipes on the fly. I'm excited to try additional ones! And, apparently, they're the new trend--popping up in bars in cities, including mine! Witness this feature from the Washington Post. I'd like to point out that that article came out AFTER I started making my pops. What can I say? I'm a trendsetter! :) Here is the accompanying video about fancy popsicles from the Dairy Godmother in Alexandria (one of my favorite places down there!).

http://specials.washingtonpost.com/mv/embed/?title=Ice%20pop%20sophisticate&stillURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fwp-dyn%2Fcontent%2Fphoto%2F2010%2F08%2F03%2FPH2010080304861.jpg&flvURL=%2Fmedia%2F2010%2F07312010-1v&width=480&height=270&autoStart=false&clickThru=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fwp-dyn%2Fcontent%2Fvideo%2F2010%2F08%2F03%2FVI2010080304829.html

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

We're gonna need a bigger kitchen

I just bought this beaut at a big discount (still more than I had originally planned...but...):

 




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I scored my deal ($199, normal price $300 or so) on Rue La La. (If you like being suckered into daily deals, use my link and I'll get credit...) By the time I got to the deal, the only choices were Blue Willow (shown) and Cinnamon. The Cinnamon would clash with my bright red KitchenAid food processor, so I went with the blue. (I really wanted yellow...but life is about compromise.)

Anyway, I had long wondered if I needed a stand mixer. I don't bake all that much, because I have an eating problem...if I bake, I eat. I had sort of taken pride in the fact that I could bake during Christmas with only my nearly broken Procter Silex hand mixer that I got years and years before at Kmart for under $10. It had some kind of gear loose, and you could hear it rattle around. That puppy was recently replaced with a Cuisinart hand mixer. But, in some ways the old dog was better for low speeds. I digress...all these appliance considerations had me thinking about how often I use various kitchen appliances and how that differs from others. Here's my list...

Coffee Maker: I have a drip coffee maker that I got in grad school after a sordid "break up" with a friend whose maker I was using which came after my college era 4-cup brewer bit the dust. I got it on Amazon.com for $19 after shipping. I use it nearly daily. Recently, it doesn't seem to get all that hot and is ugly given the missing carafe lid (unfortunate dishwasher accident).


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Cordless Electric Kettle: I use this nearly daily. So helpful for brewing tea and for pre-boiling water with less time and energy than on the stove. Indispensible in my book. And, my dad would agree once I got him one for his birthday.


Kettle

Toaster: This is one of the cheapest appliances I own--Toastmaster, under $10. I use this more days than not. Mine has a Pop Tarts level...I do not use that. Don't believe me?


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KitchenAid Blender: This was acquired when I was on a smoothie kick and convinced I needed a blender...and not just any blender, but the granddaddy of blenders. It's helpful for soups and for smoothies, but I don't use it daily. Recently, I've used it for preparing popsicles. I've always kind of regretted having such a nice one.

Stick Blender: This was a more recent acquisition. Very helpful for blending soups, or for quick blending jobs. Also helpful for whipping with the included whisk attachment. Whips cream and egg whites sooooo easily.

Waffle Maker: I use this at least once a month. What's cool is that my waffle maker is also a pizzelle maker and sandwich maker. I never use the sandwich plates, but I do use the pizzelle iron during Christmas.

Popcorn Popper: Shamefully, I never use. However, I store. Why? Who knows.

Food Processor: As you may recall, I recently bought a KitchenAid food processor and am REALLY pleased with this purchase. I use it usually once a week or so for chopping or slicing or shredding or something. It's great for bread making too.

Now, if the food processor took up half my kitchen, this powerful bad boy takes up the other half and then some! I haven't decided where to keep it permanently. Right now, it's positioned beside its buddy. I'm glad I didn't get the cinnamon. I think they make a nice, patriotic couple.


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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Caulk-Sure

If I had to choose one thing I hate about my apartment, the bathroom would be up there. It's fugly. Okay, it's not that bad, but it has a lot that could be changed. Oh, like the cracked tiles and the tub where all the enamel has worn off and a huge area of yellowed disgusting adhesive on the tub where an adhesive tub mat once was. Add to that dried and cracked caulk, and the whole thing is a nightmare. I can clean until I'm blue in the face, and it's still disgusting. Examine:


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Keep in mind this is AFTER I just cleaned with an abrasive cleanser.


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Yes, gross. I mentioned the caulk (which was not in great shape when I moved in 5 years ago) to my landlord once, but you know, given that I have decent rent, I hate to push things too much for minor problems. So, I've thought about doing it myself. My first and only other experience recaulking a tub was in 2000 when I lived in a group house. The landlady there was more or less a slumlord, so having her do it was out of the question and there was NO way I was living with the caulk that my roommates had never cleaned.  And so started my first adventure with the caulking. That was enough of an experience to keep me from caulking. It isn't pleasant. What had me come back was, sadly an infomercial, for this:


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I saw the infomercial a long time ago, but it caught up with me again at a moment of  particular vulnerability last Friday at Bed, Bath & Beyond. A stressful office move, a 20% coupon, and clearance price all conspired to put me down the path of recaulking again.

On Saturday, I geared up, I was ready, and this time I had the tools for a job: The "As Seen on TV" product, rubber gloves, a utility knife, and flat head screwdriver. I was PUMPED UP! That caulk was going to get it good!


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Now, I feel the need to warn you. What follows is not suitable for all viewers. Proceed with caution.

First, you slice the caulk on either side to loosen it.


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And then you just dig, and remove and dig and remove...it ain't pretty.


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See what I mean? Eventually, it will all be gone. By eventually, I mean like an hour later. You have this.


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After that, you clean it out a bit with some bleach to kill whatever gross mold is in there and let it dry. I used rags and a hair drier, just to make sure. Then the fun could begin. My tools:


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The caulk came with the As Seen On TV tool. It has "Microban" which is supposed to fight mold. The snaky thing is backer rod. Essentially, if the crack is deeper than 3/8", you need to put something else in there. I just so happened to have some from one of my other escapades.

I didn't photograph the interim process because, well, my hands were a mess. It's times like this I wish I had a husband...to take blog photos! :) The tool helped smooth out the "bead." The end results were wonderful and made such a HUGE difference!


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It doesn't change the cracks and lack of tub enamel, but at least I don't have gross cracked moldy caulk anymore!