Groggy In The Morning

Nothing I say before coffee can be trusted.

Category: family

Gluttony Is My Favorite Sin

Thanksgiving 5K

We’re ready to run a Turkey Trot 5k in preparation for the gluttony to come.

Ahhh, Thanksgiving. The time of year when family comes from near and far, we all pause and reflect on how great our lives are, and …. oh who am I kidding? I love the food. I love the food so much that this year I ran a 5k the morning of Thanksgiving in order to allow myself to eat even more food.

Don’t get me wrong, the food doesn’t come without the family. If you plopped a traditional Thanksgiving plate in front of me, but didn’t offer me time with my aunts, uncles, or cousins that I only see a couple of times a year, I’d feel robbed. I always eat corn pudding when I visit my aunts and uncles. The two activities are intrinsically tied. (Side note: Corn pudding is actually a lot more delicious than that wikipedia article makes it look. I swear.)

To me, Thanksgiving means two things: a lazy day on the couch while my father cooks a variety of fantastic foods in the kitchen (if he’d let me help I would, but you enter the kitchen at your own risk in my parents’ house), and then later on reconnecting with extended family surrounded by more fantastic foods and copious amounts of wine. You’ll notice fantastic foods is a trend.

Of all the fantastic foods I shovel into my mouth this time of year, potatoes are my favorite. Mashed, fried, baked, raw. (Okay, not raw.) Mhmmmm potatoes. Because my love for potatoes is well documented in my family, my father takes great pleasure is crafting the most delicious mashed potatoes he can and pairing it with homemade gravy. Not having seconds is probably the biggest sin I could commit. In fact, in my family gluttony is not considered a sin and is instead highly encouraged. I’ve mentioned before the weird pleasure my father gets out of feeding people and how he’s passed it on to me. The more helpings you have, the more loved you are. Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving unless the day is ended with you on the couch completely immobilized by food.

To perhaps sound less like a selfish, food-hoarding heathen, I have carefully crafted a list of the things I am most thankful for this year – just as long as everyone really knows that my priorities may not always be in this precise order.

Things I Am Thankful For (Other Than Potatoes)

  1. Family
    All the kooky, sarcastic, frustrating, loud, insane, and loveable members of my family. My family will simultaneously ask me in a rather judging tone if I plan on brushing my hair at all today (answer: no) and also fetch me another blanket for the couch because I just don’t look cozy enough. Gotta love them.
  2. Old Friends
    The kind that you can ignore for days on end – or even weeks or months – and not have any trouble reconnecting. They know you, they get you, they won’t ever mention your unbrushed hair, and they love you unconditionally. Thanks to each of you – you know who you are!
  3. New Friends
    All shiny and new and exciting, these people are the ones you’re still figuring out, but the learning curve is fun. You still brush your hair before you hang out, but they sure can make you laugh. Not to mention, their taste in music is excellent.
  4. Miscellaneous Happy Thoughts
    This one is pretty vague, I’ll admit. But it was either make this list waaaaay too long, or sum it up right here. There are a lot of little things in my life that make me smile, including:

    • Dogs.
    • *whispers* potatoes
    • My garden.
    • Inside jokes.
    • A job well done.
    • Coffee in the morning.
    • A good book.
    • Sleeping.
    • Feeding people.
    • Happy hours.
    • Chocolate, the good kind.
    • Evenings in.
    • Evenings out.
    • Floppy dog ears. (Did I already mention dogs?)
    • Well thought-out plans.
    • A complete lack of plans.
    • A clean house.
    • Finished projects.
    • Finished successful projects.
    • Laughter for no reason at all.
    • The luxury of unabashed goofiness.

… Basically there are a lot of happy thoughts out there. If this were a Disney movie, I wouldn’t even need pixie dust.

 

Hope your Thanksgiving involved tons of food and more than a few laughs! What are you thankful for?

A Few Wrong Ways to Bake a Cheesecake

I was raised by a man who loves to cook — but most of all he loves to feed people. There’s a difference, trust me. If I didn’t take seconds (or even thirds) at every meal, he was heart-broken. “I made this just for you, Pooka Jo!” he’d say, with this pathetically dejected look on his face. Of course, I’d give in and get a second (okayfine, THIRD) bowl of Cheeseburger Chowder. I blame him for my inability to portion control to this day. And of course, after the first bite (and sometimes even before), he’d eagerly ask, “Do you like it?!” The answer, if you’re wondering, is always yes.

And before you ask, yes my father calls me Pooka Jo. That’s another story!

Almost Famous Pumpkin Cheesecake

The last slice. Mhmm, mhmmm good.

Anyway, it appears that my father’s need for for feeding friends, family and even neighbors has been passed down to me in full force. I find myself baking piles of cookies and cupcakes and taking them into work, gleefully passing them out to my appreciative and obviously under-fed coworkers, and then basking in the joy that is a happily fed human. Basically, I’m a people pleaser. And I like to make people happy with food! To me, hosting dinner parties is more fun than attending. Plus after you feed people, they tend to do the dishes! This behavior is most likely hardwired into my genetic code. Which is why this weekend I found myself making not one, but TWO of the most delicious pumpkin cheesecakes you’ve ever had. I assume.

Side Note: This is not a baking or cooking blog. I do bake and cook all the time, and I will be talking about it occasionally. But I don’t my consider myself anywhere up to the caliber of a food blogger. For one, my presentation is always lacking. Food bloggers can make the simplest creation look elegant. I settle for delicious. Secondly, I don’t often make up my own recipes. Any recipes I mention here will be properly sourced so the real genius gets the credit.

Last week was one of my favorite coworker’s birthday. We’ll call him Bert, because he’d find that funny. Of all the desserts I rambled off to Bert at high speed to choose from, he picked a pumpkin cheesecake. Because, one: Who doesn’t love cheesecake? — and two: this time of year if you’re not putting pumpkin in EVERYTHING you make, you’re wrong.

I decided to make the Almost Famous Pumpkin Cheesecake. If I were to go ahead and toot my own horn, I’d say this cheesecake is now famous. Alright I’ll toot my horn: people loved it. In fact, one coworker even stomped her foot and yelled, “This is ridiculous good!” from across the office. I’m so proud of this compliment, I may learn to cross stitch just so I can put it on a pillow. I made the cheesecake a second time two days later for my best friends simply because I had been bragging about its success so much, they finally told me to shut up and make it again already. I happily obliged.

However, the glory of this cheesecake did not come without a few humorous setbacks. Here are the lessons I have learned in my little cheesecake adventure:

    Rock-hard Graham Cracker Crust

    That is a solid quarter inch of “sugar crust” right there, ladies and gentleman. Even the strongest knife can not slice it.

  1. Don’t forget to buy sour cream. This one is minor, as long as you have a little grocery store right in your neighborhood. But if you don’t, then it’s going to be a huge pain in the ass to turn off the oven, turn off the stove, set down the hand mixer, pause Arrow on Netflix, and run to the store. However, this one is nothing compared to the next tip …
  2. Don’t forget to add the 6 eggs. Say for instance, you notice the recipe calls for “room temperature eggs” but you forgot to take the eggs out of the fridge and let them room-ify. By all means, take the eggs out, beat them a little in a bowl and then set them aside while you go about other business. But PLEASE, do not forget to add the eggs before you pour the cream cheese-y batter into your pre-baked crust. If you do forget them, you’ll have to scrape as much of that incredibly gooey batter as you can out of the crust and back into a bowl so you can add those damn eggs.
  3. Don’t misread the recipe and add quadruple the necessary sugar for the graham cracker crust. Sounds like a delicious mistake, right? That’s what I thought when I discovered I only needed ¼ cup of sugar for the crust, instead of the 2 cups I added. However, a crust that is mostly sugar will, in fact, crystallize and harden so that it is inedible. I might have had to forcefully scrape it into the trash can using a sharp knife – a dangerous feat when you’re giggling uncontrollably with your best friend over your kitchen mistakes.
  4. DO somehow magically make a cheesecake with a crack similar to a Doctor Who plot. Not sure how I did that. I know cracks in a cheesecake are not supposed to be acceptable and the sign of a poorly-made cake, but I’m nowhere near that skilled and just accept cheesecake with cracks. However this time, I didn’t just accept the crack in my cheesecake. I was freaking proud! See that crack? That is definitely a crack in space and time. I call this adventure a success!
A Crack In Time ... In My Cheesecake!

Those two cracks are basically the same. Someone call for The Doctor!

What are your best (or worst) kitchen blunders?