Shots from the "Christmas No" File

November 30, 2014

From the "Christmas No" file
In our family, I take our holiday photos using a timer and a tripod.  We all get a big laugh as I count backwards from ten while running to make it into the shot in time.  But getting the perfect shot is a lot harder than just making it in the photo.  In fact, it can be really, really hard to get all six of us in the shot, and looking forward.  To get all six of us to smile and not blink is nothing short of a miracle.  And if someone happens to have an aversion to Santa hats, it makes my job that much harder.   As I went through the photographic gold at the end of the day today,  I made two files.  One for "keepers" and one called the "Christmas No" file.  These are some of my favorites from this year.

From the "Christmas No" file
Sometimes I ask the kids to do something dangerous to get the perfect shot.  As you can see from my youngest Amanda on the right side of the photo, she thinks she might be 50 feet up in the air.  This could be incredibly dangerous, and I'm glad to see her using extreme caution at these heights.

From the "Christmas No" files
However, I encourage fellow photographers not to point out to their subject that they have not climbed as high as they think they have.  Doing so may result in their subject's total withdrawal from the photo shoot.

From the "Christmas No" files
After a change in scenery, I'm happy to see that all four of my children are completely focused and ready to go.

From the "Christmas No" files
Tall Amanda is goofing off here, and I'm pretty sure that Tiny Amanda is telling me to get that camera out of her face.

From the "Christmas No" files
I've read that in rare cases, having the sun shine into your eyes causes your tongue to stick out instead of making your eyes squint.

Christmas 2014
But in the end, it's all worth it when you get that one shot.  The shot that can not only go on the Christmas Card, but also on the wall.  And even better than getting the shot is getting the memories that go along with it.  I am so incredibly thankful that I get to spend my life with these people.

How to Store Fresh Herbs: Transform Mason - Wide Mouth Frog Lid Inserts

November 28, 2014

Transform Mason - Wide Mouth Frog Lid Inserts
I love the taste of fresh herbs, and use them in just about every meal I make.  Thankfully, most of my herb garden hasn't perished with the frost, and I'm still able to enjoy them.  During the Autumn, when I'm not quite sure how much longer my herb garden will last, I like to cut big bunches, and store them inside until I'm ready to use them.  I have found one of the best ways to keep them fresh is by using the Mason Jar inserts by Transform Mason.  Click below to read more.

French Onion Soup

November 25, 2014

French Onion Soup

Caramelized onions have got to be one of the greatest inventions on Earth.  Seriously, I wonder what culinary disaster must have been happening at the exact moment when it was discovered that these slow cooked onions were, in fact, not burnt but had transcended their typical mundane existence and achieved greatness previously unknown.  Click below to read more.

Getting Ready For Thanksgiving with Raspberry Cranberry Sauce

November 24, 2014

Raspberry-Cranberry Sauce
It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without the cranberry sauce, right?  My mother made cranberry sauce every year for as long as I can remember.  I always loved the color, but didn't care for the taste. It made no sense because I really wanted to like it, ya know?  But no dice.  Still, I tried just a little taste of it every single year of my life.  And guess what?  About 5 years ago, it occurred to me that this stuff was actually really good!  In fact, it's fantastic and now I can't live without it!  It only took a few decades, but it finally happened.  I became a cranberry fan girl.  Click below to read more.

Delaware Chicken and Slippery Dumplings

November 23, 2014

Chicken and Slippery Dumplings

Dumplings.  The word can be traced back to the 1600's in print, but was surely around long before that!  While there are many different techniques for making dumplings, their purpose was obvious.   They were invented solely to fill hungry bellies cheaply.   

The fact that they're still around is just a testimony to how tasty they are.  In fact, every country in the world has some kind of dumpling as part of it's cuisine.  From Afrikan Fufu to Scandinavian Klubb, these meals all consist of rolling or dropping some type of starchy dough into some boiling liquid.  Click below to read more.

Kitchen Aid Customer Service

November 20, 2014

Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

A few weeks ago, my wonderful husband bought me the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer of my dreams, and it isn't even my birthday!  For years, I have longed for this mixer.  With a bowl capacity of 6 quarts, it's can hold up to 14 cups of flour and can hold batter for up to 13 dozen cookies.

Truth be told, I have owned a "Heavy Duty" Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer for well over 10 years.  I have made hundreds of dozens of cookies, cakes, and breads in it over the years, and it has never let me down.  The only "problem" I have with it is that it has a capacity of 4 1/2 quarts.  With the amount of cooking I do and the size of my family I just wanted something bigger in terms of both power and capacity.

He bought at Costco and I couldn't wait to get it home and open it!  However,  there was a problem.  The bowl has tabs that fit onto pegs to facilitate the bowl-lift.  The tabs were about 3/4" off, and wouldn't line up with the pegs on the mixer without extreme force.  So the next day, we went back to Costco and exchanged it another one.

Once again, I was excited to get home with my new mixer.  When I opened this box, there was yet another problem.  I wanted the color, Liquid Graphite.  The picture on the box showed the right color, as did the label.  But the mixer in the box was white.  I could have cried!   So the next day, we went back to Costco and exchanged it another one.

The third visit to Costco was a little scary because we couldn't find the right color box for a few minutes.  Before we left the building, we checked to be sure that the contents of the box matched the color advertised on the outside.  Thankfully, it did.  When we got home and took it out of the box, it was clear that while the pegs on the bowl lined up a lot better than the first one, it was still just a little off, as can be seen in the picture.

I don't like to force the bowl on the mixer, and after the ordeal we went through to find the right one, I felt compelled to call Kitchen Aid to share my experience.  I called the 800-number and reached a customer service representative here in the US.  Within five minutes, she registered my complaint and had made arrangements to have a new bowl (retail value of $59.99) shipped directly to our home within the next 5 business days.  Kitchen Aid is not charging me for shipping and is not making me jump through any hoops either.  They are simply rectifying the problem - no questions asked.

Customer Service is so important to businesses, and it seems like more and more of them are contracting that portion of the business out to companies overseas.  The result is that the consumer has a much more difficult time getting resolution for whatever problem they may have.  I wish more companies adopted (or went back to) Kitchen Aid's business model for customer service.  It's just the way things should be.

UPDATE December 12, 2014
The replacement bowl was delivered today.  It was well packaged and arrived in perfect condition.  It fits right on the pegs the way it's supposed to.   Great job, Kitchen Aid!

Homestyle Beef Stew

November 9, 2014

Homestyle Beef Stew
Beef stew is one of my favorite cold-weather dishes.  In addition to rich beef stock, fresh herbs and a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon make this dish even better than the beef stew you remember from childhood.  It's sophisticated - but not so much so that the kids won't eat it.  In fact, my kids race one another to be "first in line" to fill their bowls.  Paired with some rustic bread or biscuits, and you have a hearty meal that warms you up from the inside.  Click below to read more.

What's for dinner? Why not try a Mac & Cheese Bar?

November 6, 2014

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Let's face it, while most people love creamy homemade macaroni and cheese, not everyone wants tomatoes in theirs.  Some people prefer ham.  Others, bacon.  The point is, the possibilities are endless!  Knowing this, and the fact that kids love any kind of "build your own" bar,  I've been known to make a macaroni and cheese bar for dinner from time to time.  To read more, click below.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

November 4, 2014

Pumpkin, pumpkin bundt cake, autumn desserts
Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting
Autumn is my favorite time of year, and nothing helps usher it in better than pumpkin desserts.  Of course, the most famous pumpkin dessert is pumpkin pie.  While I am a big fan of it myself, nothing beats this simple bundt cake that boasts an entire can pumpkin puree.  It's simply amazing.  The cream cheese icing with flecks of real vanilla bean adds the perfect amount of sweetness to this moist, delicious cake.  To get the recipe, click below.
Made With Love By The Dutch Lady Designs