Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bargain shopping and the science of bread

I went to Meijer today to get jelly jars and cotton balls and things for the pumpkin-decorating contest at work. My department is collecting props and such in order to decorate tomorrow and finalize Friday, when the judging is. It's my idea, so I'm invested in its success. Hint: tiny lace curtains are at this moment tumbling in my dryer, and I am sorry I didn't play with dolls or horses much as a child.

Anyway, I stopped at the curtain section because I still haven't gotten curtains for the front door or the bathroom or the kitchen (though that's only my desire, not Eric's; he likes the open windows in there for some reason). I found a pair of plain ones, one for the door and one for the bathroom, so that was fine, and I will wash them before altering them. Then I moved to the clearance section and found one of those velvet/velveteen curtains, a deep luxurious red, originally $18.99, now $2.80. I have no desire for red velveteen curtains, but I can think of many other things for which I can use more than a yard of red velveteen, and you generally can't buy it at less than $3 a yard. So Meijer made a sale. I shall have to remember this for my future fabric needs. I would have gotten more if there had been more, but while there were more velvet panels none of them were marked clearance, which I found dubious, but I wasn't willing to chance it since I still had to get to the fabric store.

I discovered today that I only have seven months until the wedding, not eight as I've been saying for the past, well, four weeks. The caterer from Premier Catering (the one I've been negotiating with) wrote, saying "What's the next step? What are you thinking? I know you mentioned replacing the eggplant with tenderloin with noodles, that would be fine." Well, actually, I said no noodles, and I also said the next step was for us to taste a sample before we settled on a menu and a contract and such. She's still writing in all caps. But I'll write back. Today we had a retirement party for the stepping-down president of the company, and the caterer was Premier. I asked and apparently my new company had gone through a lot of caterers but now they always use Premier. We didn't have any hot dishes so I didn't get a taste test, but I'm now more pleased with our likely choice.

At this moment there is also apple-banana butter cooking, because I had a really ripe banana and, apparently, not enough else to do. The apple butter from the weekend turned out well, the only problem being slight runniness, and the canning was lots of fun. My first batch of apple bread turned out excellent, the second...educational. See, my problem with apple bread is that it tends to sink in the middle. I decided to try replacing most of the oil with apple butter, since I happened to have some around, and found that the bread rose much better, had a wetter (rather than a moister) texture and finer crumb, but I didn't like the taste as much. Plus it almost burned because of the extra sugar. I'm wondering if the oil made it too heavy, or if the apple butter provided water that became steam that made it lighter. Or both. I'm going to have to experiment. Hooray for food science. In the meantime, I shall be tending my fruit butter and finishing a lacy hat, so that I don't feel quite so ashamed wearing my fleece hat when it's not even freezing out.

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