My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.

CrankyCakes


Archive for the ‘parenting’


Lobsters, Cheesecake, Burial Plans: Summer 2011 2

Posted on July 20, 2011 by crankycheryl

It’s turning out to be kind of a crazy summer around here.

Z. turned six two weeks ago.  He’d been planning his birthday for a year, and actively fixating on it for at least six months, encouraged by the constant flow of birthdays in his kindergarten class.

After extensive negotiations we decided to go camping, and that I’d go into a nearby town and find him a cheesecake.  And I’d get him lobster.  So we went camping.  I had contacted the Barnard General Store, who ordered and cooked lobsters for us at a ridiculously cheap price.  I picked them up and brought them back to our campsite to eat with corn and potatoes for dinner.


I had been worried about the boys’ sensitive little hearts.  This was going to be the first time that they had eaten something while actually looking at its face.   I placed a lobster on each plate, and started helping the boys crack them open to get to the meat.  After I had removed a claw and handed it to E. to start to get the meat out of, he took it, pinched the lobster’s still-attached antenna eand started singing,

Why are you pinching yourself, why’d you do that?!  Why you pinching yourself, huh, huh?!

And cackling wildly.  I realized they were made of tougher stuff than I had given them credit for.

After dinner it was on to dessert.  I hadn’t been able to find a cheesecake in even one of Woodstock’s precious little bakeries and stores.  So I had bought gelatin and sugar and cream cheese and, along with crushed up pretzels and fresh cherries we had back at camp, turned it into one of  those silly no-bake ones.

And I got out the candles and we sang and there were presents and then we tried the cake.  I thought it was pretty good, considering how it came into being.

Z. tried it, and then set me straight, looking earnestly at me and saying, Mommy, I wanted a cheesecake like this (shows me both thumbs up), but this one is like this (thumbs sideways, reproachful look).  I think I sort of mumbled something about how it may not have been perfect but wasn’t it cool that he had a mom who cared enough to make him cheesecake?  While camping?  With no oven?

Whatever.  He was right.  The only cool thing about it was that it actually happened.

And then a few days later, just about the time I had gotten the camping stuff put away, the boys hit me with this beaut as we were leaving the Y after swimming:

Mommy, when you die do you want to be all burned up or buried in the ground in a coffin?

What the hell?  Can they hear the hypochondria streaming between my ears?  My mental reviews of the state of my will because my foot hurts and PT isn’t working and my restless leg syndrome is getting weird again?

I asked them if they really wanted to know.  They assured me they did.

I could have done what the textbooks say, which would have been to answer the question as it was asked and then shut up.

Instead, I took a different route.

Instead I said something like,

Well, you know how I really care about other people and about recycling and taking care of planet Earth, right?  See, you can be what’s called an organ donor when you’re done with your body and that’s really cool because they take like your eyes or your liver and they give it so someone else so they can use it.  And you can even let people learn from you after you’re done living by letting them use your body for experiments and stuff and then they get to be really good doctors and help other people and that’s super great because it’s like you helped those people too.  And then when everything useful is gone I want to be all burned up and put on the compost pile at cohousing so I can be part of the garden forever.  Cool, right?

My final resting place. Or maybe it'll be over by the tomatoes.

You’re probably as surprised as I was to learn that they didn’t think it was cool at all.  They started wailing and yelling with their eyes all wide and welling up and everything, and then they swore they’d use swords and guns to defend my dead body so it could be in the ground in a coffin like it should be.  And that they could put their own coffins next to mine when they died.  And that we’d all spend eternity lying in our boxes next to where their dad buried his dead pet rats.

I’m pretty sure I agreed to all this.

After the crappy cheesecake, it only seemed fair.

Print Friendly

Don’t F. with the Pancakes 2

Posted on July 04, 2011 by crankycheryl

We were preparing for our first camping trip of the year a couple weeks back and it occurred to me:  Muffins!  I could make muffins!  I don’t have to make pancakes in the morning.  I always burn them anyway – how much can they really like them?  I mean, I could make CHOCOLATE muffins.  We LOVE chocolate!  I can even put chocolate CHIPS in them.  They’ll be so happy.  And I’ll be happy not having to clean up that big mess.

They were not happy.  I forgot the cardinal rule:  do not mess with tradition.  But I remembered it once I saw their faces fall, the disbelief as they looked at each other.  I mean, they seemed to think, divorce is one thing.  But this no pancake crap is just too much.

And they’re right.  We live our lives in a state of Plan B.  I’m forever ambitious and re-focusing what we’re going to do, dragging them off to this and that social event, a new activity to try, friends of mine with kids they don’t necessarily love.  They have ample opportunity to adapt, to make peace with a reality they didn’t choose, to punt and duct tape to get through their days.

So as we prepare for our second camping trip of the year, I dug this post up.  And I made the pancake mix.  And off we go.

Originally posted June 2009

I always burn the pancakes.  As I was making the dry mix to bring along with us, I was trying to talk myself out of freshly made pancake breakfasts on the cookstove for our first camping trip of the year.  I always make pancakes when we’re camping. I always burn them, distracted or inattentive for one minute and there they go.

I was grabbing ingredients for the mix and calculating times to see if I could possibly cook the pancakes ahead to just reheat on site, I kept thinking how I always burn them.  Mommy always burns the pancakes.  We go camping and we can count on a few things – hikes, and beach time, and s’mores, and our funny orange sleeping bags.  We try to stay in our favorite sites and leantos and we love to travel with our favorite friends, and in the morning Mommy burns the pancakes.

 

uu camping 037

So I made the mix and brought the add-ins (fresh blueberries, blueberry jam for putting on top).  We hiked and the boys were big enough to set free to explore the brook behind our campsite and we all got covered in mud and found cool pieces of mica and couldn’t get our fire going to save our  lives.  And in the mornings I burnt the pancakes and all was right in our camping world.

Well, you know, sort of.

Pancake Mix

  • 2 c. unbleached white flour
  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 c. + 2 T. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. cream of tartar
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1/2 c. instant nonfat dry milk
  • 3/4 c. powdered buttermilk
  • equivalent of 2 powdered eggs (or 3 egg whites)

Rehydrate with about 1 1/2 c. water and 2 T. oil.  Cook until burnt.

 

Print Friendly

Yellow Jacket Cake 0

Posted on June 11, 2011 by crankycheryl

Considering how he’s not really a foodie, E. invents an awful lot of new recipes.  There have been cheese soup suggestions, a lobster and strawberry thing, a hotdog and watermelon soup, and there are always ideas for cakes.  I slightly wish I was one of the moms who let their kids make whatever they dream up, could indulge all of his imaginings, but I can’t afford fantasy groceries.  And I hate wasted food.

Z. is different, a guy who likes to access information he knows is good.  When he asked for oatmeal the other morning, he was excited to run to our Fairy Tale Feasts book and find the recipe associated with it before running off for his little step-stool so he could watch it bubble away on the stove.  He nodded in satisfaction when it tasted right.

Every now and then we all agree on something that E. has dreamed up, and that’s how we came to make the Yellow Jacket Cake he’s been suggesting for some months now.    He kept telling me about the yellow lemon cake that had “sugar … milk … and eggs.  And flour, mommy.  And it looks like a yellow jacket.”  We needed a cake for our big school spring event, something that would have great kid appeal, but not send me into a state of cringe with its ingredients.  The usual thing is to make one from a box, cover it with frosting from a can, and then dump leftover candy all over the top.  (The tip from other moms is that it’s your ticket to moving out all the leftover Easter candy you still have around.)  But cake is easy, and I don’t like to bake from a mix unless I’m cooking for a highly allergic type person and I need to make sure that there’s been absolutely no contamination from offending ingredients.

Buzz buzz.  This recipe made one single-layer lemon-marshmallow cake and a half-dozen cupcakes for home.  E took a look at the cake  and said, “It’s okay, but I was expecting it to be a lot taller.  Next time: five layers, Mommy.”  I nodded.  Maybe.  But I noted that our cake was among the first ones chosen at the big school shindig, so I’m declaring it officially good enough.

Yellow Jacket Cake
Serves 8-plus
I made mine as one single-layer cake and six cupcakes, but for simplicity’s sake am writing this as if for a double layer cake.

Lemon Cake:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1 t. fresh lemon zest or 1/2 t. dried lemon peel
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp. milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Grease and flour 2 8-inch layer pans with removable bottoms.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in egg yolks, then lemon juice and zest.
  3. Mix together flour and baking powder. Add to butter mixture. Add milk and vanilla and mix well.
  4. Spread batter into pans, then bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  5. (While cake is baking, make the ridiculously easy and vaguely naughty frosting below.)
  6. Remove cake from pans and cool on racks.

Lemon-Marshmallow Frosting

  • 3 c. Fluff (or Ricemellow, if you’d like to be reasonably pure)
  • 1 1/2 c. organic non-hydrogenated palm frosting
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • pinch of lemon zest or dried lemon peel
  • Optional: tiny dash of yellow food coloring
  • Optional: black and yellow colored sugars and yellow and black candy
  1. Beat all ingredients together until fluffy and thoroughly combined.  Taste and adjust flavor to your palate, with more fluff or lemon juice as necessary.
  2. Frost the cooled cakes:  place one upside down on a large plate, and spread a layer of frosting over the top of it.  Place the other layer, upside down, on top.  Spread a thin layer of frosting on the top and sides of the cake – this is your crumb coat, so don’t worry if it does in fact have crumbs and bits of cake in it.  Then cover that first coat with the remaining frosting, making it as swirly and fluffy as you like.
  3. To make it yellow jacket-ish, sprinkle black and yellow sugars in stripes across the top, then toss on any appropriately colored leftover stale crappy candy you can’t even believe you bought in the first place.   Voila.

Print Friendly

Dandelion Fritters 0

Posted on May 10, 2011 by crankycheryl

It’s May in Vermont so I’m looking at leaves.  With the rain, all the rain, and the sun the world just seemed to bounce into technicolor overnight.  Now the trees are all blossoming in that golden green of spring, vibrant everywhere.  Chartreuse fuzzy leaves, new red maple buds, dogwood and flowers suddenly there.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit how amazing I find plants.  Really – a tomato plant in fruit can leave me speechless.  How do these simple life forms know to do what they do – a petal here, a bud there, a leaf that curls just so.   How does a bud know when to open?  How does it turn that tightly curled bead into an unfurled leaf overnight?

But this year I’ve been teaching in our school’s environmental education program and I’ve learned that I had that point wrong.  The bud forms slowly in the year before it blossoms.  It spends the good growing days using the plant’s resources to build the leaves that will appear next year.  It’s not a miracle, or maybe not a sudden miracle:  it’s slow growth under the surface.  The plant doesn’t have to spring into action when the weather is most in doubt and turn itself beautiful.  It just had to do a little bit at a time when light and food and water were plentiful, and then sit tight and wait through the hard times.

And when the sun is good and strong get out there and stretch and reach and grow.  And, if you’re in my family, get out there and forage for what you can freely find – like the dandelions just after they burst bright and yellow into the spring.

Dandelion Fritters
Serves 2

  • 2 cups of dandelion flowers, rinsed gently but thoroughly (make sure to pick them where the dogs haven’t been and nothing has been sprayed on them)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour (I used chick pea flour, but just about anything would be fine)
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. black pepper

Whisk together eggs, flour, salt and pepper until smooth and free of lumps, then beat in the dandelions.

Heat up 2 T. butter in a medium skillet until bubbling and fragrant, then pour in dandelion-egg mixture.  Cook for 3-4 minutes or until firmly set on bottom, then flip and cook 2-3 minutes more.  Serve immediately.  It’s nice with a salad, and a little hot sauce won’t hurt a thing.

Print Friendly

In Praise of Maple 3

Posted on March 27, 2011 by crankycheryl

We would go to the Dakin Farm pancake breakfast every year.  Before we were married, before we had kids, while pregnant, with babes in arms, we went.  Being a city-dwelling transplant to Vermont, I loved to get that close to the making of the year’s maple syrup.  I love how Dakin has tables splayed all over the store and you just sit next to the folks who live up the road, or the mayor, or the group who just came over after church.

 

I love how the family members and staff are there year after year.  How someone from the Cuttings family seems to be within a few feet of the big evaporator at all times.  I love walking in and seeing that the girls are bigger, that the nice guy who pours those huge perfect pancakes on the griddle is there again, ready to ladle molten butter all over whatever’s on your plate.

And I like how things have changed too, but not too much.  Now they offer fresh fruit.  And have an official price for vegetarians since they’re skipping all that piggy goodness.  I like that they have this new line of well-priced pizzas and chili and are branching out while still churning out the syrup and bacon that put them on the proverbial food map.

This year we sat in our usual place in the back shipping room.  Friends crowded in and so I stood and perched and got to survey the filled tables.  To our left was a grown daughter with her mom and dad, mom in a wheelchair and needing to be fed, clearly in the grip of dementia and being loved so tenderly by her husband and daughter who offered up syrupy bites.  The big group of Asian tourists with a new baby in the midst, looking around and smiling at it all.  Groups of students from our local colleges, piling on the all-you-can-eat fare.  A single dad looking like he’s barely keeping things together, but there they are, syrup dripping down their snowsuits and all.   Z. walked up and looked around with me and said, “Wow.”  Everyone comes to pancake breakfast.  “Poor lady in a wheelchair,” he said.  “It’s all right,” I told him, “she can still come to Dakin because she has people who love her.”

I think it’s Dakin where the boys learned the social graces of free samples, and was where they maybe learned that even though their parents divorced, life might not be too bad if everyone can sit together a table covered with a red and white plastic checked tablecloth and pass the syrup and talk about the day.

And I love this annual meandering day that takes us back up Route 7 to stop at Shelburne Farms, where the lambs seem to be popping out of ewes every time someone turns around.  The air is bitter cold still, but we’re here with the farm babies and we know that spring really can’t be too far.  Can it?

And the day was made better by not getting spit on by Freckles the guard llama as I did last year.  Plus I had the bonus of being able to tell the story to everyone who was gathered around, and feel very farm-savvy by telling them to GET BACK when his ears lay against his head.

We talked and we played and the kids chased chickens and climbed big melting, dirty piles of snow.   And we pondered the weird contradiction of adoring these new little animals who may be on our plates later this year, and felt good knowing we could be back in the same place, with the same conversation, next year.

Staging your own maple celebration?  Here are a few favorite recipes from previous posts:

Print Friendly

Vermont Mulligatawny 1

Posted on March 25, 2011 by crankycheryl

I’ve had a cold for a week and all I want is soup.  Spicy soup, especially.  And the other day a can of coconut milk jumped out of the cupboard (probably literally, as you know if you’ve ever seen how I cram things in there) at me, and I had some chicken breast left over from a roast chicken (I always do, since I really don’t like white meat), and before I knew it, mulligatawny was on its way.

You know mulligatawny, right?  It’s the creamy curried soup with chicken and usually rice.  In this case, I had root vegetables about and used those instead; it was a nice change from the other ways we’ve been eating them all winter long.

And the soup was just right for this cold-riddled time of year: creamy, spicy, hearty and great for warming you up from the inside out.  Even our visiting 5-year old neighbor agreed … while E. & Z. were eating frozen Costco pizza and staring at him in a sort of confused surprise.

A couple of cooking notes:

  • I started with cooked leftover chicken, but if yours isn’t cooked, cut it into pieces and brown it well in the first step, removing it before you add the vegetables, and then returning it to the pot to finish cooking in step 4.
  • Go ahead and substitute in other vegetables if you like, but make sure they’re mostly of the mild and savory variety for best flavor.

Vermont Mulligatawny
Serves 3-4

1.  In a big pot, heat until rippling:

  • 3 T. mild oil (I had some palm oil around, which I used for the flavor.  This would also be a good place to use up any ghee or coconut oil you may have.)

Add:

  • 2 carrots, cut into small-ish dice
  • 1 celery root, peeled and cut into small-ish dice
  • 2 potatoes, cut into small-ish dice
  • 1 onion, cut into small-ish dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • one 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (I was out and added 1 T. ground ginger instead)

3.  Stir, then add to it:

  • 1 T. curry powder

Which is what I totally would have done if I had had it.  Fortunately I had a lot of interesting bits of spices and seeds and things around and got out my awesome molcajete and ground it up instead, using approximately:

  • 1 small dried hot pepper
  • 1 t. cumin seeds
  • 1 t. turmeric
  • 1/2 t. coriander seeds
  • 1 cardamom pod

4.   Add 2 T. water, then cook the vegetable and curry mix over medium-low heat, covered, for 20-30 minutes, or until vegetables are easily pierced with a fork.

5.  Add to the pot:

  • 2 c. cooked chicken, cut into pieces about the same size as the vegetables
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 4 c. chicken stock (or vegetable stock, or water if you must)

Stir well, bring to a boil, then add:

  • 1 – 1 1/2 c. unsweetened coconut milk (if you’re calorie-careful you can use the light version of this)

Stir it some more.

6.  Ladle into bowls and serve, with fresh cilantro, or apple slices, or lemon wedges, if you like.  We had none of these and were just fine.

Print Friendly

Blessed Silence Sunday: How 5-year olds Play Backgammon 0

Posted on February 20, 2011 by crankycheryl

Print Friendly

Adorable Empanadas, or How I Scored a Princess Bat 3

Posted on February 19, 2011 by crankycheryl

Z.’s kindergarten teacher saw that I was making empanadas on a Facebook post, and asked if I might come in and do them with the class.  They were wrapping up their five-senses unit, and a hands-on cooking activity seemed a fun way to use those senses.

If you’re not familiar with them, empanadas are little turnovers popular in South America and parts of the Caribbean.  The crust is flaky like a pie crust, though just a bit more doughy.  Often filled with spiced ground meat, they can also contain vegetables, beans, even sweet fruit fillings (think portable pie).  I let Z. pick the flavor (potato and cheese) and started the planning.

The constraints were time and food safety, and the desire to give them a good product that they could succeed at while feeling proud of.   (If you’ve ever cooked with a group of kids you know that they can feel cheated if they don’t have something substantial to do in the creation of the food.)

The solution was to prepare the filling and crust ahead of time, and to leave out the raw eggs or anything that could be dangerous if a kid found himself sampling the ingredients raw.   Easy.  So, with my bag full of dough and filling, I arrived for the activity, we talked about how we use our senses to see the food we’re making, and listen to its crunch or sizzle, and smell its delicious smells.  Then we washed hands thoroughly (I’ve seen what these people do with those hands) and off we went.

Potato & Cheese Empanadas
About 20 turnovers

The Filling

Mix together thoroughly:

  • 4 c. leftover mashed potatoes
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar
  • 1/2 c. butternut squash puree (totally optional, but I have a reputation to maintain)
  • 3/4 t. salt

Set aside.

The crust

1.  Place in a large bowl or food processor:

  • 6 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 2 t. salt

Stir or pulse until combined, then add:

Pulse or mix until mixture looks like coarse crumbs.  Drizzle over the top:

  • about 1 1/4 c. water

Pulse just a few times or mix gently with fork until dough is just dampened enough to gather into a ball.

2.  Divide into ~20 flat disks, each with a piece of parchment or wax paper between them.  Refrigerate for an hour, or until you’re ready to proceed.  N.B. – If you do make this ahead of time, make sure you give the dough an hour at room temperature to get it to a workable consistency before proceeding.

Construction

1.  Preheat oven to 400.

2.  Take each disk one at a time, and roll it or press it into a circle.  In our class we distributed a piece of parchment to each kid, which is worth bringing in if your fabulous teacher doesn’t have it right at hand.

Press the dough (or help the kids press the dough) into a circle.  The shape doesn’t matter terribly, but it should at least have even edges and be symmetrical so it will fold over and seal neatly in an upcoming step.

3.  Take a rounded tablespoon of the filling, and put it just below the center of the circle.  Kids will need help with this as they’ll be likely to put too much filling on for it to close up properly.  How you deal with that is up to you – it’s not a bad idea to let kids learn some food science by seeing what happens when they make different cooking choices.  On the other hand, it’s nice to let everyone succeed in a class setting.

4.  Fold over the dough from top to bottom and seal by pressing.  If your dough is at all crumbly, dipping your finger in water and running it along the edge can help the edges sort of glue together.  Use a fork to crimp the edges, and then place each on an ungreased baking sheet until they’re all completed.

5.  Poke each with a fork two or three times.  Then give them an egg wash by beating

  • an egg or two with a little milk or water and then brushing on the top.

Then we had to run, run, run our empanadas to the kitchen to have them baked before pizzas went in the oven for Pizza Day.  You don’t mess with Pizza Day.

5.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until nicely browned.  Let cool for a few minutes (or the amount of time it takes to run back up the hall to your classroom) and then cut in half and eat.

What we found was that about half the kids were willing to try them, and most of those loved them.  Z. was too conflicted by the warring emotions associated with having me in the classroom and just couldn’t manage eating a new food too.  But one of his friends especially loved them, and that’s how I got my very own Princess Bat.

Swoon.

Print Friendly

Vermont Winter Souffle 0

Posted on February 08, 2011 by crankycheryl

One of these days I’m going to rename this blog, “Eat Butternut Squash or Die, Mofo!

And in preparation for that, here’s a truly fabulous, gluten-free, vegetarian use for the ubiquitous winter workhorse itself.  It’s adapted from Barbara Kafka’s absolutely fantastic Vegetable Love, a gem for anyone who eats vegetables, and a must if you’re a CSA member.   I hadn’t set out to make a dinner out of squash, but I came across the book just after roasting one, and it all sort of came together in a beautiful way.

I was interested to read this:

“There has been a rebellion in recent years in France against the rise of flour.  [!]  I don’t agree, but when it comes to vegetable souffles, the taste of the vegetable is often more pronounced without the use of flour.”

A few more pages of flipping landed me on Kafka’s brilliant combination of rhubarb and beets, and since I had those on hand too, that became the side dish.

Very Vermont Squash & Cheddar Souffle

Adapted from Barbara Kafka’s Vegetable Puree Souffle
About 4 dinner servings

1.  Preheat oven to 400 with a rack in the center position.

2.  Generously butter a 6- or 8-cup souffle dish (or any 6-8 cup round, straight-sided oven-proof dish).  Lightly coat with:

  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese (I was out and so used potato flakes.  The reason for this ingredient is to give the souffle something to climb as it puffs up, so the coarser texture was a good substitute.)

3.  Separate:

  • 4 eggs

(cheese grater, yes; souffle eater, no)

with whites in medium bowl.  Set aside.

 

4.  Whisk together:

  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 1/2 c. butternut (or other) squash puree
  • egg yolks, one at a time
  • 1 c. grated cheddar cheese (I used Cabot’s 50% fat, my standby)
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
  • sprinkle ground ginger
  • sprinkle cayenne

 

5.  Using your handheld blender or stand mixer or whatever you like for such things, beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks.

6.  Using a rubber spatula, take a generous scoop of the whites and fold them into the cheese mixture with gentle, sure strokes until it’s mostly combined.

Fold in the remaining whites until fairly well-combined, remembering to keep a fairly gentle touch and not pushing out the air in the egg whites.

7.  Scrape the mixture into your prepared dish and put on a baking sheet in the oven (if you use an 8-cup dish you can skip the baking sheet as it oughtn’t spill over the sides).  Bake for 25 minutes or until, as Kafka describes, the souffle is, “puffed, golden brown and only slightly wiggly in the center.”

Since souffles are notorious for deflating, I snapped this picture right away, before I jostled it on its way out of the oven.

And then it was still nice and puffy and so I took another picture.

Still puffy!  I was so excited I took another.

STILL PUFFY!  But, okay, enough was enough.  So then I put away the camera, cut into it and ate.  Serve immediately, or at room temperature, or even cold for an easy leftover lunch the next day.

A couple of notes:

  • It had been a while since I’d made a souffle, and was a little sad to discover I had lost my proper souffle dish somewhere along the way.  I used an 8-cup Pyrex round baking dish and it worked just fine.
  • One advance step that I always try to do, and usually forget, is taking out the eggs about half an hour before I intend to start cooking so that they can come to room temperature.  This makes a difference when you’re trying to get the whites beaten until fluffy, but don’t worry too much if you skip it.
  • Though I usually make souffles quite firm, Kafka offers this, “… the French prefer their souffles baveuse, creamy in the middle.  This semi-liquid center serves almost as a sauce.”  I did, and the contrast was nice … if initially a little alarming.

 

Warm Rhubarb & Beet Salad
Adapted from Barbara Kafka’s Vegetable Love
About 4 servings

Combine in a medium saucepan:

  • 5 roasted beets, peeled
  • 2 c. chopped rhubarb stalk (I had it in the freezer: maybe you’ve got some too)
  • 1/2 c. cider
  • 2 T. balsamic vinegar
  • (I had this on hand, which I used instead of the cider and balsamic)
  • generous sprinkle kosher salt

Cook over medium-low heat until rhubarb starts to break down and liquids are reduced to syrup.

Print Friendly

Holiday, Crap 4

Posted on December 30, 2010 by crankycheryl

How was your Christmas-type holiday?  Did it knock you off your ass as it did me?

I was completely sleep-deprived after being up until midnight making the school cupcakes and cutting out cardboard for crafts and school holiday parties.  Then after said parties, after we had fought our way through a couple of stores, I started getting their piles of stuff from school holiday mishegas separated and organized.  There was a small pile of wrapped gifts.  Five of them:  four for their dad, and one for their grandmother.

I’d love to tell you that I beamed at them and patted their little heads.  That I admired their wrapping paper and packed the presents off to their various destinations.

Instead I saw bright red and found strange sounds coming out of my mouth.  My eyebrows shot up until they were nearly in my hairline and I said in one of those pseudo-non-hysterical screeches, “Oh, okay.  None for me.  Heh heh. Heh.  That’s really great.  Great.”   My heart started pounding and a furious closed captioning sort of turned on in my brain, displaying things like, “After waking me up three times a night every night for years?  And whining all day?  And the nightly horror of homework?  And how I stay up nights worrying about you on the nights that you don’t happen to wake me up?  And how I do all this crap for you and have never once actually throttled you or thrown you out a window and Im a short order cook and buy you cases of nitrate free hot dogs and organic macaroni and cheese and I CAN’T EVEN HAVE A PIECE OF CRAP ORNAMENT FROM SCHOOL? REALLY?!”  And then I slumped up the stairs to cry which is where I stayed, asking Greg to handle dinner.  I cried for hours.

Somewhere around then I had to admit that 2010 has been a pretty tough year.  But still, I’m not sure how I ended up crying over this.  I was raised in a wholesome iconoclastic atheist Jewish rabble-rousing home.  I don’t really know where this sort of low-rent Martha Stewart tendency of mine comes from, or why I seem compelled to create some kind of a perfect holiday.    I hate the consumerism.  And I don’t think I really want endless things crowding our small home.

But what I especially don’t want is to be the person who actually cares, who seeks some weird kind of approval from my own children.  I know that I’m the one who’s here for them, not them for me.  I know I’m supposed to be a monolithic entity to them, one who doesn’t make them feel like they have to nurture me.  I know I know I know.

And I’ve recovered, having spent some uncomfortable time reflecting, realizing how my heart just isn’t pure.  How there’s no way I could have had this reaction if I let my real values guide my parenting.   Doesn’t that seem true and right – that when we act with truth and integrity, we’re not looking for the recognition from others, but being guided by our own inner compass.

And looking forward to the clean slate of a new year of life, that’s what I’ll be promising to do in addition to all the usual smaller goals.   Like making good on my promise to slow our lives down, to laugh more, to listen and make time for quiet.   And making space to forgive myself for our imperfect and fractured lives, my disorganization and impatience. And I’ll try to remember to not look for gold stars or glitter-covered, glued-up whatever as a reward.

But maybe you could stop by next December with a nice bottle of red wine and box of tissues, just in case.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin
Print Friendly
  • About

    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

    Stats: 301 Posts, 640 Comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Foodie Fights Winner

  • Kreative Blogger

  • Foodie Blogroll

  • CrankyCakes on Twitter

  • Recent Comments

  • Categories



↑ Top