Mar 27, 2008

Politics and Dessert Mix Just Fine

I like the words Nigella Lawson makes up, or perhaps they're just English slang, like "whinge." Whatever they are, "wodge" is a fine example. It so perfectly describes the dark damp slab of her Chocolate Gingerbread. In fact, I'd be lost without the word "wodge" to describe it. I cut several wodges to take to a meeting at my friend R's house, where, apparently, CBS will be interviewing "Delaware County Moms" about the election. (How I hate the word "moms." Oh well.) I am going to get a word in for my candidate, and call my dessert Chocobama Gingerbread, just for the evening. See, I can make up words too. Except I've seen the word "chocobama" before, now that I think of it. Somewhere.

Even Hillary fans and--shudder--Republicans will love this unity (get it?) of gingerbread and chocolate.

Mar 25, 2008

French Connection: Our Daily Habit

My bread machine is in semi-retirement lately, only being hauled out once a week to make pizza dough. The paddle kept getting stuck in the bread and I had to help it too much with the initial mixing. It sulks most of the week in the garage next to the recycling.

My latest bread obsession is the baguette, not a fancy just-like-the-French kind, but a good-enough-for-us kind. I make it every couple of days. I found the recipe in Gourmet about ten years ago, and here it is. It's so easy and delicious, great for sandwiches. I bake it on a pizza stone. Use a serrated break knife to make the three slashes; otherwise you will squish the dough. If you want it extra crusty, brush the top with ice water just before baking. You can put the kneaded dough in the fridge overnight, if you wish; just let it get to room temperature before shaping into the loaf. I slice the bread parallel to the slashes, to get bigger pieces for sandwiches. The other thing is I use 2 teaspoons salt, not 2 1/2.

I buy ten-pound bags of flour at BJ's for $4.99, so we're saving some money, too. Of course, my family is totally spoiled now, and I must remind them frequently how good they have it. Sigh.

Happy baking.

Mar 22, 2008

Best Chocolate Cake Recipe is . . .

the one on the Hersey's Cocoa container. Apologies to Richard Sax and Nigella Lawson. I did add a rounded teaspoon of espresso powder to the frosting, which always adds a nice kick. Next time I will sift the cocoa and confectioner's sugar, too.

It was for my father-in-law's 80th birthday. I made Corned Beef and Cabbage, and the cake was accompanied by Maple Walnut Ice Cream, total overkill, you don't even have to tell me. We used the last of the Grade B syrup we got in Vermont in June. This year we'll get two jugs of the stuff.

Urf, I'm full and tired. Time to walk the neglected dog. Fortunately, I knew I'd be tired of cooking for the inlaws for a week and so we are going to Roux 3 for brunch tomorrow. Aaaah. Then on to Longwood Gardens to walk it off.

Oh, why are my inlaws here for nine days, you ask? It could be because we sent them Amtrak tickets for Christmas? Yeah, that's it. And because life is short and we want to spend it with people we love? My mom kicked the bucket a bit early and surprised the heck out of us, when I was pregnant with Jack. It gives me a little perspective.


Thought for the Day: This from my mentor in my MFA program who was an editor at the Atlantic for a few decades. I asked him if he had ever read any blogs. He said, "One." So I said, "And?" And he replied, "They're either a waste of effort, or not enough effort, I'm not sure which."

Mar 17, 2008

I'm Wearing Green Plastic Beer Mug Earrings, What About You?

Whenever St. Patrick's Day rolls around, I always realize how sartorially challenged I am when it comes to green clothes. But I did unearth the abovementioned ugly earrings and wore them, the good sport that I am. Jack and Will wrote in green gel pen all over their forearms. Did you know that gel pens rinse off with only water?

Since my inlaws are here, as you all know, we didn't drink any St. Patty's Day beer. They're teetotallers. Right now I'm writing this in the sunroom and drinking a very tannic red wine, but they are elsewhere. Not that they would mind all that much, but it just feels weird to drink beer in front of them. It's not as fun as usual. Oh, and Holy Week puts a bit of a damper on a drinking holiday and all that. I heard that St. Patty's Day only occurs during Holy Week once in a lifetime so it's good to have gotten this unfortunate coincidence out of the way.

Anyways, I did make a jolly brilliant attempt at a St. Patty's Day Dinner. No meat, in keeping with the Lenten spirit. Also because I ran out of time; you need hours for corned beef and cabbage. We had the patriotically named "Pride of Erin" Soup, spinach salad with bits of bleu cheese, bagels (a desparate last-minute add-on) and Parsnip Spice Cake with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting (only with a teaspoon lemon juice instead of ginger in the frosting, and no vanilla).

I got to use my immersion blender to make the soup. You must understand that I LOVE my immersion blender. I should have a job selling only immersion blenders. The Immersion Blender Lady. It makes me sad, though, to think of the years I spent schlepping scalding hot cups of soup into and out of a blender, spilling it and burning myself. The soup was mainly cabbage and a little potato, some chicken stock, milk and mace. Not the medieval weapon or the modern spray used to deter attackers, merely the spice.

The cake, which I made last March for the first time, was assertive in spice and parsnipness, but not in a bad way. Will didn't touch it because he "hates parsnips," even though he has never tasted one. My mother in law frosted it and I drew a huge sloppy shamrock in green frosting and voila, a St. Patrick's Day Cake. Then we grownups were treated to a special dance show, in which the boys danced wildly to "The Mesopotamians" by our family's favorite band, They Might Be Giants.

So all in all it was the most pleasant Mesopotamian Irish Mennonite St. Patty's in recent memory.

Mar 13, 2008

What's Hot, What's Not

What's hot and what's not, in the mind of Lauren. Here's the top twelve. I don't have time to write complete sentences today. My very clean inlaws are coming tomorrow and staying here. For nine days.

Giving things away/shopping
CSA and local market/supermarket
Using the library/buying books
Making bread/buying bread
Gray hair/colored hair
Working out/ making excuses
Reading classics/reading chick lit
Collies/golden labs, retrievers, doodles

I sound disgustingly self-righteous. Better rectify that--
Dust bunnies/the floor

Mar 12, 2008

About Last Night

Hello long lost readers,

Last night I went bowling with various bloggers noted here (thanks for doing all the work, Domestic Goddess), so I thought, better write a blog entry so they have something to read should they ever wander into the Dream Kitchen. We are all fans of Bossy, who is going on a road trip soon to meet many of her blogging fans. (Saturn, can you send me $10 for that?) Bossy got the highest score, an amazing 113, so no wonder she wanted to go bowling. What a show-off.

I got the low score of 40, but at least I didn't get my thumb stuck in the ball or throw the ball up in the air several feet and have it land with a huge thud. But I did need a ringer to bring my score up from zero (see last link, thanks, R!). Whenever anyone got a gutter ball, huge white letters spelling GUTTER would drift across the screen at the speed of a tortoise. I hate that screen. And whenever you ate a tater tot, it would say HAVING ANOTHER,FATSO? But heck, we were there for the people, and what a great bunch of gals. All women who bowl are gals, you know that? Just for the evening, as long as you're wearing the shoes. Even if you're at the hipster North Bowl in hipster North Liberties, serving its hipster irony-drenched tater tots, it's still a bowling alley, with gals. Gals and fellas.

Before I go, because I promised myself I wouldn't obsess about this entry and edit it a zillion times and write too much and fiddle with the paragraphing when I should really be writing my manuscript (or cleaning my house, or something) I just want to present an award. Nothing to do with bowling bloggers.

It's the award for Best Headline Ever Written About a Politician's Disgrace. This entry received the highest scores ever for brevity, economy, humor, and, for extra credit, rhyme. Please join me in congratulating the New York Post for yesterday's headline, "Ho No!"