Monday, May 23, 2016

Let them eat mud

Be still, my heart.
Where the hell did the time go? Not just the five weeks since my last post, but the nine months since I weepily saw Isabel off to college? I just drove fourteen hours up to Walla Walla, Washington, packed her and her Birkenstocks, her suitcases and her friend's skateboard, into our car and drove fourteen hours back home. We listened to The Looming Tower and I saw my first Trump signs. We had a lot of time to talk. I told Isabel that I hate Donald Trump to the point of borderline derangement. She told me she doesn’t wear shoes to class sometimes. I told her she should wear shoes to class. She told me it’s not hampering her life, not wearing shoes, so why should she? I told her I hoped she at least hasn’t started wearing pajama pants in public. She told me she hasn’t. I told her she should see The Meddler. She told me I should read The Souls of Black Folk. I told her I have a lot of ideas but can’t seem to finish anything I start. She told me she wants to study in Vietnam or Thailand. I told her I’m pining after a dog, but her father doesn’t want one. She told me not to get a dog. We saw a lot of abandoned motels and barns. I kept hoping we'd see some abandoned puppies too, but we didn't. Now we are home.

This morning over breakfast Mark said, “I wonder where the Trump Presidential Library will be, Mar a Lago or --” He had to stop because I attacked him with a dirty dishtowel. 

I don't ordinarily mention politics on this blog, but my dislike of Trump isn't fundamentally political. It's animal. 

Anyway, friends, I’ve been cooking, but I haven’t been thinking about cooking and it’s the thinking, not the cooking, that gives me something to write about. I started wondering if maybe I should fast for a day or two because nothing makes food sparkle like going on a diet. The minute I decide to restrict my eating in some way I become completely fascinated with food, particularly the food I'm not allowed to eat. That would be great for the blog. I'd be so inspired! Alas, I’ve also found that nothing makes me get fat quicker than going on a diet. 

On a diet, I'd be obsessed with that picture. It would be full of poetry, mystery, sex appeal. Not on a diet, I just think the cake looks tasty.
So I did not start a diet yesterday. I made a Mississippi mud cake instead.  You bake a chocolate-pecan sheet cake and, while it's still warm, top with a lot of mini-marshmallows. After the marshmallows have softened a bit, spread with a fudgy icing of butter, cocoa powder, and sugar. According to a story in the Houston Press, the recipe "is believed to have originated post-World War II in the kitchens of domestic cooks eager to make sweets using new-fangled packaged ingredients, such as mass-produced miniature marshmallows. The texture and appearance. . . struck some as resembling the banks of the muddy Mississippi river, and so the name stuck."

I doubt it. I don't think anyone looked at the cake and thought it looked like the banks of the Mississippi River. Because it doesn't.

The cake was good. It was good. See? What a wan little addition to the food writing oeuvre. My writing would be much improved if I were on a diet. On the other hand, I had a small piece of the cake and that was plenty. If I were on a diet, resisting a second small slice would have been a mighty struggle.

There are lots of recipes for Mississippi mud cake on the internet, but Paula Deen's looks particularly luscious. The recipe I used came out of America's Best Loved Community Recipes.

I was trying to weed out my shelves and this cookbook looked pretty lame, until I opened it and discovered it was full of enticing recipes.

more of those new-fangled mini-marshmallows put to use
Maybe "enticing" isn't the right word for this one, but I am definitely intrigued. 
I felt I had to give a couple of the recipes a try before jettisoning the book. Prior to the Mississippi mud cake, I made a very solid beef stroganoff and a fabulous sweet potato poundcake that we demolished in a few days.

It was light, soft, and you could really taste the sweet potato. If anyone wants the recipe, I will happily supply.
Also, the book had a vintage inscription from Mark. He'd given it to me for my 32nd birthday.

So I can't get rid of it.
He was a boldly colored cat, and burly in his prime.
In closing, we had fifteen good years with our beloved Krazy Kat. He disappeared for a couple of days last week and then Owen found him in the yard, gaunt, mewing feebly, and covered with cobwebs. I took him to the vet straight away, the vet examined him, sighed, said Krazy was suffering the classic ills of feline old age, gave me some options, strongly recommended euthanasia, brought out the needle when I nodded my head, and that was all she wrote. He was a dear cat, a rugged, independent cat, our easiest cat. We loved him. We will miss him.