Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Don't Call Me Old!

I had gone to the grocery store to deposit a check. As I rounded the corner there sitting in the place of the original ATM was this newfangled machine! I smacked my forehead and said, "I'm too old to learn a new machine!" Then I covered my mouth in disbelief that I just said that. How many times had I heard that phrase uttered by grandmas, grandpas, great aunts, great uncles, the 95 year old neighbor across the street and now even my mom and dad. I've always thought what is the matter with them it's not that hard to learn how to use an answering machine, a VCR, a computer, a DVD player, a cell phone, or an mp3 player. Well, I was in my 20's and 30's when I thought that. Now I'm pushing on 50 really hard and when I saw the ATM I truly thought I was too old. I could also understand the reason why they said it. I felt like my brain was too full. I couldn't learn another blasted thing.

I mean what was wrong with the old ATM it worked fine? In the 80's I was the first person in my group of friends and relatives to jump on the ATM band wagon. I loved it and encouraged everyone to get an ATM card. Now we're in a new millennium and the bank feels the need to change the ATM? It seems unneeded like the remake of "Footloose". Why do people feel the need to change a good thing?

I had this whole conversation in probably 2 seconds in my head while standing and staring at the machine. The only thing that jolted me from my shock was another potential ATM user getting ready to walk past me and take MY turn. I put my feet back into gear and approached the ATM. I vowed that I would never be too old to learn something new ever again. I'm going to master this puppy.

As I looked at the ATM it really hadn't changed much at all. It had gotten a face lift, because I think the original ATM was from the 80's. I then noticed that depositing a check was slightly different. Instead of typing the amount of the check and then putting it into an envelope one just inserts the check. It says that it will scan your check and read the amount and show you a picture of your check. My check was for $78. A picture of my check appeared on the screen and I have to admit that was pretty cool. Then it asked me a question "Deposit amount $10?" I had to laugh as that new machine wasn't quite as high tech as it wanted to be. It gave me an option to input the correct amount and then my deposit was done. It asked, "Do you want a printed picture of your check?" I didn't really need one, but said yes just for giggles. Proof I had conquered the old age monster.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Leftover Cheesecake....oh bummer

There is an ice cream parlor in Sacramento that sells frozen chocolate dipped cheesecake on a stick. It is so good that while you're eating it a wall comes up and blocks out all the troubles of the world. So, eat it slowly.

The ice cream parlor is not close to us, so a few years ago I thought I'd try making my own with "leftover cheesecake." Is that an oxymoron? I only say that, because we don't normally have leftover cheesecake. It is VERY difficult to hide a few pieces to dip in chocolate.

With some "leftover cheesecake" my first experiment was with straight melted semi sweet chocolate chips. Don't get me wrong it was good... VERY GOOD... but one did feel like they were going to go into a diabetic coma while eating it. Like a moth to a flame we couldn't stop eating it. A wall comes up and also blocks out all your common sense to protect yourself from a stomachache.

When my brain turned back on my first thought was the cheesecake slice was too big and the chocolate too thick. So, second try my son cut the slices thinner and applied the melted chocolate chips trying to scrap some of the chocolate off. Again good... VERY GOOD, but still was a bit overwhelming, but one couldn't stop eating it.

This time I decided to try a Magic Shell recipe we use for ice cream. We started making our own Magic Shell, because it's expensive and you don't get very much in a bottle. Who wants a Magic Drizzle... we want a SHELL. Since I get chocolate chips at Costco I found a recipe that is easy to make and much more in one's budget.

Homemade Magic Shell
8 servings
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup corn oil

2 servings
1 1/2 ounce semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon corn oil

Microwave until all is melted. Stir together and pour over ice cream.

Here are all the homemade magic shell ingredients in a double boiler. I use canola oil as I never have corn oil around. I'm also using a double boiler rather than the microwave as I wanted the chocolate to stay liquid as I coated each cheesecake slice.
Long before I start the chocolate process I should point out that I put a stick in each slice and put them in the freezer overnight. When frozen they don't fall a part or fall off the stick as you coat them in chocolate. I happen to have these 8" Wilton cookie treat sticks on hand. Wooden sticks would probably be cheaper and would work equally well if you have them on hand.

Using a double boiler you want water in the lower pan to simmer slightly and not touch the bottom of double boiler. If you don't have Pampered Chef's fancy dancy double boiler one could use a heat resistant bowl that sits on top of a pan. I did that for many years.

Stir until everything is melted and has a creamy consistency.

I began spooning the chocolate over the frozen cheesecake. If you dip it won't fit all the way in and the chocolate will start melting the cheesecake and it starts to fall a part. Spooning went quickly.

Once coated I found that I needed to do a minor tap on the side of the double boiler to get some extra dips off. Also lightly scrap the bottom of the cheesecake on the edge of the double boiler; otherwise, a large pool of unattractive chocolate will form on bottom. Is that another oxymoron "unattractive chocolate?"

I set each chocolate coated cheesecake on a wax paper covered cookie sheet.

See no pool of "unattractive chocolate" at bottom of dipped piece.

Into the freezer they go. I do this in a 2 day process *looking over both shoulders* just so there are a few days of NOT eating cheesecake in this house. I try and get more fruits and vegetables into the family before next cheesecake frenzy. This could easily be done in a day. Freeze in morning, dip in afternoon, eat at night.

Erik taste testing new coating... he did pick the first one with the big pool of "unattractive chocolate." Don't have to worry about those pieces going to waste with chocolate lovers around.

"Erik is it too thin?"

"No mom it's good." Later he did say it could be a bit more chocolaty. We'll try using half the butter and oil when we continue our experiment in making the world a better place with homemade chocolate covered frozen cheesecake.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My baby has graduated!

video
I just love my Canon Powershot. I'm always amazed by the photos and movies. I was pretty far away from the graduation ceremony and no way to get any closer for a decent still shot. So, thought I'd give the movie feature a try. I was able to catch this precious moment. I'm very pleased with the results. I just missed getting Erik's friend's name on video, but I got his gal friend in front of him. Of course I got my son and followed him almost back to his seat.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

May's Christmas Card Challenge Completed

I now have 25 of my 50 card goal done. It's usually December 15th by the time I hit this mark. That's when I start deciding who gets a store bought card and who gets a handmade card. By then I know I'll never get 50 done and I'm tired of trying. This new plan of making 5 cards each month until November worked out so well last year I decided to do it again this year.
This month I used a ghosting technique I learned about 5 years ago. I couldn't quite remember how I did it. With some experimentation while I listened to the short story "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (free on www.librivox.com by the way) on my iPod I figured out how to do it.
Later I found a tutorial for this technique on Split Coast Stampers. The technique is called Ghosting. As the tutorial said, "It's not scary at all." It was very easy. I had all the materials and tools and was able to crank out 5 cards easily in an hour. The length of F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" by the way. Did I enjoy the story... that's another post. I very much enjoy making my cards with the Ghosting technique.