Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Hello friends.  Happy New Year to everyone.  I don't know about you but 2012 was a bit of a bitch to yours truly.  The company I had worked for the past 15 years, a family business that was over 90 years old, shuttered their doors this past year.  I got to experience the joys of filing for unemployment for the first time in my life.  It is not something I want to experience again....but that being said at least it was something to help me survive until I found a new job.  Which I did but three months was enough of uncertainty and fear for my personal health and the health of my monetary savings to keep me ever so grateful for my new job.  It's a good company with many challenges to keep me busy.

While I was experiencing my own work drought, the Midwest was and still is experiencing a brutal drought whose roots can be found in the spring-like winter of 2011/2012.  This does not bode well for food prices in the coming year of 2013.  Not only has there been a serious lack of rain, we had an oppressively hot summer.  Lots of dead grass, withered evergreens and cracking foundations.  Not to mention thirsty birds.

thirsty birds

It was not an easy summer for anyone.  While I had no paying work, I did try and keep myself busy.  I used some leftover masonry materials that my old company was unloading and built myself a new pad for my grill.

newbbq pad

Anyone who has ever laid a brick pathway or tried to install a brick driveway knows it's not as easy as it looks.  Especially when you have to deal with roots.


Lots and lots of roots.  Did I also mention that my three months of unemployment coincided exactly with the three hottest months of a record breaking hot summer?  However once you get started, you've got to keep going to finish.  Looks pretty awesome and can't wait for spring and firing up the grill.

In addition to the masonry projects I gave myself, I had a yardsale.  I've had yardsales before but usually there's enough time in between to forget the vows that I'll never have another again.  I love getting rid of crap I don't use or need anymore but the ratio of time spent vs. value gained by selling is frustrating to say the least.  All in all, it's easier just to haul it to Goodwill or the Salvation Army and take a tax deduction.  It also confirms that a salesman I will never be.

yardsale monitor

Unless it was kisses from Jackson.   Jackson is very popular with....everyone.  Probably the one who enjoyed my unemployment the most.  Lots of walks, lots of attention and only occasionally home alone.

I wish I could say I did a lot of cooking.  Not so much.  Cooking (and blogging about cooking) was a luxury I cut way back on for fear of a much longer period of unemployment.  But once I started working again and getting into the rhythm of life with work, cooking followed.  My company had a chili cookoff amongst the employees.  Despite using Cook's Illustrated best chili recipe, I got not one vote.  Does this bother me?  Not really, chili is not my strong suit and we all know that food so spicy that you can't eat it (one of the competitors) is REALLY not my thing, I'm good with the results.  I'd make that chili again.  I'd also make the cheesecake brownies and pumpkin black bean stew that I also made for my new co-workers because you know I do love an audience for some of the things I make.

Which brings us to the new year.  Here in KC we had snow on the last day of the year and the first of the new year.  I've had a lovely four days off to putter around my tiny house, cleaning, cooking and reading the huge amounts of cookbooks I get from our wonderful library system.  I'm making sure the winter birds have plenty to eat to keep them strong through the bitter cold.


I'm also trying to come up with a new New Year's tradition to bring me some better luck than the typical black eyed peas.  Don't get me wrong, I love black eyed peas but in the luck department, they just seem a little...whimpy.  I decided to go in another direction completely.  I decided to go Indian.

gulab jamun1

Gulab Jamun.  I saw this recipe on Foodgawker for gulab jamun and remembered how much I enjoyed this dessert at an Indian restaurant here in Kansas City.  Could I pull these off at home?  The trickiest part of making this dish is getting the fry temperature of the oil right.  Too hot and you'll burn them, too cool and they won't cook all the way through.  Test your oil with little bits of dough, making sure the test dough stays at the bottom of the cooking oil and then floats to the top to continue cooking.

gulab jamun2

You're looking for golden brown but not too dark.  Then you soak them in a wonderful syrup which the balls act like sponges.  They are best when served immediately.

Hopefully my big balls of luck will counteract any possible bad luck in the year of 2013!

gulab jamun3

So tell me, what are your traditions for the new year and how was your 2012?  Good or happy to say goodbye to?


Dani said...

2012 sucked and I'm so glad it's over. Hopefully this coming year will be better for all of us. Hugs and kisses and Happy New Year to you too Shamy my friend.

the dogs' mother said...

So glad to have you back! We have started the New Year with doggy ER vist, doggy drugs, doggy poop, doggy barf and .... details on blog. It can only get better from here.

MakingSpace said...

Lovely to see your beautiful cooking and photography again. Much luck in the new year, much health, and much happiness.

So so glad you're cooking and photographing again. I missed this place.

Buzz Kill said...

Your dessert looks great although I've never heard of it and I don't know what "ghee" is. And good job on the grill pad. I've done that kind of work before and it is work (that's a lot of roots). You're quite the bird photographer too.

I have a feeling we may be looking back on 2012 as the "good old days" with the completely incompetent government we have deciding our collective fates based on their coming elections instead of what's right. The debt ceiling fight will be lots of stomach-churning fun. Sequestration being delayed until March gives me a little more job security - for 2 months.

Happy New Year!

Big Shamu said...

Dani, I'm sorry your 2012 was sucky, let's hope 2013 kicks it's ass to the curb.
Froggy, the joy of living with dogs comes with the inevitable toil of doggy cleanup. Despite all the barf and poop, they are so worth it.
MS, I'm kinda cooking and shooting. Slowly.

Buzz, ghee is an Indian version of clarified butter.
I'm guessing you still have a job. I believe you will continue to be fully employed. However you're right, it's not going to be fun for the next few months.