Tuesday, January 10, 2012

#37 He is Honest

Welcome to my newest obsession:

Oh yes. A thing of complete and absolute beauty. Good for me I read the directions (for once) and used a plastic bag to drizzle the dough into the mold.

Otherwise this would be a very different picture:

You know, instead of perfectly filled circles they would have been overflowing out the wazoo, with chocolate oozing out in places no human would've imagined possible with a garnish of flour and sugar scattered about the table.

However, the machine isn't complete perfection yet. I am in desperate need of finding the perfect chocolate donut recipe. You know, glazed chocolate donut quality. Dunkin Donuts double chocolate donut quality. The kind of donut that when your teeth sink into the thick chocolate goodness they become instantly coated with not only chocolate, not only glaze, but smooth chocolate frosting.

Ok, I'm drooling a little.

I knew when I first made the recipe for chocolate donuts included in the box that it would be a problem. When a recipe calls for a 1/2 cup of cocoa to 1 and 1/4 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of sugar, there is bound to be a flavor problem.

(1/2 a cup of cocoa! I'm still trying to wrap my brain around that one!)

However, there was also a sour cream donut recipe included, which did not involve chocolate, that is divine. Then again, what with sour cream is not divine?

(By the way, I could really go for some loaded nachos right now....)

The sour cream donuts were made the day after I made the chocolate ones as a way to say to my husband, "No, this machine IS really awesome, it CAN actually make great stuff, and it is NOT a waste of money!" Timing was everything there, because after one bite of the chocolate donut, I was pretty sure he would never try another donut from the machine again.

The sour cream donuts received an 'okay' rating from him. (He went back for more, so I know deep down it was more than okay. He just had to save face as the donut critic).

Here's what my rendition of the sour cream donuts, with less than a honkin' 1/2 cup of cocoa added, looked like:

I thought maybe the sour cream magic would turn my donuts into perfection. Sadly, they were not at all, in any way shape or form, the perfect chocolate donut, but I'm working on it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

#36 He Lets Me Be Helpless

It all started with this painting:

I've been in love with this picture for years now. Every time my husband and I would walk into a store that had it, I would stop in front of it and sigh.

Now it's hanging in my dining room and I sigh about ten times a day. Music starts softly playing behind me as I day dream about being the woman in the photo. The dancing one...not the one holding the umbrella.

I received this as a surprise last Christmas present. My husband and I walked into our house close to midnight on Christmas Eve after having just spent the last hour practicing our MJ dance moves on my brother's new XBox Kinect and there it was at the bottom of the staircase.

I guess I need to clarify a few things:
  1. My family has forever and always opened up our presents on Christmas Eve night.
  2. My husband and I opened up our gifts to each other like anxious little school children on Christmas Eve's Eve. I'm thinking it's a tradition that is going to take....
Anywho, it was a honkin' huge gift to be greeted with and of course I needed it to be immediately hung.

But I patiently waited the two weeks time that my husband needed before hopping right to it (see #29 He Hates a Nagging Wife).

Then, as an added bonus, without any mention at all, he hung this for me:

Yes, I am one of 'those' women. I gather other peoples old used things so that I can put them in my house and call them words like, 'vintage' and 'antique'. This one though is special. My lil bro bought it special for me for Christmas and I like it just fine. (It beats the rusted sewing machine I had sitting there last year.)

And here's why I'm so lucky. See that frame that's above the phone? Well, it was on the other side of the room originally and I replaced it with a picture that my brother's girlfriend painted for me. The problem is, I haven't hung a gosh darn thing in my house ever. My idea of 'hanging' a picture on the wall is to either stare desperately at the wall in hopes that a nail is already there or to grab a push pin, jam it into the wall, and call it a day. Do I know that this isn't the proper way to hang things? Yes, sadly I do. Do I also know that a supposedly educated person like myself should be able to do something as simple as properly knock a few nails into a wall? Yes.

But darn it, there are just certain things that I want to be helpless about. This also includes changing the light bulbs that are super high in the kitchen. Can I do it? With proper balance, sure. But if hubby is home, well, he's my knight in shining armor if he does it.

Fortunately for me, he lets me be this way. Without complaint.

So, thus came the point where I had to pull that frame out from where I'd shamefully hid it until my wall either grew a nail on it's own or hubby was hanging other things, as we've established he was, and shyly say, "Well, if you're hanging all that, could you maybe hang this one too?".

And he did, of course.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

#35 He Eats From My Grandmother's Kitchen

I don't know if all little girls go through this stage, but when I was little I always wanted to help with cooking in the kitchen.

Always. Like, every single time always. Like, no matter what was cooking always.

The typical answer I received from my mother was, "When you're older", or "Maybe next year". Then if that wouldn't suffice she would assign me the simplest task possible, one that even my baby brothers could do, such as take the milk out of the fridge. Now as I am currently the older version of that little girl, I don't blame my mom one iota. Cooking can be stressful enough that no one needs the complication of adding a five-year-old into the equation.


Ah, 'but'.

What a wonderful conjunction 'but' is. It lets you know that what will follow is going to contrast the preceding thought. And hopefully, it will take you from a thought of something not so swell to something that is.

But, not for Gram.

When I step into the room above my mind floods with the fond memories of being a little girl in Gram's kitchen. The space is not abundant, the floor carpeted, the dining room just a few steps away, but Gram has always made the best of it.

The second anyone enters her home Gram offers to cook them up a meal catered specifically to their preferences. In fact, she gets frustrated when people don't want to eat.

When my brothers and I am there she creates a regular smorgasboard consisting of anything from homemade chicken tenders, meatballs, popcorn shrimp, pizza, steak sandwiches, grilled cheese, steaks, french fries, spaghetti...


Spaghetti is etched in my memories of cooking with Gram. She would always let me break the spaghetti noodles in half and then put them in the pot for her. Every time, guaranteed, there would be a mixture of uncooked one inch noodle pieces, half noodle pieces, and full noodles scattered about the floor.

She never complained.

She never yelled.

She always laughed.

She always stayed good humored.

Today I try to actually help her, but I'm always blown away at how independent she is in the kitchen. She has dozens of things going on at once, yet gets it all done flawlessly. Every burner on the stove is in use, the stove baking, the microwave warming, the toaster oven toasting, and there is Gram among it all. Calmly moving about with such a lady like presence to her the whole time as she cooks and manages to keep her kitchen neat and clean. Not at all like me when I cook.

I'm sweaty, I've peeled off layers of clothes until I'm just about down to my skivvies, and if you talk to me I let out a raptor scream. That's just me. My kitchen? It looks like a war zone. The table is covered with remnants of what is on or in the stove, the sink is piled over with dishes probably from yesterday's dinner (or....the day's before that, or the day's before that), and sauces and spices drip from every surface I've touched.

Yes, my Gram inspires me.

  • She inspires me to be willing to cook for anyone who enters my home.
  • She inspires me to do the best with what I have.
  • She inspires me to practice patience and learn to be peaceful as I'm giving all my concentration to my cooking.
  • She inspires me to want to do better than last time.
  • She inspires me to be more lady like and proper, to use the good plates even when I'm only cooking an impromptu lunch for my brothers.

Bottom line: My Gram is awesome. I'm working on a deal with God so that she will live forever.