Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Phoning it in...

School's out, summer's begun and - for the first time - childcare is a necessity, not a luxury. Momma's got to work. Happily, with some juggling, Momma's also been able to swing some time working at home to accommodate this first week of half-day camp that someone HAD to attend. (Momma might also be a sucker, that that's another post.)

So I'm finding myself phoning into conference calls, looking at the Crackberry more than usual, and bending over backwards to be present in my professional life. The thing is, the housewifery doesn't take the summer off either. Oh no! Simultaneous to working from home, there are swim lessons and housework and the demands of a whiny joy of spending time with a child free from school. And we're somehow on the hook for hosting summertime parties too.

My original thought with this blog was to mull how home-work and paid-work (private versus public sphere if you will) overlap in my own life, and to make sense of it for myself. Of course, what I've concluded so far is that they collide more than overlap. If anything, there's a constant (mental) battle between the two and all I can do is find some joy in whichever "work" occupies my present. Living in the moment, if you will, but living in the moment with about 5 brain cells devoted to the next moment.

It's all very tiring and, despite having some pride in my home and my family, and a genuine like (if not love) of cooking, June has been mostly about phoning it in as a housewife too. I confess, I just about gave up for a few weeks. Little-to-no cooking, minimal cleaning, and working just enough to ensure that each family member had enough clean clothes to make it to school or work. Thus passed most of June.

And, we also threw a small party where our guests did not seem to notice that it was a truly lazy summer gathering. More later on how to host a lazy summer dinner party...

Random tip: removing eggshells from broken eggs

While I would love to do that one-handed egg-cracking trick, my cooking style is a touch messier. And my sometime assistant, age 6, is not much neater about it. Thus we eagerly tried this trick, first seen by us on a Jamie Oliver (sigh...) show.

To remove a broken piece of eggshell from your cracked eggs, fish it out with another piece of eggshell. They will find each other and it's so much easier than going in there with slippery fingers.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Blueberries and Butter

Blueberry season! With our local grocer selling blueberries as a buy one pint/ get 2 pints free, and a husband with a yearning for pie, I sense another weekend baking project. It IS Father's Day tomorrow and a girl's gotta practice her pie crust.

Meanwhile, I started Saturday by baking 2 sourdough loaves and making some butter. Will have to write a bit more on the latter, as it evoked some food memories and prompted quite the inspirational riff about what to do with almost a pound of the stuff.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Knowing which side one’s bread is buttered on

About a year or so ago, I was lucky enough to attend a "carb heavy" Girls' Night Out that included a lesson in bread making. Wine, cheese, fresh bread, girlfriends... it was great. And I came home with my still-unnamed new pet, sourdough starter. And I baked a couple loaves, as seen here. (Yes, I really, really did it -- totally from scratch!)

Then the summer heat kicked in, and the idea of turning on an oven sounded horrific. Life went on. Yet, periodically, I would stumble across my yeasty, gassy little friend in the fridge and give it a feed. My daughter has now asked for homemade bread, our recent record-setting heatwave seems to have ended, and I think this is the weekend.

Perhaps I'll go all out and make Alex Guarnaschelli's homemade butter to spread on top.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Strawberry Cake via Smitten Kitchen

Yum...I tried Smitten Kitchen's Strawberry Summer Cake a couple weeks ago and it was all that Deb promised. And more.

Once I sliced it up and added a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream, I was transported back to childhood. The flavors caught me off-guard and almost brought me to tears, reminding me of the Erdbeertorte mit Sahne that played such a huge role in childhood summer visits to Oma. The only thing different was the presentation.

traditional Erdbeertorte mit Sahne

Make this NOW before berry season is gone!

Random tip: a clean cheese grater

To avoid a mess, spray your cheese greater with some cooking spray (like Pam) before you start grating. When you're done, rinse and pop in the dishwasher. Comes clean every time.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

More food contestants!

Not that more than maybe 3 people read this, but...

In addition to voting for Mary Beth Albright on the Next Food Network Star since she is, after all, a fellow Throat*, my actual friend Jennifer Beckman is in the Pillsbury Bake-Off.

You can vote for Jen's Toasted Coconut-Brownie Bonbons too. Just click "vote."

*I suggest being really careful about Googling "throat." This one is specific to Johns Hopkins!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Food Porn

I have a small addiction. To cooking shows. Around here, when little pitchers are out of earshot, we call it food porn, thinking ourselves so very clever. Turns out that those guys from South Park caught on back in 2010 with their Crème Fraiche episode.

It's hilarious, and you'll never deglaze the same way again.

Now we're on to Next Food Network Star for the summer. Imagine my surprise to find someone from college on my screen. I remember Mary Beth as quiet with a wickedly funny sense of humor. It'll be interesting to see how she does.