Wednesday, October 30, 2013

It's how you know...


Today I sat in a red adirondack in my beautiful yard and read Ruth Reichl's Not Becoming My Mother.  It was such a fitting thing to do on this anniversary of my mother's freedom from her earthly body. I thought of her and smiled.

When I was halfway through the book I thought even more about how we never really know our mothers.  I know that is true for me.  I believe it is true of my mother and her mother.  And I'm certain it's true for my children.  Mothers protect.  We are never really all out there . . . why burden those you love?

In 1961 (I think) my Mom had a baby, a tiny baby boy.  He lived only two days.  I have some vivid recollections of that time, despite the fact that I was only 5 years old.  It goes something like this.  In a VW Beetle, probably one of the first models you could buy in the United States, my father told my 4 year old sister and I that our Mom had a baby and the baby went to heaven to live with God.  Two days prior my sister and I were in a doctor's waiting room in downtown Lowell while our Mom was in with her doctor.  My Aunt Margaret walked through the door and swooped us up and took us to an ice cream parlor down the street.  I remember having an ice cream soda and wondering why she was carrying my Mom's beautiful red coat with the black fur collar.  They didn't want us to see the ambulance come take our mother out of the doctor's office . . .  it was all a plan to protect us.

Later, after my dad told my sister and I his confusing story, he took us to Lowell General Hospital.  This was when children weren't allowed to visit patients . . . so we stood on the grassy hill and waved to our Mom who stood in a window and waved back.  This makes sense to me now, that my mother would want a glimpse of her girls after losing her baby.

Most things make sense looking back, especially as you grow older.  Most of us need to have children to realize our parents once felt the very same way we did at that very moment the surge of love overtook us.  Most of us.  Some are mature enough to learn that lesson before life's experiences teach them. Not me.

Once while looking through my Mom's top dresser drawer I saw the obituary for that little baby, named John.  My sister and I didn't attend any funeral and neither of us had any memory of that event ever taking place, but it did.  We didn't experience the sadness our parents must have felt.  We were protected.

The plans you have to protect your children aren't always realized.  There are outside factors one has no control over and maybe others that are missed.  But that's what mothers do . . . and mine was good at it.

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

my new life...

I quit my job.  After 19 years at the same place, on a drive to a potentially serious doctor's appointment, I had an epiphany.  Time to go.  I pulled the trigger and yesterday, after four weeks' notice, I turned in my key and walked right out the back door.  When it's right it's right.

I'd like to take a stab at describing how Saturday morning felt, but I know I can't find the words.  Pressure to cross items off my list was gone, just like that.  Saturdays won't be doing all the things difficult to accomplish during the week, at least for a while.  My plan is to take some time off before looking for the next thing.  And my goal is to remember the lesson I thought I learned when I lived in Chicago . . . you don't have to be miserable going to work. 

My first order of business is to head to Salt Lake to pick up my cute pregnant daughter and then head off to Boise.  Ruby needs some attention, specifically people to teach her all the music (and dance moves) to White Christmas.  It was a collective decision that it really isn't a Christmas movie until the last scene.  Can I find some feathers or a feather boa for the girls to use to sing the beloved Sisters?  I shall try.

This morning I began my new life by baking two dozen of the biggest frosted sugar cookies you've ever seen.  Later I whipped up a batch of caramel corn, all attempts to ensure the person I'm leaving behind this week has some goodies to munch on.  Everyone should have someone like him.

Short terms goals are many, things like reading all 83 Conference talks and taking notes, organizing my spices to avoid buying cloves when I already have two bottles of them, reading all my back issues of Vanity Fair and Esquire, and releasing all those titles sitting in my queue at the public library.  Farmers' Market?  Yes.  Sitting in my yard in the morning sounds heavenly, too.  Time will tell. 

For right now, right this minute . . . I'm basking in the warmth I feel knowing I'm about to spend a week with my girls.  I am a very "lucky" girl, but not.  It's so much more than that.

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Pumpkin Pound Cake

How pretty is the shape of this cake?  Purchased simply to generate the extra crunch on a pound cake that my biggest fan enjoys so much, the pan can be found here.  Highly recommend.
This is a pumpkin pound cake . . . see how it morphed into something snowy and wonderful?
Eventually the middle was filled with a cream cheese frosting spiked with a little rum flavoring instead of vanilla.
Pound Cake Ingredients:

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
6 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup milk

Glaze Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons butter, softened
4-6 teaspoons milk

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.

Combine sugar and 1 1/2 cups butter in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Continue beating, adding eggs one at a time, until well mixed. Add pumpkin; continue beating until well mixed. Reduce speed to low. Beat, gradually adding flour mixture alternately with 3/4 cup milk, until well mixed.

Spoon batter into greased and floured 12-cup Bundt® pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely.

Combine powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons butter and enough milk for desired glazing consistency in small bowl. Glaze cooled cake OR dust with powdered sugar.

Recipe previously posted three years ago...

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Burger Bash deliciousness at the MGM

What a beautiful sight around the pool at the MGM yesterday for Burger Bash.  This was my birthday gift to my spouse, and was he ever happy.  Beats a Brooks Brothers tie!

Eight MGM restaurants competed, pulling out all the stops on their version of a winning burger.  As much as I loved how beautiful each burger was, the highlight of my day was seeing Joel Robuchon sitting right behind me.  I am a a celebrity chef groupie, no question about it!  Michael Mina, too.  Michael, nobody makes a lobster pot pie like you.

There was a beef cheek patty topped with Boursin cheese and tomato jam with some shallot cracklings.  I am now a fan of beef cheek and will happily order beef cheek ravioli.  In fact, I can't wait to order beef cheek ravioli.

Tom Colicchio's Craftsteak burger was a pork belly patty with a slice of heirloom tomato, blue cheese and a chipotle BBQ sauce.

Emeril's burger was hand ground steak with an oxtail marmalade, Havarti cheese and a crispy onion crust.  The hand made potato roll was beautiful.

Michael Mina (PUB 1842) won the competition with his signature bacon cheeseburger.  A beef patty topped with some Gouda cheese and melted American cheese with lettuce, the pub's secret sauce and plenty of bacon.

There was a salmon burger with crispy rice wrapped in seaweed.  And Wolfgang's burger was topped with Gouda, habanero-tomato chutney (my spouse LOVED the burn on this), caramelized onion, arugula, served on a pretzel bun.

The fry station was beautiful.  Onion rings served in brown paper bags with a large assortment of dipping sauces.  Sweet potato fries, waffle fries and, the hit of the afternoon, homemade tater tots fried in duck fat.  They were FUN.

This was the definition of an afternoon of fun.

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