Monday, January 5, 2009

Two fiascoes and a frozen fake-out

Out of fear that I will not be able to maintain the energy to start blogging, I will save updates on the last couple of months for a better time; (that is, when you call me, or when I have had coffee and my fingers are willing to fly over the keys) but I have promised my mother that I would write about the holiday desserts this year, and it is bad form to break promises so soon after the day of new resolutions. So here is my story.

Anyone who does not read my sister's blog in tandem with mine does not necessarily know that she has become quite the gourmet. I'm rather ashamed to admit that she has, on more than one occasion, saved me from flopping into my bed with an empty and growling stomach by offering me a meal of "planet salad" or Thai Mahi at the end of the day, as I am too exhausted to brown and munch my quick-cook pot stickers. So when Thanksgiving loomed on the calendar and she began rehearsing her menu of honey roasted duck, and other out of this world delicacies I found myself torn between the desire to be helpful and the knowledge of my domestic ineptitude. I offered to make dessert. I culled through some recipes and (skipping over Pumpkin Pie in favor of something more exotic) landed on a Pushing Daisies-inspired Pear Gruyere Pie. Then began the problems.

First, the fridge ate my butter. Second, I forgot that a one-serving-sized blender will not be able to manage the ingredients for a whole (five-serving) pie. Third, Sarah does gourmet cooking: not baking. Therefore she doesn't have unbleached white flour, or fine sugar or anything but sea salt. And Fourth, I'm a horrible cook.
When my slightly overly browned, wheat flour crust concoction had finally cooled enough for me to foist it upon my fellow celebrants, I was simply relieved that there was plenty of coffee and cookies homemade by Tacy (who is an excellent baker and cook) to erase the taste of my mess from our mouths. Fiasco number one.
For Christmas, I was inspired by the untasted Guinness in my fridge, and chocolate all around, and the realization that a cake does not require a pie-crust (which I will slowly work up to making again). So Chocolate-Stout cake was the goal. One would hope that after thanksgiving I would be advised that I should furnish my own baking soda, sugar, etc., but I had again forgotten (I had managed to remember the flour this time) so after countless trips back and forth from my apartment to Sarah's kitchen, a close call with chocolate getting too hot too fast, I managed to spatula the batter into the two pans and stick them in the oven. Then I attempted the icing. The problem with time, is that it cannot be hurried, and so when I tried to squeeze the 2 hour prep time for the icing into 20 minutes, I ended up making a chocolate cake with chocolate sauce. At least it was edible this time. Fiasco number two.

Our New Year's celebration widened from the familial three (Sarah, Zeb and me) to eight. My easily-intimidatable nature suggested that I not test the truth of the "third time's a charm" adage. Our dessert was Trader Joe's frozen Tiramisu. It was delicious. If Lisa hadn't been with me when I bought it, I had been less honest, and the world didn't know about fiascoes one and two, no one would have even known that I am not a world class dessert artist. Thank goodness the next holiday is Valentine's because I sure do know how to pick out good chocolate, and can make drinking chocolate like nobody's business. Small steps away from disaster, I suppose.


Melanie said...

Oh dear! Your pear gruyere pie sounded awesome! I totally understand the challenges of trying to squeeze an hour into half (many a time I don't bother to notice the prep time until I'm making the dish... 30 minutes before it's supposed to be done.)
Next time you need to make a dessert, come to my place and we'll see what we can do together. At least I have everything for making a pie crust (although I don't have a full size blender).

Sarah said...

You're too hard on yourself! The filling of the pear pie was delish, and the cake was wonderfully rich but not sickly sweet, you'll notice we all finished huge pieces! I look forward to your next creation!

meg said...

i saw this post and thought, hooray, Val's back, and I was sad that it was a recap of saddness but happy to see you're still having adventures. (I fake people out with TJ's treats all the time, there's no shame) but from the sound of it you're doing just fine without the help.

Dad said...

Dessert? Did someone say dessert? And not invite me?

Mm said...

Note to family except those who eat only whole wheat: Uncle Jerry learned to make pie crust at Marie Callendars... don't ask, don't tell what the ingredients are, I think maybe Quinoa... but he has been known to give lessons. And yes, it is unmistakabley superb crust.