I should be writing. Instead…trolling the newspaper.

person in bunny suit reading the newspaper

Just read that 10,000 polling sites could be hacked because they’re still using Windows 7. How about if they cross up the Russians and backslide to Windows Vista? Windows ME, anyone? How about if we use Apple Newtons as the sole voting device?

***

Skipping sports [who cares about players holding out for more millions and the latest Vegas odds anyway?] and head over to Dear Abby

One writer signed her letter as ‘Not Pregnant in Texas’. So, if she crossed state lines, would she then be pregnant?

Then there was the concerned mom who wanted to know the proper etiquette on how to end a phone conversation with her son serving overseas in the military. The ol’ ‘night time on her end, the next morning on his end’ quandary that at one time or another has vexed pretty much everyone…okay, perhaps no one.

“Sir! Yes, sir! Failed to properly inspect munitions dump, sir! Confused by mother’s wishing me a good night at 0900 hours, sir!”

And really, why nettle poor overworked Abby with that question? Send it straight to Congress and, after months of wrangling, mud wrestling, and filibustering, she’ll have her answer.

***

Finally…

Headline: Wondering about bison emissions
Like, who isn’t?

INSPIRED BY TODAY’S JUMBLE®

jumbled letters gratisography-419-thumbnail

What took me so long?

A blog named Word Inventions and I never got around to making up my own words?

Well, the time has come…

Thank you to David L. Hoyt and Jeff Knurek, creators of JUMBLE®–‘That scrambled word game’…

CLYDOC

Marcie turned from the cloudy weather outside and shook her head at the new workmate, deep into his daily chants. What a complete and utter yuclod.

NEIGSN

“Ensign! You’re not facing your men until you get that festering sennig removed from your chin!”

REBGLI

The Senator glared at his staff. “Time to change the narrative. Send for Bob. He’s the best bilger our super pac can buy.”

***Image courtesy of gratisography.com

I should have been writing. Instead…apple cake.

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You know how it is.

You find out that the distance between you and YouTube is just a voice command and a few clicks on the TV remote and there really is no reason to leave the recliner.

Okay, maybe you don’t know how it is. [i.e. you are not a slothful low-life.]

Anywaaay, this recipe from joyofbaking.com was the first to show up on the big screen. Stephanie Jaworski’s demonstration was clear and concise. My version matched the one in the video. Always reassuring. The baking time was within the +/- 5 minutes margin-of-oven-performance estimation. Taste and moistness and ingredient ratios–spot on. Final grade: 91%. [Bravo, Stephanie!]

Ready for baking: 

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More than a few notes:

  • One of the best parts of baking–Wife comes in the front door, breathes in, and announces to the world: “Someone’s been baaaaking!”
  • Liked Stephanie’s idea of making an apricot jam glaze. I went with raspberry. Yep, I’d do it again. Always one to hedge my bets, I glazed only half the cake.
  • I add tons more cinnamon than is called for and included allspice as well.
  • I mixed brown with white sugar.
  • No raisins in the house [my preferred dried fruit]. I went with dried cranberries, which I nuked in water for about 45 seconds to tenderize them a bit. Wouldn’t have hurt if I subbed in brandy or creme de cassis for the water.
  • I’m sure this has been suggested elsewhere in the world, but…the microwave’s ‘defrost’ setting works great for melting butter. Ditto for gently reheating certain delicate leftovers like shrimp.
  • Type of apple used: Winter banana [from our weekly community-supported agriculture box. A shout-out to Denison Farms, by the way.]
  • I cook/bake better when a towel is draped over my shoulder. Go figure. I’m not an Emeril Lagasse fan-boy, but he rocks that same shoulder accessory.
  • Yes, I will continue my socially marginal habit of consuming cake by the manually mangled hunk.
  • Where did today’s inspiration come from? A. Those winter banana apples weren’t going to cook themselves.   B. The apple festival-winning cake in last night’s Hallmark movie. [Hey, call me a wuss, but our current crop of semi-journalistically responsible ‘BREAKING NEWS!!!!’ channels are just plain bad for our health. If I’m going to engage in harmful behaviors, they’ll include flour, sugar, butter and a message to someone that I care about them.]
  • If I had more time, I would have revisited Maida Heatter’s apple cake recipe .
  • Lest you think my life is perfection on a plate, consider this:

Our toothpicks are scattered throughout the pot holder drawer. Really…rounding them up and replacing them in a too-small box, from which they will no doubt roll out within minutes…unfathomable torture.

  • I miss having a dog lurking nearby watching my every move.

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Thanks for visiting. Give this recipe a try. It has ‘comfort on a fall Sunday afternoon’ written all over it.

 

 

I should have been writing. Instead…Stovetop Chocolate Cake.

 

File_001Yes, stovetop. A challenge worth pursuing.

This recipe came from Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street website.

And I have to say, as with Cook’s Country/America’s Test Kitchen [C. Kimball’s most recent endeavor], the accompanying video segments were extremely helpful.

***

As the cake steams–yep, steams– toward completion, some questions and notions:

  • This will be my default ‘baking’ method during the heat of summer. 
  • A while back, I mentioned my tendency to do weird, lame stuff in the kitchen, such as mixing or chopping at the very edge of the counter. Wull-gee, what are the odds something’s going to end up on the floor? I do eventually learn from repeated bungling, however. So this time, the floor was spared the usual cascade of ingredients. Bravo.
  • Buuuut, did that keep me from having my laptop hanging precariously over counter’s edge as I began typing this post? Uhhh, no. Seems like once I hit my threshold of competency, all bets are off. Hide the knives, check the burners, and pray. [Doesn’t matter which god you choose, by the way. They all understand kitchen hazards. And at some point in the process, I become the poster child.]
  • I should have hired a first-grader to cut my circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan.
  • With this stovetop strategy, will we still be treated to the warm, enveloping aroma of a baked chocolate cake? Answer: No.
  • I’m not supposed to lift that lid till the prescribed 23 minutes has lapsed. I actually resisted. Decision: It needed an extra five to seven minutes. On the upside, unless the water has evaporated, the risk of burning the cake is minimal. In other words, steam bath: forgiving…oven heat: cruel and merciless.
  • When it comes to chocolate desserts, our mantra: Dark = better. Darker = more better.
  • Always remember: Eating cake by the hunk enhances flavor by 23%. [Margin of error: +/- 5%]
  • My wife rolls her eyes at my Philistine ways, bBut I say, ‘If I bake it, I break it.’ And it’s oh-so-good that way. Besides, she gets to even out the ragged edges.

Final verdict: This recipe is a keeper. The cake came out dark and dense and moist. What more could you want?

 

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The steaming takes place inside a Dutch oven–actually any pot with a tight-fitting lid and deep/wide enough to fit an eight or nine-inch cake pan. The coil of aluminum foil simply keeps the cake above the heated water.

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The chocolate shmeer on the plate is a sure sign of this cake’s moistness. [The added chocolate chunks don’t hurt either.]

Added notes: Apologies to Bitter Ben, whose blog I follow. Rather than bittersweet, I used semi-sweet chocolate chunks from Trader Joe’s.

And to faithful reader Virginia [Roses in the Rubble], try this recipe. It should be a fair payback for the recipes you’ve shared with me.

 

I should have been writing. Instead…biscuits.

 

 

biscuits reduced size

Yep, biscuits. So much more rewarding than wrangling over a first draft that points to the dwindling intellect of a ‘certain writer’.

They were the finale after the arugula pesto and the tofu spread.

Pretty sure I lost my two readers with those last two words, but stick with me here…

Solution to tofu that tastes [and behaves] like spackle: Heat the olive oil, bloom the spices in the oil, *then* add the tofu, the caramelized onions, the arugula, and whatever else won’t resist your purposeful grope into the fridge.

Essentially, you make a tofu scramble and pulverize it in the food processor. Now you actually have something with flavor that you can spread on bread, but without the sinfulness of cheese.

Back to the biscuits…today, I used the New York Times’ all-purpose biscuit recipe as my starting point. I had already sullied the food processor when I made the pesto, so I snagged a cube of butter from the freezer and grated it into the flour. [The photo below is telling me I should have also added parm to the mix.]

parmesan-cheese grater

 

So, no cheese this time, but afternoon coffee and biscuits ensued.

dog mug

Sitting in the backyard sun, feet up on another chair, two of my favorite foods, my truly favorite person, and the knowledge that the writing projects will still be there when I saunter back. Life’s good.

 

 

I should have been writing. Instead… [the sequel at 375 degrees].

The weather is cool enough to fire up the oven, so it’s time to roll out the crusts I made on Saturday.

My French teacher, Brother Reinkens, would prefer I call it a ‘galette’–do you get the feeling I’m haunted by my high school years?…time out…my facial tics are back…….okay, the medication’s kicking in…I call this, not so simply, “If Picasso made a rustic apple-dotted-with-raspberries pie.”

rustic apple pie

This is the smaller, experimental cinnamon-with-vanilla crust, so you’re looking at a pastry with six-inch sides. I turned over the larger crust to my wife, who opted for those plums from the neighbors. That hummer is still baking.

However, here is the real reason to make extra pie crust–in this case, sour cream pie crust.

pie crust strips

These food-like mutants of dubious origin will soon morph into strips of bubbling butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

Like this, for instance…

pie crust strips baked

Finally, lest** you think barbarism reigns supreme in the kitchen, my wife dials things back with symmetry, order, even beauty [though don’t think I’m not reveling in the plentiful ooze on the right edge].

plum galette

 

**My apologies for the snooty use of ‘lest’. Trying to make up for the ‘arson aftermath’ look of the pie crust strips, I’d say. [An aside: I really don’t get why Food Network hasn’t come calling for my descriptive flair. I think Ina Garten and her Hamptons crowd and I would hit it off quite well.]

Geez, the kitchen smells good. Time for an afternoon mug of Mayan Blend…

dog mug