Wannabe Martha

Still trying to figure out which Martha

Easy, My Ass…

“…books about cooking largely admitted what every homemaker knew to be true:  that feeding people was backbreaking work, and then you died.” (The “Myth” of Easy Cooking by Elizabeth Dunn – linked in earlier post referenced and linked below)

Thanks to Els’ encouragement to expand on my earlier post (which was really just a link), and because my blog pal’s latest post has sparked some excellent commentary, here is my little screed on the matter of “Easy” cooking.

Every single thing in that article resonated with me.  I have DOZENS  of cookbooks (even post-cull) and any number of them promise “easy”.  Easy.  Sure.  Maybe in an alternate universe.

Let’e talk turkey, shall we?

30 Minute Meals.  I owned 4 of these cookbooks.  You can’t actually prepare any of this, from lights-on to table in 30 minutes.  Really, you can’t.  Not unless all your prep is done ahead of time.  And then – let’s talk about the sheer ridiculous number of post and pans and utensils required to produce the meal – basically an hour of clean up.  And you know what else?  In my house, the produce is not all washed and dried and prepped and ready for me to slice/dice/chop.

How about ingredients?  Spurred on by this article, I pulled out a couple of my “easy weeknight meals” cookbooks.  Kohlrabi.  Celeriac.  Butternut Squash (you know it takes an hour alone to simply carve that thing into something you can actually at some point cook and eat, right?).  Le Sigh. (Disclosure – I can actually get kohlrabi and celeriac at my local grocery store, but I’m lucky that way and anyway, it’s only fairly recently that securing some of this stuff didn’t require a pilgrimage to Whole Paycheck).

Mostly where Dunn gets it right is in WHO is exactly creating these recipes.  Not “home cooks who learned at their mothers’ elbows in family kitchen”.  Culinary School grads.  Nothing against them, but what the ^%$#(*&^do they know about screaming into a driveway at 6:30 (sure, you left the office at 5, but then you had the commute and you had to pick up the kids from daycare and then you still had to stop by the grocery store before heading home) with tired, hungry, cranky kids?  Answer?  Big Fat Hairy Zilch, that’s what.

I firmly believe that there are nights you pick up a grocery store rotisserie chickn, maybe a frozen mac & cheese and bag-o-salad.  That’s what you do unless you have a martyr complex the size of Mt. Rushmore.

You also need to get over youself and allow that shortcuts by way of semi-prepared and/or prepackaged food items are not only permissible, they’re essential.  Look, most women, whether they work outside the home or not, ain’t sitting back on the chaise longue, sippin’ on mint juleps and noshing on bonbons all day.  They’re really working.  All day.  And some of them are herding small children.  All. Day. Long.  They’re tired.  Kids are tired.  Hubs comes home – he’s tired.  Everybody’s hungry.  Shortcuts are your salvation, and if you can swing some prep work on the weekends, or even do some make-ahead meals, that’s great.  Otherwise, let’s all chill out and stop worshiping at the altar of “Everything-From-Scratch”.  And have a glass of wine, while you’re at it.


Another Rabid Case of PoorLittleS**tUponMe-Itis

(title updated because, well, it was kind of rude)

No – not ME!!

This stupid, whining cow!

I think I shall take myself away from Le Internet for a short while, lest I have a complete, behind-baring meltdown and find myself featured on WTF post somewhere……  🙂

Happy Thursday!

(The meltdown reference is a little H/T to the MIL – her favorite response to tantrums – “Well, she just showed her behind,didn’t she?”  You can feel free to adopt it if you want to).


How to Insult Someone Without Even Trying

Her:       So, Maevey, do you think your house would be cleaner if you didn’t have to work?

Me:        No, not really.

Her:       Why not?

Me:        Well, (you stupid cow), because if I wasn’t working I’d be sitting outside by the pool, drinking mimosas and reading some good trashy novels all day, not cleaning the (damn) house.

Her:       Oh.  Well, I guess it’s nice that you know what your priorities are.

Me:        Yes, it is (plus I un-friend you).

(I was only thinking the parts in parentheses – and I didn’t think the word “cow”, but I’m trying to clean up my potty-mouth, er potty-thoughts)



So a few minutes ago the H called me to let me know he heard that Charleston County was delaying school openings tomorrow by 2 hours.

“Really, why?” I asked.

“It’s going to be cold”, he said.  “You might want to check and see if BE is going to delay also.  They follow Charleston County’s closing/delay schedule.”

I. Kid. You. Not.

As I could not quite believe my ears, I head over to the Charleston County School District website – behold:


“Weather Alert – January 6, 2014

Due to the potential for cold temperatures, CCSD has been in close contact with the county’s Emergency Operations Center as well as local government municipalities. Based on their latest information, we have decided to start school tomorrow, Tuesday, January 7, 2014 on a TWO HOUR DELAY. The safety and welfare of our students is our highest priority.

All district employees are being asked to report to their schools or offices, two hours later than their normal start time.”

They are delaying school opening BECAUSE IT’S GOING TO BE COLD IN THE MORNING!

Now, I realize that SC does not generally deal with sub-zero weather, but we’re not having sub-zero weather.  And I don’t see that they’re concerned about bridge closings (we have lots of bridges – it’s a big deal – you can’t go anywhere without crossing one).  See, it’s going to be COLD, relatively speaking – I lived in Helsinki as a little girl, so I actually know what real live cold feels like.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand as of 5 seconds ago, it’s official – BEHS opens 2 hour late.  So Iseult gets to sleep in.

I blame global warming.


Thanksgiving Baking – Retaliatory Cupcakes

I was going to write a little post about this year’s Thanksgiving, but it ended up being (no surprise here) somewhat of a CF (my apologies for the vulgarity) so I don’t particularly want to waste space on it.  Funny thing is, I at least got a head’s up that things had taken a very sharp left into Crazytown and so I decided to take a somewhat PA response – I did not bake pie, I baked chocolate cupcakes.

You heard me. No pie.  Is this a big deal?  Well, if you are me, then yes, because I like to bake pie and I particularly like to bake it for Thanksgiving.  Well then, Maeve, isn’t this rather biting off your own nose to spite someone else’s face?  Probably.  Fine, let’s call it the tantrum that it was. 

Here’s the thing.  Anyone who has read more than, say, a month’s worth of posts here at my little sandbox knows that I cook.  And bake.  So, you might figure that the people who have had me in their lives since I was 21 years old would know this as well.  Would realize that I would not consider it an inconvenience to actually COOK Thanksgiving dinner.  Would understand that I would prefer to cook it.  Would see it as a gift to let me cook it for them.  Would also maybe understand that their decision to get TAKEOUT THANKSGIVING DINNER because “that way we don’t have to deal with the fuss of cooking” might not sit so well with me, especially as they insisted we spend the holiday at their house.

I guess I’m posting about Thanksgiving after all. 

I am so grateful to my in-laws that there are simply no adequate words to express it, but this year’s shenanigans had me foaming at the mouth.  I don’t sew, don’t craft, don’t garden, or decorate.  I cook and bake.  And I don’t get to cook complex meals all that often, so it’s an actual treat for me to have the opportunity to do so.  And I got robbed.  And I got mad.  Hence the cupcakes.

As far as cupcakes go, these are incredible; the not-too-sweet cake is moist and fudgy; the ganache is sublimely silky and sensuous (well, it is – make it yourself and then argue with me).  Anyway, if you find yourself in a position of having to swallow words you don’t dare say out loud, bake these and eat them instead.

Wellesley Fudge Cupcakes with Ganache

 For the Cupcakes:

4 squares unsweetened baking chocolate

Nom Nom Nom

Nom Nom Nom

½ cup water
1¾ cups sugar
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
½ cup butter
3 eggs
¾ cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350F and line two muffin tins with liners.

In a small saucepan, melt chocolate in water over very low heat, stirring constantly until it’s smooth.  Add ½ cup of the sugar; cook and stir for 2 minutes longer.  The mixture will become very thick.  Remove from the heat and cool.

Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside.

Cream the butter.  Gradually add in the remaining sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each.  Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Blend in the chocolate and vanilla.

Distribute evenly between 24 muffin cups.  Bake for 18 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Do not over bake.  Cool 10 minutes in the pans and then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Cake Notes:

If you use non-stick or coated pans (even light coated pans), reduce the temp to 325F and add 3-5 minutes baking time.

This recipe originally makes a 9-inch layer cake.  Just divide the batter between 2 greased and floured 8 or 9-inch layer pans and bake 30 to 35 minutes.  Cool as directed above.

For the Ganache

2 cups whipping cream
1 lb semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (the best you can find!)
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat the cream in a medium saucepan until it just comes to a boil.  Remove from the heat and add the chocolate and vanilla; stir until the mixture is absolutely smooth (I use a silicone spatula for this).  Transfer the chocolate to a glass bowl (NOT metal – will conduct the cold too quickly).  Refrigerate the mixture and stir every 10 minutes until the mixture is as thick as pudding (takes 50 – 60 minutes – set a timer).  At this point, the ganache will begin to set up quickly. Leave in the refrigerator and stir every 5 minutes until the frosting is thick as fudge.  (Alternatively – and I don’t think this works as well – you can set the bowl in ice water and stir constantly until it thickens up; problem is, you need to be very careful to get no water in the ganache or you’ll just have to throw it out, and you have to stir CONSTANTLY, which is kind of tiring – if it begins to get too thick, take the blow out of the water bath).

Make sure your cupcakes are completely cooled and then frost with a liberal dollop of frosting.

(So, we ate the takeout Thanksgiving dinner and nobody complained about the cupcakes.  Then we all watched a bunch of movies and had a fire in the fireplace and then went outside that night and built a fire in the firepit in the freezing cold to make S’mores.  And I was very thankful for all of the many blessings bestowed upon me.  But I’m hosting Thanksgiving next year.  And I’m baking pie.) 

Cupcake Recipe adapted from “Baker’s ™ Book of Chocolate Riches”, 1985 by General Foods Corp

Ganache from “Dessert Love’s Cookbook” by Marlene Sorosky, 1985, Harper & Row

Baker's Book of Chocolate RichesMarlene Sorosky Dessert Lovers Cookbook


I am not a Guy!

Today I cried in the insurance office.  I bought my Explorer in August; sold my Jeep the very next day.  The insurance company never removed the Jeep, so today when the payment came out, well, let’s just say it was considerably more than expected.

So I went over to the local office to make them fix it and they were extremely apologetic.  And they took the Jeep off the policy.  But they could not do anything about the draft that hit today.  And I got upset.  Really upset.  So upset that I started crying.  And then I felt really stupid so I cried even more.  It kind of freaked out the people in the insurance office.  Actually it kind of freaked me out too.

The H would not have cried.  He would have done this weird quiet, scary, angry thing. Probably because he is a guy.  And I’m not.


Get A Room

For Chris…..

There now, that feels better.

(because the other blog’s hostess would not appreciate and one should be respectful of one’s hostess)