Happy Thanksgiving! 

 Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours! 

Recipes and Cookbooks in a Pinterest World

Better Homes and Gardens NEW COOK BOOK , 1989 editionFor the past few years, I’ve been going to Pinterest more and more for recipes. On Pinterest there’s an endless variety of choices, instant access to reviews, and of course that bottomless rabbit hole of internet clicks. A search for a quick supper recipe quickly unravels into a hunt for table setting ideas, crafts, and other nonsense. Basically, what should be a five minute search for something to eat becomes a thirty minute internet time-suck.

So lately, I’ve been craving the comfort of my own cookbooks. First of all, curling up with the iPad and falling into a net of random blogs and untested recipes is not the same as paging through an old cookbook of tested, tried and true recipes. I love sticking page flags on the top contenders and building a meal from several cookbooks. 
And–more importantly here for me–constant searching and making Pinterest recipes doesn’t leave a paper trail.

My mom has a metal box packed with delicious recipes that we’ve eaten through the years. It’s like a little family time capsule of yellowed 3-by-5 cards in her own handwriting, my great-grandmother’s handwriting, my grandma’s handwriting, my aunts’ handwritings… It’s so fun to poke through the box and see who brought each recipe into our mix of regular meals and family gatherings. She also has her Better Homes & Gardens cookbook from the 70s that is so well-used, the pages are falling out of it. 

My own recipe box consists of a handful of recipes in my college handwriting and has pretty much been untouched since then. My own cooking history lies in my Pinterest pins and my internet search history. If I don’t change things now, when I’m old, I won’t have that paper trail of my own recipes. I won’t have creased and yellowed cards in my mom’s handwriting. I won’t have little handwritten notes about what worked and what didn’t when I tried a new cookbook recipe. I won’t have stained and wrinkled cookbook pages, tangible evidence of a well-loved meal.

I’m trying to break the Pinterest habit and rely more on my cookbooks and recipe box for meals and desserts. (I mean, why have them if I’m not using them?) And I’m trying to write down some of the favorites I have found online, like Kathy’s grandmother’s cranberries

Naoto and I have a small collection of cookbooks, mostly vintage ones with a few Food Network titles mixed in. (We used to watch tons of Food Network shows together on Saturday and Sunday mornings.) The backbone to our collection is the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. We both brought versions of this cookbook into the marriage. Naoto’s is the 10th Edition (1989, pictured above) and he got it in college when Auntie Judy (his host mother in Hawaii) took him to Waldenbooks and bought it for him. Mine is the 11th Edition (1996) and I, too, got mine in college, as a Christmas gift from my parents. We are emotionally attached to our respective cookbooks so we’ve kept both of them. Plus, even though the editions are only a few years apart, mine has some newer recipes and even the old standards have slight changes to them. We have favorites in each edition. My mom is bringing her edition to Thanksgiving so I can see if we are missing out on some good 1970s standards. I will report back. 

In the meantime, I’m cracking open the cookbooks to get ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow. And cleaning…

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Phantom Flight Night™

wine tasting guests, Phantom Flight Night Table, Bogle Wine, Phatom Wine, wine tasting table settingThis week Naoto and I hosted Phantom Flight Night™, a little wine tasting party featuring a Trader Joe’s fall-favorite wine, Bogle Phantom. We have been accidentally collecting (hoarding?) Phantom since 2012 and we had bottles from 2008, 2011, and 2012 (available this year at your friendly local Trader Joe’s) so we thought it would be fun to compare the different years. Because Phantom is a blend, each year the grapes vary, so they end up being slightly different wines*. I love an intimate party, so we invited a handful of fellow wine-drinkers to help us polish off three bottles of Phantom. Phantom Flight Night Table runner, Bogle Wine, Phatom Wine, Paper Source wrapping paperEven though it was a small gathering, I was determined to decorate a tiny bit. I love making paper table runners for parties. I usually use my kraft paper but I wanted something dark for PFN™ so I used black wrapping paper and wrote on it with a chalk marker. Someday, maybe I’ll learn calligraphy and I will be able to make the runner really fancy! Phantom Flight Night Table runner, Bogle Wine, Phatom WineI added a big candle nested in old wine corks at the end and labeled the wine bottles in the center. Then I went through all of our wine glasses and found a group of three alike for each person. (I didn’t realize how many wine glasses we have around here. I think we need to have more wine parties and use them more often!) Phantom Flight Night Table, Bogle Wine, Phatom Wine, wine tasting table settingI labeled each glass with a year marker made from black cardstock cut with a 2-inch circle punch and tied on with twine. (This may have been overkill since we stayed at the table for most of the party.)  Phantom Flight Night Table runner, Bogle Wine, Phatom Wine About a half hour before our guests came, I poured three ounces of wine from each year into our glasses to give the wine a little bit of time to breathe. I figured three ounces was a decent pour for comparison, and then we could fill our glasses with more as needed, and open a new bottle of 2012 if we really wanted to get crazy. (It was a weeknight so no one got crazy, sadly.) Phantom Flight Night Table, Bogle Wine, Phatom Wine, wine tasting table settingWe tasted each wine in order of year and wrote little notes on the paper at our place setting. It was fun talking about the wines even though we were all far from wine experts! Next time, I’ll have copies of tasting notes for everyone–something like this one–to help us express ourselves more, but as it was, we had a fun time laughing about our comments while we tasted. We all loved 2011 the best and we decided that the 2008 was beginning to “turn”. (I guess I won’t be saving our last bottle of ’08 for Phantom Flight Night™ 2016.)simple wine tasting snacks, Phantom Flight Night, Bogle WineIn the kitchen, we served cheeses, dried figs, salami, grapes, fruit, nuts, chocolates, and a Trader Joe’s shrimp appetizer–simple bites to complement the wines. wine tasting toast, Phantom Flight Night, Bogle WinesI’m already dreaming of Phantom Flight Night™ 2016…in October, with a Poe reading by Naoto. Look for that blog post next year!

P.S. Unfortunately, this post was not sponsored by Bogle or Trader Joe’s, even though it kind of sounds that way. Extra special thanks to James for coining the name Phantom Flight Night™!

*Phantom 2008 is made from 51% Zinfandel, 47% Petite Sirah, and 2% Mourvedre and 2011 is made from 46% Petite Sirah, 40% Zinfandel, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Mourvedre. I couldn’t find the grapes used in 2012, but I’ll update the post if I find that information!

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Letter Social at the Forest Park Library on Sunday! 

  The ladies from the Letter Writers Alliance will be in Forest Park on Sunday to host their last in-person letter social of the year! I’ll be there catching up on my letter piles and (probably more likely) chatting with other letter writing fans from my neighborhood. If you feel like joining in, here are the details. 
P.S. Super fantastic postcard pictured above is from Craftgasm’s Shop

Plot #6: The End of the Season

plot 6, Forest Park Community Garden, Naoto picking parsleyOn Saturday, we spent the morning clearing out our little garden plot for the season. We pulled out all of the tomato plants, the sad, underdeveloped loofah (sniff, sniff), and a few last herbs. I was at the garden a couple of weeks ago and I thought I’d harvested the end of the parsley (pictured above with Naoto), but it turns out, there was a ton left. We gave some away to our fellow community gardeners and ended up bringing home another half-pound of our own. forest park community garden, pumpkin patch, green pumpkinThere was one last pumpkin in the pumpkin patch. Laura had left it there longer to see if it would turn orange, but it never did. I was charmed by its coloring so I got to bring it home. It’s on the lanai now, but I’m going to bring it in for the Thanksgiving table in a couple of weeks. walking onions, planting in the fall We added a little bit of fresh compost to our plot and then I planted a few walking onions from Laura’s plot. I’m already looking forward to that harvest in the spring!

As I mentioned way back in this post, I have been weighing my harvests all summer. I totaled up all of the records that have been sitting on the corner of my desk and I was quite surprised. We picked over 38 pounds of produce from our plot this summer! Not bad, right? And we didn’t even make the most of our plot by planting fall crops or using the space the best possible way. (One of these years, we are going to learn how to stop the tomato takeover! But I guess there are worse problems than loads of tomatoes, right?!)

So that’s the end of Plot #6 for 2015. I still have some work to do on the lanai before I can put my gardening gloves away for the season and dream of the Seed Swap coming up again next March!

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KimBOOly HAUNTSegawa’s Mailbox

Paper Pastries Halloween MailMy mailbox was filled with a steady stream of Halloween mail last month. Margaret sent the package above, adorned with all of the fabulous spooky stamps of the post office’s history! Inside, there was a Halloween card and a tiny wooden casket filled with candy. I LOVE the creative use of the wax seals! Margaret wrote a blog post about creating the little candy caskets. Such a fun postal treat! I’m going to use the little casket in my Halloween decorating next year and I’m hoarding the envelope too. candy corn postcardSarah sent this fun see-through candy corn postcard. It was laminated into the postcard size, like the corn was floating. Japan Post Halloween postcardYuki sent this amazing Japan Post Halloween postcard. These seasonal cards are coveted by me and many other Japan Post lovers…I screamed with delight when I saw it in my mailbox! Japan Post Halloween postcardYuki sent the postcard in an envelope, but still used vintage stamps with special postmarks on the postcard. I’m sure the postcard will make a reappearance next year in my Halloween decorating. It’s too good to file away with my other mail. Halloween cardsAnd, above are the other sweet, charming, funny Halloween cards I received. punny addressesDanielle, who sent me two Halloween cards, addressed them in the BEST way! KimBOOOly Adami- HAUNTSegawa and KimberlEEK! ADOOMi-HAUNTED HOUSEegawa made me laugh for days. And that Parcel Ghost sticker–so good!

Thanks to everyone for making it a great mail month! Anyone else receive anything spooky in your mailbox?

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Cocktail Perfected: Corpse Reviver #2 

Corpse Reviver #2, Lillet, Aviation Gin, Cointreau, AbsintheI’m slowly recovering from the plague* so I figured, what better cocktail to feature today than the Corpse Reviver #2. It’s actually the second of the Halloween cocktails I promised you last month. I’d been reading about the Corpse Revivers (#1 and #2) in all of my vintage cocktail books for years, but never made one because of one key ingredient, absinthe. I hate the anise/black licorice flavor that is so prominent in absinthe so it seemed pretty risky to buy a pricey bottle of something I may not enjoy. But we took the plunge and bought North Shore Distillery’s Sirène Absinthe Verte and it’s been a worthy addition to the cocktail menu for the Corpse Reviver #2 alone.

Corpse Reviver #2

3/4 oz gin

3/4 oz Cointreau

3/4 oz Lillet Blanc

3/4 oz lemon juice (freshly squeezed!)

dash absinthe

Pour a dash of absinthe in a cocktail glass and slowly swirl it around to coat the inside of the glass. Turn the glass slowly and pay attention to get the absinthe as close to the rim as possible. I think this is the key to a good Corpse Reviver. You can’t really taste the anise flavors, but the scent of the absinthe adds an herbal dimension to the cocktail. Discard any extra absinthe (or use it to rinse the next cocktail glass.)

Add the gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, and Lillet to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled and pour into the prepared cocktail glass. Bring out your Ouija Board and see who you can conjure up from the dead.

*It wasn’t really the plague.

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Halloween Mail

Halloween mail, La Familia Green glow in the dark button, mail artI’m behind on my Halloween mail because I got sick this week and I was down for the count for a few days. But, earlier this month, I got a jump start on sending some festive mail out to a couple of cat lady pen pals. I had these glow-in-the-dark cat buttons from La Familia Green that I wanted to send in a slightly more creative way than just sticking them in a plain envelope. I was inspired by the peek I had of my Presley patch from Margaret, so I decided to use a cellophane envelope instead. Halloween mail, La Familia Green glow in the dark button, mail art 2I used washi tape to attach the button to the card and wrote my note. I tried to place the buttons on the middle of the card, where the machine wouldn’t be canceling the stamp or printing the bar code on the bottom. Halloween mail, La Familia Green glow in the dark button, mail art 3I stuck it all in the cellophane envelope with an address label and added postage. Since the envelope was lumpy, I added the extra twenty-one cents. Halloween mail using cellophane envelopesI also used a cellophane bag to attempt to protect the googly-eye “bra” on my mail art to Kathy. Thanks to a Halloween mail art party with Donovan, I’ve have a huge stack of Halloween envelopes to work through. Now that I’m feeling better, more spooky mail will be written. Better late than never, I guess.

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Flat Rizzo 

After the Cubs beat the Cardinals last week, someone tweeted a picture of first baseman Anthony Rizzo in celebration mode. I printed the picture out (which is probably some sort of copyright violation) and cut around Rizzo and taped him to a dowel rod.

I’ve named him Flat Rizzo (like Flat Stanley but more athletic) and he’s been traveling around my living room all week, harassing the cat and watching TV.

Sadly, Flat Rizzo didn’t have very many opportunities to cheer last night in the Cubs’ loss to the Mets, but hopefully tonight will be better. Go Cubs! 💙

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Cocktail Perfected: Purgatory

Purgatory Cocktail, Old Overholt rye, Chartreuse, BenedictineI am embracing the Halloween spirit this week, finally finishing decorating and reading a few spooky short stories. We are reading “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle” for book club this month. One of our book club members sent over Edith Wharton’s “Afterward” as a bonus suggestion since our stories are so short and everyone loves reading a good “ghost story” this time of year. I highly recommend “Afterward” and this post has some other great suggestions if you’re into Halloween reading.

I have a couple of good cocktails to share this month for Halloween. These aren’t Pinterest-y cocktails like a Witch’s Brew or Candy Corn Jello Shots, but classic cocktails that always put me in the mood for ghost stories, scary movies, and ghoulish mail art.

The first cocktail is Purgatory, a rye-based cocktail with warm, herbal, and spicy notes. It’s potent, especially considering it’s a 4 ounce pour, but there’s nothing like it on a crisp fall night.

Purgatory Cocktail

2 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey (I like Old Overholt. It’s budget-friendly!)

3/4 oz Chartreuse

3/4 oz Benedictine

Add ingredients to a mixing glass with ice. Stir until chilled and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Drink slooowwwwwwly while reading about headless horsemen, the return of the dead, or Casper the Friendly Ghost.

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