Sunday, January 29, 2017

Going Banana (Bars)

There are days I should not be allowed in the kitchen.

Today was one of them.

For lunch, I decided to try out a new recipe (first mistake) for a tuna (second mistake)-noodle casserole. It could be that this recipe, in the hands of any other cook would be just fine, and not the bland, yet colorful, left-overs-for-days nightmare that I created. It could be that I tend to use recipes as “guidelines” rather than “directions” when I am cooking, adapting them to family likes/dislikes and ingredients on hand.

It could be that I completely changed the taste of this casserole by subsituting sauteed, fresh peppers for a jar of roasted peppers (both of which are vegetables and both of which are disliked by the boy child). It could be that I angered the pasta gods by substituting penne pasta for fusilli pasta (potato, potato).

Or it could be that any recipe which combines tuna (which the boy child dislikes), and green beans (see: boy child/vegetables/dislike) was doomed from the start.

The husband, who likes to eat much better than he likes to cook, declared the casserole was “tasty.” This was a bold-faced lie and we both knew it. He continues to lie to me this way because I am currently enjoying a 60% success rate in terms of tasty cooking. I am coming off a string of hits including, but not limited to potato soup, monster bars, and scotcheroos.

The boy child, on the other hand, has not figured out the link between bolstering Mom's ego and a continued supply of monster bars. Within an hour, he was digging through the freezer searching for un-frostbitten pizza rolls.

Undeterred by my lunchtime loss, I decided to try a new recipe for banana cake. “Baking,” unlike “cooking,” is a mystical art that is part chemistry, part sorcery. I make every attempt to follow the recipe carefully, if not obsessively, while baking.

I mashed the bananas and set them aside; I mixed the dry ingredients and set them aside; I creamed the butter until it was light and fluffy. I added the eggs.

Only when I noticed my light and fluffy butter becoming bumpy, clumps of butter surrounded by snotty egg whites, did I realized I had forgotten to cream the sugar and the butter before adding the eggs. During my brief stint as a half-baked home ec teacher I drilled that important step into the minds of my students. But it was too late to turn back. What was the worst that could happen? I knew the worst that could happen, and it did.

Instead of the “smooth, slightly thick batter with some lumps” the recipe said I would have, I had a runny batter with a lot of gloopy, curdy lumps.

I was frustrated, because I had waited all week to try out this recipe. But my frustration was half-hearted, because I am the only one in the house who actually likes banana bars/cakes/bread. And if I'm being honest, the only reason I like them is because I can use up the ripe bananas, relieving some of my guilt over letting them go to waste.

The good news is the banana cake turned out ok. It is banana cake, after all, not brain surgery. And the cake features a thick layer of cream cheese frosting.

Cream cheese frosting makes everything better.

Everything except tuna casserole. (But I wouldn't bet against it.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

(Hot) Flash in the Pan

I was promised hot flashes.

OK, so maybe it wasn't so much a promise as a threat. Or maybe an ominous warning.

But still.

As I sit here waiting for my toes to fall off one by one, because I'm fairly certain my bones have turned to ice and the cold is leeching through the flesh of my little piggies – is that frost forming on my shoes? – a little hot flash is starting to sound good.

I know I should be careful what I wish for. I've heard the horror stories. I've seen the red, sweaty faces. The sudden, desperate self-fanning and shirt flapping. The discreet opening of doors and windows.

And I sympathize. Really. I do. It's just that . . . I can't feel my toes.

I'm not envious. Really, I'm not.

I just want a little of that heat.

Maybe a luke-warm sparkle.

Just enough to put a healthy, pink glow back into my fingers, which have turned white and waxy and numb. A medical website (Canadian. They're experts on cold.) suggests that I can reduce the frequency and intensity of waxy-finger by wearing mittens. Although, I'm not sure how this helps when the cold is coming from the inside of my fingers.

I'm also supposed to decrease stress and anxiety. Nice idea, but I have teenagers. And a husband. And a cat. Stress is my middle name. Really. I had it changed.

And I'm supposed to avoid caffeine.


What good will it do me to be able to feel my fingers if I am cranky and sleepy? Believe me, if I'm cranky, you don't want me to have full control of my fingers. I'll flip you the middle popsicle so fast it will make your head spin. 

The internet also assures me (Threatens? Warns?) that my time is coming. Menopause is as inevitable as death and taxes. Today I may have icicles for fingers and frozen stubs for toes, but tomorrow I could be one Hot Mama. Literally.

Anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, foggy thinking, thin hair, moodiness, food cravings, weight gain . . . apparently I have been menopausal all my life.

Or maybe I am just too damn young to fully appreciate all the exciting changes that are waiting for me. (As one friend asked, “How can I have hot flashes and cramps at the same time?”) After all, I'm only what, 29? 35? 42? Nearly fifteeeeeee-ish? Plus? (See: foggy thinking.)

And maybe Mother Nature and Father Time don't use the same alternate math as I do.

So I'll wait.

Over here by the space heater. With my blankie. And my mittens. In July.