Mrs. Sell's Blog of Household Management

(Another) new book 2015

I forgot a book the other day!

pioneer woman cooks dinnertime cover

Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman) has her fourth book coming out in October!

This one focuses on dinners: comfort food, freezer meals, quick meals… A variety of ways to get dinner on the table at night. I will probably be availing myself of those 16-Minute-Meals quite a bit this fall!

I love the Pioneer Woman’s cookbooks: they’re beautiful, lavishly illustrated, and her recipes are great: very accessible, but very delicious. And a huge spectrum all the way from basic dishes (like meatloaf) to the more exotic (prosciutto-topped pizza).

I can’t wait!

“Improvements”

The Pioneer Woman has her new website up.

As with so many things recently, it seems to be optimized for mobile viewing. Which means that viewing it on a regular computer is alternately blinding, frustrating, and motion-sickness-inducing.

I guess they’re trying to emphasize the photos, but when I have to back away from the screen in order to focus my eyes, it very quickly does not become worth it to me.

Plus, for sites that I check at least once a day, I want to be able to quickly see new content at the top, not generally mixed in with other vaguely recent things.

Here’s what you have to do to see the most recent things on the “Cooking” page:

pw new website

And every other page is the same way.

It helps if you Crtrl+- a few times, but to have to do that every time I visit a website that I used to visit frequently? I dunno.

I admit that I have problems with change. But a lot of these things genuinely seem to make it harder to use the site.

I’m afraid that the same thing will happen to PW as happened to Serious Eats: I used to visit Serious Eats several times a day; I learned to cook from them!

I used to go to the Serious Eats home page and do a quick skim for new content, check the sidebar for new Talk posts, and get a quick feel for whether there was anything I needed. Since they changed their site? I only visit it if I see a good post from Kenji on Facebook.

When I go to the Serious Eats homepage now, all I see is one picture for one recipe, and if I scroll down, there’s maybe six more: just big images, very little text. Without backing away from my computer, I just can’t see what content there is, so I don’t even bother.

Here’s the sad thing: it is actually better business for them to reduce the text, enlarge the pictures, and dumb-down the content. Kenji explained it when Serious Eats updated their site: they had statistical analysis done, and they actually made more money from the random clickers on the big pictures from social media sites than from the site members who checked it several times a day, read the articles, and engaged on the Talk forums. So they do better business with a lower-quality product.

It makes me sad.

I miss Serious Eats, and I hope I don’t lose Pioneer Woman too!

It continues… Fall preview 2015

I went to Wal-Mart yesterday, and the number of pumpkin-related items on the shelves are gradually increasing:

wm fall kitchenware 2015

This was an end-cap near the front of the store: we’ve got some canisters, mugs, bowls, little plates, and soup tureens, in the shapes of pumpkins, owls, and foxes. I don’t really get what foxes have to do with autumn (is it fox-hunting season?), but those aren’t important anyway.

Look at the pumpkins! Yay! The problem is that I’ve stocked up so much in years past that I have every single pumpkin thing I need for fall (other than the consumables).

Speaking of consumable, I picked up a bag of Pumpkin Spice Milanos (yum!), a box of pumpkin spice black tea (yet to try), a box of pumpkin spice granola bars (ditto), and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Pumpkin Cheesecake. I’m saving them until September 1, at least.

Quick caffeinated breakfast drink

This light breakfast is super quick and super simple. If I’m running out the door first thing in the morning, this is my first choice for getting something into my stomach. And if I use a canning jar and handy plastic lid, then there’s barely any clean-up!

What you need:

IMG_1726

I love these vintage-style blue canning jars. Not all of my jars have measurement markings on the the side, but these do, so they’re perfect for this. I use the pint size because that leaves plenty of room to mix the drink.

What you do:

1) Pour six ounces of milk into the jar:

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2) Then pour in 2 ounces of coffee concentrate:

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3) Pour in your breakfast drink packet:

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4) Top with a plastic jar lid:

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5a) Agitate vigorously:

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5b) Maybe even more vigorously:

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6) And it’s all frothy!

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7) You’re done! You’ve got your fat and protein from the milk, carbs and vitamins from the breakfast drink, and sweet, sweet caffeine of life from the coffee!

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I love the plastic canning jar lids; I use canning jars all the time, but I never actually can with them. So the plastic lids are more practical for me: they’re only one piece, they’re reusable, and they don’t rust. I use them for storing things at room temperature and in the fridge, and of course for using jars to mix drinks and salad dressing and stuff.

When I’m making this drink, depending on the flavor of coffee I have going, I usually use a chocolate or vanilla breakfast drink mix. Any of the chocolates would be good (milk, dark, malt), and the vanilla is good, but I’m not sure how the strawberry would go with coffee. I have yet to try it.

Sometimes in the winter I will heat the milk and coffee together on the stove, then stir the drink mix in at the end, but it’s not quite as good warm. The drink mix just doesn’t taste right hot; maybe because you’d expect it to taste like hot chocolate when it most certainly does not.

Once I start college next week, I fully expect this to become a daily routine.

Transitions

When I started this blog, I was “a full-time housewife with one daughter.”

Now, I have one daughter and one angel baby, but I’m still a housewife, although not full-time anymore! Due to changing circumstances, our original plans for me to stay home and homeschool have changed, so this fall my daughter starts pre-school, and I’m going back to college!

Obviously, the house stuff still has to be taken care of, but the way that I do it will have to adjust. So stay tuned for posts about balancing housekeeping and being a student, and the adjustment of sending a kid to school. I’m guessing that there will be more recipes that don’t take several hours to make…

I say “stay-tuned,” but if I get too busy, then I might not post very often at all. I guess that’s the first lesson: when you’re working on career development and child-rearing, your part-time blog should probably be one of the first things to drop. :)

Pretty things: futility

These are not exactly designed for autumn, but that wouldn’t make me hesitate a second about getting them…

lc minis des bois

…IF THEY EXISTED.

I love Le Creuset, but they are absolutely cruel with the discontinued stuff. They stop making it, and then it just disappears, except for the odd photo here and there on the internet, where people can stumble across it and then spend the rest of their lives ruing the fact that there is no way that they can acquire it.

Remember these?

winter twilight cocottes

Two years ago, these were readily available in the USA, and I didn’t get them to go with my other beauties because I thought I would have time… And it turns out I would have, IF I LIVED IN FREAKING AUSTRALIA. Now, the only place they’re available is from websites that “only ship to Australia and New Zealand,” thus depriving all the rest of us of the opportunity to improve our lives by owning these!

By the way, if anybody lives in Australia, I will pay you good money to order these and ship them to me.

And if anyone has a set of those Minis des Bois, I will also happily take them off of your hands. I have a bunch of green ones that are waiting to meet them for my autumn decorations…

New books 2015

This is a great year for new books for me! Multiple of my favorite authors have books coming out in the summer and the fall, and I’m listing them here so I remember to get them when they come out! (I have to write things down or I forget.)

secondhand souls cover

Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore

This one comes out tomorrow, but I’m not sure if I’m going to spring for the hardcover right off the bat, or wait for the paperback next May… So far my only hardcover Christopher Moore books are the ones I have signed, and the one that was never released in paperback.

Secondhand Souls is the sequel to A Dirty Job, which is probably my second-favorite Christopher Moore book. I can never get through the first chapter without crying…

If you’ve never read Christopher Moore, I recommend starting with Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. Yeah, it’s pretty much as blasphemous as it sounds. But it is the best of Christopher Moore’s books, so if you can see the appeal in it, then you’ll like the rest of his stuff.

I love Lamb, and A Dirty Job, and I have a soft spot for the books set in Pine Cove*, because they remind me of living on the central California coast.

(*Practical Demonkeeping, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, The Stupidest Angel)

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the food lab cover

The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science by J. Kenji López-Alt

FINALLY! Seriously, this book has been scheduled to be out in the autumn of 2012, 2014… I had almost given up hope. Actually, I probably won’t believe it until I hold the book in my hands!

Kenji write The Food Lab series on Serious Eats, the website that was the biggest help to me when I was learning to cook. If you’re interested in learning how to cook, I cannot recommend anything better than going to Serious Eats and just reading every article he’s written. Not only will you learn some astoundingly great recipes, you’ll learn WHY they work and the techniques you’ll need to strike out on your own. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Kenji is also a great writer (so funny!), so I’m probably going to give this cookbook to everyone on my list this Christmas, whether they cook or not: it’ll be just that great of a read.

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the shepherd's crown cover

The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett

This one is going to make me cry…

Sir Terry Pratchett, one of the most brilliant literary minds of our time, was taken from us by Alzheimer’s Disease on March 12, 2015. This was the last book he wrote, finished before his death.

Sir Terry wrote over 40 Discworld books, in addition to other novels, children’s books, and collaborations. His wit, wisdom, way with words and perspicacity made his illness and death that much more cruel, as we watched such a unique mind be undone.

I’m in the middle of his second-to-last book right now, the previous Discworld novel, Raising Steam. It has been very hard to get through, because the evidence of his mental deterioration is painfully evident. The words are there, but the magic, the genius, is gone. Some people gave the book terrible reviews and claimed that he was using a ghostwriter. I do not believe that that it the case; I believe that he wrote it, even as his mind was being consumed by disease. It’s bad enough that such a giant of a mind was cut down in its prime, do you have to insult him in product reviews? Where is your empathy? Why not mourn with him, instead of blaming him?

So I do not recommend Raising Steam, or probably The Shepherd’s Crown, as your first venture into the Terry Prachett universe. But I do recommend that you read his books; I know that there are a lot, but your life will be better for it, I promise. There is a reason that they are so popular. Do whatever it takes, but read Discworld, start to finish.

And donate to Alzheimer’s research.

Pumpkin sheet cake

How on earth did I miss this?!?!

I thought I had a comprehensive list of every pumpkin recipe Pioneer Woman has ever made!

It must be mine! Is it too early to make a pumpkin sheet cake? Gosh, it’s like a month until the equinox, which is when I usually start all the autumn stuff… Maybe I could just start on September 1st and call it good.

I don’t know how long I can wait to try it! Why does autumn have to take so long to come? Grrr…

I like the Pumpkin Spice Latte, too, but really?

The Pumpkin Spice Latte is on Twitter.

psl twitter

It has almost 84,000 followers.

Um… I’m not sure how I feel about that.

It’s starting… Fall Preview 2015

While I absolutely refuse to dilute the sheer bliss that is autumn by beginning it too early, the marketing profession does not hold themselves to such standards. So, while we’re broiling through the August heat, pumpkin spice and other autumn products have begun to appear in stores.

I took this picture at my local Wal-Mart last week:

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And Starbucks has the pumpkin spice world in a tizzy with their announcement that they’re going to put actual pumpkin in the Pumpkin Spice Latte this fall! I say, don’t mess with something that works, but we’ll see how it goes…

I know that some people complain about the artificial scarcity of pumpkin spice products, but to me, that’s the whole point: if I gorged on pumpkin spice stuff all year long, it would quickly lose what makes it a treat. Even without the products in stores, I could make pumpkin spice things all the time; I deliberately choose not to so that it will remain special.

Here are some things that have popped to prominence in the wake of the Starbucks announcement:

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes from Culinary Couture:

pumpkin spice latte cupcakes at culinary couture

Pumpkin Spice Latte Jello Shots from That’s So Michelle:

pumpkin spice jello shots at that's so michelle

I’ve never made Jello shots before, but I figure that Pumpkin Spice Latte ones are perfect for practicing on!

And here’s a list of 31 fall-flavored products (pumpkin spice, as well as things like apple and maple). Once fall actually starts, I’ll go through and review all the ones I can!

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