Saturday, July 30, 2016

Review of a Mini Frozen Key Lime Pie Recipe

Mini Frozen Key Lime Pies

I like lime and lemon desserts and cheesecake and since the weather has been in the 90s I didn’t want to turn on my oven. So this recipe looked perfect. I found it on Epicurious. If you want to try it go here. And you should try it.
I will admit that if there is a lazy way to do something, I will pick the lazy way. And I hate washing my food processor. So to make the crust I bought graham cracker crumbs already in crumb form, melted the butter in the microwave and just mixed it with a fork in a bowl.

For this recipe I used actual key limes. My local grocery store doesn’t often have them so I have never used them before. They are small. Which caused me to over buy key limes. I only used eight and bought about four times that many. I will have to make more lime desserts.

Since they are small I also found that they are a pain to juice and zest. My big clumsy hands had trouble holding on to the slippery little things while trying to zest them with a microplane without zesting my fingers.

The heavy cream gets whipped and some goes into the filling but there is some left over to put on top when the cheesecakes are done. Which is lovely, since there is nothing better than fresh whipped cream.

Once you have the filling all mixed up it says to pipe it into the cupcake liners. But, again, I took the lazy man’s way out and just spooned it in. You can fill them almost all the way to the top and have enough to make 12. After you put the crust on they will come right to the top of the liner. I left them in the freezer overnight and ate them straight from the freezer. I was worried that I would have to let them sit for a bit to soften so I could get a fork through them but they never got that hard. So you can just leave them in the freezer until you are ready to eat them and there is no waiting or timing it out so they are soft but not melted.

They are creamy and tart and have a good strong lime flavor. And they are cute too. And since you can keep them in the freezer they can last probably far longer than anyone can wait to eat them. They got rave reviews and I have to admit that I had trouble stopping after eating just one so they are a little dangerous to have around the house. But I'm sure I'll be making these again.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday 56 (July 29)

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post in the Linky here. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It's that simple.

My book is I Am No One by Patrick Flanery. Jeremy returns to the US after living for a sdecade in England and he starts to receive mysterious evidence that he is being watched. He has no idea who would be watching him or why since he is 'no one'.

No, I said to myself sitting before Rachel that Monday afternoon, she was well dressed and neatly groomed, but she was not attractive. Genetics had dealt her a rather poor hand.

Poor girl. I got this book from Library Thing. I need to write a review for it. I haven't done it yet because I'm still trying to figure out what I thought of it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tuesday With Morrie Movie vs Book

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Tuesdays with Morrie with Hank Azaria and Jack Lemmon

Both the book and the movie are about a journalist that reconnects with one of his former college professors when he hears that his professor is dying.
Morrie, the professor, shares the insights that he has learned as the disease that will eventually take his life ravishes his body.  And these conversations have a profound impact on his former student, Mitch.

The book and the movie follow very similar lines and there are times when the wording is exactly the same.  But there were differences.  In the book (and I’m assuming, real life) Mitch is married, but for some reason in the movie he isn’t.  In the movie he has a girlfriend and the relationship between them takes up much more of the movie than it does of the book.  In fact there is a lot more in the movie that involves Mitch when he isn’t with Morrie.  Almost the entire book takes place in Morrie’s home, you don’t get to see much of Mitch’s life at all.  I don’t know if they just added things from life to make it more complete or added made up things to make it more dramatic, but you get to see more of his work and home life.

I wasn’t that big of a fan of the book because I thought, despite the very personal nature of the story, that it was reduced to a bunch of pithy sayings.  Which, I admit, mean more coming from someone who has to actually live them, but at times it started to feel like a bunch of clichés strung together and it became trite.  Which is sad because I’m sure Morrie’s life was anything but trite.  And I don’t know how you can tell such a personal, emotional tale and still leave me feeling like I don’t know the people involved.  But that was how the book made me feel.  So it was nice that the movie added more of the people’s lives.  I found it easier to connect to the people because I felt I knew them better.  So I think the movie edges the book out a little for me.  But the movie still has some of the slightly preachy, slightly condescending feel the book had so I wasn’t the biggest fan of the movie either.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Fish and Chips at the Mission Bar and Grille

I was in the area to visit my brand new niece and her mother so I stopped into the Mission Bar and Grille.  First of all, it was dark in there.  I don’t mean warm and cozy or romantically dim.  I mean dark. When I walked in there was no one greeting people at the door, or really any employees in sight.  So I just took a seat at the bar.  It was the Saturday of the 4th of July weekend.  They had a limited menu that day because I think they originally had not planned to be open.  I ended up getting the fish and chips.  They had run out of coleslaw.  I assume it was because it was the holiday weekend and they had not expected to be open.  At least I hope that was why.  I was asked if I would like a side salad instead.  Which was fine.  Coleslaw is not why I get fish and chips.  The batter on the fish was light and nice and crispy.  The fish was nice and flaky and delicious.  The fries were good too, except, as with most fish and chips some were soggy because they had been sitting under the fish.  They have a good selection of beers.  I didn’t try the cocktails but some of the ones on the menu looked good.  I wouldn’t say the service was bad.  I would say it was relaxed.  The bartender was polite enough, but I waited a while for my food, and all of the staff seemed a bit distracted by the soccer game.  They all must be big fans so you might want to go when there are no games on.  The food was good and there was nothing that went so wrong that I would write off the place completely.  I think I might have picked the wrong day to see the place at its best.  I’m not sure I would ever make the trip just to go to the Mission but if I’m in the area I would give it another try.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Chewy Butterscotch Brownies Recipe Review

Chewy Butterscotch Brownies

I got this recipe from Very Best Baking but you can also sometimes find it on the back of the Nestle Butterscotch Chips bag.  If you want to try it go here.

I make this recipe all the time.  It’s one of my go to desserts because it is easy and delicious.  And I usually have a bag of butterscotch chips in the house. (Is that odd?) 

The recipe starts with a cup of butter.  Which is always a good sign.  

The rest of the ingredients are pretty simple.  And there is nothing tricky about the instructions.  You basically just mix everything together.  The recipe tells you to put half of the butterscotch chips in the batter and then sprinkle the rest on top after they are in the pan.  I did that the first time I made these but I didn’t really see the point so I started to just put them all in the batter and that worked just fine and seemed easier to me. 

I like nuts but I often leave them out for allergy reasons when I plan to take them somewhere or give them out.  They turn out fine without them and without changing anything else.  They are good both ways.  But these can get very sweet and I think the nuts cut the sweetness and tempers it a little.

The batter is really thick.  In fact, spreading it out in the pan might be the hardest part of making them.  

After about 30 minutes in the oven they come out golden brown and buttery.  I get a lot of good feedback about them so they have a wide appeal and it is nice to occasionally have a change from the traditional chocolate chip blondie bars.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Big Splash Review

The Big Splash by Jack D. Ferraiolo

(from the book jacket)
Matt Stevens is as tough as a steak from the school cafeteria.  He’s a seventh-grade private eye, and he just did something he said he’d never do: He accepted a job from Vincent “Vinny Biggs” Biggio, the kid behind every deal made at Franklin Middle School, from black market candy to forged hall passes.
You see, life at the Frank is tough.  Get on the wrong side of Vinny Biggs and you’ll find yourself in the Outs, the least popular “club” in school.  How do you get there?  Water (or any other liquid) strategically splattered below your belt for maximum humiliation.
When Nicole Finnegan, a.k.a. Nikki Fingers, the most feared squirt-gun assassin at the Frank, is put in the Outs, Matt feels partially to blame and is determined to find the trigger kid.  Problem is, Nikki has more enemies than a snitch during a final exam.  Every kid in school is suspect, including Kevin Carling, Matt’s former best friend and current right-hand man to Vinny Biggs.  Matt had better watch his back, and especially his front, as he tackles a case with more twists than a candy addict on a swivel chair.

The Big Splash has a wonderful noir feel.  It has all the pieces; the hard detective, the damsel in distress, the harried newspaper man, the scared sources, the neighborhood bar, the crime boss, the thugs.  All of it.  It has the fun narration by the detective complete with colorful similes like ‘a bully without intimidation was like a new car without a motor: It may look impressive, but it wasn’t going anywhere,’ and ‘they rolled around my brain like billiard balls on a table with no pockets; nothing was sinking in.’ The story is peopled with interesting people.  Most of the transitions from noir to middle school work well; the sugar habits instead of drug ones, the assassins with water instead of bullets.  It has a fun lighthearted feel a lot of the time but it also has a hard edge as you see the kids pounce on someone when they are down and the consequences that humiliation has on their lives.  It’s an interestingly convoluted mystery with lots of clues and suspects and twists right up until the final denouement.  But it isn’t just about the mystery.  It also manages to work in the problems of growing up with friendship and romance and trying to fit in.  The only problem is that sometimes it pushes a little too hard and it goes a bit too far and they don’t sound like kids anymore.  But that can easily be forgiven because you get wrapped up in the feeling of the book.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Codex 632 Review

(from the back of the book) When Thomas Noronha, a professor of history and expert cryptographer, is called upon to finish an unresolved investigation involving an aged scholar who is mysteriously found dead in his hotel room, his life takes several unexpected and dramatic turns.  As Thomas slowly begins to unravel the cryptograms and enigmas that shroud the old professor’s work, he finds a code that could possibly change the course of historical scholarship.

In his quest to decipher this mysterious code, Thomas travels around the world, from Lisbon to Rio, New York, and Jerusalem.  He quickly immerses himself in the fascinating history of the discovery of the Americas, and the one enigma that no historian has ever been able to solve: the true identity of Christopher Columbus. 

There is a lot of research behind this book and the fact that all of the documents cited in the book are real is very interesting.  You learn a lot about Columbus and many of the inconsistencies in the documents that mention him.  Many of which I knew nothing about going into this book.  It is fascinating.  Up to a point.  But sometimes it got to be a little much.  At one point there are 10 pages of the history professor going over every document pointing out the different names that are used to refer to Columbus.  And for a while the reader is not sure what the point is, so it starts to feel a bit long.  And everyone is a bit infuriating.  They all reveal a little information and then add a ‘but’ on to the end until you want to choke them all.  It covers a lot of ground, and you learn about the Templars and Jewish history and other interesting things along the way to the concluding of the Columbus mystery.  And you do start to feel Noronha’s frustration as he tracks down the clues and searches out the secrets only to have things pulled out of his reach.  But the parts of the story that revolve around his wife and daughter and the student he gets involved with seem out of place and distracting.  And the characters have a sensational way of revealing information that makes you feel jerked around and everyone is winking and smiling and it makes them come out slightly obnoxious and hard to like.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

My Visit to Smith & Wollensky

bread served with a spoon
Once in a while I like to go to a restaurant I can't really afford. This time I decided to go to Smith & Wollensky. It's the kind of place that you pay fifty dollars for a steak and side dishes are extra.

I planned to go on a Sunday evening and assumed it would be busy so I made a reservation. It turns out I didn't need one. I got there at six and there were only a few people there. And during the hour or so that I stayed not many more came in. That was okay with me. I don't really like crowded. The place is warm and inviting. It does have a classy feel to it but I went in jeans and sneakers and a nice top and I was not the most casually dressed person there.

Everyone was very polite and my waiter, who was also bar tending at the
perfectly cooked
time, was attentive and helpful. I started with an Eastern Hemisphere cocktail. It was light and refreshing and I liked it but it had a flavor I couldn't identify that didn't seem to be in the description. But it could have just been the green tea. Then he brought me some bread which came out in a little pan with a big spoon stuck in it. It was warm and buttery and flavored with rosemary. Luckily not too much rosemary since I am not a huge fan. I got the pea soup to start. It came out in a little tower. The empty bowl on the bottom, a little tureen with the soup in it, then a little dish on top with the croutons. Then he carefully poured my soup into the bowl, using a plate as a shield so there was no chance I would get splashed. Then after asking if I wanted the croutons in my soup, added them for me. It seemed like a big production for a bowl of soup but the care in the service and presentation is all part of the experience so it was fun too.

For my entree I got the filet mignon (10 oz.) and half sides of the creamed spinach and au gratin
half sides
potatoes. It doesn't say anywhere that I could see that you could get half orders of the sides so I'm glad my waiter mentioned it or I would have only gotten one. He asked what I wanted to drink, perhaps a glass of wine? Well, actually, yes. But I know absolutely nothing about wine. So this is where I usually pick something at random from the wine menu and ask for it like I know what I'm talking about. But I didn't have a wine menu any more since it was taken away after I ordered. So I asked for a suggestion instead. And he brought out a bottle and opened it at the table and talked to me about it like I would understand him. Then he let me try it. It tasted like red wine. So I said it was good and he poured me a glass. And I did enjoy it but I couldn't tell you what it was even though he seemed surprised that I had never heard of it. The sides came out in their own little skillets, the cheese on the potatoes still bubbling. Both were good but the star of the meal was obviously the steak. It was cooked perfectly and also seasoned perfectly. No need to add salt or anything. I had not asked for any of the embellishments or other add ons to the steak but I was given some béarnaise sauce to go with it. That was a nice touch.

I couldn’t finish all of that food but, of course, that didn’t stop me from getting dessert. I got
yummy cake
the coconut cake. It isn’t a light and fluffy cake. It is pretty dense. But it is very good. And the whipped cream on the side is delightful. I had a lot of food boxed up to take home and my waiter gave me a whole little loaf of the bread to take with me.

The restroom was clean and they had those thick soft paper towels that
mystery door in restroom
feel like cloth. There was a mystery door opposite the toilet which always makes me uneasy even though logically I know no one is going to open it. But that’s probably just me. And that is a very small thing compared to the rest of dinner. I was very happy with the night and if I can ever afford it again I will go back.
extra bread and great take out containers