I received another book for review from Blogging for Books. This time, it was The Druknen Coobkook (The Drunken Cookbook). I love the idea – recipes tailored to drunk people! Granted, John and I don’t exactly get blitzed on a regular basis, but we do enjoy having some wine and beer in the evening. I expected some good, quick, and easy recipes in the book. Admittedly, I was rather disappointed. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a fun book! It would be a great little gift for a 21-year-old or a foodie who really likes his wine, and with a $10 price tag it’s quite affordable. It’s an entertaining read, but I must admit that I haven’t made any recipes from it, nor do I think I will. The recipes don’t sound bad, but they many of them are a bit more involved than I expected (and would require a trip to the store). Most importantly though, this is not a book that was designed to be truly used in the kitchen. It’s a small novelty book with a hard binding, thus it doesn’t lay flat without some serious finagling. However, even if you overcome that obstacle, the print is entirely too small for a cookbook and the ingredient list is presented in a single paragraph of tiny, italicized font separated by tildes. So you end up with ingredient lists that read like this:
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped ~ 2 tbsp mayonnaise - 2 large, soft "sub" rolls or 1 French baguette - 2 tbsp olive oil....
It’s not exactly an easy read when you’re trying to cook at the same time. As a gift, this book would be a great laugh, but as an actual cookbook, you should probably pass.
We’ve had a lot going on recently, so I thought it was time for a bit of an update. First of all, as some of you may know, I am officially licensed to practice law in North Carolina. I’m taking cases involving family law, wills, and minor criminal matters. If you need an attorney, check out my (still partially under construction) new website CarverLawNC.com. I will be happy to meet you at your home or place of business. I can also do initial consultations over the phone.
In more personal news, our second wedding anniversary is coming up on Monday, so we’re taking a long weekend to head out of town. It’s a long overdue bit of time away, but I think we’re going to try to make our anniversary tradition taking a trip. Last year, we went to Helen, GA, and we had a fabulous time. This year, we’re heading to Charleston, which neither of us has been to in ages. We have an awesome couple taking care of our goats while we’re gone, so we’ll know their in good hands (though we might get a phone call on Saturday, “You need to take the little, loud one away…NOW.”) We actually took a goat care and cheese making workshop with them in the spring, which was great. If anyone is considering goats, homesteading, etc. then you should check out some of the workshops they offer – www.eightowlsfarmstead.com.
Speaking of goats, the addition of Martha’s mother, Beth, has been great (though they have been exiled from the steps since this photo was taken). She’s somewhat neurotic, but super sweet, and I love having goat milk around! My experiments in cheese making are getting better each time. Tonight, we’re going to make some goat milk ice cream. If you’ve never had fresh goat’s milk, don’t judge it based on what you’ve had from a store. Fresh goat milk is sweet, delicious, and creamy. It lacks the strong “goat-y” taste that the stuff in the store develops. However, I may have to stop milking Beth soon, as there’s a possibility she might be pregnant. We’re going to draw blood and send it in for a test, but we might have some more little ones in a few months. If that’s the case, we will likely have to sell the babies, since we have a pretty limited amount of space for goats here and John has promised me that I can put down a deposit on a registered Alpine doeling for my birthday.
And yes, my 30th birthday is right around the corner. Do I feel 30? Not really. I mean, why should 30 feel any different than any other year? I’m certainly not upset about it, though. I may not be where I thought I would be at this point 5, 10, let alone 15 years ago, but that’s not a bad thing. I have different goals and different priorities than I did in the past, but I’m at a good point in my life in a lot of respects. I may not have the financial or career security I want, but I have an amazing husband, a supportive family, and some really cool pets. Winning the lottery would be nice, but I already have everything I need for happiness here.
I’m a big fan of just about everything on Food Network, and, when we had cable, Chopped was a regular watch for us. If you aren’t familiar with the show, chefs are given baskets with specific (often weird) ingredients that the have to combine with items from the show’s pantry to create memorable dishes 30 minutes. It’s a fun show, and the chefs end up making some very creative – and occasionally downright bizarre – dishes. So, when Blogging for Books sent me a copy of the Chopped Cookbook to review, I was super excited.
The book aims to take out the sometimes strange ingredients given to chefs on the show and replace them with “ingredients that most Americans buy every week at the supermarket.” Great! A cookbook with fun, quick recipes that uses ingredients on hand – what could be better!
When the book arrived, I was thrilled to flip through the recipes. What struck me most, though, was the question, “What does this have to do with Chopped?” Even with the premise of using ingredients most people have, most of the recipes would require a trip to the store for us. I started at the beginning and read the tips about flavor combinations and substitutions, but I didn’t find it all that informative. The best tips are peppered throughout the book, and the recipe tables for simple pan sauces and dressings were one of the highlights.
We marked a number of recipes that we wanted to try out, but we’ve only tried two of them so far. I have to say, despite their promise, both recipes were misses for us. The first we tried was Shepherd’s Stew with Dumplings. We both love shepherd’s pie, so we were looking forward to trying a different take on it. The end result was closer to beef stroganoff than shepherd’s pin in the flavor profile and used entirely too much butter. I have no problem modifying recipes to suit our tastes, but that one was just a bit too far off to bother with again as it wasn’t particularly easy or quick, and it required a number of ingredients we just don’t keep on hand like gnocchi, ground beef, fresh herbs, and chicken broth. Maybe we’re bad people for not keeping a fully stocked pantry at all times, but anything that will go bad usually isn’t in our fridge and if we buy something like gnocchi, we usually know exactly what we’re doing with it.
The second recipe we tried was Turkish Chicken Tacos. We love tacos, so we were definitely drawn to some of the taco variations in The Chopped Cookbook. We decided to use pitas instead of flour tortillas, but otherwise we followed the recipe. The recipe was seasoned ground chicken topped with a marinated onion salad and a yogurt sauce. The meat needed more seasoning, but the flavors of the meat didn’t go with the onion and parsley salad particularly well. It wasn’t a bad dish, but it was rather unmemorable. Once again, while it wasn’t a difficult dish to make, it certainly wasn’t quick or simple enough to make me want to go back and tweak the seasoning. There are just too many other recipes out there to try for me to spend time and money trying to make a mediocre recipe good.
I’m not saying that The Chopped Cookbook is a bad cookbook, but it just doesn’t do it for me. The tips and simple recipes, like frittatas and dressings, are good. However, I felt that the more complex recipes fell short, and required more time and outside ingredients than I wanted. There are certainly some other recipes in the book that we might try in the future, but I think I’ll try out a few of my Pinterest saves before I go back to it.
So, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve officially gone goat crazy. They’re so adorable and loving! John is on board with them too. He built this goat shelter for them, which is awesome!
We also went to a goat care and cheese-making workshop with these people last weekend – http://www.eightowlsfarmstead.com/. It was very informative and fun, plus we got to take home some goat cheese! Also, fresh goat’s milk is WAY better than the store-bought stuff.
I leave you with a minute and a half of our goatie girls being cute (please excuse the excessive nibbling in the middle).
For those of you who don’t know, we had something very exciting happen to us recently. We had kids! Well, we picked out two goat kids. They’re both does (girls), and we finally decided on names!
They’re Mini-Nubians, which means they’re a cross between Nubian (large dairy goats) and Nigerian Dwarf goats. Mini-Nubians usually get to be between 22 and 25 inches high at the withers (shoulders), which is about the height of your average German Shepherd. Our girls are both second generation Mini-Nubians, so they don’t have all of the desired features (their ears aren’t as droopy for one), but they’re adorable.
This is our girl, Rose, named for Rose Tyler (a companion in Doctor Who). Rose very much wants to be a lap goat and loves sitting in my lap.
Martha is less of a lap goat, though she still loves attention. She’s the more adventurous of the two and is named after another Doctor Who companion, Martha Jones. John picked Martha as one of our winners right away when we went to the dairy, because she was the first to stick her head through the fence and say hi.
The girls are both about 5 weeks old now, and still being bottle fed. It’s a lot of responsibility, but also a lot of fun! One day, we hope to milk them, but that at least a year and a half away. In the meantime, we’re enjoying our babies and looking forward to more goaty adventures.
I opened Haus of Ariella on February 29, 2012. Since then, I’ve had 941 sales and lots of fun. To celebrate my upcoming 2nd Etsy-versary, I’ve decided to have both a sale and a giveaway!
The giveaway will run from now until 2/28/2014 (yes, I opened my shop on a leap year). Enter here – http://tinyurl.com/k6ef74. You can get entries by liking my Facebook page, following me on Twitter or Pinterest, favoriting my shop, and more! The prize is a $20 gift card for my shop – good towards anything that strikes your fancy. Start entering today! Some entries can be done every day to increase your odds of winning. Good luck!
Happy New Year, everyone! I hope yours is off to a good start. I apologize for my very lengthy absence from blogging, but life keeps getting in the way.
2014 is starting out to be a year of new beginnings for us. I will be starting the new year with a new job! It’s an office job in Arden that starts on the 20th. While it’s only 29 hours a week and I’ll have to keep a few nights at the restaurant, it should make my schedule less crazy and hopefully I’ll get back into the swing of things here. I’m also hoping that I’ll have more energy to put into creating new items for my Etsy shop, Haus of Ariella.
John starts school tomorrow. He’s going to Blue Ridge to get an associate degree in auto body repair, which is right up his alley. He’s a bit nervous about starting school after not being in a classroom for so long, but I know he’s going to do amazingly. Plus, most of his classes seem to have brief classroom component followed by hands-on work in the shop, which he’ll love.
Other new endeavors include trying to be a bit healthier this year. As some of you may know, John and I tried to do that last spring. I was on Weight Watchers and John, while not on the plan, was eating the same meals I was for the most part. We lost a good bit of weight in a healthy way and were more active. Unfortunately, when I started studying for the bar, stress got the best of me and I threw WW out the window. I also stopped exercising as much. After I took the bar, I hoped to get back into a good routine, but working long hours at the restaurant threw my off and I never really got back to where I wanted to be in terms of weight or general health. I recently signed back up for Weight Watchers, and I’m trying to find a used elliptical to put downstairs (I’d just walk in our beautiful neighborhood in Pisgah Forest, but I know I won’t be able to motivate myself in this cold, cold weather). John is hoping to find time to work out between classes or after classes on his shorter days. Hopefully, with our new schedules, we’ll be able to commit to a healthier lifestyle that we can maintain.
I’m also trying to learn a bit of Spanish this year. I was hoping I’d be able to take courses somewhere, but the continuing ed courses seem a bit too slow for me and other courses won’t work with my schedule. I was thinking about getting Rosetta Stone, but it’s prohibitively expensive. Someone on my Etsy team told me about a website called Duolingo that helps you learn languages. It’s free and fun, and while it won’t get me to where I want to be, it’s a good foundation in vocabulary and basic grammar. It’s a good start, and I’d recommend it as a fun way to start on a new language or brush up on vocabulary from one you used to know.
All in all, I think we’re starting off in the right direction this year. Have you started anything new this year? Do you have any resolutions?