Tag Archive | gadgets

Stupid. Freakin’. Bread.

Right. So. By now you know the seething hatred between me and bread. Or you only have to look back some posts to figure it out. And here I am again. Trying to make it work.

You can’t say I’m not putting my part into this relationship!

I ran out of bread, store bought, and I didn’t feel like running to the store. The Texan also loves Hawaiian bread, and I had the ingredients for it. Stupid bread. I figured it’d do just fine as a PB&J sandwich bread.

So I held my breath and tried not to cuss too much. I grabbed out the ingredients. And I started. Again.

You’d think I would learn.

So, add the water and the butter to the stupid bread machine.

Now add the stupid cake mix. This is supposed to be what makes hawaiian bread different. Whatever. Stupid bread.

Now add the stupid flour. And the stupid yeast. In a stupid well inside the middle of said stupid flour mix.

I set the stupid bread machine to light crust and walked away.

I didn’t peak. I swear. I swear I swear I swear.

I walked away and did other things so I didn’t go mad.

And THIS, dear readers, is what I get!

Are you F*@(ING SERIOUS RIGHT NOW? What is THAT? It caved in?

This is the part where I normally curse a lot, complain, tell you that God hates me and try to figure out what happened.

I’m not doing that today. I’m on FREAKIN STRIKE!

Ugh.

I don’t care. They’re gonna eat it anyway and LIKE IT!

Pain In The Arse But So Worth It Home Made Pasta

There are a few things that I make that aren’t, technically, “worth it.” By worth it I mean that the cost of doing it myself is not really saving anything when you consider the time it takes to make it. Pasta is one of these things.

Is it because I can’t actually eat pasta or my diabetic beta cells will attack me and make me go blind with high blood sugar? Surprisingly, no.

Is it because home made pasta is more expensive than store bought? No, it’s not, it’s cheaper, but marginally. When you consider the time it takes, it’s not really cheaper since pasta is SUPER cheap. Ok, maybe mine doesn’t have all the chemicals in it either.

It’s pretty much because it’s SUCH a pain in the ass to make, even with my little gadgets, that I’ll still go and buy pasta before I make it. But making it is SO worth it. And I’ve promised myself one day, one great awesome day, when I have the entire day to kill, I will make enough pasta to last this family a year. For now, though, I made enough for just two meals.

I used my handy dandy pasta attachment for my kitchen aid. Yes, man has made such things. I can’t even imagine the pain in the ass it would be to make this without it. I once used a regular hand crank pasta machine, and I’m just too damn lazy.

For all intents and purposes, pasta is super easy to make. You can find a slew of recipes online for it. It requires two or three ingredients usually and comes out, amazingly and shockingly, very very good.

So, the first thing I did was dump the ingredients in my kitchen aid. I believe it was flour, eggs, and some salt. What’s hilarious is that the instructions say you should make a well, put the egg in it, blah blah blah. Yeah, whatever, I just dump it all in there together. I really don’t know what difference making a well would make. But, then again, I’m no chef.

So I dump it all in the kitchen aid with the dough hook attachment

It takes a little bit for it to smooth out. But it does eventually smooth out, not totally silky smooth, but enough like dough.

It starts to roll in on itself and gather up the bits and pieces as it does this. It’s exciting isn’t it!

The dog certainly looked excited.

Ok, maybe not. But it’s imperative she’s in the kitchen with my while I do this. She’s my good luck charm.

Now, I attach the pasta do-hicky to the kitchen aid. Ain’t it cool?

And I start hand kneading the dough. It just kind of helps it form a little better cause it can be a little dry.

The first attachment I use is just a flattener. No, that’s not a technical term, it’s just what I call it. It rolls the dough flat. It has various settings on the side, 1-6. 1 being the thickest, 8 being the thinnest. Depending on what kind of pasta you want, you can roll it thick or super thin. I wanted spaghetti, so I’m figuring on rolling it to a 5. 6 would be like angel hair.

First you’ve got to roll it through #1 quite a few times, folding it half, then reinserting it. This makes the dough silky smooth and pliable, stretchy even. This is what you want. It helps to dust it with a little flour every few times to keep things running smoothly.

Eventually, it’ll become the width of the attachment, which is what you want.

A little ball of dough will eventually stretch to several feet long, so don’t go all happy on how much dough you initially put in there. Usually a palm full is enough.

Once it’s gone through #1 a few times, then it goes through each successive flattener size once until we reach 5. At 5, the sheets are pretty long and look like this:

I’ve got the kitchen aid book open right there! Tips for perfect pasta! Yah right! Perfect pasta=someone else coming in my kitchen and doing it.

Anyway, I lay the sheets on pieces of wax paper that I’ve sprinkled with flour until I’ve done the entire recipes worth of dough. This takes awhile, don’t fool yourself. One recipe worth of dough can easily take 30-45 minutes just to flatten into pieces.

So I go back and flatten some more pieces

See! It even LOOKS stretchy!!!

The dog still isn’t excited at this point. But, she sure did get way more excited when meat sauce was being poured over the cooked, finished product.

Now that all the sheets are flattened I proceed to cut them into spaghetti sized noodles and set them in a “nest.” I was never good at the “nest” thing, the way they’ve got them all nicely nested in the store. Here’s my version of a nest:

It REALLY helps if you have two people doing this because the sheets can get LONG and ANNOYING.

I wasn’t going to be drying this particular batch because it was all going to be used within a couple of days. If you want to keep them long term, you can always nest them, after dusting them with some flour, and freeze. OR if you have the room and patience, go ahead and dry them and stick them in bags or jars for long term storage.

Cooking home made pasta CAN be a little tricky, mostly when it’s fresh. Here’s how I do it:

Salt the crap out of the water. I do that any way, no matter if it’s fresh or dried. I once heard an Italian chef on PBS I think it was say that pasta water should be “salty like the sea.” I agree. The taste is so much better.

Then, get the water to FULL boiling and dump a little bit of olive oil in there. Then put in your fresh pasta and cook it, no kidding 1-3 minutes. I’m so not joking. It does NOT take long and there’s nothing worse than overcooked pasta.

And let me save you a little hair pulling: It’s gonna stick together. It’s not store bought, chemical laden pasta. It’s gonna stick. Learn to live with it. It doesn’t detract from the taste. The worst thing your family is going to do is take bigger bites. And that could be just cause it’s so damn good.

So, there you have it. Home made pasta. Enjoy it! Actually, you BETTER enjoy it because there are diabetic, urban homesteading, pasta making bloggers that CAN’T enjoy it because their body rejects carbohydrates in any form! (That’s my version of “there are starving people in china.”)

It’s a power thing

I have a job. I work from home, I own my own business. But I also take care of a home. I MAKE this place a home. And I love doing it. I find it sacred. I actually LIKE cleaning. This could be my half Polish blood talking (ok, it is). I HATE the word homemaker. It sounds so 50’s housewife. That is NOT me, as you probably can already tell. I do nothing different that what many a woman before me have done since the dawn of time: I rule my Queendom. There’s some finesse involved, yes, one doesn’t want to be an overbearing ruler. No one should ever EXPECT or DEMAND that you do all this, but if it’s appreciated and welcomed and respected, it’s one hell of a great thing to do. The sun rises and sets on your home. Plus, if you are in charge of the laundry and the food you can always put Icy Hot in the boxer shorts and poison the food (lest they forget…).

But it’s responsibility and work and it’s lovely. Cleaning is one of these tasks. I like the phrase “housebitch duties.” Yeah, I know, it’s offensive, but own it. It doesn’t have to mean “women’s work”, cause I systematically make the guys do it too. It’s only offensive when you take it that way. Make it your own! I can’t stand PC terms, they drive me insane. Have a sense of humor!

That being said, my life does NOT consist of bouncing around my kitchen in an apron and high heels getting meatloaf in the oven by 5. No. LOL. Oh boy no. And anything that will make my duties faster or easier so that I can do some other crazy crap is all good by me. So I have a robot.

Yes, I have a Roomba. Did you ever have a doubt? Home Gadget Junkie. I know.

If you don’t know what a Roomba is, go hide under the blankets and don’t ever admit that to anyone.

A Roomba is basically a vacuuming robot. Check out  irobot.com. They make awesome gifts. They really do. They are a little pricey so there’s something to be said about really considering whether you’d use the thing. And yes, I’ve got the Scooba too. It washes the floor. So there.

This little robot actually picks up WAY more than you expect it too. Here’s the little brat working for me this morning:

That’s right. It’s my slave. I put googly eyes on it so I can look down at it. It’s a power thing. (Thank you American Dad, hilarious episode!)

If you are seriously debating one of these guys, let me quickly break down the goods and bads of this thing:

Goods: You don’t have to vacuum yourself and it’s great for everyday cleaning. It does pretty good size rooms. It gets up quite a bit of stuff. It’s hilarious to watch your dog get pissed at it. It even kinda gets in corners. The newer ones dock themselves and even have a thing where you can set it to get off it’s lazy dock and clean your house on a certain day and time. It has virtual walls that come with it so you can tell it to stay in a certain area. It can go under your tables and couches no problem. It has a spot clean function so if you are too lazy to clean up a spill (like coffee grounds for example), you can pull it out and make roomba do it. It also has a dirt detector so when it finds a really dirty spot, it lights up blue and stays in that space for awhile.

Bads: It doesn’t replace a normal vac. It never will. It fills up really quick and needs it’s brushes cleaned a lot. At least after every cleaning, if not half way through cleaning depending on the amount of pet hair you have. It DOES like getting stuck on things like cords and low hanging curtains. Don’t underestimate this things suction, it’ll suck up your drapes, pennies, pins, all kinds of stuff. Sometimes it gets PMS and decides it wants to stay in only one area of the room. This is really only a problem if you have a big open room like ours, but every once and again it will just miss a big spot. If you have pet hair, be prepared to clean this things wheels and stuff after each cleaning cause it WILL get stuck. They are also not indefinite, the battery DOES wear out so you should let it go dead about once a week. Completely dead.

It’s got this little hair removal tool for the brushes, which is rather awesome. Being a first generation Roomba owner, when I bought my new Roomba and it came with this little tool I was both happy and skeptical. You kind of run this red little tube thingee up and down the brushes in a spiral motion and it’s supposed to remove the hair. And it really does. My Akita is currently blowing her coat and my Border Collie is constantly shedding. If you own an Akita, then you know they are just spectacular perfect dogs, but twice a year they blow their ENTIRE coat and it ends up on the floor in sheets (one day I will learn how to spin yarn and I’ll make Akita Wool! Don’t cringe, it’s no different than lambs hair and lambs roll around in poop. Dogs usually don’t). Anyway, I’ve got TONS of hair, as you can see below. Mind you this is from ONE level of my house AND I vacuumed yesterday.

Roomba Hair Removal Tool

It gets up A LOT of hair.

All in all, it’s totally worth the money IF you are going to use it. Ditto on the Scooba, but that’s an entirely different post.

Some people prefer to just use a stick vac. I hated my stick vac. It didn’t have a hose so it didn’t get into corners. As much as I try to clean, I really don’t want to be doing a full on room cleaning with the vac every single freaking day. Once a week with my Dyson is enough. And the Dyson is AWESOME, super heavy and nearly as tall as me, so you can imagine I don’t want to drag that bad boy out every day either.

Given it’s the holidays, I would love to buy this little thing for damn near every person I know. There are the people who I know wouldn’t use it. My grandmother, rest in peace, wouldn’t use something like this. She’d probably slap me upside for using it and not just using an old style corn broom. The woman STILL used a ringer washer and line dry well into the 80’s. Ohhh, I miss the line dry. AND the ringer washer. I wouldn’t want to HAVE to do that but it’d still be cool to have one of those. They are so gratifying.

Now that I’ve gone completely from robots to electricity free cleaning, I’ll leave you with that. I love the Roomba. And if for nothing else it’s great for days when you wanna boss something around but no one is home