Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One of My Favorite Things — Everyday Minerals

I love getting packages. Most of the time, they're found on the porch, in the unmistakable smiley arrow box (Amazon Prime is both a blessing and a curse). But sometimes, something special arrives the old fashioned way — via the US Postal Service.

I opened the mailbox tonight to find an eagerly anticipated package containing a little something for me, and a little something for my niece.

My sister told me about Everyday Minerals a few years ago and I've been hooked on them every since. They have an incredible selection of mineral makeup, amazing prices and excellent customer service. Plus their application brushes are by far the best I've found for mineral makeup. I started out with Bare Minerals and still use some of their product, mostly because it lasts so long, but I've transitioned over to Everyday Minerals for any new purchases and have been nothing but pleased.

My oldest niece turned 13 December 1st (yeah, I'm way behind), and to celebrate this milestone, I asked her mom if it would be OK to get her some makeup. She was fine with it, especially since she knew I'd be getting Everyday Minerals. So last week, I placed my order and found the delightful package in the mail today.

I love how Everyday Minerals packages their products. No wasted space, generally speaking, and everything fits perfectly in the smallest package necessary. Stacked, rolled and nestled together Tetris-style, the adorable vials of loveliness are always fun to unwrap.

EM pkg

Most of what you see is for my niece (I'm *dying* to see what the eye palette looks like, but it's got a plastic outer seal-darn) but a few of those are for me. Hooray!

If you love mineral makeup or have been anxious to give it a try, I highly recommend Everyday Minerals. They have sample sizes of almost all of their products and your first trial is free. You can't beat that. And as it says on the packaging sticker, their products are organic, all-natural, vegan and cruelty free. There's a lot to like about that.

p.s. This is not a paid endorsement. I just love their product and can't help but take pics of their packaging. I have other images from a previous order somewhere...)

p.p.s. I took all of these photos after the sun set. Thanks to my tripod, an 18 second exposure (really!) and Adobe Raw, I was able to use the tiny bit of available light and avoid turning on the overhead light. This is what it looked like outside!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Easy Weeknight Dinner — Smoked Sausage & Cabbage


It's not glamorous and certainly isn't photogenic, but this one-pot meal is easy, delicious and (mostly) nutritious. I like to put a tiny spin on the traditional boiled cabbage and sausage and saute it instead. You'll need a head of green cabbage, a package of smoked sausage (I like to get the turkey kind to cut back on fat), some salt, pepper and a little oil and butter.

In case you're wondering, I use a cheese shaker as a salt shaker since 
I use kosher salt for just about everything, including at the table.

Remove the outermost leaves then chop the cabbage, using a big honkin' knife! (Well, that's what I like to do. I *heart* my santoku knife.) Keep the pieces about the same size to help it cook evenly. How I chopped it is probably not ideal, but it worked.

Drizzle some olive oil in a large pan and add about 2 tablespoons of butter - salted or unsalted, doesn't matter. Put over medium-high heat until butter is melted and slightly bubbly.


Add cabbage and turn down to medium heat.

Toss the cabbage to coat evenly, add a bit of salt and pepper,  then let it cook about 15 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.

The cabbage will wilt and start to get a little brown and caramelized.

Now add the sausage...

and some water to deglaze the pan.

Cover and turn heat to low, cooking 5 to 10 minutes depending on how you prefer your cabbage. I like mine well done, so I let it go closer to 10 minutes.


Serve immediately. This also makes great leftovers. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

BBA Challenge Bread #39—Vienna Bread


BBA Bread #39—Vienna Bread, another rustic bread similar to French or Italian, but with some enrichments.

I'm ONLY THREE BREADS AWAY from baking my way through Peter Reinhart's award winning book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, along with a number of other amateur bakers (I'm not sure how many are still with us, and a number of us have finished). Want to learn more about it? Check out the following links:
So the only thing I remember about this bread is that it gets the "Dutch crunch" topping. That's probably a bad sign, don't you think? I don't recall NOT liking it (how's that for a double negative) but it must have been pretty non-descript for me to remember almost nothing about it. 

It's an old-fashioned rustic bread, like some others we've done, but this is enriched with an egg, a tiny bit of sugar and butter and a bit of diastatic malt powder to help with color. Italian bread was the other rustic bread to use malt powder.


The Vienna bread also introduces a new technique for bread topping called "Dutch crunch" which involves rice flour, regular flour, yeast, sugar, salt, oil and water. You make a paste then spread it on top of the shaped bread before proofing. It was an interesting procedure and technique, but a bit anti climatic for me. 

The verdict: A good if forgettable loaf. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I thought I'd share with you my favorite quote of the season. It comes from my youngest niece.

C last Christmas

C just turned nine on November 30 and she still believes in Santa, which I think is awesome. The longer kids hold on to that kind of optimism, the better I feel about the state of the world. So a few weeks ago, she came home and was talking to her mom about what the kids were saying at school about Santa.

"Some kids are saying that Santa is just parents, but I don't think so. I mean, there is NO WAY parents could afford to buy all those presents!"

Love it, for a couple of reasons. First, that she just dismissed the rumors and stuck to her guns. And the other, that she realizes what a big deal all of those presents are. Pretty cool, eh?

This is most likely the last Christmas my sister will have a Santa believer in the house, so she's holding on to it, begging the other two girls to play along and let C have this last one.

If you'd like to experience the optimism a nine year old has, head over to this post on The Bloggess. It just might restore your belief in Santa – or at least the goodness of people. It's easy to see, hear and read about all of the bad things going on, so it's nice to see the other side, too. Regular people helping other regular people, strangers helping strangers through this crazy little thing we like to call The Internets.

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you are happy, healthy and with the people you love and who love you.

Christmas 2009

Sunday, December 12, 2010

BBA Challenge Bread #38—Tuscan Bread


BBA Bread #38—Tuscan Bread. It's claim to fame? It's salt free. Does that equal "taste-free"? Let's find out...

I'm "oh-my-gosh-so-close-yet-so-far" baking my way through Peter Reinhart's award winning book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, along with a number of other amateur bakers (I'm not sure how many are still with us, and a number of us have finished). Want to learn more about it? Check out the following links:
I know, I know. I'm dragging my heels with this challenge, no question. Blogging about hasn't exactly been stellar, either. I made those lovely loaves you see up there nearly three months ago. 

As I mentioned in the intro, this bread is salt-free, an anomaly in the bread world as salt adds considerable flavor to bread. But Tuscan bread ekes out flavor in another way – by using a flour and water paste prepared the day before final mixing and baking. Boiling hot water gelatinizes the starches in the flour, "releas(ing) flavors that give(s) this bread a distinct quality, quite unlike any other bread." 


To the paste is added the usual suspects: bread flour, yeast, water and in this case, olive oil. Mix, knead, proof, shape, rise... and bake.


They certainly look lovely, but how do they taste? I thought they tasted darn good. Sure, a bit bland on its own, but I really liked it warm, dipped in olive oil and spices as shown in the first photo, and lightly toasted with a bit of butter.  I'm not sure I'd make it again given the other outstanding alternatives in this book, but it was certainly worth trying.

See what other BBA bakers had to say:

Janice at Round the Table
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