School Dinner

I am the only one who eats in grad school. We sit together for 3 hours – during dinner time – and no one pulls out a nice salad, or hearty bean dish, or dessert. Except for me. I watch the clock till 6, then wait as long as possible before starting on dinner. I make it till 6:15. Then I begin my dinner, taking breaks to make notes, or answer questions, or rearrange my food so that I don’t trash my books. I take a break for dessert – because my first class ends before my dinner. Mainly because eating takes longer when your attention is focused on not getting sauerkraut on your neighbor’s ipad.

It’s possible that other people eat during the 10 minutes we have between classes. I once saw a Russian girl with an apple then. But it’s doubtful, since most of them make it to class before I do. And she might have just been using the apple for effect.

Which leads me to wonder if the rest of them spend their leisure time as starving artists. In which case, I really need to share my snacks.

Supreme Kashi Judge

Arguments happen. Sometimes they’re ended when people agree to disagree – as long as they privately know the other person is totally, completely, and irrevocably wrong. On occasion, they’re resolved when one side convinces the other. But then there are arguments which are so all-important that neither side can concede but a resolution must still be reached. That’s when you need a judge of final resort.

In the kitchen, Bubby was that judge. When Special Correspondent Ellen said I couldn’t replace sugar with applesauce, when my dad said I couldn’t leave chicken out overnight, and when I insisted that bread could last more than 6 months in the freezer, Bubby was called in to arbitrate. The answers were you can, you can’t, and of course it does.

There was, however, someone else I could have called. The one person who cooked with Bubby every Rosh Hashana and Peasch for more decades than I’ve lived. A person to whom Bubby would defer. Great-Aunt Rita. Sisters-in-law, they lived a few blocks away for over 40 years – and still they’d talk on the phone almost daily.

So, when Aunt Rita passed judgement on Dad’s kashi, it was fearsome. This is what happened, according to Dad:

The kashi was brought out, and Aunt Rita began her questioning.
Aunt Rita: What kind did you buy?
This had taken a turn that I was not expecting. I was going to be quizzed. I knew she meant. She was asking what was the size of the kashi grains.
Me: Coarse, uhhh sometimes medium.
Aunt Rita: Right
She didn’t say good, because good would imply a range of correct answers. There was only one.
Aunt Rita: How do you make it?
Me: the recipe on the box.
She nodded. I was relieved. She did not ask about bow ties, which I took to mean that she didn’t think they were essential. I had left them out.
Aunt Rita: I have a new way of making it. You mix the kashi with egg, microwave, separate with a fork, as you have to do. Microwave again and pour boiling water over it. It comes out great.
I have not tried it yet, but maybe the next time.

For traditionalists, the original recipe is still available here.

They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To

“Where’s mom?” I asked my dad on a Sunday afternoon. 

“She went to Macy’s to replace the 60 year-old hand mixer,” he said, reasonably.

That’s when I remembered our earlier conversation, when my mom had warned me that she’d be out for much of the day. She’d been pretty specific about her many errands, and she hadn’t said anything about Grandma Annie’s appliances.

“I thought she was replacing the new ones,” I suggested.

“Ok, she’s out replacing the 30 year-old hand mixer,” dad confirmed.

Because my great-grandmother’s hand mixer is still going strong. Wish she’d bought two.

 

My Achilles Heel: Brownies

Mixing me and brownies – or blondies – is a recipe for disaster. The first time I made brownies they burned. To top it off, the parts that weren’t burned weren’t all that great. They went to my mom’s coworkers. A few months later, I tried to make blondies. The liquid and solid elements somehow separated. Those too went to my mom’s coworkers. After that I had mercy on the coworkers and haven’t tried to make either blondies or brownies since.

But Special Corespondent Ellen insisted that I try the blondies she just made. Despite my past failures, she told me I could not give up. So I resolved to try, try again. Plus, after raving about the blondies, she refused to mail me any.

So, I attempted my personal Everest. Everest bested me. I wish I could say it’s because I adapted the recipe, but I do that for everything. The results are usually delightful. But this time I got a semi-dry coffee cake instead of a moist snickerdoodle. But for those of you who aren’t an embarrassment to the brownies/blondie world, I’ve heard great things about these:

Snickerdoodle Blondies from Brown Eyed Baker

2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups packed brown sugar I used just under 1 c each of brown and white sugar
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature I used 5 tbsp. Yes, I think that accounts for a lot.
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon I might have used more cinnamon. I might not have. Knowing would involve measurement. 

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan; set aside. I used a round 9×9 pan. After they took twice as long to bake I checked the actual instructions.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl; set aside.

I mixed the ingredients together in any old order. I don’t think that helped.

3. Beat together the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, and then the vanilla. Beat, scraping the bowl, until thoroughly combined. On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture until just combined. Give the dough a final stir with a spatula or wooden spoon to make sure the flour is incorporated.

4. Spread the dough evenly into the pan (I found an offset spatula was the best tool for the job, as it’s a thick batter). Combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter.

5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the surface springs back when gently pressed. Cool completely before cutting. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Mary Kay on Time

“I also think it takes a great deal of time-management skill for a woman to wear the many hats of wife, mother, homemaker, chauffeur, psychologist, et cetera and put in long hours of volunteer work for the community. A woman who can accomplish so much must practice follow-though. And although her resume may show that she hadsnever worked for remuneration, in my book her background qualified her for many position in the business world. Among the Mary Kay independent sales force, we see many women who enter the job market for the first time.” – Mary Kay Ash