Friday, November 30, 2012

Gingerbread, Anyone?

"Hey," Charles said. "Why don't you build a gingerbread house? It'd be something to do with Iain over the break."

Ok. Obtained kit (it's basically two molds for the gingerbread dough, two pastry bags, and two recipes - gingerbread and royal icing). Mixed dough. Pressed dough into silicon molds. Baked. Cooled. Unmolded.

Then Iain and I visited the toy store at the Grand America Hotel. Aside from its magical displays of robots, dolls, and dinosaurs, the store contains a "Candy Organ." Essentially, it's a dispenser with towering tubes of hard candy and a musical base. You step onto the base and it plays music, then hold your bag under a spigot and the organ pours candy into the bag.

Iain chose yellow ducks, green chocolate balls, blue and white M&Ms, extra-large red-hots, and candy-coated raisins in various colors.

Then we hit Harmon's for peppermints, candy canes, dark chocolate M&Ms, and Skittles.

Finally, we mixed up a batch of royal icing, filled the bag (thank you, pastry set gift received ten years ago - I love to use you), and began to decorate. As you can see, we covered the roof, lined all the windows, filled the eaves with duckies, built and stocked a pond, initiated a snowball fight between our gingerbread siblings, set up a fence (good fences make good neighbors!), and pretended not to notice how many bits of candy disappeared into Iain's maw.

Dad turns out to have impressive piping skills. Who knew?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Send Help

Me: "He's never going to go to sleep."

Charles: "Satan doesn't sleep."

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Two weeks ago I attempted a cookie made from puff pastry. They're twirly swirls of sugar and butter called palmiers.

Fail. Total fail.

This week I found a new recipe on Foodgawker. I had to keep the link open for the entire week before I found time to play with a new batch of puff pastry but...

Success! Beautiful, soft, cinnamon goodness.

You can find the recipe (more of a description) here.

Long story short:
Get a box of puff pastry. I used Pepperidge Farm. Thaw it in the fridge. Lose your patience with that and put it on the counter for 2 hours.

While it's thawing, pour about 2 cups of sugar in a bowl and mix it with cinnamon. You'll have lots of leftover sugar but you need a lot to do this. The leftovers can be used to make cinnamon toast so don't complain.

When the pastry is soft and pliable, pour some sugar on your countertop and lay the piece of pastry (unfolded if it was folded) on top. Pour more sugar over the top and basically pat/rub it in. Try to avoid finger licking.

Once it's covered (I like to flip it over once so I can press more sugar in because the act of pressing sugar into dough is therapeutic enough it ought to cost $300/hr), start rolling in the sides. The idea is to roll the sides like a cigar, starting from the outer edge and rolling toward the center. Roll each of the sides so that you end up with two long rolls that meet in the middle. Think of a twirly mustache. Like that. Ish. Now wrap it in plastic wrap and put it back in the freezer. (THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT STEP DO NOT SKIP IT)

After half an hour (or a week or whatever), preheat the oven to 425F. Slice your roll into cookies about one third of an inch thick. Lay them on a cookie sheet with a Silpat, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 12 minutes.

The recipe I found calls for coarse sugar and a tiny bit of salt sprinkled on top. I didn't do this but next time I will. My cookies were great, but that extra sugar crunch would have been divine.

Cool them on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a rack.

I know from my previous experience that these store really well. Good for lunchboxes. My box of puff pastry contained two folded sheets. I prepared both, but only baked one (perfect on a single cookie sheet). So I have another roll frozen for later use. Whee!

I guess that story wasn't so short. Anyway, check out the original blog. I'll be reading for more recipes.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Last week Baby Rohan visited. The Dad needed to attend Supercomputing'12 while The Mom needed to experience a fancy hotel in Park City. Parents have needs.

Rohan is perfect. In particular, he's at the perfect age for adult social activity. He goes happily to restaurants in his bucket. He sleeps a lot. He's easy to feed. No one considers his behavior a sign of bad parenting. Basically, he's the ideal tiny person.

I got plenty of baby time. Here, you see him in his mother's arms. But he's a tolerant soul. So I held him a lot. He even pooped on me!

In other news, Iain chose his own shirt this morning, put it on, and then played alone for an hour while we slept later. Whee!

At dinner, though, he asked how long spring lasts. "Three months," said The Dad.

"No." said Iain. "It's fourteen months."

Well, duh.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Where's That Luck???

Remember Iain's Saturday night? He seemed fine on Sunday, didn't he? And by fine, I mean annoying.

But the thing about viruses is...they're patient. They wait until you think you're safe, then POW!

Iain was not fine on Sunday. He was not fine Monday. Or Tuesday. He's fine now.

Charles and I, meanwhile, are proud to have raised a child who shares. He thinks, "Hey, Mom and Dad. I found this great virus at school. I want you to experience it with me!" So proud. So, so proud.

Thus did we come to enjoy 24 hours of illness the specifics of which I will not specify. Let's just say that today I bleached the bathroom. Also, I've done about 20 loads of laundry in 4 days. Also, dramamine is a wonder drug without which no one ought to be.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

How're Your Laundry Skills?

In a heroic effort to gauge our early-morning crisis coping mechanisms, Iain spent last night vomiting into a bucket. And his bed. And his pillows. And his clothes.

He complained of a tummy ache at bedtime, but he does that a lot. Then he threw up in his sleep around 1030. Then again, again, again, again, etc. Eight times, total, by 430 am. We bathed him, stripped the bed twice, mopped the floor and quarantined the teddy bears.

Today, he seems fine. Which is to say: annoying. Demands water, jumps on the bed (frighteningly near my camera), and asks me to fast-forward Harry Potter to the part at Hogwarts (no one likes those icky Dursleys). So far, he's had some water and ginger ale. No food. We'll see where that goes in the course of the day.

In the meantime, wish us luck. We've done 5 or 6 loads of laundry so far. No end in sight!