Better Late than Never French Fridays with Dorie – Peach Melba

Obviously this is a few days late. I just could not get my shit together to get this done by last Friday. Last week was kind of crazy. Work, emotion, finances, etc all conspired against me. I was dead-set on making Dorie’s vanilla ice cream to go with it and I finally got that accomplished on Sunday but I didn’t manage to pull the rest together until tonight. Oh well.

Let’s start with the Dorie ice cream – oh, so good. Crazy flavors are all well and good (Ben & Jerry’s Late Night Snack!), but sometimes simple is the very best and it doesn’t get much simpler than vanilla ice cream. This one is French-style (with egg yolks) which is different than what I’ve been making all summer from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. She does strictly Philly-style which has no egg yolks and instead uses cream cheese as a stabilizer. I think the taste level between the two is pretty equal but I’ll probably revert back to Jeni’s style just because it doesn’t leave me with 6 egg whites to either use up or throw away.

Tonight Tristan is working super-late so I’m free to watch what I please and I chose to pop in Fellowship of the Ring. Since I’ve seen this plenty of times it didn’t bother me that I had to get up to put this together after the peaches & syrup had cooled, the raspberry sauce had been szushed, and the vanilla ice cream had softened up a bit. I sat down on the couch with my fancy melba just as Gandalf was escaping Saruman’s clutches with the aid of a nice moth and gigantic eagle. I am both a regular ol’ nerd and a food geek. Surprised?

I don’t know that I’ll ever have the gumption to put this together again, but man am I glad I did at least this once. It was delicious and fresh and just went down so easy. Loved it! Could have something to do with the several little juice glasses of wine I’ve had, but I choose to believe in the deliciousness of the Peach Melba. Long live the Melba!

Lest you think I’ve been a total lazy-ass this week, I did make a few things I’m pretty proud of:

Vampire bite cupcakes! I went to a friend’s house last night to watch the season 5 finale of True Blood and I whipped these up real quick-like after work to take with. I wish I could claim credit for the idea, but I just googled True Blood cupcakes and scrolled through the images until I found something doable. These were perfect!

Stromboli anyone?? I made this for dinner and it was amazing! I found it on Lauren’s Latest and I gotta say, it was a winner. I will definitely make this again! I’m sitting this week of FFWD out because I just cannot do cucumbers. Maybe I’ll make a recipe from before I was in the group. Anyone have any favorites from pre-January 2012 they’d like to recommend?

Tough Talk Oatmeal Cookies

Basically there are two things I hate talking about more than anything else: my feelings & money. I’m good with either of them in the abstract, like “Whoa! Wish I could get that right now but I don’t really have the cash” or “That REALLY pisses me off” but delve any deeper into actual financial details or reasons behind emotion and I would rather clean a public restroom than take part in that discussion. I can’t be alone here, can I?

Earlier this week my husband and I had a serious money talk and boy-howdy, it was not fun. Don’t worry, it’s not like we’re destitute and going to lose our house or anything, it’s just that everything has gotten more expensive (and I do mean everything, thanks economy) and the earnings are not really matching that. You might be thinking, “Why don’t you just look for another job?” but here’s the thing: for the most part, I really love my job and I’m really good at it. Would it be nice to make more money at it? Of course, but I don’t know how feasible that is since I work for a small business and I’m not really sure how much more they can afford to pay me.

Again, “Why don’t you get a waitressing job somewhere to bring in extra cash?” Ahhhhh waitressing. My sly mistress. I was a waitress from the time I was 14 until I was 25 and I can safely say without intending to boast, that I am a really good waitress. There is no profession (other than stripping or something) where you work such a short shift and have the instant gratification of a huge wad of cash to take home. It was really hard for me to quit because I loved the place I was working and did make pretty decent tips there but I just felt like I was never home. I was working two jobs, hardly seeing my husband and never had time to do anything for myself (blog!) so I guess it was a selfish move to quit, but I’ve been so much happier only having one job. When I first graduated from college I thought “Great! Now I can stop waitressing!” ha! I graduated in 2007 and the job market was a little rough. To be fair, my degree is in English and Women’s Studies so it’s not like I got one that is super marketable. Plus about two years in I realized that I don’t really like people to read what I write so…….here we are. I buckled and ended up waitressing for another 3 years. Like I said, I know I could go back and do a good job but it’s so hard to stop. Waitressing is clearly like a drug to me.

So where does that leave me? My husband always uses the phrase “We’re living above our means” which is a hard one for me to grasp. I mean, it’s not like we’re driving a Bentley and jetting off to Vegas every weekend. We live in a smallish house, share a car and don’t really buy extravagant things. But then I try to remember that I’m only 27 and I think about what my parents were doing when they were 27 or even how we lived when I was little and I realize that I am trying to maintain the sort of lifestyle that I had when I was in high school (provided by my parents). Does that make sense? I mean it’s not like we were insanely wealthy or anything, but we were comfortable. Like when I was younger I remember my mom complaining about how often my dad and I rented movies and clipping coupons and insisting that we buy the generic Mac & Cheese instead of Kraft and that sort of thing but as I got to the age where money was something I understood, we didn’t have to worry about those things. I have to remind myself that my parents worked really hard to get to that stage of life and I haven’t put in the time yet to be able to be that comfortable. Also I watched the 20/20 interview that Diane Sawyer did with Jaycee Dugard yesterday and I realized that I am so lucky, its criminal. Her story was one of the saddest and most horrible things I have ever heard and yet she has risen above it and seems like a generally happy person so every time I feel sorry for myself I’m just going to try for a little perspective.

Ugh, can we talk about these cookies already? Enough money and feelings talk please! I made these oatmeal cookies for several reasons:

1. They are OMFG delicious

2. They are easy

3. They are cheap

4. I was reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and was feeling unsettled so I needed to do something comforting

I took the recipe that Baker on the Rise provided and made it less healthy by eliminating the raisins and adding butterscotch chips and bittersweet chocolate chips. I’m not hating on raisins, I just didn’t have any and felt like chocolate and butterscotch could handle the job. I’ve decided butterscotch is an underutilized flavor and I plan to do something about that. These cookies are so perfect, it’s crazy. They are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside and just so satisfying. Plus you probably have everything to make them just sitting in your cabinet already, so they are economical! 🙂

So let’s review: these cookies are BOMB and you should make them, I need to remember to not be such a brat and have some perspective, and I’m going to explore a few ways to make a little extra money on the side. My girl Phoebe showed me how I can write little blurbie things on the internet to make a few bucks and my friend Jenna came up with a very interesting Thanksgiving pie plan that I’m noodling. Just, things are going to be fine. As long as I can still make cookies, things will be fine. 🙂

Baking with Julia – Popovers

People can be very serious about popovers. My boss and her family are some of these people. Popovers are a big thing for them. Me, I’ve only eaten one once and it wasn’t warm from the oven so I was told it was mediocre at best. I’ve never made them before tonight but now that I have I can definitely see myself doing it again. I was going to borrow Bek’s popover pan to get this party started but then in the P & Q it mentioned that the recipe (which I hadn’t even looked at until tonight) said you could use either custard cups or muffin pans so I just went with that. I did two custard cups and then I cheated a little bit and used one muffin pan.

Clearly I’m not as up on food science as I should be because I really don’t understand how something that I beat for an extended period of time in my stand mixer (Bitch Cake) was totally flat and awful and these things that I just whirred for an eens in my blender were so damn high. I mean look at this one! It’s like 5 inches tall!

Tristan said he had never had a popover before so I gave him the poppiest one. I’m not ashamed to say that I ate three of these. After all, they were mostly air right???

I enjoyed my first and second with a modest (ha!) helping of pasta carbonara and my third with some strawberry jam while I watched True Blood with the girlies. Any other TB fans out there?

My friend is convinced that Bill has a plan and is just faking this vampire religion stuff but I think homeboy is having a serious crisis. I’m still totally team Bill though. I even have the shirt to prove it!

Getting back to the popovers though – they were really delicious. Totally crunchy and crackly on the outside and soft and tender on the inside. I read some dissent about their “eggy” flavor in the P & Q but I have no issue with it. I am also totally on Team Egg apparently. I am sure some of the other bakers have done wonderful things with these and I’m really excited to check it out. My first attempt was pretty plain jane and by the book but I think I’ll try something wild next time – maybe cracked pepper and some sort of cheese? Thoughts?

Hosts for this recipe are Paula of Vintage Kitchen Notes and Amy of Bake with Amy. Check out either of their sites for the recipe so you can have some of these crispy, crunchy, tender babies happening in your life!