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26 November 2007

I had one of those weekends where you want to do nothing (and therefore do nothing), but at the end of it you feel sort of let down.

Well, I didn’t do absolutely nothing. I did lots of Web surfing. And I learned that there are some blogs that I shouldn’t read. Because the negativity a blogger writes about can poison my own feelings, creating proverbial mountains out of molehills. I wondered why I was acting so volatile after certain familial phone calls, and I think that was a big part of it. (Let’s be honest, though, it wasn’t just the blog; I never enjoy forced conversation with Drama.)

We also made a dent in preparing for Christmas. Remember how we thought our home here would be teeny tiny? (I’m too lazy to get a link here right now.) So we brought no Christmas stuff. No ornaments, no tree stand, no lights. Currently, we are in the process of deciding whether we’ll go with white lights (Impera’s choice) or colored lights (Trixie’s preference). I allowed that this year, we can get that crappy tinsel which I absolutely hate and we have never had. We also baked three cookie sheets worth of salt dough ornaments:

We are thin thin thin – Not too heavy for a tree!

We turned on some Christmas music. (In my ideal world, Christmas would be centered on the two weeks before Christmas. Period. Six weeks of it just drains me. But, the Consort loves Christmas [I’d argue I do, too, just not in such large doses], so he gets to turn on the Christmas music the day after Thanskgiving.)

We played cards. Spades (because my goal as a parent is to train my girls to be our pinochle partners; they know this and refuse to learn pinochle, insisting we continue playing Spades instead), and poker (we split up the coins in our Change Tin for betting; next time, I want the girls to use their own money — nothing better than a little bit of family cutthroat betting to make things interesting…).

Oh, yeah. I also made a pie. Yes! The weekend after Thanksgiving! Realize, please, that the photo I shared on Thanksgiving was the extended family pie table. We only made two of those (upside down pear cake and cranberry tart), and they were both mostly eaten on Thanksgiving with the others. I still had one pie’s worth of vodka dough. Wait, I never blogged about the failure which was vodka dough, did I? Here’s the scoop: Adding vodka to pastry dough is the new Thing to do. Because vodka evaporates completely when baked (I ask, water doesn’t?), it results in a fabulously flaky crust. Maybe. But the fact that vodka never freezes means the dough remains soft and sticky, so the beautiful crust edge you create just flumpfs in the oven, and you stand there, looking through the oven window, begging and pleading with Fate that the dough won’t flumpf so much that the filling will ooze out and create a baked-on mess in the oven. Sure, the dough may be flaky (not significantly more so, in my opinion), but the ulcer you get during the baking process makes it anti-worthwhile.

One recipe made enough pastry for two pies, so I still had one disc of dough in the fridge. I had made a squash and sage risotto on Saturday, thus the knowledge that we had arborio rice in the pantry was fresh in my mind.

I took the vodka dough, some arborio rice, some milk, and some spices (plus eggs etc.), and made a Tarte Au Riz (Rice pudding pie, pretty much). This is a Belgian staple (actually, it’s usually made with a yeasted tart dough, but what the hell), and I would really like to be able to make one like you get from the bakery in Belgium. I allow myself one try a year (so much creaminess, it’s dangerous, otherwise). Mine are good, but not what I remember.

Tasty goodness, even without nutmeg.

Now, I need to find my motivation and finish a project. Anybody see it anywhere?

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