Monthly Archives: September 2015

“We’re Sailing On The Wide Accountancy!”

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So the new semester’s three weeks old and I’m settling into the old rhythm of being a student again.

It’s work-and-doing-the-reading-at-lunch-and-back-home-and-homework-after-dinner. It’s a Saturday where after we come home after running around with errands, I’m doing problem sets. And then on Sunday morning it’s time to submit the problem sets and listen to the lecture for the next chapter.

Taking excellent notes, of course. I’m such a swot.

Mr. Bean Counter

Mr. Bean Counter

At the risk of sounding like an middle-aged(ish) lady, the last time I did this I was hauling my ass off to a precalculus class on Saturday morning for four hours with textbook, notebook and my TI-82 calculator. This time around I’m connected with the laptop, an e-book and my TI-BA II calculator. I’m yapping with my classmates via posts on the school’s website and getting my class materials from an online platform called WileyPlus, which I’ve developed a real love/hate relationship with.

It’s all very convenient and wonderful and totally accessible, which is the whole point of taking an online class, of course. And for me, who’s up at the quarter-to-dark in the morning (and in bed at quarter-past), this is a godsend. I start turning into a pumpkin around eight o’clock. I’m not sure if this is because I’m an middle-aged(ish) lady or if it’s the hours I keep, but I don’t know how I’d do if I were still in a lecture at eight with a twenty-five minute drive home from campus.

But like most things, I’ll figure it out. One thing I do know is that I’ll have to pick up the pace a bit, or I’ll be sitting here doing problem sets when I’m in my 60s.

And that can’t happen.

But one of the casualties of going back to school is that I’ve basically given up any kind of free time I might have had before doing this. I knew that was going to happen (really) and I knew that this first accounting class was going to be content-heavy (really), but what I didn’t exactly realize was that I’d have, like, no free time at all.

So I’m thrilled that fall’s here since with the cooler weather comes that time of year when it’s finally cool enough to break out the Dutch oven and baking dishes for soups and stews and casseroles. Big, hearty dishes that you can make in advance and then just heat up throughout the week. I’m pretty sure whoever baked the first dino-noodle casserole was a busy person.

Oh, yeah.

Oh, yeah.

I found this recipe for cauliflower macaroni and cheese on the BBC’s Good Food website ages and ages ago; I’ve been making it for at least ten years. I’m only giving you the link here since you can print it out from their website (not sure if you have to register or not), but I’ll give you a couple of tips.

First off, make sure your cheese is a good, tangy, sharp one. There isn’t a lot of cheese sauce in this (if you want more, you can always double up on the sauce), so make sure you choose one that won’t get lost. I made this last night and I used a “melange” of Gruyere and mild Cheddar that I got at Trader Joe’s. Good, but an extra-sharp cheese really is the way to go. And a good, gutsy, pasta is a must, too. Think imported rigatoni or mostaccioli. I bought armoniche and it was perfect.

The recipe also calls for creme fraiche for the cheese sauce. Yes, you can buy creme fraiche at some supermarkets, but you’re better off making your own. Why? Supermarket creme fraiche is, like, $5 for a dinky little container, and you’ll need two for the recipe. That’s 10 bucks, which is ridiculous. So, here you go:

Take 1 half pint container of heavy cream. Pour it into a clean, glass jar with a lid. Add about ⅓ of a cup of buttermilk. Put the lid on and give it a good shake. Leave it on the counter, lid on, for about 24 hours to thicken up. If you’re going to double the sauce in the recipe, use 1 pint of heavy cream and 2/3 cup of buttermilk. Whichever amount you decide to make, you’ll use all of it.

Done. And you’re welcome.

Bake it at 375° in a 9” x 13” pan for about 15 minutes. And don’t forget the sliced tomatoes on top. They’re the best part.

I made Giada’s Green Beans to go with it, but I sprinkle some Parm on top of the beans instead of faffing around with the crisps, as tasty as they are. These are seriously good; I make these for holidays when we have to bring a veggie along. I cook the green beans until they’re nice and soft, though. Hard, crunchy green beans are awful. 

Enjoy!

“Fall In Philadelphia”

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I’m two weeks ahead of my accounting class syllabus.

I’d forgotten what a swotty little thing I am. And it’s a good thing, too. The Powerpoint lecture presentation for the second chapter? Fifty two slides and I took six pages of notes. The chapter is sixty-four pages in my e-textbook. Twelve pages of notes.

Will you still need me, will you still read me, when I’m 64?

Bean Counting 101

Bean Counting 101

And it’s all content-heavy stuff. Definitions and formulas and balance sheets, oh my.

I’m still finding my legs with all of the back-to-school stuff, too. It’s not as tough as I thought it would be, but it’s a new routine. An entirely new routine. I’m used to filling up my spare time with sticks and string and now it’s learning about which accounts get credited, which ones get debited and when to use solvency ratios.

It’s a four day weekend for me and I’m probably done with the numbers for now. I will play around with my sticks and pretty string and do some cooking and take a couple of naps. More likely than not I’ll do some questions and play around with creating some financial statements because I am, after all, a swotty little thing.

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Earlier this week one of my friends mentioned on Twitter that she was all comfy and ready to watch the latest episode of “The Great British Bake-Off”. I tweeted back that I was jealous since our summer’s television programming here in the States has mostly consisted of really bad sci-fi shows and “America’s Got Talent”. And that I really liked Mary Berry and Delia Smith.

I remembered a recipe of Delia’s for vegetable goulash from “Complete Cookery”  that I hadn’t made in years and decided to pull it out to make this weekend. And while I was at it, there was a recipe in “The New Vegetarian Epicure” for apple pudding that I’d always wanted to bake but, for some reason, never did.wpid-goulash.jpg

So I bought a couple of bagfuls of summer veggies and early crop Honeycrisp apples at the farmer’s market yesterday and came home and got to work.

The goulash was terrific and, most surprisingly, light. Even with the sour cream served over egg noodles, it wasn’t heavy at all. There’s not a lot of seasoning in it: sweet and hot paprika, salt and freshly ground black pepper. I think the next time I make it I might throw in some veggie broth and wine to replace the water and tomato paste called for in the original recipe. And maybe a little smoked paprika, too. I’ll let you know how that works or if you decide to play around with it, be sure to tell me.

Mmmm...breakfast?

Mmmm…breakfast?

The apple pudding is definitely going into the rotation for the fall and winter months. I used some leftover challah I had in the freezer for the bread cubes, but I’m going to try a whole grain bread the next time because I think this would be dynamite for breakfast and because I love whole grains. Instead of raisins, maybe diced apricots or dates. There’s a lot of room to play with here.

Vegetable Goulash

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 scant Tbsp. unbleached white flour
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. sweet paprika
  • a couple pinches of hot paprika (if you don’t have it, use cayenne or hot red pepper flakes)
  • 14 oz. can Italian tomatoes
  • 10 fl. oz. hot water, mixed with 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 8 oz. cauliflower flowerets
  • 8 oz. carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 8 oz. zucchini, cut into chunks
  • 8 oz. new potatoes, cut into chunks or halved if they’re really small
  • 1 small green pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • About ½ cup of sour cream
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
  2. Start by heating the oil in a flameproof casserole (I used my LeCrueset French oven for this). Add the onions and fry until they’re softened.
  3. Add the flour and paprika and give it a good stir. Cook for about a minute or so.
  4. Now add the tomatoes and the tomato water. Bring it up to a boil (keep stirring) and then add all the veggies.
  5. Add some salt, some freshly ground pepper and give it a good stir. Put the lid on and put it in the oven. Let it bake for about 30 minutes.
  6. After 30 minutes, take it out of the oven and carefully take the lid off (seriously…steam burns are no fun) and check to see if the veggies are done. If they are, dinner’s ready. If not, put the lid back on and give it another 5 or 10 minutes. You don’t want the veggies to turn into mush.
  7. When the veggies are done, stir in the sour cream and add more salt and pepper if you’d like.
  8. Enjoy!

Apple Pudding

As written, the original recipe feeds 10-15 people. Which would be great for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but not so much for two people on Labor Day weekend. I’ve halved it here.

  • 2 lbs. cooking apples (I used Honeycrisp, but please use whatever’s in season and local to your area)
  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • ¼ – ⅓ cup of sugar, depending on how sweet your apples are
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • ¼ lb. cubed bread (I used challah, but croissants or French bread would be fine)
  • 3 Tbsp. melted unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup of raisins (or any dried fruit of your choice)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla
  • ⅓ cup of chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  1. Peel and core the apples, quarter them and cut the quarters crosswise into thick slices.
  2. In a heavy pot, combine the apples, water, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Give everything a good stir and bring it up to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and let it simmer away, stirring often, until the liquid mostly cooks away. Some of the apples will turn into a thick sauce. This is good.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the bread cubes in a large bowl and pour the melted butter over the cubes. Toss them around with your hands to coat the cubes and spread them out on a baking sheet. Toast them for about 10 minutes or until they’re golden brown. Keep an eye on these beauties since they’ll go from golden brown to burnt in a blink of an eye.
  4. Lower the oven to 350°. Return the bread cubes to the bowl. Add the cooked apples and the raisins and give it a good stir.
  5. Mix together the eggs, milk and vanilla. Add the custard to the apple/bread mix and give it a good stir. Spoon it into a buttered 9-inch baking dish (I used my faithful glass Pyrex one) and sprinkle the nuts and brown sugar on top.
  6. Bake for about 40 minutes. I promise you, this bread pudding lovely and moist.
  7. Enjoy!