Sunday, February 22, 2009

blog #252 >>The Joys of Jello: Part 2 - Molds

In my fight to educate the public about the awesomeness of Jello I'll be posting a series of my favorite Jello recipes. Today's topic will be the classic Jello mold.

My Basic Jello Mold Recipe
(This is the one I use for every single one of my Jello concoctions.)

2 3oz boxes of Jello (or 1 6oz box)
2 envelopes of Knox plain gelatin
2 cups boiling water (or more)
(just think 2+2+2 and if you double it 4+4+4)

Mix Jello and gelatin in a large glass mixing bowl. (Don't use metal it will absorb all the heat of the boiling water.) Add boiling water stir about 3 minutes until gelatin is completely dissolved. Pick your Jello mold. Most hold about 2.5 - 3.5 cups liquid. Pour Jello into mold and top off with extra water if needed. Stir lightly in mold. (If you're unsteady and clumsy like me. I would suggest putting your Jello mold in a pan before filling for easier handling. Spilling Jello on the floors will make them sticky for weeks.) Place Jello in refrigerator. Chill overnight or until completely set. Now you're ready to unmold it. This is the hard part. But if you used the recipe above it's going to be super firm and much less likely to break apart. Here are the three main ways to unmold your Jello:

(a) Run a small pointed knife that's been run under warm water around the top edge of the mold to loosen it. (I've had very poor results with this method and quite trying it.)

(b) Moisten tips of fingers in warm water and gently pull gelatin away from top edge of the mold. (I almost always use this method to release them and it works great.)

(c) Dip your Jello mold just to the rim in luke warm water (DO NOT USE HOT it will melt the whole thing!) for about 10 seconds. Repeat once if necessary. Do not make your water hotter or dip more than twice. (I only use this method for though ones, after the top methods have failed.)

(d) Lift from water and shake gently to loosen from edges.

(e) Moisten the top of the gelatin. (This makes it easier to position on plate.) Place lettuce around the edges and hold in place with plate. (Do not use warm plate it will melt the Jello.)

(f) Then invert mold and plate together. Lift mold off.

(g) If your Jello is absolutely STUCK, and won't come out after dipping it twice in the luke warm water. Do NOT dip it again. The problem isn't that it hasn't melted enough. You don't need to melt it at all. The problem is that it's created a vacuum and your Jello mold is acting like a giant suction cup. The best way to get it out now is to slip a finger down one of the sides carefully and work your way around the mold, until you hear the "Swoosh" sound. Then you'll know that the vacuum seal has been broken and you can carefully pull it out the rest of the way with your fingers or invert it on a plate.

Good luck!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

blog #251 >>Book of the Week:
Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights, an excellent book and a good read, was written by Emily Brontë (the sister of Charlotte Brontë who wrote Jane Eyre.)
I especially like the illustrations in this copy.
Random House Publishers ©1943

Alright, I wasn't going to post this part, because it's long, random and a perfect example of me just writing whatever weird thing pops into my mind. But on second thought, it's already written and it's been sitting in my drafts folder waiting for revision for over a month. And since it's not for a writing class and no one really reads my blog anyways. I figured I might as well post more about what stuck me while reading the book instead of just the usual, it's great, I like it. So without further ado, here's the rough draft:

I think my favorite part of most every book is the introduction. It's interesting to see what the author/or editor chooses to write to set the scene for the following book. Sometimes it's the background on why the book was written. Or it will be a disclaimer about what the book means. Or sometimes it's a little insight into the lives of the authors themselves. The strangest introduction I think I've ever read was the introduction to "The Woman in White." (Pengiun Edition) It was very odd and it went on about how there was so much hype about it when it was first published, there was "Woman in White" purfume and novelties. And then he had this bit about freaks in the circus... I'm not really sure how that fit in... and then he went on about the author's personal life and his lovers and then he continued with how Wilkie Collins was addicted to an over the counter drugstore syrum... I think it was called "Mother Bailey's Calming Syrup" and how it was basically just opium and alcohol and how his friend, who was a doctor, said he was drinking enough each day to kill everyone at the table... yeah... it was strange... interesting, but strange. I don't think anyone actually read it before they printed it. Anyhow the book of the week is Wuthering Heights not The Woman in White.

Wuthering Heights is no exception to the interesting introduction rule. And even after reading the book the introduction haunts me as much as the story. It calls itself "A Biographical Notice of Ellis and Acton Bell" and is explained as follows. There were three books written by three sisters all under pen names. Charlotte Brönte the oldest wrote Jane Eyre (possibly the best book I've ever read) under the name Currer Bell. Emily Brönte the middle sister wrote Wuthering Heights (a really great book) under the name Ellis Bell. And Anne Brönte the youngest wrote Agnes Grey (on my reading list) under the name Acton Bell. As women they couldn't write a novel and be taken seriously so they published their works under masculine pen names. I also suppose the mystery in a pen name would have added a spark of appeal. With the new names the books were sent out to various publishers all to be flatly turned down. At last after many ill fated attempts "Wuthering Heights" and "Agnes Grey" were picked up and published but they found no immediate success. Later "Jane Eyre" was written and published to find little more success than the former two. And since they all shared a similar writing style and pen names it was assumed that they were all written by the same author as "Jane Eyre." This was a harmless error at first, but it proved hard to be corrected. A short time later Emily Brönte contracted comsumption and did not live past her 30th birthday. Anne Brönte was diagnosed with the same not two weeks after they buried their sister. She died less than a year later at 29. Neither lived to see their novels become a success. Later Charlotte Brönte wrote this introduction to clear up the confusion on who really wrote the novel. In her own words, "This notice has been written, because I felt it a sacred duty to wipe the dust off their gravestones, and leave their dear names free from soil."

And after reading Wuthering Heights I can see where it was all born. With so many of the characters dying of consumption or fever, and it has such a tragic baring, I wonder if it was perhaps forboding their very own future in some respect. It almost makes me imagine if possibly Charlotte could hear her sisters on the wind of the moor.


Friday, February 20, 2009

blog #250 >> Greetings from Yellowstone Park

Was there really a time you could feed bears in the wild?
It seems pretty unbelievable to me.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

blog #249 >> The Joys of Jello: Part 1 - Pies

In my attempt to bring back the love of Jello, I'll be posting a series of my favorite Jello recipes. Here are two stupendously amazing Jello pie recipes:

Carrie's Jello Pie
3/4 cup sugar
3 T. cornstarch
1 1/2 cup water
1 3oz box of Jello
3 cups berries
1 pre-baked pie shell

Mix cornstarch and sugar in saucepan, gradually stir in water 'til smooth. Stir constantly and cook over med. heat. Bring to a full boil and boil 1 min. Remove from heat, add Jello. Stir until dissolved. Cool to room temperature. Add fruit and pour into pie crust.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

My Favorite Chiffon Pie
1 3oz box of Jello
2/3 cup boiling water
2 cups ice cubes
8oz or 3 1/2 cups Cool Whip
(Don't use low fat or fat free they won't work.)
2 cups berries
1 pre-baked pie shell

Dissolve Jello in boiling water, stir for 3 min. Add ice, stir for 3 min. Remove ice. Use wire whip and add Cool Whip. Fold in fruit and put in pie shell.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

blog #248 >> Orange Gelatin: Take Two

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Well, I tried the orange juice gelatin again only this time I used half the amount of orange juice, a box of Jello and a can of mandarin oranges. And this time it turned out just the way I wanted it to. Only I haven't quite mastered how long to wait before adding the fruit so it won't float to the top.

On a side note: I must admit, I've very concerned. When I went to Safeway to buy the box of Jello, they had cut their Jello stock in half! They no longer have generic brands of Jello, hardly any of the small boxes, and only a limited selection of the large boxes. The extra shelving was filled with pre-made Jello cups and pudding cups. What's the world coming too?!? Don't people ever want to make Jello anymore in molds? Or make Jello cakes? Or any of the other wonderful recipes involving boxes of Jello mix? I'm afraid boxes of Jello will soon become one of those hard to find novelties, like Junket, Sprite in a bottle and carbon paper. I guess I'd better stock up.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

blog #247 >> Orange House

It's not like you eat the peel anyhow.

Orange + Ball point pen = hours of fun!

I guess I've been a bit obsessed with oranges lately.
But I am feeling better.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

blog #246 >> Happy Valentine's Day

"Love germ egg enlarged a billion times."
Now there's a virus I wouldn't mind catching.
However I wasn't aware that germs laid eggs...

Friday, February 13, 2009

blog #245 >> Zombies Ahead!!!

I found this on angry chicken this morning and laughed 'til I cried. All I can say is, I guess nothing much happens in Texas if this is the top news story.

blog #244 >> Orange Gelatin

In my attempt to add more Vitamin C to my diet, I thought I'd try making Jello with orange juice instead of Jello and water. So basically, it's not Jello. I used the recipe on the gelatin box for Knox blocks, but it turned out super bitter and sour. I guess I should have used more sugar, or used a box of orange Jello with the orange juice. Anyhow, at least it set up nice...

blog #243 >> Lisa Hannigan

I heard this song this morning on Bliss and instantly fell in love with it. It makes me want to make another pop-up book.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

blog #242 >> Cold Cures

See this sauna here along with the history of the sauna.

I wish I were in a sauna... in Finland... with juniper, lavender, eucalyptus, mint, chamomile, and Vicks VapoRub. Ah... breathe in... breathe out... relax... SPLASH! Well, that's what I get for sleeping in the tub. I think I've spent more time in the bathroom this past week than I have in the past month. It's a really good thing the hot water is included in the rent here. The shower is the only place that I feel like I can really breathe. And over the past week, I have taken no less than 15 shower/baths. In fact, I even invented the shower/bath. It's when you take a bath and let the tub fill up by the shower head instead of the faucet. I don't think I've ever been so clean in my life.

I have also had the pleasure, or displeasure more likely, of trying a great many cold remedies this week. And since I have nothing else to blog about. Or actually I don't have anything else to do... at all! (I'm also suffering from ennui.) I thought I'd take this spare moment and write a short cold cure product review.

Airborne is a delightful mix of vitamins, nutrients, and herbal extracts all blended together to help support your immune system and fight off colds before or just after they start. I've found that this stuff really works too. The drawback is the taste. Try as they may, they just can't cover that nasty taste. I've tried, lime flavor, grape flavor, lemon flavor, and their new caramel apple chews, all equally gross. Well no, I thought the grape was the worst. The initial taste of the caramel apple chews aren't that bad, but then the caramel sticks to your teeth, and then the after taste is just awful and lingers. So far I've liked the original orange flavor best.

Zicam: Zicam is my new favorite tool against colds. These things are amazing. How do they work? It's all homeopathic and after my holistic health class I can tell you that it's like fighting fire with fire. Make sense? No? Dictionary please: ho•me•o•path•ic |ˌhōmēəˈpaθik| adjective | the treatment of disease by minute doses of natural substances that in a healthy person would produce symptoms of disease. Well, there you have it. Does it work? Remarkably. I didn't start using it soon enough this time, but I have fought off a great many colds with the help of Zicam in the past. Best of all, no gross tasting things. You can either get cherry rapid melts, nasal swabs, nasal spray, chewable squares or more. And if you visit their website you can get a coupon.

Breathe Right Nasal Strips:
Ah, Breathe Right Strips, I think I want one right now... I like these things. They open your nasal cavities right up. The only drawback is they make you look like a dork, well.. not any more of a dork than you already are. Also, I highly recommend following the instructions about not wearing one for more than 12 hours a day. This week I thought, "No one will see me, I think I'll just wear one all the time." Well, after a couple of days they left a pretty neat read line over my nose and my nose didn't drop right back to it's usual position on my face. Basically it's like when you were a kid and your parents would say, "If you keep on making faces on that glass your face is going to stick that way permanently." I mean, I knew they were just joking, but there was always that little voice is the back of my mind... are they? Well, after a very little while my nose was back to normal so all is well, but remember, only 12 hours a day. And best of all with a Breathe Right Strip on my nose I can almost smell the...

Vicks VapoRub: Good old Vicks. What would we do without you? It's a miraculous balm that not only opens your nose and throat, but can even soothe sore muscles.

Mucinex: (You know the one with the dancing Mucus on T.V.) I'm giving up on Sudafed entirely. It just doesn't seem to work anymore. It doesn't decongest my nose at all. I've tried taking it a couple of times this week, and each time, my nose is just as congested as before. And whatever they put in there to make it "non-drowsy" just makes me feel funny. It's like having way too much caffeine. It still makes me tired, I just can't sleep. So, instead of Sudafed, I'm trying Mucinex, an expectorant. I can't actually say it makes me feel better, I think it might actually make me feel a little bit worse. But it does do a good job at getting all that mucus out of my nose, throat and chest. And that's what I really need. So thumbs up for Mucinex. Also, don't buy the off-brand. Usually, I'd say they're exactly the same, but not in this case. Real Musinex is about three times the price as the off-brand, but it lasts for 12 hours and the off-brand only lasts for 4 hours. It will make up the price difference pretty quick, especially at 4:00 in the morning.

Ricola: These natural Swiss herb cough drops are just the thing to break up my laryngitis long enough to call in sick for work, or talk to the pharmacist about my prescription. Also, I like them much better than Halls which are too strong for me and actually give me a sore throat rather than sooth one. (Interesting side note: Ricola is sold as a candy at Fubonns.)

These throat drops are so mild, it's more like eating candy than a cough drop. Also because they're delicious and mild, I can eat almost a half a box in one day and not feel bad about it. I remember my grandpa always had some of these in his pocket, only he almost always had the licorice ones, not the cherry, and he'd sneak one to us regardless of whether we had a sore throat or not. (I'm sure this is a very bad practice and you should only use as directed.)

Puffs with Lotion: When I have a cold, there is no substitute for Puffs with Lotion. My nose always gets so chapped and red. And there's nothing worse than rough Kleenex. Puffs with lotion, really helps sooth a sore nose. And it makes my hands nice and soft too.

Whoever first thought of chewing on willow bark to treat a bad headache, was probably a little bit crazy. But I'm really glad they tried it. Here we are 100 years later still using it. I don't think anything can surpass Aspirin for that annoying nasal headache I can't seem to beat, or those random muscle aches, or the occasional fever. Thank goodness for Aspirin.

Sometimes, I'm amazed that we haven't come up with a cure for the common cold yet. And I'll wonder, is it a conspiracy to keep on selling us all these random cold fighting products? Maybe, or maybe there are simply too many different strains to efficiently create a medication for it. Anyhow, at least until they come up with the cure for everything, I've got my Puffs with Lotion to keep my company.


p.s. This post is dedicated to everyone I know who is sick right now.
Get well soon everyone!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

blog #241 >> I Heart Meringue Cookies

If I were feeling better, I would have dyed them pink, and drizzled melted chocolate on them. And I would have shaped them better and been more careful about letting the batter rest before baking, etc. etc. etc. But I'm not feeling better and I really wanted to eat some cookies, but didn't want to go up to the store. So, Fix-It and Forget-It Cookies it was. They're pretty tasty.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Beat 2 egg whites (old eggs work best) until stiff.
Add a dash of salt
Gradually add a scant 3/4 cup sugar to egg whites.
Fold in 1 cup mini chocolate chips (I just chopped up regular chocolate chips.)
and 1 cup chopped nuts (which I left out entirely.)
Do not over mix.

Spoon, or pipe batter onto cookie sheet covered in foil.
I wish I had covered the top with foil as well to prevent cracking.
As soon as you put the cookies in the oven, leave the heat on only 2 minutes then turn the oven off. Best to leave in closed oven overnight. But then can be eaten in 3 hours, but best to leave overnight. From the kitchen of: Betty Jo Champion Simpkins


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

blog #240 >> Leave it to Beaver Letter

I slept last night from 8pm to 8:30am this morning. I can't talk today, and I sound like a frog when I try to laugh. I'm also getting very bored. I've watched nearly every episode of "The Outer Limits" and I still feel too crummy to actually do anything. I took out the trash yesterday and had to take a nap afterwords. So, I've been just wasting as much time as possible online this morning... wait... I have to go blow my nose again... Alrighty, what was I saying? Oh yes, I'm still sick today. And I found this super funny post on Shorpy that made me laugh, I mean croak, 'til I cried. It's a freeze frame of a letter on "Leave it to Beaver"... hold on... Where did I put the Kleenex?... Here it is... So, I find it really really funny, because I can't say how many times I've written things like this on projects I know will never print. In fact, I think I've used some of those exact lines. Or I'll write, "If you're reading this... DON'T PRINT!" We even have our own fictional characters like "Fred Jarvis" "Realtor Extraordinaire" or I'll name everyone after presidents, or just type whatever random thing comes into my head. They're a lot like my blog posts actually. Anyhow... here it is and the link back to the original posting, the comments there alone are worth a visit.
Okay, now maybe I should take a nap,

Mr. Ward Cleaver
485 Mapleton Drive
Mayfield, State

My Dear Mr. Cleaver:

This paragraph has absolutely nothing to do with anything.
It is here merely to fill up space. Still, it is words,
rather than repeated letters, since the latter might not
give the proper appearance, namely, that of an actual note.

For that matter, all of this is nonsense, and the only
part of this that is to be read is the last paragraph,
which part is the inspired creation of the producers of
this very fine series.

Another paragraph of stuff. Now is the time for all good
men to come to the aid of their party. The quick brown
fox jumped over the lazy dog. My typing is lousy, but the
typewriter isn’t so hot either. After all, why should I
take the blame for these mechanical imperfections, with
which all of us must contend. Lew Burdette just hit a
home run and Milwaukee leads seven to one in the series.
This is the last line of the filler material of the note.
No, my mistake, that was only the next to last. This is last.

I hope you can find a suitable explanation for Theodore’s
unusual conduct.

Yours truly,
Cornelia Rayburn

blog #239 >> Updated Etsy

I actually updated the Etsy shop last week, but due to my runny nose I haven't actually posted an updated blog post yet. I guess now is the time for that.
Here's what's up so far:
flower pin

poppy pins (well, I guess they're hair clips really.)

pig potholders

cork message boards

...and there will be more to come!

Monday, February 9, 2009

blog #238 >> There's nothing wrong with your television set...

As before mentioned, I've watched a great deal of "The Outer Limits" this weekend. Not so much because it's such a swell show, but more because there was nothing on t.v. and I was too tired to read. Anyhow, I also got started on them because of these monster cards sitting on my desk. They were my uncle's and growing up they were always at my grandparent's house, so I have rather fond memories of looking through them and making monster masks of them and such. I remember I always like the red one best, "Fearful Foe" and it was really easy to make a monster mask like him. I'd just color a brown paper bag red and poke an eye hole in. I had an instant "Fearful Foe." Anyways it's been fun to see the shows that my monster cards were based on. Although the stories on the backs of the cards have NOTHING to do with the show.

blog #237 >> So sick

This weekend I spent most of my time nursing a cold.
At last I gave up the fighting and let it catch me. I suppose it was only a matter of time before it caught me. It seems like nearly everyone I know has got one right now. It must be the fashion to have a cold this season, but I would prefer to not "go with the crowd." Anyhow, I've been drinking lots of tea, I've watched an absurd amount of "The Outer Limits" on YouTube, and I built a tower of the Airborne, Zicam, Breath Right Strips, Aspirin, and Ricola on my desk. I hardly slept last night, I was hot and then cold, and could breathe through half my nose but not the other half etc. etc. etc. And this morning I woke up with a sinus headache, a sore throat, and I seem to have lost my voice. So, here I am looking forward to yet another day of YouTube, Sudafed, tea and reading. I hope I get well soon!

Monday, February 2, 2009

blog #236 >> Plum Pie

Here's the delicious plum pie I made last night from canned Oregon plums. It's really tasty. I love pie. Recipe: 2 cans Oregon plums (drained), 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and a dash of cinnamon. Dot with butter. Bake 425 degrees for 30 minutes.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

blog #235 >> New Hat

Anyone here?

Here are some pictures of my new hat and my favorite coat that I get relined. I haven't quite mastered the photo timer yet, and then it got dark... but here they are.