Saturday, February 23, 2008


I'm not a big fan of coffee. I like the taste but I can't stand the aftertaste, so I'm only willing to drink peaberry. And I really don't like coffee-flavored things.

The Committee, on the other hand, is a coffee fiend. So when my mother served us a Nilla wafer-pudding-Cool Whip abomination that she was trying to pass off as tiramisu, I promised to try my hand at the real thing.

(Tangent: My mother is a good cook. She appreciates fine dining far more than I did as a kid or my father does even now - I remember being very disappointed when the macaroni & cheese she said was for dinner turned out to be tagliatelle alla puttanesca. But not only does she cook less now, but her food snobbery seems to be waning. As mine is increasing pratically by the minute, this puts us at odds. I won't go into my reaction to the "tiramisu;" suffice it to say it was not particularly becoming.)


3 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt

Separate the eggs. Beat yolks, sugar, and vanilla for about 4 minutes until pale and thick; it's important to beat long enough. Add flour and beat until combined. Add salt to the egg whites and beat until stiff. Fold whites into yolk mixture. Using a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch plain tip, pipe 4-inch lengths onto greased and floured cookie sheets. Bake at 325˚ for 15-18 minutes, until light and golden all over. Makes about 24.

(I have a pasty bag but couldn't find non-decorating tips so I had to improvise. The cookies came out flat and spongy, which worked for the tiramisu but not really like ladyfingers you'd buy at the store.)


6 egg yolks
3/4 cup white sugar
2/3 cup milk
1.25 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
16 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup espresso, room temperature
unsweetened cocoa powder

Beat together yolks and sugar in a saucepan; add milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture boils. Let boil gently for 1 minute, then remove from heat and chill for 1 hour. Beat with mascarpone until smooth. Whip cream and vanilla.

Line bottom of dish (original recipe calls for 7x11; I used 8x8) with half the ladyfingers; sprinkle with half the coffee. Spread half the mascarpone mixture over it, then half the whipped cream. Repeat the layers and finish with sifted cocoa powder. Cover and refrigerate at least 24 hours.

(The original recipe also calls for a couple of tablespoons of rum mixed with the coffee, which I didn't use. I might try a splash a KahlĂșa next time, though. And there will be a next time. This was really good.)

This house has been quarrantined due to plague.

All four of us passed around three strains of the flu bug for almost two weeks. Not fun at all. (The Committee and I also realized this was the first time we'd both been sick at the same time since we had kids. We usually both get whatever's going around, but one at a time.)

There were a couple of upsides to this, though. Miss L has finally consented to walking up or down the stairs under her own power (because there was no way I was hauling her up and down two flights multiple times a day). And oddly enough, Baby J decided to suddenly start sleeping 7-8 hours at a stretch. Regularly. Like, every night. I put her down at 9 or so and she doesn't peep until 5.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Local Ad

I don't know which is more disturbing: that this program exists, or that I kind of think it's a good idea?

(It's been months and months since I've watched network television, and the local ads are far more amusing than they should be.)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

American Idol makes me feel old.

The Top 24 have been announced for this year's American Idol, so I have gone back to spending time lurking on the discussion forum at Television Without Pity. And yeah, it makes me feel absolutely ancient.

One of the semifinalists is a young man named Danny Noriega, who comes off as a flaming high-school theater queen. He seems quite comfortable with himself and is very talented, as long as you can get past the mannerisms of a flaming theater queen. Having been a theater geek in high school and college (and I still bemoan the fact that I don't have the free time to get involved with my local community theater), I think he's adorable. Not what I'm looking for in an American Idol, but adorable and I wish him well.

The lastest post in his thread refers to him as "total hawtness" and expresses that all the tween/teen girls will love him and will probably be disappointed when they discover he's gay. My question is: when? Is it not obvious? It's not like he's in the closet or not, you know, a flaming theater queen!

*sigh* Today's teen heartthrobs are not actually young enough to be my children, but it's starting to feel like it.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine's Day

We don't usually celebrate Valentine's Day. The Committee bought me flowers and hair bands once, probably 7 or 8 years ago.

Yesterday, he came home from work with presents for all of us. Apparently, he saw a really gorgeous frame at one of the stores at Downtown Disney, which started the whole gift kick. He took one of our wedding photos, made it black and white, took the distracting things in the background out, and put it in the frame for me. He brought Baby J a little pink stuffed Nerd and Miss L a Valentine's Day mylar balloon.

Now I have an excuse to get him something for our anniversary in two weeks. :)

I don't know how my ancestresses did it.

Yesterday morning, I was standing next to my bed folding laundry. Or at least I was trying to fold laundry. Baby J was lying on the bed (on her activity mat) screaming at the top of her lungs. Miss L was clinging to my leg and whining at the top of hers. Ah, motherhood. And I started to wonder how my foremothers dealt with this.

Of course, I was missing the obvious, as the Committee pointed out when I shared this with him. My foremothers had their own mothers (and aunts, cousins, etc.) around. I guess it's time to renew my campaign to get my parents to semi-retire and move closer.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I've figured out why Baby J was in such a bad mood this weekend. She's cut her first tooth! It's the bottom right incisor. I discovered this at the grocery store this evening, when she chomped down on my finger.

(I spent the entire weekend trying to convince my friend's husband that Baby J really isn't like this all the time. And that it doesn't mean his sweet, placid newborn is going to turn into a shrieking harpy in six months.)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Cautious Optimism

Last Friday, I finally decided it was time to get serious about Baby J's sleeping issues. The first volley was just as ridiculously difficult as I feared. For example, Sunday night went like this:

8:30 pm - Bedtime routine (bath, nurse, bed); I promise myself I won't feed her again for 6 hours

12 am - Baby wakes up and fusses; I go in every 15 minutes to comfort her (which only works the first couple of times)

2 am - Baby falls asleep; I realize that I'm not going to relax enough to sleep until after she wakes up at a time I'm willing to feed her (because I just know that as soon as I get to sleep she'll wake up, and I *hate* that)

3:45 am - Baby wakes up; I feed her

4 am - I finally get to sleep

6 am - Baby wakes up again; we start the every-15-minute thing all over again

8 am - I give in, feed her, and face the morning

Needless to say, I was exhausted beyond the telling of it yesterday. But last night, we seem to have had a breakthrough. She went to bed at 9 and woke up at 12, but only fussed for about 10 minutes. She then slept until 4, then until 8. I actually got 8 hours of sleep! Not all at once, of course, but two 4-hour blocks is more sleep than I've gotten in one night since before she was born.

We're travelling this weekend and will all be sleeping in the same room, so I a little worried about the potential setback. But we'll deal.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Angel Food Cake

I've never been wild about angel food cake. But it's one of the "Basic Master Recipes" in The Fannie Farmer Baking Book that my father-in-law gave me for Christmas, so I decided to give it a try. It's fantastic - so much better than any store-bought angel food cake I've ever had. It turned out a little bit denser and sweeter than I expected, but I'm okay with that.

1 cup cake flour
1.5 cups sugar
13 egg whites
1.5 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

Adjust oven rack so it's in the bottom third of the oven. Preheat to 375˚. Sift the flour and 3/4 cup sugar together three times. (I kept ending up with sugar crystals that were too big to go through my sifter.) Beat the eggs whites for a minute, until they're foamy. Add the cream of tartar, vanilla, and salt. Slowly work back up to medium speed, then very gradually add the other 3/4 cup sugar. Stop and scrape down the bowl when all the sugar has been added, then beat on medium until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Fold in the dry mixture. Pour into ungreased 10-inch tube pan and bake for 30-45 minutes. Cake is done when a tester comes out clean and the cake springs back when touched. Cool inverted until the pan is no longer warm.

The book recommended "White Mountain Frosting" to go with the cake. I wouldn't have thought to frost angel food cake and I have no experience with boiled frosting, but I tried it. Really, really didn't like it. It's entirely possible that I boiled the sugar syrup too long or beat the whole thing too much (or both), but the result was oddly marshmallowy. I ended up scraping as much of it off the cake as I could.

Cognitive Dissonance

Why does the Super Bowl have a red carpet? And if that's not odd enough, why is it hosted by Ryan Seacrest?