Saturday, November 20, 2010
Several weeks ago, Y had a hard day on the grid iron. Because of the misdeed in his direction, I wasn’t happy either. When he arrived home, I volunteered to head out and cause some trouble with him, if it would make him feel better. He wasn’t interested in throwing anything, damaging anyone’s property or delivering tainted brownies to a coach’s doorstep. (I silently wondered if he had any of my DNA.) He told me he wasn’t angry, but if it would make me feel better, I could make him cookies. And so I did make cookies, and we both felt better.
Yesterday it was my husband’s turn to have a bad day. He works on a government contract safeguarding nuclear materials. Neither you nor I have clearance to know any more than that. Needless to say, when he has a hard day, I never get details. I can be empathetic, but most helpful if I’m busy in the kitchen doing what I can to ease the burden. This is the comfort food of choice:
5 cups fruit (sliced apples, peaches, berries, etc.)
1 T lemon juice
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
¾ cup oats
¾ cup brown sugar
3/8 cup flour
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
6 T cold butter, cubed
Prepare fruit and toss with lemon juice, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pulse oats, brown sugar, flour, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and butter in the food processor until it forms crumbs. Add 3/8 cup nuts if desired. Lay fruit in the bottom of a greased 9inch baking pan. Sprinkle crumb topping on. Bake at 350 degrees for 40+ minutes, or until done.
B sent me a text last night bemoaning a happening in his life. I was tired, and done consoling people who'd had a hard day. He was given the following advice:
“Keep your head up. Keep working hard. Go forth with faith. Your dad and brother had some rough days too this week. Pray for them and focus less on your own misfortune. I love you.”
He replied “Okay.”
Reading it this morning, I hope I wasn’t too harsh. But it makes me feel better knowing today he’ll receive a surprise care package in the mail with ingredients to bake some of his favorite treats.
–Recipes will be posted another day.
Friday, November 19, 2010
This morning, I head out to visit some ladies from church. I have been asked to check in on them to see how they and their families are doing, making sure all of their immediate needs are being met. I already know they are all doing well- however, today I will go and not go-empty handed.
This recipe can be compared to Mom’s Holiday Pumpkin Bread. The biggest difference is texture. The original recipe called for 1 cup of oil- it seemed heavy to me. I immediately cut it in half, and added more pumpkin to offset the moisture imbalance. This is the recipe I use when I want to make pumpkin bread or bars:
3 cups sugar
½ cup oil
2 ¼ cups canned pumpkin
3 cups flour
1 tsp. cloves
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
I blend the first four ingredients in the Kitchenaid. The eggs can tolerate a little more beating since the desired end product is more cake like. Dry ingredients all at once and then mix until smooth. Divide batter into loaf pans or spread it in a jelly roll pan baking at 350 degrees. Time depends on size of pan.
Once the bread/bars are cool, frost with cream cheese frosting, or Steve’s choice of a ground clove infused powdered sugar glaze.
My message to the ladies today is about work. Just like the ground cloves in Steve’s glaze, it is infused throughout our lives- and it’s a good thing that it is.
I am extending a message of hope regarding the work that drives our everyday lives- I recently heard that “ a consecrated life is filled with work, sometimes repetitive, sometimes menial, sometimes unappreciated but always work that improves, orders, sustains, lifts, ministers, aspires.”
So maybe we can find strength to continue the work we are asked and invited to do that leads us to progression in this life and throughout the next.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
A conversation via text between a friend and I last night awaiting the news on Y’s status with the basketball team-
Friend: “Hope the spirits are high at your home tonight because things went well for Y. Good luck!”
Me: “Actually, he was cut. He isn’t home yet so we haven’t talked.”
Friend: “Oh shoot…hope he handles it well. How is mom handling the news?”
Me: “Me?-I’m completely rational. All I want to do is sell the house and get the heck outta here!”
Friend: “Oh good…I was worried that you would lose it and do something crazy like make lemon cake!”
And so I did. . .
1 lemon cake mix
1/3 cup oil
½ cup water
1 cup sour cream
1 small package of lemon pudding
I toss it all in the bowl and let the Kitchenaid work it. Several minutes later, it’s in the desired baking pan (jelly roll, rounds, bundt, cupcakes- whatever your feeling) baking at 350 degrees. Time depends on size of pan.
I keep it simple by frosting with a canned lemon frosting and setting the wow flavor factor with a glaze made of 2+T lemon juice to 2 cups of powdered sugar.
Y is handling the disappointment with toughness- probably because that’s how most 16 year olds think they should. He was quiet last night. In family prayer, his sister asked God to “help Y get over it”- before we could reverently giggle she quickly followed by asking “please let the Spirit comfort him.” I think he has felt that comfort. I have too- what an incredible gift the Comforter is.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Today is Y’s last day of basketball tryouts. He will be home around 6pm with the news of whether or not he made the team. If I were to bake his favorite thing, I know in an instant what it would be. It’s not a treat, but rather a pepperoni and sausage pizza enclosed in the crust, saving the sauce for dipping. We call it Stromboli. You begin with dough- enough for one pizza. You can make your own, defrost a loaf of frozen bread dough (this takes over 5 hours) or purchase some at your favorite pizzeria.
When my eldest, B, was 4 and Y was 2, we moved to a community near Washington D.C. for a temporary work assignment. We could be found many Friday nights at Bertuccis in Herdon, Virginia. It was a great Italian restaurant with brick oven baked pizza. Each time we would go, the waiter would bring the boys a small ball of dough. He told them to make it into any shape they wanted, and then he would bake it for them, and bring it back ready to eat. He suggested a car shape, a boat, their favorite zoo animal- whatever. The boys worked over their dough for quite some time. Finally the waiter returned and asked “Didn’t you want to make a shape?”
B, speaking for both of them said, “They’re basketballs!” Y raised both hands in the air with tiny clenched fists and said “Yeah!!!”
The waiter returned with some baked balls of dough not looking much different than they had been initially delivered to our table twenty minutes prior. And I had two delighted young boys.
So after securing some dough, follow the directions to make your own version of Y’s favorite:
Shape the dough into a long rectangle, no longer than your baking sheet, and about half of the width. Sprinkle it with Italian seasonings. Line the very center with pepperoni. Layer grated Italian cheeses on top of the pepperoni, and then cover the cheese with sausage. It is important to keep the cheese in the center or it will bake into the crust, and essentially disappear. Next, gather both edges, meeting in the center, pinching them closed, being sure to also seal the ends. Flip your Stromboli over onto your baking sheet, sealed side down. Dust with cornmeal, garlic salt, and or parmesan cheese. Bake it for 20-30 minutes(depending on size) at 350 degrees or until done. Serve with warm marinara or cheese sauce for dipping.
I’m sure you are already thinking of variations for this recipe to make it your favorite- ham and pineapple, chicken and spinach, veggie delight. A word of caution- Watch out for too much moisture. Ingredients with a lot of moisture can make your finished product soggy.
I’m doing my part in the kitchen today to try and tell you that no matter what- team member or not, I’ll always be your biggest fan!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Y was 5’2” as a freshman in high school. Two years later, he has grown over 8 inches, and based on the size 12 shoe he wears, he isn’t done growing. Many kids are full grown with puberty behind them by the time they enter high school. The fast twitch muscle fibers are responsible for speed, strength and power, and are typically the last to develop. So a kid still in the thralls of his growth cycle doesn’t quite have all the factors of success working together yet. This reminds me of flavors working together in an oatmeal cookie – no really, it does- my brain is funny that way! Many people unite cinnamon and chocolate in an oatmeal cookie. I am against it. I favor cinnamon with raisins, and chocolate with other flavors that unite and work well together. My favorite cookie used to be a classic chocolate chip, until I played with my oatmeal cookie recipe and began making these:
Quad Chip & Oat Cookies
1 cup butter flavored Crisco
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ¾ cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups oats
2/3 cup each of semi-sweet chocolate, milk chocolate, butterscotch, and vanilla chips.
As with all cookies, cream Crisco and sugars first. Stir in eggs and vanilla, careful not to over mix once the eggs are added. Doing so will change the texture of your finished product. Add dry ingredients at once, and then stir in the chips. Drop onto baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees. Time depends on size.
These flavors work together nicely. However, if you prefer to omit the chips and add a teaspoon of cinnamon and several handfuls of raisins, you won’t be disappointed.
Y enters day two of basketball tryouts without fast twitch muscle development, but with great determination and an uncompromising work ethic. Will it be enough?
Monday, November 15, 2010
Today is the first of three basketball tryouts for Y, my middle child. The tryouts are in 7 hours and I'm already nervous for him. I remember tryouts my junior year. I remember sitting under the basket at the end of the gym, up against the cold concrete block wall. I was completely unsure in my abilities. I couldn't even lift my head as the coach called out the Varsity roster. I kept starring at the hardwood in front of me. That flashback early this morning sent me to my Kitchenaid. The weather is cloudy, with a little wind and rain. My thoughts have briefly returned me to my childhood, and one of the only things my mama used to bake (although only once a year- and for the neighbors). I've tweaked the recipe a little and exchanged a crumble top for the spice glaze. Based on texture, I prefer this recipe as muffins instead of bread, nevertheless, I call it:
Mom's Holiday Pumpkin Bread
1 ½ cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
3/8 tsp. ground gloves
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup canned pumpkin
3 T soft butter
I lazily toss dry ingredients and then add the wet. As a muffin, don’t over mix.
Bake them at 350 degrees. Time depends on size of baking cup. I prefer Texas size muffins.
Mom always added 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and 6 oz. chocolate chips, omitting the cloves. Then she would glaze the cooled bread with a clove infused powdered sugar glaze.
I often substitute some whole wheat flour, scant the cup of sugar, use skim milk instead of buttermilk, and skip the nuts and chocolate inside. This way, I feel okay about having two!
I do like to pretty it up with a simple crumble on top:
1T cold butter
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup oatmeal.
I pulse it in the Cusinart for a bit and throw in a few tablespoons of mini chocolate chips and chopped pecans.
Good luck today Y! Your dad says to play smart, your mama says to play with your heart!