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Money Can’t Buy Happiness. But It Can Buy Netflix And Large Quantities of Granulated Sugar Sooo…

5 Aug

road house

As many of you probably know by now, I tend to become obsessed with, and then unhealthily attached to, certain pop culture phenomenons which I seem to have trouble moving on from– see: Hologram TupacHobbits. My latest? ROAD HOUSE. Was anyone ever going to tell me about Road House, or was I just supposed to stumble upon it one humid, lazy Saturday night, and then stumble upon it again the following Sunday, and then rewind certain key scenes throughout the week until my Netflix account mysteriously stopped working?! (Fine. Jimmy found the tai chi moves I borrowed from the movie to be endearing, but the attempts to suplex him, not so much. He took away our router until I promised to give the movie a rest, and it is the single greatest act of kindness he has ever bestowed upon me.)

Speaking of kindness though, originally I was going to post that mellow, heart-tugging meme that you’ve likely seen on LinkedIn about being kind to everyone because we’re all facing our own battles, but then I realized that A ROAD HOUSE IMAGE WAS AN OPTION. And this one is so much better in so many ways. This week alone (it’s only Tuesday guys, I know) I’ve been offhandedly insulted three different times by two people very close to me and one person I barely know, and none of these people seem to have taken that sweet little viral meme to heart. So maybe it’s time to stop being polite, and start getting real (that’s Swayze too, right?).

It’s definitely better than trying to throw money at my problems until they go away, which is sort of my MO these days. Retail therapy is quite possibly the worst type of panacea for depression when you’re kind of broke. (It’s probably super unhealthy for rich/normal people as well, but maybe ya’ll are buying yourselves into unending bliss, IDK.) I seem to have fallen victim to some serious sadness AND some wicked end-of-summer sales at exactly the same time, which is provoking some really deep thoughts. Should I get this mason jar that I can have my name engraved into because it’s on sale? Then everyone in my household (Jimmy) will know which mason jar is mine. I should. Of course I should. What about a monogrammed Lazy Susan? Who even is Susan? That seems like the worst thing to have named after you. Sucks for you, Susan. Now the whole world knows what a disaster you are.

I ended up buying a t-shirt that says “Happy Thoughts” (LOLOL) and knee-high Smartwool socks. I know we’re in a heat wave. They were cheap. I was sad. I have no segues for what I baked today.

Pink Lemonade Bars

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the crust

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest

1/2 cup of butter, diced into small chunks

1 cup of all-purpose flour

For the pink lemonade topping

1/2 cup of raspberries

2 large eggs

3/4 cup of granulated sugar

1/4 cup of lemon juice

1/3 cup of all-purpose flour

Powdered sugar for dusting, optional

Preheat your oven to 350ºF and line a 8×8″ square pan with parchment paper. Butter and flour the parchment and set aside.

For the crust, in a food processor or blender, pulse together sugar, lemon zest and salt (if using unsalted butter). Add in butter and pulse until somewhat incorporated. Add in flour and pulse until you’ve got a crumbly mess. Really. Though it is sweet messy fun to press this into your parchment-lined pan, I promise. Press it as evenly as you can along the bottom, and bake for 15 minutes, removing when the edges are lightly browned. Keep your oven on while working on the topping.

For the topping, beat together eggs, sugar and lemon juice in a large bowl until smooth. Puree raspberries in blender until liquid, or liquid-y. Strain out seeds with a sieve, and then stir puree into lemon mixture. Because I am lazy, I strained the puree directly into my lemon mixture, and I encourage other lazy people to do the same.

SONY DSC

Vibrant huh?

Vibrant huh?

Stir flour into mixture and pour mixture over your crust. Send back into the oven until the top jiggles just a bit, about 25 to 30 minutes (mine took about 25). Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer parchment to a rack to allow to cool completely before cutting.

SONY DSC

I forgot the powdered sugar on mine 😦 which may work out for those of you who are happy with not-too-sweet treats.

SONY DSC

As you can see, these bars have a nice, thick, buttery crust which sort of turned them into an automatic WIN for me. The topping? Totally tasted the pink lemonade and LOVED it. Together crust and topping make for a happy, buttery, super lemony treat that is definitely worth the [oven] time, and is CERTAINLY a better use of your/my time than suplexing your partner and buying nonsense with your name on it.

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Geez…Who WAS That Masked Intruder? Ah Well…Let’s Get Sticky!

23 May

Inside joke-y photo sent to me by Melinda. Words to the wise, kids.

Ok, guys, let me start with the big question: who was that whiny twit womanning this blog in the last few posts? I was reading them and was all, “What’s her champagne problem now? Let me save up my rupees and see if I can come up with enough dough to buy her the tiniest violin in the world.” I’m right, right? Such complaints this one had! Anyway, instead of yammering on and on, let me provide you with some quick updates on the Life of Shibow:

1. It won’t stop raining in New York, and I am PISSED, with a capital PISSED.

2. HOLGRAM TUPAC!!!!! I cannot stop talking about this. It will never cease to amuse me. Never.

3. Guess who landed herself in the emergency room! I’ve got no idea what happened other than it hurt like a mother to breathe and I spent a good three hours crying and lamenting the current state of the city hospital system begging to be discharged before some other stranger in scrubs started inexplicably poking and prodding me. It was hell. It was pure hell. But fear not, dear readers, after much fretting and hand-wringing it was determined that I will not, in fact, expire any time soon, at least not of an asthma-related meltdown.

4. BOY DID I MISS YOU GUYS! ❤

5. I am so sick of the NYC subway system. Just the other day, the doors to the F train shut while I was boarding and gave me a nasty arm burn. The next morning, a woman spilled her Coffee Coolata on me and then LAUGHED. The soulless slob of a beast laughed! I hate this city.

6. I got a Twitter! I sort of still don’t get it, but follow me anyway, please! Also, speaking of Twitter, and the NYC subway, follow this chap too!

I guess I did need a little bit of a break. Truth be told,  I am feeling a little better about things, and hopefully, should #1 cease to be true in the near future, I’ll feel a LOT better about things. I was able to muster up enough of a sugar craving/curiosity to want to try and bake something new and interesting, and finally decided on something so messy that I’d literally be stuck to it for hours and hours: marshmallows!

So, obviously, those jet-puffed creations that you wedge into your yams and roast over open fires every now and again are made by somebody. Still, for some reason it never occurred to me that they could be made by this body. Oh, but they can. And MOTHER are they messy.

Now, the great thing about these babies, especially if your sucky new-ish oven sort of reminds you of the ones you’ve seen at colonial houses on your sixth grade field trips, is that they’re no-bake. This, in my opinion, makes them yes-awesome. Let’s do it!

Marshmallows That Can Double As Part Of A Low-Budget Spiderman Costume…A Delicious Low-Budget Spiderman Costume (makes like 24 or something…you’ll see what I mean)

1 cup of water, divided

3 packets (.25 oz each) of powdered gelatin

1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar

1 cup of light corn syrup

1 large pinch of salt

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

Confectioner’s sugar, for coating (you’ll need lots…and then a bit more than that)

Oh, also, if you’ve got a candy thermometer, it will come in handy. If you don’t, you’re me, and you like doing things the inconvenient way. First, lightly grease a 9 x 9 square baking pan with butter or oil, and set aside. Next, pour 1/2 cup of your water into a large bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it, distributing the gelatin evenly. Leave it be… it will look super strange in just a few minutes.

See? Super strange.

Combine the rest of your water, and the sugar, salt and corn syrup in a medium-sized saucepan. Cook this mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Raise to medium heat and let the mixture come to a boil without stirring it. If you have a candy thermometer, you can insert it now. If you start to see some of the mixture sticking to the sides, you can brush down with a pastry brush that has been dipped in cold water. But DON’T stir. When the mixture registers at 240ºF, remove from heat and let it sit for one minute.

Boiling point. Pretty, huh?

Now, if you don’t possess a candy thermometer, this next step will be slightly tricky for you. Basically, you’re trying to get the above concoction to reach “soft-ball stage.” What this means is when a drop of the mixture is placed into a bowl of cold water, the mixture will immediately form itself into a soft ball. Since I refused to buy myself a thermometer because I am cheap and lazy, I used this method. It took about 5 minutes after the mix reached the boiling point to get to this stage.

Next, using a hand or stand mixer on low speed, slowly and carefully pour the hot syrupy mixture into the bowl of water/gelatin until fully incorporated. Then, gradually increase the speed to high and proceed to beat for about 10 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat for about 30 seconds longer.

If you have a hand mixer, I am you, and I feel for both of us. All I can say is that the result will be worth the effort, especially if you’re in a funk and need something fun and trying with which to occupy your time. Not pointing fingers, though if I were pointing fingers they’d be pointing at me.

Take your time with this one. At first you won’t believe it could look like the above, and then….oh…whoa…for real?! This will get Ghostbusters-crazy.

Immediately transfer the marshmallow-y goodness to your greased pan. I’m going to be honest with you: this will suck. Seriously, if there is a way to do this so that all of the marshmallow fluff stuff from the bowl goes into the pan, I know not of it. Get as much of it as you can in, then lightly wet your fingers and try to smooth the top out as much as possible. Let this stand uncovered at room temperature for at least 2 hours.

If you want, you can add all sorts of coatings to this– cocoa powder, cinnamon sugar, etc. For my first try, though, I decided to keep these classic. If you’d like to do the same, once yours are firm, coat your hands in confectioner’s sugar, then cut the marshmallows into squares with a scissor that is also coated in confectioner’s sugar. Cover the marshmallows in this sugar, as well. Seal in an airtight container.

Then you can feed them to your significant other, friend or family member, but only if this person is also covered in confectioner’s sugar. I’m just trying to see if you’re still paying attention. *Wink*

So, believe it or not, I actually made marshmallows! And even though this was the goopiest, messiest process ever, it was fun and relatively easy. Luckily, Mr. Master Of the Baking Arts was there to figure out how best to cut these suckers, because Lord knows I am no good with that process. These were even better on the second day! Also, there is nothing better than a s’more containing homemade marshmallows.  Best bad decision ever. 😉

Caused a hell of a mess in our toaster oven. And it was WORTH IT.


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