Monday, April 16, 2018

Puff the Magic Pastry, Part 2

It is the middle of April but still snowing to beat the band. And raining. And flooding!

Yesterday for the first time I can remember, and we are talking years, the Latin Mass was called off at St. Anthony's. A monsignor was coming in from the country and he could not make it.

So my brother George and I and my niece and nephew Barbara and Georgie and I all piled into the Georgemobile and went to the 11 a.m. Mass at St. Louis. It is not Latin but they have a wonderful choir. And the church is so gorgeous. That is it up above. I took that picture after Mass.

Two of our friends from St. Anthony's joined us at St. Louis. It was funny in a way, our Mass getting canceled. Facebook was alive and jumping with everyone from the congregation trying to figure out what to do. And all the while it never stopped snowing or sleeting or whatever it was doing, this glop falling down from the sky.

When I opened the door at midnight last night it was still falling!

But anyway. The important thing is, when the going gets tough, the tough get baking. Back at my house after church, Barbara and I made cream puffs.

I have always wanted to try making these and since I had just made puff pastry for the first time, it seemed like a great idea. Barbara agreed although for a little while it was a kind of tough decision between cream puffs and the lemon meringue cupcakes in Martha Stewart's cupcake book.

We used the recipe out of my old Betty Crocker cookbook. When the puffs came out of the oven we both gasped with delight.

They were beautiful!

Then we did what Betty Crocker said and cut off the tops, put in this cream filling...

... and closed them back up again. We made the cream filling too. It is kind of a Bavarian cream and it is a whole separate story.

The finished product. All we needed was a white bakery box!

What an adventure. Is there anything more fun than baking?

They even looked good after we started to eat them.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Puff, the magic pastry

Today I did my first puff pastry!

King Arthur Flour have a #BakeAlong every month and this month it was this flaky pastry with jam and icing on top. Kind of like a Danish, it looked like.

They called it "incredibly easy," which, I have to say, it was definitely not. It is amazing the mistakes you can find to make the first time around. But next time I do puff pastry I will know what I am doing and it will go faster.

And as for this one, it was a neat adventure and I enjoyed it. I have been wanting to make puff pastry. I have been wanting to take our Latin Mass coffee hour to the next level. I said that last Sunday to my friend Lou as we were washing dishes in the kitchen and cleaning up.

I said, "Lou, I have been thinking, I would like to take our coffee hour to the next level."

I loved how Lou did not laugh at me. Instead he nodded and began proposing the idea of chafing dishes which would allow us to serve scrambled eggs and other fancier dishes.

Periodically we float the idea of a mimosa bar as well. That always makes everyone light up.

We are making grandiose plans! And as long as I am getting puffed up here, I may as well take the puff pastry step.

Not as easy as I had hoped, as I said. But interesting. 

The bottom layer finally came into place, not without a struggle.

The puff pastry layer was not hard. It came together quickly in the saucepan. Then it went into the bowl of the World War II Mixmaster, as instructed. I added the eggs.

However here is where things went off the rails. The dough was beautiful but it glopped itself into the mixers so the mixer stopped. I had to clean the dough out of the mixers with a spatula and get it into a bowl. They should have foreseen that happening, fie.

The puff pastry also did not really puff up. People who commented on the recipe said that too. Still it seemed flaky when it came out of the oven after an hour or something. I topped it with my own trademark Blackheart Plum Jam.

Then I toasted the slivered almonds and topped the pastry with them and that is what you see at the top of this post.

End result, as we say here in Buffalo .... yum!

I am up for the next challenge!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Urban Sketching

The other day, Sunday, I went Urban Sketching. I like to draw and paint, I have mentioned that. And on Sunday there was a Sketchmeet happening at Forest Lawn Cemetery. To my astonishment I went.

I did not know any of the people involved in this Sketchmeet. But here is the thing. At the trad Catholic church I go to, a lot of things are forbidden on Sundays. You are not supposed to work. Or go to the gym, because by going to the gym you are forcing other people to work on Sundays. You are not supposed to shop. This bugs me, not just because shopping is one of my main hobbies, but because my mother didn't mind shopping on Sunday, and she was one of the holiest people I have known. But whatever. Better to err on the side of caution, you know?

Anyway, there I was, back home after coffee hour, asking myself: What do I do?

I couldn't clean the house. That was work. I couldn't do the book. That was work.

Then I remembered the Sketchmeet. And I went!

Long story short, it was just me and the Sketchmeet leader. Reason being, it was freezing, and snowing. Only a fool would sketch on a day like this. But we did!

We were fools for art!

Actually it could not have gone better. The leader of the group is an excellent artist, and I received free instruction. She took a picture of me hard at work. That is it at the top of this post!

I struggled through this picture of the Birge memorial, with its columns. ...

... and then, ready for something new, I took out an ink pen and drew the geese and swans that were hanging around Mirror Lake.

The group leader got cold and had to go into her car to warm up. When she came back, I told her she didn't have to stick around. It was really pretty bad and she was sitting on the cold bench. I had brought a folding chair, lucky me.

After she left I drew this sculpture called "Sisters." It is by Larry Griffis III.

You will not be able to tell this from my rough sketch -- in my defense, I was pretty freezing by this time -- but that sculpture is beautiful. Larry Griffis III is the son of the Larry Griffis of the Griffis Sculpture Park. I actually think the son had even more on the ball than the dad did. IMHO as people write. I got a bit choked up drawing "Sisters" because it reminded me of me and my sisters.

I did a pencil version of "Sisters" too.

When I was through with that I got up to walk to my car and that was when I realized I could not feel my feet.

I had been so absorbed I had not noticed that hypothermia was setting in!

That was a learning experience for me and since then I have tried every day to go outside and draw something. If I am at work I take a quick walk outside and try to draw something. Today I drew seagulls. It was sort of raining so I did not go far.

I will get good.

It might take some time, but in 15 minutes a day, I will get there!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Chick flick

Yesterday we went to Easter dinner at my sister Katie's in East Aurora.As soon as we walked in we heard all this chirping.

Soon we could see why.

There were all these chicks!!

Chicks as in chickens. They were in an incubator in the dining room. Howard made friends with one of them. That is Howard in the picture, chickening out!

Howard said later that once those chicks grew up, he could never eat one of those chickens. He feels too affectionate toward them and sorry for them.

He said, "They are born to be food."

Now I feel bad thinking of that. Because guess what is in the oven for dinner tonight. You guessed it, chicken!

A big roast chicken because I gave up meat for Lent and I missed it. I bought that chicken on Holy Saturday for this express purpose. At my sister's we had delicious turkey and venison and now it is time for chicken.

When Howard sees the chicken I do not know if he will think back on those chicks he met last night.

Jeoffry would not care one whit, I will tell you that. The cat in the picture with Howard is my sister's family's cat, Jinx. Jinx has no problem with the chicks. Jinx co-exists.

Jeoffry would not, that is for sure.

Meanwhile as I chew on these dilemmas everyone else in Buffalo is at Dyngus Day. I wrote a story about it in the paper. It is on the front page today! It is "A Newbie's Guide to Dyngus Day."

I should be at Dyngus Day basking in my glory and marching with the contingent from St. Adalbert's who invited me. But I am getting over a muscle sprain, darn it. I hurt my leg somehow and exacerbated it sitting for hours on end at work and then visiting the Seven Churches on Holy Thursday. I did a story on that, too! The Seven Churches tradition fascinates me.

Anyway, these are the wages of that. All my friends, and all my friends from church, and my brother, and everyone else I know, they are all at Dyngus Day. OK, there is one friend who got a bad cold and she has to sit it out, too. But other than that everyone is there.

Well, I will look on the bright side. There is this chicken. Even if Howard does not eat it, I sure will.

Plus there is just the fact of Easter week.

Is there any happier time??