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.