Monthly Archives: April 2010

Rahrr!

DD Girl doesn’t read my blog very often.

It’s ok because there’s not much new she could learn from reading it that she wasn’t there to eat, wasn’t texting with me during or didn’t hear about after the fact.

But yesterday, when I posted on my Facebook Fan page that I had written a letter to my future BFF, she took notice.

Obviously, she needed to see who this super star was that was to sweep in and claim her rightful throne. Then she read it, and realized it was just one of my silly notions (for which she loves me) and moved on.

Regardless of whether she reads this thing daily or not, one thing is certain. Something is rubbing off on her. I think it’s a bit of the adventurous spirit this blog evokes in us, namely via Fire & Wine nights.

For example, when I cancelled Fire & Wine night on Thursday, DD Girl decided to have her own cooking adventure. She text me to ask what she should make. I had just the perfect thing in mind. She was a little doubtful when I told her what it was (sounded fancy and complicated) but, she said she’d give it a look.

By 7 p.m. that night, I was receiving texts that the pork chops were the best thing she had ever made. Her boyfriend and his pal loved it.

I told her so.

So began my sneaky plan to convince DD Girl to make the dino cupcakes.

It was an idea I conceptualized for a friend’s birthday party. This friend loves dinosaurs. So I thought these cute T-Rex Wilton cupcakes would be perfect for her.

Uh-uh, no way was I going to attempt them.

I think we all know what happened last time I tried to make a cutesy cupcake. But see, DD Girl can actually bake. And her stuff always looks super pretty.

So I suggested them to her and said I’d help her with them. But then we had duck pasta and wine on my front porch and needless to say, there were no dino cupcakes created that night.

The next afternoon, I began hearing from DD Girl that she was up to her elbows in cupcakery.

Good for her, I thought, as I flipped through channels on the T.V. (remember, I was in the middle of  my weekend of laziness.)

About an hour later, my phone chirped and there they were.

The cutest T-Rex’s ever.

I’m so proud of her.

I think adventure in the kitchen goes a long way.

And it’s contagious.

What have you done lately?

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Open Memo to Showtime (and Diablo Cody)

Image courtesy of http://www.sho.com

Dear Showtime (and Diablo Cody),

First off, I want to say that I’m a fan of the crazy town character(s), Tara in United States of Tara on Showtime.

We subscribe to Showtime. Sure, I’d rather get HBO, but it is what it is. (Sorry, just being honest.)

DC, I love your quirky writing in Juno and your bare-all  openness (pun intended) in Candy Girl.

But here’s the deal. I need you to do a leeetle bit more research on living in Overland Park, KS for United States of Tara.

I know Overland Park, KS wasn’t your first pick for Tara and her family, but all the same, what’s done is done, so I want to help you do it right.

Oh, I appreciate your effort. I really do. Sticking a 435 sign on a divided highway was a nice nod to KC’s  little beltway, but [whispers] it doesn’t really look like that at all.

Ok, ok. Filming logistics. I get it. You film it in LA so landmarks, landscaping and even houses are going to look and feel way more west coast than midwest.

But at least get the dialogue right. “I’m going down to Kansas City, Mo.” is not something a teenager from Overland Park would ever say. First off, we rarely reference state lines. We’re more county folks. So, if you were going to reference Kansas City, KS, you’d probably say Wyandotte County. And truth be told, most teens from Overland Park would say “the Dot.”

Otherwise, us Johnson County natives are more likely to reference regions of the city or streets. So geographic locaters would be more like “the West Bottoms,” “midtown,” “the Plaza,” “Troost,” “P&L District,” or just “downtown.”

And the other thing. Let’s talk about weather. Specifically tornadoes.

I wasn’t surprised to see you used our typical spring weather pattern as a plot device in the latest episode. But I want to clue you in on a few things about weather in Kansas City.

First off, tornadoes are not like hurricanes. You do not wake up to news that a “tornado is coming.” Weather tends to be unpredictable here, so we start with severe weather advisories. Katie Horner gets us pretty worked up about how the day might pan out.  Then, we move into severe thunderstorm warnings or flash flood warnings with more and more Katie Horner interuptions to tell us when to expect the worst, and that by goodness, it’s going to be the storm of the century! Then she starts tacking on tornado watches for good measure before she escalates into full on “get your helmet on and run to your basement” mode. That last part is pretty sudden. And usually it’s only small pockets of the metro, and rarely Overland Park. But that’s ok – good rookie mistake for you, DC.

So, I have a proposed solution for you. You could, of course, bring me on as an advisor to your writing team. But, maybe the budget is tight over there at Showtime, since HBO is getting ready to launch another season of True Blood and all the Twilight fans are probably switching their subscriptions.

How about you come to Kansas City and hang out with me for a few days, you know, for research?  We have a guest bedroom, and I’d even change the sheets and put up the ironing board for you. We could hang out in KC, grab a few cocktails in Westport, hit up some local boutiques for some cool digs and even take a pole dancing class together. (I’d love to learn some of your moves!)

Then maybe you could  tweet about how awesome Queen of Quirky is (and more specifically her blog.) But that wouldn’t be mandatory or anything. Just a suggestion.

So let me know what you think. I’m pretty open this summer for a visit. It gets kind of hot and steamy in Kansas City (that’s another freebie tip for your show, you know) in the summer, but we could make it work.

Hope to see you soon!

Best regards,

Queen of Quirky

Editor’s note: Oops. Thanks to my readers for pointing out that DC did not write Whip It.  In my excitement to get my  new BFF to come visit me in Kansas City, I forgot to look that one up. Mistakes happen sometimes on QoQ, although this one was not nearly as humorous as when I mispelled an aeresol  can as an arousel can.

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Too lazy for a title

Something alarming happened over the weekend.

I exhibited such an unnatural state of laziness that I almost do not deserve to be labeled a human being.

 Slug. Slug would be more fitting.

A slug in fat pants (covered in dog hair and stained with cheese dip because are there any other kind of fat pants?)and fuzzy slippers, armed with a supply of necessities available at arm’s length.

Books, remote control and a hair clip to pull back my greasy, unwashed hair if God-forbid someone would come to the door.

Not shown: i-phone, which sat at my lap so I wouldn’t have to reach if it chirped. Also, laptop. I ran it out of battery and was too lazy to plug it in, so I set it aside.

And there I parked myself.

Almost all weekend long.

Along with my trusty canine slug companion.

Who kept watch over my fuzzy slippers.

Because somebody needed a task this weekend.

Mr Quirky held his disgust when he returned from a weekend away and found the house and his wife exactly how he left them. Neither clean, neither kept, neither altered.

Aside from the slight lingering smell of duck and the empty wine bottles on the counter, there was no sign in the house that life had existed all weekend. 

But I read two books. And I raided the fridge. And I caught up on all the Housewives. It was glorious.

In an effort to stage an intervention, he asked if I wanted to go to Target with him around 7 on Sunday evening.

I looked down at my fat pants and my fuzzy slippers and said, “no thanks. I’m good.”

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Worth-the-wait duck ragu

Two melt downs and several glasses of wine later, I produced this culinary masterpiece. My Italian grandfather would have been so proud. But getting here was not short of sweat and tears.

On Wednesday night, I had stage one of my pre duck ragu melt down.

It was over the parpardelle pasta. In my mind there was no other pasta worthy of  this savory duckatent (sorry) dish. I really, really wanted to make my own. But without a pasta press, the odds of me getting more of a thick, dumpling-like noodle were far more likely than me nailing pasta  on my first run. I owed the duck confit so much more than lumpy starchy noodles, don’t you think? I shopped pasta press attachments for my mixer, but just couldn’t commit didn’t want to spend $100 on my first try at pasta.

Go ahead. Call me a pasta pansy. I deserve it.

Over martinis (Martini Wednesday), DD Girl helped convince me not to have a nervous breakdown over not making the pasta, and it would be okay if I sacrificed cooking pride for quality noodles. (Just this once, I said.) So a call was placed to my favorite Italian market. If you can’t make it yourself, Cupini’s can make it for you. Only parpardelle isn’t a pasta they keep in their fresh supply. It has to be pre-ordered.  And they prefer 48-72 hours warning. Thinking that my duck ragu was to be made on Thursday, I asked if just this once I could pick up my pasta in 24 hours later.

It took a bit of sweet talking (they did my rehearsal dinner and I have a connection to a former store manager) but Cupini’s saved my pasta crisis and promised to have two pounds of fresh parpardelle by 5:10 on Thursday evening.

But personal events (crisis #2) led me to cancel Fire & Wine night on Thursday and reschedule for Friday night. Which was okay because DD Girl and I had already planned for a girls’ night on Friday night. It also gave me more time to confit the duck in advance so that the night of the dinner, I could focus on the ragu.

For a week, I combed recipes for duck ragu. But I couldn’t find one that used duck confit. So I did some combining and came up with….well, I’m not going to hold back – perfection, really.

Here’s how it came together:

1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, and 1 onion (all finely diced) went into my dutch oven along with two tablespoons of duck fat from the night before.

After the veggies were softened, I added four cloves of garlic for about 30 seconds before deglazing with 1/2 cup of red wine (Malbec, because it was what i was drinking.) I let that reduce for a few minutes before adding a large can of whole peeled tomatoes, finely diced, 1 cup of chicken stock and two tablespoons of tomato paste. Also, a pinch of salt and pepper.

Then I turned the heat to low and put the lid on to let the flavors combine.

After about 30 minutes, I added most of the tomato juice from the can of tomatoes, a little more broth (maybe half a cup) and a tablespoon each of dried thyme and oregano.

30 minutes later, I diced up all my duck meat (and maybe gave Gertie a nibble.) Into the dutch oven it went.

Can I pause for a minute and tell you how much I love duck meat? I could eat it every day. Also, did you notice? I finally got a dutch oven! Thank you in-laws!

I waited for as close to 30 minutes as I could, but my house was smelling really good and I couldn’t wait to get the pasta in.

Delicious pasta. You are my friend.

I probably should have withheld a little. Two pounds is quite a bit of pasta, but I used up every ounce of my self-control the night before and so all the pasta went into the salted boiling water.

(And now that I’ve been enjoying leftovers for two days straight, I’m kind of glad I didn’t hold back.)

After a quick 2 minute swim in the boiling water (a little longer because I was frantically trying to locate my tongs, which I had set down absent mindedly) I combined the pasta and a bit of its salty water with my sauce.

I wish this blog had taste-o-net.

Because I’m not sure you truly get how good this was.

I think DD Girl summed it up pretty well…

Sitting outside on the porch, with several bottles of wine, lots of laughter, good friends, fantastic food. I live well.

I may have had a great big bowl of leftovers for breakfast at 9 a.m. Saturday morning. I couldn’t wait for lunch.

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Self-control

I want you to know the Quirky family exhibited insane amounts of self-control last night.

Gertie, Mr. Quirky and I were all waiting with little pockets of drool forming in the corners of our mouths as the savory aroma of the melting duck fat wafted through our home.

Gertie sat by her bowl for a while, just in case any of the delicious meat might show up.

Mr. Quirky grabbed a paper towel, just in case a juicy duck leg was placed in front of him. (We’re not fancy enough to keep official napkins in the house. The words napkin and paper towel are interchangeable in my book.)

I paced. I fussed. I read. I stuffed my face with Chinese food. Anything to keep my mind off the crisply duck skin sizzling in my oven. (But I didn’t do any laundry. Note this fact.)

Finally, the legs were released from captivity.  

I carefully drained the precious nectar of duck fat into a container. Then I waited. Waited because my recipe said to. Waited because I knew nothing else to do.

Finally, it was time.

But what happened next shocked even me.

I carefully shredded the meat into a container and put the container in the fridge.

(There may have been a few nibbles here and there, a drop in Gertie’s bowl and a few pieces of crispy skin and savory meat taken to Mr. Quirky.)

But for the most part, the delicious duck meat was put away.

For what?

To be continued…

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Newlyweds…kinda has a good ring to it!

Copyright 2010 BlueRue Studio Photography

Sometimes life gets so hectic, I forget to take time and savor our newlywed status. Thanks to Jenna’s blog, this week I was able to reflect on my love for Mr. Quirky and what makes our relationship special.

Check out my interview on her weekly feature, “Meet the Newlyweds.”

Then, be sure to check out her great recipes. I was drooling over Pork Chops in Creamy Champagne Sauce with Rustic Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

Like literally drooling. I need to go get a napkin now.

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How to kill your African Violet

Answer: Give it to me.

When are people going to learn that I am not equiped to handle living plants? I’ve killed more cacti than 10 drunk grannies on golf carts in Sun City, Arizona.  I can’t even save the basil you buy with the dirt in the grocery store. Somehow, it manages to die overnight in the refrigerator

And just when I thought my brown thumb curse was over, I accidentally killed a lovely bamboo plant that was a gift from my boss, after a year and a half of keeping it alive. (Note: they don’t like direct sun.) I’m a botanist’s worst nightmare.

Even though my boss knows I killed the bamboo, she decided to trust me with a second gifted plant. Truth be told, she probably just felt bad leaving me out, when she was giving one to each member of our team. But regardless, I was a reformed plant owner! I would take care of it like my job depended on it. (I really hope it doesn’t.)

I followed everyone’s instructions. Don’t water it too much. put the water in from the bottom, give it light, but not direct sunlight…

I was doing all those things. I was not neglecting it. I even told it I was cheering for it. But one day, I walked in and saw that my African Violet was in the middle of a plant cardiac arrest.

I took immediate action and called my co-worker into my officle for a code green.  You see, her African Violet was um…a little better off.

That night, sad plant had open plant surgery (meaning, under the tender care of my co-worker,  it was re-potted with new soil.)

It got a new spot, next to happy plant (and no longer in my officle), as we were all hoping that happy plant could rub off on sad plant.

And we waited.

And green-thumb co-worker tried everything – watering adjustments, adding rocks to its pan, new light – but, the curse of Stephanie’s thumb had already taken its toll.  Sad plant remained in a plant coma.

 

While, happy plant will probably miss the presence of its comatose friend, I think it’s time to pull the cord.

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