October, 2009

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Saturday, October 31st, 2009

When we lived in Kirkland, we were lucky to get 4 or 5 groups of kids trick-or-treating, so maybe 15 or 20 kids altogether. I don’t have a good reason for the lack of kids in costumes there — we lived in the suburbs and in a kid friendly neighborhood. There was a school a few blocks away. My only guess was that we lived on the side of the street where there was no sidewalk; maybe people didn’t want to cross over.

Tonight, even though I live in the city and in an apartment building with 6 other flats, I stopped counting the little goblins at 300. While I had 400 pieces of candy (and it’s all gone and I didn’t eat a single piece), some kids may have grabbed more than one piece, so that isn’t an exact gauge of the steady stream of kids either. Lots of groups even skipped the house (I was watching from the window). Suffice it to say that there were tons and tons of kids, as small as babies (do they need snickers bars?) to high schoolers in costumes that were sluttier than I would have risked. Maybe it was the warm weather (73F/23C) and a Saturday night, but more likely it’s because the neighbors at the end of the block are known for their ghoulish Halloween displays (it’s lit up more extravagantly that most Christmas neighborhoods) so I’m getting the residual trick-or-treaters.

I ran out of candy, so I put a piece of duct tape over the doorbell and wrote “Out of Candy”. I didn’t deter everyone, but slowed things down. The cats were a little freaked out, but not too bad.

Yet Another Scarf Project

Monday, October 26th, 2009

This week’s Arts and Crafts Project is another scarf. Yes, I know, I have far too many of these already, but I found this very cool yarn (it’s actually sock yarn) called a Zauberball… yes, yes, German of course. Almost all the cool yarn that I find is from Germany. It’s pretty unique in that so far I am about half-way through a skein and it has yet to repeat it’s pattern. Because it is so thin, I’m making it extra long so that I can wrap it around my neck about a million times.

October Scarf Project

What do you think?

I also bought some very cuddly/fuzzy green alpaca yarn for a sweater, which is a little more ambitious for me, and given that is a bigger project, may have to wait until after the holidays.

Key Lime Bar Recipe

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

I made these very yummy Key Lime Bars the other day, as a switch from chocolate overload. Sort of the last of the summer hurrah, as lime anything is more a warm weather thing.

Key Lime Bars

If you can’t find fresh Key limes, use regular limes, but don’t use bottled lime juice (you need the lime zest anyway). Grate the zest from the limes before juicing them, avoiding the bitter white pith that lies just beneath the outermost skin. The optional coconut garnish adds textural interest and tames the lime flavor for those who find it too intense.

The recipe can be doubled and baked in a 13- by 9-inch baking pan; you will need a double layer of extra-wide foil for the pan (each sheet about 20 inches in length) and should increase the baking times by a few minutes

Ingredients for the Crust
5 Graham crackers (or about 7 oz Graham Cracker crumbs)
3 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)
Pinch table salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly

Ingredients for the Filling
2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon grated lime zest , minced
Pinch table salt
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup fresh lime juice, either Key lime or regular

Garnish (optional)
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted until golden and crisp

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut about 12-inch length extra-wide heavy-duty foil; fold cut edges back to form 7 1/2-inch width. With folded sides facing down, fit foil securely into bottom and up sides of 8-inch-square baking pan, allowing excess to overhang pan sides. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.

2. TO MAKE THE CRUST: In workbowl of food processor, pulse graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and salt; process to combine, ten to twelve 1-second pulses (if large sugar lumps remain, break them apart with fingers). Drizzle butter over crumbs and pulse until crumbs are evenly moistened with butter, about ten 1-second pulses. Press crumbs evenly and firmly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake until deep golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling. Do not turn off oven.

3. TO MAKE THE FILLING: While crust cools, in medium bowl, stir cream cheese, zest, and salt with rubber spatula until softened, creamy, and thoroughly combined. Add sweetened condensed milk and whisk vigorously until incorporated and no lumps of cream cheese remain; whisk in egg yolk. Add lime juice and whisk gently until incorporated (mixture will thicken slightly).

4. TO ASSEMBLE AND BAKE: Pour filling into crust; spread to corners and smooth surface with rubber spatula. Bake until set and edges begin to pull away slightly from sides, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cover with foil and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours.

5. FINALLY: Loosen edges with paring knife and lift bars from baking pan using foil extensions; cut bars into 16 squares. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, if using, and serve. (Leftovers can be refrigerated up to 2 days; crust will soften slightly. Let bars stand at room temperature about 15 minutes before serving.)