August 31, 2011

Cheesecake and toothache

I would like to clarify that this cheesecake will not give you a toothache. Well I guess it could if you ate a lot of it, and never brushed or flossed. Fat and toothache-y. But that is probably more to do with dental hygiene than the cheesecake. This cheesecake is innocent.

However, my tooth is not. I had a dentist appointment yesterday and mentioned that this tooth over here was bugging me and is it the one I needed to get a root canal done on? He said if we didn't do it very quickly, we would need a root canal. So we (more actually he) drilled and drilled and had me rinse several times with listerene to kill all present bacteria. Apparently your tooth can be a sleeping dragon and roar awake when it is poked and prodded and drilled. (Reasonable enough I suppose) My tooth dragon is apparently plotting my slow and agonizing demise. I just saw some spoiled kids sued their mother for bad parenting because she never sent her kids care packages in college or sent birthday money in their cards. (yeah, okay morons!) The judge threw the case out. Sensible judge. Maybe I could sue my parents for poor teeth genetics. They knowingly brought me into the world of poor teeth. Or I could sue my children from leeching valuable calcium from my teeth while in utero. I am just sue happy this morning. Just TRY backing into me and getting away with it. Or disappointing me in anyway--I am creative with lawsuits. ( I blame this suing talk on my sore tooth)

Really, this was meant to be a post about cheesecake. However, when you have a roaring dragon, albeit a very miniature one, in your mouth it is hard not to comment on it. Anyway, to ignore my less than stellar set of teeth for awhile, here is the only recipe for cheesecake you will ever really need. I know, big words. Every time I make this though, at least one person tells me "this is the best cheesecake I have ever had." I will assume they mean homemade. When I am feeling in adequate, I allow myself in my secret heart to pretend they mean ALL cheesecake ever. It makes me feel special. And just so you don't think I am some cheesecake whisperer, when I give this recipe to people and they make it, people tell them it is the best cheesecake ever.

Ironically, this recipe did not come from a renowned source. It was actually on some Grandma's Kitchen recipe cards that I got the year or so after I got married. One of those, see how cool these are?--buy a lot more things. It featured a yin-yang top with kiwi and peach jams in their respective sides. Very weird. Very 1990's. Yin-yang necklace pairs replaced best friend necklaces in high school. So much more sophisticated. I never yin-yanged it.

Anyway, I use this cheesecake as the base for most other cheesecakes. I have made a carmel apple cheesecake, a strawberry-rhubarb cheesecake, blueberry topped, etc, etc. (I am thinking of making a maple butter cheesecake.) It is versatile. And yummy. Which is the main thing.

I have a new kitchenaid. This seemed like a good place to mention this. It is a 6 qt one. Lindsey had bought me a 4.5 qt one that was my sidekick for 8 years, moving all over Colorado, Alaska, and New York with nary a complaint. This last year, however, it has started to moan and stutter about kneading bread. Yes, this is a first world problem. And Amazon tempted me beyond what I could endure by offering this in a the 4.5 qt price range. Not my fault. But now, I am secretly embarrassed by so much power on my kitchen counter. Seems ostentatious. Connie P, one of the best cooks we know and love doesn't have a kitchen aid and has made better food than I for many a long year. Still, this behemouth can handle 14 cups of flour. That is a TRIPLE recipe of the rolls I made in the 4.5 quart. The downside to this is that is sounds like an angry bee while it is one. I am hoping that wears down to a pleasant, companionable rumble. The 4.5 qt is going to find a new home in Owen and Ashley's kitchen, since they don't have a kitchen-aid.  

There is my confession. My head is turned by mechanical beauty and power.

This is my new apron from Clover. LOVE. I have a nice selection of aprons now. I can choose any one of them and feel elegantly housewifey.

This time I put the graham crackers through the shredding disc on the food processor and woah! Beautiful. None of those big lumps that stick around after just processing them.

Mix with butter and sugar.

Press into pans and a little up the sides.

Beat cream cheese for two minutes before adding ingredients

Then skip ahead to where we have pictures again and pour the completed cheese cake into a pan.

Bake and voila! Yumminess.

This my friends, is goodness. Cracked top goodness. Believe me, this is good enough, no one really cares if the top cracked or not. I keep meaning to play around with a water bath to see if that would keep it from cracking, but I guess I don't care that much.


1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 T sugar
1/4 c melted butter

Mix and press into 10 inch springform pan.

5 pkgs (8 oz each) cream cheese
1 1/2 c sugar
3 eggs
1/2 c sour cream
3 T flour
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp grated lemon peel

Beat cream cheese 2 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Add sugar. Gradually add flour. Beat in eggs one at a time on low speed. Add remaining ingredients. Pour into crust. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours at 325. Chill or cool completely.

Yes, that is 40 oz of cream cheese. I never said it was healthy! But it IS good. Justin requests this for his birthday, rather than a cake. Last month, when I was making his birthday cheesecake, I didn't have sour cream, so I substituted that new Philiadelphia baking cream cheese and it was just as good or better. Also, the last time or two I haven't chilled my cheesecake, due to the constraints of time and I think it is actually BETTER not chilled. More flavorful and creamy. Personal preference though.

And this my friends is sadness. Multitasking sadness. As in carrying Gilbert and opening doors at the same time. Only a little went to waste though. Just the stuff that was literal ON the car. Not all that luscious stuff that is simply lying on top of the stuff on the car. It is that good. 

August 30, 2011

The fair and other summer things

The Franklin County Fair in Malone is historic. Internationally known too. It is the fair in Farmer Boy, where he wins the blue ribbon for his pumpkin. See? Totally worth international acclaim. We don't always get there, since it is right in the middle of conventions. Since we didn't go to Freedom, we were able to spend a day at the fair.

On the way there, I was really bummed to discover I had forgotten my camera. I knew there would be so many cute photo-worthy situations. About a half hour after we got to the fair, I was glad we hadn't brought the camera. The first thing we did was watch the harness racing in the grandstand. I went to get some homemade fries, while Justin watched the kids. Being intelligent, like you all know I am, I didn't realize that the entire grandstand is at 15 degrees. In other words, everything but the seats is slanted, including the stairs. I made a spectacular mess by falling with my box of ketchup topped fries. All over me, the grandstand, and bystanders. Yeah, I am classy like that. Then after half an hour, Justin gave me Gilbert, who had a stinky diaper. That had not been contained by the diaper. Since I hadn't annoyed patrons enough, I then paraded out with a child held awkwardly to prevent contamination on me to change him. So Gilbert's cute outfit was decreased by a pair of overalls. So a half hour in, I had ketchup all over me and Lily, Gilbert had no pants, and Justin and Orianna were still watching harness racing. It was at this point I decided I didn't mind not having a camera to record this for posterity.

The rest of the day went much better. The girls got to go on a few rides, we ate fair food, bought the girls cowgirl hats, we looked at every kind of chicken, goose, peacock and quail we could imagine and a then a few more (there are a LOT of varieties!!!) , went to see Uncle Owen who was in charge of the milking of the dairy barn, and watched a little kids horse show.

This was the first year we had been to the fair in awhile, and we were glad we went. There is no easier way to see such a wide slice of humanity as at a fair. People in birkenstocks, high heels, clogs, cowboy boots, rubber boots, no shoes, flipflops, dirty sneakers, untied logger boots, etc, etc. People being genteel, coarse, vulgar, stupid, funny, kind, mad, and on and on. Is there anything else in America that so many people from every walk of life participate in? I doubt it.

And while I didn't get pictures AT the fair, I got a few after the fair.

Go fish

Gilbert has to be locked up, otherwise it turns into chaos

Headbands are good with go fish

As are outfit changes

August 29, 2011

Justin is home! :-) (Insert Hallelujah singing here) I was only a single mom for three days and I was tired of it. I was READY to have a husband and father again, Apparently I am not super mom. Which is unfortunate. I would like a cape. I always, secretly wanted to be a super mother. I wanted to be the mother who was doing complicated, Martha Stewart crafts with her children and making it FUN. The mother who imparted pearls of wisdom her children could remember and rely on throughout their lives. The mother with the neat and tidy house that imparted a sense of calm and security to all who enter therein. The mother who makes baked goods and has the dishes done by the time the baked goods are out of the oven. The mother who knows instinctively how to put garage sale finds together for aesthetically pleasing, magazine worthy decor. And the mother who does all this while remaining calm, patient, loving, and always fair. 

Instead I manage to cobble everything together for a hodge-podge, slightly haphazard childhood for my children. I am not sure they will end up in therapy or not. But worrying about all the damage I am doing them will probably land me in therapy. 

It is really amazing to me, this blogging thing. I sit down to write a what-we-have-been-doing post and it turns into something completely different. Still, that is the point of blogs isn't it? I get to ramble and pursue tangents with no one to tell me to shut up or focus. No wonder blogs are popular. 

What we have been doing is being at Mom and Dad's a lot. JoAnna energized us all to a full scale weed whacking, weeding, and mowing on Friday night. As JoAnna put it, she was going to weed whack the pants off the farm. Then we stayed up so late talking (mostly about JoAnna's ER experiences--fascinating), I ended up sleeping over. Saturday was spent trying to make sense of the room all the cousins sleep in when they come to Grandma and Grandpas. There were about 32 books hid here and there, blankets and sleeping bags strewn about, extraneous toys that missed being put back with their mates and lots of bits of paper, coloring books, crayons, etc. Mom took pity on me and watched the kids while I came over to my house to clean it up so Justin could pretend he had married someone organized for a few minutes when he came in. Until he saw all the stuff I shoved on the shelf. I couldn't bring myself to sort through the toys and put them in their individualized bins. Why do I buy my kids toys? It is like self torture. Oh that is another super mom thing I would do--make my kids pick up their own toys and not get anymore out until the last batch is put away. 

Yesterday we got the tail end of Irene. A very steady rain all day with slight bursts of breeziness. A rainy, cool Sunday is such a luxury after a busy, busy summer. Snuggling under blankets to contemplate which book I could spend the afternoon reading seemed the height of pleasure. All that pleasure was too much to take, so I ended up reading a Tintin (Blue Lotus) that I have read probably 30 times and commenting every few pages on Tintin's inability to die. Someday I am going to count the number of life threatening situations he pulls through in a book--He must average 15 per book. HE would know how to be super parent. Actually he would probably drag his children into life threatening situations at 3 months to train them for a life of infallibility. And who would marry Tintin? Nancy Drew might be a good match, two slightly red haired detectives who come through everything relatively unscathed. They could swap stories. "Top this one, Nance." Or maybe Betty Cooper. She has a thing for orange haired guys and is apparently never going to get Archie.... Whoever it is, she would have to like dogs. 

Here are some pictures of our lazy Sunday. Caleb and Fiona spent it with us, since this is the last Sunday for months that they won't have homework and projects hanging over their heads. Food was eaten, Rook was played, Monday planned out, scattered naps happened, and the rain was watched. 

Ice Cream. With hot fudge sauce. It is what the cool kids do.

Maple butter in the process of being made.

Caleb cleaning knives. And yes, that is a dishtowel tucked in his shirt. He is a nut.

JoAnna, doing her dishes thing.

Owen and Ashley

Fiona and Olivia were having a civilized sofa chat when Caleb whaled inbetween them. Lily and Gilbert thought that was a good idea.

Mom and Dad in their respective corners.

Justin with his superb maple butter

Orianna trying out Fiona's shoes

Discussing house plans

Eating potatoes with hot fudge sauce. Just to bug people.


Fiona looking exceptionally skeptical


Sunflower--this poor flower grew from reseeding last year. It made me wish I had planted a lot more sunflowers.

What is up with that condensation in the center? I will have to look into this....

August 26, 2011

Class Reunion

My ten year class reunion is tonight. And I am not nervous and haven't starved myself for the past week/month. Mainly because I am not going. How tacky is living in the town you went to school in and not going to your reunion? Very. But JoAnna is hear (woohoo!) and Justin is in NH until tomorrow, so I just sort of decided not to go. Thanks to facebook, I know what most people are doing, so there isn't as much compulsive nosiness as there would be if I hadn't heard anything about these people in 10 years.

Ten years... Surprising how time can seem so long and short at the same time. High school seriously was a life time ago. Since then, I have got a college degree (that has never been brushed off and put to use. But hey--I have one!), got married, moved across the country a couple times, had three children, and not grown up much. It seems hard to think of 2001 being 10 years ago, but it also seems like 10 years worth of stuff has happened.

What is it about reunions that make you evaluate life? Well they make me evaluate life anyway. I have to say I am SOOO glad I am 28 and not 18. 18 was great, I had oodles of fun and life was looming excitedly and all that. But I worried enough about what I should be doing with my life, where I should move, what my major should be, what boy I should be interested in, etc, etc. Life is a lot more low key now. Not less busy, just less.... well my decisions have more to do with grocery shopping, bills and what to make for dinner than life choices. And I am happy about that--Excitement and uncertainty are better as a spice, rather than a main course. For me anyway.  

Life is good. So here's to ten years!

And here are some completely unconnected pictures. Well they prove that life is good, so I guess they are not completely unconnected. These are from Olivia's camera, so technically they are her pictures. But I had forgotten my camera, so I told her to come out and take some of them, so I feel I have a proprietary interest in them.

Garden stuff

Oh the wonder of a tomato

Love this picture!

Spaghetti squash

A running Lily-bean

A dirty Gilbert

Helping Ashley weed the flower bed

Coming back from the corn and zucchini patch

Our mutant zucchini. Lily called it a bikini this morning--took me awhile to figure out what she was talking about!

Rocky, the mostly useless horse

Alfalfa and sky

Goofy girls