Monthly Archives: January 2013

This Time of Year

In the past month-plus, I’ve seen two great concerts (three, if you count watching the Rolling Stones’ December 15th show on pay-per-view). One was Mark Knopfler and Bob Dylan at the Garden before Thanksgiving, and the other was the Mighty Mighty Bosstones at the House of Blues on December 29, one of the Hometown Throwdown shows (link to Globe review).

bosstones-12-29-12Bosstones shows, like Reel Big Fish shows, tend to be incredibly fun, happy, high-energy shows; they don’t disappoint, and they didn’t this time either. The set was preceded by a pared-down but lively version of “Riot on Broad Street” (one of my favorite songs, from Pay Attention) and it was a great set all the way through.

Naturally, they played “This Time of Year” (“this time of year, it gets me / and it never lets me / act like I don’t care”), while foam “snow” floated down from the ceiling. (“This Time of Year” is positive about the holidays, unlike “Jump Through the Hoops,” which they didn’t play:  “holidays have got to be the worst / I’ve seen so many, I’ve got it well rehearsed…holidays are not for me, chop down the tree / they’ve got to be the worst”).

They played a good mix of old and new songs, obscure and popular: “Kinder Words” and “Toxic Toast” from Question the Answers, at least four songs from Let’s Face It (including “Rascal King” and “The Impression That I Get”), “Don’t Worry Desmond Dekker” from Medium Rare. They also played a fantastic cover of The Clash’s “Rudie Can’t Fail,” which I never expected to hear live.

All in all, a great show. And after the foam snow inside, there was real snow outside – at least six inches of it. Which means…sledding!

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Handmade journal

Over a year after attending a bookmaking workshop, I finally finished making a journal.

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I had to cut and fold the pages to size (this was the most time-consuming part), and sew them together with a chain-stitch. The board covers I bought pre-cut, and covered them with blue paper. I didn’t have a board spine, so I used a piece of cardstock between the covers and the pages.

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Voila! I haven’t begun using it yet, but I’m nearly done with my current journal, so I will soon.

Cross-posted.

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Smitten Kitchen recipes

For the holidays, I gave my fiance a cookbook. Two cookbooks, actually: Flour by Joanne Chang, which I knew he wanted, and The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman (author of the blog of the same name). The latter gift was somewhat disingenuous; I bought because I thought he would like it, but also because I wanted it. And, to my surprise, we’ve actually made several recipes from it already, in less than a month.

First, we made the Wild Rice Gratin with Kale and Caramelized Onions. It was delicious, filling, and well worth the effort, though the next time we make it, we plan to cut down on the rice a tiny bit and add more kale.

We’ve made the butternut squash and caramelized onion galette not once but twice: the first time a halved recipe, the second time a whole recipe (two small galettes), with spinach in addition to the squash and onion. If you’re putting in the work to make it, you may as well make a full batch; we still polished off both galettes from the full recipe in two days.

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On the sweet side, we made the brownie roll-out cookies, which we liked but didn’t love. They’re definitely chocolatey, but more crisp and crunchy than we were anticipating; they might have the brownie taste, but not the brownie texture. Then again, most cookies where the dough is rolled out thin and cut with a cookie cutter tend to be crisp/crunchy, rather than chewy.

For New Year’s Eve we made two recipes: French Onion Toasts (like portable, finger-food-friendly French Onion Soup), and apple cider caramels, which my cousin made (rather more successfully) for Thanksgiving. The toasts take about an hour altogether, but they are delicious, and if you have any left over, just heat them up in the toaster oven the next day and they are good as new.

The apple cider caramels were less of a success story. Though we cooked the cider down for almost 50 minutes (instead of the 35-40 recommended), the consistency never quite turned what I would call “syrupy.” Then, when we boiled all the ingredients together, that too took longer to thicken – certainly more than the five minutes in the instructions. (We did this without a candy thermometer, using the cold water test she explains.) I became anxious and turned to Twitter:

Screen shot 2013-01-01 at 1.52.42 PMBut the caramel did eventually thicken. We poured it into the prepared 8×8 pan (Pyrex, not metal as she suggests) and let it cool on the counter for two hours. It still seemed a bit too soft in places, so we put it in the fridge overnight. Then, however, the caramel bonded to the wax paper. Really, they were quite inseparable; I had to cut the paper away with a knife. (If you have to do this too, for the love of all that is good, use proper knife skills and do not cut toward your other hand. Ouch.)

DSC05382In the end, the flavor and texture were perfect, but the process could have been easier. If you know someone who is willing to make these for you, work that angle.

Happy New Year from us and from Sudo (who is annoyed that we didn’t share any of the butternut squash with her).

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