Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chipster Topped Brownies; TWD

These brownie/cookies are Greek Sirens, calling me, seducing me with their sweet voices until I, in a tracelike state, eat one against my will and one is too much. I remember this feeling from my childhood, eating a whole solid chocolate Easter bunny. I smother the Sirens in plastic wrap, but later I hear their voices calling me again. I want them so badly, because they are soo good, but I think this may be a case of too much of a good thing, which is a bad thing for someone like me, someone with no self control.

This week's recipe, Chipster Topped Brownies, was chosen by Beth of Supplicious. It is a brownie, with a layer of chocolate chip cookie on top. It has a lot of butter and chocolate.

That is just for the brownie layer! These were also a little tricky to make. I was worried about spreading the cookie dough on the brownie batter, but it went fairly well.

I did some dollops with a cookie scoop and spread it with a rubber spatula.

I baked them 10 minutes longer than suggested and let them cool, but in the middle, some of them weren't done. The brownie batter was still too gooey and the cookie had crisped and broken on top, but I could see raw cookie dough beneath. I needed to take some to a recital, so I took the outer ones that were done.

When I came home, I re-baked the rest of them, and have been eating them and reaping the consequences every since. This recipe made a lot! It can be found on pages 94 and 95 of Baking, From My Home To Yours, by Dorie Greenspan and this week on Supplicious.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Warning: May Contain Offensive Content. For Immature Audiences Only

I have received some strange texts lately. Last week, someone I don't know texted me, "Tmorrow is where red day. Tell all ur friends to where red." A few days ago, the same person texted me, "Where did you kick him? he's on the floor now." My friend, Jennifer, suggested I reply, "in the balls obviously, or he'd still be standing." I did not take her advice and just ignored them, assuming they'd been sent to me by mistake.

I have been receiving other crazy texts though, not by mistake, from my coworker, P. I have worked with her for about 6 years and we have never interacted socially. We are polite and I like her, but I haven't had any relationship with her outside of work. Until a few months ago.

We discovered we both enjoy walking hills and she invited me to walk with her. We have met a couple times a month to go walking and I have enjoyed doing so.

About as frequently as we have been walking, she has also been sending me text messages. Keep in mind, I have never even spoken to her on the phone, if it wasn't work related, in 6 years. These are some of the texts I have gotten from her:

Great news! I found a prostitute who charges by the inch!! Obviously, I can’t afford her, but it’s a great deal 4 u!

How does a vagina look before sex? Like a lovely pink rose. And after sex? Ever seen a bulldog eat mayonnaise?

Y r blk people nose so big? Cuz god stuck his 2 fingers up their nose y he was painting them blk.

Cheap mexican pregnancy test: insert burrito in vagina and remove after 30sec. If half eaten, there’s a little beaner on the way.

Im from laos. Sao in laos means miss like single and na is My middle name

The best engine ever made is a vagina. It takes any size piston, self lubricates, starts w/ 1 finger, and does its own oil change every 28 days!

It was once said that a black man would be president when pigs fly. Indeed, 100 days into Obama’s presidency, swine flu.

WTF? I assume she sends these to everyone in her phone book? Doesn't that seem strange? I barely know her, but I hope she knows me well enough to know I wouldn't appreciate the racist jokes. I don't really appreciate the political or sexual jokes either. I'm not sure how to feel or what to do. I don't get charged for incoming texts, so I guess it doesn't bother me THAT much. It just seems strange to me.

We were walking the other day and I was considering bringing it up, but wasn't sure what I was going to say. I started the conversation by telling her about the text I had received about kicking someone. She said "Oh my gosh, I did that the other day too. I had this picture of this pussy that was all burnt and blistered so I sent it to some people, and then then my phone rang and I had sent it to this woman I didn't know who told me it was really inappropriate." So I said, "well, at least it was an adult and not a kid." But in my mind, I was thinking, "*what* *the * *fuck*?" And also, apparently she does select who she sends the messages to, because I did not get the picture message (thank god). Or maybe she tried to send it to me, but sent it to the stranger lady instead.

As I write this, I just got another message. "Roses are red. Pickles are green. I love your legs and what's in between."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fresh Mango Bread; Tuesdays With Dorie

I learned how to get the flesh out of a mango. This may be a rudimentary skill, but I am going to go ahead and give a tutorial, in case there are any other people (like me) nearing 40 years of age who don't know how to do this! I made this week's Tuesdays With Dorie selection, Fresh Mango Bread, twice. The first time, I had some trouble with my mangoes. I guess I haven't really worked with them before. I have seen images similar to this many many times while surfing the food porn.

I never actually read about what that image was. I just assumed it was half a mango, and that you could slice a mango down the middle, score it like that, and pop the fruit out. I learned that if you try to cut a mango down the middle, you run into a giant pit, about as big as the mango, and then the flesh gets all stuck to the pit and the skin in really strong strings, and if you try to pull it apart that way, you ends up with globs and strings and tears and not much mango to put in your bread.

After reading the instructions, I learned that you need to cut the cheeks off the mango.

Then you can score the cheeks like so:

Then you can pop it inside out and cut the flesh off into neat little chunks:

Then you can trim what you can off the giant pit:

Then you can make your mango bread. I used a little extra mango and omitted the raisins this second time around. I also used the zest from a whole lemon and a whole lime.

Kelly, from Baking With The Boys, chose this recipe. Over on her blog, she also includes a version to make it lighter. Lighter in calories and fat, that is.

When baked, this bread turns a lovely dark brown. It is spicy and chewy, and bejeweled with mangoes. I thought this was beautiful and delicious!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tartest Lemon Tart; Tuesdays With Dorie.

This tart is bold. It is simple and delicious. It is made with whole lemons. Or if you are a scardy cat like me, whole lemons minus the pith.

I really did not know if I would like this tart, chosen by Babette, of Babette Feasts. I had some extra filling , which I baked in a little ramekin, so I did get to taste the filling before I served the tart on Mother's Day. I wasn't sure how to describe it to my Mother's Day guests either. Most of them tried it (in spite of my description, "ummm, really tart, and a little lumpy.") Everyone who tried said they really liked it and asked me for the recipe.

I wasn't sure how to describe Tuesdays With Dorie to a group of mostly tecnologically challenged people either. I said it was like my baking club, where we all bake the same thing each week and compare notes.

"But not a real baking club?", asks my brother. "You don't actually get to taste each other's food?", asks my mother. I include my whole family in the technologically challenged description, not excluding myself, as having some sort of impairment, with me being on the higher functioning end of the spectrum. (I suck at editing photos, but am somewhat familiar with "web logs".) The other end of the taxonomy does actually include those who have NEVER used a computer ("And never will!") Most of them email and google and a few even have facebook pages.

So this is where the situation starts to get a little sticky. How do I describe a group like TWD or an activity like blogging? I start to explain about food bloggers and baking bloggers, but don't want to misrepresent my blog as being part of that group, when a lot of my blog is about how fucked up my family is, but I don't want to go there either in this Mother's Day conversation. (To any family members who have found your way here, I am not talking about YOU, I am talking about other family memebers, of course.)

I was glad that everyone, myself included, really loved this tart. I will definitely make it again. You can find the recipe on page 336 of Baking, From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan, or at Babette Feasts, or family members with email adresses, I will email it to you.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tiramisu Cake and Questionable Parenting Practices; TWD

Dorie introduces this cake by saying that in the 1990s, the only way to avoid tiramisu was to go to Antartica. I cannot figure out why anyone would want to avoid tiramisu. Heck, I would probably be willing to travel to Antartica to get it, if that was the only place it was available. Luckily, Dorie makes it available in a layer cake form, with homemade yellow cake instead of storebought ladyfingers. This cake is wonderfully delicious, drenched in espresso syrup and a little amaretto kick. It is the perfect "pick me up".

Traditionally, this is a dessert made with the ladyfingers, mascarpone cheese mixed with some liqueur, espresso, and a dusting of cocoa powder. I didn't have any mascarpone, but had ricotta I needed to use, so I used that. I had read you could use ricotta and to whir it in a food processor to make it smoother. I was rushed, so I skipped that part. I was worried it would make the filling and frosting too grainy, but after sitting in the refrigerator over night, it is very smooth. I knew I would love this recipe at this point:

This cake gets more than just a dusting of chocolate. The layers are filled with chunks of chocolate. I had some of this on hand:

A perfect choice for this cake. Making the cake was fun and simple. I was getting out the ingredients and asked Little E to do some quick math for me to figure out how many grams of cake flour I needed. After telling me the answer was 224, he came to see what I was doing. I was pouring the cake flour onto the scale. Oooops, 225 grams. I pulled a spoon out and got lucky and scooped exactly one gram. So I said to Little E, "If you ever need to eyeball one gram of white powder, this is what it looks like. hee hee." I'm not sure what is wrong with me, that I would make a drug joke to my thirteen year old. He responded, "Well, hopefully I'll be dealing in kilos, not grams, hee hee." So I stopped giggling and made it clear that it is not really funny.

Little E brought home a stray cat two nights ago and we are letting it stay here while we find it a home. It is mentally ill I think, and continuously sucks on your shirt and kneads at you like it is nursing. Constantly. It has kept him awake for the past two nights so he was really dragging this morning. Of course, I offered him a piece of the tiramisu cake for breakfast. He really needed a "pick me up". He was running late, so he grabbed a piece and headed out the door. There goes my teenager, heading to school eating a 'breakfast' not only filled with sugar, but laced with alcohol and espresso as well. At least I did not make any more cocaine jokes.

I would guess this cake has the potential to be addicting though. It is really delicious. This recipe was chosen by Megan, of My Baking Adventures. She has the recipe and great step by step pictures on her blog. It can also be found on pages 266-268 of Baking, From My Home To Yours, by Dorie Greenspan.

Monday, May 4, 2009

You Can't Have Your Cake And Eat It Too

I really like my church. I spent a lot of my life searching for a religion. When I was four, I asked my parents for a Bible and got a giant children's Bible that I read cover to cover. I rode church buses to different churches because my parents never went to church. I took it upon myself to go with my giant bible to various churches looking for "the one". When I was in high school, I was brainwashed saved at a fundamentalist Christian church and spent a few years trying to convert my friends and enemies to the Assemblies of God. I could write a book about how crazy that church was and how fucked up I still probably am from it. Amazingly, my atheist BFF remained friends with me, and it's how I met my husband of 18 years, so it's all good.

Fourteen years ago, I started going to this church where you don't have to believe anything. The whole idea of the church is that each person should make up his or her mind about what to believe. At that point in my life, it is exactly what I needed.

There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote: (from The Universalist Unitarian Association; the church in Peoria is called the Unitarian Universalist Church of Peoria.)

-The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
-Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
-Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
-A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
-The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
-The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
-Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

When I first started going, I was a very active member and on all kinds of committees and volunteered for everything and taught Sunday School. Over the years, my attendance has become way more sporadic and my involvement ebbs and flows. Lately, I have been trying to be more involved and connected.

UU churches also have this really important tradition called coffee hour. After every service, everyone gathers to have coffee or tea and snacks. Usually a committee or several people join together to host coffee hour and provide the snacks. I guess I still have some over-zealous tendencies and decided I could host coffee hour myself, or with the help of my immediate family. It is kind of a lot of work, but I thought it would be fun.

About a month ago, a woman called me wanting to know if she could have a cake at our coffee hour, for her wedding anniversary. Sure, of course. A cake would be great. Then she hunted me down at church the next Sunday, to see what else I was going to serve. She seemed really distressed that I did not know at that point. In my mind, cake goes with everything. It is also not cheap to serve 150 people and I thought I would see what is on sale at the time and plan a menu from there. The next Sunday she found me again, wanting to know if I would be serving the food from one long table, or two separate tables. Again, I did not know and again she seemed unhappy. She was very concerned about my coffee hour and her cake, or cakes. So I told her I would probably have 2 tables, to facilitate the line moving faster.

The last few days have been really hectic because there is only so much you can do ahead of time for serving so much food. So I have been frantically baking and prepping and have been a little stressed and PMSy to make it even more fun.

Sunday morning there was also a breakfast before church hosted by the religious education committee. This also made getting ready for coffee hour a little more difficult because I had to wait for all the people to clear out from breakfast (which ended up being after the service had started) before I could set up. I helped the RE committee clean up after their breakfast while my husband made coffee. It was a hectic scene in a crowded kitchen. The RE committee had used one long table and I saw the anniversary woman had brought one cake, labeled "For Coffee Hour". So I decided to just use the one table, put her cake right in the middle with an anniversary figurine she had left for display, and put my pairs of dishes symmetrically on either side of the cake. I had labels as to what my items were and labels for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free (because UUs welcome many diverse diet choices and facilitate informed decision making in that regard).

The RE people decided to offer their leftover breakfast foods for coffee hour and started filling in the spaces on the table with leftover bacon and quiches etc. Then another cake appeared from the welcoming committee to welcome the new members. So I tried to stop stressing over the bacon in the vegan section and tried to figure out what I was supposed to do with this cake. Luckily someone from the welcoming committee came and put the cake on a separate table and cut it up. He suggested I do the same with the anniversary cake, so people could eat it. I was unsure about whether or not to cut it, but I know what 150 people wanting free food are like and how it would not be easy to cut it up while they are going through the food line. My husband went and cut up the cake and we stood ready to serve coffee as church was letting out.

Anniversary cake woman approached me with her arms around her daughter to tell me I had ruined her cake. She hadn't taken a picture of it yet. She started crying on her daughter's shoulder. I apologized and the daughter said it would be alright, but anniversary woman was collapsing in her arms and sobbing on her shoulder. She wailed, "Just, in the future, don't cut the cake!"

Did I mention I was PMSy? I retreated to the restroom and cried. My husband served the coffee and observed the bizarre spectacle of the anniversary couple getting a picture of the cake while the people were moving through the line to get the rest of the food. I came back and hid my tear stained face in a sink full of dishes.

In hindsight, I should have known better than to cut the cake. I regret not thinking more clearly. I wish I would have just left the uncut cake and let her deal with it if people had started scooping fistfuls of cake. I know, more than likely, people would have come back for cake if it wasn't cut when they went through the line, then anniversary woman would have been able to get a picture. So I really am sorry.

But, let me say this. If it is important to you that a cake be served in a certain way or at a certain time, maybe you should leave a specific note saying so. Or talk to the person setting it up directly. If you want a picture of it, it might be a good idea to do that before there are 100 people wanting to eat it. I understand that you want your cake your way, and would be happy to help you make that happen, if I had known. So please "in the future", give me some freaking clue what you want, or better yet, host the coffee hour yourself.