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. 

59 comments:

  1. So sorry for you fur baby loss! I would love your sweet potato pound cake recipe, I have been baking a pound cake every few weeks, trying to replicate my mom's.when she was still here on earth, I had zero I interest in baking, I miss her and all her cooking!! Can you share a traditional pound cake recipe?? My last three were just okay, not the dense cake I lovingly remember.

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  2. I'm so sorry to hear about your cat. It's really hard when that creature is such a part of daily life.

    Selfishly, I'm very glad to see another post from you. I love your writing, even the parts that aren't food-related, and I was worried that you were giving up the blog. That sweet potato pound cake looks fantastic!

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    1. Yes...I was worried too. Sheesh can't believe I said that. But it's good to see another post.

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  3. So sorry for you fur baby loss! I would love your sweet potato pound cake recipe, I have been baking a pound cake every few weeks, trying to replicate my mom's.when she was still here on earth, I had zero I interest in baking, I miss her and all her cooking!! Can you share a traditional pound cake recipe?? My last three were just okay, not the dense cake I lovingly remember.

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    Replies
    1. Here is one of my favorite pound cake recipes for you to peruse. I think I remember it being dense. It is definitely moist and flavorful, and it is a good keeper.
      http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/lemon-buttermilk-bundt-cake

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  4. Would it be nosy to ask what "8moy" or"Smoy" stands for?

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    1. His (partial) last name, I'm fairly sure.

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    2. Thanks!

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  5. You didn't drive 14 hours, pack the car, then drive 14 hours back, did you? You did sleep overnight, right? I once drove to Mendocino (from SF) and back in one day and that was a dumb idea.

    So happy to see a new entry here. Very sorry about your beautiful cat.

    I've had good luck making Elvis Presleys' Favorite Found Cake; I bake it in the Nordic Ware Spiral Pan and it looks and tastes great.

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  6. That's Elvis Presley's Favorite Pound Cake.

    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/elvis-presleys-favorite-pound-cake-232642

    Also, I'm so different those who would vote for Trump that I don't know that I could ever call one of them a friend of mine. He frightens me.

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  7. Sorry about your cat, glad you are back, and you should *definitely* get a dog. Now that I've lived with the most wonderful dog for 4 years I can't imagine ever not having a dog.

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  8. When I checked and there was a post, my heart lifted! You have been missed so much. I'm very sorry to hear about your cat. Krazy Kat was a handsome boy. I can relate to your problems with eating/cooking/dieting, although I don't ever diet anymore. It's fasting or nothing for me. I HATE thinking about calories and what/when I can eat, so intermittent fasting works for me. Of course I want that pound cake recipe as I am a sweet potato freak. I think your drive home with Isobel sounds wonderful; it must be so rewarding to be able to enjoy each other this way! Donald Trump, what to say? It is so surreal and disturbing to think of him running, much less getting elected. Wouldn't his library be in the Trump Tower? I have always had dogs, and I love them, but just remember how much trouble they can be and that you will be alone in caring for it. If you still want it after thinking about that, go for it! Unconditional love is hard to come by in this life, and I want all of it I can find.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you need to borrow a dog for a week or so. Maybe soomeone needs a dog sitter. Really...they are a pain. It's toilet training FOREVER. My daughter recently got a dog. Some poor decrepid (spelled wrong) street urchin from Mexico of all places. Like we don't have enough stray dogs here....but I digress. I borrow him when I go on a walk in a dicey park in the mountains or woods. Hes a great hiking dog. If only he wouldn't poop he'd be a great dog.

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  9. I am so glad to hear from you, and so sorry about your lovely Kat, and so excited for Isobel and her Asian adventures. Just wanted to say thanks for writing - you have been missed!

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  10. I know if can be really hard to say good-bye to the animal members of our family. I am glad Krazy Kat returned so you could have a proper good-bye.

    I am so glad you are back to blogging and you must be thrilled to have Isabel home for the summer.

    I am not sure I can go for the Mud Cake since I was reared on Texas Sheet Cake, which I gather is Mud Cake without the marshmallows, more or less. But I love those old cookbooks and always breathe a sigh of relief that jello salads of the type pictured have fallen out of fashion, at least in my neck of the woods. I was also reared on "Christmas Salad" (red jello with cherries separated with cream cheese/cool whip from a layer of green jello with pears -- served with homemade mayonnaise, of all things). To this day, however, Pretzel Salad remains a favorite (strawberry jello with strawberries, sweetened cream cheese, and a pretzel crust). I've made it for many a non-midwesterner and now, in San Francisco of all places, I am obligated to bring it to any warmish-weather gathering.

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  11. I'm so sorry about Krazy Kat.

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  12. That last photo made me cry at the computer terminal at work where I am reading your blog instead of ringing up customers. XOXOHilary

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  13. Happy to read a new post- and one that resonated in many ways. I am so very sorry about your sweet cat, I know how hard that is. And I too am revolted and scared by Trump- yes, to borderline derangement!
    When my daughter graduated from college a few years ago, I suggested we get her a new pair of shoes for the occasion. Her response was "I have to wear shoes?"

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  14. I am not a huge fan of family pets, but I sobbed for hours when our old dog died. Sympathies to all of you.

    I had extraordinary shoe laissez-faire in college (I cringe now at the outfits with which I paired Tevas). This too shall pass.

    Lastly, two years ago I made Thanksgiving dinner entirely from vintagenrecipes from the 50s and 60s. I cut dinner prep time by two thirds and wore out a can opener. And it was delicious. Yes, let them eat mud.

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  15. Like Beckster, my heart lifted when I saw there was a new post from you and I settled down happily to read your news (having just finished reading your entire blog from day one, you feel like a close friend - sorry if that's creepy, but don't worry I'm far away in Australia!). So very sorry to hear about Krazy Kat. We went through something similar with our dog about a month ago and I'm still quite devastated at the great hole he left behind. I'm glad you have Isabel at home - it must be lovely to all be together again. Rachel x

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  17. My condolences on the passing of Krazy Kat...

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  18. I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved Krazy Kat. He sounds like a wonderful companion and entertaining personality.

    Like everyone else, I'm glad and relieved to see a post from you, and happy Isobel and you had such a good road trip.

    Best Loved Community Recipes looks weirdly great. I would like to know more about Frosty Confection (ice cream? frozen mousse?).

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  19. I would like to add my condolences about Krazy Kat's passing. I also have aging cats; been there, done that. For such small animals, the size of the hole they leave behind is truly amazing.

    I adore sweet potatoes and am always on the lookout for a good recipe that includes them. I'd like to have that sweet potato pound cake recipe; the ones I've tried so far have had no sweet potato taste at all, so what's the point?

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  20. I share your feelings about Trump (although I also despise Ted Cruz), but unlike you, I go on and on and on about it. I'm sorry to hear about your kitty, and even though 15 years is a good run, I know you will miss him. Get the dog.

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    1. I feel that both husband and wife need to be on the same page about having a dog; if one of them does not want one, it's unfair to get one.

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  21. I am so sorry about Krazy Kat. And I just signed that ipetition against Trump--the one 450 writers signed. I have never done this before. And since we're talking politics...Paula Deen makes me very nervous. I know, it's a recipe. Still.....

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  22. Definitely get a dog! And get him a Donald Trump chew toy-- could be a satisfying way to watch the rest of the election season. I'm so sorry about Krazy.

    Unrelated: how can you resist a dessert called, unironically, Frosty Confection? Please report back!

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  23. So glad you posted. Wish lots of fun for you , having Isobel home for awhile. A dog can be a wonderful companion. Even better, two dogs--I actually think it's easier. For pound cake, I lovevDorie Greenspan's recipe, originally a British recipe--very fine crumb, tender, keeps well, but so good it won't last long. It's in her book, Baking from my home to Yours.

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  24. lovely you are back. more about conversations with Isobel please. thank you.

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  25. Jennifer, I just finished Lab Girl, and it was a wonderful book! Thanks so much for the recommendation. I haven't read many books that educated me while telling a poignant story that often made me laugh out loud. I felt enriched when I finished it.

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  26. Oh! I'm sorry about Krazy Kat. We had a calico named Sesame who made it to 19—although her last few years were quite skeletal and weird. It's so hard to let them go. Big hugs to you and your fam. XO

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  27. Sounds like Krazy had a good life full of love and appreciation - I wish that for all animals. I'm with you about Trump, he's what Jefferson, Adams and Franklin warned us about. Dogs rule - I vote that you get one and I bet your husband will be in love with it by the end of the first week.

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  28. bring on the poundcake recipe! BTW, spent the past week reading your blog archived posts. Love all the reports on which cookbooks your family members picked, whether they liked the recipes. Also the burgeoning urban farm exploits and exotic travels. Picked up some great tips on movies, books, and food and read your articles in other publications when the links still worked. All this while packing for a move. Please continue writing your blog--your voice is one of the most honest ones out there.

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  29. Your Kat had a grand adventure for a life. If he was suffering, there's no guilt in helping him be free. Yes, please, sweet potato poundcake...

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  30. I am very sorry about your kitty. It's so hard to lose a member of the family like that.

    I would love sweet potato pound cake, but my husband does not like anything with "that orange flavor," so if I made one, I would have to take complete ownership of eating it and I don't know if I can do that.

    I just hope that by the time I am my mother's age, I am no longer focused on losing 15 pounds. That's one of her main topics of conversation and it is boring.

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  31. So sorry to hear about your kitty. They leave an empty space when they go. And you should definitely get a dog!! Please keep writing even if you aren't cooking a lot of adventurous things. I will read anything you write!!

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  32. Love your blog and I've missed it!! I'm so sorry about Krazy Kat...those little creatures become part of the family and it's so hard to say good-bye. I disagree about Trump, Hillary and Bernie are the ones that scare me witless!

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