Hard to know what to call this. It’s an adaptation of a New York baker’s recipe for “Crack Pie” (from Christina Tosi, of Momofuku Milk Bar). I decided it’d be handy to use our easy New Deli oatmeal cookie recipe for the crust (which might leave a few extra cookies on hand afterward, to eat, freeze for later, etc.)(but which is A-OK with me!).
The Women’s Christmas Dinner Committee decided we’d make thirty of these pies, for our church’s annual Christmas dinner. It took five batches of oatmeal cookie dough, and over four gallons of heavy cream, five cartons of egg yolks, lots and lots of butter and sugar… But it was a hit!
I assume most folks don’t want to make thirty pies, so I reduced the recipe below. But–if you do want the recipe for making lots of pies, just email me and I’ll get that for you 🙂
Oatmeal Cookie Pie
This recipe will make 2 pie crusts (I like to save one to bake up on another occasion); it makes one pie filling, serving 6-8.
Oat Cookie Crust for two pies
1/3 c. butter, room temperature
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 2/3 c. quick-cooking oats
2/3 c. flour
Rounded 1/4 tsp. baking soda
Added to crumbs- 3 TBS. butter, melted
Added to crumbs- 2 TBS. sugar
Filling for one pie
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 TBS. nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter, melted, cooled slightly
1/3 c. plus 1 TBS. heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla
Optional- 1/2 c. chocolate chips
Optional- 1/2 TBS. butter
For Oatmeal Cookie Crust, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix well until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes: > 1/3 c. butter > 1/3 c. brown sugar > 1 tsp. vanilla
After those ingredients have creamed, mix in baking soda. Use: > rounded 1/4 tsp. baking soda
Add remaining dry ingredients, mixing until blended (about 1 minute): > 1 2/3 c. quick-cooking oats > 2/3 c. flour
Turn oat mixture out onto parchment-lined cookie sheet; press out evenly until fairly flattened, about 1/4″ thick. Bake until golden on top, 8-12 minutes.
Remove the giant “cookie” to a rack to cool.
After cooling, crumble the “cookie” with hands (or put in plastic bag and use rolling pin). In a large bowl, add: > the oatmeal cookie crumbs > 3 TBS. butter, melted > 2 TBS. sugar
Rub the butter and sugar into the crumbs with fingertips; press into two 9-inch pie pans, pressing mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie dishes.
Refrigerate one crust, and freeze other one if necessary (unless doing a double recipe of the filling, enough for two pies).
Prepare filling. For one pie filling, whisk dry ingredients together: > 3/4 c. sugar > 1/2 c. brown sugar > 1 TBS. nonfat dry milk powder > 1/4 tsp. salt
Mix in butter: > 1/2 c. butter, melted, cooled slightly
Blend in remaining wet ingredients: > 1/3 c. plus 1 TBS. heavy cream > 4 egg yolks > 1 tsp. vanilla.
Pour filling into crust. Bake pie 30 minutes at 350 degrees (filling may begin to bubble).
Turn oven down to 300 degrees and bake about 20 minutes more, until filling is brown in spots and set around edges but center still moves slightly when pie dish is gently shaken
Cool pie two hours in pie dish on rack. Chill uncovered overnight. This dessert can be made up to two days ahead. To store, cover and keep chilled.
The easiest way to serve is to simply sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Or, add whipped cream, to top each piece. Use: > 1 c. heavy cream (no sugar, as pie is so sweet)
If desired, garnish that with a wedge of chocolate. For an easy chocolate garnish, melt chocolate chips and butter; spread on parchment (about 1/4″ thick) and chill until firm. Break into triangular pieces; stick into whipped cream-topped pie. Use: > 1/2 c. chocolate chips > 1/2 TBS. butter
I’ve been buying Trader Joe’s bittersweet chocolate bars for some time (the giant, pound-plus bar), and they do satisfy my chocolate cravings. But… I also bought a giant bag of unsweetened cocoa powder at Costco earlier this year. You know how Costco purchases go- sometimes you see something for a really great deal, and feel compelled to buy it, even if it could take two years to go through it…
So. I also had some of this Ceylon cinnamon in the freezer. (Since I’d also bought a big bag of that, because it’s just. So. Good for you!)(And economical- see Costco note…)
I figured it’d be pretty easy to accomplish my goals if I made something that could substitute for that TJ’s chocolate I kept buying (and eating every day). And thus the following recipe was born. I made it with just coconut oil the first time, which works fine. This time, I included some of this cocoa butter, which gave it more firmness and flavor. Whoa- I can sub this for the TJ stuff any day, and now my cocoa powder stores will begin to finally get used up. Mission accomplished!
I actually like this better than brownies. And of course it’s gluten-free! Best kept in the refrigerator; makes one big pound-plus bar.
2/3 c. coconut oil
1/4 c. cocoa butter
4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 rounded c. cocoa powder
1/3 c. honey
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 c. raisins
1/3 c. macadamias
Warm on lowest setting in pan on stove: > 2/3 c. coconut oil > 1/4 c. cocoa butter
Stir in dry ingredients in: > 4 tsp. cinnamon > 1/4 tsp. salt > 1 rounded c. cocoa powder
Then blend in the rest: > 1 tsp. vanilla > 2/3 c. raisins > 1/3 c. macadamias
Pour into lined 8×8″ square dish (use wax paper, parchment, or aluminum foil); refrigerate. Cut into pieces as needed, as keep chilled for more firmness.
I’d been making this sourdough whole wheat bread for some time, if only for the health benefits. The sourdough process helps reduce phytic acid (a plus), and makes for a lower-glycemic bread. Also, some of the gluten gets broken down in the long, slow fermenting process. And it has more naturally-occuring B vitamins too, thanks to the wild yeast at work. (The blog Cheeseslave goes into more detail here.)
But my bread didn’t have the greatest texture. I needed to figure out how to make artisan bread. Which wasn’t easy. I kept saying, “Artesian”, like the well… My daughter-in-law said, maybe that’s why it wasn’t turning out. I needed to clarify. Artisan, not Artesian… Ha.
I finally had success. This new bread had layers of complex flavors, with a great crust, and open crumb- almost custardy inside. Yum.
It starts with a lively starter (details on that starter here.). I usually feed my baby starter twice a day (removing half of it each time). The extra feedings make for a pretty rambunctious starter. It builds its character. The flavors get more complex, texture more interesting, yada yada. The way I used to do it still works, for busier times when I can’t mess with bi-daily feedings. (With that old method, I feed a refrigerated starter every 3-7 days, which is enough to keep it pretty lively.)
I didn’t like the idea of removing some of that starter, adding it to a discard pile in the fridge. But I’ve changed the name of the discard pile to “Future Cracker Dough”. I don’t feel as bad now. (Or it can become pancakes or waffles with the addition of an egg or two.) Another new discovery: I can add the starter discard to my next batch of dough, as long as it’s not too big a quantity, without affecting the flavor adversely. (Excess starter can also be frozen, for two months or so.)
In the old days, I accumulated large starter quantities, as I would feed the thing every few days, never taking any out. And I only made bread with it once a week or so. The bread turned out well enough using the large quantity of starter, but not quite as exciting as I’d hoped. With this new method, I feed a small quantity of very active starter, using part of it to begin feeding at a warmer temperature, until I’ve got the amount I want for however much bread I’m making. I refrigerate the rest of the newly-fed starter. It seems fine to let it hang out in the fridge for up to a week, at which point I bring it out again, for a fresh feeding when I begin another bread-making project.
Below is my latest fave bread recipe, “Sourdough Artisan Bread”.
Makes 2 loaves- about 2 1/2 lb. each
About 1/4 c. stiff sourdough starter*
2/3 c warm water
1 1/3 c. whole wheat/rye flour (or half malted flour)
Approx. 6 c. malted flour (1.67lb.)**
Approx. 3 1/2 c. water, divided
1 TBS. salt***
Rice flour (or white or corn flour)
In a smaller bowl, mix together: > about 1/4 c. starter (un-refreshed) > 1/3 c. warm water > 1 1/3 c. whole grain flour (optional: use half malted or all-purpose flour)
Let this mixture rest in a warm place for 4-5 hours (an oven with the light on works for a cool kitchen).
About an hour before time’s-up for that starter, add most of the remaining water to the malted flour in a larger bowl, mixing with hands or a spatula until flour’s distributed. Adding water to flour starts an enzyme process whereby the starches begin converting to sugars, etc. This leads to more flavor! (Called an “autolyse”, in scientific terms). Use: > 6 c. malted flour (or all-purpose) > 3 1/4 c. warm water
Cover this mixture and let it rest one hour or so in that warm place (next to the bowl of starter mix).
After the big bowl of flour/water mix has rested an hour or so, and the starter (“levain”) has gone four or five hours (and has maybe caved in a bit), mix the two together, breaking up the stiff starter so it’ll mix in better.
‘”Stretch and fold” the dough, as in, pull a chunk of the dough from the edge, into the center. And repeat. Let the dough stretch as much as it will, without breaking. Fold about ten times. It will start to seem smoother and not too sticky. It won’t have to be thoroughly mixed at this point, as there’s more folding to come.
Before leaving it to rest, use fingers and poke a few holes in the dough, adding a mixture of salt and water on top. Don’t mix it in yet; just pour it over the dough. Use a mixture of: > 1/4 c. warm water > 1 TBS. salt
Let the dough rest 20 minutes or so. The main thing is to leave it be for a bit, to do its own thing. At this point, gluten molecules are aligning themselves and doing the work of kneading, all on their own. All they need is time. To themselves. We can’t rush this process by man-handling the dough!
After 20 or so minutes of resting, fold the dough again, about four times, until the dough gains “strength”. It should feel elastic and smooth. Less handling is usually better.
Let the dough rest for 30 minutes. Every 30 minutes, for the next hour or two, stretch and fold the dough a bit. The dough should bundle up and pull easily from the sides, indicating that it’s ready to be left alone to finish fermenting.
This is now the “bulk-ferment” phase. Leave this folded dough alone now for a few more hours, then “cut” the dough in half (for forming two loaves); a hard plastic spatula works well for this. Gently form each ball into a round, pulling from the outside to the middle to shape it. I do this step on a dampened counter, as the dough doesn’t stick much this way. It also keeps me from adding more flour, which seems to be a plus flavor-wise. Let the pre-shaped loaves rest another 20 minutes, covered with bowls.
After resting a bit (again with the resting!), shape once more, into preferred shape. Set into a lightly-dusted, cloth-lined basket or bowl, with the dough bottom side up. (I like this bread-proofing basket.) Flour the loaves fairly heavily, to keep them from sticking to the basket. Cover with oiled plastic wrap or wax wrap, and let rest another hour or two.
Note: the dough is usually pretty wet. It can seem difficult to call it to attention for the final shaping. And yet, even the wettest dough can make a good loaf.
Finally (almost done), after the dough has proofed at room-temp for an hour or two, place the covered, shaped dough in the fridge overnight (or up to 24 hours, although 18 hours is probably ideal). This slows down fermentation, which insures more flavor.
Preheat oven, and a Dutch oven and/or a baking stone, to 500 degrees (this usually takes 40 minutes or so). Gently invert refrigerated dough onto parchment paper; score top. Serrated knife, box-cutter, and “bread-scoring lame” all work ( this “bread-scoring lame” is my fave). Lift the parchment and bread into a Dutch oven, covering it for the first 20 minutes. (Or make some other configuration, to create a steamy environment for baking, like a baking stone with a pot/pan on top of it.) (Or bake the bread on a baking stone with a tray filled with hot water on a shelf below it.)
Reduce heat to 450 degrees and bake the bread covered for 20 minutes. Remove cover, lower heat to 400 degrees, and bake 20 more minutes, or to desired doneness
*This stiff starter gets fed about twice daily. For each feeding, remove some old starter, leaving a tablespoon or so in jar. Add about 2 tsp. water, and 1 Tablespoon whole-grain flour. (A mix of wheat and rye flour is great)
**AKA Organic Artisan Bakers Craft Flour (malted) is primo, although all-purpose, unbleached flour can substitute. I’ve bought my craft flour here, at about $1.14/lb., including shipping. But I recently discovered some great Central Milling Co. flour at Costco, that’s perfect for bread. It might be the same product- it’s an organic, unbleached flour from hard red wheat, with some malted barley mixed in. It’s delicious!
There’s lots of info out there on how to baby our starter. Well… I’ve been conducting experiments to figure out how little I can baby my starter, and still have it turn out amazing bread.
In the process, I determined that my husband and I do not want to have to make pancakes every few days with the starter discard. And, making crackers with the discard seemed like too much work (to eat and to make…).
Now you might be fine with either of those solutions, to use up the starter discard that accumulates when room-temperature starter is fed twice-daily. If not, you might want to just refrigerate your starter for a week or so, between bread-making projects. Yes, you have to “revive” the starter. But you end up spending less time taking care of your starter.
Early on, I’d heard that starter is so resilient, you could ignore it for months, and it would probably still come back to life. One blogger reported that she had some years-old starter in the fridge, and it was still good. I guess it’s true that it might still be “good” enough to revive, but…I’ll be using mine more often than that, which I’m sure is healthy for the starter…
Liquid Starter Gone WIld
In the old days, mine was a “liquid starter”. My mistake was in not realizing that the liquid starter eats through its food quicker, and is thus not quite as suitable for storing in the fridge. What I needed for that was a “dry starter”, which is thicker and slower to feed.
So I switched from cultivating a liquid starter to a dry starter, leaving my starter out in a warm place, feeding it twice daily. This new, lively started made some really good breads, even if I was to refine the method a bit more as time went on. (Twice daily feedings is a bit much!)
Now here are some scientific facts to chew on, and maybe inspire you too:
Starter gets a more acidic, sour flavor when it grows slowly under refrigeration, since the cold encourages the production of acetic acid. Some folks may prefer this, so keep that in mind.
Besides temperature, frequency of feedings also affects flavor, by changing the balance of yeast and bacteria in the starter. Fed less often, bacteria will proliferate, eventually making for a very sour bread. Fed more often, in a warm environment (like in an oven with the light left on, if necessary), yeast takes the lead. I suppose that’s why my recent breads received rave reviews. I “grew” the starter in a warm place, feeding it twice daily. My one son said of one recent loaf, “I think this is the best bread you’ve ever made. I mean, wait- I think it’s the best bread I’ve ever had. In my life.” Wow, that’s high praise.
Another thing to consider: Moisture. The almost-buttery flavor of lactic acid likes a moist environment. A more-liquid starter might help promote this, although I’ve still had excellent flavor using a stiff starter with a moist dough. Still, something to keep in mind.
Use unchlorinated water. (I have a Berkey, which gives me wonderful water for all my fermentation needs- kombucha, kefir, and sourdough.) The chlorine in a lot of tap water will kill some of the starter critters you’re trying to encourage.
Whole-grain flour will encourage more of the good yeasts and bacterias. (Unbleached, all-purpose flour can also work, if necessary.) “Hard red winter wheat”, “hard white wheat” and “hard red spring wheat” are all options. (I use these red wheat berries for my starter.) Soft winter wheat, either red or white, is better for pastries and cake-making, so skip those.
Rye has amazing qualities of its own, making it particularly good to include in starter-feedings. I use a blend of half wheat and half rye berries, grinding those into a flour for starter feedings, keeping the extra in the freezer for future feedings.
About stiff and liquid starters: Many folks say an artisan bread is best made with a stiff starter, so I turned my liquid starter into a stiff starter, which has about three parts flour to a two parts water by weight, or almost double the volume of flour to water by the cup. (Maurizio from “The Perfect Loaf” goes into detail here and has a helpful, in-depth post on starter maintainace, here.) Liquid starter, on the other hand, has a ratio of about two parts flour to 3 parts water by weight, or equal parts flour to water by volume.
Sourdough Starter Maintenance
You CAN remove some starter at each feeding, so that the starter being fed, which might be left out on the counter, continues to be very active. You then refrigerate the excess starter that’s removed before each feeding, letting it accumulate in a container, to use for crackers or pancakes.
OR, you can feed a small amount of starter, then refrigerate half of it for a week or so, to use for the next batch of bread. By refrigerating some freshly-fed starter, it will stay happy for about a week, if it’s been fed roughly an equal amount of flour by weight, to the amount of starter.
Then, just bring the jar back out for a new feeding when planning another bread-making project. Feed it, reserving some for the refrigerator, while using the rest. “Rinse and repeat”- you get the idea, right?
Make adjustments to suit conditions, so that the starter doubles and just starts to cave in a bit, before the next feeding. This might mean leaving the starter in an oven with the light on in colder climates. With our cool, Bay area weather, that has worked out well for me.
Refrigerated starter does need to be brought back to warm room temperature for a day or two, to be built back up with twice-daily feedings, for bread-making, as needed. This is called “reviving” it.
1/4 c. starter*
1/3 c. water*
1/2 c. flour*
In small jar, mix together: > 1/4 c. starter > 1/3 c. water > 1/2 c. flour
Refrigerate half of starter, covering with a loose lid. Leave the rest in a warm spot for 12 hours or so, until doubled. When it just begins to cave in, feed again.
I “build” my starter up for two or three feedings (which takes a day or two at room temperature). I then use that whole amount when making the next batch of bread- anywhere from .12 starter, up to .50 starter. This gives me bread variations that work with different schedules I may have.
Bottom line, refrigerated starter gets revived by leaving the starter out for its feedings for a day or two, to get it back in good standing for excellent bread-making. And there’s no over-abundance of starter-discard-buildup!
I find that using the scale is easiest. Here’s the quantities I like to use, when reviving a starter, going by weight: .06 lb. refrigerated starter, .06 lb. whole wheat/rye flour blend, .04 water
I brought my Betty Crocker cookbook on my honeymoon (over forty years ago), and studied the spices and herbs list, and the best seasonings to use for various foods. Forty two years later- guess what? Betty proved right! But I’ve added a few favorite applications for various herbs and spices myself, and have listed it all below. Enjoy exploring the exciting world of spices and herbs.
Of course, a garden of fresh herbs can’t be beat. A list of favorite fresh garden herbs is at the bottom of the page.
I keep my spices in a cupboard, where they stay fresher, not being exposed to light. This is my fave spice holder of all times (and I’ve tried quite a few.)
Top Ten Herbs/Spices (I mean, 13… oops)
Basil- So good with tomatoes. You knew that, right? It can give dishes a little Italian flavor. Good with meats too.
Bay Leaf- Throw it into the pot when making soups. Adds an extra flavor. Keeps things exciting.
Cayenne- Even just a touch of heat can enhance a dish. (Well, not according to my husband. So I keep a shaker of this on my dinner table, and spice up my own dish.)
Cumin- Make it Mexican-style. Add to beans, meats, chili, whatever.
Curry- Easy way to go Asian. Add to veggies, meats, rice, etc. Oh, and gets a bit of turmeric into the diet (and that’s so healthy…)
Dill Weed- This is one of the distinctive flavors in our ever-popular, MSG-free New Deli Ranch dressing. It’s also good in tomato soups, with cucumbers, in bread.
Nutmeg- A warm flavor, somehow. Makes my tummy happy. Especially in this Rice Pudding. Or add it to other warm drinks, or creamy sauces. We put it in our Chicken Alfredo at The New Deli.
Oregano- Spells Pizza. Yum. Or add it to other tomato dishes, or fresh salads. Or meats. Ya know, just about anything! I love the 1000 Island Dressing we make, that we put this in.
Paprika- I love how it brightens up so many dishes, giving them extra color. And flavor, of course. But also- it’s a way to get some extra antioxidants in. Paprika’s loaded with ’em. But it comes from red peppers, which are on the dirty dozen list. Which is why I get this organic paprika. I also have this organic smoked paprika on hand. And it is DEFinitely smoky!
Sage- Seems like a “deep” herb that warms my tummy. Good with chicken, of course, or in soups, and other meats. We put it in our Meatloaf Mix.
Tarragon- This is good in the usual (meats, poultry, soups, salads), but it’s good in fish too. We put it in our Italian dressing at the deli.
Turmeric- The darling of the “Golden Milk” craze; it adds color to dishes, and extra health too. Not a lot of flavor, although it is rather distinct…
Saffron- You can make an amazing paella with this stuff. Such a unique taste. To maximize flavor, let a few threads soak in boiling water for several hours first.
Star Anise- Again, use in 5-spice powder! To season many things! (Use with cloves, cinnamon, fennel and peppercorns for the mix.)
Favorite Garden Herbs
Some of these may grow for you, some may not. The herbs below are worth trying though.
Parsley- I’ve practically got a field of parsley now, after having no luck the first few years. Trick was to let one of those first plants go to seed. Then I lay the seed-laden plant in a little pile (with the decaying plant covering it, to protect it from the birds). Come spring, new little seedlings pop up all over.
Sage- Grows easily enough. Some varieties are quite hardy.
Rosemary- Grows like a weed. If you don’t have a green thumb, plant rosemary and relax. I don’t think you can kill it.
Thyme- This plant grows well enough, but realize that pulling the thyme leaves off the stem can be a bit time consuming. Worth it of course, but… just sayin’…
Oregano- This is a pretty hardy plant. Should grow well!
Basil- Mine never thrives. But then we live very close to the coast, with a constant cool breeze. Basil loves the heat. And water. Don’t forget to water.
Cilantro- You may do well growing cilantro, but it often will not sprout from the cooking seeds found in the grocery store. I found out they irradiate them (or something…). So get them from a seed packet, or maybe a reputable health food store.
I have some very fond bread memories from childhood. My sister and I could hardly wait for this bread to be ready to cut. We would immediately hack a chunk off as soon as it came out of the oven, much to mom’s dismay. Well, we couldn’t wait! True, it didn’t cut very easily our way, but taste-testing probably encouraged the two of us to continue our work in the kitchen.
The original 60’s version of this seemed more complicated, IMO. The cottage cheese was warmed to that perfect temperature for yeast, then the yeast got proofed, etc.
Now that I’m too into sourdough bread, I wanted to adapt this to use with my starter. It worked!
Makes one loaf, about 2 lb.
1 c. cottage cheese
1 c. sourdough starter
2 TBS honey
1 TBS. dry onion
1 TBS. butter, soft
2 tsp. dill seed
Optional- 2 tsp. dill weed
2 1/4 -3 c. whole wheat flour, divided
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
In medium large bowl, mix together: > 1 c. sourdough starter > 1 c. cottage cheese > 2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour > 1 egg > 2 TBS. honey > 1 TBS. dry onion > 1 TBS. butter, soft > 2 tsp. dill seed > optional- 2 tsp. dill weed
Let the above ingredients rise in a warm place until double, about 4 hours.
Stir in the following, adding enough flour so dough isn’t too sticky to handle. Dough will still be somewhat moist though. Use: > About 3/4 c. whole wheat flour > 1/4 tsp. baking soda > 1 tsp. salt
Knead dough about three minutes, until mixed well. Put in buttered 1 1/2-2 qt. casserole dish. Let rise until double again (another hour or two), then bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes Brush top w/ butter and salt when done, if desired.
I know by faith that God is good, but sometimes, He really makes it clear. He showed me a lot this past month.
It started on a Thursday afternoon–my sister called to say my mom was in the hospital. It could be serious, or not. I might want to fly back, or not. Seeking godly counsel and praying about it, I realized by Friday that I needed to fly back to Michigan. (Thank you Lord, for the words of my friend, which encouraged me to go!) I let my sis know I’d be on Friday’s midnight flight, and was scheduled to arrive Saturday morning.
I had hours to get ready, put my ducks in a row, etc. I asked my Bible study friends to pray for the whole situation, and for travel mercies. Then Tom and I jumped in the car, checking flight reports on the way, since there was nasty winter weather ahead. Flights looked well so far. How nice to get latest updates on my fancy phone. How not-nice to discover as we approached the airport, that my Chicago-to-Flint flight was cancelled. I had now been booked on a flight arriving 24 hours later—Sunday morning. Ug. At that point, I wondered if I should just re-book a flight for later in the month.
But—I had friends in high places, praying for those travel mercies. I was about to fly the friendly skies, but some things go higher than that. Like, the prayers of the saints! I put it in the Lord’s hands, and arrived in Chicago hoping for the best. To not have to spend a whole day there would be wonderful.
I went up to some ticket agents first thing in Chicago, asking if there was any way to get on an earlier flight. Three lovely agents huddled around a computer. They finagled until they got me on a flight leaving within the hour. It flew to my brother’s town of Grand Rapids instead of Flint, but that would work perfectly.
OK, that’s just the beginning of the story. Sorry—no “long-story-short” here. I wanted to establish that it was already a miracle that I ended up right where I was.
For most of the next three days, I was with my folks, sister, brother and his wife, at the hospital. For the next three days, we cheered mom on, seeing her through all she had going on. That was nice. But in hindsight, it appears there was an even bigger reason for being there.
Every night, my dad and I left the hospital for home, to rest up for another day. Each night, I noticed the house had a strange smell. The smell is still a mystery—something like burnt dog food and Pine-Sol. But not really that either.
I didn’t mention it to my dad–I didn’t want to be rude (maybe there had been some kind of doggy-do accident). The next day, I asked my sister and brother if they’d noticed a smell at the folks’ house, but they hadn’t. I finally asked my dad. He said yes, but he thought it was just from him burning some butter a few days before.
Well, by the third morning, I woke up around 5:30 with a killer headache. I heard the blood coursing through the veins in my head. Weirdest headache ever. I started vomiting yellow bile. I thought, “Oh no—I might have the flu!” Then I heard my dad—thought he was doing push-ups in the next room. Nope. From the floor of the bathroom, I could see him walking down the hallway, holding onto the wall, breathing heavily. “Dad, are you OK?” He said he was really dizzy, and had never felt like that before.
OK, maybe we both had the flu. I called my sister to let her know we might not visit mom at the hospital that day. By that time, my dad was almost passed out on the bed, and I was hanging my head out their bedroom patio door, vomiting more yellow bile.
I told my sister, between dry heaves, “I don’t know what’s going on Jean. Maybe we both have the flu. Maybe it’s that smell…” She wasted no time calling 911. Which was good, since things were getting foggy. I didn’t remember her second call back, when I told her I didn’t think we could make it downstairs and get outside…
The ambulance and fire department arrived pretty soon after that, thankfully. They quickly got my dad and me into the ambulance, and hooked us up to oxygen. They thought the dog was dead–she barely had a heartbeat. (They even called animal control to pick her up.)
Turns out, the furnace vent had sprung a leak. There was a 500 ppm carbon monoxide level in the basement where the furnace was. Those levels are life-threatening after three hours. We had a very close call. (The dog too, although she did revive once she got some fresh air.) I asked my dad if he would’ve called my sister, or 911. He realized that no, he would not have. If I hadn’t been there, my sister would’ve eventually gone to the house to find my dad and the dog. Not alive.
Moral of the story: God IS watching over us, and He loves us. He sent me to Michigan to help my dad live. Now my dad can continue to care for our mom, who has dementia. And he can see God’s mercy and love in action, and have hope.
Even though there is evil (sin) in this world (and carbon monoxide), and sin is in us, and the world’s not perfect, God does have a divine plan. He wants us to all know that Jesus died for our sins to give us eternal life, and He’s going to give us a chance to know that. A friend at a funeral last weekend mentioned that he’d observed that God intersects our lives at various points, trying to get that message to us. God can use all things, to get us to notice this. Truth.
I made this dessert for our granddaughter’s second birthday–it was a hit! I can’t always understand what she’s saying, but “Birthday Cake” came out loud and clear. A festive family gathering it was, complete with a rolling-weasel ball that made her giggle in delight (hey, the label says it’s for pets AND children).
A similar dessert, “Pavlova”, has fresh fruits garnishing a meringue crust, with plenty of whipped cream in between. I wanted to use the egg yolks though, so the chocolate mousse gave me a way to work those in. I guess you could also call this “Gluten-free Chocolate Dessert”, since that’s the trend lately. Or maybe, “Healthy Chocolate Pie”, since it uses bittersweet chocolate and not very much sugar at all. Oh, who am I kidding?! I just love meringue, and take any excuse to eat it!
I feel really good about eating this “gluten-free” dessert. Yes, it has a bit of cream, and some sugar too, but still seems to be a light dessert. My friend has often made the lemon curd version of this for our women’s group celebrations—it’s also quite delicious!
Makes one 12” dessert, serving 12
2 1/4 c. sugar, divided
Scant 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
3 c. cream, divided
6 eggs, divided
1 1/2 c. bittersweet chocolate pieces (6 ounces)
4 1/2.tsp. vanilla, divided
1 TBS. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. white vinegar
1 pint fresh strawberries (or more)
In saucepan, heat sugar, salt, and cream together, stirring for 3-4 minutes until sugar dissolves. (Or, microwave 1-2 minutes): > 1/4 c. sugar > scant 1/4 tsp. salt > 1 c. cream
Beat egg yolks lightly, then stir into hot cream mix. Leave on medium low heat while stirring constantly, until the mix thickens. (Or, microwave in 15-second intervals, stirring after each heating, just until mixure thickens.) Use: > 6 egg yolks
Stir chocolate and vanilla into heated ingredients: > 1 1/3 c. bittersweet chocolate pieces (6 ounces) > 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Refrigerate mixture. Let cool completely (making a day ahead is convenient).
On serving day, prepare meringue crust.
Heat the oven to 250 degrees. Using a 12-inch round cake pan, trace a circle onto a piece of parchment paper with a pencil or marker. Flip the paper over and place it on a baking sheet (the traced circle should be visible); set aside.
Place the egg whites and salt in the very clean, dry mixer bowl. Use dry whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until the whites begin to lighten in color and only small bubbles remain, about 2 minutes. Use: > 6 egg whites with no traces of yolk, at room temperature > scant 1/4 tsp. salt
Increase the speed to high and very slowly add the sugar in a thin, continuous stream. Whisk until firm, shiny peaks form, resembling marshmallow cream, about 3 minutes. Use: > 1 1/2 c. sugar
Remove the bowl from the mixer and sift the cornstarch through a fine-mesh strainer into the meringue. Use: > 1 TBS. cornstarch
Drizzle with the vinegar and vanilla and fold them into the meringue with a rubber spatula until no streaks of vanilla remain, being careful not to deflate the whites. Use: > 1 1/2 tsp. white vinegar > 1 tsp. vanilla
Using the rubber spatula, pile the meringue into the center of the circle drawn on the parchment paper. Smooth it to the edges of the circle to form a rough, even disk about 1 inch tall. (If the parchment shifts while spreading the meringue, weigh down two opposite corners with small, heavy objects like cans; remove them before baking.)
Bake until the meringue is firm to the touch but slightly soft in the middle, about 60-70 minutes. Remove from the oven, place the baking sheet on a wire rack, and let cool completely. Run a thin metal spatula under the meringue to loosen.
Carefully slide it onto a serving platter or cake stand; set aside.
Finish making the mousse (which gets half of the extra whipped cream added to it). Whip cream until stiff peaks form. Use: > 2 c. cream > 1/2 c. sugar
Set whipped cream aside; add cooled chocolate mousse to bowl and whip until light. Fold in half of the whipped cream. Spread the chocolate mousse onto cooled meringue.
Use the other half of the sweetened, whipped cream to spread on top of the chocolate mousse. On top of that, add strawberries, or some shavings of chocolate. Use: > 1 pint (or more) strawberries
I’ll be hosting a shower for a friend’s vegan daughter this spring. I think I’ll add this recipe to the menu! It does contain cheese and egg, so it’s not vegan. But it is vegetarian, and the bride-to-be has been known to splurge on a few non-vegan items. So hopefully she’ll think this recipe’s worth checking out!
I made this dish back in my hippie days (in the seventies). “Diet for a Small Planet” was on the bestseller list, and vegetarianism was gaining popularity; a far cry from the Paleo trend of late. (Does sharing this recipe mean we have now gone full circle?)
This dish is a great change of pace, vegetarian or not. (My husband thinks I need to make it more often.) Serves 6.
1 1/2 c. whole wheat crumbs
28 oz. can tomatoes, whole
1/2 c. Muenster cheese (or other favorite)
3 TBS. butter
1 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1 1/2 c. chopped celery
1 medium onion, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
Ahead of time, toast (overnight in gas oven with pilot light on, or baked at 200 degrees for 15 minutes or so): > 1 1/2 c. whole wheat crumbs
Also ahead of time, drain: > 28 oz. can tomatoes, whole
Grate: > 1/2 c. Muenster cheese
Melt butter on stove or in microwave: > 3 TBS. butter
To butter in bowl, add the following: > 1 1/2 c. chopped walnuts > 1 1/2 c. chopped celery > 1 medium onion, chopped > 2 eggs, beaten > 1/2 tsp. salt > the toasted bread crumbs > the drained tomatoes > the grated cheese
Mix the above and bake in 8” x 5″ buttered loaf pan at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Unmold.
Serve warm. Or refrigerate. Slices of the nut loaf can be seared in a dash of olive oil or butter; a great way to serve leftovers.