I Am What I Ham

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Meet "Spootch."

Meet “Spootch.”

Holiday Greetings from Florida. Over here to the left is my new friend, “Spootch,” that I found at the Coconut Point Art Festival (along with those nifty chopsticks made by the same artist). This was my favorite booth and purchase from the show and I’m super excited to put my Spootch to use in the home kitchen upon my return.

It’s New Year’s Eve and we’re about to head down to the beach so this will be a quick post.  I am not a big ham person but we had it for Christmas dinner. In fact, I couldn’t even tell you the last time I bought ham from the deli since it gets so slimy. However, I do enjoy a nice cooked ham, and particularly because I know what to do with the leftovers. In addition to making lovely breakfast sammies, you can totally make the best split pea soup ever. So I took over the kitchen to make this:

Lady Sensory’s Don’t Pea on My Leg and Tell Me It’s Raining Soup

See what I did there? I love me some quality Judge Judy quotes. You will need:

1 16 oz bag of dried split peas

7 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed (This is a lot of garlic, but it tastes delicious. So if you aren’t cool with that, reduce to your desired level.)

1 large Vidalia onion, finely chopped

About 6 ribs of celery, finely chopped

3/4 bag of baby carrots, chopped

1 ham bone (used the leftover Christmas ham, but you can get one from a butcher)

1 – 1 1/2 cups cooked ham, cut into bite size chunks (again, Christmas leftovers)

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp Herbes de Provence

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Cracked black pepper, to taste*

6-8 cups of water

1-2 tbsp olive oil

*You can add salt if you like but there was more than enough in the ham and the bone so I did not add any.

Split Pea Soup

As I mentioned, this was a kitchen takeover. I think the pot I used was roughly 4-5 quarts (it’s similar in size to my 4.5 pot). So, warm the olive oil in a heavy stock pot or fancy pot over low heat.  Add the onion and cook until translucent (about 5 minutes), add the garlic and continue to cook until slightly golden (another 5 minutes). Add the celery and carrots and com for about 5 more minutes and then add all of your dried herbs: the bay leaves, crushed red pepper, black pepper and Herbes de Provence and cook for about a minute or two. Now add the ham bone and dried split peas (you don’t have to soak them) and cook for a minute or two. Raise the heat to high and begin to add the water, 1 cup at a time, until bone is submerged and water is about an inch and a half from the top of the pot (so it doesn’t overflow). Add the chopped ham and cook until boiling. Skim foam and fat off the top (this is a personal preference and it won’t compromise the flavor). Reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 hr – 1.5 hrs (until peas have softened and soup has thickened). Serve and enjoy with a nice crusty baguette or roll and some dry white wine. We enjoyed trying three different kinds while waiting for the soup to cook – an Italian dry white blend, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and a Sancerre. Oops!

May your New Year’s Eve be fun, safe, and filled with similar wine indiscretions!

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It’s A Wrap

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Crazy Rhubarb Lady ornament

Crazy Rhubarb Lady ornament

Well, December has flown by so I thought I’d provide a quick summary of this month’s funny and crafty holiday highlights.  For starters, I ended up making a Crazy Rhubarb Lady  Christmas ornament with corresponding packaging for my friend’s annual ornament exchange. Previous ornaments can be enjoyed here and here.  Needless to say, Barb (I think we should call her ‘Barb’ since we don’t know her real name) was well received and her attendance at the party resulted in playing her video on the big screen so that everyone would get the joke. Truth be told, I was going to make a Sweet Brown ornament but changed my mind at the last minute. Perhaps next year Sweet Brown will roast chestnuts over an open “fahhhhhre.”

The Breakfast with Krampus festivities were a big success.  I partook in season’s beatings and crafts with Krampus. I also picked up a fun sticker book filled with a variety of vintage Krampus images.  It appears there will be another event next year and I am super excited to attend all over again. I even made the naughty list! I’m so proud!

Season's Beatings

Season’s Beatings!

Finally, I’ve continued to knit like a grandma on a bender. I even brought some yarn to parties to keep my hands out of the hors d’oeuvres while waiting to play Cards Against Humanity. There are just too many tasty and tempting things hanging around this time of year. It also makes for good conversation at said parties and while traveling so I’m just going with it.  I’m looking forward to learning some new knitting tricks after the holidays.

Stitch & Sip

Stitch & Sip

I’ve additionally been creative in the kitchen so stay tuned for some new recipes in the very near future! In the meantime, I’ll be staying out of the cold weather for a little while longer.

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Random Black Friday Thoughts

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Today for Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN) I’m supposed to tell you what I want for Christmas this year. That answer is fairly obvious and also hella-boring. Let’s just say that this week’s employment alerts for “public relations” have included being the general manager of a Kentucky Fried Chicken. Have I ever told you about the time my mother found a snail in their coleslaw? It was certainly not finger-lickin’ good. Let’s not go there. Instead, I’m going to provide you with random thoughts that have occurred to me between fits of sneezes today. Yes, somehow I am the proud recipient of a head cold that commenced this morning at 5 AM. I did not ask Santa for that.

First random thought: I’d like to alert you to someone’s 40th birthday. A very talented and creative buddy of mine, Joe Mayernik, created this post about his Black Friday Birthday on his blog. Basically he wants to you submit a photo on social media and tag it with #Mayernik40. The resulting photos will be made into a poster to commemorate his milestone day. It’s a really clever idea and it’s been fun seeing what other people have posted today.

Other random thoughts include another amazing live tweet session documenting an irate American traveler trying to get home for Thanksgiving, complete with note passing and slapping. It’s hilarious. Then we had some shoppers wreaking havoc in Walmart  and apparently there was also shooting at a Kohl’s department store in Chicago last night. Is it really worth it, people? Has anyone been out to experience this? I’ve honestly never done it and after seeing some of the footage, I’m still not interested. I prefer my retail therapy to take place in a calm, relaxed environment.

The last random thought for today is that I need to clean up my eating habits for the next few weeks. The timing is not ideal with all of the holiday parties but November was chock full o’ bad choices and I’m feeling like crap on a stick. So you can expect some healthier recipes in the coming weeks and I’ll be choosing water more often than wine. Hopefully this will keep me from filling out a Santa costume!

Santa

A Bigger, Blacker Friday

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CAH PackagingToday is Thanksgiving and the recommended Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN) topic is the great outdoors. Since we’ve had our first official snowfall here (yuck!), it’s highly likely that my time spent outside will be limited to driving to and from my friends’ new home to celebrate Friendsgiving. So, I’ve picked another topic to discuss.

What’s this post title all about, you ask? Well, our group has a habit of playing the game, Cards Against Humanity. So, this is merely a play on words combining the traditional post-Thanksgiving Black Friday shopping day here in the U.S. with a couple of the cards that say, “A big, black dick” and “A bigger, blacker dick.”  One of our hosts just got the latest edition of cards, appropriately named, “Bigger, Blacker Box.” If you haven’t played, I caution you to only play with people who aren’t easily offended and those who share the same depraved sense of humor. It’s basically like playing Apples to Apples infused with all things inappropriate and politically incorrect. Actually, if you’re interested you can print your own set by visiting here.

Speaking of Black Friday, what is the deal with all these petitions people are posting online to save Thanksgiving? Apparently some of the larger retailers are open on Thanksgiving day for their sales. I am sympathetic here, and that’s because I worked in retail and I know how crazy people can get during a sale. However, I also worked in healthcare for many years and had to cover holidays despite that I wasn’t in a vital life-saving role. Seriously – I even had to be there when I was a sales and marketing director. I did find it kind of ridiculous, but Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July were actually the holidays I would bid on because you could easily be taken in somewhere after your shift was over. So if you are off today, be grateful. It’s not always a given!

As far as today’s Friendsgiving goes, we have folks with an assortment of diets and tastes coming to this gathering so I will be bringing this oldie but goodie. Nope, it’s not vegan, fat-free, nor gluten-free, but it’s pretty damn delicious. As for hitting the sales today or getting up early and shopping tomorrow? No, thank you. I will be passing on that insanity. If anything at all, I’ll partake from the comfort of home via “the internets.”

I hope your turkey day is filled with magnificent F-words like family, friends, food, and fun. What? You thought I was going to say something else, didn’t you?  Be thankful! We haven’t busted out the cards just yet!

Home Is Where The Barn Is

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Hafner's Red BarnToday’s Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN) topic is on “Home Sweet Home.” I interpreted this subject a little differently, and mainly because I just returned from a little jaunt down the NYS Thruway to see some friends I’ve known since childhood. It’s kind of funny that I’ve spent more than half my life in Rochester and when I think about “home,” I still think about being a 1980s kid growing up in Syracuse.

I felt a little nostalgic when I rolled by the old Hafner’s Red Barn, which is now sadly closed. It was kind of a big deal when I was little and they used to have all sorts of interesting gifts. When my grandmother and aunt would come to stay with us for Christmas, we would always stop in for a visit. During the holidays, they used to decorate the entire second floor of the barn with Christmas trees. I remember it being pretty amazing. They were running a wine tasting room out of the barn about 7 or 8 years ago but that eventually closed as well.

This got me thinking about other old holiday shopping spots like Service Merchandise and that wacky conveyor belt, and a department store called Chappell’s where I would grab things like Tinkerbell nail polish and jelly shoes. I used to get my arts and craft supplies at Switz’s, but they were mainly known for their amazing Halloween costume selection. I remember hitting the Penn-Can Mall to go to Record Town, Johnny Jo Toys, and having some Pavone’s Pizza. While these places are all long gone, Hafner’s is still open but is primarily a major garden center located down the road from the old red barn. They still put up the holiday decor and have trees and wreaths available for purchase right now.Old School Otto

The red barn appears to be up for sale. I hope someone buys it and repurposes it into an event venue or something like that. It makes me sad that these special places from my childhood aren’t around anymore and I wish I had thought to document them. Growing up, you tend to think things will always be there and you don’t appreciate them as much. Thankfully I can still relive the memories and reminisce about these places with my peeps. I guess you can take the girl out of the ‘Cuse but you’ll never take the ‘Cuse out of the girl.

Holiday Traditions?

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"I may be a sweetheart now, but no one pees on the diva!" Photo from http://www.who2.com

“I may be a sweetheart now, but no one pees on the diva!”
Photo from http://www.who2.com

With Christmas being only a month away, “holiday traditions” are on deck for today’s Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN). I’m no Ebony Scrooge (yes, please cue the Vanessa Williams classic, A Diva’s Christmas Carol), but my Holiday spirits aren’t quite what they used to be. Let me give you a summary:

1) I’m not a fan of the cold and snow and it’s only gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. I’ve actually hightailed it out of the country to warmer destinations for the past several years.

2) I have no kids and let’s be honest –  there really isn’t anything better than watching kids get excited about Christmas, Santa, and opening presents.

3) Everything has become so materialistic and people get quite nasty and impatient in retail establishments at this time of year. I know this because I have worked in retail during the holidays. This is very sad to me considering it’s usually a person who is generally more fortunate than others.

With those items in mind, I resolve to do the following:

1) While I won’t be leaving the country, I will be getting out of this cold and somewhere warm. That makes me very happy. Extremely happy. I don’t think you even understand how badly I need to see some sun right now.

2) I will be spending time around my friends’ kids in the hopes that some of that Rudolph-loving infectious disease rubs off on me. However, I do not want any of the daycare cooties, so please steer clear if your kid has the sniffles.

3) I will find ways to give back or get involved in any capacity I can. I’ve already talked about Breakfast with Krampus, but my financial buddy puts on an annual fundraiser every December that benefits two local non-profits called Farley’s Friends Give Back. This year’s event takes place on December 2 and will benefit the Rahema Home and Fairport Baptist Homes. There will be snacks, raffle items, and all sorts of amusement for a good cause.

4) In lieu of our annual post-Christmas/ pre-New Year dinner celebration, I’m spending some quality time with my high-school peeps right now since everyone seems to be in town. Here are a couple of us with Santa last year. And just ignore that giant goblet in front. Santa knows that we’re only occasionally naughty.

Santa-ngelo's in Liverpool, NY

Santangelo’s Santa in Liverpool, NY

5) I will bake my mother’s cut-out cookies at some point. Recipe can be found here. Disregard the rainbow sprinkles pictured and substitute with holiday colors of your choice. I may have a few other holiday baked goods up my sleeve as well.

6) While I will participate in my friend’s annual ornament exchange and have developed quite the ornament collection, I still refuse to put up a tree for the 6th year in a row. Come on now, people. “Ain’t nobody got time fo’ that!”

Sweet Brown

Celebrate Kindness with Krampus

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Krampus holiday card image from Wikipedia Commons

Krampus holiday card image from Wikipedia Commons

I know. You’re looking at that title and thinking, “Man, this Lady Sensory chick is whack.” Admittedly, I have a lot more free time on my hands to research things going on around these parts. Today’s Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN) post is dedicated to World Kindness Day. Certainly, there are loads of ways to be kind and find a way to give back. You could volunteer at a senior community, a soup kitchen, or certainly send some relief money to the Philippines because lord knows they need it.

With the holidays quickly approaching and the recent changes in my life, I’ve been looking for new and fun holiday activities that are also charitable. A friend posted a link to something called Breakfast with Krampus on Facebook.  I have a twisted sense of humor and a low threshold for Jingle Bells, so I was immediately intrigued and wasted at least an hour if not more on “the internets” perusing facts and images of Krampus. Apparently, this Krampus character is some kind of European folklore beast that rides shotgun with St. Nicholas and takes care of the naughty children by licking them, beating them with a stick, and throwing them into burlap sacks. So if everyone acts kindly and behaves on World Kindness Day, then we won’t have to worry about anyone taking any abuse, right?

Wait. Why on earth am I posting about this stuff on World Kindness Day? I must be a deranged lunatic, right?

Nope. Breakfast with Krampus is actually a local fundraiser and toy drive for children in need being held on Saturday, December 7. The event is for people aged 16 and up and is all in good fun. It is free to attend, but they are raising funds to help pay for the Krampus costume, food, and other items needed for the day of the event. It is recommended that you bring one new, unwrapped toy to donate. Basically, if Krampus thinks your toy sucks, then prepare to be humiliated!

For those in the Rochester area, more information on how you can attend or volunteer (a.k.a. become a ‘Krampling’) can be found by visiting this website or better yet, watch the hilarious video on the indiegogo page.

Happy World Kindness Day. Now go out and make a difference in whatever way you see fit. Remember – Krampus is watching!

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