December 2007


John and I are spending Christmas day with my family and are then flying out to California for nearly a week with his family. This trip will involve lots of driving between the homes of various divorced and remarried parties, several celebrations at several different homes, and a dinner at a suburban fondue restaurant. Whee!

where the cream and butter merged

(foreshadowing)

Last year when we did this trip, I brought a box of Frango mints from (the store formerly known as) Marshall Fields to give to John’s mom. She set them out during one of the huge family gatherings, everyone liked them, they were hit. I work rather close to the flagship store of (what I insist on still calling) Marshall Fields, so I figured this year I’d buy another box, bring them to John’s mom, and start a hostess gift tradition.

Except work blew up this week and I didn’t have any time to go to (always and forever known as) Marshall Fields to pick up the damn Frango mints. And since I have about a million houses to go to during this visit to California, and because I really feel a strong personal obligation to show up with SOMETHING to every house I visit for a holiday party, I decided to dust off last year’s go-to holiday hostess gift recipe: salted caramels.

not even all of the dishes

(they take several pans, but are WORTH IT)

I made about a dozen batches of salted caramels last year and gave them to everyone we know. They were delicious. Easy. Foolproof. Most importantly, I really liked eating the scraps that were left over after I cut them into neat squares and wrapped them in charming twists of waxed paper. So I figured it would be no big deal for me to whip up a batch and stick them in our suitcase to dole out to the many hostesses we’re going to encounter in the next week.

looks like caramel, actually is tooth killer

(mmm….soft and caramelly. Except not.)

You know what is a terrible way to discover your candy thermometer has gone wonky? When you taste your caramels after all your careful stirring and melting of butter and measuring of sea salt and discover that when it said 248 degrees, the perfect firm ball stage for caramels, what it actually meant was about 255 degrees, the perfect soft crack stage for candies that will stick in and then yank out your teeth if you try to eat them. Awesome.

where it all ended up

(Where the whole mess ended up.)

Do you think if I printed out this entry and give it to the hostesses next week, I would at least get points for trying? Because I don’t think I have another batch of candy in me today.

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It’s been kind of a hectic time around here.  I can’t blog from work, and I’ve been working rather hard lately and have been disinterested in spending more time on the computer when I get home at night.  But remind me to tell you sometime about how I got to use my newly-minted lawyer skills to help some parents try to save a charter school.  It was totally my own personal heart-swelling movie, “now I feel like I did actually accomplish something by going to law school” moment.

Also, I thought you might be interested in knowing that I am quite the hot commodity on flickr these days.  In the past week, 3 different men with foot fetishes have tried to become friends with me on flickr. For a while, I was participating in a flickr photo pool where people posted pictures of what shoes they wore to the office (this was back when I had very little work to do and was trying to kill time), and I posted some pictures of my favorite office heels and apparently that is just too hot for the internet because now random men from Austria and Indonesia keep wanting to be my friend so they can ogle my pretty feet.  Back off, dudes.

Finally, I want to give a shout out to the fabulous Green Yogurt.  I won a contest on her blog several weeks back, and then totally forgot about it, then yesterday in the mail received a totally sweet prize pack full of really high quality things I actually want to use.  Vastly exceeded my expectations.  Green rocks.

A few days ago, I was getting things ready for dinner. I was making soup. With leeks.

looks innocent enough

(leek)

Lovely, aren’t they? (Actually, they’re HUGE, compared to the leeks I’m used to. I worried about buying them, because they were so freakishly huge and they were on super-sale, and Whole Foods never puts stuff on sale. But I wanted soup, so I bought them.)

“What’s that?” asked John.

“A leek, doofus,” I said.

“No, I know it’s a leek,” he said witheringly. “What’s THAT.”
but wait!  what is this?

(leek interloper)

Oh that? That is a CATERPILLAR. Living IN OUR DINNER.

ah.  a caterpillar.  obviously

(surprisingly robust insect. note: not small.)

I should point out that it had been close to a week since I bought these freakishly large leeks by the time I got around to using them. Meaning our many-footed friend had survived in our refrigerator for many chilly days and nights.

Apparently,he survived by eating leeks. And some of the plastic bag. Resourceful little bugger.

and he's been busy!

(leaf damage)

I made John take him outside. If he lived that long in our fridge, I figured he deserved better than to be smooshed and thrown in our trashcan. Then I trimmed off the nibbled part of the leek and made soup.