letter.mo

It is that time of the year again. Time to participate in LetterMo! Or in another words, a Month of Letters. I am a sucker for anything with badges and rewards and pretty stickers from the internet. And of course, mail.

The Challenge: mail something each day the post runs. A postcard, a birthday card, reply to a letter, etc. This isn’t about getting things, it is about reaching out. So, that is 24 items. Totally, do-able, right? You know you know someone who would love a surprise in their mailbox. And if you need some suggestions, find a penpal, or hey – I like mail.

 

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mail.hacks

I love sending and receiving mail. Finding something other than bills, credit card offers and fast food delivery menus in my mailbox is pretty much the highlight of my everything. However, actually stepping foot in a post office sends chills up my spine and my blood pressure sky rockets. On the best of days it is a total shit show…on the worst? I just can’t… So, over the years I have made sure to find ways to do all of my amazing postal-ness without having to set foot in the building. And I’ve gotten pretty good if I do say so myself.

  • Did you know you can order stamps online? Yep. www.usps.com is the best. For $1 shipping you can order as many stamps as you would like and they have a fabulous selection – like everything they are currently offering – far better than any walk in post office which seems to (as a general sweeping statement) only have flag stamps. And no one needs more flag stamps. Delivery usually takes about a week.
  • Did you know you can print postage at home and hand your package off to your regular mailman? There are several companies out there which offer this service, but I prefer to rock the USPS website once again. They throw in free tracking for doing it online and there is another discount tucked in there somewhere – I often save between $2 and $3 per package I ship online vs. a face to face interaction. You can also request pickup, but I just hand mine over to my regular mail guy when he delivers on his usual route. If your package is under 13 ounces, you can also drop it in one of those blue boxes on the street. The USPS site is set up for shipping mainly priority and express (that’s kinda their jam), so if you need to ship first class, parcel or media mail? Head over to paypal.
  • Yep. You can ship via paypal. On the left hand side of your main account screen there is “multi-order shipping.” Launch that in a new window and you have access to all of the postal speed options.
  • Have a kitchen scale? That means you also have a postal scale. Weigh that package!
  • Now….are you aware of flat rate boxes? These little cardboard beauties are amazing. And FREE! You can a) pick them up at your local post office or b) order them on usps.com and have them delivered to your door. Absolutely free. I have found that sooo many people are in the dark about these things. In a nutshell: if it fits, it ships. The box can weigh up to 70 pounds if being sent domestically and 20 if heading international. There are small ($5.25), medium ($11.30) and large ($15.80) – prices are commercial base because you are doing this online; a little more in person. Want to ship a ton of heavy things? Throw them in a flat rate box and forget it!
  • Sending things overseas? Both usps.com and paypal automatically print the customs declarations for you.

 

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Now. Go forth and ship all the things without the stress or inevitable press conference associated with going postal at the post office.

 

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egg.drop.soup

It’s soup season. And what is easier (and yummier) than egg drop soup. I can almost guarantee you have most of this stuff in your kitchen already and it takes all of maybe 15 minutes to make. 

  • Peel and thinly slice 2 carrots, throw into a soup pot
  • If you’re feeling mushroomy, slice 5 halved mushrooms and add to pot as well
  • Add 2 cups chicken broth to pot and bring to boil – simmer your carrots and mushrooms for 3-4 minutes
  • Add 3 more cups chicken broth (sub a cup of beef broth for one of those if you want the flavor to be a tad more complex) and simmer
  • Add 1 cup thinly sliced cabbage – Napa or savoy is my favorite 
  • Add 2 whole eggs and 1 yolk to a cup and quickly whisk, set aside
  • Whisk 1 1/2 TB corn starch in 1/2 cup water and add to broth (the corn starch makes the egg silky)
  • Slowly pour your eggs into the broth gently whisking the soup with a chopstick (or whatever high tech tool you have to break up the egg).
  • Liberally pepper
  • Garnish with green onions
  • Eat 

  

This is so easy. And so good. You’ll thank me. Now, get that soup going.

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whoopie.pies

Apparently these things are The Thing for many people. Where I come from, we called them Gobs, but it seems most of the world knows them as whoopie pies. Whatever they are, they are dangerously delicious. When I was 5 or 6 I ate approximately 5 or 6 of these at a family picnic and a great family memory was made (sorry about that Uncle Mark). Now, if that isn’t a resounding “these things are awesome” I don’t know what is. 

  
You can easily double the batch. And if you can’t eat them all (see above – I tried…terrible results) they freeze very well. Bonus: they thaw really fast as well – perfect when you need a sweet treat. 

  
  
I have even made these to sell and folks go crazy. Great bake sale item, and since they are so meaty, you can charge $3 for a small pie and $5 for a large. 

So, have at it. They are amazeballs. 

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easy.wild.rabbit

Whenever I would speak to my Uncle Stan, he would ask if the husband had gotten any rabbits lately. Sadly, Uncle Stan passed away (at the amazing age of 91!) in February. So, when the husband headed out Thumper hunting on Saturday, we knew that should he get one, it would be for Stan. In fact, the awesome hat he’s rocking in his picture was Stan’s. He would have been really proud to hear about the trip and how delicious that little bunny was.

Rabbit has the reputation for being tricky to cook, but this most recent recipe was probably the easiest, and best, we have ever had.

First, you need to brine your bunny for a day in salt water to tenderize and help remove the iron-y blood taste from the game. After that you’re ready to go. Break down the legs and remove the rib cage. The back strap is one of the best parts of any animal, so to minimize the chance of ruining it, I leave the entire back column intact. Obviously we aren’t running a fancy french restaurant out of our kitchen, so I’m not concerned with presentation. Remove tough silver skin with a sharp knife and you’re basically done.

In a large pot, brown the rabbit pieces in 2 TB or so of oil for about 3 minutes on each side, set aside.

  • Add 1 whole chopped onion to the pot and saute until soft – about 5 minutes. Add 3 cloves chopped garlic and cook until fragrant – about 1 more minute.
  • Add 2 cups chicken broth to the onion and garlic mixture, toss in a bay leaf and a sprig of thyme if that’s your thing. Liberally pepper the broth.
  • Add rabbit to the broth mixture and quickly bring to boil. As soon as it has boiled turn the setting to low, cover, and slowly simmer for 35 – 45 minutes. Low and slow is the way to go with rabbit lest you turn it to leather.

When your rabbit is finished, remove from the pot and set aside.

  • In a separate container, create a slurry with 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 5 TB water.
  • Shake to mix well, and add to the remaining broth and onion mixture. Bring to boil while stirring. Remove from heat once it has boiled.
  • Spoon the gravy over your rabbit and viola! What’s up Doc?!

You may think that the lemon sounds insane (I did the same thing) but it is a surprisingly delicious touch. A high note of citrus that really elevates the rabbit to a different level.

I also serve my rabbit with carrots (these were grown in our urban garden this summer and roasted with olive oil, salt & pepper) – because I find it hilarious. And of course, delicious.

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2015.pumpkin:mrs.eugenia.doubtfire

Each year I carve a pumpkin. And each year I forget how much work it really is. Though, in the end it’s always worth it. 

  
This year I took a stab at Mrs Doubtfire. My mother is a big fan of the line “help is on the way!!” And uses it often. So, Doubtfire. Duh. 

  
I think the old girl turned out pretty well. What do you think?

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vodka.cream.sauce

I love pasta. A lot. It’s like bread but in a different form and with more seafood (because always seafood). I had the best lobster ravioli of my life in a fabulous little bistro in Boston a few years ago, and I still dream of it. The key? The vodka cream sauce. So I thought it was about damn time to start making some of this cream sauce myself. And you know what? It’s super easy. The only part of this recipe that a well stocked kitchen may not contain at any given time is cream. Otherwise, I know most of us are ready to bang this out with little to no notice.

  • Saute 2 chopped garlic cloves, 1/2 cup chopped onion and 1/4 cup minced shallots in butter – 3 to 5 minutes to bring out the flavor
  • Add 1 TB tomato paste to the pan along with a generous dash of red pepper flakes (depending on preference for level of heat) and cook until you can smell the spice (1 to 2 minutes)
  • Remove your pan from the heat and stir in 1 cup of freshly sliced tomatoes (I use the little guys from the garden – so good!) and 1/3 cup vodka
  • At this point you are going to cook it all down until the alcohol cooks off (7 to 10 minutes)
  • If you want your sauce to be super smooth, you can pour it into a blender. I leave it with the little chunks – the texture is an added bonus
  • Slowly add 1/2 cup of heavy cream to your sauce (because healthy and delicious) and heat until warm.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

This sauce is pretty amazeballs right out of the pan, but if you have guests or someone who may judge you, I suggest pouring it over linguine with garlic butter sauteed shrimp. And of course, green onions to garnish because duh.

See? Easy. Now I’m hungry…

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