Monthly Archives: August 2010

Fine artistry: Creation of an ice cream cake roll

So…the birthday has come and gone. But there remains hidden in the freezer, a good-sized chunk for midnight snacks. I took a few photos and videos of Mother rolling the cake and adding the ice cream. This is my first attempt at adding a video through YouTube, so not sure how this will work.

As it turned out, the cake roll was white (made with angel food cake mix) and filled with mint chocolate chip, a delicious variation of the first idea. But hey, who’s complaining? It was scrumptious, as is typical of Mother’s creations. When Fred asked her how many of these she’s baked over the years, she looked stunned. But if you figure she began baking these when Phil was oh, say, 10ish, and did them pretty consistently for the next 15 years, that would put her well over 75. But my guess is it’s more than that, because there were years when she had to bake more than one (for parties with many little guests). She might not agree with me.

First, the recipe and instruction; remember, this is a family recipe that has been adjusted over the years. It’s not been tested, except in our kitchens, and as everyone knows, ovens vary. Baking success also varies with humidity, etc.

One box angel food cake
1/2 gallon favorite ice cream

Prepare a cookie sheet with one-inch sides — do not grease with angel food. Instead, place wax paper on the cookie sheet.

Mix angel food cake as directed on box; add cocoa for a chocolate cake. Pour into cookie sheet, spreading evenly. Bake at 350 for approximately 20 minutes, but WATCH CAREFULLY. (While the cake is baking, sprinkle a woven — not terry — dishtowel with powdered sugar. Also, remove ice cream from freezer and allow to soften enough for spreading. Remember, the cake will be warm, which will make the ice cream soften even more.)

Remove cake when the center springs back when touched — it should be just golden colored. Let cool a few minutes, then carefully flip upside-down onto powdered-sugar covered towel. Immediately roll up jelly roll style, using towel to roll and letting towel roll with cake. Let sit a few minutes, then unroll carefully. Yes, this may crack the first few times you try it, but don’t give up.

Baked cake waiting to be rolled

Beginning at one end, spread ice cream carefully, covering a few inches of cake at a time. Roll cake over ice cream, while continuing to spread ice cream and rolling cake until completely rolled. Immediately, wrap in waxed paper and pop into the freezer. Slice when completely frozen.

If these instructions are too confusing (!), ask questions….or check your cookbooks for a recipe.

I’ll admit my first few tries were pretty cracked and gawky, but once frozen, no one cares!

Click on the following links (or copy and paste into your browser to see my first attempts at posting a video to YouTube. Next time I’ll use the Flip instead of my phone.


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Upcoming birthday prompts attempt at writing chronology

Tomorrow I turn 54 and no, this is not a request for birthday greetings. While walking the dog today, I was speculating on random thoughts, which happens when I walk sans iPOD or husband. Well, technically, that’s a lie, because I speculate on random things when I’m with my husband. I have a lot of random thoughts.

So…54. I’m not sure what that means except that 30 years ago, I was just about a month away from my first wedding. My only wedding, that is. I remember thinking how young and clueless I felt at 24. Which was true — I WAS young and clueless. Now, 30 years later, I’m not feeling particularly young but definitely still clueless. Wonder when that will change?

Among my random thoughts today was the repeated thought that I should write my autobiography — just like my Portfolio students have to do. They start this by compiling a chronology from the year they graduate from high school to the present. Their challenge is to come up with a few significant events that happened during each of those years. Fortunately, most of them are MUCH younger than me so don’t have 30 years to cover.

So…wonder how much I can remember from the past 30 years? May as well start now.

1980 — Got married
1981 — Bought first house (this I know because I told my husband I would live in that rental heap for only one year)
1982 — Saw my husband REALLY angry for the first time (this involved the phone company)
1983 — Birth of first child (talk about being completely clueless)
1985 — Birth of second child (still clueless, and obviously losing my mind because now I’m skipping years)
1987 — Started tailoring business (even more clueless)
1989 — Sent child no. 1 off to kindergarten (this might have been 1990, which I’m sure she’ll clarify)
1992 — Send child no. 2 off to kindergarten (again, child number 1 will clarify this)
1995 — Started working at Bluffton University, a decision which prompted the following question from my dad (who taught there for 30 years) — “Are you sure you want to do that?” This is the only time he ever questioned one of my decisions except the time I walked barefoot to the site where he was setting up the tent, which had rusty stakes. Yep, I stepped on one.
1997 — My sweet, funny, intelligent, and always tolerant dad, died. Still miss him. Every day.
2001 — Daughter number 1 graduated from high school and headed off to Ohio University. Daughter number 2 announced she would now get to be an only child for awhile.
2004 — Daughter number 2 graduated from high school, daughter number 1 graduated from college (she decided three years was enough), and I graduated with a master’s degree. Daughter number 2 headed off to BG, so we could bother her more regularly than we had her sister.
2008 — Daughter number 1 graduated from BG and headed off to her first job in Cincinnati. Daughter number 2 was immersed in a master’s degree. The house really felt empty.
2009 — Daughter number 1 began PhD and began comparing her teaching syllabis to mine. Well. That’s interesting.
2010 — Daughter number 2 become shift manager at her store. I developed mysterious staph infection and had major surgery. Long recovery. 30th anniversary Sept. 27…anniversary trip to Tybee Island postponed.

So there you have it. Yes, I realized I skipped a lot of years. When I have time, I’ll fill in the blanks. Soon. Before I forget any more. Because you see, one of the drawbacks of getting older is that one’s memory isn’t quite as efficient as it was 30 years ago. But hey, that’s not such a bad thing — it’s easy to forget the stuff you’d rather not remember. Or something like that.

Besides, I’m a few steps behind my brother, John, who turns…ummm…62.. on Thursday. And Don Pannabecker (oops, sorry Don, now everyone knows) is 20 years older than me. His birthday is Friday. Happy Birthday guys! Hope to read your chronologies soon.

A thank you note to a special young woman

Lily Schumacher's tiny ginger cookies with raspberry filling

Dear Lily,

Usually I mail my thank you notes, but I thought it would be fun to send yours in a blog. I’m kind of hoping this will inspire you to start blogging about your baking experiences. You could share all of your favorite recipes!

Every time you show up with your latest culinary success, I am amazed by what a kind, generous soul you have at such a young age. You’ve truly learned the value of sharing what you have with others. Your kindness cheers me every time!

The tiny ginger/raspberry jelly sandwich cookies were terrific. How did you make the ginger cookies so tiny and perfect? You have far more patience than I do.

How do you choose a new recipe? Do you scan cookbooks until you find one that sounds good? Have you ever created your own recipe? I’ll bet you’ll do that some day.

For my birthday, my mom is baking me an ice cream cake roll, my favorite. I’m going to save a slice just for you. Maybe you’ll want to try one next time you have a birthday in your house. I’ll bet your dad would like one.

Someday, maybe we can bake together. What would we make?

Thank you so very much for the “get well” cookies you’ve brought. That means a lot to me and Fred.

Sincerely,

Mary

Out out, damned drains

For the past five weeks, I’ve carried with me three, then just two, bulbs that were attached to two areas in my abdomen. Dubbed “grenades” by my eldest daughter (she the rhetorician), these are technically known as Jackson-Pratt (JP) bulbs, which are attached to the surgical tubes used to remove fluids from a wound. My three little bulbs were inserted after abdominal surgery.

I don’t consider myself terribly vain, but quite honestly, I had to learn to ignore funny looks from (mostly) adults, who would quickly avert their gaze. My friends and family knew what they were and were more interested in how much fluid had accumulated in a given time. Children, on the other hand, were openly candid in their curiosity about the drains. My sweet little neighbor immediately showed his concern. He was more interested in the whys — his comments were in no way meant to be derogatory. He simply wanted to understand. His dad and I did our best to answer his questions, but I felt woefully inadequate as we parted, with his “Whys” echoing behind me.

Today, though, my favorite surgeons decreed that it was time to release me from the drains. Trust me. This is considerably easier said than done. The time involved is minimal, but the process itself is a bit awkward. Uncomfortable, but not terribly painful. Dr. Kincaid described it as “a weird feeling”. She’s right. It’s like having something suctioned out of your belly.

I didn’t watch; instead, I thought back to nearly 29 years ago when I first learned the value of Lamaze breathing techniques. I scrunched my eyes, relaxed my muscles and breathed in and out. The Saint, of course, wanted to watch. I warned him that if passed out, no one would be picking him up until this was over. He informed me later that the drains were inserted at least 12 inches into the abdomen. Okay. That was it. My stomach did two flipflops — one at the site of each former drain. Ewwwwwww.

They packed me up with a good solid dressing, but assured me that in a few days when there is no more drainage, I can get by with simple bandages. The incision itself has completely closed up and is forming new skin. Whoopdedoo. This may not mean anything to you, but it does to me. Being released from the drains AND the dressing that creates my two-month pregnancy look, is an event to be celebrated.

There’s still the 24/7 antibiotic plugged into my right arm, but the countdown for that has begun….20 days to go. It’ll be nice to be able to get up without having to remember to grab the bag holding the fluids and pump.

Finally home after a long day at OSU, it has occurred to me that I forgot one thing…the one thing I know that my daughters will ask…”Did you bring home the JPs?” Dang. Forgot to ask. Just like we forgot to ask for the tonsils.

On why it’s best to keep random thoughts to oneself

Have you ever noticed how these random thoughts just pop into your head? There seems to be no specific prompt for this kind of thought. Or maybe you don’t have these. Maybe it’s just me. Usually, these thoughts occur when I’m doing nothing particularly productive (i.e., walking the dog, sitting on the recliner). Which, thanks to this recovery period, seems to happen a lot.

Maybe some people tuck these thoughts into the back of their minds or immediately toss them into some internal wastebasket. Not me. They usually become verbal, often interrupting some completely unrelated conversation.

For example, there we were, walking the dog on a hot afternoon. Mr. Organization was telling me about his upcoming conference for which he’d created a code to differentiate each group of attendees. Apparently, one of the registrants didn’t like the code assigned her. Actually, she probably misunderstood it and he didn’t bother to explain it — despite the fact that she’d objected twice. That’s my guy, ever gleeful to annoy someone.

So, as I’m mulling over his explanation, a completely unrelated thought popped into my head, and which, of course, I immediately verbalized. He’s accustomed to my doing this. “I wish Anne would come for a day so she can do (i.e., apply color to) my hair. I could try doing it myself…or I could let it go gray.” GASP! Did I say that?

Of course, Mr. Organization (in this case, the Saint) pounced on this. “I love your hair the way it is. Quit putting color on it (or something to that effect).”

Leaning in to me to whisper (as if anyone else would be out strolling in this sultry weather), “I like mature women.”

I think I snorted. I’m sure I snorted. He looked crushed. Because, in fact, he is completely serious about this. He likes my hair short. He likes it with the (ever increasing) gray hairs. Seriously. So there…that random thought, which had I kept it to myself, would have stayed hidden in the recesses of my stash of other random thoughts. But now…having verbalized it…I will have to undergo continuing conversations on this subject.

On the other hand, there are days when I verbalize random thoughts randomly and they go completely ignored. No response. These are usually related to spending money…like “Maybe we should get a new countertop in the kitchen.” Or “I’m going to hire Eric to paint the bedroom.” I could probably spit these out all day long and they would prompt no conversation. Nada.

So here’s the thing. If you — like me — tend toward random thoughts — keep them to yourself. It’s safer. Oh, and if they involve money, just be proactive and spend the money.