Wannabe Martha

Still trying to figure out which Martha

Sometimes No News is Just No News

It feels a little odd to post when I haven’t really anything about which to post (maybe I should have issued an “Awkward Sentence Alert for that one).

I’ve been hanging out a little on FB; read a couple Gothics; and was required to actually WEAR PANTS this morning when taking Iseult to her carpool.

Other things going on at my house…

Angharad announced that it was about time for “Gonnagetcoldageddon”

I sort of lost my temper on FB over the perpetually peeved among us peeing themselves all over the internet because a guy wore a cool shirt when talking about the most interesting scientific event of, say, the last decade, maybe (I’m sure there have been others, but hey, I’m tired and I’m giving myself a pass – feel free, however, to post other scientific things about which we can be excited).

Also, the following happened.

On Saturday evening my best friend came over for dinner and movie – her men (husband & sons) were camping, so this was excellent timing.  I bought one of these at my local Harris Teeter.  It was super delicious and even better I didn’t have to do anything but put it in the oven and let it cook.  Well, actually, I had to put it in the oven breast-side up and snip a 1-inch vent in the bag.  It’s a measure of how distracted I am, that I didn’t notice I’d roasted it upside down until it was cooked and I’m staring at it trying to figure out how to carve the damn thing (also trying to figure out how to get it out of the bag – it was fall-apart tender).

So, there’s the four of us in the kitchen, staring at the stupid chicken in the stupid bag, upside down in the stupid roasting pan, and Iseult helpfully  pipes up “You just want me to flip the bird for you?”

We all stop and stare at her; she turns beet-red and we all start howling with laughter.

“Sure sweetie, you flip that bird all you want”

Good times Chez Maeve et Filles.

Oh – I also had to call my in-laws to tell them the divorce was final.  My MIL started crying and it was very sucktastic.  On the positive note, however, they’re coming for Thanksgiving, so I won’t be required to bake Retaliatory Cupcakes this year 🙂

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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

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An Afternoon Phone Call

Phone rings.

Me:        Hello

Iseult:   Hi Mama

Me:        Hi Sweetie, what’s up?

Iseult:   What are you making for dinner?

Me:        I thought you were going to Daddy’s.

Iseult:   I am. But what are you making for dinner?

Me:        I’m not sure yet.  Why?

Iseult:   Don’t make anything I like.

Me:        What?

Iseult:   I don’t want you to make something I like.

Me:        Why are you worried about this?

Iseult:   I’m not worried.

Me:        You know that even if dinner IS something you like, I will make it again.

Iseult:   I know.  But could you make something I don’t like anyway?

Me:        What’s the matter?  You know Daddy’s a great cook.  You’ll have a good dinner.

Iseult:   I know.  But can you make something only you like?

Me:        All right – I think I’m going to make salmon and lentils.  Is that icky enough for you?

Iseult:   Sounds gross.  Thanks Mama.  You’ll pick me up at 8?

Me:        Yes, I’ll be there.

Iseult:   Bring Daddy some of the cookies you made last night.

Me:        OK I will.  See you later.

Iseult:   Bye Mama.

 

(I can handle my own stress.  It’s theirs that gets to me.)

 

 

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The Earth Does NOT Open Up and Swallow You Whole

I need a category of just how many more awkward encounters can I have before I explode.

Saturday I bought a new (to me) car.  From the H.  He’s a very good salesman and he knew I was looking for something to replace my very high mileage Jeep.  I really like the vehicle – only 5 years old, low mileage and perfect payment.  A win all the way around.

So I’m sitting in the finance office because you know – loan paperwork and all.  And it occurs to me that I don’t know if the loan officer realizes that I’m actually still (technically) married to the salesman.  Well, we get to a point where I had some question and the Finance guy calls the H in over the loudspeaker.  The H comes into the office and we clarify the item in question.  He gets out the door and then I hear her.  It’s the GF.  They both come back into the Finance office.  I plaster a pleasant smile on my face. The H says “Hey, (let’s call her) Autumn wants to show you some boots.”  “Great” I answer.  “Autumn” strolls in, “I was just dropping off lunch to him” smile, smile, smile, “You have to see these boots…they are the cutest… ABC Department store has them on sale!”  Her cell phone is shoved in my face with a picture of (I have to admit) very cute boots;  I nod and admire and agree they are wonderful.

Finance guy is taking it all in and comments, ‘Wow (name of H), you really have the best of both worlds here.”  I immediately realize that the Finance guys things we’re divorced and the only way he could think that is that it’s been alluded to that we are divorced and that the H is married to the GF and that we’re all ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY.

I’m thinking to myself, “Please Dear God in Heaven, let the earth just open up and swallow me whole.”  Apparently, my demise was not on His agenda for the day.  We all smile through the awkwardness (I’m not sure if the Finance guy realized the blunder or not), the H ushers the GF away, and I finally finish all my paperwork and drive away with my new vehicle (which I really do love).

Now one would think that this would sort of be the end of things.  And it would be, if “one” were not “me”.  Two days later, I am back at the dealership because I need help with some paperwork – I am selling my Jeep to my BF (that would be Best Friend) who needs something for errands, etc., and the Jeep is perfect.  The H has a bill of sale and all the stuff we need to make the transaction happen.  BF and I head up to dealership.  We enter and ask for the H.  The guy turns to me and asks my name, and then when I tell him, he says to me, “oh, are you his wife?”  And I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY!  BF elbows me, so I just smile and say “yes” – which is true, of course.

Anyway, the H comes out and helps us fill out our docs and then we leave.  I didn’t say anything to him about telling the other salesperson I was his wife.  I guess he must have figured it out.  I’m going to make a huge exception to my standard rule and NOT get all guilty over it.

Also, I tore a giant hole in the tire of my new car on the same day I bought it, but that’s another story.  Also, the earth did not swallow me whole for that either.

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Sacred and Profane

I’m not sure exactly why this particular memory keeps shoving at my present consciousness, but it just seems to have taken up primary residence and won’t go away.  Maybe I can bleed it out through my fingers.  I don’t know.

Sunday evening and we’re attending Mass because, well, we just were.  And not at our regular parish, because they don’t have Sunday evening Mass.  I don’t especially care for the church we’re going to, but for the occasional Mass, I can handle it.  For reasons too complicated to get into here, the H and his GF and the baby are attending also.  With us.  OK.  We start to walk in from our car, and I hear a shout and turn around.  There’s the H, hand in hand with the GF, carrying the baby, calling for us to wait for him.

Iseult turns dead white and grabs my hand hard.  Angharad gets an ever-more familiar steely look on her face.  I grip their hands and smile at H as best I can.

We enter church and slide into a pew:  Me, Iseult, Angharad, the H, the GF and the baby sort of toddling around between everyone.  Not the most comfortable of situations, but everyone is welcome at Mass and you just suck it up.

The Mass starts and the baby provides some distraction as she move from person to person.  The Liturgy of the Word begins – there is a certain irony to this week’s readings.  We’re all terribly grateful for the baby’s antics.

Finally it’s time for the sermon.   Now, I know this Priest.  There is every chance that he can ramble off on some tangent completely unrelated to the readings and we’ll all get through the Mass just fine.  Except this week, Father is more than inspired by the readings and launches into a loud and fervent homily.  Everyone in our pew literally turns to stone.  Finally, the GF gets up, grabs her daughter and leaves.  Some few minutes later, the H’s cell vibrates gently.  He leans across both girls to me and mouths “I guess I have to go.”  I nod – I mean, really what am I going to do?  We’re in the middle of a nearly packed church.

Finally it’s just the girls and me sitting there.  Iseult turns and whispers to me, “well, that certainly was awkward.”  NO KIDDING!  YA THINK?

The homily drags on.  Finally it’s the Liturgy of the Eucharist (usually my favorite part), but I’m in basket case mode.  As it’s time for Communion, I keep thinking to myself, “Maeve, you SIP the Blood of Christ.  You DO NOT grab the chalice and gulp, swig, or guzzle the Blood of Christ.”

At last Mass is over.  I feel like I’ve been through a wringer.  As we’re walking our car, Iseult comments, “You know, I don’t really like the way the Host tastes at this church.”  As I’m trying to reconcile what I’ve just heard come out of this child’s mouth, Angharad says, “are you saying God is tastier at our church?  Really?”  They start to argue about the relative taste of the Host at various churches.  Finally I gather my wits about me and shout “it’s completely profane to be discussing God’s tastiness!  What’s wrong with you people?”

Angharad turn to me and says, “Mom, I don’t think God’s going to get all hellfire and brimstone just because we let loose a little.  I mean come on – what were the chances that Dad and “her” would all be with us for a Mass focused on ADULTERY?  Ya don’t think He had something to do with this one?  And who knew Father would actually stick to, you know, the actual topic of the readings, cos this must be a FIRST for him!”

I think I’m just going to have to say an awful lot of rosaries.

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