Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Potpourri: "Fourth in July" Craft and Cooking Wrap-Up

All in all, we had a great "Fourth in July" weekend.  (That's how we refer to the holiday at our house, on account of how a young Connor was convinced that it was "IN" and not "OF.")  On Saturday, we had my family over for dinner.  (That's "over for dinner."  We did not have them for dinner.  On account of how we are not cannibals.)  Beforehand, Parker and I made the wooden dowel-and-snipped vellum fireworks centerpiece from Martha Stewart's blog, along with her napkins stamped with painted firework bursts (using a kitchen dish scrubber for the stamp).  We stamped some cardstock placemats while we were at it.  Because we were working around my aqua blue dishes and various serving pieces, we went a little rogue on the color scheme. 

Coral, white and teal is the new red, white and blue.  You will just have to trust me on this.

In retrospect, (1) I did not photograph the most photogenic of the napkins and (2) I probably should have snapped the centerpieces with the napkins for full effect.  But, here's the thing about paper firework bursts taped to wooden dowels inserted in mason jars filled with sand:  cats love them.  Particularly our Max.  He's a big fan of pompom-like things on sticks, and when you add in the thrill of a receptacle that could potentially be knocked off a table and shattered into pieces while simultaneously scattering sand EVERYWHERE - well, you can see the appeal.  No, nothing was shattered, or scattered.  (Shattering happened on Monday, when Parker launched a dog toy across the house and knocked a superhero drinking glass off of the counter with laserlike precision.  It was the Superman glass, not the Batman glass, so no one complained all that much.)

The reason nothing was shattered, or scattered, was that I ended up moving the centerpieces off of the table and onto the sideboard.  Which is also the reason why the napkins and the centerpieces don't show up in the same photo.

Really, why do I bother?  Oh, that's right - to give Max something to do.

We had beef tenderloins topped with basil butter, roasted cherry tomatoes, Parmesan-rosemary potato wedges and corn on the cob.  The recipe called for cooking the tenderloins, with the tomatoes, in the oven in an iron skillet.  I followed the recipe.  Following the recipe was a colossally bad idea, for two reasons:

(1)  There is a reason why people in Texas tend to grill meats in the summer.  That reason is:  THE GRILL IS OUTDOORS.  WHERE THE HEAT ALREADY IS.  So you are adding heat to heat, and, really, once the ambient temperature passes 100 degrees, a little extra heat just sort of blends in.  Whereas, when you use your oven in the summertime, the heat tends to hang out in your kitchen.  So, yeah - colossally bad idea.

(2)  I reminded myself approximately six thousand times NOT TO TOUCH THE HANDLE OF THE IRON SKILLET.  At least one of these reminders made it through the thick, heat-generated fog in my brain, because I managed to not touch the handle of the iron skillet.  However, in the process of not touching the handle of the iron skillet, I managed to put my hand DIRECTLY ON THE OVEN RACK.  Twice.  For some reason, neither burn hurt all that much.  Theory A:  I seared the flesh to such an extent that it self-corrected.  Sort of like when you sear a chicken breast on the stove to the point that it pulls away from and stops sticking to the pan.  Actually, I think it might have been exactly like that.  Theory B:  Because I stupidly had the oven on (at a high temp) in freakin' July, the surface temperature of the burns was identical to the ambient temperature in the house, which confused the burned area into thinking that it wasn't burned at all.

But the food was good.  And so was the company.  Moving on to Sunday.

Sunday I made peach enchiladas (which were only a little bit soggy) to take to Friend Melissa's Third of July party. (Wait, that should read "Third IN July.") I also made a seven-layer dip (which, I just realized, actually had seven layers, notwithstanding the fact that I winged the recipe - taco meat, onions, beans, salsa, guac, sour cream, and toppings - yup, seven, NAILED IT!) which I decorated to look like an American flag:

Cute, huh?  Red stripes are diced tomatoes and red peppers, and black olives substitute for the blue part of the flag.  It also turned out pretty delicious - so much so that some people chose to eat it with a fork like it was a main dish.  Which was fortunate for me, since I managed to leave the house without the two bags of chips that I purchased to go along with.

Monday the 4th found us at the Ridglea pool, where the kids enjoyed the photo props that I forgot to use at Friend Melissa's:

Connor liked his mustache so much that he wore it during the "biggest splash" competition. (He told the deejay that his name was Groucho Marx.)

After a day in and around the pool, we headed home and got ready to watch fireworks, and Parker treated some of his little buddies to mini ice cream sandwich pops:

I forgot how much I loved ice cream sandwiches.  Note to file (and waistline):  avoid purchasing ice cream sandwiches in the future.  I don't even want to know how many I ate.  (But did I mention that they were minis?)

Like I said, a pretty good three-day weekend, and one that allowed me to satisfy some pent-up Martha Stewart wannabe urges.  I think I'm good until mid August, at least.

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