Tuesday, November 23, 2010

we've secretly replaced your blogger with a baker & new improved flavor crystals

So....what had happened was....I'm now baking?!?!  WTF????

Since I made my bundt cake for Mary the Food Librarian's National Bundt Day 2010, I have found myself baking....TWICE.  WITHIN ONE WEEK.  This is not a usual occurrence 'round this here parts.

The first was a cop-out.  I went to get bananas at my grocery store, and next to the bananas, they had a prepackaged mix for banana bread that calls for overripe bananas, plus an egg and water.  I swear, I'm such an impulse buyer.  I did want to make banana bread, but did not feel like searching up my old recipe (that LITERALLY could have taken me 90 seconds to pull out of a cookbook...jeez....) so I thought I'd give the mix a try.  It was quick, it was easy and I even threw in some chocolate chips.  We've been nibbling on it all week.  Yum.

The second will be in my next post.....stay tuned for that one.....

But a funny thing happened between my chocolate chip marble bundt and my banana bread.....an old friend called me to chat and catch up.  (I'll call him Brian....we change names here to protect the innocent....ha ha ha)

At the end of our talk, Brian told me that this was the happiest he had heard my voice in a while.  After I hung up, I did a mental review to see what had happened to me or what I had done different that might possibly have affected my mood....
  • Had I lost weight?  Nope.  Probably gained....
  • Had I been to the gym?  Only once....
  • Had I resolved my stress regarding my job?  Not a chance.....it's worse now....
  • Had I finished any of the projects around the house?  No....
  • Had I unpacked any more boxes?  Errr.....uhhhhh....no....
The only thing different was that I was baking.  So to test my theory, I made my next recipe.

And even though, baking / cooking in my kitchen highlights EVERYTHING I HATE about my kitchen (it's too small....there is NO counter space....my oven is iffy and inconsistent....the lighting sucks.....I can't fit stuff in my dishwasher, which means I'm washing everything by hand....) which should, in turn, make me more uptight...I was having fun.  I was listening to Radio Margaritaville and singing and dancing around the kitchen.  I wasn't thinking about the house, the boxes, the diet, the weight, the job stress, the pending drive/visit to my M-I-L's for Thanksgiving.....

I was just baking.

Hey.  Check me out. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

she likes big bundts

It's National Bundt Day!  I'm in perpetual awe of the killer baking skillz of my oldest and dearest friend, the Night Baker, and thru her blog I've discovered JustJenn with her Recipes and Designs, and now...The Food Librarian.

The Food Librarian makes 30 bundts in 30 days!  Awesome, yet crazy, and it all culminates on November 15th - today - National Bundt Day!  She challenges her readers to make a bundt to celebrate - and then post the pics & story on the baker's own blog....So - I wanted to play, too!!!

My entry in this awesomely cool event.....is this recipe for Buttercake Bakery's Chocolate Chip Marble Bundt Cake. When The Night Baker first posted this recipe, I commented, "OMG this looks so good."  I was going to make a Lemon Bundt Cake but the Tiny Titan complained that he was no longer a lover of the lemons.  So - one chocolate chip marble bundt cake, coming up!!

I made the chocolate sauce

I whisked my dry ingredients
I creamed my butter & sugar

I added in my chocolate chips and portioned out 1/3 of my batter which I then added into...

...the chocolate sauce! 

I added 1/3 of the vanilla batter into my Bundt pan

Next, I added in the chocolate batter

**props to me for pouring the chocolate batter into the pan with my left hand while I simultaneously snapped this action pic with my iPhone in my right hand....and did not spill any batter!

I added in the remaining vanilla batter and swirled my figure-8s...though hopefully not too much...

Kirby, the Princess Pup, was not amazed, nor amused.  After all - there was no chance any of this was going to be eaten by her....



Ooooooh!  Ahhhhhh!  It's cooling on the rack!
Cooled and ready to eat
Plates and served.  Note the fabulous marbling...not bad for my rookie attempt!

It tasted AMAZING!  If I hadn't made it myself, I would not have believed that it was homemade.  This was so good, that my Pop Pop, the most devoted chocoholic, would have been reduced to tears over this deliciosity.  But Batman and the Tiny Titan were just as happy to give it two thumbs up.  Waaaaay up!

This was fun - and I'm looking forward to making my Thanksgiving Bundt next weekend.

A special thank you to The Food Librarian, The Night Baker, and JustJenn and her Recipes.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Yo, Dot!

I've become more involved with my new synagogue.  I'm there twice a week to drop the Tiny Titan off for Hebrew School, and I've signed up for two Adult Ed classes that run at or about the same time he is there, so it's convenient for me.  I've rebooted my long dormant "server" and am reading Hebrew with halting accuracy as well as learning old prayers with new melodies and new prayers with old melodies.  We have attended several services since the High Holy Days (both Friday night and Saturday morning), I've participated in a few Sisterhood events (gack!!) and I'm running into a lot of the same people....people who, though they may not know me by name, know me enough by sight to ask about how I'm enjoying my "life as a brunette" experiment.

Side note - It's ok.  But it's not me.  Come spring, I'm going to go back to being a blonde.

Our synagogue has a Welcome Booklet that sits in the book slot on the back of the pews, and it's written very appealingly, for the Jew and non-Jew alike.  One of the memorable passages describes prayer akin to deep meditation, and to approach prayers as opening yourself up to a trancelike state so as to commune better with G-d.

The old me would have laughed and asked when we were going to pass the bong around.

Except, now, I have twice found myself moved to tears during services.  Both times were random (at least to me) and both times I felt like it was Grandmom who was with me.

I have no living grandparents.  My maternal grandfather died before I was born, and I'm named after him.  My maternal grandmother, Nana, died when I was back living with my parents before I moved in with my fiance (now husband).  I was there the night she died - I had to drive my mom to my uncle's house where she died - and I can still recall how she looked laying in the bed...mouth slightly open and eyes closed, like she was sleeping, but still trying to breathe.  Her death was not unexpected, but one we all hoped would occur, if only to end an existence that we knew she would have despised.

When my paternal Grandmom died, I was there with her in Florida.  Just thinking about it and I am crying.  It was horrible, though she died peacefully and on her own terms, and I've never gotten over it.  When Pop-Pop died earlier this year, I was sad, but he, too, was living a miserable existence.  My dad and aunt had moved him into an assisted living facility, but he used to tell Batman, "This isn't assisted living.  It's assisted dying."  Oy vey, Pop.  But he was right.

So when I find myself letting go in services, into a trancelike state while closing my eyes and listening to the melody of the prayer, the first person I find myself thinking of is Grandmom.  During the Yom Kippur Kol Nidre service, I read the words:

ברוך אתה ה׳...מחיה המתים
Barukh Ata Adonai, Mechayei ha-metim
"Praised are You, O Lord, who grants immortality to the departed"

and I felt like I was hit with a 2x4 across the chest and had the wind knocked out of me.

This past Saturday, it was the Rabbi discussing how so much of our religion is passed on via oral and practical tradition.  An elderly congregant was saying how sad she was to be getting old, and that the feel of the older traditions, and the way she was raised, was lost to the past, never to be recaptured.  And hearing her words, I felt Gram was sitting next to me, her hand clasped in mine.

I don't know if this is a newfound maturity, or clarity, or that I'm grasping for assistance and looking for guidance from any available outlet. Or - I'm still depressed about a few specific things and have not yet found a way to "get over" them. 

Regardless, even with the brunette hair that makes me look more like Gram in her younger years, I still miss her terribly.  And that. really. sucks.