Flashback Friday – All In A Day’s Work

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 10/1/07 at Exit 51

All In A Day’s Work

I’m starting to feel a little better about how things are shaping up in the kitchen. The weekend work resulted in doors, drawers, and hardware going on the cabinets.

So after a much needed nap on my reclaimed basement sofa (previously home to the 80 flats and miscellaneous packages that have been transformed into cabinets), the migration of displaced kitchen goods began. Since there’s no sink yet in the kitchen, everything had to be hauled to the basement, rinsed in the utility sink, dried, hauled back upstairs, and put away.

We went with a slightly different cabinet configuration than what we had so I think it’s going to take a while for me to really figure out where everything goes. Poor SFC, he’s not going to know where anything is when he comes home.

Shrimp Cocktail Hour

Unless we’re having guests, dinner at our house does not usually include cocktails or appetizers.  We like to get down to business and dig into the meal.  But sometimes it’s good to shake things up and do something different.  So for no reason other than I wanted to try a Barefoot Contessa recipe, I decided to have a Shrimp Cocktail Hour.  Ok, so maybe we were also in need of something to tide us over to dinner after sitting through 3 1/2 hours of the second Lord of the Rings movie.  I still say that was merely a coincidence but timing wise it was brilliant.

Before we started disk 1, I made the cocktail sauce and cooked up a quick brine, both of which went into the fridge to cool.  When we put in disk 2, I dropped the shrimp into the brine.  As soon as the credits started rolling, I rinsed and peeled the shrimp, heated the oven, and got moving.  Quicker than you can say “My Precious”, it was Shrimp Cocktail Hour.

I may not be able to recognize a hobbit from an elf or a dwarf, but I recognize a tasty dish when I meet one.  And I think this will be making a return appearance…with or without the LOTR.

I am entering this recipe in the Get Grillin’ Event run by Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France CheeseRösleEmile HenryRouxbe and ManPans. This week’s theme is appetizers.  Check out all the entries and submit one of your own!

Shrimp Brine

Kitchen Sense

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups ice
  • 2 pounds shrimp

Bring one cup of water to boil and add the salt and sugar.  Stir to combine and boil until the salt and sugar completely dissolve.  Add the ice and remaining 2 cups water and let cool.

Place the shrimp and brine in a large, resealable plastic bag and refrigerate 30 minutes for peeled shrimp, 1 hour for unpeeled shrimp.

Rinse and drain the shrimp before cooking.

{printable recipe}

Ina’s Shrimp Cocktail

Ina Garten

BAH Tip:  Ina’s recipe calls for the shrimp to be sprinkled with salt before they go in the oven.  But since I brined the shrimp, I omitted this step.  If you do not brine, be sure to season the shrimp with salt before they are roasted.

  • 2 pounds shrimp (I used 21-30 count)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Heinz chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Heat the oven to 400 degrees and line two sheet pans with aluminum foil.

Meanwhile, peel the shrimp and place them in a single layer on the sheet pans.  Drizzle with olive oil and toss to combine.  Roast for approximately 8 to 10 minutes until the shrimp are just cooked through.  Remove shrimp from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

Add the remaining ingredients to a small bowl and stir to combine.  Serve with the shrimp.

{printable recipe}



One of my nicknames in high school was Trendy Wendi…thanks Tiffany Wilson, sorry I didn’t see you at the reunion last summer.  The funny thing about that is that I am, and have always been, so far behind the times that it’s not funny.  I’ve never been a gauge of what the “cool kids” are doing.  I was still inching along with dial up when most of the world was running at lightning fast dsl speeds.  Seven years ago I tried to convince The Mistah that Tivo was nothing more than a glorified VCR, a passing fad, when he said he wanted one.  And sometime in the 90’s when an ex was gushing over something called an MP3 player, I couldn’t understand the hype.  It is safe to assume that I have come to see the light on all these things.  I’m just not what you would call an “early adopter” of technology.  I’m same way with food too. Continue reading “Trendy”

Cook Wise 101

Waffle Fail

The Mistah gave me Cook Wise for Christmas and no sooner had we cleaned up the wrapping paper and bows than I cracked it open and started reading.  And I immediately felt like I was back in college, struggling to understand Man In A Chemical World which was basically Science For Dummies Who Need An Easy Science Credit For Graduation.  I don’t know why or how but I’m starting to suspect that my ability to learn new information has abandoned me.  It’s a good thing I already have that college degree because if I can’t understand a book about food science specifically written for non-scientists, I sure as hell wouldn’t make it through Stat 331 or 332.  Nevermind that I had to retake 331 or that none of what I was taught in those classes has ever been used in my life outside of that classroom. Continue reading “Cook Wise 101”


Penne With Vodka Sauce

Part of the appeal that blogging holds for me is the community of people who cook and write about it for no reason other than the fact that they love it.  Because the reality of the situation is that the chances of being the next [fill in your favorite superstar food blogger here] are pretty slim.  Blogging is definitely not a get rich quick scheme.  To the contrary, it’s a lot of work if you’re going to take it seriously. Continue reading “Superstar”

Flashback Friday – Caution, Men At Work

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 9/28/07 at Exit 51

Caution, Men At Work

And no, I don’t mean the 80’s band…although I’m amazed at how good Overkill sounds as an acoustic track – check it out on iTunes.

(Note to readers – grab a comfy chair and settle in for a long one.)

Work at the house has been underway since the 12th. The progress has been slow going. I’ve even been reduced to petitioning to St. Jude – patron saint of hopeless cases, things almost despaired of – to intercede. Work happens in spurts. Some days I come home to find that the crew has been hard at work, other days nobody has been here at all. It’s totally random.

For instance, not long after I got home from TIFF, the kitchen looked like this:

Cabinets completely removed, subfloor installed, new electrical lines run.
From there it took almost a week for new cabinets to be placed:
At about 5pm on Friday the contractor called to see if the guys could come in and work the next morning. Um, yeah, but I am completely shocked and honestly a little sad that noisy, dusty work will get me out of bed early on a Saturday.

LIFE LESSON #1 – Have patience.
LIFE LESSON#2 – Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

I’m sure there are more Life Lessons in this whole experience that I just haven’t discovered yet. One Life Lesson I knew going into the renovation, thanks to many hours of viewing of home improvement/home flipping shows on cable, is that sometimes it pays to hire a professional. It’s amazing how, in the name of saving a dollar, people who should know better will take on the challenge of perfoming skilled labor. What they don’t consider is that hiring someone who knows what they’re doing is cheaper in the long run. By the time you add up the cost of wasted time and materials from messing up as you work your way through the learning curve, the contractor’s number to do things aren’t so bad.

The agenda for this weekend is pretty ambitious. But if the guys are willing to work on a Saturday, who am I to say no? And at the end of the day, it may help to keep us on schedule which is kind of funny since despite my tendency to try and have a plan for everything, I never actually asked the contractor how long the job would take. I figured that three to four weeks was a pretty optimistic timetable to complete the work. But I didn’t want to tie my expectations to a specific date only to be disappointed or frustrated if it took longers. I’ve got my fingers crossed that two weeks from now I’ll be putting away everything from the kitchen and dining room that has made its way to other places in the house…and of course, getting professional help to clean up all the mess.

I sincerely cannot wait to have my house back. Since work began, I’ve been literally pushed into a corner…a corner of a table with a folding chair in the living room where I eat frozen meals, watch tv, and try to keep on top of household chores like paying bills. There has been no refuge or relaxation in the house for weeks. But there is reason to be hopeful; next week should be busy here at 2158 – countertop templating and floor tile are scheduled which will open the door for appliances to be delivered and hooked up, finish work can begin, paint can go on the walls, and the electrical work can be completed.

I am confident that by the time SFC comes home on leave (still don’t know when that will be but definitely not in the next few weeks), the renovation will be complete and the kitchen and bath will have been transformed. Won’t he be surprised by how different everything looks?

Quick Quesedillas

Quick Quesedilla
I served these quesedillas with the Curried Butternut Squash Soup for an easy weekend supper.  But both recipes made enough so that we had a quick weeknight dinner all ready to go.  If quesedillas aren’t your thing, the steak can be served on top of a salad, which is another way we got rid of the leftovers.  And I can neither confirm nor deny that I ate a slice or two of cooked steak straight out of the refrigerator.  To the best of my knowledge, there is no evidence of any such activities. Continue reading “Quick Quesedillas”

State Of Confusion

image from http://www.istockphoto.com

I like to think I’m a fairly intelligent person who can usually figure things out.  Except math equations.  I was horrible in math.  I don’t care what ‘x’ equals in the equation.  It’s not important to me so I don’t make an effort to understand.  I’m happier to exist in a state of confusion.  So if you’ll agree not to put me on the spot and challenge me to find the value of ‘x’, like some bizarre hazing ritual, I’ll agree not to call you a big jerk.  And I’ll just go on my merry way as Governor of the State of Confusion. Continue reading “State Of Confusion”


White Frosting

Fluffy is one of my more colorful nicknames, thanks to a former coworker (hi Grage, howyadoin?).  But as the years have gone by, it seems as though things have gotten less fluffy in general.  Life has a way of deflating and obscuring the fluff, which is a shame because fluffy is light.  Fluffy is fun.  Fluffy is happy.  These are all good things.  And did I mention that, in the kitchen, fluffy tastes good? Continue reading “Fluffy”

Food Memories – Gramma Rhetta’s Lemon Bars

Gramma Rhetta's Lemon Bars

Today’s food memory comes from Dana of The Kitchen Witch.  If it weren’t for the fact that I live in Bawlmer and she lives somewhere in Colorado, I would swear that we’re twins.  Because not only do we manage to somehow share a brain across a continent, we both luv lemon and have a special place in our hearts for our Grandmother.

This post originally appeared on The Kitchen Witch on 20 July 2009.  My thanks to Dana for sharing her story, and her memory of Sassybritches.  She sounds like one feisty lady I would have liked to have known. Continue reading “Food Memories – Gramma Rhetta’s Lemon Bars”