February 21, 2009
[Okay, so the post title is a bit obscure (I was alluding to Four Weddings and a Funeral)–but with the Oscars coming up in a couple of days, and with my having seen, hmmn, let’s see–a total of “zero” of the movies, I wanted to make reference to that grand little Golden Guy in some way or other in this post. ]
It’s almost time for midterms at the college where I teach, so I’m afraid I’ll be MIA from the blog for a little while (not to be confused with the recently balloon-bellied, singing-at-the-Grammys, went-into-labor-and-gave-birth-the-next-day MIA). But before I bid you all adieu, I thought I’d mention three festivities leading up to said exams.
Shindig One: The most recent celebration we enjoyed here in the DDD household was an intimate birthday dinner for my friend Eternal Optimist (consisting of just the EO, the HH, and me).We three enjoyed a spectacular, yet simple meal of Potato-Miso Soup (Alisa’s uniquely delicious recipe: satiny smooth, rich and slightly yeasty from the hint of miso–in fact, this was the second time I’ve made this in a week!); trusty Tagine of Quinoa with Chickpeas, Olives and Prunes (always a hit around here); garlic sautéed rapini and collards; and a special b-day cake (chocolate layers with sugar-free chocolate buttercream frosting (both from Sweet Freedom) and the Sweet Potato Frosting I wrote about a while back.
[Alisa’s Creamy Potato Miso Soup]
It was grand to spend a leisurely evening together fêting a dear friend. The EO also brought along her own pooch, another border collie cross, and The Girls were in heaven. (“We love having our friends over, too, Mum! Except next time, there should be a cake that we can eat as well.”)
Shindig Two: In addition to the birthday, the dinner was also occasion for a spontaneous mini-celebration in honor of the cookbook finally reaching the publisher. After numerous delays in formatting and glitches with the cover, it’s finally on its way! My publishing rep called yesterday to confirm that she received the files and their part of the book’s production will begin next week. YIPPPPPPEEEEEE!! (Of course, this means it will still take about three months before the book is in print, but it is out of my hands at this point). I can’t even begin to express what a relief that is! So we had a little toast in honor of Sweet Freedom last evening as well.
Shindig Three: Despite mountains of marking, I’ll be peeking in periodically at the Academy Awards, that shindig to beat all shindigs, that tribute to all things silicone and Juvéderm and Botox, that massive glitterati ego-massage that will take place on Sunday evening. From the Barbara Walters interviews to the Joan Rivers gaffes to the melodramatic and slurred acceptance speeches, I love it all. And even if I haven’t actually seen any of the movies, who cares? That’s not what the Oscars are all about, anyway!
Before I depart on break, I thought it might be fun to leave you with a little midterm quiz of your own to ponder while I’m away (and the best part–it doesn’t matter whether you know the answers or not!). I’ll reveal the “correct” responses when I get back (though with a bit of sleuthing, it should be fairly easy to find them before then).
[Chocolate birthday cake in all its uncut glory]
A Diet, Dessert and Dogs Mid-Term Quiz
Instructions: Please answer each of the following questions. Note that this is an open-blog test; answers can be found in previous entries. Please double space your answers.
1) DDD stands for:
a) The 2009, eco-friendly version of the pesticide “DDT”
b) Pamela Anderson’s bra size (now that she’s had a breast reduction)
c) a cutsie way to refer to “3-D” movies
d) the name of this blog.
2) “NAG” refers to
a) the HH’s endearing nickname for me;
c) a healthy way of eating that includes whole, unprocessed, organic foods.
3) Ricki’s favorite food is:
d) all of the above
a) Lon Chaney
b) Lewis Carroll
c) Love Chocolate!
5) Complete this phrase: “Rocker Guy (He of the —)”
a) broken guitar
b) off his rocker
c) rock collection
d) black leather pants
6) Ricki loves blogging because:
a) of all the amazing people she’s “met” in the blog world
b) it’s always fun to read other blogs and learn about new foods
c) reading your comments on her blog is the high point of her day (truly)
d) YOU GUYS ARE SIMPLY THE BEST!
I’m sure you all got an “A”! Have a great time at the Oscars, all, and see you in a week or so! ;)
Last Year at this Time: My Favorite Mistake: Savory Filled Breakfast Crepes
© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs
September 11, 2008
1. Cookbook Group: I’ve started a Facebook group for anyone who’d like to hear how the publication is progressing, learn when the book is finally out (projected publication date is early 2009), or contribute ideas, questions, comments, or photos of any of the items you’ve already tried (most of the baked goods on this blog will also be in the cookbook–so if you’ve ever baked anything from DDD and have feedback or photos, PLEASE feel free to post them on the group page, or just let me know!) To join the group, you can go here. Would love to see you there!
2. Testers Wanted: Although many of the recipes, as I’ve mentioned before, have already been tested because they were sold through my baking company, I still have to adapt some of them for the home cook and am creating new ones as well for the book. And so. . . I’m now actively soliciting recipe testers. This would involve a bit of work and, most importantly, feedback to me about the recipes. If you’ve got time to bake up a storm over the next month or so and are interested, please email me in the next few days at dietdessertdogsATgmailDOTcom or sweetfreedomcookbookATgmailDOTcom. Thanks!
Coconut Cream Pie:
Chocolate Chip Cookies:
Glazed Chocolate Orange Torte:
Old Fashioned Raisin-Spice Cake:
“But Mum. . .does this mean WE can’t be your taste-testers anymore? Because you know how much we love your baked goods. . . ”
May 22, 2008
*apologies to Geneen Roth
DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved!
If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site. Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!
As always, thanks for reading. I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!
“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”
[Well, I really hadn’t meant to write about my mother for two entries in a row. Maybe it was all of your wonderful comments about yesterday’s “mom story”; maybe it was an offshoot of Mother’s Day earlier in the month; maybe I’m just feeling all mushy and sentimental after watching the over-the-top , tear-filled finale of American Idol last night.
Or, maybe, it’s Sarah’s fault. Over at Homemade Experiences in the Kitchen, Sarah is hosting a blog event called “Tastes to Remember,” that asks us to write about “those tastes and smells that immediately bring you back to your childhood.” Of course, my mother came to mind once again, this time for her baking (which, unlike her cooking, was quite exceptional). So forgive the bathos. And here’s my own little contribution to this week’s sappy ending.]
* * * * * * * * * *
In the house in which I grew up, food often spoke louder than the people. When my mother was too hurt, too angry, too stubborn or simply too out of touch with her own internal landscape to speak, the dishes she cooked were imbued with their own telegraphic properties. Food could be either a reward or a weapon, and, like each of those, was often withheld until the situation truly warranted its use.
On schoolday mornings, I’d sometimes wake early and stumble into the kitchen before my father left for work (he was usually gone by 6:15, off to a 12-hour day at the butcher shop to kibbitz with customers, haul sides of beef, or trim stew meat just so before wrapping it expertly, as if swaddling a baby, in waxy brown paper). Squinting and still shielding my eyes from the electric light, I’d encounter my dad hunched over his breakfast at the kitchen table. I could always sense immediately whether or not some earlier argument between my parents had been resolved overnight.
Was he enjoying two soft-boiled eggs, an orange cut into eighths and his usual cup of black tea? That meant the air had cleared with the sunlit sky; equilibrium had been restored. If, instead, the plate proffered a lone slice of blackened toast, glistening with a hasty swipe of margarine; if the kettle was left boiling unattended (it was understood he’d have to go get his own), then I knew that tension had prevailed, and it would be at least one more day before détente was re-established.
Food also conveyed silent, unspeakable messages of sorrow.
When I was about six or seven, my mother acquired a recipe for “Potato Boats” from one of her Mah Jong friends, and they were quickly adopted as our staple Friday night dinner. Each week, Mom would cut the potatoes in half, scoop out the nubbly, steaming flesh and mash the innards with butter and milk before packing the mixture back into the empty shells, topping each with an orange haystack of grated Kraft cheese. The “boats” were then replaced in the oven and baked until the cheese oozed and bubbled, drooping over the potato edges to form charred rounds of ash on the baking sheet. We all loved the Friday suppers, and my sisters and I waited eagerly for them.
Then my grandfather got sick. As the only grandparent still alive when I was born, he’d been a fairly constant presence in our lives—living, in fact, right upstairs in the upper duplex of our house, with my aunt’s family. Diagnosed with liver cancer, Zaida was given little chance of recovery. Only two weeks after the diagnosis—on a Friday–he was admitted to hospital.
That afternoon, my mother operated in a haze, her eyes perpetually wet, leaking silent rivulets down her cheeks. She moved aimlessly through the house like a fly caught in the window frame, shifting from one spot to the next as if the counter, the table, the cupboard, were each invisible barriers blocking her path, causing her to recoil and try again, over and over. She somehow still produced the requisite potato boats and salmon patties–I couldn’t understand why we were having them for lunch instead of dinner–and we ate in tense, confused silence. The following Friday, we were served a different menu; she never attempted the potato boats again.
On days when I arrived home from school and was greeted by the rich, eggy aroma as it sneaked out from under our front door, I’d race up the stairs in excited anticipation, knowing my mother would be in good spirits. My sisters and I would sample the cake as soon as it was ready—only a tiny nibble was permitted—before allowing it to cool on the kitchen counter until my dad came home.
When my mother placed a slice of this cake in front of my father, his face, no matter how tense or furrowed from the day’s work, would soften and a smile overtook him as he brandished his fork. He’d relish his little gift of generosity, savoring every morsel along with his cup of tea. “Just like my grandmother used to make,” he’d murmur, grinning. Then my mother would retreat to the sink; as she passed the soapy dishcloth slowly over each bowl or plate, her face was limned with satisfaction. No words were required, as we all knew what she was feeling.
So you see why I was determined to recreate that cake. I wanted to achieve a vegan version with the same harmony of cookie crust, tart, lemony filling and light, pillowy texture. It took several attempts, but I think I finally found a suitable rendition. And while it may not quite do the original justice, but I’m still pretty happy with the outcome. With its irregular lattice crust and home-made appeal, this cake does approximate the Farmer’s Cheesecake of my childhood.
Tonight after dinner, I padded over to where the HH sat and, without uttering a sound, placed a big slice of the cake in front of him. At first he cut into it tentatively, sampling a tiny bite. Then he dug in to the rest with gusto, and in an instant had already scraped the plate clean.
I could tell from the smile on his face that he’d understood exactly what I meant.
Vegan Farmer’s Cheesecake
TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.
This is a great everyday cake, one you can easily mix up for a daily treat, but so delicious you’ll want to share it with friends.
TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.