15 December 2014

Fun times for children

Ok, you guys. I have to tell you something, and that something is that our furnace has been out since December 6th.

Don't panic! We do live in California, so no one is freezing. Our pipes are not freezing. Our landlord is being very good about everything too. But the furnace is not fixed yet. Do you know why it's not fixed yet? Because we have a 70-year-old furnace, and when you have a furnace that old, it's not just an issue to find parts. No. Furnace companies actually won't repair your out-of-date equipment because it doesn't meet modern safety requirements and is thus a liability for them to touch.

So we are getting an entirely new furnace system. In January.

In the meantime, we've been burning a lot of candles, wearing wooly sweaters, and generally reacclimatizing to a vaguely midwestern level of low-grade chilliness.

I've been doing a lot of baking. I made Love and Olive Oil's Molasses Snickerdoodles, which were excellent and vanished in short order. I made Cookie and Kate's Orange Poppyseed Pound Cake for the fourth? fifth? time and it was as delicious as always. I made a vat of kale and olive minestrone, which is always delightful and warming, and I'm pretty sure I should make some sort of huge stew in the next week or so.

On the bright side, if this furnace lasted 70 years, you know it has done its time and is well deserving of a commemorative plaque. That would be hilarious. Maybe I'll do that.

09 December 2014

Chai nog and coffee nog

Chai nog and coffee nog

It's December! Time to break out the nog!

I tend to veer away from the traditional "nog + brandy + rum" concoctions as long as it's not actually Christmas Eve. Instead, nog has become a tasty treat with which to spike my usual dose of hot caffeine action.

Now, I am not one for making very fussy coffee drinks at home. There is no espresso machine in our house, and no milk foamer, and we don't really want to acquire them. So that means these drinks are super simple: just a cup of strong, spicy chai or serious coffee, with a creamy nog addition. They're really easy and really delicious.

Any nog of your choice should work well here. Dairy eggnog, soy nog, homemade almond and date nog -- any and all are good.

Even without any alcohol, the sweetness and thickness of nog makes these drinks perfect for a dessert nightcap. Just use a decaf spiced chai or coffee and you should be all ready for a fragrant, spiced trip to sleeptown.

And if you do want to add a slug of brandy, go for it!

Chai nog

Brew 1 cup strong chai of your choosing. I use a standard tea bag and let it infuse for at least 5 minutes for serious flavor. Top up your cup with eggnog. If you like nutmeg, a little sprinkle is a good garnish.

Coffee nog

Brew yourself a cup of strong coffee. Top up your cup with eggnog.

Drink and be happy!

What festive holiday drinks are you drinking this season?

02 December 2014

Fennel frond, lemon zest, and black pepper cream cheese schmear

Fennel frond, lemon zest, and black pepper cream cheese schmear

Contrary to a variety of expectations, I did NOT pickle the last two heads of fennel that came our way in the CSA box. Instead, I chopped one up and mixed it with a whole lot of other vegetables to roast for Thanksgiving dinner. So good!

However, that left me with a big handful of fennel fronds. What can you do with fennel fronds?

Fennel frond, lemon zest, and black pepper cream cheese schmear

I refrained from simply cramming them all into the half-empty fennel, ginger, and lemon pickle jar, although that was kind of tempting.

Instead, I thought I'd chop them up and see how well they worked in a cream cheese schmear, along with some lemon zest and black pepper. And lo, they worked SUPER WELL.

If you are into the delicate anisey tang of fennel, you should absolutely give this one a try. The fennel and lemon make a refreshing and zingy combination -- an excellent contrast to the creamy creamy cheesy cheese (*cough* *That's a NSFW Foamy the squirrel reference*).

This makes approximately one laden bagel's worth of schmear. Of course, you can always increase any and all of the ingredients at your leisure.

Fennel frond, lemon zest, and black pepper cream cheese schmear

Fennel frond, lemon zest, and black pepper cream cheese schmear

3-4 tbsp cream cheese/tofu cream cheese
2-3 tbsp fennel fronds
zest of 1 lemon
black pepper to taste
optional milk/yogurt to thin

Finely chop your fennel fronds and lemon zest. Mix all ingredients together well, using a fork to blend thoroughly.

To serve, spread on the bagel, cracker, or other toasty bread product of your choice. I had mine on a couple of leftover whole wheat rolls from Thanksgiving. That worked exceptionally well.

Such a great addition to the schmear library. I am definitely going to make this one again, and not just because there is still yet another head of fennel hiding in the crisper.

More schmears for your bagel-topping delight:
- Spicy salsa and bloody mary schmears
- Red onion and dill schmear
- Fresh corn and basil schmear

What are you eating on your bagels lately?