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Wazoo Junction

So . . . can we count today as day seven and day eight of the 12 Days of Oscar?  For the first time in 12 Days of Oscar history, I skipped a day.  I swear I had my assignment done, but a few reeeeeaaaaaalllly long work days got the better of me and I needed a night off.  To get back on track, today we have the last of Oscar winners past and then we’ll discuss this year’s Oscar nominees.

The final previous Oscar winner in this year’s series is the 1992 movie My Cousin Vinny.  Marisa Tomei won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role as Mona Lisa Vito, the girlfriend of loudmouth New York lawyer Vinny Gambini (Joe Pesci).  The pair find themselves in rural Alabama when Vinny’s cousin is put on trial for murder on his way back to college.  This is a classic fish-out-of-water story with some of my all-time favorite one-liners.

There are few lines as good as the ones Gambino delivers when he is served grits for the first time in a diner.  That is, unless you count his dialogue about grits while he’s in court.  Grits actually factor into this movie more than you think grits could ever factor into anything.  I didn’t eat grits until I was thirty, true story.  Grits aren’t something that you encounter very often as a lifelong New Englander.  Then, like a lot of things, I learned to make grits well and the rest is history.  My favorite method is this one, which results in creamy, cheesy, delicious grits.  Oh, and grits are totally not just a breakfast thing.  Cheese grits with shrimp is an amazing dinner.

cheese grits

Cheese Grits


  • 4 C. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 C. old-fashioned grits
  • 4 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • salt and pepper


Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan.

Add the garlic and slowly stir the grits.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, for 20 minutes, until the grits are tender.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the cheese, butter, and cream.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Source:  Food and Wine

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Our Position

Moving along in our 12 Days of Oscar feature, we have the last of the films in this series that were nominated for but did not win an Oscar.  The 1998 film Primary Colors was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Kathy Bates was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.  Primary Colors is a barely fictional account of Southern Governor Stanton’s (John Travolta) run for the U.S. Presidency.

In one scene, Jack Stanton is scene chatting with a clerk at a Krispy Kreme shop in Manchester, New Hampshire.  In real life, Manchester, New Hampshire does not have a Krispy Kreme.  In real life for me the closest Krispy Kreme is an hour away and inside a casino.  This is great news for my waistline, but not so great news when a craving hits.  Luckily I don’t crave them often because this recipe is as close a replica as I could ever make at home.

krispy kreme

Krispy Kreme Glazed Doughnuts


for the doughnuts:

  • 4 1/2 tsp. yeast
  • 1/3 C. warm water (105-115 degrees)
  • 1 1/2 C. milk
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 C. butter or shortening
  • 5 C. all-purpose flour
  • canola oil for frying

for the glaze:

  • 1/2 C. butter, melted
  • 2 C. powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 5-7 Tbsp. evaporated milk


Combine the water and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Let it sit for 5 minutes, until yeast dissolves.

In a medium-sized microwave safe bowl, heat the milk for 2 minutes, then remove and set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Add the milk, sugar, salt, eggs, shortening or butter, and 2 C. of the flour to the yeast mixture.

Mix for 2 minutes at medium speed.

Add the remaining 3 C. of flour and continue to mix, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until a sticky dough forms.

Place the dough into a large greased bowl, cover loosely with a clean dish towel, and let rise for 1-2 hours until doubled.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness.

Cut into doughnuts either using a doughnut cutter or a round cookie cutter (3-4″ in diameter) and a smaller round cookie cutter (about 1″ in diameter) for the center.

Let rest for 10 minutes.

Pour oil into a large deep skillet until it is about 3 inches high and heat over medium heat until the oil is 375 degrees.

Carefully drop the doughnuts, 3-4 at a time depending on the size of your skillet, into the oil.

Fry for 3 minutes, flipping once, until golden brown.

Remove to drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Repeat the process of rolling out the dough, cutting out the doughnuts, and frying and draining them until all dough has been used.

To prepare the glaze, melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl.

Stir in the powdered sugar and vanilla until combined.

Add evaporated milk until you have reached the desired consistency.

Drop the doughnuts one at at time into the glaze, flip, and place on a wire rack (put waxed paper underneath for easier cleanup as the glaze will drip).

Source: adapted from Instructables

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Fire in Your Heart

In Olympics news yesterday, Steven Holcomb and Steven Langston won the U.S. its first two-man bobsleigh medal since 1952, a bronze.  Figure skaters Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the first-ever U.S. gold medal in Olympic ice dancing.  The U.S. women’s ice hockey team beat Sweden 6-1 and will face Canada for the gold medal.

Day twelve of the Sochi Olympics brings us to the thirteenth installment of our Winter Olympics feature.  Today we look at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.  These Winter Games were the first to not be held in the same year as the Summer Olympics, and the first to be held just two years after the previous Winter Olympics.  U.S. figure skater Nancy Kerrigan won a silver medal in the ladies single skate, just seven weeks after an incident in which she was clubbed in the knee by an associate of her rival Tonya Harding (who finished eighth in the event).

Today, to celebrate Norway, we have skoleboller.  Skoleboller are a bun, filled with vanilla custard, then frosted and sprinkled with coconut.  Apparently, you can find skoleboller (or “school buns”) at school cafeterias, coffee hours, grocery stores, and birthday parties all over Norway.  After making them, it’s not hard to see why.  These are as fun to eat as it is to say “school-ah-bowl-air.”




for the buns:

  • 2 C. milk (preferably whole), lukewarm
  • 2 Tbsp. active dry yeast.
  • 1/2 C. butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 6-7 C. all-purpose flour

for the custard:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 C. sugar
  • 1 3/4 C. whole milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch

to finish:

  • 1 C. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. water
  • 1 C. shredded coconut for topping


In a large bowl, or the bowl of  a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm milk.

Add the melted cooled butter, sugar, cardamom, and 5 C. of the flour to the milk and mix well.

Slowly add more of the flour until a smooth, slightly sticky dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 1-2 minutes until a smooth soft dough is formed.

Place the dough into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 1 hour until doubled in size.

While you’re waiting for the dough to rise, make the custard.

To make the custard, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a small bowl.

Bring the milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan.

Slowly pour the egg mixture into the milk, whisking constantly.

Whisk in the vanilla.

While the custard mixture is at a simmer, add the cornstarch a little at a time, whisking briskly as you add it.

Allow the cornstarch to dissolve and for the custard to thicken, stirring constantly.

Let the mixture simmer and thicken for 3-5 minutes.

Pour the custard mixture into a bowl, then place the bowl in an ice water bath to cool completely.

Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide into 12-14 evenly sized balls of dough.

Form each dough ball into an evenly round and flat bun.

Place the buns on a parchment-lined baking sheet with at least 1 inch of space between them.

Cover the buns with a clean dish towel and allow them to rise again for 20 minutes.

While the buns are rising, heat the oven to 400 degrees.

After the final rise, use the back of a spoon to make an indentation in the center of each bun.  A soup spoon is a good size, and press down almost all the way to the bottom of the bun but do not press all the way through.

Place a generous spoonful of the custard into the center of each indentation.

Bake the buns for 10-12 minutes until they are slightly brown on the top and the egg custard is just starting to set.

Allow the buns to cool on a wire rack.  The custard will set as the buns cool.

Once the buns are cool, prepare the glaze by whisking the powdered sugar and water together.  The glaze should be white and should drizzle on but not be runny.  Add more sugar or water as needed to reach the correct consistency.

Spoon glaze around the bun, avoiding the custard center.

Sprinkle on or dip the bun into the coconut, being careful not to ruin the custard center.

Source:  The Transplanted Baker

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Dancing on Snowflakes

At the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics yesterday, the U.S. gained a third gold medal for snowboarding when Kaitlin Farrington won the women’s halfpipe competition.  She beat Australia’s Torah Bright who took home silver this year, and U.S. teammate Kelly Clark who won bronze in the event.  In pairs figure skating, Russian pair Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov finished the short program on Tuesday night by setting a new world scoring record.  On Wednesday, they remained in first place and brought the pairs figure skating gold medal back to Russia.

Today in the Winter Olympics feature, we’re going back to Innsbruck, Austria.  As I mentioned before, Innsbruck hosted the Winter Games in 1964.  Twelve years later, the Winter Olympics were held in Innsbruck again.  For the first time, ice dancing was an Olympic competition.  This was also the first Olympics where a figure skater performed a back flip as part of his routine.

If we didn’t already know it from the Sachertorte, grostl proves that Austria has some outstanding cuisine to accompany its Olympic history.  Grostl is a favorite in the Tyrol area and it’s easy to see why.  This simple combination of bacon, onion, and potato is possibly my new favorite breakfast food.  Grostl does require potatoes that are cooked in advance and cooled.  To make this without prepping ahead of time, I recommend steaming the potatoes for 20 minutes, then putting them into the refrigerator while you cook the bacon.  My potatoes were a little colder than room temperature after doing it this way, and the finished product was great.  The traditional method of serving grostl is to top a portion with a fried egg, so that the yolk runs into the grostl.  Lane had no complaints about this method; I kept my eggs on the side.  The kiddos devoured this, and I’m putting it on the breakfast plan again soon.


Grostl (Potato, Bacon, and Onion Hash)


  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. canola or sunflower oil
  • 1 lb. thick cut smoked bacon, cut into 1/4″-1/2″ wide lardons
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. (a little over is fine) cooked potatoes, cooled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 tsp. caraway seed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. hot sweet paprika (or use sweet paprika mixed with a pinch of chili powder)
  • handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped


Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the bacon and onion to the skillet and fry together for 10 minutes until the bacon is cooked and the onion is golden.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon mixture from the skillet onto a plate.

If there is more than 4 Tbsp. of grease in the skillet, I suggest pouring some of it out before proceeding.  This isn’t necessary, just recommended.

Add the potatoes to the skillet and cook for 10 minutes, until the potatoes are golden.

Add the caraway and paprika, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the bacon and onion back into the skillet and stir to combine the mixture.

Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, until the mixture is heated through.

Top with the fresh parsley and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: slightly adapted from BBC Good Food

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Parade of the Olympians

In Olympics news yesterday snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg won the men’s slopestyle event, putting the first gold medal of the 2014 Sochi Olympics with the U.S. team.  Norwegian Marit Bjoergen won the cross-country skiathlon, and Sven Kramer of the Netherlands took home the gold in the 5000 meter men’s speed skate.

Today’s installment of the Olympics feature brings us to the 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Games.  For the 1960 Winter Olympics, organizers selected Walt Disney to be the Head of Pageantry for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.  Men’s biathalon and women’s speed skating made their debut as Olympic contests, while organizers refused to build a bobsleigh track because only nine nations planned to send athletes for bobsleigh events.  When officials asked to view a tape from CBS’s coverage to determine whether or not a skier had missed a gate, the concept of “instant replay” was born.

The Squaw Valley ski resort on Lake Tahoe did not exist when the bid was put in for Squaw Valley to host the 1960 Winter Olympics.  As such all of the housing and all of the buildings for various contests had to be built.  What is now the Plumpjack Squaw Valley Inn was originally built as housing for Olympic delegates.  Currently, it operates as a hotel and is home to Plumpjack Cafe where you can get roasted banana muffins just like the ones I’m sharing with you today.  Roasting the bananas is so simple, yet it really takes the flavor beyond your ordinary banana muffin.

squaw valley roasted banana muffins

Roasted Banana Muffins


  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 C. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 C. milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 4 Tbsp. butter, melted


Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut a three-inch slit down the peel of each banana and place the banana onto a baking sheet.

Roast for about 10 minutes until the skin turns black and juice starts to show in the slits in the peel.

Remove the bananas from the oven, leaving the oven on at 400 degrees.

Allow the bananas to become cool enough to handle and remove the peel, placing the banana into a small mixing bowl.

Mash the banana with a fork and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, combine the milk, beaten egg, and mashed banana.

Mix the banana mixture with the flour mixture and stir to blend well.

Grease the cavities of a 12-cavity muffin pan (or spray with non-stick cooking spray).

Spoon the batter into each cavity, filling each cavity 3/4 full.

Bake 15-20 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins.

Source: The PlumpJack Inn

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Slumber Party

Last week kind of got away from me.  In addition to regular everyday things that need to happen to keep the house standing and everyone fed, we had numerous errands to run in preparation for camping this weekend.  It would seem that camping means simply tossing a tent in the car and heading out, but nope.  It started when I purchased a new airbed and then decided that having an eighteen inch high airbed definitely means that our four-foot high dome tent isn’t going to cut it anymore.  Luckily a friend graciously lent us her tent with a six-foot center height so not only can we actually sit up when we wake up in the morning, we can stand up inside the tent in order to get dressed.  When you’ve camped for years hunched over getting dressed in a tiny dome tent, having that kind of space to stand up is downright luxurious.  I feel like we’re going camping in a palace.  Of course, throwing the tent in the car can only happen after it’s been opened up, set up, seam sealed, and properly aired out.  Then there’s everything else that must be thrown in the car along with the tent.  This means planning the meals, shopping for supplies, and then mentally walking myself through storing and preparing the food because the last thing I need while camping is a table full of hungry campers and no utensil to use for flipping pancakes.  Even though we’re only going for a three-day weekend, a lot of preparation has to happen so that everyone stays entertained, safe, fed, dry, and free from bug bites and sunburn.

In addition to my usual amount of pre-trip running around, I had to get some pre-wedding running around done as well.  My cousin is getting married on the Fourth of July, two hours away from us (near where she lives).  We’re pretty excited for the couple, but it does mean getting our clothes and accessories together and spending a ridiculous amount of time trying to decide whether or not the dress I want to wear is going to look like a wrinkled rag after two hours in the car.  Oh, and because M turned nine, we threw a slumber party.  Along with decorate-your-own-cupcakes and pizza, I offered breakfast in the morning.  I had a ton of cold cereal on hand figuring it would be best to keep breakfast simple.  Because M tells everyone she runs into that I’m a fantastic cook, I felt like I should live up to my reputation a little and offer a baked good as well.  Mini muffins are fun and simple, and pretty easy to boot.  A handful of them are great for breakfast or a snack, and even with all of the cereal the girls devoured, I had very few of these blueberry muffins left.  These are probably my favorite things to make when blueberries are in season and I’ve been known to make them in huge batches and freeze them to have on hand for a good long time.  Since camping is like one big slumber party, I just might take a few of these along with us for that as well.  They’re definitely worth adding another line to the to-do list.

blueberry mini muffins

Blueberry Mini Muffins


  • 2 C. flour, divided
  • ½ C. sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • ¾ C. milk
  • 1 C. blueberries (fresh or frozen)


In a medium bowl, lightly toss the blueberries with 1/4 C. of the flour.

In a separate bowl, stir the remaining flour, salt and baking powder together until combined.

Cream the butter and sugar together.

Add the egg to the butter mixture and beat it well until completely combined.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk and mix after each addition.  After the final addition, mix just until it forms a smooth batter.

Fold the berries into the batter.

Spray a 24 cavity mini muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray (or apply butter or shortening to keep the muffins from sticking).

Fill each cavity of the prepared pan about half full (I use about 1 Tbsp. of batter per cavity).

Bake for 5-7 minutes until the muffins start to turn a light golden brown and the tops spring back when touched.

Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Makes about 24 mini muffins.

Source: Itsy Bitsy Foodies

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