Black Spruce Hound

A Wisconsin Girl in the Woods, Knitting, Crafting, and Cooking. Also: Ugly Dresses.

December 29, 2011

Arnold Vs. The Machine



This glorious piece of machinery was a Christmas gift from my parents. Because I'm just not caffeinated enough. While I instantly welcomed this into the house, Arnold was skeptical


Arnold did not recognize this newcomer. 


Arnold was leery.


Arnie did not like this fancy-pants machine that required reading a manual. 


Arnold said, 'harrumph.'


But then, Arnold realized it was just another caffeination device! Arnold gasped!


COFFEE!!!


December 27, 2011

Last Week Vol. 5: The Holiday Edition

I just realized that nearly all of these pictures are of food, or pertain to food. So really, I should have called this 'Last Week Vol. 5: The Christmas Fat-Ass Edition', but we'll let it slide. 

Here is a peek of what went on last week. 













And finally, thanks to these babes, I cooked a Christmas Day brunch that made everyone in attendance gain 5 pounds and suffer from narcoleptic attacks for 24 hours straight. It was a good day. 



December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas

For the next 52.7 hours, I will be in the kitchen. Hopefully trapped under pounds of butter, bags of dark chocolate, and rivers of peanut butter.

I'll see you on the other side. With cookies!


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,
- The Black Spruce Hound Gang

December 19, 2011

A Pendleton Sort of Day

One of the better benefits of working from home - no dress code. Pajamas, jeans, or all decked out; it's all acceptable. This day's outfit was a blouse and skirt, both made by Pendleton, both from very different eras.

Another benefit: coffee at noon, at my own kitchen table.



I even get to drink out of one of my own gigantic coffee cups. In which 'one cup' of coffee is actually more like two cups, but who's counting? 


I get to wear fun shoes. And if my feet get tired, I can kick 'em off and no one will say anything. 


It was cold outside, so a wool skirt seemed like a good idea. 

I love me a polyester blouse. I am drawn to the polyester. The uglier the better. I happen to think this blouse is rather nice, actually. I really like the keyhole neckline, and the color. I usually don't dress in blue, for some reason. 


Pendleton blouse - thrifted
Pendleton wool skirt - eBay
Evan Picone pumps - etsy.com

December 16, 2011

Ginger Beer Cocktail

We're celebrating Christmas with the Mr's family early this year. As in tomorrow. So, as I do the flight of the bumblebee around the house trying to get everything ready at the last minute, I'll leave you with a little drinky recipe that might just be on the menu tonight. Or tomorrow.

If you like ginger, you'll like this. Ginger beer is non-alcoholic, and tastes like ginger ale's mean and nasty relative. The one that beats you up and steals your lunch money.

Mixed with some spiced rum, it's yummy. And sinus-clearing.


First, assemble this: ginger beer, spiced rum, and a glass (or in my case, jar) with ice. 


Add booze. 


Add ginger beer. 


Stir stir stir. Garnish with lime if you like, and drink. 

Thank me later. 




December 14, 2011

All in a Day's Work

This is your life: Duck Version.


First things first, she gives me the hairy eyeball.


Then, a little sip of water. 


Then comes the big stretch. 


 And some more hairy eyeball. Like I'm going to jump in there and steal the water or something.


And the bath begins.  


The chicken was being magnanimous this morning, and decided to drink the water without chasing and/or pecking the duck out of the bowl first.


And now begins my favorite segment of the morning, Ducky Acrobatics. 




The rest of the day is spent sleeping, eating, and standing on one leg.

Oh! I almost forgot. This is the weirdest thing. The duck (and chicken) molted in September. There were so many feathers in the backyard it looked like a feather pillow had been ripped open. After her molt, the duck looks a little...different.


Last summer....and now. Yes, that's the same duck. Weird, right? She's the Duck of a Different Color.

December 12, 2011

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Onion


This recipe...not exactly new and exciting. Everybody and their brother has been making brussels sprouts with bacon for years now. Always up-to-the-minute, that's me. 

I'm not a huge fan of brussels sprouts; that's my only excuse for not having made this sooner. Now that I have made it, it will definitely be put into rotation. The sprouts are slowly sauteed with bacon and onion until they're caramelized all over and tender-crisp. I've only ever had boiled brussels sprouts before, and let me just say that this method kicks the living crap out of boiling the sprouts. As in bitch-slaps it and sends it back to wherever it came from. That good, people. Seriously. 

And, of course, the true test came from the Mr. He ate the sprouts. And liked them. He is of the opinion that they would be better in a cream sauce, but still. Progress. 

If you are a sprout-hater, go ahead and give this a try. It might just change your mind. 

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Onion
Adapted slightly from a recipe by Tom Colicchio - available here

4 strips bacon, cut into small chunks
1 lb. fresh brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 small onion or shallot, thinly sliced
Salt, pepper

Heat a medium sized frying pan over medium high heat. Add the bacon. 


When the bacon starts to render out its fat, add a handful of the sprouts. Add the sprouts slowly, a handful at a time, to prevent them from lowering the temperature of the pan and steaming instead of sauteing. 


When all the sprouts have been added, add the onion. Season lightly with salt and pepper. 


Adjust heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until deeply caramelized and crisp-tender, 15 to 20 minutes. 


Enjoy!

December 9, 2011

$3.00 Holiday Centerpieces


These cost me a grand total of $3.00 to make. Word.

If you would like to make them, or something similar, read on!

First, get thee to a dollar store. I tend to shop at Dollar Tree.


Find these, or the equivalent thereof. I liked these because they look like itty bitty cranberries. (You can use whatever you find - Spanish moss, river rocks, fake snow; hell, you can use whole coffee beans if you like.)


Grab some glass jars or vases. These are two pint canning jars that I pilfered from my own stock of them. There's no need to purchase jars or vases - use whatever you have. Spaghetti sauce jars would work, even. 


Fill the jars halfway with the berries. Now - let's not do what I did, shall we? I spilled them everywhere. They're made of foam, so the little bastards rolled all over the place before I could round them back up. 


Scout sensed a disturbance in the force, and came looking for stray berries. 


Success! 


Now, you'll also need two branches of some variety. Green, gold, silver, freshly snipped from a tree, whatever.  


I didn't like the leaves, so I ripped those off. And then I ripped the branches into smaller pieces so they would fit into the jars better.


Et voilĂ ! Not perfect, I think the branches could use a bit more height, but not bad. 

And if you have any Foam Berries From Satan left over, you can do this:




I put the rest of the berries into a large vase and put two pieces of fake greenery in there. (Note - the greenery is not from a dollar store, but a liquidation store; and were $3.99 each.) I had a few little branches left over from the other jars, so I secured those to the greenery to add a bit of color.

So there you have it - easy peasy, and frugal to boot.

Have fun!
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