Saturday, April 26, 2014

Happy Birthday Baby

Kelsey having a ball
Dear Kelsey,
Today you aren't a teenager anymore and I'm no longer the mom of a teenager. Any teenagers.
You might think you got the short end of the stick, being born last that is. You are "the baby." You will always be "the baby." You might be 20 or 30 or even 50, but "the baby" is your spot and yours only.  

So let one of my gifts to you today (in addition to the material ones) be a reminder to you that being the baby is its own special gift.

You got 2 parents who were tired. (I've come to see "benign neglect" as not such a bad thing after all.) 
You had 4 older people in your life who instantly doted on you, carried you everywhere, and dressed you up like their own little doll. Who wouldn't love all that attention?
You wore the most new clothes of anyone. The hand me downs were all worn out by the time they got to you, and frankly, I was growing tired of them myself.
You had access to all the toys. Your room was "the toy room." 

Now that you are making your own way in the world, you have 2 parents and 4 brothers and sisters who couldn't be more proud of you. You still have your cheering section!

In the words of a well-known picture book: "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be."

Love you lots!

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Jerky Drop

I love the idea of shopping locally, especially at Christmas if it means staying out of crowded malls!
Who knew that this year's shopping adventures would involve meeting up with a local entrepreneur in his parking garage?

With my crazy schedule, I'm all for saving time and money with Amazon Prime but when possible I'd rather shop, eat, and dine with the locals. Here are two of my favorites:

Manready Mercantile

Travis Weaver, or in Mathis-family-parlance "The Jerky Guy", creates amazing candles (Frankincense & Orange) made with essential oils and poured into whiskey glasses. His soaps (Bergamot + Teak, Lemon + Verbena) were a hit with both the males and females. The jerky..oh yes the jerky… Whiskey Soaked Campfire Jerky, in its own little burlap sack, will send you running for your nearest tent, flannel shirt, and backpack. Everything he sells is top-quality and sure to please the manliest man you know. Order online, find at the local flea market at Discovery Green, or give him a call. He's easy to work with!

The Grateful Bread

Not only a Jerky Drop, but also a Bacon Buy. Thank you Al Marcus for taking my order over the phone and leaving the bacon, plus the other goodies, at Eatsie Boys for me to pick up. (And who couldn't use an excuse to make a trip to EB? Their ice cream alone deserves its own post.)
We first found Grateful Bread at Urban Harvest Farmer's Market and quickly became fans. The artisan maple-cured, maple-smoked bacon is…well "to die for" is so overused but in this case - yep! Throw in some small-batch vanilla, house made worcestershire and sriracha and this family was sold.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The 30 Year Old Cookie Roll

"Festive Chocolate Cookie Roll" doesn't sound like the most inspired name for a dessert does it? Still, in 1982 when I was a newlywed searching for the perfect Christmas dessert, Bon Appetit's "Too Busy To Cook" column provided the answer.

(Some background here: I was barely 19 and had been reading Bon Appetit for years. My favorite babysitter activity?  Wait until the kids went to bed and start copying recipes. I am sure I based my childcare preferences on the wife's cookbook collection.  Also, "Too busy to cook" definitely fit my life. At the time I was enrolled full time at the University of Houston and expecting baby #1 due the next June.)

Yule Log, or even the more correct "Buche de Noel", would have sounded prettier, but the cover photo convinced me that I could do this. Almost every year afterward this was our standard Christmas Eve or Christmas day dessert. This year - horrors - I couldn't find the recipe. I searched in every cookbook, recipe box, computer file - nothing. I tried Google. Nothing. How could one little worn, 30 year old piece of paper cause such despair? This wasn't just a dessert; this was history!  Back to Google. I tried every variation of the title. I went to all the best known recipe sites and searched by ingredients. No good. Finally, it occurred to me to put the recipe title in quotation marks while I searched. Bingo! Success on two counts: The recipe showed up in a little Michigan newspaper AND the magazine was available on Ebay. Would I spend $6.90 to retrieve a precious piece of family lore? You bet I would!

So here you go. The meringue mushrooms are a nice addition but you'll have to find your own recipe for that. I've been known to grab whatever plastic floral pick is handy and artistically place it near the platter.

Festive Chocolate Cookie Roll

8 Servings

Creamy Chocolate Frosting:
1 C semi-sweet Chocolate chips
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg yolk
3 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
½ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 cup Whipping cream, whipped

1/3 cup all purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
14 Oreo cookies, crushed
5 eggs separated, room temperature
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 T powdered sugar

1 cup Whipping cream, whipped
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
¼ tsp. almond extract

For frosting:
Melt chocolate chips in small saucepan over low heat. Combine brown sugar, cream cheese, vanilla, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Add yolk and beat until fluffy. Stir in chocolate, fold in whipped cream. Chill 1 – 1 ½ hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350. Grease 10 ½ x 15 ½ jelly roll pan (or cookie sheet). Line with foil. Sift flour and baking powder into a medium bowl, stir in cookie crumbs, set aside. Beat yolks with sugar at medium speed in large bowl of electric mixer until just blended. Stir in vanilla and set aside. Beat egg whites in another bowl until stiff. Stir 1/3 of crumbs into yolk mixture; gently fold in 1/3 of egg whites. Repeat twice. Spread batter evenly into pan. Bake until tester inserted in center comes out clean – Approximately 15 minutes. Sprinkle powder sugar over a towel. Remove cake from oven and invert cake onto towel. Remove pan and gently peel off foil. Carefully roll up cake; starting from short end using towel as aid. Cool 30 minutes on a rack.
Combine whipped cream, almonds and extract in a bowl.
Assemble Cake:
Unroll cake, remove towel. Spread filling, almost to edges of cake. Gently re-roll cake. Transfer to serving platter. Spread frosting over cake and ends. Make log-like markings using fork tips. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ten Reasons to Begin Blogging….Again

1. Because I read a lot of other people's writing all week long. I'm a teacher with over 100 students. For a change I'd like to edit my own work.
2. Because this is my space. Not "MySpace" or Facebook or someone else's idea of how I should do social media. (Ok, I realize that Google is behind all this, but still.) I chose the layout and colors and I can determine the content and I like it here!
3. Because I write to know what I'm thinking about and doing and planning and experiencing. I'm a word processor. I process with words.
4. Because, in my own mind at least, I'm not half bad at this. I don't sew anymore; I've never scrapbooked (the 1 Disney album doesn't count); I don't craft anything. Turning a phrase on the other hand is something that makes me happy.
5. Because it's fun to write about what I want to write about. I'm not trying to sound selfish, but so much of Facebook (and I'm not trying to pick on FB, but it happens to be where I've been hanging out lately) is responsive. What is initiative is still filtered (by me). Is it helpful, true, uplifting, funny, encouraging, positive?  Heck, if I'm going to put that much thought into 3 lines of text, I'd just as soon do it here where I can enjoy reading it later.
6. Because I need a place to go that is not work-related. I have a classroom website but it seems kind of silly to post recipes there.
7. Because, speaking of work, I love my job. I'm passionate about helping anyone who will listen to me learn to read and write. There are times when I want to say that work is hard, that it's overwhelming, and that I wonder if I'm making a difference. This seems like a logical place to be real about that.
8. Because I love my family. They're growing! This year we are adding another Mathis to the group. Maybe in years to come, some of these little guys will wonder what Grandmommy was like and will wonder what we did back in the 2000's. Maybe these bits and bytes will be around to tell them.
9. Because I have so much to say! I want a place to keep track of recipes I've made, and things I've learned, and neat products I've found, and insights I want to share, and people I've met. My blog is not a place for me to cut and paste other's content. If I'm writing about something here, you will get my take on it.
10. Because I might meet new friends. (Then again I might have just 2 readers - Hi Mom! Hi Katie!) If you've made it this far, please know that you are welcome and treasured. I'm not trying to sell you anything, generate a zillion comments (I'm not giving away Kitchenaid Mixers. Sorry.) or become the next big thing. Let's see what 2014 brings, shall we?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Welcome Back!

Dear Absent Blog Author,
Our files show it has been well over a year since you posted anything in this space. July, 2012, to be exact was the last dated post of record. We are sure that your life has been interesting, exciting, and fulfilling, however the chocolate supply is pitifully low and woefully lacking. Please consider making 2014 a year to remedy this situation. Recipes, family updates, pictures of adorable grandchildren, and musings about nothing in particular are perfectly welcome. Whether anyone actually reads the posts is irrelevant. We assure you that you will enjoy writing and re-reading them and that is all that matters.
The Management

Dear Management,
Why thank you for the invitation. I think it's about time I resurrected this little blog. I've missed it! I miss looking over past entries and enjoying the days all over again. I miss reliving the snippets of conversations that I recorded. I miss seeing what I was thinking about last week and last month and last year. Twitter isn't interactive enough while Facebook is a little too interactive (in its own hyperactive bursts.)  Sometimes I just want a little more time to think about what I would like to say and I'd like to say it in more than 140 characters thankyouverymuch.
Yours very truly,

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Scrabble Diva

Can I add a letter to a word I've already played?
Can I rearrange a word I've already played?
I'd like to swap this tile for an E.
Oh look. This isn't a blank tile after all; there's a letter underneath. (Nice strategy if your opponent doesn't count tiles played!)
You can go read Facebook while I think. It's less pressure that way.
Oops! I have 8 tiles instead of 7.
Are you sure "___"isn't a word?

(I don't know when I've laughed so much playing Scrabble. Oh yes--I beat the Diva.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake Serves 12
Milk Mixture
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk 
 1  (12-ounce) can evaporated milk 
 1  cup heavy cream 
 1  teaspoon vanilla extract 

2 cups all-purpose flour 
2  teaspoons baking powder 
1  teaspoon salt 
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter 
1  cup whole milk 
4 large eggs , room temperature
2  cups sugar 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

1  cup heavy cream 
3 tablespoons corn syrup 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Topping (optional)
Mandarin Oranges

1. For the milk mixture: Combine all ingredients. Set aside.

2. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in bowl. Heat butter and milk in small saucepan over low heat until butter is melted; set aside off heat.

3. With electric mixer on medium speed, beat eggs in large bowl for about 30 seconds, then slowly add sugar until incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until egg mixture is very thick and glossy, 5 to 7 minutes. Reduce speed to low and slowly mix in melted butter mixture and vanilla. Add flour mixture in three additions, scraping down bowl as necessary, then mix on medium speed until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Using rubber spatula, scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cake cool.

4. Using skewer, poke holes at 1/2-inch intervals in top of cake. Slowly pour milk mixture over cake until completely absorbed. Let sit at room temperature 15 minutes, then refrigerate uncovered 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

5. For the frosting: Remove cake from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. With electric mixer on medium speed, beat heavy cream, corn syrup, and vanilla to soft peaks, 1 to 2 minutes. Frost cake and slice into 3-inch squares. Serve. (The assembled cake can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)