Friday, April 30, 2010

mother of the year

Hi there. I'm at the New Wave IHOP, one of Laurel's landmarks, and the site of several very significant events in my life and the life of our little family. It was here Eric and I spent several of the hours of our first post-college date, here I wrote a journal entry that was the first writing I ever shared, here we celebrated Ian's first birthday and, I think, Sandy's 40th.

And right now, it's where Ian is sleeping. He is so completely laid out that I am tempted to hold a butterknife under his nose, to make sure his breath fogs it up.

I have finished my crepes (and a certain percentage of his 'kids eat free' pancake) and written in my paper journal. And now i'm thumbin' away on my Blackberry. Next: a few more rows on the shawl I started (and started over, and started over again.) Can I watch Hulu on this thing? If I can catch up on Glee while this waitress bring me iced tea, we may never have to leave.

My original intent was to confess what a crap parent I am, happy to let my kid sleep, sweat-pasted to a vinyl restaurant booth, while I people-watch and write and swill iced tea, possibly until well after dark.

Restaurants (inexpensive ones) (I'm actually guessing, my experience in fancy restaurants remains limited) are such an interesting study in family dynamics. Back when Eric used to do a call-in radio show, and sometimes meet clients afterwards, I spent many happy hours in the deli near the radio station. I'd munch on pickles and pretend to read a library book...and evesdrop. Perhaps this made me the neglectful mother I am today. Er, tonight.

The dad at the next booth is also thumbing madly, cradling his head in the other hand. His infant is awake, but can't do much.

And someone at a nearby table is digging into some unidentifiable entree that smells very unfortunate. I'm not sure the quality of peoplewatching is a fair trade for having to smell that. (This from a woman who routinely roasts a pound of Brussels sprouts for just herself.)

So to recap: evesdropper, cook (and enthusiastic eater) of stinky vegetables, helps herself to her sleeping child's pancake, loves indefensible 80s pop music, Mother of the year.

Good tipper, though.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


everything has changed
absolutely nothing's changed

Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's been a month. Have some cake.

At the moment:
the kid is sick.
the husband is at the grocery.
I am covered with paint.
Also chocolate.

(I scraped a little something off my shirt and licked my finger a moment ago, not thinking that it might have been acrylic rather than cake batter. I lucked out.)

THIS is my favorite cake recipe, combining, as it does, ease, pantry ingredients, deliciousness and fanciness.

I found this in a La Madeleine cookbook that my brother gave me years ago. As near as I can tell, this book is not currently available (which is kind of a drag, because it's quite good and I can't find my copy, but it does make me feel better about putting the recipe here.)

Cake Tres Simple

Put some water on to boil, and preheat the oven to 400.

In addition to a cake pan and a couple of bowls, you'll need a large pan to use as a bain marie, some parchment or foil, and a spoon rest.

Put 2 sticks of butter and 9 oz of chocolate in a bowl. (I usually combine a cup of chocolate chips with 3 oz of unsweetened baking chocolate.) Melt this by nuking 30 seconds, stirring with a fork of a minute or so, and repeating until its completely smooth and liquid.

Transfer this to the bowl of your mixer, if you have one. Mix in:
4 eggs (one at a time)
then 1 cup of sugar (a quarter cup at a time)
then 3/4 cup of flour (also a quarter cup at a time.) Scrape down the sides and mix one more time.

To prepare the pan - butter a cake pan, and cut a circle of parchment or foil to fit the bottom of the pan. Dust the pan with cocoa (FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, DO THIS OVER THE SINK. SERIOUSLY.) Transfer the batter into the cake pan - it's thicker than regular batter, you'll have to spread it in the pan.

When the oven is ready, put the larger bain marie pan on a middle rack, pour in about an inch of hot water, then gently place the filled cake pan in it.

Bake for 25 minutes, then start checking. The cake forms sort of a 'crust' on the outside, while the inside stays a little gooey (in a good way.) A knife or toothpick should come out mostly clean. It'll be done somewhere between 30 and 50 minutes.

Ideally, you would let this cool completely in the pan, and let it rest overnight. To serve, unmold it onto a plate, gently peel off the parchment, and dust with powdered sugar.

This is a serious cake.