Tag: desserts

Nora Ephron: I Feel Bad About My Neck

noraephronus

Any friend of the blog knows I love Nora Ephron.  If I could write like anyone it would be her.  She had a way of finding humor in the everyday female experience. Something as little as getting coffee, watching a movie or baking a cake could be witty and full of heart.

She unfortunately passed away in 2012 but in addition to her many movies (directing and writing) she wrote several delightful books of essays including the 2006 I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman.  This is not an important book but I kind of love it and it was our choice for book club this month.

Unfortunately nobody that had read the book was able to attend so I am going to share with all you what I would have shared with all of them.  Let me set the scene to start (I always try to make everything pretty but tried especially to honor the uber-classy Miss Ephron.

I wanted to do something really beautiful and decadent worthy of Nora so I made this russian cream
I wanted to do something really beautiful and decadent worthy of Nora so I made this russian cream

To make the Russian Cream you simply mix 2 cups sugar with 2 packets unflavored gelatin.  4 cups cream.  Heat till hot but not boiling.  Cool down and mix in 4 cups sour cream.  Put in molds.  Let set in fridge overnight.  Unmold and serve with fruit. It’s an easy recipe but it looks beautiful.

We had a pretty pink spread
We had a pretty pink spread
I found these beautiful peonies and I couldn't resist
I found these beautiful peonies and I couldn’t resist

So now you feel like you are at book club. Let me tell you about it.

One of my favorite essays Nora says:

What I Wish I’d Known”

People have only one way to be.

Buy, don’t rent.

Never marry a man you wouldn’t want to be divorced from.

Don’t cover a couch with anything that isn’t more or less beige.

Don’t buy anything that is 100% wool even if it seems to be very soft and not particularly itchy when you try it on in the store.

You can’t be friends with people who call after 11 p.m.

Block everyone on your instant mail.

The world’s greatest babysitter burns out after two and a half years.

You never know.

The last four years of psychoanalysis are a waste of money.

The plane is not going to crash.

Anything you think is wrong with your body at the age of thirty-five you will be nostalgic for at the age of forty- five.

Write everything down.

Keep a journal.

Take more pictures.

The empty nest is underrated….

Here was my version of

What I Wish I Had Known by Rachel Wagner

Travel more when you are young

People will not be real with you a lot of the time

Privacy is overrated

A $100 couch is just as comfortable as a $1000 couch.

Do not select the appliance package when you buy your house

Leaving singles ward sucks. Be ready.

A plate of spaghetti will change your life

The dream job is coming

DVR is a game changer

Date more in college

Panic attacks are the scariest moments of your life

Mr Sunshine is still hiding at 33.

Can never own too many maxi dresses

Aside from the basics most of what you learn in school you will never use

Good choice not going into debt

Look up open water swimming in 2001 not 2011

Paying dues will take you ten years

You are a leader. Stop resenting it and embrace it.

Nora and Cooking

Another essay I love is called Serial Monogamy:  A Memoir.  It is actually all about her relationship with cooking and food.  Throughout her life and marriages Nora had adventures in food.  At 16 her mother gave her The Gourmet Cookbook, then the Flavor of France, Julia Child, Michael Fields, Craig Claiborne, Lee Lun’s Chinese recipes, Marcella Hazan, Martha Stewart and Nigella Lawson.  Cooking took her through changes in career, 3 marriages and her children.  She even has internal dialogues with the chefs. It reminds me of the rat in Ratatouiee that has conversations with Chef Gusteau

She ends the section in a very sweet way “I especially like making her roast beef dinner, which is very much like my mother’s except for the yorkshire pudding.  My mother didn’t serve yorkshire pudding, although there is  recipe for it in The Gourmet Cookbook.  My mother served potato pancakes instead.  I serve yorkshire pudding and potato pancakes.  Why not?  You only live once”

I love that.  You only live once so make two starches at dinner.  It’s a lovely little essay.

Nora on Parenting

My favorite essay is on parenting.  Even though I am not a parent I am a child of parents and I find it very moving. She starts out saying “I gave birth to my children, which was not that long ago, when there was almost no such thing as parenting as we know it today”

“Back in the day where there were merely parents, as opposed to people engaged in parenting, being a parent was fairly straight forward.  You didn’t need a book and if you owned one it was by Dr.  Spock, a pediatrician and you rarely looked at i unless your child a had a fever…back in those days no one believed that you could turn your child into a different human being from the one he started out being…”

“All this changed around the time I had children. You can blame the women’s movement for it-one of the bedrock tentes fo the women’s movement was that because so many women were entering the workforce men and women should share in the raising of children; thus the gender neutral word parenting and the necessity of elevating child rearing to something more than the endless hours of quantity time it actually consists of.

Conversely, you can blame the backlash against the women’s movement- lost of women didn’t feel like entering the workforce or even sharing the raising of children with their husbands, but they felt guilty about this, so they were compelled to elevate full time parenthood to a sacrament”

She goes on to talk about the pressure people feel molding their children into these ivy league perfect people and then they grow up.  I LOVE the ending and I hope my parents feel a little bit of this when we are all back with all our idiosyncrasies and choices:

“Meanwhile, every so often, your children come to visit.  They are, amazingly, completely charming people.  You can’t believe you’re lucky enough to know them.  They make you laugh.  They make you proud.  You love them madly.  They survived you.  You survived them.  It crosses your mind that on some level, you spent hours and days and months and years without laying a glove on them, but don’t dwell.   There’s no point. It’s over.

Except for the worrying.

The worrying is forever”

I tear up whenever I read that.  The worrying is forever. I can picture my parents worrying about me and it makes me feel loved and I’m grateful for that love.

In Conclusion

Some of the essays are quite humorous.  There is one about her scandalous non-affair with President Kennedy and another about her life in an epic apartment in New York.  They aren’t all equally great but I love them.

It is the perfect summer book.  Light, heart felt and beautiful.  I don’t want to oversell it but I love it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts if any of you have read it since I didn’t get to talk much about it this morning.

nora-ephron-quote

 

 

Bake 360

bakery
Bakery in all its delights
bake360
Bake 360

When there is a local establishment that does great work I like to use my blog to give a little shout out and maybe try to promote it in my own little way.  One such place is a bakery in my hometown of Draper, Utah called Bake 360.  I can honestly say it is as good if not better than any bakery I’ve ever been to.  Everything is meticulously made and you feel guilty tearing into it (in more ways than one) because they are so pretty, works of art really.

Just to show you I’m not alone here are some of the yelp reviews:

An exhaustive review is unnecessary – Just go! Right now!
I’ve tried most of the items in that majestic glass case and every single one is phenomenal. Eclairs? Delicious

—-

After one visit to Bake 360 I would now trade my Elvis collectible dolls, the contents of my secret lockbox (doh!), and what’s left of my dignity for just one more visit to Bake 360…

—-

Oh, the poor tattered remains of my diet….After our Saturday visit where we ordered a fairly stupid haul of pastries to sample, my wife asked how much the damage was.  When I gave her a figure in the low $20 range, she was gobsmacked.  The love and care that goes into each product is evident and while paying a bit more might have been understandable, I really appreciate the effort to keep things reasonable.

—–

I’ve only been there three times since I discovered the place a month ago (and one time I didn’t even eat anything –   I just smelled the air and bought stuff for friends.  No, no – real friends.  Not “air quotes” friends).

Things I might have said recently about Bake 360:

I really didn’t mean to get in my car, drive 10.24 miles, and purchase baked goods there.  It just happened.

I haven’t gone there like, 26 out of the last 30 days.  So I don’t have a problem.

Those are not crumbs all over my car.  I don’t know what you’re talking about.

I wouldn’t have to go if there were better bakeries close by.

Sigh.

My name is Kristin.  And I’m a Bake 360-aholic

—-

Well, that should give you some ideas.  They always have a wide selection of pastries including scones, kouing aman, chocolate croissants and apricot pastries with pastry cream.

pastries to die for!
pastries to die for!

If you aren’t in the mood for pastries they have a whole case of other desserts like eclairs, brownies, cheesecakes and tarts.  All are some of the best I’ve ever had.

The case to die for
The case to die for

Some particular standouts are the creme fraiche cheesecake and raspberry tarts.

tart
raspberry tart. So good!
cheesecake
Best cheesecake I’ve ever had. Sorry Mom
eclairs
Eclairs. The one with the caramel sauce, holy cow!
brownie
Yes, that is one brownie. Dark chocolate dipped in dark chocolate ganache. Hint one glass of milk wasn’t enough

My trainer says if you are going to have a treat make it a ‘hell yeah’ treat.  Meaning don’t waste your calories on some lame cookie.  Get something really good.  Bake 360 totally fits that bill.  They even have pastry classes I’m dieing to take.   Although they say you only take the class to realize you should buy them!

The service is also great at Bake 360.  The staff is all well versed on every item including explanations as to where ingredients were sourced and how it was prepared. They even have french macaroons for the gluten free crowd (although not always in stock).

The only flaw with Bake 360 is there is no seating so you have to take your treat elsewhere; however, there is a coffee shop called Dancing Yetti’s next store that makes all kinds of drinks and has 2 sofas, so in a pinch you can bring your treats there and get a drink.  The lack of seating keeps the prices down and you can get a lot of pastries for under $20.

Check it out!  You won’t regret it.

 

Hoosier Meal

Yesterday I had a fun trip down memory lane thanks to the young men and women.  The youth in my ward were doing a missionary activity where they went to people’s homes and ate a meal from that person’s mission.  They could then ask questions and learn more about what a mission is like.  I signed up and luckily my voice lessons were cancelled so it all worked out.

It’s interesting because I have never really tried to make the food from my mission.  This is partly because it’s not all that good for you (chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes, double starch oh my!) and because I never learned how to do it since I was so busy being a missionary. I haven’t cooked for a large group in a long while and it was exhausting!  I cooked for 8 people and realized while I was doing it that it is the size of my family! Gave me a new respect for my Mother!

I’ll just post the photos because I am behind on work and don’t have time to write much.  The meal was pork tenderloin sandwiches (an Indiana favorite inspired by Mug N’ Bun in Speedway, Indiana

Here are the youth and the youth leader.  It was fun to talk to them about my mission and answer questions
Here are the youth and the youth leader. It was fun to talk to them about my mission and answer questions
Pork tenderloin sandwich an indiana favorite.  They are sometimes called Hoosier Sandwiches
Pork tenderloin sandwich an indiana favorite. They are sometimes called a Hoosier Sandwich
My inspiration.  Mug n Bun pork tenderloin.  Mine looks pretty close
My inspiration. Mug n Bun pork tenderloin. Mine looks pretty close
Hoosier pies or also called sugar cream pies.  Kind of like coconut cream pies without the coconut.
Hoosier pies or also called sugar cream pies. Kind of like coconut cream pies without the coconut.
Hoosier pie with berries on top (not traditional with the berries but the pie is so rich it needed it)
Hoosier pie with berries on top (not traditional with the berries but the pie is so rich it needed it)
The spread
The spread
dinner hoosier sandwiches, corn chips, guac, and cesear salad
dinner hoosier sandwiches, corn chips, guac, and Cesar salad

It was a lot of work!  I was exhausted afterwards but it was a lot of fun too.    Sometimes I think doing regular things like cleaning and cooking make more achy than working out.

By the way, this is in no ways a low calorie meal.  It’s that midwest stick to your ribs kind of cooking but it sure tasted good!  I was proud of the sandwiches because I don’t have a ton of experience deep frying (probably better that way) and they turned out very yummy.  My roommate agreed they were a success.  The teens loved them!

Here are the 2 recipes I used

Hoosier Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

( I had the butcher pound out the pork so I skipped the first part of the recipe)

2 pounds center-cut boneless pork loin
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 sleeves saltines (about 80 crackers)
2 cups instant flour (such as Wondra)
Peanut oil, for frying
4 soft hamburger buns, split
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
4 half-sour dill pickles, thinly slicedDirectionsCut the pork crosswise into 4 equal pieces. Put each piece flat on a cutting board and slice horizontally almost in half (stop about 1 inch from the other side). Open like a book. Sprinkle each piece with water, place between 2 pieces of heavy-duty plastic wrap and pound to 1/4 inch thick with a mallet or heavy skillet.Whisk the eggs, buttermilk, garlic, 1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper, and the cayenne in a shallow bowl. Add the pork, cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.Pulse the crackers into coarse crumbs in a food processor, then transfer to a shallow dish. Put the flour in another dish. Remove each piece of pork from the marinade, letting the excess drip off. Dredge both sides in the flour, dip in the buttermilk marinade again, then coat with the cracker crumbs.

Heat 1/4 to 1/2 inch peanut oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 360. Fry the pork in batches until golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

Spread both halves of each bun with mayonnaise and mustard. Layer the lettuce, tomatoes and onion on the bottom halves. Add a piece of pork and a few pickle slices. Cover with the bun tops.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/hoosier-pork-tenderloin-sandwich-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie

(I used store bought crust- Marie Calendars is my favorite)

For the Crust:
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes; 4 tablespoons chilled, 3 tablespoons frozen for 15 minutes
For the Filling:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
Confectioners’ sugar, for dustingDirections

Prepare the crust: Combine the vinegar with 1/2 cup ice water in a small bowl.

Pulse the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add the 4 tablespoons chilled butter and pulse until the butter is in pea-sized clumps and the mixture is sandy. Add the 3 tablespoons frozen butter; pulse until the frozen butter is also in pea-sized clumps. Add 5 tablespoons of the vinegar mixture; pulse 2 or 3 more times. Squeeze a small amount of dough between your fingers. If it does not stay together easily, add 1 more tablespoon of the vinegar mixture and pulse 3 or 4 more times. (Do not let the dough come together.) Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and gather into a lumpy ball; flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 12-inch circle, about -inch thick. Fit into an 8-inch pie plate and trim the extra dough, leaving a 1-inch overhang; reserve trimmings. Fold the edges under the rim and crimp. Refrigerate the crust until firm, 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Line the chilled crust with foil and fill with pie weights or dry beans. Bake until the edges are golden, 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights; continue baking until the center of the crust is dry and golden brown, about 12 minutes. Cool slightly on a wire rack. Cover any cracks in the crust with the dough trimmings before filling.

Prepare the filling: Whisk the sugars and the flour in a medium bowl, breaking up any clumps of brown sugar. Combine the heavy cream and vanilla in a separate bowl and slowly whisk into the sugar mixture until smooth. Pour the filling into the prepared crust; bake until the pie begins to set around the edge but is still slightly wobbly in the middle, 40 minutes. (Tent loosely with foil for the last 10 minutes if the crust gets too dark.) Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then refrigerate until ready to serve. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before slicing.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/hoosier-sugar-cream-pie-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

Fruit Trays

So everyone knows I love entertaining and making food look beautiful.  The item I’ve probably had the most practice on over the years are fruit and vegetable trays.  I used to work for BYU catering where we made hundreds of fruit trays.  It was there I learned how to cut a pineapple and could get a pineapple cored and cut in about a minute.

Soon after college I got introduced to the Barefoot Contessa and her amazing fruit platters always filled me with glee.  They just looked so pretty :).  Granted she has food stylists and a bevy of helpers (not too mention quite the budget) but I think if you invited Ina Garten to a party she’d bring about as pretty a fruit tray as shown in the pictures.   Incidentally I wonder if Ina Garten’s friends are terrified to invite her over to eat.  How could you measure up?

Anyway, I started a diet on Monday and had to bring a treat to activity days for the young girls at church.  (Age 8-10).  I couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t derail my diet and as I had been a slacker leader the last few months store bought seemed too lame.  So I decided to put together a fruit tray with my famous chocolate yogurt dip (so good!).

I must say I think it is my finest fruit tray creation yet:

Isn’t it pretty? White platters are easy to use for any occasion. The best entertaining tip my Mom gave me.

The fruit tray included strawberries, cherries, envy apples, banana and just for fun star fruit.  I had my chocolate dip (recipe below) and some store-bought caramel sauce (I’ve never quite mastered homemade caramel sauce).

I didn’t know if the girls would like the dark chocolate sauce but I think you can tell from this after shot that they liked it!

That’s what you call a plate licked clean!

Here are Ina Garten’s fruit tray tips:

“Once the base is set, you can add any kind of fruit that’s available.

I like to have one thing that is taller than the rest, such as a large bunch of grapes or a decoratively cut papaya, to give the platter height.

Then I add raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and fresh figs in casual but organized groups. The platter can look like a bowl of M&M’s if there are too many colors scattered with no order.

Visually, your eye needs to have a focal point and to be able to see each type of fruit.

After all the fruit is arranged, I add flat green leaves around the outside of the fruit, to set off the colors. Use lemon and galax leaves from your florist, or fig leaves and grape leaves  from your garden. Make sure they are pesticide-free and well washed.”

Some day I will be so on the ball I have lemon leaves on my trays but I’m proud of my attempt.  I think even kids respond better to something that is presented beautifully and it really doesn’t taken any more effort than throwing it on a plate.   Ok maybe a tiny bit more effort but hardly anything.

Here’s the recipe for the chocolate sauce.  Its super good.  This makes a lot of sauce.

Chocolate Yogurt Sauce

3 Lindt Dark Chocolate Bars- Lindt has tons of flavors including roasted almond, sea salt, chili, mint etc.  They are the best!

1/2 cup 2% greek yogurt

2-3 tbsp whole milk

heat chocolate over double boiler until melted.  Add milk, mix together over heat.   Will get a little thicker as it heats up.

Add yogurt once its cooled down.

Since I was making this for kids I added about a tsp of agave to make it a little sweeter.

You can add chopped nuts, toffee bits or whatever you like.  Can dip anything in it.  Shortbread is amazing!

ingredients for sauce

I made enough this time that I am setting little servings of it aside and freezing them for a quick treat.

single servings of sauce

As best as I can calculate on myfitnesspal.com these servings have 120 calories, 18 carbs, 8 grams fat, 6 grams protein, 11 grams sugar.

Enjoy!

I love sauces and dips. It makes me very happy

Sugar Fast

Most of my friends have learned about my current sugar fast.  Along with a prohibition against fast food, I have decided to stop eating desserts through the end of the year.  I am giving myself one day off a month, which means I will be eating treats on Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So far I’ve only had one day of treats this month and that was after my meet in Logan where I had some ice cream. It has been harder than I thought it would be but we are trying to change my cravings and most importantly my habits.   This is particularly important during this time of the year because there are so many sweet temptations that go along with the holidays.

Its amazing how quickly you get into the habit of eating sweets.  I noticed this on my mission.  I had never been in the routine of a daily dessert but on my mission people would feed us and often have a treat to end the meal.  When I got home I was surprised at how much I craved sweets after dinner.

It might sound like a drastic measure to go cold turkey but it is kind of a shock to my system and then hopefully be able to work sweets back into my life.  I just like sweets too much.  (Although I have been successful in keeping my blood sugar down for many months, so its not like I’m going crazy with the sugar!).

What sweet would you miss the most?

One of my friends wondered if this type of sweet fast would do more harm than good because it makes the denied food seem all the more appealing.  What do you think?  I would agree if it was a permanent fix but as a catalyst for increased health I think it is a good thing.

This next week is going to be a huge test because I am going on a business trip to California.  It will be some intense days of training, which will make exercise and diet very difficult.  Wish me luck!

On a side note- I think it is dumb when people put these type of restrictions on kids.  I read a blog today from a woman who suggests giving out prunes to trick or treaters.  Come on! I’m all for healthy eating but I also think there is nothing wrong with a child being allowed one day of candy and treats.  By giving them only prunes and organic lollipops a parent ostracizes children from their peers and makes food more of an issue than it should be.