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.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day 15-20: No Rest For The Wicked

For the last week, I have been immersed in the reconstruction efforts after the Curbside Couch Debacle. This included, but is not limited to: making slipcovers for furniture that found new homes, hanging chandeliers (well, that was Fulghi,) installing hooks in the girls room (again Fulghi,) going through closets, and closets, and closets, and general reorganization. In the words of Fulghi: "you've done a number on this house." I told him that with all this "Free-styling" I've saved him over 80K in home addition costs! I was going to eventually make him add on to the house so that we could have a proper dining room. Poof! Now I have made a dining room where there once was none! He should be very grateful...

New Dining Room - Formerly Family Room
The new chandelier is compliments of My Mother and Father.
(Early birthday gift!)


More Slipcovers
My first attempt - please be kind.

New TV Room
Minus old couch.

Re-arranged Living Room
with added "puzzle table."
My theory is, when you live in a 1929 Spanish house, you and the house gotta work together. You have to come to a mutual understanding. You need to let the house know, even though she's a little old, she's still got a lot to give. The times they are a-changin', and sometimes the way we started out in life is not always the way we will end up. So we have re-purposed rooms and thought outside the box. So far we are really enjoying the changes. We have more room for homework and dining, and homework time seems to be more efficient. Next-up is the breakfast-room-into-kitchen transformation, and mud room metamorphosis! There is no rest for the wicked, and well, you all know me...

Now, in case you, gentle reader, have worried that my family has gone hungry this week, fear not. While I have been utilizing left-overs whenever possible, I have ventured on in my quest to dominate the Ina Experiment.

Ideas for leftover chicken and potatoes!
Night One: I sauteed an onion until caramelized, added diced chicken and potatoes, and along with a generous splash of salsa, heated through. Popped into tortillas, they made pretty good burritos.

Night Two: Took another onion and sauteed with some bell peppers, added leftover chicken mixture, placed inside two sides of a melted-cheese-tortilla-sandwich (also known as a quesadilla.) Sour cream, avocado, done.

So now we come to the next recipe in the experiment. Gazpacho! (pg. 79) If you try this, prepare for lots, and lots, and lots of chopping. It makes a bit (that's butt-load for you in the know,) and fyi: wasn't a hit with the kids. It was a hit with me, though. It reminded me of childhood trips to The Good Earth restaurant with my mother. I would always order the gazpacho and the herbal tea, and I always LOVED both. So go figure. My kids love Indian food, but put the kibosh on the gazpacho. Since we are now on night three, yes folks that's count 'em THREE NIGHTS of the gazpacho (with still enough soup leftover to feed a small village,) I'm sure I'm in for a fight...
A butt-load of Gazpacho

More of a hit were the Turkey Tea Sandwiches (pg. 58) that I served along-with. The have a nice sweet/savory vibe with the cinnamon-raisin bread, basil, smoked turkey and spring onion cream cheese. And in the words of my beloved Ina: "a nice depth of flavor." I found them to be the perfect accompaniment to the gazpacho, and two grouchy kids.

Plated and ready to go!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Day 14: A Very Brady Bedroom

After several attempts of pleading and cajoling, and threats of cessation of TV privileges, World War III was still being waged in my girls bedroom. The reason for the conflict? Who should be responsible for picking up all the crap, I mean clutter on the floor. I mean, one can't just be picking up messes made by one's sister can they? In an attempt to maintain/restore harmony in the home, I drew a mediating line down the middle of the girls' room with electrical tape. Now each is responsible for whatever falls on their side of the black line. Fulghi says: "when did you go all Brady Bunch on the girls?" Ahhh, 1970's cultural reference. Then Fulghi said, " and why haven't they figured out that they can just throw their stuff on the other sister's side?" Ahh, yes, sage Fulghi. They have not figured this out because at least for the time being, I am still smarter than they are.
At least for now.

Tonight I am tired. This has been a long week, and I am still suffering the aftermath of my free-style session. So for tonight, all I could bust out was a Peach Crisp. It was supposed to be Peach and Raspberry Crisp (pg. 190,) but since I HATE raspberries - it's a no go. Sorry Mother, there is no amount of cajoling that will lure me to put a raspberry in my mouth. No way, no how. Blueberries, blackberries, olallieberries, strawberries, any berry you can name I will eat, but not the dreaded raspberry. Of course this all changes when I am pregnant. Then I stand over the sink, feverishly shoving raspberries down my gullet at a lightning pace. So, as far as I am concerned any day without a raspberry, is a good day.

Cobbler ready for the oven. Again, so tired I forgot to take a picture of the finished product.

I was even too tired to make a proper dinner. So french toast is on the menu.
In The Trophy Wife's Defense: she did use homemade bread...

The Trophy Wife's Friday-Night French Toast
1 Loaf Bread of your choice
8 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar or cinnamon sugar
1-2 tsp cinnamon (depends on your taste)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Combine ingredients in a shallow dish. Dredge slices of bread in egg mixture and fry in a skillet/griddle coated with butter until golden on each side, and egg has cooked in the middle of the bread. Top with butter, powdered sugar, and maple syrup. Serve on days when you've just had enough.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day 12-13: Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

Day 12 for The Trophy Wife was a complete wash. I spent so much time yesterday running around town, that I am now wondering when, oh when will I get that nap I have been looking forward to all summer? I mean, what good is being The Trophy Wife if I can't at least enjoy some of the perks of the job? The rest of the week is so jam-packed that I don't think I will be enjoying the perks anytime soon. Yesterday was so bad, I fed Fulghi a bowl of cold cereal for dinner. In truth, I neither fed it to him, nor prepared it for him. Poor Fulghi, works all day, and has to come home to pour his own cold cereal (and milk.)
Only so much can be expected of The Trophy Wife.

I remember hearing other moms complaining that their days just filled up while the kids were at school, and they still never felt like they accomplished anything. To this I said bull....I mean malarkey! Now that I am finding myself in the same position, I see that perhaps I might have judged to quickly, been too harsh, had not put myself in the shoes of these self-sacrificing souls. Those poor, poor women. Unfairly maligned. I too now stand among their ranks. The jig is up. Being The Trophy Wife isn't as easy as they say in the brochures.

So enough of Day 12 (and accompanying whining,) and on to Day 13. I spent this morning at the year's inaugural meeting of my MOMS group at church. I was, natch, on my best behavior. As all who know me can attest, I am a ray of sunshine, bringing cheer to all that encounter me. As My Mother always said to me when I was growing up (and you all know I always listen to My Mother): "Now Melani, be sure that you are a blessing to all who meet you!" And of course, I was. Well, at least I didn't drop any F-Bombs at this meeting. I say this meeting, because at the last meeting, I may or may not have used my good-girl language, per se. But as always, despite my incorrigible behavior, every meeting is full of cackling (usually my own,) and good times.

So for dinner tonight we have Perfect Roast Chicken - which also calls for a pan gravy (pg. 130,) Fingerling Potatoes (pg. 159,) and Roasted Brussels Sprouts (pg. 150.) Hopefully this will make up for last night's Cheerios.
The chicken is filled with fresh thyme, a lemon sliced in half, and a whole head of garlic sliced in half, skin and all. Prep time was minimal. Just a little shoving, tying up and smearing.

Question: Why do I do it?
Answer: I just can't help myself. I am a 7 year old boy trapped inside a rather attractive 38 year old woman's body.
Or, at least that is how I choose to see things...

The chicken all shoved, tied, smeared, and ready for roasting.

The best brussels I've ever had getting ready for a roast.
If you hate brussels, you might give them a try this way. Genius!
The smell of the chicken and the brussels sprouts roasting in the oven is enough to make one weep with joy. I don't know why, but the Cheerios just don't have the same gravitas.

Trying this recipe at home may cause sudden death due to the overwhelmingly fabulous taste of all courses. Proceed at your own risk.

The final product, plated.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day 11: I have become The Trophy Wife

The day I have been working for my entire life has finally arrived. The day I dreamed of as a child. The day when the true mantle of becoming a Trophy Wife was placed upon me. Today I dropped off my two children to spend the entire day at school, as my youngest is now entering first grade. Woo Hoo! The long nights of baby-feedings, the weight gain during (and after - don't ask) pregnancy, the snot and barfing, the crying and whining, the fights between siblings. All for this day. This wonderful, wonderful day.
So I went home and had myself a good old cry, because darn it (see Mother - no swearing) if I didn't miss those two imps!

Finally after 6 long hours, we were reunited, and in usual fashion, went to get post-first-day-of-school ice cream. Thankfully this year there were no broken bones. For those of you new to the life of The Trophy Wife, last year my youngest imp broke her arm on the first day of school. She had consumed her post-first-day-of-school ice cream, and she and her sister were running around like idiots. So, stupid me, I took them to the park to blow off some steam. Not 5 minutes into our park visit, Ryan, while innocently (for once) running across the grass, all of a sudden did a complete face plant. When she stood up her arm was bent at a 90 degree angle, and not at the elbow, if you get my drift. Needless to say, not the way to start things off....
So, this year we already ahead of the game!

I am still cleaning up the aftermath of the weekend free-style session, which later became known to all as the Curbside Couch Debacle. (Free-style definition: redecorating by rearranging and not spending money, although... oops... I did spend a little...) Several trips to Good Will, and a trash-hauling company to take away the couch can make a Trophy Wife tired. So tonight I opted for some not-so-labor-intensive food options. The menu included Roasted-Tomato Basil Soup (pg. 84,) and Parmesan Croutons (pg. 87.) There is a soup I have at a local cafe that is so yummy. I thought that this recipe would re-create it. It did not. I think that the next time I will leave out the 4 cups of basil leaves, and just use the basil as a garnish. But, if one is a fan of cooked basil (I am not,) one might enjoy this soup more than I did.

Here the tomatoes are just going into the oven.
But wait folks! Hold on to your hats and glasses, because we have the...
Trophy Wife Tip Of The Day:
If you leave a pizza stone in your oven, it will cause the heat to be more evenly distributed, and cause the oven to maintain a more constant temperature... and, if you give people this tip, they will not think you are so lazy for not removing the pizza stone!
See people, two tips in one. No need to thank.

If one was not madly dashing around the house trying, again, to abate the aftereffects of the Curbside Couch Debacle, one might also have lent a closer eye to one's croutons which were baking in the oven. Still delicious, though, after you scrape off the burnt parts - natch.

MMMmmmm... burnt bread....

The Trophy Wife has done better.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 8-10: Fulghi's Worst Nightmare

Sometime in the wee hours of the morning on Friday, while I was strolling the halls of my hallowed home awake with insomnia, I came up with the idea to rearrange all the furniture in our house (including detached guest house.) Fulghi got up and went to work as usual, and when he had gone, the girls and I set to our task. I was very proud of myself for man-handling all the furniture myself (I took apart, and put 3 beds back together! Schellman came over and helped me extract the sleeper couch from the house, although I did move it from the back porch all the way to the street by my own little self. Impressed are you? You should be.) and was able to accomplish most of my goals. Rooms were swapped, things gone through, dust swept from every possible hiding crevice. In my fit of "out with the old," I even decided it was finally time to retire our family room furniture. Then along comes poor, poor, unwitting Fulghi. He was probably whistling to himself as he walked out of work, expecting to come home to Day 8 of the Ina Experiment, thinking he would have a relaxing evening on the couch... but it was not to be. Fulghi's first clue that things may not be going the way he planned, was when he drove up to the house, passing our old couch on the curb which was gaily festooned with a FREE! sign. (Authors note: We had no takers, so I guess it was time for the couch to go.) Inside he found no room untouched (for dramatic purposes I may have over-exaggerated - our kitchen and master bedroom were left unmolested) quite a bit left to do, and the girls and I weepy and crying over the summer being over. We were standing in the hallway clinging to each other, protesting that each one would miss the other more when school started, and declaring our mutual love while Fulghi looked on shaking his head and wondering why he ever came home from work. Thus began Fulghi's weekend. 48 hours later, all was put to rest, and the house was returned to a calm oasis (although a rearranged calm oasis.) We purged extraneous items, and gave the house and detached guest house a good once over.
Ahhhhh, at the end of the weekend Fulghi's work is done, and he can go back to the office.
On tap for tonight: Day 11: Roasted-Tomato Basil Soup with Parmesan Croutons.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 7: My Long-Suffering Mother

My Mother is quite taken with my blog, and has shown it to anyone and everyone who she can get to stand still long enough to bring up the URL. She had thought her daughter was finally doing something of note, something to be proud of, but most importantly: something she would not be embarrassed to share with others.
So, again today, she decided to share the blog.
With a colleague from work.
The title was "Day 6: A Butt-Load of Brownies."
I think it probably went something like this: My Mother said "wait until you see my daughter's new blog! It's so wonder......." And then in her head: "I will kill that foul-mouthed, coarse-word-writing, daughter of mine dead if it's the last thing I do."
My poor, poor, Mother.
Many is the jewel in her crown in heaven.
Oops, your awful daughter has stuck again...
But in my defense, it could have been much, much worse...
And you would think that, by now, she would know better...
I love you Mommy! Mean it!

So on to the delicious deeds of the day. My little Tamara needed some technical help today. She was trying to create a play-list on her ipod for her daughter Teagan's third birthday. Tamara, to say the least, tends toward the non-techno-savvy. I, being the ever-generous, ever-helpful, ever-magnanimous friend that I am, went over to her house to help her. After we were done compiling a list of 3-year-old-suitable songs, (Whatever - Tamara obviously would not take any of my helpful song choice suggestions. I mean, what's so wrong with a little Def Leppard at a pre-school birthday?) we went on a quest for clear-colored sprinkles for Teagan's cupcakes. Tamara had purchased some garish "rainbow" sprinkles that looked like a child had dumped several bottles of sprinkles in a bowl, mixed them together and called it good. So we trekked south to the next-nearest-neighboring town's Michael's Crafts. While we were in said next-nearest-neighboring town, we decided to treat ourselves and our pack of crazy kids to lunch. Somehow we were able to clear an entire restaurant in 10 minutes flat. A personal best, I'll have to say. But looking at these goofballs, you can kinda see why.

This would make me high-tail-it for the hills:
Our next agenda-item for the day was back-to-school haircuts. The girls both decided to chop a significant amount of hair off, and although the thought of their gorgeous locks falling to the floor of the salon made me a bit teary-eyed, I let them go for it. The result is two very cute little flips for my gals, and a few tears in private for me. When someone finds a drug to stop them from growing up so fast, let me know. I'll invest. Big.

So tonight I decided to make Roasted Carrots (pg. 149.) I thought this would make a nice accompaniment to day 3 of meatloaf. (The Trophy Wife Says: Gotta use those left-overs!) Olive oil, salt, pepper, toss and roast at 400 until caramelized. This is a yummy way to serve a number of vegetables, root and otherwise. Roasted broccoli is amazing, for example. You can do tomatoes, onions, peppers, squash, cauliflower - pretty much any vegetable you can think up, you can roast. If you haven't tried this amazing miracle of modern science...well ya better!



Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Day 6: A Butt-Load of Brownies

Today we went shopping for back-to-school clothes. There is always a challenge when you look for clothes for young girls in the 6-7-8 range. My two Irish twins are starting to be too old to wear the smocked dresses and matching clothes (although, I don't agree,) and yet too young to be dressing like a a couple of hookers. It seems that the stores these days are determined to raise a generation of girls who like to dress like "ladies of the evening." So as a mother it is my job to veto the tramp clothes. Somehow though, the more sparkly, the more outrageous, the more flesh-baring, the more garish, the more they like it! Be comforted though dear reader, I stood strong against the pleading eyes of my two imps, and we were able to find several suitable and beautiful outfits (and shoes to boot!) that will serve them well in the next school year. (If it were up to me, Gymboree would sell clothes for 18 year-olds.) And thanks to my fairy-mother-in-law Mimi, all financial obligations were taken care of. Thanks Mimi!

Last night as I was cleaning up after dinner (or Fulghi was cleaning up - whatever,) Fulghi says to me "too bad that Barefoot Contessa doesn't have any recipes for desserts." So then I gave him the look, because, OF COURSE The Barefoot Contessa has dessert recipes, I just have neglected to include any in my blog, yet. So we have been commissioned with our next task: A Butt-Load of Brownies. I use this term, because when I told Tamara that my brownie recipe called for 4 sticks of butter she said: "Wow, that is going to make a Butt-Load of brownies!" Then she said, "you know that is not a technical term, but feel free to use it in your blog if you need to." Thanks Tamara.
The actual recipe is called Outrageous Brownies (pg. 172.) It makes 20 large brownies - and she ain't kiddin.

So then when I talked with My Mother on the phone, and told her about the 4 sticks of butter, I mentioned that I might halve the recipe in in the interest of avoiding heart attacks. She said "Now Melani, you have to follow the recipes, you can't just make things up as you go along!" (She must not be a fan of last-night's meatloaf.) "You have to FOLLOW DIRECTIONS!" My Mother is convinced that even at the ripe age of 38, if I do not follow every direction in this cookbook, I will somehow turn into a juvenile delinquent, and become a drain on society. The road to hell is paved with improvised recipes. For those of you not in the know, My Mother is a woman of great virtue, and is known to be meticulous with rules. Thusly, I have already sorely disappointed her on many fronts - natch. My penchant towards coarse rhetoric (read: sometimes I may, or may not use foul language,) has already rendered her eternally bereft, with countless sleepless nights tossing and turning, wondering where, oh where did she go so terribly wrong? I guess the least I could do is make the whole recipe, AS DIRECTED.

See Mother! I followed directions!

MMMmmmm. 4 Sticks of butter, 3 cups of chocolate chips and one bar of bittersweet chocolate all melted together in a warm creamy bath of deliciousness!

The girls - scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Tamara gives the brownies four thumbs up: two thumbs, and two big toes. When I asked Tamara if she liked the brownies, she said they were "one of the better brownies she had ever had. Not too sweet, very buttery and salty-sweet. Definitely a big-glass-of-milk brownie. Not to gag it down, mind you, only to enhance it."
Thanks Tamara.
When I asked Fulghi if he liked the brownies, he said "yes."
Thanks Fulghi.

A Butt-Load (Sorry Mother) of Brownies

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 5: Back in the Saddle

Today, the first part of my day was spent helping my mother-in-law get her classroom set up. She is a beloved High School English teacher, and is known far and wide for her superior instructional skills. It is always nice to stand in the glow. So I helped her repair and mount a mural that she has had in her classroom for many years. It is an excellent mural of remarkable artistic value. It did however have a former life as a backdrop in a "Christian-Fantasy-Movie." Well. I just don't even know what to say about that.

The second part of my day was spent with my husband, who came home early from work so he could attend our daughters' guitar lessons. Now, while he is an
admirable and attentive father, he was also impelled by his curiosity. You see, I have been regaling him with tales of the guitar instructor who in no small way resembles the character Garth Algar of Wayne's World fame. He is the older, and perhaps no wiser, image of Garth. He looks like him, he talks like him... So Fulghi (my nickname for my husband, see: cast of characters) had to come see for himself. He also got to see how much fun it is to wait for an hour while the kids take turns with their guitar lessons, because I bailed on him and went to the store to procure the ingredients for this evening's experiment. Sucker.
So, on to tonight's experiment. I was originally going to cook The Barefoot Contessa's Turkey Meatloaf (pg.138) tonight, but upon review, I decided to go another way. Ina's meatloaf is an homage to traditional-flavored meatloaf, and honestly, although I'm sure it is very tasty in every way, I just wasn't feeling the whole ketchup-crust-on-the-top thing. And, since I am such a fan of my own meatloaf, and it is similar in many ways, I decided to go forth and produce my own creation for your gastronomic pleasure. Previously, I had done everything by sight, so I made sure to measure all ingredients so that the reproduction of said meatloaf would be more accurate. So I give to you now, the citizens of this blogosphere....

The Trophy Wife's Turkey Meatloaf

9x13 casserole dish
Oven at 350

The first thing I do is build a bed of vegetables on the bottom. For this I small-dice:
1 1/2 c yukon gold potatoes
1 1/2 c carrots
1 1/2 c onion
I toss the vegetables with 1/3-1/2 c olive oil and 1 t salt and 1/2 t pepper and spread them in the bottom of the casserole dish. Like this:

The meatloaf is made by combining:
2 c oats
2 cloves garlic pressed through a garlic press
3-4 eggs
1 1/2 c finely chopped onion
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 - 2 1/2 c barbeque sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray's)
2 1/2 lbs. ground turkey
Eggs and barbeque sauce depend on how wet/dry you would like your meatloaf to be. Make a loaf out of this mixture, and place on top of vegetable layer. Spread an additional 1/2 cup of barbeque sauce on top and place in oven until a meat thermometer meets the desired temp. About 1 1/2 hours.



With this lovely concoction, I served Parmesan Smashed Potatoes (pg. 158.) I used Yukon Gold potatoes instead of the called-for Red-Skinned. I have four words: Warm, Cheesy, Creamy! Yummy!

Fulghi says "a dinner like that just makes me love the world."

Day 4: And on the Fourth Day, The Trophy Wife Rested

So, yesterday was a crazy, crazy day. I was running from one end of town to the other, trying to nail things down for the beginning of school. So, my kitchen lay idle from dawn until dusk. There was not one item of food prepared. I would like to say that it was a restful day, but then I would be lying. So there you go - sometimes even a Trophy Wife has to call in for dinner. On tap for today: The Trophy Wife's Turkey Meatloaf and Parmesan Smashed Potatoes. Just wait, this one will be good!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Day 3: That'll Learn Ya

There is only one thing that I have learned in my 8 year tenure as a parent (well probably more than one thing, but for the purposes of this blog entry, and my artistic literary license...) and that is, that when you let your children stay up past their bedtimes they are very, very, very surly the following day. They will make you PAY for any fun you have had the night before. I try to teach the girls "natural consequences," as in if you drop your choners (our word for underwear) in the gutter while you are throwing them in the air as we are walking into swimming lessons, you will not have clean choners to put on after you finish swimming. If you leave your Barbie shoes on the floor, the dogs will use them as dental floss. If you use your dress as a napkin, well... you will look like you used your dress as a napkin. If you leave your scooter outside for a month, it may not go as fast the next time you race your sister. If you roll in the sand, and make "sand angels" at the beach, you may or may not get sand in places you would prefer not to have sand (I could go on...) I guess I may have deserved to have a little "natural consequences" education myself...
That'll learn me.
So I did something today that I haven't done since January. I bought a loaf of bread. This may seem like an innocuous act, however I have been challenging myself to make all of our bread from scratch, and this is my first moment of weakness. In my defense, the bread was purchased so that I could make french toast...so...there you go. And, I'm not sorry at all.
On to the Ina Experiment! My recipes for today are Lemon Capellini with Caviar (pg.129) and Sugar Snap Peas with Sesame (pg. 105.) This pasta is one of my favorites. The recipe calls for 2, count 'em: 2 sticks of butter. In the words of my beloved, esteemed Ina "What could be so bad about that?" Well, I guess a heart attack could be so bad about that, but who cares when you are eating Lemon Capellini with Caviar! For those of you who are new to cooking, try this one out. It is very easy, and yet very company-friendly. (It frightens me when I channel my mother.) The girls were not such fans of the Lemon Capellini, however. My oldest daughter Tyler stated that she "preferred her lemons in a pie," so judge your audience. The Sugar Snap Peas with Sesame were very light, crisp and fresh, and loved by all. I wasn't able to find black sesame seeds, but honestly I really didn't look very hard, so that part is still an unknown. I added some salt and pepper, and that seemed to really round out the dish. Leftovers can be eaten as is, or chopped up into a summer salad. Again in the words of Ina: "Isn't that fabulous?"