What DO we get up to at Harry Potter parties?

Don't worry; we did not actually get a baby drunk. We just thought it was really cute how he was all zonked out on the living room floor, so we added props.

My haul from Harry Potter Yankee Swap

Two bookmarks and a Lego pen, which I stole in the last round.


JUSTICE has a new look ...

Wow, The Blogroll of JUSTICE! was out of date - I didn't even have Kari's shopping blog on it, and that's like a year old, I think.

Anyway, I cleaned it out, deleted some links to stuff I don't really read anymore or that hasn't been updated in forever (as AE pointed out, this does NOT include Waiterrant), and added some blogs that have found their way into my reader recently.

(P.S. Note to newly-linked local bloggers: please do not feel obligated to blogroll me. I don't really go in for the whole "you link me, and I'll link you, and then each of our blogrolls will include 800 links to blogs we don't actually read" thing. I just link to blogs I like.)

Vacation Food Experiment: Quinoa Pudding

This week, I decided to finally cook the remains of a box of quinoa that's been sitting in my pantry for months. When I opened the box, I saw that the quinoa had come with a little pamphlet of recipes - and that I actually had all the ingredients to make one of them.

Quinoa pudding involves cooked quinoa, milk, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, honey, chopped nuts and coconut. You cook it in custard cups, and it ends up with a taste and consistency that's rather like bread pudding. It's fairly tasty and easy to make if you happen to have all the ingredients, and it can be served hot or cold, plain or with various toppings.

Rating: smiley face. I would certainly make it again if I had quinoa on hand, although I'm not sure how likely that is; it turns out I'm not really a huge fan of plain quinoa.

Vacation Food Experiment: Sautéed Chicken Livers

That whole chicken I used to prepare Beer Can Chicken had some giblets in it that had to be removed. (The label on the chicken was actually apologetic about there not being more internal organs for me to fish out and discard: "Some giblets may be missing.")

So I went online to see if there was anything I could do with them. The gizzard was thoroughly unappealing to begin with, and the heart required some heavy-duty braising ... but the livers seemed fairly easy to cook, requiring only a sauté in "wine, stock or other aromatic liquid."

So I chopped up an onion and threw it in a pan with some olive oil. When the onion was translucent, I added some Chardonnay (all I had on hand; red wine would have been better) and let it reduce for a bit. Then I added the livers and put some salt and pepper on them.

The results were pretty much what you'd expect of chicken liver. It wasn't terrible, but I wound up throwing it out after a few bites anyway - partly because of an inexplicable bias against liver that wasn't really being challenged by the taste, partly because I had chicken roasting in the oven and didn't want to spoil my appetite by eating something so-so.

Rating: "meh" face. I'd eat chicken livers again, but I probably wouldn't make them.


Spotted at Kenwood Towne Centre

Will Arnett and Amy Poehler, making the Gap cool again. (I definitely prefer this picture of them to the one inside the store, which shows them being smiley and normal and, well, Gap-like.)


Vacation Food Experiment: Beer Can Chicken

Sorry, no picture of this one.

Meijer's been having crazy sales on whole chickens (like, get it for $3.50 instead of $8), so I bought one to try a recipe I saw in a comic. Because, hey, that's awesome.

(I had never heard of beer can chicken before, but when I mentioned it to my mom, she said, "Oh, yeah - that works great!" I guess it was a thing, once upon a time.)

So the way it works is you stick a can of beer that you've added some spices to in the cavity of the chicken, then roast it in the oven. One nice thing about this recipe is that since the chicken goes in upright (looking kind of like it's sitting on the beer can), a lot of fat drains off it into the pan.

But here is a bad thing about this recipe: I don't have a meat thermometer. (This might actually be considered a bad thing about me: "There goes ol' Kelly No-Meat-Thermometer," people will whisper as I pass.) So when I took out the chicken and saw that much of the dark meat still had a pinkish cast (as dark meat tends to have), I had no way of verifying that the meat had reached a friendly 160 degrees. Since I am a worrywart, I wound up cutting up the carcass and sticking the parts back in the oven - for 40 minutes. (!)

Even after all that punishment, the chicken was utterly delicious: tender, juicy, flavorful, the works. But to be honest, it's probably not going to usurp my beloved Crock-Pot as a means for cooking whole chickens. It just takes too long, even if you do have a meat thermometer.

Rating: smiley face using disembodied yellow hands to tap a wristwatch. Scary!

Vacation Food Experiment: Tomato Ice Cream

After reading rave reviews of Trader Joe's tomato and roasted red pepper soup on the Enquirer Foodie Report, I went out and bought a box. However, I was disappointed. It was creamy, but bland and far too sweet for my taste. (For an idea of what I think tomato soup should taste like, try Progresso's version.)

I described the Trader Joe's soup in an e-mail to Mr. W as "hot tomato milk" - which is when I decided to pour the remaining soup into the ice-cream maker. Just to see.

The result was not as disappointing as the hot soup - but only because my expectations were lower. It was icy, salty, and still bland - although you could at least taste some tomato flavor, which is more than I can say for the soup.

Rating: yuck face. Kids, don't try this at home. Or anywhere.