Friday, December 17, 2010

Poop Broom

I know this is completely inappropriate subject matter for this blog but it needed to be written. It's my gift to all the mothers and fathers out there who will have a good laugh at my expense. You're welcome.

"It's green just like the other one. She'll never know!" Declan stage whispered to his dad. Well, maybe if I was not the one to request that Rob and he purchase a new broom, I could possibly have been tricked.
The old one was working fine. A little ratty on the ends and the top of the handle was missing, but it still got the job done. That is until the other day when I threw it out the door in anger and frustration.
I began to sweep the white linoleum floor that runs from the slider in the kitchen to the door to the driveway and into the downstairs bathroom. Everyday, there seems to be enough sand, food and dog hair to fill a gallon jug. So there I was about to tackle my daily (sometimes twice daily) chore. This time I started in the bathroom. I spotted a small brown rock that probably fell out of Declan's pocket (He always seems to picking stuff up in the yard.) and I decided to just sweep it into the pile. The only problem was that the rock, sort of smudged along the floor and got caught up in the plastic "straw" of the broom. By the time I stopped sweeping to get closer for further inspection, there were 3-4 brown streaks on the floor.
Suddenly, it hit me and I knew what it was. Declan had just been in the bathroom. I was still a bit puzzled wondering how this rock/poop ended up on the floor on the other side of the room, far away from the toilet. Then I began to freak out thinking, "How gross is all of this smearing and broom clogging?" AAARGH! I immediately opened the outside door and hurled the broom out of the door into the driveway. Then my head exploded.
"Oh, I pooped my pants." He casually said from the desk where he was playing a computer game as if he were telling me that the phone was ringing or something benign like that.
Of course, that prompted tears and a bit of fear. Not the sort of emotional upset you want to make happen when you want someone to admit to something.
It took some calming down but we both got ourselves together and came to an agreement. Declan will tell me if he has an accident in his pants and I will not get mad. No problem, accidents happen but covered up or ignored accidents are always an issue.
I'll never know about the new broom, Indeed! Declan has a lot to learn about a mother's memory and blackmail for later use.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Soup is Good Food

I have had a lot of jobs. In high school, I worked in restaurants, then in retail clothing sales after college. At one time, I did a stint promoting Diet Coke on various college campuses across the country. I settled into being a cosmetics sales manager then got tired of that and began working for Origins as a make up artist, district manager and ultimately an account executive. Once that gig burned me out, I got my licence to do nails and did that for a while, went back to Clinique as an AE and got burned out again. Went back to school for my skincare license and did that along with nails for a few years. Clinique lured me back to do interviews from home which I don't feel is all that exciting but it helps to pay the bills so I began searching for something more interesting and fulfilling; hence the writing thing. Oh yeah, and I still do a few of my nail clients on the side.
I also make soup. It began with that crazy business venture that I got into last February where I almost ended up in the hospital from the stress of it all. You would think I would have thrown in the towel completely. But there were a few people who supported me every week, buying soup, entrees, desserts, you name it. If it was on the menu, they wrote a check for it and a happily ordered again for next week before they even tasted what was in the brown handled bag. It was so hard to tell them that I was bowing out of the business and that my partner may or may not keep things going. (She did not.) So, how could I say, "No" when a few of them asked if I would possibly consider just making soup?
Elaine,Carol,Lynne and Janice. When I hand each of them a bag with their soup bread and butter,say, "Thank You" and explain next week's soup flavor, each one shakes her head and says, "I don't care what it is, just bring it." I'm not sure if its out of kindness to help me make a buck or if they truly don't care because they always seem to like how it tastes. I hope its the latter although extra cash is always helpful. Elaine once told me that she doesn't like mushrooms so I refrain from making cream of mushroom as an offering but I did make hot and sour soup loaded with them on two occasions and she didn't balk. And believe, me she would mention, in a gentle way that something was not her favorite. Carol used to say, "I don't care what it is as long as it's not chicken noodle" It seems she had an unpleasant experience with the chicken soup that stays with her to this day. However, I have made the Greek version with orzo, spinach, eggs, chicken and plenty of lemon a few times. She really seems to like it. Lynne seems so happy each Thursday when I bring her soup since she doesn't have to cook that night. I hunt her down in the wing where the kindergarten classrooms are at the East Falmouth School. She can always be found bending over one of the kids, helping to spell a word or doing a puzzle. Janice is probably my biggest supporter. I bring her soup when I do her nails on Thursday afternoon. She is always trying to figure out new ways to help me make some cash, whether by buying a pie from me at Thanksgiving, or buying my cookbooks and giving them away in the hopes that someone will see how "promising" an author she thinks me to be.
The soup, bread and butter are all easy to make. But I really like tweaking the recipes to make each item extra special. I enjoy choosing the new soup flavor and begin to think about what herbs i should mix with the butter that will go on the bread to accompany it. I think,"How can I improve the bread or maybe I should change the regular yeast dough to cornbread if I am offering chili that week?" I want to continually make it better, more delicious, exceed their expectations. After all, these ladies do more for me than give me money for my work. Their praise is uplifting. They seem truly excited and I believe they look forward to their soup delivery every week.
There are post it notes with descriptions of how I have adjusted various recipes all over the pages of my favorite soup cook book. I'm looking forward to making the Chili Con Carne recipe for this week. I don't know what extra pizazz it will need until I begin to taste it. I think I'll add mild green chilis to the cornbread for some interest and flavor and make some cilantro and lemon butter to accompany it. I hope the ladies will like it. I know its really only soup but its the best way I can show how much I really appreciate them.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Little Man Bread Snob

The preschool bus drops Declan off at 12:00pm. As we walk into the house,I ask him about his morning: who did he play with?, did he give the note to the teacher? Declan throws his Spiderman back pack on the floor in the office then tries to pull his sneakers off without untying them; the double knots I tied this morning are too difficult for him to undo.
"What do you want for lunch?"
"Uuuum. Butter sandwich." Declan says as he nods his head and smiles, trying to get me to agree.
"How about grilled cheese with ham on bread and butter?"
"No, Just bread and butter. On the bread that is shaped like this." Declan makes a circling motion around his head. What bread is shaped like that?
"I don't know what you mean. What kind of bread is that?"
"You know, mama, the kind you make!"
There you have it. Not only do I have a problem with my son's choice of sandwich. Where's the protein? Bread and butter sounds like jail food. But, he also wants this "bread and butter" on fresh home made bread, at that. I figured that any homemade bread would do. After all, the kids (my daughter, Ava is also a bit of a bread snob. Although she will eat her peanut butter and jelly on store bought whole wheat)both enjoy Val's Delicious white bread especially when toasted and coated with butter, affectionately known in my house as "butter toast". With this in mind, I made a lovely foccacia bread recipe and instead of making the usual rectangle, I shaped it into loaves. Sounds good, doesn't it? No chance. The kids will eat it as garlic toast at dinner time but not as a bread and butter sandwich after school.
The bread in question is actually easy to make but time is a huge factor. A few ingredients are merely mixed together and left to rise on their own. The problem: the first rise is at least 12 hours. Obviously this requires a bit of advance planning if I am going to serve bread and butter for lunch.
The other day I only had wheat bread from the store left in the drawer. I managed to talk Declan into eating a yummy grilled cheese and ham with lots of butter on the bread. He sat down in front of the t.v. eager to enjoy his chocolate milk, sandwich and an new fangled episode of Batman "with wings". He said "Thank you" and took a big gulp of milk, his eyes glued to the t.v. A few seconds later, from the kitchen I could hear him whine, "AAAWWWW! This isn't the bread!" I can't believe I actually had to explain to him that mommy can't always make the special bread. And when he bent his head down and began to pout, I recovered quickly before he could whine again, "But I'll try and make it tomorrow, o.k.?"

This bread recipe is supposed to be baked as a large loaf in a preheated dutch oven. It's from Jim Lahey's "My Bread". (It's definitely worth purchasing the book for all the other great recipes, too!) I have made it that way and it's quite delicious, perfect for a larger group. It also has a chewier, thicker crust. I now separate the dough into 4 small free form loaves which yields a softer crust.

Special Bread (Shaped like Declan's head)

450 grams all purpose flour (I like to weigh the flour),or about 3 1/2 cups
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/3-1 2/3 cups warm water

Mix flour, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Slowly incorporate water until a dough is formed. (It will be hard to mix, don't add too much water.) The dough will be slightly dry. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and leave in a warm area away from drafts. Let rest for 12-18 hours. At this point, the dough should be bubbly, doubled in size and sticky. Grease a cookie sheet. Remove dough with a rubber spatula onto a generously floured board. Using spatula (or scraper) turn the dough over so that all sides are coated with flour. Do not knead!!! Cut into 4 equal pieces. Gently form each piece into a ball shape by tucking edges under and place on greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle the top of each ball with about 1 tablespoon flour. Place a towel on top and let rise again for two hours in a warm spot. (Be sure to use enough flour on top of dough so that the towel will not stick.) After two hours, preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Slash tops of loaves with a sharp knife and cook for 10-15 minutes until light brown. Remove to wire rack to cool. Share if you want to.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away.....

I'm crabby. I have a sore throat. The kids are fighting and they are driving me crazy. They want to do craft projects that not only require my supervision, they are frustratingly difficult for even an adult to accomplish. The kids begin to lose patience easily and before I can vacuum up the tiny beads and throw away the celophane wrappers, they are on to the next game of hitting each other over the head with my throw pillows.
AARGH! I'm even more short tempered than usual. I'm trying not to shout and aggravate my achy throat or make my voice shatter through my stuffy head. This stupid craft- a pseudo stained glass kit with little, itty bitty beads that must be carefully placed in a metal frame, then baked in the oven at a high temperature. I can think of a lot of better things to bake in the oven rather than trying to melt toxic plastic to make a tchotchke that will inevitably end up lost in a pile of rubble along with the broken prizes from Happy Meals and birthday party favors my kids won't let me throw away.
As I open the oven to check on the plastic creations, the fumes almost knock me over. Thankfully, we don't have a parakeet. Otherwise I would have to add the explaination of the bird's death to the list of fun for the day. The smell makes me dizzy but I come to my senses and decide to brew myself a cup of my favorite ginger tea. On second thought, since I've made it past 12:00pm with two crazy kids cooped up on a rainy day, I think I'll add something special to the hot beverage to help me during the long afternoon to come.
I feel better already!

Soothing Ginger Toddy
1 cup hot brewed ginger tea
2 tablespoons Canton Ginger Liqueur
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
optional: sugar to sweeten to taste

Brew tea according to package directions. Add ginger liqueur and lemon juice. Drink up.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer Sign Language

An old man gave me the finger today. He flipped me off as I was taking a left out of Seacoast Shores onto Rte 28. My first reaction was, "Seriously, Dude?!!!" He was at least 200 yards away when I initialized my turn. His big, red Buick Le Sabre was hard to miss as it inched along the road. That is, it was inching along until he noticed me, then he clearly sped up to claim himself "King of the Road". After I regained my wits, I regret to say I recovered quickly enough to retaliate with my own hand gesture. However, I'm not sure if he saw it. It made me feel better, anyway.
I'm usually pretty tolerant of the tourist influx beginning in late June,even when it peaks in July and August to just waning before Labor Day weekend but this is where I draw the line. There are rules of common courtesy, civility, especially when you are visiting, which I suspect this man was since he didn't understand the love we extend by letting people out in front of the line of traffic especially when the guy in opposite lane has stopped to let someone go. This old man is the type to cut of the UPS driver who is still delivering packages at 8:00pm on a holiday weekend, just trying to make his last stop before finally going home for the day. This old bag probably skimps on tipping the waitress, calculating down to the penny exactly 15% even though the service was excellent and the food even better. I know this guy, I think he cut in front of my four year old in line for the ice cream truck at the beach the other day. Well, maybe that wasn't him, but you get my point.
Why doesn't he just come to enjoy his vacation and relax? I implore people like him to please treat the locals well, tip their bartender and if they don't, I'll flip them the bird.

When I'm not employing lewd hand gestures, I keep myself busy by inventing a cool treat like this:

Smoothie Pops

(makes 10)


1 cup vanilla low fat yogurt
1 cup fruit juice
2 cups chopped fruit

5 oz. paper cups such as Dixie
popsicle sticks

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Pour smoothie into 10 5 oz. Dixie cups. (Fill each cup about half way). Place in freezer for 1 hour. Insert a popsicle stick into the center of each partially frozen pop. Continue to freeze until solid. To serve, peel off paper cup and enjoy.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Serenity Now

"What a great idea!" so many people said about the Gilded Lily, and it was. However, I couldn't handle the stress and the juggling of obligations that goes along with starting a new business. Sara was on a high every week after we prepared dozens of meals, salads, desserts, soups and bread. I was bringing her down with my clenched jaw and anxiety.
It all hit the fan after I stroked out over the fried chicken and ribs. Which is a bit ridiculous since I cooked neither the fried chicken nor the ribs. Sara was the one who worked the smoker at 2:00am in the middle of a hurricane. In the end, it was the red velvet whoopie pies that pushed me over the edge and I don't know how many batches of mac 'n' cheese I made to fill all the orders. All I can say is, it took driving the long way home by the beach after all the deliveries on Thursday to get my breathing back to normal. Maybe it was the madness of constantly flying by the seat of my pants. By now, most of you must know that I can be a bit anal and need my life to be as organized as possible. So, in order to preserve my sanity, I resigned from the company.
Sara may continue on with the venture in some form. After all, it was her brilliant idea in the first place. She came up with the logo, the name and the concept. I just went along for the ride. I'm hoping all the adventurous customers we got hooked will still be able to eat her incredibly delicious food. As for me, I'll be organizing my silverware drawer until all is right in my world and driving by the beach to regain my composure.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hell's Biscuits

According to my family, Gordon Ramsey’s got nothing on me. They think I am a wild woman in the kitchen: having tantrums when things don’t go my way and berating all those around me with curses. In fact, I do get irritated when the ingredients won’t cooperate but I’m really just a pussy cat with a few bon mots. At least compared to the characters I have worked for in the past, I am really as gentle as a lamb even when things are falling apart around me.
My nephew came over the other day to help me prepare a slow cooked, southern inspired feast for our families on New Year’s Eve. Our time was tight and I chose to make recipes that I had not made before. (Yes, I know you are not supposed to do this when planning to entertain, but I like to live on the edge!) I should have known we were in for it when the meringue cookies fell flat due to my choice of using pasteurized egg whites from a carton instead of fresh. My kids were raising hell, as usual and creating the type of distraction that slowly wears me down to a nub by the end of the day. So, poor Ryson arrives in the middle of my chagrin over the floppy meringues and the occasional yell at the kids to go play and to stop fighting. After melting chocolate to spread on the cookies, (almost anything can be salvaged by dipping it in chocolate) we decided to make the biscuits and then onto the corn spoon bread.
AARGH! The biscuit dough was ridiculous! Not only was it dry but the recipe claimed it made 24. I could tell we may only get 6-8 out of it. After the first attempt was a bust and ended up in the trash, I was determined to make the second one work. However, I am no southern belle and I don’t really know what I am doing with biscuit dough so, on a whim and a prayer, the dough went into the refrigerator and we began work on the corn pudding.
Ryson’s job was to cook the bacon while I focused on the now chilled biscuit dough. Rolled out, it did not even cover the area of a cookie sheet. And they were rolled out so thin, it seemed they would be more like crackers than fluffed up vehicles for my BBQ pork as intended. Damn it! Ava stop turning up that music and leave the dog alone! Shit! I almost dropped the whole thing on the floor. Stupid biscuits!!! I cut them out anyway and we baked them. Upon tasting a little piece (we barely had enough to serve), they were deemed tasty but not what we /I hoped for.
Amid the madness we almost omitted half of the corn spoon bread recipe before sticking it in the oven; the most critical ingredient, the eggs. Well we managed to get it all together after pouring it into the large baking dish then the smaller then the large one again.
When the guests arrived, I was still p.o.’d over the stupid biscuits, knowing I could have done better and angry at myself for using this unknown recipe. Everyone enjoyed the spread and actually fought over the biscuit tidbits. The pimento cheese was a hit with us northerners and the tweaked cole slaw was a perfect match to the tangy barbecue and creamy corn spoon bread.
During dinner, Ryson ribbed me about getting mad in the kitchen, seemingly shocked at my behavior. Everyone else at the table raised their eyebrows when they heard I said a few expletives over the stove and got mad at my children for adding to the chaos. Well if they think I’m like Gordon Ramsey, so be it. Just don’t get in my way when the meringues flop and the biscuit dough misbehaves!

P.S. The biscuits in this photo are from a different recipe and another day!

4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold butter
4 tablespoons crisco
1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the cold butter and crisco. Pulse a few times until the butter is the size of peas. Add the buttermilk and pulse until mixture just begins to come together.
Place dough on a lightly floured board. Roll out to about 1/2" thick. Cut with biscuit cutter and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Press together scraps of dough and repeat until all dough is used. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the cream and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

High End, Low Profile or Gourmet Food and Fuzzy Slippers

You may have seen Sara and me kibitzing in the corner of Coffee Obsession and gallivanting down 495 to procure packaging for our new venture. You may be wondering what we are up to, or maybe not. If you are at all curious, you’ll be glad to know, it’s time for the unveiling.
We are ready to announce menu offerings for Gilded Lily Gourmet Foods. How many times have you arrived home from work to a cold stove and an empty refrigerator? The kids are hungry and all you really want to do is change into your pajamas and pour yourself a glass of wine. Wouldn’t it be great to dunk a crust of freshly baked bread into a big steaming bowl of Authentic Cape Cod Fish Chowder without having to lift a finger? How about Red Wine Braised Chicken and Wild Mushrooms followed by a Chocolate Cannoli Sandwich Cookie for dessert? After you place your first order you’ll realize you are eating restaurant quality food in the comfort of your own home at 1/3 of the cost. Then you will say to yourself, “I should do this every week.”
We take our favorite recipes and tweak them by adding layers of flavors and extra naughtiness. Everyone likes mac ‘n’ cheese, so how about Sharp Cheddar Mac ‘N’ Cheese with Chorizo? Sure, cupcakes are great but have you had an Espresso Chocolate Glazed Devil’s Food Cake? That’s what we mean by “Gilded Lily”: delicious food with a little something extra while at the same time affordable and convenient.
Here’s how it works: we post a menu every week on the web, face book, email, smoke signal, however you like to receive information. Choose what you like and call or email to place your order. Ask for Sara and she will guide you through the process. Pick up days are Tuesday and Thursday (5:30pm-7:00pm) but we’re pretty flexible so let us know how we can make it work for you. There will be plenty of variety to keep you satisfied. That means you only have to order pizza or eat toast possibly 3 nights out of seven.
We hope you enjoy our delicious offerings as often as possible. After all what can be better than indulging after a hard day in a warm meal lovingly prepared by someone else? No one will care if you wear your sweats and put your feet up while you savor our Slow Cooked Beef with Rosemary, Onions and Carrots served over Crispy Polenta. A “High end…Low profile” dinner is just a phone call away. What are you waiting for?

(202) 744-2307