Renovation Side-Effects: A Vignette

I’m standing in the kitchen cooking dinner: breakfast foods, at the request of The Empress of Whisky.

I feel something brush the side of my head. I glance down at the floor and see a fuzzy white thing.

I assume this must be some bit of loose ceiling material that just decided to fall from the hole above.

I resume cooking, trying to get these eggs just the way The Empress likes them.

I catch, out of the corner of  my eye, another bit of white fluffiness falling from the hole in the ceiling.

At this point I say, out loud, “Hey!”

Giggling follows from above, through the hole in the ceiling.

It’s The Empress, throwing rolled up bits of paper at me from the upstairs bathroom.

I knew, when we had that leak, the one that put the hole in the ceiling, that there would be struggles in the days ahead, as we waited for renovation.

This one was totally unexpected.

Whisky Wind-down, 8: Happy Place

A glass of Crown Royal rye whisky stands next to an empty mini-bottle on a yellow KitchenAid stand mixer.

Today’s dram: Crown Royal, rye

Today’s tasting notes: How do you make traditionally easy-going Canadian whisky bite back? Mix in rye.

This one is 90% rye, though, so maybe it’s actually the Canadian bit that’s smoothing an otherwise harsh rye?

At any rate, it’s a pseudo-sweet, biting-but-smooth dram, just right for a nightcap at the end of a long day.

Today’s thoughts: The long day was mostly in the kitchen, which is one of my favorite places, with two of my favorite people, Mom and The Empress of Whisky.

Between us, we produced two varieties of cupcakes, lemon chiffon pie, lemon syrup, a chicken and pasta dinner, and pizza dough for the traditional lunch tomorrow.

We also played games, told stories, went shopping, and assembled furniture.

All in all, great day.

Today’s toast: To the holiday hustle; it’s the good kind of tiring.

Whisky Wind-down, 9: Home Again

A bottle of Canadian Mist whisky sits next to a filled glass, next to a tiny tabletop Christmas tree. All of these items sit upon a kitchen counter.

Today’s dram: Canadian Mist, blended, aged 36 months

Today’s tasting notes: Look, it’s young Canadian whisky, so it doesn’t hold much. What’s there is warm, sweet, and pretty smooth. It goes down damned easy, actually.

Today’s thoughts: This is my favorite dram yet, and it has nothing to do with the whisky and everything to do with the setting and the company. This is from my mom’s liquor shelf, in the kitchen of her new home, to which we just toasted.

Today’s toast: To home, there really is no place like it for the holidays, no matter how new or old.

2017 Whisky Wind-down, 346: Not My Whisky

[Editorial note: You probably remember 2016 Whisky Wind-down. Hell, it basically just ended. Am I saying 2017 is already so bad that it’s time to start a similar countdown already? No. I am not. However, some days beg to be noted in time. Also, some days call for a stiff drink.] 

Today’s dram: Ruskova Vodka Real American Whisky

Today’s tasting notes: Blarg. Gak. <string of expletives>

Today’s thoughts: Appropriately enough, I woke up sick today. Psychosomatic? Could be.

At any rate, I hadn’t been awake long when my phone rang. T-Mobile customer service. Without getting into the specifics, I’ll just say the company and I have an ongoing billing dispute. They’re wrong, of course. The service reps — I talked to three, over the course of 90 minutes — acknowledge the problem, but say they “can’t change that in the system.”

All in all, it was a frustrating experience, being in the right but still unable to make a positive change. Powerless before the needs of the corporation. Pay up or lose.

Which is, again, appropriate enough for the day at hand.

All the facts in the world don’t matter if one side has power and the willingness to use it.

All the reason in the world doesn’t matter if the other side is unreasonable.

Try as you might, the inertia of the system will carry you away, regardless.

Today’s notes on the immediate future: And so … I drank my selected “whisky.”

I poured a second.

After a bit, it got easier.

I mean, if you have low expectations.

No, lower than that. 

Afterward, I went to my happy place. 

Not the bar. 

My other happy place: the kitchen.  

There, I baked Christmas cookies.

What with travel, various sicknesses, and other conflicts, this weekend is the earliest I have been able to coordinate gathering with my family to observe the holiday.

It’s harder than it used to be, and I don’t just mean the scheduling. 

See, try as I might, I can’t convince some of them we’re better off, by far, than we were eight years ago, and the next four years bode poorly for all of us.

(In fairness, try as they might, they can’t convince me of the opposite, either.)

We resolve these differences mostly by ignoring them. 

At least we agree on cookies. 

Today’s toast: Nostrovia, comrades! “May the wings of liberty never lose a feather.” –Jack Burton

2016 Whisky Wind-down, 8: American Classics

Today’s dram: Bulleit Bourbon

Today’s tasting notes: Bite. Such bite. But it gets sweeter as you sip. Benefits of a high rye content. Good stuff. 

Today’s thoughts: Despite the spelling, Bulleit is pronounced “bullet” and is as American as your favorite cliché. 

I make my favorite cliché mostly for holidays. This year, with the help of my five-year-old nephew, I successfully completed the task.   

Today’s deep-dish thought: It’s only pie. Relax. 

Today’s toast: To the bakers: May your calculations be correct and your pies rise as expected. 

Review: Chips and Cheese

The chips are Xochitl blue corn chips — organic, no preservatives, no cholesterol, no trans fats, no GMO. 
Not bad.

I picked up a bag on a recommendation that they are among the highest rated corn chips, but, honestly, for the price — about twice typical corn chips — they don’t impress. 

They are very thin, however, which means a one-pound bag contains a lot of chips, and, when you’re dipping them in cheese, the chip-to-cheese ratio nicely favors the cheese. 
Mmm … cheese. 

Speaking of, I used a Serious Eats cheese sauce recipe that’s pretty good. (Tip: If you’re careful, you can make that work in the microwave.)

Overall: Recommended; would eat again. 

The Passion of the Peeps

[This is a set of photos I shot a couple of years ago, when leftover Peeps met with free time and boredom. I’ve been meaning to post these for a while, but, you know, I am terrible at updates. *cough* Hi again, by the way.]
I have a friend who believes any non-yellow Peep is an abomination.
Well, let’s see what we can do with these pink abominations, shall we?
Hot pot, melted butter, Peeps.

Do Peeps suffer from separation anxiety?
The heat is on, and the melting begins.

Did you know? Peep eyes are made of carnauba wax. 

The eyes are roaming from Peep to Peep.

Alas, poor Peeps; you couldn’t take the heat.

“Double, double toil and trouble; …

“Fire burn, and caldron bubble.”

And Rice Krispies.

(I was out of eye of newt.)

(No toe of frog, either.)

(Where do you get that stuff, anyway? Trader Joe’s?)

Yes, I made green ones earlier.
Yes, I ate many of them while they were still warm and gooey.  

Cover shot.
(With added yellow Peeps. Even non-abominations can  be pressed into Peep Krispy Treats.)

The Sequel

This looks promising. 

For me, not the Peeps.


Any last words?

Cigarette, perhaps?

Looks like a Peep dance club.

In hell. 

Gonna need a skin graft.

I can see his insides.

Partners in crime. 

Time for the cover-up.

Nothing to see here. 
Move along.

Destroy the evidence, the delicious evidence.
Thanks. I’ll be back with proper updates soon. Really. Probably. Maybe. Don’t bet the mortgage payment.
CREDITS: Photos by me. Recipes by Serious Eats here and here. (Serious Eats, which is my favorite cooking site, also has many other uses for leftover Peeps.)