Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wil Wheaton Effect

I have a confession to make. This confession may come as a shock. Everyone who reads this blog knows I am a Disney fan and book nerd, but few know that I am also a Trekkie. Next Generation Trekkie to be precise. (And while I am on the confession train, I am a Star Wars nerd and a Gleek!) Whew, those confessions felt good.

My Trek-dom began at an early age. I use to watch Star Trek, Next Gen. with my father, and we went to see all the movies together. I still go to the the movies with my dad and let my husband, also a Trekkie, go with a friend. Dad/ Daughter Dates are important! However, since I no longer live at home, my Star Trek watching partner is now my husband, and we have AT&T U-verse, with the BBC America, which loves to play Next Gen thanks to the British hunk Patrick Stewart.

Last week was a long...very long and stressful. Saturday night found me not baking, which I normally do for church, but instead on the couch with Trae watching Next Generation. I was feeling guilty about not baking, but my bum clad self was highly enjoying the couch. The episode we were watching was Wil Wheaton joke-heavy. Poor bloke; he got the short end of the stick a lot, and this episode was no different. Long story short...he literally got banana split all over his face. (I have no idea why space aged banana splits are blue)

Well, the Whil Wheaton effect happened around 9:30 pm. At 9:45 pm, I am melting vanilla ice cream in the kitchen. I was going to make a banana split trifle for church! Who knew that Whil Wheaton would inspire a dessert!

I divided the carton into three equal portions and flavored two of the portions (chocolate and strawberry). I then made the three flavors into ice cream bread (recipe at end of entry). While the bread cooled, I braved the monsoon-like rain, and went to get bananas and more strawberries. When I got home, I made homemade whip-cream and prepped the layers. The bread got cubed and then a trifle was assembled!

The bottom layer was chocolate bread topped with strawberry pie filing, banana, and whip-cream. The next layer was strawberry bread topped with pineapple, banana, and whip-cream. The final layer was vanilla bread topped with chocolate ganache, banana, and whip-cream. I topped the entire thing with cherries, because every banana split deserves a cherry on top!!

Overall, the dessert was good. When you got a bite of all the elements, the thing really tasted like a banana split, which was honestly, was a little weird to be eating bread, but feel like you are eating ice cream. Not overly sweet, but room for improvement is obvious. The chocolate bread needs tweaking, and the whole thing needed more whip-cream. Still, for a Star Trek inspired dessert, I would give it a thumbs up. Guess you just never know when and where or what will inspire a dessert! Therefore, Live Long and Bake!

Ice Cream Bread
  • 2 cups ice cream, any flavor
  • 1 1/2 cups of self rising flour

    Mix 2 cups of semi melted ice cream with 1 1/2 cups of self rising flour. Put the mixture into a greased loaf pan. It wouldn't hurt to flour the pan, but you do not have to. Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes. Makes a great loaf of bread to eat plain or to transform into many delicious goodies, such as bread pudding! (Butter Pecan Ice Cream Bread Pudding is wonderful!) 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Paula Deen Cried

I burnt "burnt butter sauce." I mean really burnt "burnt butter sauce." Two sticks of wasted butter with garlic carbon bits and charred capers. I know somewhere Paula Deen felt the butter's pain and cried. With the burnt-ness I got on that sauce, the two sticks deserve a memorial service. The bottom of the pan was a harden shell of crusted black butter.

Yet, since the sauce foams as it cooks and I could not see to the bottom of the pan, I was in happy land because the foam was a golden amber color. I started to mentally pat myself on the back for turning my cheap SAM's Club gnocchi into a delightful, late night meal as I poured the sauce on to the gnocchi. Then the blackened garlic remains stuck to the gnocchi, as a warning sign of a plagued sauced.

I panicked. Trae tells me to wash off the gnocchi. The Good Eats worshiper is telling me to wash a pasta.

Alton Brown would not be amused by this idea. Starch is the binder that holds together the pasta party. But I did have black death infecting my pasta party. I took the chance. I washed the pasta.

Then I pulled out the last clean pan in the kitchen, and quickly whipped together a sauce of butter, marsala wine, balsamic vinegar, dash of white wine and flour to thicken it. I always keep marsala wine and balsamic vinegar in the pantry. The last tablespoons of butter had a prayer said over them as they plopped into the mixture, that were christened with the white wine. Topped the sauce and salvaged gnocchi with parmesan cheese. The result was good...surprisingly so and tasty!

Moral of the story: Sometimes you can do everything wrong and yet still come out right, or at least with a good pasta dish.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Up Up and Pixar

My husband and I are kids at heart. I can any song (out of tune) from any Disney animated movie, and Trae went to school to learn animation arts. Our kitchen is adorned with a movie poster of Pixar’s Ratatouille. Yet, despite our not-so-secret love of Disney and Pixar, I would have never guessed the role that an animated movie would have in our relationship, as well as our decision to get married. In May 2009, Trae and I went to see Pixar's Up, and in December 2009, we became engaged. Our relationship, even before Up, was already “tangled” up with Pixar movies: Cars, Wall-E, Ratatoullie. We loved going to see them together and relished being children together for an hour and half in a darkened theater. Yet, Up didn't move us backwards into childhood, but instead moved us forward to where we are today: married.
For those who haven't seen the movie, I don’t want to give it away. All I can tell you is to go see it now; I do not care if you claim that animations are for kids. Go See Up…Now! The movie is based around Carl’s love for his wife, Ellie. The bulk of their relationship is presented in the most touching tribute to silent films I have ever seen. Pixar captures the depths--heart aches and joys-- of a relationship in a five minute montage, enhanced by a waltz titled "Married Life." I am including two versions below of it:

The scene from the movie with music

The music without the movie scene

After leaving the theater, we realize that while we were never going use balloons to fly our house, we could still get over all the trials that marriage had offer. We didn't have to talk about it; we didn't have to express it. All that happened was that Trae squeezed my hand at the end of the five minute waltz as I wiped tears from both our checks with my other hand.

Since finding a deeper meaning in the movie for us personally, we have incorporated Up in our lives, not only by adopting "Adventure is out there!" in marriage, but also in fun, unique ways. Some of those ways are:

  • Baking a fun Up cake as a surprise for Trae. (The house if fondant, with the roof having little individual shingles!)

  • Giving Trae a Ellie merit Grape Soda cap badge that he kept in his pocket during the wedding.

A good motto for marriage, no?

  • Doing a choreographed dance for our first dance to the "Married Life" waltz.  Everyone was shocked, surprised, and stunned by it!

Overall, these little reminders, such as saying to each other, "What would Carl and Ellie do?" help us to look at marriage as a whole. We are starting off, young, fun, and full of adventure. It is up to us to keep that adventure that going. The importance of working together and having a good marriage has become increasingly apparent to me after losing my grandmother. My grandmother and grandfather had a respect and love for each other. My grandfather adored my grandmother and did all he could to make her happy, which she was. I look at Trae's grandparents and literally my heart aches for what I use to have...a house owned by grandparents filled not only with love, but good food as well,which was  token of their love. Trae's grandparents are the kind of elderly who still hold hands, kiss, and dance, even though PaPa (grandpa) is in a wheelchair. Their adventure is still going, even at the ages of 84 and 90. Trae and I's adventure is just starting, and I pray that we too will be cutting a rug and sneaking kisses at the age of 90.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Southern Way

Southern Women are an interesting breed. Through the generations, we have evolved, but a few things remain the same. For example, when tragedy strikes, we give it a coronary embolism with baked goods and if that doesn't work, we suffocate it with Lysol.

My grandmother (I called her Fanny) passed away today at 12:09 am. A Southern Lady who was determined to die on the Lord's Day. My mother and her sisters rushed to my grandmother's side on Thursday. While I am sad, I mainly feel relief that she is no longer suffering. Yet, since Thursday, my Southern roots have been glowing along with the shiny mopped floors. (I even scrubbed the base boards.)

I also baked a cake for the church's pot luck lunch and dropped it off yesterday...just another one of my Southern traits coming out. Southern Women keep their promises, especially if it is a promise to a church. No one is going to say "Bless her heart!" about this Southern girl!

In my manic state, I got the ingenious idea of trying something new; I was going to make a roll cake. I am not sure why. Roll cakes are normally associated with Christmas and Yule Log cakes, and my mind has been wondering back to Christmas a lot.

Christmas was always a large affair at my grandmother's house. She has the formal living room where the tree was, and my cousin Missy would play the Chipmunk's Christmas Song on the piano. Cousin Ryan is a TALL man and when the three grandkids got in front of the tree for a picture, the angel looked as if she had sprouted from his head.

I now have my grandmother's tree. She once had a fat Christmas tree, but around the time when I was in middle school, she replaced the tree with a more fashionable skinny tree. As a child, I hated--loathed even-- that tree. It looked silly and lost in her large formal living room. When the cousins stood in front of the tree for the annual Christmas picture, the tree was completely hidden. The angel became almost a blessing from God; magical suspended in air with a sweet porcelain face offering a blessing to these tree-less cousins. When my grandmother and grandfather moved to a nursing home, my aunts and mother bequeathed the skinny tree to me. Fanny was delighted that one of her grandkids was going to use her beloved tree. Me? I found humor in the situation but couldn't believe I would have to use the ugly tree! Yet, the first year I unpacked that tree (around 2005), I saw the love Grandpa had for Fanny. As branches started to fall off, he carefully whittled down pencils to make replacement pegs. Christmas 2010 was rough on the tree; Mona the cat ate through the weakened metal and ran off with a whole branch. Yet, Christmas 2011 will see that tree with dropping branches held on by pencils, and as I hang the ornaments on the tree with my husband, I can only hope that will have the same love for each other as my grandparents had for each other.  I hope that we have pencil years: years that are spent working together on making something last through the ages.