D’oh!Mestic

Posted on: January 19, 2009

Loft

The cat is sprawled across my lap and spilling onto my keyboard. She’s purring like a motorboat, with her left front leg out in front, paw hovering over the escape key. A travel mug of tea is shoved precariously between my knee and a pillow. The Capt’n’s in his chair, perpendicular to mine, with his laptop open to a car website.

It’s just another mundane Monday night, though “mundane” might be playing things down somewhat — there is a cheesecake in the oven, and how often does that happen on a Monday?

Actually, strike mundane. This is no ordinary Monday night. This is the last night of the George W. Bush administration. This is the night before Barack Obama becomes the combo breaker. Sure, we’re sitting in the living room loafing around, but it feels momentous and important, which could explain the cheesecake.

Advertisements

Sunday luncheon

It has been a long weekend dedicated to eating. Thursday saw the traditional dinner at my parents’ house, with just the family in attendance. We sat around the heirloom dining room table and worked our way through quite the holiday spread and drank one hell of a wine and finished up with pie and conversation. As an adult, Thanksgiving has become, hands down, my most favorite holiday.

Friday found us back at my parents’ house for my second most favorite holiday — Left Over Day! This saw us crowded around the kitchen table digging into the plentiful leftovers before stumbling over to a spot in front of the fire for the second turkey coma in as many days.

And then came today. It’s cold and blustery, but bright. All morning, I’d had my nosed buried in “The Fellowship of the Ring” and damn if those hobbits don’t eat every three pages. By chapter eight, I was ravenous. About all we had in the house was an onion, and I wasn’t quite prepared to go out in the cold and bluster, so I did what any normal person would do. I picked up Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1 and dug out the recipe for onion soup.

Look, Julia Child is not going to steer you wrong when it comes to the delicious. She might steer you to a heart attack, but it will be tasty.

The Capt’n sat down at the table and almost wept over the soup. As a child, his father dragged him all around central Europe, and he had fallen in love with onion soup and strudel. Strudel, I haven’t attempted, but the Capt’n claims that if I did, he’d have no reason to go back to Austria, because I nailed the taste memory of the onion soup. “Seriously, this is the best thing you’ve ever made,” he said, and I have to think that the way his eyes glistened when he said it signaled his genuine feelings.

I have to remember this one for later in the winter.

Christmas knitting

Last year it was socks and this year it’s hats.

Posted on: September 6, 2008

Tiny tomatoes after the rain

Oh, I see how it is — the plant decided to wait until we were six weeks out from the first frost to start spitting out more baby tomatoes. I get it, I get it.

It’s mocking me.

ME GRIMLOCK NO BOZO! ME GRIMLOCK KING!

But which one?

TODAY ME GRIMLOCK MAKE CAKE! SEE! CAKE!

ME GRIMLOCK AND DINOASSISTANTS GRIMLOCK AND GRIMLOCK MAKE GRIMLOCK CAKE! NOM CAKE NOM!

Grimlock gets it done old school

ME GRIMLOCK CAKE — Yellow and chocolate layered cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting

Yellow Cake

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2.5 cups sugar
0.5 cup butter
3 eggs
1 tbs vanilla
0.5 tsp lemon extract
.75 milk

Butter and flour two 8″ round cake pans, lining the bottom with parchment

Sift flour and baking powder together and set aside

With the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy, about five minutes on medium. Add eggs one at a time, beating until combined. Add vanilla and lemon extract. Beat until combined

Add flour and milk in three rounds, ending with flour. Mix until incorporated.

Divide between the two pans and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack.

Chocolate cake*

8 ounces unsweetened chocolate chopped
0.5 cups butter softened
2.5 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tbs vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tbs baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup milk

Melt butter and chocolate together in medium saucepan over low heat, stirring continuously. When fully melted, remove from heat and set aside

With the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and eggs together until incorporated. Add vanilla. Add melted butter and chocolate, beating until just incorporated.

Add flour and milk in three rounds, ending with flour. Mix until incorporated.

Divide batter between two 8″ round cake tins and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool on wire racks

Chocolate cream cheese frosting

1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
0.5 cup butter, softened
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla
4 cup powder sugar

Melt chocolate in heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring to get the lumps out.

With the paddle attachment, beat butter and cream cheese together until creamy, about five minutes. Add two cups of powdered sugar, beat, add melted chocolate, beat and add additional sugar to taste, up to four cups. Makes enough to frost a three-to-four layer cake.

Finished cake

*This is an experimental cake recipe, and only one of the initial two cakes came out, but if you have better luck, I think the dinobots would be appreciative of the wacky four layer cake.

I’m moving shifts next weekend — for the first time in my dozen years of working full-time, I will work the standard 9 to 6 day. Granted, it’s not quite market hours and it’s not quite material from a Dolly Parton song, but, y’know, what more can you ask for in the early 21st century American workforce?

(Don’t answer that.)

Nine to six. This last week of 11 to 8 has been draaaaaaaaaaaagging, to the point that I’ve started tinkering with a menu for dinner next week. I can’t tell you what we’re having for supper tomorrow, but next Friday? Ome. Lets.

I’m looking forward to earlier evenings, earlier meals, dinner at the dinner table. Oh, hell, it’s all fantasy at this point, setting the old farm table with the good china my grandmother gave me as wedding present, candles in Nambé candlesticks, time for a glass of wine, long meals that don’t begin life in the microwave. I’ve got money on my happy balloon of a fantasy being burst within the first fifteen minutes of dinner preparation on Monday. We’ll eat in front of the TV, I’ll rely on convenience over taste and The Capt’n will probably overrule every other dinner suggestion I come up with.

That said, here’s the menu plan I sketched out for the coming week:

Monday
Fried Chicken — Already nixed by the Capt’n for being meat-based. I’ve got a suggestion of Eggplant Parmesan in, which is under consideration.

Tuesday
Vegetarian-ish fajitas — a little skirt steak might be given to the carnivore, but most likely it’ll be the mix of peppers and onions. Maybe some mushrooms.

Wednesday
Bliss bowls — a concoction we cobbled together about a year ago involving ground turkey, red enchilada sauce, refried beans and cheese, OHEMGEECHEEZE!

Thursday
Macfu -n- cheese (extra firm tofu sliced up, sauteed in butter and covered in cheese sauce) — already overridden by the Capt’n, who felt that my first experiment in this caused him to feel bad for most of the following day. I suffered no ill effects, but I’ve been told I have a lead-lined stomach. Unless there’s lobster involved.

Friday
The aforementioned omelets.

The further this goes, the harder it’ll be to come up with interesting dishes that we can both eat — it’s so stupid that one of us is forced to stick to proteins while the other one has reluctantly turned into a vegetarian. Stupid, possibly ironic and a challenge.

I like a challenge. Sometimes.

When I was in college, I worked for the university paper as a designer and sometimes features writer. I remember one week in October of ’96, my features editor handed me a stack of CDs and told me to review them even though the slightly-deaf girl is probably not the best music critic on staff.

In that stack was Warrant’s comeback attempt, although they’d had the foresight to dub themselves Warrant 97, as if it were going to totally distract from that 80s hairband. The sound was like this: “Warrant? Us? Not us. We are not the ‘Cherry Pie’ guys, even though we totally sound like them. We are totally different and way more grungy. I mean, it’s 1996! Grunge is still totally in, right? Where’s my Aqua Net?”

I talk about this because I made a cherry pie and, because I am a predictable creature, I had “Cherry Pie” running through my head for the better part of twenty-four hours. I made a cherry pie. A sweet cherry pie. A sweet cherry pie with a lattice top — another first. Sing it, Warrant.

It was decent as my pies go. The filling was grade-A perfect and more or less the same recipe as my apple pie. I’m guessing that most fruit pies are a variation of sugar, lemon juice and corn starch enveloped in two flaky crusts. Nom. Pie. The lattice crust was my first and the strips were less rectangles and more rhombuses, but the Capt’n has since bestowed me with an engineer’s ruler for lattices lines straight and true, and I’ve promised myself to pick up a fluted dough cutter the next time I’m near Williams Sonoma.

Oh, and mental note — tent the pie with foil at the 25 minute mark, not the 40.

The Capt’n was totally down with the pie and then asked what I’d put in it. I rattled of the ingredients and then we discussed the ingredients list of canned cherry pie filling — two types of corn syrup, red dye #40 and a random acid to keep that red dye red — and how it took me about the same amount of time to make this pie from scratch that it would take the anonymous middle American to pop open a can of this cherry filling/topping concoction and slather it between two slices of pre-made dough. And while I know and you know that it’s not the case, not really, I still don’t understand why someone wouldn’t take the extra ten minutes and make the filling from scratch. It’s so much more satisfying, gratifying, and healthy. Cherries. Sugar. Lemon juice. Corn starch.

I mean, it’s pie. Pie, by the very nature of its being, equal a special occasion, because there is pie! Why not take that extra ten minutes? Why not? Why not?

The Capt’n reminded me that I’m an odd one in the world — that I care about taking the time out to do things from the base up, but that I tend to do things in a lovely, half-assed manner, that I’m not Martha Stewart and have no aspirations in that direction, but that he understands why my delicate kitty sensibilities can be thrown out of whack by the casual, slipshodness of everyday life, and that’s why he loves me.

Or at least, that’s what I think he was saying. His mouth was filled with pie.