Saturday, August 28, 2010

Birthday warning!!! (One Month Away)

So, my birthday is one month away - exactly... Sept 28!!! Yea! And you don't have to get me a present, but if you do I won't be angry.

I'm turning 45.

45 is so many things to me.

It was the speed limit for the stretch of road I lived on when I grew up.

It was the smaller size of a record.. that was the one you bought when you only knew the one song and couldn't buy the whole album...

It sounds like middle age to me... ...but I won't dwell on that.

I like the idea of the record. You see the 45 was the single that they released when they knew they'd have a hit (or hoped). And for every 45 that had a hit on side A there was always another song on Side B.

And so here I am standing and looking at 45 wondering whether I've just lived through Side A or Side B and whether the years that have passed have been the Hit or the extra song that didn't get much airplay.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Dessert so sweet, defeat so bitter or (get used to disappointment Cupcake)

As baking is one of my passions I decided to enter the company bake-off with what I knew would be a winner - my lemon bars. They are not too complicated and people just love them... however, as I discussed the competition with co-workers and competitors I began to get concerned that my winning lemon bars would be just too simple.

-Do you wanna win, Wolfe asked?

(as if he knew there was any point in asking a child whether or not he wanted a Christmas present)

-If you wanna win, make the toffee cheesecake.

-I guess I could.

-Sylvia has been talking about it for years. (Sylvia is Wolfe's mother)

-I was thinking lemon bars, but...

-Do you wanna win?

So I started thinking cheesecake. In Wolfe's defense the toffee cheesecake is a show stopper. It's a recipe I got off of (I only get recipes from there because they are rated. With over 100 cookbooks in my shelves, the only things I bake are from Epicurious because people will say if the recipe is good or bad or doesn't work or is too sweet ... no holds barred - you get the truth... an author selling cookbooks generally won't say, "This one doesn't usually work" or "looked pretty, but tasted like crap")... where was I?

Oh, the toffee cheesecake, from Epicurious... It's a cheesecake with a gingersnap crust, filling, rich with butter and brown sugar, coated in a layer of caramel and toffee. It is outstanding.

It was a three day process (if you don't count the days I spent buying cream cheese - you see I buy cream cheese when it's on sale because it's so expensive and it's a must for cheesecake. I keep a stock of it in the fridge just in case)... the first day I made the toffee and caramel sauce. The second day I made the cheesecake itself so it could age overnight in the fridge. And this morning I assembled it... Gorgeous! ***sigh*** A masterpiece!!! It was a doubled recipe in the largest springform pan known to man.

The crowds oooed and ahhed as I walked past them-caramel running over the sides of the cake carrying chunks of toffee like pieces of glacier. People begged for samples as I cut it into bite sized pieces for the judges. After the judges' portion was set aside the rest of the cake was put out for general consumption at the company picnic.

It was the only cake to be demolished and people came back to pick at the crust and the globs of caramel and cream cheese.

When the flies had settled on what was left over by all the other contestants, my plate was completely clean. I knew it would be...

...and as I sat at my desk, knowing full well that I would not even place, I was still very surprised that I didn't.

Nope, I didn't even place. The top two prizes went to box mixes with adders - I should have known. I have copies of all the cake mix doctor cookbooks and they are pretty good... but if I were judging a bake-off and saw a list of ingredients would I pick the cake that had "1 chocolate cake mix" right at the top of the recipe?

I admit it, I'm a snob. I am a dessert snob. Is that a crime?

At the end of the day did the judges go with what tasted best? Who knows. You will think that they did. But I tried all the competition and have to say that the desserts I thought were best were others that did not place - a carrot cake nearly as good as the one I make, a pecan pie cookie bar that was delightful, a banana cake that was light and scrumptious and Indian carrot dessert that was better than what I had previously tasted in my favorite restaurant...

maybe my taste buds are just so superior to the average shmo' who'd volunteer to be an office dessert contest judge (we all know the type), that I completely missed the boat.

-a fellow contestant smiled at me and said, we just need to try harder next year.

I sent a "Didn't win... or place" text to Cricket who felt bad and sent a simple frowney face back as support.

As I walked in the door Cricket greeted me with a drink,

-I'm sorry you didn't win. Are you disappointed?

-I am disappointed. But more than that I feel like I wasted all that cream cheese for nothing.

-Yeah, well, that cream cheese was way past expired. You should have thrown it away a year ago...

Some people know just what to say. ...and suddenly I wasn't even disappointed that I hadn't had a chance to taste my own entry.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Practically twins or (or that gentle breeze you feel is not a good sign)

I've been working... as in, I found a job, so you will have to excuse the fact that I've not blogged in possibly a year...

With a new job come so many fun things to tell about the new and the old... some fun people...

So, I was having lunch with a new coworker-Kadie, she choked (mildly) on something she was eating and (as is the occasion so often for me) was concerned that she now had something in her nose. She sniffled and wiped and excused herself, but continued until I finally confirmed for her that there was nothing in her nose. I went on to relate a story of how Agnes and I had a pact when swimming (the nose is notorious for running when you're at the shore). If one of us had a "bat in the cave" when swimming, the other one would simply say, "you do". We never had to ask if we had something in our nose - we knew that the other had our back (so to speak).

Kadie laughed, "what a great idea..."

I went on to fill her in on all the other "secret messages"... one fave was the agreement with Charlie and Peter (guys I had worked with); if one or the other of had our fly down, the noticing party would simply say, "Look up here." It was our cue to check our fly, while anyone outside the circle would simply "look up"... it worked like a charm.

She laughed at this one, "Ingenious! Now, where did you work with these guys?"

-Well, years ago I worked in a church. I was a pastor.



"That's so cool! I'm an amateur burlesque dancer on the side!"

Now, this remark took me by surprise for a great many reasons. I have to admit that the leap from pastor to "stripper" for me was a big one - and yet, oddly enough, made absolute sense to her.

-You are?

"I am! Tho I admit, I'm not very good at it."

-Buttons can be tricky...

"Ha, no, it's more about the singing and dancing than it is about taking off your clothes."

(this was news to me)

-So you sing?

"um, not well..."

-But you dance.

"No, not really."

I was pretty much out of awkward questions that I was willing to voice. So instead I decided to continue with what seemed to be the whole train of thought...

-yeah, I was a pastor for about 5 years.

"How did you ever get into that?"

So, it looked like she was going to ask the questions instead...

It was quite the conversation; I explained that I had preached on occasion and enjoyed public speaking... I told her about my one Christmas eve sermon.

Charlie had decided he'd spend Christmas eve sitting with his wife and kids in the pew instead of running the service and... that I could preach, do whatever I wanted. So, I pondered it for a while and decided that I'd simply tell the Christmas story in my own way - I like to write poetry - tell stories in rhyme and metre - so, I set the Christmas story to rhyme and I was very pleased with it. I decided that instead of standing behind the pulpit I'd memorize the piece and deliver it walking about the platform - I find that much more engaging. It worked for me, but I couldn't help getting the sense that it just wasn't working for the crowd. I made the most of it.

After I finished there came the time for the candle-lighting part of the service; the lights would dim and each person at the service would light their candle from the person next to them as the church slowly filled with light...lovely. The pastors would carry lit candles and start the lighting at the end of each row. Charlie and Peter came to the front of the church to get their candles. As Charlie took his candle and walked to light it from the glowing candle near the piano he turned to me and said,

"Look up here..."


My fly had been down the entire time I had preached. ...and no, I couldn't stand modestly behind the pulpit reading while nicely ventilated down below...

My parents were in the crowd that night - perhaps the only time they'd ever heard me preach; mom's comment on the evening was,

"The next time you're going to prance around a stage in your underwear you might want to pick a color other than green."

...and as it turns out, I've not pranced around a stage in green underwear since...

....i suppose that every line of work has its own kind of exposure....