Friday, January 1, 2010

2010! With Tres Leches.

2010! It has been a very long hiatus -- the summer, the wedding, Rocky's homecoming, the post-wedding hibernation and dissertation writing .... we even performed a wedding at our home, for our friends Ben and Shannon.Too much to try and fill in the blanks, so it's better to just dive back in. The short story is that we are now married and the wedding was great. I can't believe how incredibly lucky I am to have such amazing friends and family who migrated to the middle of nowhere and then pitched in and made it all work while shielding me from craziness. My friend Carmen and her husband officiated (awesomely) and Amy was a trooper. A hot trooper. We have literally 800 photos from the photographer Derek from Duluth, our sports photographer turned wedding guy. I still haven't looked through them all. He made us all jump up and down a lot, so maybe that's his sports background showing through. If you happen to be getting married in the WI/MN area, Derek is a great find.

The pug is now back in Seattle (here's my dad putting him back in the return flight), Jake finished his last law school class and is studying for the bar and I can see the end for the dissertation. This is nice but oddly not very motivating. It sort of makes me feel like I can just call it a success and quit while I'm ahead and just focus on all the side projects that have popped up. But I'll write the thing.

As for the holidays -- we stayed put in Seattle and spent Christmas with Jake's family, which was nice. I made a cake and some chocolate ganache truffle ball thingies that were a big hit. Jake said that the cake -- a Tres Leches -- should be the post to get me back on the blog thing. He rarely comments on cakes and is more of a cheese guy. So here it is: Tres Leches, Emeril Lagasse's version. I stuck to the recipe, except I added extra vanilla and I used part cake flour. It ended up needing to cook much longer than 25-30 minutes.

Between thanksgiving, Ben and Shannon's wedding and Christmas I baked up a storm -- so plenty of those recipes to post in the coming weeks (hopefully). Along with some dissertation updates (double hopefully).

Much love and happy 2010!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

pay pal!

Dairymen's is a nonprofit membership organization that can only accept payment for lodging from members.

Use the pay pal link bellow to pay with a credit card, or send us a check for the cost of your stay and we will pay Dairymen's directly.

Many thanks!
Martha and Jake

Monday, June 1, 2009

Made it.

So we made it to Staten Island relatively unscathed. And have spent the last 24 hours moving furniture and dealing with all the regular moving stuff. Rocky also made it -- although possibly a bit more traumatized. Here he is in his crate, just before they carted him away on a forklift.

They taped a bag of food and a bone to the top of the crate, but wouldn't let me send him with his stuffed bear, which I'm sure he missed like crazy. I really tried to work the stuffed bear in there, but no dice. I felt very guilty, but they people who worked there let me walk him and then stay with him until they forklifted him onto the truck that took him to the plane. Once back in NYC, there were apparently a couple of fights between Rock and my parents' pugs once--at least one resulting in a bloody tail. And I have seen one seemingly nasty one since we arrived. But the three pugs (Eddie and Champ are my parents' pugs) seem to be getting the hang of things now. And Rock seems to have forgiven us for putting him through it.

I am always really happy to arrive in New York and feel back in my element. But it is also always bit jarring for the first few days. There is constant stimulation and interaction with people here, including in my parents' house. There are many more people on the streets and stores, and everyone needs to interact with other people a little bit all the time. Much gets done within a short period of time with very little conversation, or conversations are quick and funny and productive. Sometimes infuriating, of course, but generally productive. In contrast, Seattle interactions are slow, pleasant, and often completely useless. Generally very polite and I enjoy them most of the time. But they tend to be more about passing time while something is getting done than actually getting something done. I end up feeling impatient and bitchy there, and perfectly normal here.

But when I really knew I was back home was at Shoprite, where I went to get fish food for my mom's office's fish tank. The bakery section has canolli shells they fill will fresh filling, in two sizes. I'm sure they aren't the best, but I cannot tell you how exotic (and expensive) this would be in Seattle. I then went to Moretti's Bakery on Forest Ave to find anisette and sesame cookies. The girl behind the counter only had a giant cake box so she threw in a few apricot and raspberry cookies so it wouldn't look too empty. She didn't want my cookie box to look too empty! I tipped her, which was good, because I then forgot my wallet and had to send my father in for it 30 minutes later. After waiting in line at the post office for a while before noticing I didn't have it, of course. She had already called my office in Seattle and left a voicemail.

The icing, however, was getting home and reading the Staten Island Advance front page story subtitled "Dueling banners in Dongan Hills claim 'World's Best Pizza." There are many Worlds Best signs in the world. But turns out one of these two guys (Goodfella's) won the last World Pizza Championship in Las Vegas. The other was a runner up for the East Coast region or something.

In sum, it is nice to be back in foodland. There is of course good food in Seattle, and there is no way that my local Seattle supermarket would have run out of ground flax seed the way Shoprite did. But the goodness is just seeping out of every scruffy corner here, whereas Seattle feels bland in comparison. There is only so much Pacific Northwest style seafood that one person can eat. That said, I haven't worked out in four or five days (not counting many, many trips from the basement to the third floor of my parents' house carrying awkwardly shaped heavy objects) and will probably gain 50 pounds over the summer. I have not even hit my favorite bagel place yet, and those things are at least 400 calories a pop. Plain. I guess that would further complicate the wedding dress issues.

Whatever. I hear at least two pugs snoring right now, have a box full of aniette cookies to attack for breakfast, and am very happy to be back.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dress diatribe

Today should have been the day to post the Daring Bakers May recipe: an apple strudel. But I'm too swamped with work and prepping to leave for NYC on Saturday to deal with it. The recipe calls for stretching the dough out until it is paper thin on a table large enough that you can walk around it and work from all four sides. I do not have a table. There are some really impressive strudels on the Daring Bakers website and I do hope to make the thing sooner or later. With a spinach feta filling, maybe, instead of apples.

This week has been a flurry of activity and anxiety, and Jake and I are both stretched really thin. And yesterday I went to go pick up my wedding dress. I was not 100% pleased, although Martha N and Jake both tell me it looks good, even if it maybe needs a little more tweaking. The seamstress, who comes very well recommended and to her credit is constantly saying she will keep working at it until I am happy, installed these two thick, wide elastic bands inside the waistline to help hold it up. And also replaced a ribbon around the waistline that needed an upgrade. The ribbon is nice but seems a bit worn. Martha N says it looks appropriately vintage and she likes it a lot. I am inclined to believe her. But the elastic bands feel sort of like some sort of S&M device, but they don't really do the Holding It Up job. I think they need to be fastened at exactly the right spot on my ribcage, but I didn't have them on the sweet spot when I tried the dress on at the seamstress's place. So instead it felt like it would stay put through many hugs and drunken dances, but would stay put in a really awkward and uncomfortable place. It looked and felt like it needed to be yanked up, hard.

So I acted aloof and paid the lady and got the hell out of there as fast as I could, with the seamstress's assurances that I could come back when I get back to Seattle and she'd do whatever else I feel needs doing. I feel slightly bad about that. She gave me a free veil I have no intention of using, no doubt sensing my dissatisfaction. Back at home, after some unexpected tears, some assurances from Jake and some technical assistance from Martha N, I think I can be happy about it. Not in love yet, but if I can make it a bit more comfortable I think it'll grow on me .

I think the tears were disappointment that I really wanted to be able to say I have gotten this one wedding thing done and walked away happy. Frustratingly enough, I'm not really sure what I would like better than the dress I have. Just in case, I bought another one on sale from JCrew that is not scheduled to ship until June 30 as a fall back plan. Amy gave me the thumbs up on that one. But maybe I should wear the one I have for the ceremony and do a costume change into something comfortable for the reception. Something in a color I never wear. I do think that it's a lovely dress; my main issues right now are that it is pretty uncomfortable.

There is this incredible pressure associated with all things wedding-related that I wish I could say I am avoiding. There is sort of an expectation that as The Bride you will 1) know what you want and 2) enjoy it. Yet I have no idea what I want, not much energy for figuring it out, lots of baggage about marriage and weddings in general, and am not really able to have a good time with the process yet. Figuring out what you want or like takes time and energy I don't feel I have to give. I would like to say that I am not interested in traditional things, but I don't really feel interested or equipped to come up with my own particular brand of non-traditional. I just tried to grill Martha N about her sister Sarah who is ridiculously crafty and talented to see if there was ANYTHING I could maybe outsource to her. Martha N seems to think there is not. Friends offer to help (thanks Amy! poor Amy ...) but I haven't taken them up on it. I'm not good at asking for help. But I do think I might ask someone to do the invitations for us. Meaning, find a cute, simple cheap one, design it for us and just tell us how much it costs. Any takers?

I think what has been the most jarring for me about all of this is just how much I have been affected by it. I have been kind of an unexpected emotional rollercoaster ride, as they say. It is most definitely jarring for Jake. I'm not sure what to make of it. Intellectually I know that the stress and changes we are facing inevitably kind of grates every feeling to sharp point. It is hard to manage anyway.

But Rocky IV is on as I write this (the one where he takes on the cyborgish Russian who killed Apollo Creed by training exclusively with snow and lumber and rocks, and Adrian follows him to Siberia), so I am feeling encouraged. I am happy that the spurts of enthusiasm and clarity that I have had about wedding stuff do seem to be getting longer and closer together. Sort of like contractions are portrayed when women go into labor on TV. Maybe soon they will come together in a single painful crescendo--in a cab or a plane or stuck on the subway--and I will emerge flushed and smiling, with a color scheme and some new self-awareness.

In the meantime, I am doing a lot of hot Bikram yoga (Bikram is this guy, shown with his wife) and longish runs with Jake. He mapped them out on google maps so we know how long they are, and we'll miss when we leave for the summer. 4.8 is so far our farthest -- keeping in mind that about 2 miles of it is uphill. We're going to work up the distance, hopefully.

Funny aside on Bikram: a friend who moved to Seattle from LA tells me that she saw him once in an Indian video store there. He drove up in a Bentley, was wearing white snakeskin pointy shoes, and asked for the the most recent movie by the Bollywood equivalent of Chuck Norris. In the photo he is in a pose I can get nowhere close to.

Ok -- I'm off to bring Rocky the pug to his red eye flight to NYC. I feel guilty, but then again nothing that costs that much can be all that bad. I think. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Moving, wedding, cooking apple crisps and carrots

These past few days have been oddly productive on several fronts. I did my taxes. I used a lot of CSA veggies. But more importantly, I suddenly had a burst of enthusiasm about wedding planning. I am not 100% sure, but I think I might be circling in on what "owning it" might mean--aside from the undertones of consumption and debt.

Whereas a few weeks ago I was infuriated by anything having to do with weddings or wedding planning (including really pissed off at Jake for having proposed, to be honest), last night I managed to flip through almost the entire issue of Martha Stewart Weddings without getting angry. I did get annoyed by article about which cosmetic procedures you can squeeze in before your wedding at 12, 9, 6, 3 months, etc. (I am in the botox range; possibly microdermabrasion if I got on it right now). But I appreciated the pretty pictures of ridiculously expensive earrings and bracelets and very labor intensive cakes. This is a Major Milestone.

And today I talked to a coworker whose wedding is also in September and who is an admirably practical, crafty and hard wedding worker. She just finished making her own invitations, and is taking a break before starting in on thank you cards. She has done flower arrangements for other people's weddings, and knows how to decorate. She is doing all of the decorating herself. She gave me good tips: get color on the tables with linens so you don't have to bother with it elsewhere; there is such a thing as long-burning votive candles you can get cheap; and yeah, little lights and lanterns look good. It turns out she was thinking about some of the same stuff I was -- like the twiggy stuff in the photo above (I'm not wild about that one specifically, but you get the idea). She upped my website with nice earthy materials with one of her own that had similar stuff, and cheaper. Go Katie go. Jake's sister-in-law Amanda, here with the very cute Izzy, has graciously offered to help with this stuff and is also very crafty and has a great sense of style. And she is conveniently located about 1500 miles closer to Dairymen's than I am. I hope she doesn't regret the offer.

The dress thing -- two fittings down this week -- is just so-so. I am more nervous about it now than when I started. It seemed like the alterations needed were minor, but now I am starting to think they might be a bit more major. Whatever. The thing basically fits, and I might have to chemically affix it to my body to keep it up. Whatever. Th eseamstress thinks only two more fittings--it seems her assistant errs on the side of caution fittings-wise.

In the meantime, a battle rages against the CSA veggies in my fridge. Last night as Jake and I were drifting off to sleep I woke both of us up when I heard myself announce "I can steam it." I was having a sort of half-dream about a head of cauliflower I have been moving around the fridge for a week. So I am apparently battling some low-level anxiety about the vegetables. So far this week I have made an rhubarb/blueberry/apple crisp, kale salad and my brother's caramelized carrots, and I have a soup on the stove with a mound of the cauliflower waiting to go in it.

The carrots are easy and have been a staple at family dinners forever, but I can never do them like my brother can. Now I think they are a staple at his firehouse. Chop up the carrots, cook them in a heavy skillet in enough olive oil to coat them--stirring occasionally until they are soft and browned or even look a bit burnt (we call them Arnie's Burnt Carrots). If your carrots are kind of on the old side, as if they have been sitting around since the cute hippie CSA delivery guy dropped them off a week or so ago, you can add some honey or brown sugar or season them however you like. Some lemon is nice. They are nice on their own, but I tossed them in a green salad.

The crisp was marginally more involved, if only because there is more chopping, some melting, and multiple bowls.
I tossed together:
Two apples, peeled and sliced
Two cups rhubarb, roughly chopped
One cup frozen strawberries
Two tablespoons orange juice
Juice from 1/2 lemon
About 1/2 cup raisins
About 1/2 cup sugar or more to taste (I don't like it that sweet)
Cinnamon to taste (I like a lot)

For the topping:
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup oatmeal (I used the non-instant kind)
1 tsp cinnamon
A good pinch of salt
6 tablespoons melted butter

The fruit goes into a shallow baking dish, dotted with some butter. And the topping goes on top. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes and then check it. The fruit should be bubbling and the topping starting to brown.
I forgot to melt the butter until I had already mushed half of it into the dry topping ingredients, so I melted what I had left and mixed it up, threw it on top and it was fine. It is really hard to go wrong with a crisp.

The soup is not really worth talking about. I had an onion, potatoes, a red pepper and cauliflower in the fridge, and about 2 cups of split peas. Now that's what is in the pot -- along with some cumin and allspice and vegetable stock. And soon to be joined by a couple of parmesan rinds. Actually, I have a can of white beans I am debating tossing in. Seems like a lot of beans. But anything immersion blended is good in my book, and gets me one step closer to a clean fridge and cabinets for Jake's cousin Court (our subletter this summer).

What a long post! Thanks for hanging in there with it. XO

Sunday, May 17, 2009

work work work

I am a blog and baking slacker these days--as evidenced by this photo-less entry.

This is in keeping with my general slacking off on just about everything. A more accurate assessment is that I am trying to cram too much into a small period of time, stressing out about it, and then making only incremental progress on any one thing as a result. And things keep popping up and sucking my time. Like Rocky's (still kind of sickly looking) eye. He has another vet appt. on Tuesday. And I called a seamstress to make alterations on the wedding dress I bought at a local consignment store (it's a bit more formal than I'd like, but I like it, and think no one will hold it against me). She--her assistant, actually--wanted to book TEN appointments. Ten! We made three for the next two weeks and I told her we'll have to regroup after that. I really don't think it's that involved. I am noticing that as soon as you say the word "wedding," people's voices drop an octave as if to sooth what they assume is a hysterical bride, they jack up the price and they start saying things like "foundational undergarments." Tomorrow morning is the first appointment. She told me to bring the Foundational Undergarments and the shoes and then seemed genuinely concerned that I have neither. And then genuinely surprised to her me say I wasn't worried about it. I'll bring some heels and we'll be fine. I am trying to strike a balance between getting done what needs to be done without getting sucked into the things that other people think you should care about. Choosing what color the napkins should be or finding favors/matchbooks/m&ms that say Jake & Martha is not a priority at this point. I have no idea if the ceremony will be indoors or out, and want my nieces and Amy to be happy and look great but have no idea or preference about what they should wear. Something they like. We'll figure it out, and the deed will get done.

But I am getting really enthusiastic feedback about my research. I was at a day-long mini-conference for all the folks who who won grants from the Poverty and Race Research Action Council, and people were into it. I also recently had some meetings with people in my field who think my sample size (just hit 208 responses on Friday!) is plenty big, and that the data will be really unique. This was a much-needed confidence booster. I for one was just pleased with myself that I managed to come up with a semi-decent paper title: "Using Section 8 in Seattle: Thriving, surviving, or falling though the cracks?" Now I just have to do the research. One thing that my committee member brought up (she's mentioned it before, but I failed to absorb it) was that I need to keep a journal or field log of notes and ideas as I continue through the data collection phase. She's right. There are things that I am thinking about and research ideas that come up that will be incredibly helpful when it finally comes time to write.

So baking and cooking has dropped off considerably, and I am instead slowly trying to make it through the contents of the freezer and keep up with CSA vegetables. This basically means giant vegetable stir-frys once a week, a lot of defrosted baked goods, and smoothies because fruit is coming back in season. I do have some rhubarb in the fridge from the CSA, and a Daring Bakers thing to deal with--along with some more freezer contents (lots of pecans and walnuts, chocolate, a pie crust, frozen berries)--so there is likely something quick and nutty and rhubarby in my future. This coffee cake recipe from the woman who provided last month's Daring Bakers cheescake recipe looks like a contender.

I did try to make my own yogurt in a crockpot the other day, inspired by both the New York Times and 101 cookbooks (she also has a great recipe for frozen yogurt), but it was a complete failure. At first I thought it was something about the temperature--you are supposed to heat the milk, then let it cool, and then add some starter yogurt and keep it warm for several hours. But I let it get too cool and then tried to reheat. Now I think it the starter yogurt may not have has many live cultures. I am determined to get it right, and possibly have a machine shipped to NYC to have fresh yogurt all summer. I vaguely remember that my parents had a yogurt machine crammed in the kitchen pantry until I finally bullied them into getting rid of it because it had been used exactly once in about 10 years. They have issues parting with broken or unused items. Now I wish it was still around. I remember it was green and yellow shades that only existed in the 70s.

Hopefully more frequent posts in the coming weeks!

Sunday, May 3, 2009


I am in the middle of writing or editing about seven documents and have no energy for writing anything else. But I do have some pictures to share. Olivia sent me a batch from her visit a few weeks ago, and I just did a practice session with the new camera while Jake was brushing Rocky out on the balcony. Here's a picture of the new camera, taken with the old camera and vice versa. They are taken in my dark office space, sitting on top of interview notes I need to transcribe and last week's to do list. As you can see, I'm going from idiot-proof beginner level to advanced intermediate in one step.

For whatever reason, I just can't focus well with the new camera and can't figure out why. The settings are not well programmed and I need to use the viewfinder instead of the screen, so I think I need to bring it to a camera shop to see if they can set it up for me and start from there. Compared to Olivia's pictures--here's her shot of butter dipped dinner rolls we baked for Easter dinner--I definitely have a ways to go. Hers are sharp even though they are taken in really low light and, I think, without flash. I have no idea how that works.

The rolls are straight from the Bread Bible. They freeze really well but don't keep long on the counter, so I have started making double batches and keeping some on hand in the freezer. We're trying to make our way through the contents of the freezer this month before heading to NYC for the summer, so there are a lot of dinner rolls in my future over the next few weeks. They're all white flour, and my attempts at whole wheat versions have been only so-so. With about 20% wheat flour is passable, but the all white version is definitely better both taste and texture-wise.

And here's we are at UW.

It was of course overcast the whole time she was here, but the cherry blossoms were blooming and all the undergrads were out doing their thing, so she got a pretty good impression of the place.

But as a hint of what may be possible with the new camera, here's a pretty decent Rocky action shot taken with the new camera. I have no idea how it happened.

A pug update: Rock's eye is much better. Still a red and buggier than usual, but definitely getting better. There is enough improvement that he is no longer in the lampshade collar and we don't feel guilty putting him through the drama of a big brushing.

I think Jake enjoys it as much as Rocky hates it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

April cheesecake challenge

It's time for the monthly Daring Bakers challenge. It's a cheesecake, and the "challenge" is to change it up and customize a basic recipe (below).

It also gave me an opportunity to use the new camera that Jake got me for my birthday! I have a complicated relationship with it: I've been complaining incessantly about my crappy camera, and Jake got me a really nice one--which is great. But it is big, and has all these lenses and is more complicated than I know how to deal with. I hate having a new thing to learn, but have to admit it takes pictures mine never could. Like this one of the cake cooking in a water bath in the oven. And here's the finished cake. As you will note, I have some work to do with the camera.

I like that it looks sort of like a fried egg, which is fitting, because it has a hell of a lot of eggs in it.
There is chocolate and caramel drizzled on top, which is overkill but delicious. I have taken many, many pictures of cheesecake tonight in an effort to figure out how to use the f-ing camera without picking up the giant manual.

My stab at customizing was a banana sour cream cheesecake with a Nilla Wafer crust. I was kind of thinking about the banana pudding recipe on the Nilla Wafers box. I had bananas and a bunch of home-raised eggs in the fridge from Jake's cousin's best friend. Renee was Rocky's first vet when we moved out here and she has 30 chickens, an emu and a horse. And a dog. Her eggs have blue shells and very yellow yolks.

So I consulted with the Cake Bible and went from there. I swapped out the heavy cream for the banana, and added 8 oz sour cream for as much cream cheese. I used six egg yolks instead of three whole eggs. And the crust is just crushed Nilla Wafers and melted butter, without any added sugar, pressed in the pan and pre-baked for 10 minutes before adding the cake batter. The water bath is a pain in the ass in a springform because you have to use all this tinfoil and water seeps in anyway. But I also made some mini-muffins and loaf pan sized cakes using silicone pans which turned out great without sticking at all. Here's a mini, as I was eating it and experimenting with and without the flash, and trying this manual focus business. Turns out flash can be bad and focusing is hard.

I did the crust on Sunday, baked the cakes on Monday, and then decorated the big one tonight while watching The Biggest Loser. So while the announcer was talking about how these folks lost 600 pounds this season, I was melting chocolate with heavy cream and drizzling it on a ridiculously rich custard cheesecake. But it's good! Really creamy and actually kind of light (tasting, at least). Unfortunately, Jake is in DC until tomorrow and I'm not going to work tomorrow and I have no socializing planned for the next couple of days--so I have cheesecake for 10 in my fridge and no takers at the moment.

I needed a baking project, though. I'm feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff that needs to get done in the next month before we go to NYC for the summer. My job wants me to do some pretty involved projects while I am gone and to take on more work and hours when I get back. I am resisting. But I'm finding myself back in that uncomfortable, if familiar, territory of being overextended and placing the dissertation work on the back burner. I am thisclose to really getting the thing done -- one paper just needs to be written, and the data is rolling in for the second. Not that there isn't lots of work to be done, of course there is (and I was just reminded by my advisor that I never handed in the final revisions on my proposal) but I'm starting to be able to see the end. And am actually close to where I should be based on when I started.

The up side is that all the work on my plate is good stuff and on point with my research. The Housing Authority wants recommendations for how to change some fundamental aspects of the program. But it's a big ask and I feel like I'd be starting from scratch, with little support. So first things first, and this summer needs to be all about the dissertation and the wedding. And I need to figure out how to turn that into a short mantra so that I can repeat it to myself on the treadmill or in yoga or whenever I start to entertain ideas of taking on more projects.

Recipe below:
The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil "casserole" shaped pans from the grocery store. They're 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.

Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Broken phone!

I forgot to mention: my phone, which has been on it's last legs for about three or four months now, has also taken a turn for the worse ... I can receive calls but the screen is now blank, so I can't read or send text messages, see saved phone numbers, or tell when I have missed a call. I do know when I receive a text message, though, I just can't tell who it's from or what they want to be telling me. Functioning phone this week, hopefully. So the home phone and email are a better bet that the cell for now.

Poor Rocky!

Poor Rocky is having pretty nasty eye problems this week and weekend -- maybe an ulcer in his right eye that isn't clearing up yet. I took him to the Vet on Wed., who gave me eye drops and told me to take him in ASAP if it got worse. It did, so I took him to the vet ER last night. This picture is us leaving. They gave him a second set of eye drops, saying the first set could be making it worse (great.) but this morning he looks pretty miserable. He hates the lampshade thing, and is completely confused by it. He basically just sits and whines, or bumps into things with it if he tries to move around. But if I take it off he starts pawing at the bum eye. Walking him was pretty comical, if also sad -- he can't sniff stuff to then pee on it, so he sort of bumps it with the lampshade and then looks at me quizzically. I finally took it off so he could take care of business.

So about $400 down so far, and no closer to his eye looking better or knowing what's up with it. And no luck getting work done this weekend. I'm trying distract myself from the pug for a couple of hours until I can decide if it is getting worse and if I should drag him to the vet again. I'm not sure what else they can do until it gets so bad that they'd have to do something involving incisions (poor pug!). Jake's cousin is coming over for a bit, and I have some articles to read to revise one of my dissertation committee member's papers. And I have something I'm supposed to bake for the Daring Bakers monthly challenge thing ... so plenty to do between bouts of staring into Rocky's yucky right eye.