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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Clam Chowder

I had this crazy idea to make homemade clam chowder-- which was a great idea in theory, except we live in IOWA and it is the middle of WINTER. 

Hmmm... our grocery amazingly did have "fresh" clams in the deli.  However, since they were obviously flown in, they were not as fresh as they would have been if we lived on the coast.  And, since we don't live on the coast, I know very little about what fresh clams are supposed to look like, smell like, etc.

So, Kyle and I scrubbed the shells, and steamed them.  They opened very quickly, so maybe we had the heat too high?  Then, as we were taking out the meat, (family project--everyone wanted to be involved, especially Alexis) we noticed that the colors varied, and the smell varied.  We threw them all in, and continued with our recipe.  It was a fairly simple recipe, found in the America's Test Kitchen cookbook. 

When it was finished about 45 minutes later, we all sat down with our bowls of chowder.  It looked like the clam chowder I have had at good restaurants,  and the broth was great.  It was creamy and the perfect consistency.  But, unfortunatley it was very salty.  Not so salty, that you couldn't eat it, just salty.  I didn't add any salt, the clams were just too salty. 

Since, I was the only one who liked clam chowder to begin with--and one of the only ones who had even had clam chowder before--I thought some bites (with clam) were good, and some bites were very off.  It was liking eating a bowl of minefield soup.  Would you get a good bite, or a yucky bite.  Finally, one by one we stopped eating the soup--not because we were disgusted--but, because we just couldn't go through with the whole bowl.  I think I was mostly convinced that some of the clams may have been bad, and I didn't want anyone getting sick.

So, although I won't post the recipe-- I did want to share, that sometimes we do have flops in the Hamer Kitchen-- it happens.  We also learned that we need to learn more about uncommon seafood, before cooking it from scratch.  Not that clams are uncommon, but most households, in the midwest do not cook them from scratch.

Ps. We did order in Pizza later

Next, we are going to try our hand at Lobster bisque-- and I am hoping like crazy it turns out AMAZING!!
Thursday, January 7, 2010


My DH does not love scrapbooking.  He does not know how I can spend so much money on stickers and paper.  He does not get it.  I think he appreciates the books I have poured over to catalog the memories of our children--but, he still does not GET it.  And, that's okay....he knows I love it.

Lucky for me, he love Gadgets.  He nearly pees his pants, when there is a new cell phone advancement.  So, when I was excited about the CRICUT-- he was secretly excited.  He surprised me with it for our anniversary.  For those of you who know the story, you know that the cricut was not my "official" anniversary gift because he later realized he wanted to get me something made from wood- for the "traditional" annivesary gift.  To make a long story short, and to leave the part out where I hurt his feelings--I got clothes from VS--on our anniversary--which I wore out to dinner to McDonalds with our babies.  Then a week or so later, I got my "wooden" gift-- which was my China cabinet.  I was a little spoiled this anniversary. 

Anyway, he had heard about the handheld computer-like device that works with the cricut.  He thought, of course my wife has to have that--because I have a cool gadgety phone (that she got me for our anniversary), so she needs the coolest scrapbooking gadget.  (I don't think that is really how it played out in his head, but for the sake of the story...we'll go with this version...lol)

So, if you haven't already guessed it--I got the GYPSY for Christmas!  Of course ProvoCraft (the makers) thought it would be a good idea to release a software update 2 days before Christmas that would freeze all of the gypsy's that updated-- mine included.  So, I had to trade mine in.  :(  We were very frustrated.

Finally yesterday, January 6th, I got the Gypsy in my hot little hands--and started to play with it.  I had to figure out this fun, new, little gadget--hoping it would be worth the hassle and the money. 

I have to say, I am not disappointed with it at all.  It saves me time, paper, it is easy to read and operate.   After the software snafu, I thought I would be equally disappointed in the machine--but, alas--I fell in love.

I am still learning the ins and outs and the possibilities it opens for me and the cricut.  But for now, I will leave you with a card that I created for a dear friend.

I used my 12x12 mat, and layered different colored paper in different sections, so I would not have to unload and reload for different sections of the card.  I knew exactly, and I mean EXACTLY to the gridpoint where it was going to cut what.  There was no mistaking where I needed to put the different colored paper.  I knew that the things I was cutting out were going to match up exactly and fit exactly where I needed them to fit-- because I could drag them and compare them on my gypsy screen.  THIS in itself is AMAZING for me.  Because, those of you who know me, know that I am dimensionally challenged.  This little machine allows me to see everything, how big its going to be, where its going to go on the mat.  I also don't have to hassle with changing cartridges etc.  *big sigh of joy

Okay, so for my card I used a 1.5x1.5 of yellow paper, a 6x6 piece of tan paper, and a 3x3 piece of brown paper and another 1.5x1.5 of another brown color.   Had everything pictured on my "gypsy mat" and clicked cut--and it did exactly that-- cut it exactly how I had it laid out on my gypsy.

ps. the card may not make sense
to you--but, it is perfect for it's recipient. 

Lil Pink Drill

Although, I am sure my DH was fearful when I received a PINK DRILL for Christmas--I was beyond excited.  I did a few things around the house, like installing an under-the-counter cd player and hanging up pictures--and then I took my drill to it's resting spot.  (My craft room)

It wasn't but a day or two later, that I broke it in on my first craft.  I had a wooden frame, that had been lying around for years-- literally.  It was one of those cheap ones, I picked up at the Dollar Tree.  I decided, that I would make it extra special--and maybe worth $2 instead of $1 and add a calendar to it.

I took out the Lil Pink Drill--which btw is not little--it is more volts than my husbands drill, (and yes, he was a little jealous).  My plan was to drill 2 holes in the bottom of the frame, to then put hooks in which the calendar would hang from. 

I pressed the drill bit up to the wooden frame, when I thought it might be a good idea to take the glass out of the frame.  (Which is exactly what frightens the daylights out of my husband about me having a drill).  I took the glass out, and then drilled 2 holes.  *yes I measured first.

I then put the hooks in the frame.  I took cardstock and made calendar backs, and punched holes in all of them at once with my BIG BITE crop-a-dile.  Then, all there was left to do was print off a calendar to put months on the cardstock.

My husband can now hang a photo-filled frame, that doubles as a calendar in his office--and everytime he looks at it he can think of me, drilling holes in everything I can find. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Potato Soup

I guess in December, I took advantage of 99cent bags of potatoes one too many times--because my pantry was overflowing with taters.  Since, I also had some cooked ham- I decided to throw together a simple potato soup.  However, I thought the taste was anything but simple-- since, I didn't write the recipe down as I went- I will try my best to remember exactly went into the potato soup, I can't stop eating!

8-10 small to medium sized potatoes cut in to small chunks
1/2 large white onion
1 clove of garlic diced
2 cups of diced ham
1 can of evaporated milk
4-6 cups of water
2 tsp chicken bouillon (penzey's)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tb freeze dried chives
1 tsp paprika
3 slices of bacon cooked and crumbled

Throw all into a crock pot and cook for 4-6 hours.  May need to add spices to taste--since I didn't really measure--I am only estimating the amounts

Top with cheese and serve with fresh bread.  Yummy
Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I love you a LATTE

Oh, how I have come to love coffee-- I am not addicted, I do not rely on it to keep me going-- but it sure does taste yummy and give me an extra little spring in my step.

I was so excited when my sweetie, wanted an espresso machine for Christmas, since he drinks straight espresso.  I did what I do best, and I researched the heck out of the espresso machines, because you know they can range from a Wal-mart model for $30 to upwards of $3000.  I was willing to spend more than $30, but definitely not willing to spend 3 grand.

I learned that the most important thing I needed to look for in a machine that would make it seem more like the pricier models was the pump- The walmart models only operate by the steam, and there is no pump--(okay, I am not mechanically inclined, so if this doesn't quite make sense--just pretend that it does).  Anyway, I found a model that was rated highly by Cooks Illustrated and at Coffeegeek.com, which also had some good reviews at Amazon.com-- and it was on sale for under $100.  Sounded good to me, so I got the hubby's wallet, and ordered it ;).

He loved it, He loves it-- and guess what?!  So, do I!  I have gottten some amazing lattes made for me, and my own private lessons on how to make the same killer lattes for myself while he is at work.  I know exactly what is going into it, and how many calories are in every cup.  It is quick and easy-- and gives me a Starbucks worthy drink within minutes for pennies.

I use 2 pumps of Starbucks Caramel or Vanilla syrup, nonfat milk, espresso or french roast Starbucks coffee beans, and sometimes a swirl of caramel on top.  I take between 2-4 shots of espresso per cup, because that is not the calorie part of the drink.  I figure at least this way, I am finally drinking milk--which I NEVER do.

To make my coffee even sweeter, I have the perfect cups to drink them from-- ( My mom got me a double layered starbucks cup with straw for cold drinks ((which btw, are selling for 36-75 on ebay right now?!?--)) and Kyle got me a PEACE, LOVE & COFFEE cup for my hot drinks ((which are the 3 things I want in my house at all times))  I am the luckiest girl alive ;)
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