Archives for the month of: December, 2011

This afternoon, Daphne and a friend went swimming at an indoor pool open over Christmas break. While they were occupied, I went to an area housing authority to fill out an application for a two-bedroom apartment. I know! I’m supposed to live in an RV. It’s what we do. But the drastic weather changes we have here have shown me that this trailer, which Daphne and I both love, is just not insulated enough not to be in, say, Florida. Or somewhere mild and dry in New Mexico. Don’t lose heart, though, it IS the projects, so “trailer trash” still applies.

After I’d gone through the forty-five minute application process, filling out grueling information about myself and my creditworthiness and how much public assistance I receive (for the record: none), I went out to my car and realized I’d sort of painted myself into a corner. The reverse gear of my car is slipping, and it was out at the moment. I was in a parking space that abutted grass and a building in front.

Fortunately, there was a slight decline on which I was parked. I put the car in reverse and it started going, but then the lot evened out and then started tilting in the other direction. I cut the wheel sharply and pulled even further forward, then put the car into reverse again. This time, it went a little further, but still not far enough to clear the vehicle to my left. I managed to do this several times until I’d moved over one parking space, so I was in a space with one space on either side and a vehicle on either side of THOSE spaces. I had to be careful. Behind me, about three car-lengths back, was a big concrete wall.

Eventually, I got out of the car to push it and help with the momentum. I got it a way out, but it stopped… and started coming back forward. As it did, the wheel straightened, and the car was pointed straight at the beautiful Lincoln Towncar on my driver’s side. I ran as fast as I could to get into the car and hit the brakes. Then I pulled forward, cutting the wheel even more sharply, and pulled forward as far as I could without getting into the grass.

This time, I figured I’d stay in the car and try to keep the momentum by using my left foot outside while still being able to steer and to put on the brakes. I didn’t make it as far that time, but I tried. As I did so, my mule shoe fell off, but I didn’t want to break inertia, so I kept going… and ran over my shoe in reverse. When the car evened out and I had to pull forward again, I ran over it a second time.

As I retrieved my shoe, it hit me that I had this giant 7-pound propane tank 3-point seat-belted into the front seat. So there I was, in the projects, trying to push my car, running over my shoe, and transporting propane in my front seat. Yup, this was some good, trashy stuff.

I did the back-and-forth about three more times before I finally cleared the parking space and evened it out enough to run around and get into the driver’s seat without the car moving so far forward that I was unable to maneuver around the Towncar. As I drove off, I was shaking…

I was thinking a lot about how much like my college years this time of my life feels. Only now I have a kid. And I’m nearly 40. This is not what I expected my life to look like at this age. Trying to brush the melancholy from my brain, I decided to visit Buffy’s Cupcakes on Main┬áto do a review for you guys, and to pick up cupcakes for Daphne and her friend, and a friend of mine.

Newly cheered, I drove to downtown Denison. Promptly forgetting everything that had transpired literally seven minutes earlier, I pulled into a downward-sloping parking space on the busy Main Street. I closed my eyes, pushed away the dispair again, and went into the store.

They had had a good day, and most of the cupcakes were gone. I selected two chocolate, a red velvet, and a gingerbread (which was my favorite). As the very nice young lady processed my payment, I could feel the tears welling up, and I avoided eye contact.

The cupcakes were gorgeous. I was going to at least get a picture of them to show you, but when I got into the car, the box toppled and I ended up with a box of cupcake stew, basically. I gave the girls their cupcakes, and I ate the two remaining (gingerbread and red velvet, both de-capped) with a fork. They were delicious. The gingerbread was perfect, and the cream cheese frosting was mild and smooth.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

After I tossed the box upside-down into the floorboard, I got out and tried to push the car, which had nested nicely with the front bumper sitting on the high curbed sidewalk. I got a little scrape, but couldn’t move the car very substantially. This was probably a good thing, since I couldn’t actually see around the car beside me to judge what traffic was doing.

I sat in the car and called a couple of people, but no one was immediately available. I should mention that, by this point, I had lost the ability to control my emotions and was pretty weepy. But I sat there for a moment, then went back inside Buffy’s. I asked them if they knew of any men who worked in the area, and I told them my predicament. They both came out, one trying to call neighboring businesses. She tried to push the car while the other stood in the street watching for traffic, and I sat in the car to navigate. It didn’t work.

The lady who was pushing went to find someone, and I looked into the barber shop next door, as I’d seen a young man standing in the doorway. He and an older gentleman came out and gave it the college try, and I was so grateful… but the two of them together didn’t make it as far as the woman from Buffy’s had! (She’d told me that she was “freakishly strong.” She must have had a point!)

I texted two other people, and then she showed back up with a strapping guy. They tried, but – the scraping! – that initial un-nesting and getting over the hump… it just wasn’t happening. Another young man came out, and the three of them together managed to shove me into the street.

I told them all “thank you” from the cockpit of my car, but I really wanted to hug them and write them into my non-existent will. Suffice it to say that I did not park like that again today and hope the lesson will stick with me until I can get the car fixed.

And I will go back to buy a lot more Buffy’s, at which time I will write a review (oh, and I will park around the corner where there is not front-in parking).

Tonight, I made a “thing” for small group. My idea was s’mores-ish. Maybe cookies on the top and bottom, and maybe something soft and chocolate-y at room temperature (rather than actual chocolate, which hardens up at room temperature when it’s particularly chilly). Here is what I found in my cabinet and was trying to think about…

And here’s what I did…

Baked the "cookies" then sprinkled marshmallows over that.

Sort of evened out, then stuck it back in the oven.

Puffy from cooking!

Next, sprinkled cookie cereal over the marshmallows and patted them down.

Used up the rest of the Cocoa Puffs-ish cereal, too. I love the crumbs in the bottom of the cereal bag!

Oh, yes, I did. Fudge. From the recipe on back of the cocoa container. I purposefully undercooked it so it wouldn't set up too much.

Poured the fudge over the top of the other stuff...

... and after a while, it settled into the cereal, which means it won't be quite as crispy, crunchy as it was before. This is a good thing.

Is it any good? I don’t know yet! Will have to catch up after small group.

UPDATE: Success. It was yummy and not as messy as it looks, and everyone who tried it liked it. Yea! ­čÖé

This morning, Daphne and I had some errands to run and found ourselves in Frisco with some time to kill at 11:00 AM. Since I had a Groupon for Tootie Pie Company, we hit it for lunch.

Thankfully, the restaurant is not located on the main shopping thoroughfare of Preston (289) and 121. It’s located west of 289, just a bit west of the Dallas North Tollway on Lebanon. It was foggy/misty when we arrived, so the fireplace was a nice welcome, as were the Christmas decorations.

There was only one woman working the front when we got there, and she apologized a couple of times for being so busy, but she was actually quite attentive and helpful.

She asked if we’d been to Tootie Pie Company before, and when she saw my Groupon, she walked us through our options. My offer was for two sandwiches, two drinks, and two slices of pie. I’d paid $15 for it and the stated value was $34.95. We actually would have spent more than that.

The deal wasn’t just for a sandwich and a drink; it was for a meal, which includes either a salad or chips. Since I knew we couldn’t eat everything, I asked for chips, as did Daphne. I wanted to bring mine home and enjoy the sandwich while it was warm.

The bakery case was tempting, so it took us a few moments to actually look at the menu.

Eventually, Daphne decided on a grilled turkey and cheese on white with Baked Doritos, hot chocolate, and heavenly chocolate pie. I got a portabello and spinach panini, Baked Lays, Diet Pepsi, and the blueberry pie.

First, we selected our chips from a display and I got my 20-ounce bottle of soda out of the refrigerator. In hindsight, I probably should have tried some of their fresh and differently-flavored teas; the woman at the counter told us that we could choose from any of the drinks available. I’m guessing that people don’t often select the bottled sodas, because mine was not fresh-tasting. It was the only negative the whole meal.

Daphne loved that the hot chocolate had freshly-foamed steamed milk in it.

Later, a gentleman from the kitchen brought us our sandwiches. Oh my.

Daphne's grilled turkey and cheese sandwich.

My grilled portabello spinach sandwich, along with the meal accouterments.

My panini was amazing. The bread was crisp and toasty, then the inside of the sandwich was warm and juicy. The spinach and tomato were crisp and cool. It was some seriously delicious mouth-play.

Whooo hoo! Look at that beauty!

On this sandwich, I had the choice of regular mayonnaise, chipotle mayo, or pesto mayo. I got the pesto. It was the right choice!

I had only partially committed to the blueberry pie, and here’s something awesome about the Tootie Pie Company Gourmet Cafe: they ┬áhave samples! I was given a buttermilk pie sample, and she brought Daphne a chocolate pie sample, too. She also freshened up Daphne’s whipped cream in her hot chocolate, once she’d drunk some of it down.

*snicker* BM pie.

The buttermilk pie WAS good, but since it was so cold and dreary, a warm fruit pie sounded better to me than the custard.

Mug o' pie!

Daphne's heavenly chocolate pie, whipped cream on the side.

Daphne’s pie was rich and creamy. She couldn’t eat all of it! Mine was fresh and beautiful. The crust was that Alton Brown perfection ratio of flaky to tender, and it had some crispy sugar on top. It could have been warmed a bit more thoroughly, because the bottom was still cold. But I just pretended that I’d ordered it a la mode, and everything went swimmingly.

When we were ready to leave, we walked out with two half sandwiches, two bags of chips, half a hot chocolate, most of a stale Diet Pepsi, and about 1/4 of a slice of heavenly chocolate pie. Daphne said it was some of the best food she’s eaten in a long time!

It isn’t on their website’s breakfast visual menu, but McDonald’s Steak, Egg, and Cheese bagel is a thing, because I’ve seen it on their menu for months. I typically don’t eat at McD’s; I go in often for their $1 large sodas. However, this morning, I was famished after a late Saturday night that didn’t include food, so I stopped in on my way to church.

There were six cars in line waiting to order, so I went inside. Things were not much improved there, as an elderly gentleman’s order had been messed up and a situation occurred that could spawn endless, “How many McDonald’s employees does it take to fix a ticket?” jokes, were I s0 inclined to joviality, which I am not.

Suffice it to say that eventually, I was in receipt of my $1 soda and my bagel. I made my way to my car (people stare when you take pictures of your food) to sample said foodstuffs…

I don’t think I’d ever seen grilled onions on anything at McDonald’s. That made me smile. I also like the bag in which they present this. It is opened on two sides (like the pretzel bags from Autie Anne’s) so you can access your food, but also the back and probably drippy side is protected.

When I took the sandwich apart, I was taken somewhat aback by the shape of the “steak.”

Well, that’s an interestingly egg-ovular shaped piece of meat, no? On the other hand, look at those beautiful onions! Also, when I was looking at the symmetrically-folded egg on the other side of the bagel, I realized that this puppy comes with not one but TWO slices of cheese!

Yeah, and you see all of that pepper? It’s crunchy! I don’t typically like that much ground pepper on my food, but this is mild and the crunchiness was fun. Also, the onions were still a bit crisp, so that sort of sweet/caramelized┬áburst of crispiness in the middle of the sandwich was interesting. The bagel was toasted, so it was a little crispy as well as chewy.

The flavor of the “steak” was good. It was also very juicy. The eggs were… well, eggs. Eggs are good. They didn’t work any miracles with them, but they weren’t horrible.

The overall taste and mouth feel of this breakfast sandwich was excellent. The flavors are somewhat unified, unlike the sweet/savory juxtaposition of the McGriddle offerings. I enjoyed having this for breakfast and wasn’t hungry again for hours and hours.

My only push-back was that the onions and pepper were so pungent that the scent of this bagel was in my nose all day. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just made it difficult to transition to other food later.

 

UPDATE: I had another one of these at the beginning of August 2012. Had I eaten this one first, I don’t know that I would have ordered another. It was from the same restaurant, but the way it was put together, a bunch of grease (from the meat? cheese? what?) leaked out the side, soiling the entire wrapper and the carry-out bag. It was more difficult to eat, and though it tasted fine, it was a huge mess and more trouble than it was worth.

Since Daphne’s birthday cake fondant turned out okay, I have been excited to try more decorating. This week, I used my Betty Crocker Bake N Fill pans┬áto make two domes, a large one and a smaller one. I used this dark chocolate cake recipe┬á(can you tell that I love Allrecipes?), but made the boiling water into coffee.┬áSince the bases of the cakes rose unevenly, I cut them off to straighten them out. Daphne and a friend ate the bottom of the smaller cake, and I used the scraps from the other to make cake “snow” balls.

First, I iced the domes with frosting (did my own thing with whipping cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar until it was the consistency and taste I wanted). If you don’t own a good offset spatula, I highly recommend buying at least a small one. The big ones are wonderful for covering large areas, but then once you get down to the end, the detail work is so much easier with a small offset spatula. And with these rounds shapes, the smaller one worked beautifully.

Then I made the fondant I referenced in the post about Daphne’s birthday cake (substituting corn syrup for glucose syrup; that stuff is SO thick and sticky… and expensive. I’ve had the same bottle of glycerine for more than a year).

It’s so smooth! I use a pizza cutter to take the ends off; I don’t have a sharp, non-serrated knife. I should maybe get a fondant kit? Anyhoo… After covering the snowman’s body and head with white fondant, I kneaded green and orange fondant for a scarf. I rolled and cut both colors, then laid them out like this:

After that, I rolled them again to flatten them, and smoothed the edges with the pizza roller.

Aww… he’s wearing a scarf, see? ‘Cause he’s COLD. To make the fringe, I just kneaded scraps of both colors together and notched the edges. I attached it to the other fondant with a damp basting brush. You can see that I also attempted to make a place on the head for some Sixlet facial features. This only barely worked, and I was worried that they’d fall out, so I made white fondant ropes to use as Sixlet boundaries.

You can see that I had added the cake snow balls AND some nifty flowers. After Halloween, Wal-Mart had a bunch of candy kits on sale for $.75. I bought a couple. They had some candy molds, but the real reason I got them was for the candy melts. For the flowers here, I used the green and orange melts and piped them into our flower silicone ice tray. I think that all candy mold trays should be made of silicone. Unmolding was so simple! I attached them to the environment with icing “glue.”

Finally, I melted the chocolate and made it into a hat and “stick” arms. Yes, I know. It looks like dookey. If you’re a fan of Cake Wrecks, then you know that Jen mercilessly tears into poo-looking icing. Well, once you get something chocolaty piping out of a rather large hole, it’s difficult to make it look like anything else!

So, yes, I’m happy with this silly little project. I think he turned out quite cute. I made him for a friend who hasn’t put up Christmas decorations yet; thought it might add a little festivity to the surroundings… at least temporarily. Most of the cake was consumed before my friend went out of town; guess who inherited the rest? And guess what I’m having for breakfast in the morning?