Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Great Contribution to Society

So, though it has been a couple of months,
I feel I would be remiss if I didn't share
something that changed my life this summer...

Guinness Stout Cupcakes.

It all started with trying to come up with a recipe for my baked goods entry in the county fair. The Trophy Wife is a perennial entrant, and this year would be no exception. It just doesn't feel like summer in a small town without making my trip to the fairgrounds, kibitzing with the octogenarians about baking, and showing up of the first day for a hot and tiring round of fair fun. So to the drawing board. In the past The Trophy Wife has made Fudge Meltaways (for which she won Best In Show), The Trophy Mother's Coffecake (nominated for Best In Show), and The Trophy Wife's Chocolate Cake (nominated for Best In Show). So what divine concoction to come up with this year?

And you know it will be divine.


A year prior, Fulghi had decided to celebrate his birthday with a trip to the Getty museum in Los Angeles. These trips to the Getty are mostly about a lovely lunch, with art and self-improvement as an added, but not essential by-product. On this occasion, Fulghi chose a dreamy Chocolate Guinness Cake to finish off his celebratory lunch. Backstroking in caramel, this cake was warm and inviting, and made you wonder where this cake had been all of your life. Your miserable, Guinness-Cake-Free life.

So Fulghi, remembering this euphoric experience, suggested I do a Guiness Cake. After some research (the internet is your culinary friend), exploration on how to make such a cake (cupcake based on 3 different recipes), and trial and error in how to make it divine, The Trophy Wife came up with the following. Folks, hang on to your hats and glasses.

The Trophy Wife's
Guinness Stout Cupcakes
with Espresso-Caramel Frosting,
Caramel and Sea Salt

For the cupcakes:

1 C Guinness Stout
10 T butter
3/4 C cocoa powder
2 C sugar
3/4 C sour cream
2 eggs
1 T vanilla
2 C flour
2 1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt

Melt the butter and the Guinness together. When butter is melted, whisk in sugar and cocoa power. Meanwhile beat together sour cream, eggs and vanilla. Combine separately, the flour baking soda and salt. Add sour cream mixture to butter/beer mixture. Whisk in dry ingredients. Scoop into lined cupcake tins and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 min., or until done.

For the Espresso-Caramel Frosting:

1 stick butter
1 box powdered sugar
1/4 C The Trophy Wife's Caramel Sauce (recipe listed in "On The Way To Cougartown" post)
1 T instant espresso powder
Heavy cream to spreading consistency
pinch salt

Combine the above ingredients, and add heavy cream in small increments, until you reach spreading consistency.

To assemble cupcakes:

Fill each cupcake with caramel. Poke four equal holes in the top of the cupcake and fill. This will ensure that each bite of cupcake is accompanied by fabulous caramelness. (Caramelness. Yeah, I made it up. Deal. If The Trophy Wife can't make up a word every now and again, what good it it being The Trophy Wife?) Top with frosting. Drizzle caramel over top, and sprinkle with sea salt.

Y'all can thank me when you wake from your sugar coma.

Time Flies...

Well, I guess it is about time to blog. I've been putting it off. I've been nagged by my mother. All right already, it hasn't been that long has it?

One Year.


So a year has gone by. The girls are taller, and smarter and older. Or maybe The Trophy Wife is succumbing to her advanced years, and their added sharpness is merely the increased onset of dementia on TTW's part. Hard to say.

Fulghi is as handsome as ever. The Trophy Mother is still wishing she could have done better raising The Trophy Wife. And the world keeps spinning.

So, where to start...

Or where to continue...

I know you will stay tuned with bated breath... Or at least my mother will.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Two Kinds of Heartbreak

The Trophy Wife had a very sad weekend. In a very unfortunate turn of events, my dear friend Julie lost the baby she was carrying. For those of you who have experienced this kind of loss, I am sure that you know Julie's pain. I too lost 3 before our Tyler was born. Such a profound grief broke my heart. It is an odd kind of loss. Most people don't know, don't understand, or don't acknowledge the life that was so precious to you, so often the suffering is endured alone. For all the mothers out there who have lost a baby, know that we are strong together. This terrible sorority that we belong to unites us. My love to Julie, and to anyone else who has experienced this loss.

Now on to something that will hopefully make you smile.

When I went to bed tonight, I noticed, sitting right there on my night stand, a beautiful red bag gaily festooned with two kinds of ribbon, and containing a note from Santa. You can imagine my surprise! The envelope says: Merry Christmas and North Pole.

Inside I found a note that read:

Dear Melnie,
Your (You are) good tallented (talented) and your doters (daughters) never get coal so far.
Your Friend,

I guess I can rest easy, now that I know Tyler and Ryan aren't on the "Naughty List" so far. It is a little bit early in the season, for Pete's sake it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but I suppose this bodes well for the girls. I am concerned though, that Santa hasn't given the proper care and attention to his English writing skills. He seems to have the spelling proficiency of a second grader.

The tag read:

To: Melani
From: Santa Clase

I'm glad he spelled my name right this time. Let's hope in his off-season, he can get the remedial education he needs.

Thanks to my little imp Tyler,
for breaking my heart in a happy way.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Camera Adds 40 LBS

Well, today I appeared in print for the first time. Our local paper does weekly articles on cooks in the area, and this week they did a piece about The Trophy Wife. They call the column "Cook du Jour," but between you, me and the fencepost, it really should be "Cook de la Semaine," as it is Cook of the Week, not Cook of the Day... but I suppose that would lead to mass confusion as to what a Semaine is. We don't want folks thinking I'm involved with anything untoward, after all. If you want to read the article, you can find it at: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2009/nov/15/baking-makes-womans-spirits-rise/. The most shocking part of the article was the abnormally large woman that was pictured along with. I thought, who is that girl... oh... it's me... Bummer...
Here is a picture of me, taken just LAST NIGHT while on a hot date with Fulghi... just so you know I am really not pushing 3 bills, FOR PETE'S SAKE.
So off onto greater things, as I have exhausted all the recipes in Ina's first book that:

A. I was interested in, and
2. Did not contain shellfish (allergic,) or ham. (Fulghi tries to keep it kosher, except, of course, in regards to bacon, of which he is an equal-opportunity consumer.)

So, to fill the endless hours of leisure that makes up the life of The Trophy Wife, I have been consuming myself with more altruistic pursuits. Yes, The Trophy Wife has a heart of gold, with an enormous capacity for magnanimous acts of kindness. (For those of you who just threw up a little bit in the back of your mouth... work with me.) I have been churning out baked good upon baked good for The Marriage Course at our church. Fulghi and I have both been previous students, and really appreciate the opportunity we had to become closer as a couple. Just so you know... Cooking for 60 is not the same as cooking for 4, let me tell you... however, I did enjoy breaking in my new kitchen, and was pleased with the greater amount of space, and the improved functionality. Here are some pics of my recent offerings.

So The Trophy Wife is now back in the saddle, and will be bringing more consistent humorous culinary/domestic/matrimonial/parental offerings heretofore to a computer near you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Day, Oh Who The Heck Knows: Fulghi Is My Hero.

Occasionally The Trophy Wife can over extend herself, and by herself, she means her husband. So with all this extra work I have been giving Fulghi, I just haven't had time to blog! Spouse-management is a job unto itself! I mean, while Fulghi has been working, I've had to catch up on episodes of The View, and Oprah for that matter, all while I sipping a frosty diet coke! And don't forget my responsibilities to Facebook! (I mean, seriously, Mafia Wars ain't gonna play itself.) I have to juggle these grueling tasks, while still overseeing Fulghi's progress and advising him in the case of any mistakes. The road of The Trophy Wife is not an easy one to travel...

Here is what The Trophy Wife has been up to for the last month...

First we have The Trophy Wife's Guide To A Successful Marriage in action. Fulghi works all week long, only to come home to his second job. Remodeling the kitchen. Who has time to fool around when every waking second is taken up with hard labor? Trust me on this one gentle readers, idle hands are the devil's playground!

You tell ME this doesn't look like a happily married man!
Put down the screwdriver, Fulghi, and nobody gets hurt.
So Fulghi has been working several weekends in a row to get this kitchen put back together. He is truly a saint, and for some reason still loves me in spite of it all. Although, he did make it clear in no uncertain terms that this would be the last kitchen remodel. I say, oh Fulghi, don't be naive. The kitchen may be done, but The Trophy Wife and her nefarious plans will not be stopped. Kitchen be damned! The Trophy Wife can make plenty of work in the rest of the house!

So for your viewing pleasure, here are the results of Fulghi's blood, sweat, and tears... At least now he won't have to sob himself to sleep at night.

Looking in to the new kitchen addition.
Check out the swanky new chandelier.
Looking into the new pantry.
Now I have a place for all my cookbooks, and room to add more!
View of the new kitchen addition.
Another view.
Another view,
looking from the new kitchen addition into the living room.
Another view with a new cabinet
just for my grandmother's Franciscan Pottery.
Fulghi is a man among men.
Smart, handy, loving, kind, and patient (obviously).
What else can be said?

He is my hero.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Day 28: Thankful

The Trophy Wife is thankful tonight. Her cup is full. She has a wonderful husband, beautiful children, loving family, and friends that make her laugh.

Tamara made a beautiful cake for me for my birthday, from scratch. It tasted so wonderful that two days after my birthday, not a crumb remains. But even better than the taste, was the love with which it was made. It gave The Trophy Wife a tear, and The Trophy Wife is NOT a crier. So this blog is for Tamara. Thank you for my cake, and thank you for your friendship. Nothing could be sweeter.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Day 21-27: On The Way To Cougartown

Yesterday I started down the long green mile to being old enough to be a cougar. The Trophy Wife has turned 39. Luckily, this day that serves as an altar to my fading youth is followed by my wedding anniversary. 15 years of wedded bliss. And yes, The Trophy Wife was a child bride. So while The Trophy Wife is becoming aged, she will not join the ranks in cougartown. The Trophy Wife has job security. She has meticulously followed...

The Trophy Wife's Guide To A Successful Marriage:
Make your husband so miserable he wouldn't want anything to do with yet another woman.

I say to Fulghi: "Fulghi, would you ever leave me for another woman?" And Fulghi says: "What would I want with another woman? Don't I have enough trouble as it is?" All these politicians wives should call me. They all need to ask not what they can do for their husbands, but what their husbands can do for them. All in the interest of family values of course... Oh but I kid, I kid! I am the lucky wife of a wonderful husband, and for that I am truly grateful. The longevity of our marriage is due entirely to this man's endless reservoir of patience. Happy 15 Fulghi!

We've had a week of celebrating birthdays and an anniversary. (Tyler's is 5 days before mine) There has been lots of dinners out, and special birthday feasts. And luckily The Trophy Wife has had quite a respite from too much cooking. This was especially true on Tyler's Birthday. I had visions of crafting a beautiful Ariel cake. (She was having a Little Mermaid themed birthday.) Mounds of ocean colored frosting, Ariel swimming across the cake... but it was not to be. My little precious imp uttered the 7 words that would leave me reeling, and questioning the efficacy of my parenting in the past 8 years.

"Mommy, I want a cake from Vons."

What? Who? What? She went on to tell me how creamy and buttery the frosting was, and how this was her only true dream in life, and that if she could only have a cake from Vons like the other kids always have, her life would be complete. Way to put a dagger through my heart Tyler. Your mother stands for all things homemade, has made bread from scratch for the last 9 months, is known for her award-winning cakes. My child prefers a lard-frosted, chemical filled, tastes like cardboard, cake from Vons. I'm beginning to think she must have been switched at birth. Who is this changeling? If she wasn't my doppelganger, I would be demanding a full refund. In cash.

So last week I was at Costco, and fell prey to my hunger pangs. I purchased an entire flat of croissants. Luckily The Barefoot Contessa has a recipe for Croissant Bread Pudding (pg. 192), so I was able to assuage my guilt. This bread pudding was so yummy, and custardy (if that is a word), I just loved it. The Trophy Wife, however would not just eat bread pudding alone. No, The Trophy Wife is all about the sauce.
The perfect compliment to the warm cuddly goodness of bread pudding is...

The Trophy Wife's Caramel Sauce

1 cup water
3 cups sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream.

Combine water and sugar in saucepan, and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Once sugar is dissolved, turn heat to high and let mixture cook until it turns a nice caramel color. Once the mixture is turned to high, you should no longer stir, but should occasionally swirl the pan. Very Important Point: After each stir or swirl, you should brush down the sides of the pan with water and a pastry brush. This will keep the caramel from turning to sugar.

When the sugar mixture has reached desired caramel color, remove from heat and SLOWLY add 2 cups of Heavy Whipping Cream while stirring. Be very careful, because when the cream is added, the sugar will bubble up. So start SLOWLY! And ta-da, there you have it: The Trophy Wife's Caramel Sauce. Good for topping ice cream, rice pudding, bread pudding, or for that matter, eaten straight from the pan. Once it cools, of course.

The Trophy Wife's NEW AND IMPROVED Guide To A Successful Marriage:
Caramel Sauce. Lots of it.