Have you seen: “Grace and Frankie?”

Netflix has really been putting out compelling programming lately. We were already addicted to “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black.” Due to the fact that Netflix releases an entire season at once, Chris can be a binge watcher and wants to keep watching since it is all available right away. I am more of let the ice cream melt mentality. What does ice cream have to do with watching Netflix? As a kid we did not have desserts or sweets very often. Mostly just when we spent time with my grandma. On rare occasions when we would have ice cream, I would often eat it so slowly that the last half of my bowl was runny and soup-like. I was trying everything I could to let it last longer and longer — even to go to such lengths as using a smaller spoon to eat tiny bites. It was such a treat I wanted it to last longer.

I want the same for when I watch a good show. So while I do not want to wait a week to see the next episode, I might only want to watch 1-2 a night and then let it all soak in and start again the next night. Recently we happened across a new show called: “Grace and Frankie.” We watched it like I used to eat ice cream. Enjoying it along the way. We watched the last episode on Saturday and I have to say that I am a bit bummed that we are done with the first season. The show is about two couples, and well…I do not want to give away what happens with these couples, so you will have to watch. Just know that the two couples are played by Martin Sheen, Sam Waterson, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin. Having just finished watching “Newsroom” with Jane Fonda and Sam Waterson, and having loved West Wing, we were hooked. The first episode is a little slow, but it gets better. I also relate to one of the daughters, Brianna, as she is the sassy one.

The episodes are thirty minutes so it is a quick season to watch. I hope it does well for Netflix because I would like to see Season 2. This weekend, we get to start watching the next season of “Orange is the New Black.” Better make sure we have ice cream.

Random recipe: Chocolate Chess Pie

My mom was not always the most amazing cook or baker, but somehow I have childhood nostalgia for a few recipes we made as kids. My mom’s recipes had a bit of an early burial. After college my sister purchased a used laptop. This was back in the day when a laptop was as thick as a brick, and cell phones were used in cars for emergencies and also looked like bricks. Not long after she purchased the laptop she decided to transfer all of my mom’s recipes over to the laptop and get rid of the paper versions. Made sense at the time right? Not until the laptop died and she lost everything on the hard drive. This was before we had a zillion ways to back up a computer.

It was a sad day. Over the years I have thought about that laptop and all the recipes we lost. I still have some of my mom’s cookbooks, but the recipes on index cards, worn and used are long gone. A few of the recipes I remember and have not tried to recreate, but there was one particular recipe that I have tried countless times to recreate with no success. I have tried to remember the ingredients and put together what I think were the amounts, and I have tried to find a recipe on the Internet with similar ingredients, with no luck. I have had runny finished products, nasty tasting ones, and ones that were just boring. Chris has given up on me finding it. I am relentless. I will try until I find it.

Recently I found this version on Design Sponge. Still not my absolute favorite but it gets closer to the real deal. We were lazy and purchased a pie crust rather than making it from scratch. For the full recipe click the link below (pie crust included). We also just used ice cream rather than their whip cream. To me a good Chocolate Chess Pie should be served warm with cold ice cream to make the pie congeal. A bit like a warm brownie and ice cream. If you have your own version, let me know – I will try it!

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Chess Pie (From Design Sponge)

Pie Filling

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk

In a medium bowl, stir together both sugars, the cornmeal, nutmeg and cocoa powder, mixing until completely combined. Stir in the vanilla, butter, eggs and evaporated milk and mix until fully incorporated. When ready to bake, position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell. Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Remove the pie and cool for at least one hour. Serve with ice cream.

Random recipe: Warm Chocolate Souffle Cakes

Sometimes you just need something sweet. It has been a rough week. There have been days this week where by the end of the day I could no longer formulate a complete sentence. In a meeting yesterday I kept starting a thought and was not able to finish it. It was after 5 pm, and someone in the meeting mentioned that it was due to Daylight Savings Time. (I sure hope so.) In any case, sometimes when you just hit your limit you need a bit of warm chocolate to make things better. Like Mary Poppins said: “Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Last night I needed just a spoon full of warm chocolate to make it through the rest of my day.

Warm Chocolate Souffle Cakes (Found in a recent issue of Portland Monthly Magazine)

(Makes a dozen 6 oz cakes)

15 oz bittersweet chocolate (at least 64 percent cacao)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup and 1/2 cup sugar, separated
1 pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter 12 individual baking dishes (6-8 oz) or spray with nonstick vegetable spray. Set a large metal bowl over a saucepan filled with an inch or two of simmering water to create a double boiler. Melt chocolate and butter in bowl over low heat. Set aside and cool to room temperature.

2. Place egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. With the mixer on medium speed, add 1/2 cup sugar and a pinch of salt, and mix until yolks are slightly thicker and lighter in color, 2-3 minutes. Then using a spatula, fold the beaten yolks into the chocolate and set aside.

3. Wash and dry mixer bowl. Add egg whites and whisk on low speed, gradually adding half of the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Increase speed to medium, and whisk until whites form soft peaks, 3-4 minutes. Slowly add the rest of the sugar, increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, 30 seconds to a minute longer. In three additions, fold the whites into the chocolate-yolk mixture until just combined.

4. Fill baking dishes three-quarters full. Bake until just set and a bit jiggly in the center, 12-14 minutes. Serve immediately. (It’s delicious with vanilla ice cream drizzled with honey.)

Not too hard. We actually cut the recipe in half because we did not think we could eat the dozen mini cakes fast enough, so we only made six. They are so worth the time (and really not a complex recipe at all). I love the congealing that happens with warm chocolate cake-like items with cold vanilla ice cream.


Sand and ice in the UP

I spent a few summers in the Upper Peninsula, Michigan. I loved the sand dunes, and the wide shores of Lake Michigan. It felt almost like an ocean, as the lake stretched out so far you could not see the other side. Some days the waves were as high as the waves of the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean. I have not been back since 2000, but I still have great memories, and the nostalgia has not waned in the least. I often talk to Chris about taking a week in the summer and going up to Northern Michigan, playing in the sand dunes, and living the leisurely life of the beach on Lake Michigan. I have quite a few fun memories of sand dogging, trekking down the sandy peaks to launch into the lake at high speeds. Summers of cherry waffle chip ice cream, and amazing food (the bread was to die for, I have pictures to prove that I ate plenty of bread).

So when I saw our crazy, snowy winter make an avalanche of snow on the Upper Peninsula, I was in awe. These are the shores that I swam, and ran down the sand dunes, and to think of the crazy amounts of snow and ice that have pummeled the sandy shores. It made me want to go and play in the snow and ice as I did in the sandy, beach dunes (well sort of, as I am sure it is so damn cold). I think these nature created ice caves are simply amazing, and how often do they happen? How often does nature have a unique way to keep our mouths agape at the wonder in front of us? Be sure to click the above link to take a look.

Circa 1998

Circa 1998

If you have never had the opportunity to explore the Sleeping Bear Dunes in Northern Michigan, you will want to put it on your bucket list. It is one of the most beautiful, relaxing, slow-your-life down places in the country. You might not have cell phone coverage, so you will have to check out of your smart phone habits, enjoy your family, the fresh air, and sand coming out your pores, in your car, and in your bed. It is the summer life in Northern Michigan. Can you tell I am addicted?

Appreciating my better half

I have not written about him directly in a few months, probably not since our anniversary, but I am inspired to tout my husband. His birthday is coming up, and it makes me stop and think about all the years we have been together, all that we have become, and all that we have accomplished. It makes me giddy thinking about it, but isn’t that the way it should be?

  1. In many ways we are very similar, and yet we are so, so different. He is the calm to my fire, the balance to my scale, the voice of reason, the one you listen to when he speaks because he is not talking all the time.
  2. Midnight snacks in no particular order: cereal or ice cream, or cereal and ice cream.
  3. I lucked out that we have similar aesthetic tastes from wood floors, furniture, to the most important: artwork.
  4. We both waver between being introverts and extroverts. Regardless, I love that we can have a badass time whether snuggling on our couch multi-tasking with our laptops and the DVR, or out for dinner with friends. It does not really matter what we are doing when we are together.
  5. I found a boy who loves it most when I leave the house so he can clean (note: he really just likes to clean uninterrupted, he is not that passionate about vacuuming). We both agree that a clean and organized house leads to a balanced mind. When we feel at home in our home, we are truly able to relax. It is nice that those tendencies are common in both of us, and not something we struggle or have to agonize over.
  6. I know that when we sleep in on the weekends, I will always have to get up first, he will always want to stay in bed, and the only way we will ever start our day is for me to sneak out of bed first.
  7. He likes bourbon, chocolate, and cheese, oh and did I say bourbon?
  8. He knows when I am at that tipping point between tired and exhausted, hungry and famished, and how to keep me from going to the other side.
  9. Lastly, the boy has mad taste in women. I mean he picked me right?

Happy Birfday, Christopher.