Sunday, October 14, 2007

happy birthday to me

For my birthday, Tim arranged it that I could go get ice cream with a couple of my friends, while the men watched the children (10 children in all). This ended up being really fun. I haven't hung out with a bunch of girls I'm not related to in years. Maybe since high school--maybe even since junior high--except on my mission.

What I realized, hanging out with a couple of very intelligent women who I respect a great deal, is that I am a smart person. I already knew this. It's just that kids don't care if you're brilliant--they just want dinner and a hug. So I don't get to show off my brain much. Instead, i spend all day facing things that I'm failing at, like keeping house. It was nice to have a chance to do something I'm really good at--talking with brilliant people who also happen to be a writer (her book's under contract at Galludet University Press right now!) and a musician (just ready to submit a song to a publisher). So that was really edifying and satisfying, although I missed Tim. He still is my best friend anywhere, and, while talking to girls is fun, talking to couples is even more fun. I married Tim because he's my best friend, and it's still true. (And he does care that I'm smart, and doesn't care that I'm a terrible housekeeper).

Then, when we left, Tim suggested we get pizza. I had scrounged ten dollars to get ice cream and then one of my friends treated us, so I still had it. Enough to get just one pizza and share it. But we got to the pizza place literally two minutes after they closed. So I knocked on the door. And the kid there gave me the armload of pizzas he was going to have to throw into the dumpster. For FREE! So we came home with five pizzas. This was a huge fun thing for us. We all love pizza, but lately there's no spare money for such luxuries. So it was a nice birthday present.

It rained all day--and now it's totally, irretrievably fall. I had to turn the furnace on, finally.

I found a new, cool recipe from a "recipes from our students" fundraiser cookbook (I collect those old fundraiser cookbooks with recipes regular people submit--my oldest is from 1920). The recipe is labeled "Grandma Brownies." This is a stupid name because there's no chocolate in them at alll, and they are a kind of foamy-topped bar cookie that's really good. As is the norm with the non-professional recipes, you have to assume a lot in making them and make adjustments as you go. They never have good instructions. Plus, since the recipe says, "brownies" but there was no cocoa in the ingredients, I added just a touch. So here is the fixed up version, which ought to be called "River Foam Bar Cookies" Or "Muddy Water" or something related but more appetizing because that's what it looks like. Maybe Albino Brownies, or Inside Out Brownies because the merengue topping is brown but the cookie/cake part is white. It comes out similar to Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

Foamy Bar Cookies (maybe Brown Merengue Cookies?)

1/2 c shortening
2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 more egg, separated
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cocoa powder (optional)
1 c Brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Cream the shortening and sugar. Add two eggs and one yolk and vanilla. Beat well. With the mixer off, put in the flour, salt, and baking powder, in that order, and then put the mixer on low and let it mix thoroughly.

At this point, the original recipe says, "spread mixture on floured cookie sheet." This is easier said than done. First of all, either use a smaller cookie sheet (not the jelly-roll size, but the 11x15 size) or don't expect it to reach the edges. Secondly, you might try just greasing the cookie sheet or just leaving it untreated or it's almost impossible to spread the stuff. It makes a very thin layer.

Now, in a clean dry bowl, beat the remaining eggwhite until it forms stiff peaks. Add the brown sugar a little at a time, beating well after each (just like you do for white sugar merengue). Beat in the vanilla last. Spread in a thin layer over the mixture already on the cookie sheet. Bake 35 minutes at 350. Remove from the oven carefully because the mixture will still be soft and the merengue will shift and break if you tip the tray (I learned this from experience).

This stuff is really good. It just needs a better name. I'll take votes in the comments, if you want to comment.

Other really great recipes from this book that I can email you if you want: icebox cookies (like home made cinnamon cookie dough tubes--fun and honestly the tastiest dough I've ever tried) and a mexican meat dinner torte that was fabulous and easy. I call it "Taco Stacks" because that's what it really was.

One of the things I've learned lately is that being poor forces you into a healthier diet. I can't afford to buy salad dressing lately, so I finally learned how to make my own. It's just as good as the original, there are millions of great recipes online, and it doesn't have any chemicals or preservatives in it--just herbs for flavor and, usually, mayo and milk for substance. I also (thanks to the Desperation dinners Ladies) can now make my own taco seasoning that tastes just like the taco seasoning packets from Western Family (1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp each cumin, garlic, and onion powders, 3 tbsp ketchup, and 1/3 c water, and a dash of pepper for 1 lb meat). Cheaper, easier, and I never have to worry about running out--and, again, no preservatives added (other than what might be in my spices).

So why am I spending so much time cooking? I think there must be two reasons: One is that I hadn't turned the furnace on yet and so I think I was cooking to warm up when it got cold outside. I've always been sensitive to the outside temperature so that even when the house is plenty warm, if the temp drops outside, I'm freezing. The other is that by nightfall, my body aches even when I'm sitting in my rocking chair, so I find myself wandering the house, too achy to sit or to clean up, and baking (specifically--not cooking) is a pacing kind of activity, so I bake. The moosebutter guys used to laugh because I made a cake every night at midnight when we lived in Provo. Now I am tempted, and often resist, but not always. So, I guess, I'm a good cook, at least partially, because of fibromyalgia!

What a strange life I lead.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post. Happy Birthday...what great luck you had. that's awesome when things work out that way. Good luck with submissions as well.