Cooking: Decadent Chocolate Cake

The two layers after being de-panned, cooling on rack.

I’ve made a lot of cakes over the years, experimented with many recipes and methods, measuring exact weights and following every direction, working from scratch or using mixes with additions, doing lots of tweaking and playing and adjusting on instinct and in desperation. While I have sometimes been happy enough with the results, I have never been satisfied; until now.

What follows is my recipe for Decadent Chocolate Cake. And, as usual with me, there are lots of notes and caveats.Baking is an art and about personal expression, so you should experiment and make allowances for your oven, your pans, your taste. I suggest you read the entire thing first before thinking about starting.

PRE-FIRST: Preheat oven to 350. Or, if your oven runs hot like mine, 325. Cakes are picky and ovens are all different. It has taken me a while to get used to the oven in this apartment — like it’s taken me time and experimenting to get used to the oven each time I move to a new place. Meaning, don’t try to Continue reading

Simple Sunday Cookie Comfort

I spent a mostly quiet day. The sister was off for five hours or so with the mom doing an 80th surprise birthday at an Elks’ Lodge for a member of a branch of the family I long ago pulled away from — they live in a very different reality than I do, a group most of whom would vote for someone I consider a fascist, if they bother to vote at all.

I read. And I cooked. Because Sunday is free day on the diet and, also, has always been for me a day of comfort-food meals.

Last night I slow-cooked in a Dutch-oven in the oven at 200 degrees a pork shoulder with bone broth, garlic, and onions, until the meat fell from the bones. I let it cool somewhat and then refrigerated overnight. This morning I pulled the meat apart, drained the fat, removed the bones, and put the Dutch-oven on top of the stove at simmer, added a few cups of water, celery, carrots, a bay leaf, and started its day long journey to becoming Pork Shoulder Pot Pie.

While dinner simmered all day I finished Ruth Rendell’s The St. Zita Society and started Nell Zink’s Nicotine (I will book-blog about these in another post), and, too, caught up with some trash television I had on dvr.

nov-6-16-sno-cap-cookies-prep

Sheeting the cookies, full of hope, and LOOK! My new holiday hot pads.

nov-6-16-sno-cap-cookies

The finished delicious product, cooling.

Then, I made some cookies. I had discovered at the grocery store that Nestle is now making miniature Sno-Caps — like chocolate chips, and there was a recipe on the bag. I adapted it. Which I always do. I didn’t think it sounded chocolate-y enough, so I doubled the vanilla amount and melted some Hershey Kisses and Hershey Dark Chocolate miniatures to add to the dough along with a quarter cup of almond flour to make up for the extra moisture. Let me just say, these are keepers! A cross between a cookie and a brownie and freaking delicious.

nov-6-16-pork-shoulder-pot-pie

The Pork Shoulder Pot-Pie, almost ready to be served — so tasty, so comforting, so delicious on a diet-free-day.

While I was baking/cooling the last few batches of cookies, I added Pennsylvania Dutch Egg Noodles to my day-long pork-shoulder-pot-pie project. The noodles only need about 20 minutes to soak up the juices and become good and tender. I had the JUST PERFECT amount of broth (a miracle, that) so that by the time the noodles were done, there was very little liquid left, and what starts as soup the first day (or, last night late in my case — I had an extra hour, after all) becomes casserole-like at completion.

Sister loved the pot-pie and the cookies. I was happy to bring her some joy — which is why I cook; it gives me such warmth to nourish others this way.

It is my pleasure to give people cookies. To give people comfort.

The faraway-sometimes-impossible-never-going-to-happen-we-can’t-be-a-thing-lover of whom I spoke a few entries ago, who texted me one night for comfort and advice while I was furiously rearranging my furniture in my ongoing effort to find some peace, some balance, well, turns out he was in town this weekend. Turns out he was terribly busy and there wasn’t time or opportunity for us to get together. Turns out he thought that would be a great thing to message me today as he was on his way out of town again, along with the “I really, really miss touching you” and “Thank you for always being there for me.”

Which seems a funny thing to say when you are on your way out of town without having seen me. Or, been here.

I could have given him some cookies to take along.

Holy fuckballs I am tired.

Later kids.

 

 

 

 

Charlie Updates

october-2016

The Latest Selfie. Keeping track of myself in case I am actually fading away.

Update: five minutes after initial posting. Ugh. My memory — Please watch the video at the end of the post.

I’m busy exploring my deciduous essence; who and what I am has always been about desquamation, and never has the tearing away of the scales and the shedding of skins been more the primary characteristics of my being than in the last five years or so. One does worry, sometimes, that the affirmative reduction process has or is in danger of eliding into a pathological diminishment of self, until I’ve subtracted myself into non-being — but if spiritual cleansing works like dieting, not much chance of that, as the weight loss is going slower with the passing of time. Damn. I used to be able to drop twenty pounds with little effort. No more. Funny, keeping records on a phone app, watching my dieting/exercise progress, and wishing there was a like-spiritual app. Instead, I take selfies. Okay then, that, and updates on where I am (and am not) going.

TWITTER

It’s now been more than a week since I have opened Twitter. I wish I could parse for you the emotional or psychological or spiritual impetus for the retreat, but, I can’t, not really, except to say the Latin root of the word impetus means to attack/attack, and while the people I follow on Twitter are everything lovely, there was a process going on inside me the result of which was I felt discontent, covetousness, an isolate in another world where I didn’t really belong. These are my issues, they were caused by Continue reading

FOOD: Sunday; Showing Up for Swiss Steak

swiss-steak-93

The finished Day-Long Swiss-Steak, lightly sauced. There is a large bowl of more sauce to be ladled like gravy over the meat and mashed potatoes. For some reason I seem not to have taken a pic of that!

It’s my sixth day of cold-turkey Twitter hiatus. I haven’t logged in. I have no idea what’s going on in that world I’ve been living in. I’m not sure what this means or why I felt I had to exit there, which is the reason I can’t go back. I miss the people, my Twitterati, my connection, but I am wondering if maybe I am just not meant to be connected to the world, to anyone, really. There is so much of me no one knows, and, well, I want to be held in ways no one really can — I think I am re-parenting me in a way. Not that my parenting was flawed in the first place, far from it. And so, here, a story about my Mom, and a recipe. Love and Light whoever you are out there. Sorry if you came here looking for naked Dylan O’Brien, those days seem to be long gone.

I got to host Momma for Sunday dinner. Unexpectedly.

This is worlds more complicated than it sounds since seeing Momma requires driving to the Home for the Aged (that’s what they call it, have called it, since the 1800s) and getting her and her walker from her third floor residence, down the historic front steps, into the car, and then from the car and into my apartment which requires either a long sidewalk trek and a flight up to the front door of my building and down a flight into my apartment, or, an alternate shorter roll across the lawn where tree roots and damp patches lurk. Too, of late, Momma has begun to forget she’s being picked up and so not been waiting at the front door, signed out, I.D. necklaced and ready, or, has fallen asleep in her chair, book on her lap. Because of this, she’s instructed me to call before I come. So, on Sunday, once I realized I should bring her over for dinner, I spoke to her on the phone to say I would be done at the gym between 3:30-4:00 and would call her to let her know.

Well, I called. No answer.

I try not to panic anymore. She is 88. Too, my sister had Continue reading

The Heart of (cr)Eating

I have spent my life modeling my behavior after brilliant, soulful women of a certain age, and so, in the manner of my current idol of perfection, Her Grace (she knows who she is, and if you’re reading this, you probably do as well), who displays her impeccable breeding by reserving comment about whatever current  fetid cesspool of events is polluting Twitter and focusing on the eternal, I have been shutting up about (or, hiding from) the news and peppering (so to speak) my Twitter-feed with photos of the food I’ve been making. Cooking comforts me, particularly when I am creating dishes for others, and like reading and writing, it nourishes my heart and soul. My Twitter-food photos and descriptions have prompted requests to share my recipes and so I have decided to start food-blogging in addition to book-blogging and navel-gazing-too-much-information-in-need-of-therapy-please-love-me blogging. I warn you, I’m no more qualified to chef than I am to write, and my methods are best described as improvisational, the resulting concoctions sometimes delicious and sometimes … well, they are always an effort of love and that’s what counts. So, here we are, going, on this new food-blogging adventure. And I wouldn’t be me, whatever name you want to call me, if I didn’t go on at great length about how I got to be here, going. Much love, dear ones.

october-9-2016-household-searchlight

Sissie’s Cookbook & Recipe File

THE BEGINNINGS OF GASTRONOMICAL ME

My aunt, Sissie, lived in the Libertytown house where she’d been born in 1918 for more than sixty years until the flock of family to whom she’d devoted her decades was by death and marriage and failure and hubris culled to a herd unable (or, unwilling) to physically and financially maintain what Sissie and I, in our BritLit loving affectation called “The Manse”.

I spent Sundays and summers at The Manse through my childhood, and when my fizzled flounderings at becoming a productive, contributing member of society in my teens and twenties failed, Sissie would take me in. We were a happy melange of Grey Gardens, bargain basement Brideshead, and the Babe Paley/TrumanCapote-dowager/walker dynamic.

What Sissie did and loved and was, I wanted to do and love and be to please her, and so in addition to modeling her quiet Catholic piety, goodness, and kindness, I became a devotee of theatre — especially musicals, especially those starring Miss Mary Martin — and a voracious reader of books, and a fanatic for the culture of New York City, or, at least, the Manhattan as depicted in MGM musicals and written about by members of the Algonquin Round Table and Helene Hanff, and, too, when I was ten or eleven, on the family Sundays which I spent with Sissie in Libertytown, I started “helping” her to cook.

october-9-2016-mfk-fisher

Sissie’s copy of The Art of Eating, another of the things I saved from Libertytown & Sissie

Despite Continue reading