Love in Baking

When you’ve had a rough week, and your no-longer-a-teenager-this-year child knows it and uses her day off to clean the kitchen and make a pesto braid, because she wanted to try the recipe and she knows you love pesto…

…yeah, like that. Every bite was love.

I love my kids.

Caffeine

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A certain Good Angel gifted me a tiny spare espresso machine, since my beloved Breville monster is down for the count. It’s been nice to pour a couple shots in the morning, and another few in the afternoon. French press just isn’t the same.

It’s an old Starbucks machine, and not for the faint of heart. I’ve already given him a name, and hopefully we’re at the beginning of a bee-you-ti-ful relationship.

Wonton Delicious

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Recently, I made chicken wonton soup for the first time. (Here’s the recipe I used, if you’re interested.) Despite not having a goddamn clue when it came to folding them, they ended up just fine, and DELICIOUS, and there was no breakage.

Sometimes you have to take the victories where you find them.

Stump Cake

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A lot of schools have gotten rid of what we used to call Home Ec–classes that teach all sorts of useful skills, from how to wash a goddamn dish to basic sewing. the replacements have either been nothing, or a variety of class meant to turn kids into effective fast-food workers, mostly by having them work in the lunchroom. Which is all sorts of OMG.

The Princess’s high school, however, actually has quite a good program to teach kids basic kitchen etiquette and use. It was a revelation to her, finding out so many of her classmates had no idea how to handle a knife or clean a stove. She and the Prince have been in the kitchen with me their entire lives, either watching or helping out in whatever age-appropriate fashion they could. My experiments in cooking, once I got over my own childhood fears and angsts, no doubt helped. It was kind of weird, seeing how few kids knew even basic things, like how to cream butter and sugar. There are reasons for that, of course–wage stagnation means cooking at home is more of a time-drain than even many two income households can afford.

One of the interesting things the Princess learned was how to make a variety of Stump Cake. The teacher valiantly tried to instill some aesthetic and pastry-making basics into a group of teenagers, but finicky fondant was (and is) a nonstarter for that age group. However, the basic idea–FOUR LAYERS OF CHOCOLATE CAKE! EAT IT WITH YOUR CHAINSAW FINGERS!–is intriguing enough by itself to make the stump cake a frequent project around these parts.

The Princess had Monday off from work, and had brought home cocoa. Needless to say, after her leisurely lie-in and brekkie, she began mixing, baking, pouring, and making parchment-paper frosting cones to practice her piping. The result was SO. MUCH. CHOCOLATE. CAKE.

I know, I know, a great problem to have. I’m pretty sure my blood’s been replaced by pure syrup. I REGRET NOTHING.

Lucky

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I’m lucky. So lucky.

Nobody threw anything. Nobody yelled. Nobody told me I should have been aborted or that I ruin everything for everyone. Nobody twisted my arm behind my back, slapped me, pinched me, throttled me or used a belt on me.

Instead, my phone was full of happy texts and my inbox was full of emails from people who, despite everything, apparently like me. My children are both healthy (well, they both have a cold, but that’s small potatoes) and affectionate, and they deliberately spent the after-dinner food coma time in the living room with me. The dogs were ecstatic at the advent of ham in their dinner bowls. There was enough food, it was quiet and calm, the roof kept the rain out, and when I went to bed, shaky from residual holiday stress, I knew I’d survived another one.

Not only survived, but actually had a pleasant time. Each holiday season that passes, the stress is a little less.

If you’re in recovery from toxic family, you’re not alone. It’s okay to protect yourself, and arrange your life so the toxicity won’t overwhelm you. You’re not required to give your attention and emotional energy to people who behave badly.

Over and out.

Fearow Cabinet

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Opening up the kitchen cabinets can be dangerous when everyone in the house is obsessed with Pokémon Go…

Dead Steam Soldier

Last night was taco night. I sautéed the dry grains for Spanish rice, put them in the steamer with the diced tomatoes and chilis (and carrots, any tomato-based sauce is better for the addition of a few shreds of carrot) and plugged the damn thing in.

A terrific blue POP! and the fridge died.

It’s on the same breaker as the outlet for the toasters and the rice steamer. I unplugged everything and sighed. The Princess’s eyebrows went up.

Fortunately, a quick flip of the breaker fixed the outlets, but then I looked more closely at our faithful, steamy servant.

dead soldier

Copper wire heading into the steamer’s body, nice and exposed. A little soot and burnt plastic, too, just to make things fun. Fortunately, I could plop some enameled cast iron on the stove and cook the rice that way, but I have become spoiled and am having longing thoughts of slipping out today to fetch a lovely Zojirushi or something similar. For a bonus, I can take this dead soldier apart and see how he’s made. (Yes, yes, only one Frankensteamer joke per person, please.)

The Princess expected me to be more irritated, but I was just glad the whole wall of outlets hadn’t been fried. In the grand scheme of things, one dead rice cooker is only a minor annoyance. Now, if it would have caught on fire, like the sweet potato in the microwave–which the children are STILL teasing me about–that would be something.

I’m just happy the incident didn’t involve a squirrel.