Friday, December 21, 2012

Thursday’s Rain



It was raining Thursday morning on the way in to work. Unfortunately, I had waited too long to fill up my gas tank and had to do it then. Fortunately, the price of gas had dropped dramatically since the last time I put gas in, but it was cold, wet comfort at the time.

My cube-buddy Michelle had cards and a can of shortbread cookies for some of us co-workers. She had miscounted, was one can short and upset at herself. I told her to take mine back, as I shouldn’t eat them, anyway. She said, “Well, if Jake and Carla come up, they could eat them.” I checked the label and it said “may contain nut products,” so I assured her they couldn’t. Well, Carla couldn’t and I am SURE Jake wouldn’t eat them because of her.

The wind picked up throughout the morning and was so strong during my morning walk I almost blew away. I am lighter that I used to be, but at 200 pounds, I am not THAT light.

It was raining hard at lunchtime, but I had errand to run. I went to Bed Bath and Beyond for more water filters for the humidifier. I had also planned to brave the crowds at Best Buy, which is next door. Luckily I had checked before leaving and found that Best Buy did NOT have the toner I need for my Samsung.  But, Office Depot, near the house, does. So, I'll get that over the weekend.

I stopped and ate at Ten Yen (Jake and Carla’s favorite Chinese restaurant). I ordered my favorite, chicken subgum. There was NOBODY else in the restaurant and, with the rain pounding on the roof, the owner and I agreed it was the weather keeping his customers away. Lunch was excellent, BTW.

But, I later learned it was a complete waste of money and time, as the building IT is in was having their Christmas party and there were tons of leftovers (including a big sub) I could have eaten.

I did try some of the “Mediterranean” pastries in the afternoon, though. The new receptionist (a young girl) told me she had been looking at them and to let her know what they taste like.

So, after I ate one I went out and simply said, “Honey.” She said, “Yes, what?” I said, “No, I’m not flirting with you, they taste like honey.” She blushed a deep red and said, “Thanks.” I went back into my office area and laughed my ass off.

I drove through driving rain to get home after work. The evening news said that Traverse city had almost nine inches of snow already with more to come. I was thinking about Dave and Melissa.  Dave would probably be shoveling off his roof by now had they stayed.

The storm is moving up the west coast of Michigan and, while we won’t escape the snow, it should only be an inch or two here. But with the high winds, it will still be a challenge to get into work tomorrow morning, I fear.

Michelle’s present challenged me. I don’t have the time (or money) to run out and buy stuff, so I thought I’d take a page from Brie and make a coffee cake. But she never gave me the recipe. I’m not picking on her as her mother, Hannah, never gave me the recipe for Yogurt Chicken yet, either. Maybe they thought I was just being polite when I asked…

So, I checked the Internet and found a good recipe, but there’s a problem. Between the cake and the topping, I need three sticks of softened butter. And all my butter is in the fridge.

The microwave would only melt it, (or worse as I discovered last night) so I checked the Internet again and found a method I tried: You just put the stick of cold butter between two large pieces of wax paper. Using a rolling pin, you press down on the butter and roll it out the way you would roll out a pie crust. When the butter is about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick, lift off the wax paper and peel away the butter (before it gets too soft to peel). Excellent tip!

In the middle of that, the doorbell rang. WTF? I turned on the light and glanced out the window. It was a pizza delivery guy with a huge load. I opened the door and told him he had made a mistake as I hadn’t ordered anything. He said, is this blah, blah, blah? I said, no, its blah, blah, blah. I said if it was already paid for, I’d take it, though. He laughed and said sorry and ran back through the pouring rain to his car.

I soldiered on. I was on my third cup of coffee and was spending an equal amount of time between the kitchen and bathroom.

Now it’s time for a disclaimer: This is a recipe from the Pioneer Woman. Let me explain. Jyl turned me onto her a few years back, and I would occasionally follow her Blog. I pictured her as a lady living in a little log cabin, cooking on a wood stove. But, then I noticed some of her ingredients were things even I didn’t have on hand. Then she got a show on the Food Network and I learned she was living on like a thousand acres of farmland in a 4,000 square foot house, equipped with every damn modern convince known to man. So, I shunned her.

But, this recipe sounded good, so I went with it.

I took 1 1/2 sticks of softened butter  and two scant cups of sugar and creamed it using my hand mixer. I used a sieve to sift 3 cups of flour, four teaspoons of baking powder and one teaspoon of salt together. I got out 1 1/4 cups of whole milk and slowly added the milk and flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar.

Note: the recipe says not to over-mix, but I was not sure what exactly that meant. So, I used the hand mixer until it was smooth.

Now, here’s when things went wrong! You are supposed to use three egg whites and beat them until stiff. Well, I checked and I had EXACTLY three eggs left. So, I started separating the whites from the yolks. Easy, right? Until the second egg. The yolk broke when I cracked it and I couldn’t escape getting some in the bowl!

My choices were to either soldier on, or go next door and ask to borrow three eggs. But, I know Rick. He was in the service, has a 357 Magnum and does not exactly welcome late night visitors.

So, I tried to whip the egg whites (and yolk) until they were stiff. No way, Jose. So, I finally just added them in and mixed them up (rather than folding in the stiff egg whites like I was supposed to).

I spread that mixture into a well greased 9 x 13 cake pan. Then I went about making the topping.

For the topping, I had another 1 1/2 sticks of softened butter. To that, I added 3/4 cups of AP flour, 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar (it didn’t specify what kind, so I used Dark), two tablespoons of cinnamon and 1 1/2 cups of chopped pecans. I could have used the food processor, I guess, but I just chopped the pecans up with the Wustof.

Then I used my pastry cutter to mix it all together until it was crumbly.  I sprinkled the crumbs evenly across the top and then put the pan in the pre-heated (350 degrees f.) oven. I set the timer for 45 minutes and took a break.

Now, the recipe calls for baking it until it’s no longer “jiggly” but what does that mean?  When the timer went off, I stuck a toothpick in it and it was still wet. So, I let I bake 10 minutes more.

When the timer went off, I pulled it out. It smelled fantastic! It was 9:53 PM, BTW.

I let it sit to cool and made a sandwich for my dinner. I started watching “The Grey” again. I’m not sure why, but that movie speaks to me. “Once more into the fray” and all…

I fell asleep long before it ended, but I knew I would. When I got up to go to the bathroom during the night, I shut off the TV and the bedside lamp and went to bed for real.

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