Posts filed under ‘Food’

What I probably won’t be making for Valentine’s Day.

In my delusions of homemaking grandeur, in which I am perfectly organized and endlessly motivated and nothing ever happens to derail me from my perfectly-laid plans, I imagine myself doing all kinds of things.

I have dreams of being a crafty woman. Everything I touch would turn beautiful.

Something about Valentine’s Day is pretty to me. I like the colors, I guess. Soft pinks, shades of red, all offset with some white… so pretty. Yeah, I know it’s a Hallmark holiday, but I like love. Love is good.

I’ve come across some Valentine’s Day projects in the past couple days that have me dreaming… that’s probably where it’ll end, though.

These are the ones that’ve caught my eye particularly:

Skill level: Easy

I think these heart doilies made out of napkins are adorable (via Martha Stewart, the one who inspires many of my delusions):


Skill level: Intermediate

If I were a scrapbooker, another one of my grand delusions, I’d be all over these 3D paper decorations.


Skill level: Are-you-freakin’-kidding-me

All of this is made of cake. All of it. Not much more to say about that, except not gonna happen. Major props to Bakerella on this one.


What are your favorite Valentine’s Day crafts? Nothing’s too remedial to share (trust me, I’m the world’s worst artist). But if you have mad skills you’ve been wanting to show the world, I promise I’ll still like you.

Happy crafting, whatever shape it takes this week!

February 10, 2009 at 8:54 am 31 comments

What makes it a special Thanksgiving meal for you?

When we have Thanksgiving dinner with my husband’s family, it’s truly a group effort. I love that! No one is attempting to do it all alone, thus creating for herself a crazy, stressful Thanksgiving morning.

Most of the plan revolves around “What things make it a special Thanksgiving meal for you?” And whatever the answer is, that’s what you make!

Abraham’s family (or at least his mother) would live without mashed potatoes at the Thanksgiving meal. Not me. They are a must-eat! So that’s what I’m contributing. My Kitchen Aid mixer will be whirring tomorrow morning while I whip up the creamy goodness.

The Piper boys grew up loving canned cranberry jelly, so that’s always on the table, though Noel always makes some delicious homemade cranberry relish for herself and others who prefer something non-gelatinous. There is always a request for hearty amounts of sweet potatoes with marshmallows, too.

So, I ask you, what makes it a special Thanksgiving meal for you? What are your must-eats?

Oh, and don’t forget to subscribe for your chance to win my Thanks-GIVE-ing giveaway! I’ll choose a winner on Friday.

November 26, 2008 at 8:56 am 45 comments

Dinner on Friday night is covered.

We love Chipotle. It’s seriously my favorite fast food (I don’t even like calling it that because it’s so not in the same category as McDonalds or Arbys).

For those of you who share the love and have one in your city, you should know that on Halloween night, they offer FREE burritos! All you have to do is don some tin foil, and the burrito is free!

We did this for the first time last year with friends from our small group. They’re a family of seven, so this was a major deal for them.

In our fair city, the festivities begin at 6pm. Call your location for details.

October 29, 2008 at 2:18 pm 32 comments

The Meat Sauce…

Some of you have asked for the meat sauce I made a couple weeks ago. So here it is, compliments of Rachael Ray.

I’ve used this recipe many times now. I’ve done it with the mushrooms, without the mushrooms, with more spices (garlic, allspice, salt, pepper), and sometimes with tomato paste to thicken a little.

When I read through the reviews of this sauce, most people liked it, but the main complaint was that it was watery. I have to agree. I would probably add tomato paste each time. And the recipe calls for allspice, which is definitely unique for a spaghetti sauce. Personally, I like it. I think it’s interesting.

Abraham really likes this sauce and requests it a lot—spaghetti is definitely his favorite food. It makes me feel good to make a sauce from scratch that will roll his eyes into the back of his head.

October 26, 2008 at 7:57 pm 14 comments

Team Cooking

I’ve been doing some research into the concept of team cooking. I got to thinking about it because there’s a group of gals from my church that get together and do this every month or so.

Here’s how I think it works:

  • Create a group of people you want to cook with.
  • Set a date and time to do it (maybe a Saturday morning when husbands can watch the kids?).
  • Find a few recipes that freeze/preserve well and plan to make a few.
  • Buy supplies and ingredients and do some prep work (especially if you’re hosting).
  • Cook a bunch of stuff together and everybody gets to take some home to freeze!

Here’s why I think it would be cool to try:

  • Getting to hang out with my friends on a Saturday morning.
  • Having a couple freezer meals always on hand (maybe even one per week?) would be awesome!
  • Sharing the cost probably makes it cheaper (I’m just guessing).

If any of you have ever done anything like this, let me know! I’m really interested in the practical (“How would I actually set this up?”) aspects of such an undertaking.

October 17, 2008 at 2:36 pm 28 comments

Cake Wrecks

These days, I really appreciate the laughable moments in life. They’ve been fewer and farther between in the past few weeks, but there is one blog that makes me laugh every time I go there.

The Cake Wrecks blog is absolutely hysterical. All the cakes she features are “professionally” made. But the best part is the way she writes about these wrecks. I’ve laughed so hard I’ve cried.

In the past I’ve harbored the guilty pleasure of reading a couple blogs that make fun of celebrities’ fashion choices, but felt like that might not be the best way to spend my day, laughing at other people. But when it’s a cake, you can just laugh!

I totally didn’t know this was happening when I originally wrote this post, but Cake Wrecks is in the running for “Best Humor Blog” in the 2008 Blogger’s Choice Awards. You have to set up an account to be able to vote, which annoyed me, but I had to vote for her. After you read a few of her posts you’ll know why.

October 15, 2008 at 9:25 pm 25 comments

I’m no economic expert, but…

With all the talk of the economic crisis/downturn/recession/slump (insert your adjective of preference here), many people are talking about wanting to save money.

Now many of you might already know this secret four-letter word, but for the rest of you, consider this a favor from me to you:


Say it with me now: “ALDI!”

Good job.

Yesterday I found that I had not a single can of beef broth in my cupboards, which was the only thing I lacked to make Abraham’s favorite spaghetti sauce recipe. We have an ALDI within walking distance of our house (another way to save money!), so I thought I’d hike it over there and pick up a couple cans.

Now, one thing that I consider an inconvenience about my ALDI is that they don’t take my debit card; I always have to pay with cash. And considering I never carry cash, I began the process of spare-change scrounging.

I was able to collect about two dollars off my dresser, so I stuffed that into my pocket thinking, “That should be enough for 2 cans, right? Then I’ll have one for next time.”

I get over to the store, find the broth, and check the price to make sure I have enough money. And much to my delight/shock… 39 cents. I think I did a triple take. Thirty-nine cents?! I was able to leave the store with $1.22 in my pocket!

This is good economics, people. At my regular grocery store, I would have paid at least twice that amount. I can’t say I’d buy all my groceries there, but for pantry stuffs, they can’t be beat.

To those of you without an ALDI in your neck of the woods during this time in our economy… God be with you.

October 9, 2008 at 9:07 am 41 comments

Help me out here, Super Target lovers

Okay, I know so many people love Super Target (“Super T” as some of my girlfriends call it). And trust me, I do too. But I come away from every grocery-buying experience disappointed thinking, “Wow, they’re more expensive than my regular grocery store.”

So if we’re just talking about price, does anyone else find this to be true?

If it is true and you still shop there, that’s fine with me. I just want to know what other factors you weigh into your grocery-buying decision (well-organized stores, proximity to home, Starbucks inside, etc.).

I think I’ve already tipped my hand as to my deciding factor. 😉

July 14, 2008 at 2:51 pm 48 comments

Surprised by (Malted Milk Ball) Joy

Last night we had dinner with some dear friends who don’t get to see very often. Part of the reason for our dinner was to say goodbye to another of our dear friends who heads to Louisville, Kentucky very soon for seminary. It was a good time together.

After dinner we walked to a local ice cream shop. Ice cream is probably my favorite dessert. There are so many good things out there (amazing cakes, pastries, pies, etc.) but really for me me it all comes back to ice cream.

Funny story about my frugal husband before I get to the point: We were deciding what to get in order to make all of the members of our little family happy. Abraham quickly calculates that if I just order a triple scoop waffle cone that it’ll be cheaper than all of us getting our own. “Just order a triple and ask for a cup and we’ll split it up,” he tells me quickly over his shoulder as he heads back to watch over our little guy. Needless to say, I was feeling totally embarrassed standing there for those couple minutes holding the biggest ice cream cone known to man.

Anyway, getting to the point. I’m finishing my cone when this really full crunch at the bottom happens. I take a second to ponder why it felt and tasted different than I was expecting. “Hey, did that cone just have a malted milk ball in the bottom?!?!”

The friends we were eating with were surprised that I’d never experienced that before. “It keeps it from dripping,” friend Phil explains. “It’s the old-school way.”

I was blown away. “I’m blogging it,” was my response. We tried for a few minutes to come up with a spiritual analogy for the malted milk ball at the bottom of the cone, but were quickly distracted by an energetic three-year-old.

Any takers?

June 30, 2008 at 9:04 am 27 comments

The Tipping Dilemma Is Now More Confusing

So there was a TON of response to the tipping question—I was kind of stunned. I wasn’t expecting so many people to weigh in on the matter. I’m glad you did, but now it seems I have more options than I ever considered, so now it’s more confusing! Thanks a lot! 🙂

I didn’t want to go too far into the story that happened to us, but I’ll reveal it now…

[Begin story].

We sat down in the outdoor area of the restaurant to eat, and the waiter came over and greeted us. He was not over-the-top friendly, which can be nice, but it can also be a warning that he’s really not into his job. On one hand, I don’t usually like when a waiter or waitress feels fake because they’re trying so hard to be “friendly,” but I also don’t want someone who’s aloof.

Abraham told me later that he could tell right from the beginning that this guy wasn’t going to be any good. I did not have the same premonition. (I don’t tend to be very intuitive.)

The food came out quickly enough, but the chips and salsa refills were a little slow. Not that big of a deal, I figured, since we were downing them like it was our job.

About halfway into the meal, I thought I’d like to have a lemonade. Abraham said he’d order it for me, but then as we looked around again and again, the man was nowhere to be found.

From time to time he’d pop back onto the patio and get something for another table but never made his way down to the end, where we were seated.

So we were endlessly trying to get this man’s attention. When we finally ordered it, it came quickly enough. We continued on with our meal, Abraham helping me ingest the lemonade at record speed (easy to do when you’re eating Mexican food).

We asked him for a refill, and he took the glass away to refill it. Then we didn’t see him for literally five minutes. Maybe more. It was a really long time. By this time we had eaten all of our food and were just waiting on the lemonade refill. It felt like we were sitting there forever.

Eventually he came back to our table, asking if we needed anything else. Abraham said, “We’re just waiting on the lemonade.” And he was kind of apologetic, but not really. So he hurried inside, and I thought, “Okay, it’s coming now.” But then he didn’t show up again for another five minutes at least. And this was not fresh-squeezed lemonade. All he had to do was go to the fountain and fill ‘er up.

So he finally brought the refill with no further apology. And we sat there and drank it, more out of obligation at that point than true desire for it.

[End story.]

I know it’s not the worst ever. It’s not like he brought the lemonade out and had his Band-Aided thumb in the glass or anything. But waiting that long for one refill? And there were plenty of other staff around that he could have handed the task off to.

Aaron posted a pretty long comment, including an article that was really helpful. Aaron is one of my oldest friends, and he, in a former life, was an excellent server and restaurant manager. I take what he says about customer service seriously, because he thinks about it all the time. He posted a link to the article on his blog, so feel free to read it if you get a chance.

The mercy/justice tension is always there if you’re thinking about the undeserved favor that we as Christians have received from God, but that we still live striving for holiness in all we do.

I also understand the argument for the underlying issue/personal matter, but honestly know that if I let my personal problems affect my job, I would be in major trouble and not be rewarded for my performance. If doctors do it, it’s a lawsuit; if designers do it, they don’t get paid for their work; if teachers do it, their students fail and they are let out of their contract. Why is the standard different for servers?

I think the suggestion to talk to a manager when service is bad or good is definitely something we should do more often.

Sometimes I try to put it into a global perspective and remind myself just how privileged we are to sit down in a restaurant with tons of options for meals on the menu and money in our wallets to pay for it, unlike most of the world. However, what does that mean when we actually do live in America and there are different standards for service provision here?

Thanks for all the thoughts, readers. You’ve got me totally bamboozled.

June 26, 2008 at 9:20 am 14 comments

Tipping Dilemma

On a recent eating out venture, we had a pretty bad waiter. We really try to be very gracious and generous to waiters and waitresses in general, knowing full well that both of us would be terrible at that job.

But seriously, this guy was not good.

Which left us in a sticky situation—should we give him a bad tip? If so, what is that communicating? Is he going to assume that we’re just stingy or will he honestly try to evaluate himself to figure out what he’d done wrong?

Should a bad tip come with an explanation? Should there be bad tips? Just curious about what you all would do.

June 19, 2008 at 8:57 am 39 comments

More From Palm Springs

So far we’ve survived the heat!

Here’s a picture of the mist machines all over the place.

We’ve had some pretty good food here. We went to a burger joint on the strip, and I thought this one would amuse a few people:

This was some of the best chips and salsa I’ve ever had.

And this is the view from our room. There’s a little balcony to sit on, but you can only bear it in the morning. It’s 7pm and it’s still 108 degrees, so there’s not a lot of outside time unless it’s in the pool.

June 16, 2008 at 8:00 pm 11 comments

Food Post Addendum

In my most recent post in the “How to Help Your Grieving Friend” series, we discussed tips and suggestions for bringing meals.

I added a little section at the bottom of that post so that people can more easily access the great ideas that came from other readers. Thank you everyone for your input and participation!

(Read the updated post.)

May 16, 2008 at 6:00 am 1 comment

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