Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bloggy Bling

Thank you, Witchypoo!

Thank you, Boogiemum!

Thank you, Blackbird!

Thank you, Janet!

Thank you, Dana!

Thank you, Ree!

Thank you, Jennifer!

Thank you, Dana!

Thank you, Jen!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

About Aspic

Aspic is elegant. Aspic is refreshing. Aspic is a pill to make. I strongly suggest making it two days before you intend to serve it. That way if something goes wrong you have time to re-do or substitute something else.

Before you attempt this you need to know three things:

Aspic only tastes as good as the stock it's made from. If you think you want to make it with store-bought stock, STOP. Use only your best home made stock from scratch.

The stock must be completely seasoned before you start. You cannot add salt & pepper as you go along, as it will cloud the aspic.

Skim, skim, skim. It is essential that your stock have no grease. If you discover there is a bit of grease you just couldn't get, don't panic. Add more egg whites.

1 Quart cold stock (meat, poultry or fish), well skimmed and free of grease
2 Envelopes plain powdered gelatin
3 egg whites or more
2 egg shells (that's right, SHELLS) or more

Use a big stock pot so that the stock can't fill it more than a third of the way up. Scald the pan, 2 dish towels, and two large bowls with boiling water to remove any detergent or grease residue. Wring the towels damp carefully. Double them and spread each one over one of the bowls. Set aside 1/4 cup of cold stock in a small pan with the gelatin.

Pour the remaining cold stock into the big scalded stock pot. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper now if needed. In a bowl, whisk the whites to a light froth and add them and the egg shells to the large pan of stock. Set over gentle heat and whisk the whites into the liquid. Turn up the heat. When just hot, but not boiling add the spongy gelatin mixture and continue to whisk until the mixture reaches the boiling point. Allow the mixture to boil up to the top of the pan. Take the pan off the heat without sloshing it and let rest five minutes. Repeat. Be sure to bring to a boil again without whisking or otherwise disturbing. This is how you get it clear. Check for clarity after second 5 minute rest. Ladle a small amount into a small glass. If it's not clear, repeat the process 2 or 3 times as necessary.

When clear, pour the clarifying mixture into the cloth covering bowl no. 1. Lift the cloth full of shells, etc. carefully and cover bowl no.2. Pour contents of bowl no.1 through the egg whites, shell, etc. filter cloth again to clarify. You can do go back one more time if necessary. Your aspic should be crystal clear. If it's not, the stock was too cloudy to begin with or it wasn't whisked enough. So frustrating! But that won't happen to you. Besides, it will still taste good.

Anyway, here is how I like to present mine. Take a shallow muffin tin. Place dead center in each cup a little sliver of something. It can be a pimento, an almond or a lemon peel curl. When I really want to put on the dog, I take a half of a red bell pepper. Scrape the inside until it's paper thin. Grab some canape cutters and make fancy shapes to put in the muffin cups. Now!carefully pour the aspic into the muffin tin and chill in the refrigerator until set.

Aspic will keep in the refrigerator for several days. Once set, run a LITTLE cold water over the top to prevent drying and losing flavour. Cover with plastic wrap. Carefully pour off water before serving. I usually get 6-8 servings. If you must have more than six servings, make two batches. DO NOT DOUBLE THE RECIPE. Hope you try it. Your friends will be so impressed.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

TX Poppet's Syllabub

Aunt Nettie made hers with Madeira and a little peach Brandy. Here's how I make mine:

In a large bowl Beat 1/2 dozen egg whites with a tiny pinch of Cream of Tartar until you can safely turn the bowl upside down without any dripping. Set aside.

In a separate bowl whip 1 cup heavy cream, and 1/4 cup of sugar (more or less to taste)until good and stiff. Gently fold into the egg whites. Gently! stir in 1/8 cup of dry white wine or brandy. If you go with Sherry (delicious!)stop and serve. Otherwise, pour that foamy goodness into champagne flutes and top with a drizzle of Creme De Cassis, Creme De Menthe or other showy liqueur.

Voila! Syllabub.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

100 Scintilating Things About Me

1. I'm the little one in this picture.

2. My mother and three sisters are all petite blondes. I am tall with dark hair like my father.

3. I moved five times growing up.

4. I attended seven schools before college.

5. My father was not in the military.

6. I really did grow up in front of the television. One day it went out and my mother found me staring at it replaying the shows that should be on in my head.

7. All the adults in my life loved me and I was the very spoiled pet of the family.

8. I learned to read the newspaper to my grandfather when I was four.

9. I wore leg braces.

10. When I was three I had an allergic reaction and stopped breathing.

11. When I was four I electrocuted myself and stopped breathing.

12. When I was twelve I got badly burned, went into shock and stopped breathing.

13. All three times I saw the same young man who helped me before I was resuscitated.

14. I don't know if he's a figment of my imagination, but I believe in life after death.

15. I have very noticeable burn scars on my neck, arms and torso. I don't mind answering questions about them.

16. In the eighth grade Michael Breshette threw lighted matches at me to make me scream.

17. I hope Michael Breshette got the help he needed.

18. I believe that some people are truly evil.

19. I support the death penalty in extreme cases.

20. I think it's misused in the state of Texas.

21. My first job was working in the boys clothing department at Sanger Harris.

22. I spent most of my time reporting teenage girls shoplifting boys Polo Shirts.

23. I don't wear Polo shirts. They are for boys.

24. I loved working the next summer at Six Flags.

25. My nickname there was "Pep" because I had a Pepsodent Smile.

26. They used me in the new employee training film.

27. I got to stand behind a dumpster smooching a handsome boy as the "NO PDA" girl.

28. My father threatened to sue.

29. I am pictured in the Six Flags yearbook seven times for that year.

30. I was elected Senior Class Representative the next fall.

31. I had an awesome Senior year!

32. I got a Freshman Leadership scholarship to Texas Wesleyan.

33. I never served on the student council there but I was President of Young Democrats.

34. The girl who gave my prospective student tour is still my best friend.

35. I majored in International Business Administration with some vague idea of working as an auction house buyer in Paris. My minors were Art and History.

36. I wrote for the campus newspaper and yearbook.

37. I drew a cartoon about corruption in the administrative office that got the paper pulled.

38. The next year the University President was asked to step down due to corruption.

39. I was better at stirring pots than I was at schmoozing professors.

40. I was in college for a long time.

41. The best part of college was being tapped for Alpha Xi Delta women's fraternity.

42. My sorority is so old, it was formed before the word "sorority"was coined.

43. Men who collect sorority pins on ebay are creepy. (OK, that's not about me but sheesh! Can you say LOSER?)

44. I'm still active with Alpha Xi Delta today.

45. I did a summer study program in Westbury-Upon-Trym near Bristol.

46. I studied history and philosophy there while living in a Methodist Seminary.

47. I learned the difference between church and chapel in Westbury-Upon-Trym. The ladies of the town totally embraced me when it was discovered I was "church".

48. I like to say Westbury-Upon-Trym because it sounds like something out of a novel.

49. I kind of got lost in my third year and began drifting. My parents sent me out of state to concentrate on getting my MRS degree.

50. I met my husband at Salem University in West Virginia.

51. He snaked me away from one of his frat brothers.

52. We had our first date on Valentines Day 1986.

53. If I think of song, he'll start humming it.

54. My Spouse has an excellent singing voice.

55. One of my sorority sisters said I sing like a koala in heat.

56. When I introduced future Spouse to my friends over lunch at a nice restaurant, they asked him to stand on a chair so they could examine his bum. He did. They approved.

57. When I finally finished school, I was shocked to find out that entry level jobs for Museum Science majors (yes, that's what I ended up in) were mostly reserved for relatives of major contributors and paid almost nothing.

58. My first real I gotta pay my own bills job was teaching kindergarten in a parochial school.

60. My parents still gave me the most elaborate debutante wedding imaginable complete with four horse drawn carriages, live band and fourteen bridesmaids and groomsmen.

61. I absolutely have no regrets on spending that much for a party and scrimping for the next fifteen years to buy our first home.

62. I have a big bust and wide hips "built for breeding", what my family jokingly refers to as good peasant stock so I can give birth quickly and get back out in the fields.

63. I had a two hour labor with my son.

64. I had a twenty minute midwife assisted labor with my daughter and went home the same day.

65. I was an "earth mother"; no television, no microwave, organic baby food, cloth diapers, baby sling, family bed, La Leche League, MOMS, Birkenstocks and braids, the works.

66. My Spouse thinks I look hot in peasant skirts and sandals. I do not.

67. The happiest time in my life was when we lived on the New Hampshire seacoast, poor as church mice, happy as clams and far away from big city stress.

68. My New England hubby was thrilled to be transferred to Texas. We now live in my big city hometown 1.2 miles from my parents.

69. I gained 70 pounds after moving back home.

70. I am a palatial home in a dicey neighborhood kind of gal. Spouse is a modest home in a good neighborhood kind of guy. We compromised with a modest home in the best school district in the city.

71. Biggest volunteer home run: Moving the school auction to a brewery. Profits shot up into six digit range. Amazing how much more money can be raised when beer is involved.

72. I passed on my tap for the Junior League.

73. I passed on my nomination for P.T.O. officer.

74. I'm pretty adamant nowadays about setting boundaries and only volunteering to do what I want when I want after years of not being able to say no. Life is so much better and the world kept on turning and nobody hates me. Young mothers take note!

75. My ring fingers are significantly longer than my index fingers. This indicates high levels of testosterone in vitro and a propensity for hogging the remote control.

76. Three movies I have never watched more than a few minutes of because I find them so repugnant even though the rest of the free world loves them: Rocky, Dirty Dancing, and Thelma and Louise.

77. Three movies I drop everything to watch even though I've seen them a bajillion times and the rest of the free world sneers at them: Pretty Woman, Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn, and The Nutty professor with Jerry Lewis.

78. Um, ok so I also drop everything for the Lana Turner version of Imitation of Life, To Wong Foo ..., and Fast Times at Ridgemont High if it's not the edited for TV version.

79. I don't like milk chocolate.

80. My gran kept a jar of white fudge on her dining room table just for me.

81. Apricots dipped in dark chocolate make me salivate.

82. I believe only dogs drool.

83. Although I may occasionally glisten or glow, the men in my life perspire. I believe only horses and iced tea glasses sweat.

84. I believe iced coffee is an abomination.

85. Speaking of coffee, I prefer mine light with no sweetening. My regular Starbucks order is a venti latte with nutmeg.

86. When I am exhausted or irate my southern accent becomes very strong.

87. My favourite dinner is Liver and Onions. I have not cooked liver and onions since my wedding day.

89. My Spouse says he married me for my chocolate souffle. I have not made him a chocolate souffle since 1990. If he bends on the liver, I might bend on the chocolate.

90. I like to tell people I'm not into reality TV but I lurved the first Joe Millionaire and My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance and I watch all of the reality TV shows on Bravo, even the really awful ones.

91. I miss Anna Nicole Smith and her adorable son, Daniel.

92. Best Reality show of all time? Beauty and the Geek. Hands down. No discussion. I'm really not into reality TV. Really.

93. I not only sing in the car, I Dance.

94. I walked across a bed of nails for a Tai Chi class. I also studied Jiu Jitsu. Blue belt. I'm scary.

95. I accidentally kicked my 6'1 hubby in the head once. He thought it was hot.

96. My son split open a 100 lb. karate bag with his bare foot. My daughter can hit a golf ball onto the green from 200 yards. I don't like to brag about my children.

97. I'm looking forward to growing into a sassy old lady with my dirty old man spouse.

98. My greatest foible is my pride. I really am a terrible snob.

99. My best quality is my short memory and the ability to say I'm sorry and mean it, especially with my kids.

100. I'm very disappointed that I can only tell one hundred things about fascinating me. This is what I look like now:

You can e-mail me at

Friday, August 3, 2007

Frequently Asked Questions


I really like something in your blog. Do you mind if I quote you?
First, thank you! Second, "Canned Laughter" is protected by certain copyrights. You are welcome to quote me as long as you follow certain accepted guidelines. Please note the source by letting readers know that they are reading the words of either "TX Poppet", my pseudonym or "Canned Laughter", my blog title. Please link back to my original post when quoting me. If you are unsure how to do this, I'll be happy to help you. Just drop a note in any comment box. If you follow these guidelines, you do not need to contact me first for permission but it's a nice thing to let me know anyway. I like reading your work too!

Who may not quote me?
My work is protected against any reproduction for commercial use. Reproduction for the purpose of demeaning, berating or other malicious intent targeting either the author, the material or both is forbidden.

What's up with the name Texas Poppet? Do you think you're Kierra Knightly from Pirates of the Carribean?
Actually the moniker TX Poppet is from an old character name, Mother Poppet that I used when working with children as a museum roleplayer years before Miss Knightly sailed the seas. I'm comfortable with the name and see no reason to change it.

Why do you call your children by those sickeningly sweet pet names instead of their real names? It would make your blog so much easier to relate to if I didn't want to barf.
Bear and Bunnie ARE their real names, or at least the names my husband gave them when they were babies and we still call them that every day. Perhaps some peppermint might settle your stomach?

How many calories are in your recipes? Also I'd like some home canning recipes. Would you please post instructions?
There are some things you should never ask a Southern woman. How many calories are in her food and what's in that canned good are definitely off limits. I give my relishes and preserves as gifts and the recipes are a closely guarded secret. I don't even tell my mother why my spiced peaches are gobbled down while hers linger on the shelf. However, I'd be happy to give you processing tips if you ask.

Is your husband a saint or what?
Yes. He's a very sexy saint.

How do you come up with these crazy stories?
This is my life. I don't have to make things up. Occasionally I will change a name as I did in the story of Miz Maypearl, but the story is absolutely true with no exaggeration. Bless her soul.

All you ever talk about is housework. Why don't you get a job?
As a matter of fact, I do have a job working for the Best Boss Ever. I work flexible hours for a woman-owned construction company. Here's a post about work.

Where do you get those goofy pictures? The lovely thing about vintage art is that the copyright usually runs out. As to where they come from, I'll never tell (unless you e-mail me and then I might).