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Eclecticisms: June 2010

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fondue (And where the hell I have been...)

Oh boy, it's been awhile. It's been too hot lately to bake on most days here in Chicago and without a good recipe to talk about I've pretty much neglected my blog, even though blogging really has become a passion of mine. I think I'm at a point where I need to start getting thoughts together for my "non-food" blogs, but contrary to that point, I'm back with a fondue recipe.

First a couple of things to catch anyone up, whether I know you or if you're just interested. (Or both!)

To begin, I saw Patty Griffin last Friday with my friend Dana and the show was phenomenal. The only other show I've seen that's moved me as much as this was when I saw Neil Young live and accoustic several years back. (I don't know if anything can top that, but this show came damn close.) I was in the best mood for days after this show. She played with Buddy Miller, who I'd never heard of but have developed a huge respect for and am starting to listen to now. If you've never heard of her, you probably know a few of her songs. The Dixie Chicks covered her songs Truth #2, Let Him Fly, and Top of the World. Recently, Crystal Bowersox did a version of her song Up to the Mountain (MLK Song) on American Idol. If you haven't heard her, I HIGHLY suggest you check her out... she is painfully good.

I've also beeen dealing with some health issues. I've had some stomach problems and had to go for an endoscopy this week, which meant that I had to deal with an IV. I'm terrified of IV's, blood tests, shots, etc. (Tattoos however, cause me no trouble, which makes no sense really.) So far everything looks ok, and I'm past the needles and being knocked out, so I'm getting back into my normal routine for now.

So, between these things along with general summer activites that are keeping me busy, I made some fondue for the first time with a friend a couple of weeks ago. Anyone who reads my blog would be justified in thinking I'm a sweets kind of girl, but my one true love has always been, and will always be, cheese. I bought a fondue pot about 7 years ago with plans to make fondue that weekend! (Bold, because I was super into it and probably told about 50 people that I was so exicted to make fondue.) Like so many things I get hyped up about, it didn't happen. Nor did it happen the next week. Nor the next year. Or the next. After about 3 years I finally bought a fuel can to use with plans to make fondue THAT weekend! (Again, I was excited.) It didn't happen. Nor did it happen the next week. See a pattern? Such is my life. Finally, after many years and many moves, I made an white cheese and herb fondue (that we tweaked) that turned out pretty damn good, though I didn't use my fondue pot. (See below.)

Here is the original recipe's link. My version is slightly different.


4 oz. Romano Cheese (Next time I'd use the Asiago it calls for or Parmesan- something with a bit less bite to it.)
4 oz. CreamCheese, softenen and cut into cubes
4 oz. Goat Cheese
1 Tbsp Flour (a bit more if your cheese seems thin for any reason)
3/4 Cp Dry White Wine
1 Tbsp Fresh Lime Juice
Pinch of Onion Powder
4 cloves garlic (One food I am supposed to avoid now. Bah.)
2 Tbsp Minced fresh basil
1 Tbsp Minced fresh Chives
Pinch of dried Lemon Grass

Step One: Find all parts of fondue pot.
Step Two: Realize that the fuel can you bought 4 years ago for the fondue pot you bought 7 years ago is the wrong size. Too big. Shit.
Step Three: Tell yourself (your "I''ve had a bit of wine" self) that this will be a learning experience, perfect for blogging about. Your readers will thank you! (Or so you tell yourself.)

Grate up the asiago

Combine Romano, cream cheese, goat cheese and flour; mix well to coat cheese with flour. Set aside.

In a medium/large sauce pan (I used a huge pot... don't ask me why) combine white wine, lime juice, onion powder and garlic; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low.

Add cheese-flour mixture by handfuls to saucepan, whisking constantly after each addition until cheese is melted.

Remove from heat. Stir in basil, chives and lemongrass. (I'm SO glad that it's summer and I can grab herbs right out of my garden for FREE!) Transfer to fondue pot (aka a regular bowl) and serve with your choice of dippers. A few ideas are broccoli, cauliflower, rye/white bread (cut into small pieces), apples, carrots... the options are pretty endless. I mean, there aren't that many foods that don't taste good dipped in cheese!

I had the leftovers on some pasta, and it tasted great! It sort of resembled a thinner yet fancier mac and cheese. I'm looking forward to getting the right sized fuel can and trying my actual fondue pot.

Happy cheese-eating!

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Saturday, June 5, 2010

My Wall Paper Removal Saga (Part 2)

I so wish I could tell you that I have been baking and have yummy recipes to share, but alas, I cannot. The idea of turning on my oven in the summer before the air conditioners are in is pretty gross, so baking has been put on hold. (Though I do have an idea for a veggie brown rice casserole that I want to make soon...maybe tonight?)

I apologize for being such a blog-slacker lately! I'm so busy, and without the baking it's harder to get started on one. Without further ado, here is the rest of the story on how the wallpaper removal/painting went, and the results!

Now, where was I? Priming I think. Apologies about the blurry pictures... I'm not sure why they turned out so crappy.

The patching was done and it was time to prime. I was VERY glad to be past all the prep work, but at this point I was utterly exhausted and to be honest, sick of the project. I enjoy painting, but NOT the prep work. 

For those who have never painted, you do the corners and edges first, followed by the ceiling. Feather out the paint when you're doing this, so you don't end up seeing the lines where you stopped along these areas. Repeat with paint color of your choice.

Here's the room partially primed...

 Anytime I've painted, I've always written my name on the wall before rolling. I have no idea why I do it- but I do!

I got the edges/corners painted, but at about this point I was extremely tired, I spilled paint, I crushed my finger in a ladder (holy cow did that hurt... the bruise is still under my nail!) and I was overall just very stressed about things in general. When I finished the edges I sat down, and cried. I had a lot going on and was extremely upset with myself when I accepted the fact that I just didn't have the energy to finish the room that day. Anyone who knows me can tell you I'm all about getting into a project and pushing myself until it's done, even if that means painting until late into the night (which was the case the night before, in this instance). I just wanted my new bedroom. I wanted to rest- I wanted to be done. I went, laid down, and took a nap. I wake up to find my Dad painting for me. Have I ever told you how awesome he is and how lucky I am? In case I didn't, I'm telling you now.

Here's Footloose checking out the new room. The last time I painted, my cat managed to get blue pawprints throughout the house, so I was being extra mindful as to where my fuzzy buddies were this time.

My Dad had me roll the last small section, and it was done! Finally! Well- all except for moving furniture, clothes, organizing, cleaning, etc. The color is a pale green... it's a bit hard to tell from these pictures, but you get the idea. I think it looks perfect against the wood- very vintage!

That night, I transferred all my closet stuff over to the new one (which took about 2 hours when all was said and done). The closets in my house are deep, so I went into the basement and brought up an old table. I washed it up, and put it in the back so I didn't have to stack a bunch of things on each other for some NOT easy access. It worked out great!

The next day I recruited my Dad and brother to help me move everything over into my new room. Here are Bo Jangles and Pickles checking out action...

Once everything was moved over, I started to organize. I had a bunch of things stacked in random spots, and my cat managed to knock over a pile that included an aromatherapy oil burner/diffuser. Oil spilled all over and it was a huge mess. A candle holder broke. I fixed it. It broke again. I fixed it again. I sat in a chair that I forgot was broken (see a trend?) and I fell. Ugh! I needed this to be done, but I was still enjoying and excited about setting up, despite all distasters and mishaps.

Before I go on to the final results, I have to go back to my writing my name on the wall and mention the finish of paint I used. I've always used a matte finish in bedrooms. Always. I don't know why, but the jerk at Home Depot (he really was a jerk) told me to get eggshell because "it's easier to wash". I was confused when he said that... I mean, really. I'm not 8 years old and writing on my walls in crayon. Still, it was after 9 PM, I was tired, so I went with it. It turns out that eggshell shows any and all marks on walls, and since I have old plaster, there's a lot of small dings that it didn't cover as well as it would have, had I gotten a different finish. Not a big deal, but definitely a learning experience.


After all this work, the weeks of labor, the stress, the exhaustion (I'm such a baby), the mess, things breaking, I finally laid down on my bed on my back to relax for a minute or two before putting on the final touches. I look up, only to see "VAL" through the paint. One word came out of my mouth. "Shiiiiiiiiit!". You can really only see it from underneath while looking up while the overhead light is on though, so again, not a big deal. I have a scret wish that one day, long into the future, someone will see it and think I am haunting them. Muwahahaha.

And now for the finished product!  

The lamp inthe corner is an antique I got out of the attic, and it fits PERFECTLY! This room has so much more privacy and just feels so complete. I love it!

So, that's it. I have another room to do, but I'll put that off until my 30's or maybe even 40's. (30 is only a couple of years away! Egad...).

The moral of the story? Wallpaper can kiss my butt.