sunday with my husband

“i need your help, dessert help”…it was my husband speaking; it was also the end to any plans i may have had for sunday.  such is the life of a pastry chef whose husband happens to be the executive banquet chef for a university.  i packed up my gear, grabbed my cookbooks and out the door i went to give him a hand.
 he was busy making wraps for the 100+ campers staying at the university.  
 while he arranged the various fillings, 

and then rolled them up, 

 i got busy with the desserts.
 chocolate trifle with strawberries; i made the cake, the chocolate mousse and macerated the berries
 i also made a batch of chocolate chip cookies.
and like the amazing woman i am, i cleaned up my mess and hit the road as quick as i could.  it was sunday and i had some serious lazing about to do.   now that things have quieted down in the demonstration garden and the show preparations are done, look for me to be back here baking up whatever strikes my fancy.

all lined up

and today’s wreckage is brought to you by…it seems that no matter how hard i try, i manage to wreck the kitchen. we have had a busy week because of beekeeping classes. no, you read that correctly, beekeeping classes. in a few weeks, there will be a hive of bees outside in the garden. we are excited and a little nervous. with all that going on, i still found time to get 5 recipes finished. a very rainy sunday made it easy, no chance i would be out in the garden. instead, i was working away in our small kitchen while darry paced around and reminded me that he would have to make dinner soon. around here, the cooks are lined up like planes coming in for a landing. as soon as one clears the counter, another slides in and continues with the wreckage.
so this is a tale of his and hers wreckage…
my floury mess, lots of little cups and spoons and a sifter as well as ingredients galore.
his pile includes trays and plates and pots and pans. the result, a tasty dinner of fried chicken-yes fried, we have temporarily lifted the moratorium on fried foods but only because this dish didn’t require a vat of hot oil.
on to the tea breads. i always throw overripe bananas into the freezer. they are good to bake with and they make great smoothies. seems that i forgot about this batch. they were extra frosty.
they didn’t look much better out of the peels, kinda like innards…

first batch of little breads
final batch of tea breads. from left to right-date walnut, banana nut and pumpkin chocolate chip with a lovely brown sugar ribbon running through it.

play with your food

it was date night-imagine that. darry and i gathered ourselves together and headed out to one of our favorite haunts, just the two of us. and where did we go you ask, why the grocery store of course. it has been a little joke between us for quite some time that the only time we could go out, just the two of us, was when we needed groceries. but there we were wandering through the produce section in search of who knows what; and search we did until we found it. what it is, i am not quite sure. the sticker claimed they were angel food cakes and we were both standing there gawking and pointing and wondering why would somebody do this to a cake…
candidates for cakewrecks-truly hideous and yet, something occurred to me. i could do something different to the angel food cake that i was testing.
i had some cherry juice and i reduced it by simmering it. after it cooled, i added it to the batter and the result was a soft pink color and a hint of cherry flavor. best part, no airbrush system was needed.
while rummaging, i found some blackberries that had been living in the freezer. i juiced them, reduced the juice and voila-lavender cake!
trial and error led me to the conclusion that the cheap steak knife cut the cake better than the expensive serrated blade.
all this talk of rainbow cakes left me thinking of the angel food cake that appeared every so often during my childhood. my mother was not the type to bake a cake unless it was a mix. she would make angel food cakes and she always had a trick up her sleeve…
no mix for me, egg whites whipping with the sugar spilling in ever so slowly
not too stiff or the cake will shrink after it is baked
that trick i mentioned, it was grated unsweetened chocolate. mom is not a big chocolate fan but she does like it in angel food cakes
gently fold in the flakes of chocolate
sift the dry ingredients over the bowl and fold them in gently too
into the pan it goes
i use two timers when i test recipes. one to count down the anticipated time and one to count up the total time it takes
out of the oven and upside down until it cools completely or it will sink
the best way to loosen the cake from the pan-a skewer. run it around the cake to loosen it.
little bits of chocolate confetti and a trip back to my childhood

come on baby light my fire

because of the snowy weather, i left the cafe early yesterday. since i was home earlier than expected, i decided to put the time to good use and test some recipes. sounds good in theory but i was a bit distracted and didn’t get started on things until mid afternoon. i finally got the cake i wanted to test in the oven and then had to move out of the way so darry could cook dinner. we have a small kitchen and there just isn’t the space for two professional chefs to work side by side. well, not these two any way…

so there i was, sitting down at the table watching him cook while i waited on the cake in the oven and it was taking longer than i wanted it to. as i waited, i watched darry prepare the chicken for the stirfry he was going to make and we chattered about the day and the weather and who knows what else. and as i sat there, i became aware of what looked like a little black insect flying through the air. a spider? no maybe a fruit fly…a fruit fly in january? then i saw another and another. at this point i asked darry, “what is that black stuff?” his reply, a very loud “OH @*#%!!!” ( you should understand this), the grease is on fire!”
at this point, it was mayhem. he grabbed the teapot which was on the back burner so that he could slide the pot off the heat and proceeded to drop it into the hot grease. he then grabbed the teapot again, tossed it in the sink and moved the pot of grease off the burner but by now, the flames were really big. i ran and grabbed the fire extinguisher, yes we actually have two, and stood there dumbstruck. as many times as i have read the directions on it, i have never had to use it. he grabbed it from me and said i know how to use it and he did just that. he quickly put out the fire and i checked on the cake in the oven…just another day at our house. considering all that we do in the kitchen, that was a first for us in 25 years together.
then it was clean up time. what a mess that made. the extinguisher probably contained about 1/4 cup of fire suppressing powder which in theory isn’t very much. put that into a pressurized container and watch out. it was everywhere. a fine yellow powder coated the entire counter, stovetop, wall and there was even some in the oven because it went into the vent. darry and i spent the next hour cleaning it up.
so as you can see, there is never a dull moment here at our house. even after 25 years, we still have something to talk about each day. but i may have to declare a moratorium on any culinary procedure that requires a large pot of hot oil. oh by the way, the cake was terrible and that was no surprise. version two was better but still not a winner. version 3 took the blue ribbon and now it is time to test the frosting out…