Sunday, November 27, 2011

Build Your Own Adventure Chili

Better Homes and Gardens put out a magazine all about soup recently. I told M that I would really love to only eat soup from here until New Years Eve. It probably won't ever happen, but I started today.

One of the first recipes is called Make-it-mine Chili. Basically it tells you how to build a bowl of chili, telling you where you can customize the recipe. I like it, because it reminds me of those make your own adventure books, and I am always doing this anyway for M.  Another cool thing is they give you suggestions about what to fill in. I can't tell if they are just suggestions to get your mind working, or combinations that are well known.

Here is my take on the recipe.

  1 1/2 lbs of meat                    3 cups chopped vegetables               4 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbs olive oil.                        2 15oz cans of beans rinsed and drained
2 14oz cans diced tomatoes drained                                                  1 15oz can tomato sauce
1 cup liquid                              2 Tbs Chili powder                           1tsp dried herb
1/2 tsp black pepper                 desired topping

Options that can be played with. My choices are red.
Meat                       Beans                   Liquid                 Dried Herbs                Vegetables
Boneless                 Black                   Beer                     Thyme                         Onion         Potatoes
   beef chuck           Pinto                    Water                    Oregano                      Green Peas     Corn
Beef stew meat      Garbanzo              Beef Broth           Italian seasoning      Small Broccoli Tomatoes
Ground beef           Cannellini             Apple Juice         Basil                            Celery        Zucchini
Ground Pork          Kidney                  Chicken Broth                                         Carrots  Sweet Peppers
                                                                                                                              Green Beans
In a large dutch oven brown veggies and meat. Drain fat. I like to make sure the veggies are well on their way before I add the meat. 
Like that camp oven? Yeah, me neither. I can't wait for someone to get me an enameled Le Cruset so I only have to deal with cleaning this thing at the beach.

Then I add the meat.
Notice how the meat is all broken up here and not just thrown in in one hunk? I'm not trying to be insulting when I say this. Break the meat up before you put it in. Just trust me. I speak from years of experience, it cooks faster.  Just do it.

Then add beans, (I only used one can) tomatoes, (I used waaay less tomatoes then this) tomato sauce, liquid, herbs and chili powder, and pepper.
It's gonna start smelling really good if you used beer like I did.  Bring the pot to a boil, then cover and simmer for 20min.
I like to eat chili with Fritos and cheese. I could have added diced onions, but I didn't. You can top this any way you want.  M loved it, but didn't like that there was tomato.

Happy eating!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Product Review- Can Opener

 My local grocery HEB Sells this little number for $3.00

It's a pretty good deal when you think about the fact that you don't have to do more then put it on your shopping list. The problem is that this thing doesn't work AT ALL after the first time.

I mean is it too hard to ask for something to start cutting open a can even a little bit after the third or 4th time you latch it on? I really don't think so. Also the arms come off. Yeah. They come off. Right at that little seam. I thought that my first one was messed up by Max putting it in the dish washer, but now that this one is completely messed up I know that there is no reason to buy this piece of junk.  I should have taken my $6.00 added a few more, and gotten a good can opener somewhere else.

Don't buy this.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Apartment Redo

(minus before pictures.)

So the condo is the biggest fix up project that I have ever done in my life. The problem is that I didn't take any pictures before we started. There are a few reasons for this; the biggest of which is that I was technically not living in the condo when the "remodel" began. This meant that I often showed up and... surprise! No carpet.

So humor me and when you are looking at these pictures imagine what it looked like with off white walls. You know, the kind that were once white. And on those walls imagine there is the ghost outline of pictures that were once hanging on the walls for 10+ years. Add to that mauve carpet with strange stains, and what I like to call anti-stains: white spots where the wrong cleaner was used.

Now we moved into the condo after M's grandmother moved out, and I never saw what it looked like when she lived in it. I met M right as she was moving out. By all accounts it was probably very nice, but when we got there it just was not working.

Living room, view by the door.
 When we first moved in my friends commented that all the furniture we had was mine, and did max own ANYTHING before we met? Truth is, looking at this picture the only thing I brought in were the mirror and book cases.  The couch is from the Cindy Crawford collection and is microfiber. DO NOT GET MICROFIBER!!! Yeah, it cleans easy enough, but it holds onto dirt and animal hair like nobody's business. The chairs are from a college friend that moved to china and had to sell everything she owned. Coffee table is from an estate sale, and has wings that expand! Notice that brown wall? I added that to create the illusion of depth, and hide a big crack in the wall.

View by the closet.
 Ottoman is from Before I discovered the estate sale. I still like, it, and it stores extra throw pillows and blankets. This is super useful when you live someplace small.  That white bar above the window will be a valance someday.  Brown, to play off the wall.

Dining room.
Check out that wood floor! Installed ourselves.  This room is kind of strange. We have no place to store that bike ever since the complex sent us a nasty note about having it on the porch. The table belonged to Max's grandma, but she took most the chairs. That china cabinet (which I have mentioned before) is huge, but we like it, and that printer is because we don't like to be trapped in the back room to do work.

 We have a tiny kitchen. it used to have horrible linoleum, off white cabinets and gold knobs. I painted the cabinets a new white, and added black knobs. I don't know why, but it reminds me of Betty Boop.  Oh yeah, I also ripped the doors off the top cabinets and tore out the center shelf. Much more useful this way. We also put down some sticky tiles.

 Check out those sweet art deco shakers.

Hallway! The tan keeps everything nice and light so the walls don't close in on us. I would show you more, but our clean bathroom looks dirty the tub is so stained.  Not to mention the other two rooms are horribly messy, and my vacuum broke while cleaning the house today which made me loose steam.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mix Matched China.

 My love of China has reached its natural conclusion (I think.) I have decided that I will be buying any old china I find that I like and creating a set out of that. Eventually.  Martha says it's okay.  I found this piece at an estate sale the other day for $10.  No back stamp, but it is pretty so who cares.

This is not going to be a part of the random mix matched set, but matches my wedding china (that I will have...... in 7 months.)

Friday, November 4, 2011

1940s China

M's Grandmother has been on a getting rid of stuff binge. She got rid of her china cabinet that was in the "fancy" dining room that M was never aloud in as a kid.  

We have it. 
In our tiny condo.
  It is totally awesome.

  Since she is down a china cabinet she is also getting rid of it's contents.  She gave M's parents a set, is keeping two (this is in addition to her everyday set y'all) And had this one set that she was thinking about, all over the dining room table. She told me she was thinking about selling it on ebay, or through an antique dealer, but would need to clean and photograph everything. Pain in the butt right? Word of advice.... don't ever tell me cool old stuff is up for grabs. 

Bam! Hellz to the yeah!

So now I have this awesome vintage set of china.  It was the wedding china of M's great aunt Beck, who like my great aunt Buzzy married late in life and had no kids to take awesome stuff like this off her hands. The insane thing is.... There is more of this stuff. She gave us a set of 8, and had almost another complete set leftover that she is planning on selling. 

Q if you are reading this, I have 2 extra cups and saucers that I need to give back to you.

 Naturally I got interested. There are all kinds of stamps on the back of these, (which I did not photograph) so I looked up the maker and pattern.

That tiny little saucer with a lip up top? A fruit bowel. It goes with the brunch plate.
 These were made by Theodore Haviland, a french company. The interesting thing is that the Haviland China Co. was founded by David Haviland, a New York importer of British china.  He went to France after being asked by a costumer to find a replacement of a french teacup.  He was so impressed by the quality that he decided to begin importing french china. But the styles of the french were not popular in the USA, so he moved to France and started his own company. This was all in 1839.

 My Pattern is called Ganga and I am finding some conflicting info about how old it is. One person selling it says it is from between 1903-1925 Just going by back marks it could either be from 1920-36 or 1925. I know M's aunt got married in the early 40s, so who is to really say.

The cool thing is these are in INSANE good condition. And they have that see-through quality when you hold them up to the light that bone china gets. My research says this is not bone china but a very rare pure white clay called Kaolin that is used in french china.

 Those divots in the platters are for pooling meat juice. I guess that is something that never took off.

<-------Someone online is trying to sell this covered bowel on ebay for $280. Good lord. now I feel bad for accepting these.

Well I hope my excitement has rubbed off on you. I'm glad my china researching skills I acquired while registering for the wedding has been put to good use. Who knew plates could be so cool.