Preschool Bento

Today I am daydreaming that in time I will master making onigiri, shaping eggs into little rabbit heads and cutting cheese in tiny star shapes. 

Then I could send my little munchkin off to school with enticing bento lunch boxes, like these darling Wendy Copley ones:

Wouldn’t you love your lunch too, if someone went through the trouble of making it look like this?

7.4.2008

Dear Craig:

You get no letter today.  Why’s that?  Because I spent all day on these lovelies:

4th of July Cuppies

The fondant tastes like ass, as fondant does.  But the cuppies themselves are delicious.  And more importantly (no?) they’re cute.

Happy 4th of July my love.

Forever and ever,

Lou

Danish Braiding

Daring Bakers

What we have here are the beginnings of a housewife (gasp!) courtesy, in part, to the Daring Bakers.

It must be a nesting instinct, this desire of late to organize, learn to knit, and bake from scratch.   Not to say this desire always comes with impetus mind you, but that’s why I joined the DB’ers in the first place.  The monthly baking challenge feels like a delicious obligation.

This month’s challenge was for Danish Braid and I was happy to oblige: 

Danish Braid

Which isn’t to say things went off without a hitch.  Did I even know what laminated dough was when Ben and Kelly hosted such a thing this month?  Um, no.  I’d never worked with any kind of dough, period.

Which is maybe why my piece of rolled dough looked more like the Blob than an actual rectangle.  Or why my cardamom replacement (cinnamon and nutmeg) played hostile flavor takeover.  Is the braid supposed to be this bready?  I wouldn’t know.  When you fold the butter in and unfold out after the fridge, should the dough stick madly to itself like Ralphie’s tongue to a pole a la A Christmas Story?  Probably not. 

And yet…and yet.  Even though it looked like there was hardly any dough to work with in the first place (having halved the recipe from the get go) and even though it never proofed like it should have and though, I’ll admit, I patched holes in the braid with leftover non-rectangular dough, in fear that my delicious guava and cheese filling would seep out and put me over the edge, this braid was damn good ladies and gentlemen: damn good.  Next time, it may be out of this world.

Danish Braid Inside

 

Maybe what we taste is tied to our hearts after all.  Last month, during the miscarriage, the Opera cake seemed like an overly sweet apology that could never make amends.  This month, working leftover dough resulted in a tiny piece of heaven:

Tiny Croissant

Let’s hope it is prophetic. 🙂

Eat Your Veggies

To eat meat or not to eat meat: that is the question, and I’m not the only one asking.  The issue seems to be all over television (Oprah goes on 21 day cleanse!) and the blogosphere (blog titan Dooce giving the cleanse a go, too).

I admit it’s on our minds as well, and I hope not just because the topic is so much in the air.  At my mother-in-law’s one past Sunday I took one look at Craig’s miserable face as he picked at his piece of chicken (bone in) and just outright blurted: “Maybe it’s time to give up meat.”  And guess what?  He didn’t say no.

Craig’s father is a devoted — and I mean devoted — vegan. Sufice it to say that the man hasn’t just saved a steak from his table: he has saved entire cows.  They live with him now and play games on his farm.  No joke.  And though neither of his sons has started an animal sanctuary of their own yet, it wouldn’t surprise me if kindness toward animals turned out to be genetic.  My brother-in-law takes in strays.  My husband would, aside from me I like to think, choose animals over people any day of the week.  I do not exaggerate.

So why are we still eating meat?  It’s easy to, me thinks.  It’s everywhere.  It’s relatively inexpensive.  And unlike the animals, we’re human.  We’re selfish.

Plus there’s the whole trying to have a baby thing.  Only a few pages of my new reading material talk about the vegetarian mom-to-be: 

Eating Well When You\'re Expecting

I know it can be done, but getting enough protein and iron will take some imagination.  How creative will I be when my head is down a toilet?  

Maybe it’s the kind of thing we could take on one day at a time.  Kick the chicken habit one day.  Red meat the next.  The outright vegan thing?  I’ll admit, I don’t see that happening…I mean, cheese, how will I ever forsake thee?  Hats off to those that do, hats off.

The Cake Is a Lie

I joined the Daring Bakers in May: talk about bad timing. I managed to post on time, today on my personal home blog, even just days after a miscarriage, if only because a part of me hoped baking the opera cake would be like something out of the novel Like Water for Chocolate. You know? The one where Tita’s pouring of tears into a pot of ox-tail soup turns the broth into a miracle elixir that heals her every illness, where cooking is a magic trick or something wonderful like that. So there I was separating eggs, food processing almond meal, and glazing white chocolate while hoping my life would turn into a Latin American magical realism novel, where a tear dropped in the mix makes a cake become a flower.

But this is fiction. In real life, your cake is only flour and sugar and the product is much sweeter than your heart, at least for now. If the challenge was therapeutic it was in its reminding me that life is for the living: that cakes still have to be baked, laundry still has to be folded, papers graded. That the fat lady has yet to sing.