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Posts tagged ‘Lettie’

Interlude and Deliciousness

Once again I’m struggling with bloggy guilt. It’s been too long, but I’m busy and tired and did I mention that I’m tired? Oh, and also, tired. It’s our crazy season at work, but every year it seems to surprise me anyway. And life has been interfering with pretty much everything lately, and we’ll talk about that, but not tonight because I’m not ready yet.  And of course it’s the holiday season so there are three times as many things happening and all at the same time, and there’s shopping to be done and gifts to make and Halloween decorations to put away. (What? I said I was busy.) And tired. The Tide and Drano and soda and toilet paper (read: all the nonperishable items) I bought recently stayed in the trunk of the car for about two weeks because unloading them seemed to be too much effort. (Thank you, Klondike, for unloading all my crap last weekend.)

Aside regarding the Halloween decorations: I put them away, in the attic, all by myself, like a normal human. This is pretty much the first time I’ve gone into the attic for more than a thirty-second dash since the first bat episode almost four years ago. Yay me!

Every year we shut down the “office” (air quotes now since we work from home and the office is virtual) between Christmas and New Year and given the way the holidays fall this year, I’m trying to figure out how many bonus days I can tag on. Two weeks sounds pretty awesome, not gonna lie. 🙂 I’m counting down. Wendy Staycation 2013 is going to be a blissful slugfest!

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Updated….I totally neglected to include the part where I’m not sounding lame! I had tap class tonight – woo hoo! I was TIRED (perhaps I’ve mentioned this) and it’s cold out and I really wasn’t feeling like going to class. But every week, even when I feel less than motivated, I leave class feeling happy and lively and in a supremely good mood. I love spending time with my friend Jon, and it’s great to have a standing weekly time to catch up with him. And the class is FUN. It’s challenging and Miss Donna is really pushing us now to learn more and do more and there still is not going to be a recital so stop asking. 😉  I love it, even when I feel clumsy and like I’m never going to get the hang of something. So YAY, it definitely helped me shake off my slump today.

Ok, now, back to where we were before I remembered that I forgot. 😀

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And because I sound of like a downer, let’s move on to something better, like DESSERT! A few of my Facebook friends asked for the recipe for the pear, cranberry & gingersnap crumble I made for Thanksgiving. It’s SOOOOOOOO delicious, and super-duper easy to make, I promise. And it’s fruit, so come on, it’s like health food. The recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen, but I’ll share it here too, because I hate blogs that just tell you to click through to other things.

Crumble
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons packed dark or light brown sugar (I like dark)
1 cup gingersnap crumbs (About 16-18 store-bought cookies, smashed to bits. You could use a food processor to make really nice, even crumbs, but then you would have to wash it, which is why I never use my food processor for anything. I put them in a large Ziploc bag and pound the hell out of them with a rolling pin.)
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon table salt
Pinch of white pepper, especially if your gingersnaps aren’t particularly snappish
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Filling
4-5 large ripe pears (about 2 pounds) (The original recipe suggests Anjou, but I’ve used whatever nice pears I’ve been able to find in the store) peeled, halved, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick (Peeling the pears is the only part of this that sucks – they’re slippery. Enlist someone else to help, then delegate pear peeling while you do all the “hard” work – thank you, Klondike.) (There are a lot of parentheses in this step!)
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Stir together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, gingersnap crumbs, ginger and salt. Stir in the melted butter until large crumbs form.

In a 1 1/2 to 2 quart baking dish, mix the pears, cranberries, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar and cornstarch together then toss it with the fruit mixture in the pan. Sure, you could do this in a bowl but then you’d also have to wash that bowl and hooray for fewer dishes. (Thank you Smitten Kitchen.)  (I think I’ve also made this in a 9×13 baking dish before, too. There is plenty of crumble to cover a larger surface area, not to worry.)

Sprinkle the gingersnap crumble over the fruit. Set the crumble on a foil-lined baking sheet (in a 2 quart dish, mine didn’t come close to bubbling over but I see no reason to risk it) and bake it for about 45 minutes, until the crumble is a shade darker and you see juices bubbling through the crumbs. See how long you can wait before digging in.

Did I mention that it’s delicious? Because it IS! And it’s so pretty! Look! Pretty!

pears & cranberries, pre-crumble

Pre-crumble topping

Just out of the oven - yum!

Just out of the oven – yum!

Ooh, and I should mention that the Lovely Lettie is the one who put me onto this recipe in the first place, a few years ago when I was doing my annual plea for new dessert recipes for the holidays. 🙂

For Lettie, my love

I have a handful of people who I claim to have stalked and forced into friendship. This might generally be a slight distortion of the facts, but I really don’t think it is when it comes to my friend Lettie, who does not get a fake blog name, because how awesome is her name and what could I possibly come up with that is half as delightful? (YAY, run-on sentences!)

Lettie and I have been working closely together on a project for a number of years (story for a different day), but in the beginning we were simply Facebook acquaintances. Until I emailed her and said, “I think we should have lunch.” She probably thought I was cuckoo, seeing as we didn’t actually know each other, but even from afar I could tell she was witty, AND she’s a librarian – swoon!

Lunch was a wee bit clumsy, seeing as we’re both kind of shy. But eventually we made it through the awkward phase into true sisterhood. We were both divorced, and although she was a single mom and I have no kids, there was lots of common ground, including the agony of dating, the loneliness of not dating, a love for community, dogs, volunteerism, charming older homes, wordplay, and general mischief.  Even though we run in different circles and have very disparate lives, she occupies a special corner in my heart.

So I was delighted when lo and behold…she met someone. And holy cats, she was on cloud nine. You could tell from the word “go” that this wasn’t just some guy; it was serious. Tony. You could almost hear the little hearts floating in the air around his name when she talked about him. I was so freakin’ happy for her.

Since my divorce I’ve maybe been a tad bit cynical about love and romance and relationships. But these two crazy kids seem like they were made for each other. Ok, so I barely know him, but I know ABOUT him, and I love him because he loves her, and because he totally acted like it was normal that when I saw them in the produce section at Fresh Market, I flung my arms around him even before introducing myself. And check this out….this weekend….they got MARRIED. Woot!

Lettie, Tony, and her (their) daughters, during the wedding. Love.

The wedding was lovely and unique and very Lettie (and, I assume, very Tony). It was a picnic at Fox Island, and they asked us to bring food and share recipes and good god, their friends can cook. Um, person who made that rice (was it rice?) & black bean & feta salad, if you’re reading this, can I have the recipe please? I brought my mom’s famous oatmeal cake. It’s fucking awesome. And while I already shared the recipe with Lettie & Tony, I’m going to share it with you also, in honor of them. I have no idea where my mom got this recipe. As far as I’m concerned, it originated with her. I know some people keep their kick ass recipes secret, but the world needs oatmeal cake, and I can’t possibly make it for all y’all.  Eat it in good health.

Oatmeal Cake
This is a delicious, moist, dense cake, maybe somewhat similar in nature to a carrot cake. (I don’t actually like carrot cake, so I don’t really know. But I feel like I’ve heard that comparison before.) Also, good news, it’s made with OATMEAL (hence, the name) so you can totally justify eating it for breakfast. It’s DELICIOUS and a crowd pleaser, so don’t be put off if you’re one of those people who thinks oatmeal cake sounds weird. I promise you’ll like it, and if you don’t, may I please have your piece? And it’s totally easy. I promise that, too.

Boil 1.5 cups of water, pour it over 1 cup of quick oats, and let it stand for 20 minutes. While it’s standing quietly off to the side, you can get everything else ready. Ooh, and maybe you should preheat the oven, too: 350 degrees.

Combine and add to the oats mixture ½ cup margarine or butter (softened), 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 cup white sugar, and 2 eggs. Add 1-1/3 cups flour, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. That’s it! Ta da! I told you it was easy!

Pour the batter into a greased & floured 9” x 13” pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. (Note: if you use a glass pan, bake at 325.)
Let the cake cool in the pan for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to finish cooling on wire rack. Side note, mine broke when it came out of the pan – grr. So maybe let it cool a little longer in the pan than I said above. Fortunately, the frosting functions like glue.  

When cake has cooled thoroughly, frost the crap out of it with the following. People will fight for the corner pieces.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Let one stick of margarine or butter and one 8-ounce package of cream cheese soften. (Do NOT use reduced fat or fat free cream cheese wannabes, as they won’t work – the frosting will slide off the cake. I have tried.)

Cream together the softened butter & cream cheese. Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and approximately 1 box of powdered sugar, until the frosting is the right consistency. How do you know what is the right consistency? I mean, you’ve never made it. Right. Ok, thick, but still spreadable. Jesus, that sounds dirty. I’ll work on this section. How about….when the frosting tastes delicious and doesn’t slide off the spatula, it’s ready.

Gently cover the cooled cake with a liberal layer of the good stuff. If you’re so inclined, make pretty swirls on the top.

You will likely have a fair amount of extra frosting. I recommend saving it to eat later on graham crackers. Or a spoon.

I store it in the fridge because of the cream cheese. That is a partial-truth. I store it in the fridge because my mom stores it in the fridge. Presumably because of the cream cheese. It also freezes well. If you somehow have some leftover.

And now, please raise your forks to my friends.  Lettie & Tony, I wish you much love and happiness, with heaps and heaps of laughter. I love you guys!

Ready to eat!

p.s. They ate the entire cake at the reception. Success!