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December 2009
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February 2010

Digital Scrapbooking Freebie Links

I gave one of my girlfriends an impromptu digital scrapbooking crash course last night, so I wanted to get her started on her digi stash.  Since I was compiling a list of site for freebie downloads for her, I thought I would share the list here too.

Some beginner resources:

Feel free to share your freebie links in the comments.

Digital Recipe Card: Fabulous Fruit Salad

I'm at a scrapbooking/crafting retreat with girlfriends this weekend, and one of my friends made this fruit salad for breakfast today.  It was so tasty - the lemonade gives it just the right zing, and the pudding mix makes the "dressing" kind of glazy.  Everyone really liked it!  So I 'whipped up' this recipe card in Photoshop Elements so we can all have a copy of the recipe.

Click on the image for a full-size high-res image suitable for printing.  ;)


Digital Credits:

Template: Chrissy W Mini Me bragbook #09;
Papers: May Flowers kit by Scrapbubba Designs
String Stitches by Grunhild Storeide
Journaling tag & strip: April Showers Bring May Flowers kit by TMA Designs
Fonts: CK Fable & Berlin Sans FB

Book Review: McKettrick's Luck by Linda Lael Miller

McKettrick's Luck (McKettricks, #6) McKettrick's Luck by Linda Lael Miller

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While I enjoy romances in general, and the McKettricks saga, this one seemed a little rushed in the relationship-building department. It seemed like they met, they disagreed a bit, then each was "betrayed", then they were all of a sudden in love. I would have liked to have seen more development of friendship, or some commonality or foundation for a relationship, but maybe that's just me.

I listened to the mp3, downloaded from NetLibrary; this is the 3rd book I've listened to narrated by Christina Moore. She's really good - expressive presentation, and consistently good voices. So, though I would have tweaked the story development a little, it was still a sufficiently entertaining "read".

View all my reviews >>

Christmas Dinner Recap: Dry Aged Prime Roast Beef

Herbed Standing Rib Roast (2008) At this year's annual Christmas Dinner, we figured out this was my 13th year for hosting.  I always serve the same menu, partly to maintain my preparation sanity, and partly because my family has come to know, expect, and love certain foods.  If my dinner has become a part of their Christmas traditions and memories, who am I to mess with that?

Click to see my Christmas Dinner menu (with recipes).

This year (or last, technically, since it's now 2010) I spent Christmas Eve day as I have for the past 13 years - prepping for Christmas dinner.  I have it down to a science now, what steps I can do ahead of time, to make the actual Day of the Feast go more smoothly.  So Christmas Eve came and I was exhausted from the full day of cooking, but ready for the coming meal.  Unfortunately the elements conspired against me and waylaid my plans - a Kansas City blizzard convinced us to postpone the dinner until New Year's Day. 

Also unfortunately, the food I had prepared wouldn't keep a week, so my nuclear family of four had what my daughter called a "test dinner" on Sunday.  The test was successful, and we had some lovely leftovers last week (since Christmas menu feeds about 10 people).

So last Sunday I went grocery shopping for Christmas Dinner, round 2, and got another 7LB standing rib roast.  My father-in-law, a Food Network junkie, suggested I "dry age" the roast, as a means of preserving it for a week in the fridge, instead of freezing and defrosting it within a week.  

According to, "when prime beef is dry aged, two things happen. First, moisture evaporates from the muscle meat creating a greater concentration of beefy flavor and taste. Secondly, the prime beef’s natural enzymes break down the fibrous, connective tissue in the muscle, tenderizing it."

To dry age a roast at home, you remove the roast from the shrink-wrap and rinse well. Pat it completely dry then wrap it in cheesecloth. Place on a rack in your refrigerator overnight, then remove, unwrap, discard used cheesecloth and wrap with a fresh piece. Then put it back in the fridge for about a week. When you're ready to cook it, you remove the cheesecloth, and trim any dry "yuckies" to give you a nice fresh surface, then cook per the recipe.

I was a bit nervous about leaving a roast basically "open" for a week in my fridge, protected only by a few layers of cheesecloth.  But I read a few articles online and it seems an accepted technique.  I found the article, "Standing Rib Roast - Dry Aged" at the Virtual Weber Bullet, particularly helpful. 

So enlightened, I bravely struck out into new cooking territory and followed this dry aging technique outlined by chef Guy Fieri.

The vote was unanimous - this year's roast was the best yet. My family couldn't stop talking about how tender and flavorful it was.  My husband commented that it was much better than the "test roast" we'd had the previous Sunday, and while the roast didn't look any different after cooking, he could really tell the different in taste and texture.

My father-in-law, who is very picky about his meat cuts and preparation, said, "this is exactly how it's supposed to be done."  Since my family all knows how particular he is, I had to share that comment with everyone and a general cheer arose. I was very pleased with myself.

Since it wasn't difficult or particularly time-consuming, I expect I will continue using this technique for future roasts.

Oh, and I thought I would mention the amazing wine my dad brought to share - he received it as a gift from a vendor.  It was a fabulous berry-ish red wine from Spain - Sierra Cantabria Colección Privada. I think he said retail price is around $50, and boy, could I tell the difference from our usual box-wine fare! Very rich, and just amazing with my melt-in-your-mouth prime rib.

So ends my 'foodie' review.  Have you ever tried a new cooking technique that made you nervous at first, particularly for a "command performance"?  Did you try anything new for your holiday cooking this year?  How did it turn out?