Friday, December 9, 2011

Peppermint Meringues

It never would have occurred to me to make meringues, until Emilia, looking at the cover of this month's Bon Appétit magazine, declared: 'Those look like yummy!  Should we make them, mama?'  They came out of the oven about an hour and a half ago, and so far I have eaten, I don't know, 104 of them maybe?  They are divine.  They taste like an incredibly sophisticated candy cane, and they are perfectly sized.  Ours are slightly wonky-ish, but I have never piped meringues before.  So there is no need to be rude.  ('Mama, this one looks like a swan!')

Anyway, we are currently trying to decide what sort of cookies to leave for Santa on Christmas Eve.  Not sure if he is the peppermint meringue type, though. 

Peppermint Meringues
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
12 drops red food-coloring

Preheat oven to 200°F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using a heavy-duty mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg-whites and salt on medium-high speed until foamy and white, about 1 minute.  With the mixer running, add the sugar -- in three increments -- beating for 2 minutes between each addition.  Continue to beat until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes longer.  Add the powdered sugar and peppermint extract, beat until nicely blended, 1 minute longer.

Dot the food-coloring over the surface of the meringue.  Do not stir, the color will swirl itself while being piped.  Spoon meringue into a pastry bag (we used a freezer bag, because they are so much handier, albeit less green) fitted with a 1/2" tip.  Pipe rounds onto your sheets, about 1" in size and about 1" apart.

Bake the meringues until dry.  This should take about 2-1/2 hours.  Let them cool completely, about 1 hour.  They will crisp up as they cool.  But I must say, they are also quite tasty straight from the oven.  The meringues will last 2 days, but store in airtight container layering with wax paper.  (Recipe from Bon Appétit Magazine.  December 2011.) 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

On Randy and Ralphie

This morning Emilia just about shocked the pants off of me by choosing to make her own bed.  This is exactly how it looked when she finished with it, and I am not even kidding.  I've never seen her attempt such a thing before.  In fact, she doesn't ever seem to notice if her bed is even made -- let alone the idea of someone actually doing it for her.  But there you go, she did it, and I give all the credit to watching too much telly. 

The three-and-a half-year-old has been mildly obsessed with the movie 'A Christmas Story', or as she likes to call it, 'Randy & Ralphie'.  And me, being a rather awful parent sometimes, have been putting it on for her to watch.  I do cringe throughout, if that is any consolation.  And I have vowed to chuck the thing in the trash the moment she calls someone a Smart-Ass.  But there is no denying that it is probably the best Christmas movie this side of Charlie Brown.

Anyway, you know that scene toward the beginning when Ralphie marks the page in a magazine with the ad for a Red Rider BB Gun, and then props it, ever so nicely, against his mother's pillow for her to see later?  The idea being that she just happens to see the ad, and then thinks what a great Christmas present a Red Rider BB Gun would be for Ralphie. 

My sweet little Emilia, not thinking to put her catalog on mama's and dada's bed, has placed it on her own.  I love this so much.  It just shows that rather than ask mama or dada for all the loot she has been scoping out, she goes to bed dreaming all the magical things that little kids dream.

What warms my heart even more is that when we sat in front of the computer this evening doing some Christmas shopping, she saw the catalog I had set aside.  I have had my eye on a piece of Mexican artwork, and because it is rawther expensive, it is not actually on my Christmas list year.  But it is beautiful, and one is allowed to stare, no?

And so, my sweet little thing, took the catalog from my hands, and said she would get it for me.  She then ran to find a paper to mark the page, à la Ralphie.  I found the catalog an hour or so later propped up against my own pillow.  And it made my heart glad.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Either the Couch Goes, Or I Do!

Well, Dear Reader, I am not sure if I have mentioned it as of late, but our house has been driving me bat-shit crazy.  We used to be big believers in the whole stupid notion on 'bigger is not always better', which was all fine and dandy when it was just Michael and me.  But now we have doubled -- and our space has shrunk.  And I don't care what anyone says -- the smaller the person, the more crap, er... I mean, accoutrements, they seem have.  I am tripping all day over plastic broccoli, wooden stacking rings, wicked-loud microphones (that record your voice, enabling for some rather spectacular singing, I must say, for all to hear later), wooden train pieces, and plastic bowls.  This would not be so bad if the rest of the house wasn't crammed to the gills.  And the room to fare the absolute worst lately has been the living room -- or, as I like to call it, The Gypsy Waggon.  I have no idea how we have managed to fit so much junk it it, but we have.  And I have been lamenting this fact very loudly, er, I mean very much the past month or so.  'Where in sam hell are we supposed to put a blasted Christmas tree??  Huh, where?  And don't even tell me over there, because that clearly will not work!  For hell's sake!'  Or something like that anyway.

And then tonight...  Michael comes home from work.  And he tells me he has to work all weekend.  No really, all weekend.  I say, 'fanfeckingtastic, but we are supposed to be getting a Christmas tree tomorrow.  Where shall we put it?'  And there you go.  The couch that we have had for years and years is gone!  Yippee Yahoo!  We stripped it of its cover, turned it on its side, and moved it to the garage, where it had better not sit for the next five to seven years.  But there you go, it is gone!  I have loathed this piece of furniture for years now -- seriously cannot even look at it without grimacing, but could not get rid of it because of the comfy factor.

Yes, if you are wondering, I did call my mom and give her a heads up a few weeks ago.  It went something like this:
'Oh, by the way, did I tell you?  We are getting rid of that big old couch in the living room.  I am so happy.  However, this means we will no longer have anything comfy to sit on.  On the bright side, this will be an impetus to buy something else, don't you think?  Mom?'
'Oh, honey, I don't blame you one bit.  So what else is new over there?'  (Pause)  'Wait a minute!  Now where am I going to sleep?  Oh great!  This will not do!'
My mom has this thing over the past several years of liking to sleep while sitting up.  This is done with a plastic toothpick in her mouth, a Kindle and reading light in her lap, a cup of lukewarm tea teetering precariously somewhere within the vicinity, and her head bobbing all over the place.  This is completely true, and I can assure you that my mom will no longer be speaking to me for three to five days because I have divulged this tidbit.  Anyway, when she comes for a visit, this arrangement typically (always) takes place on the comfy couch.  So, with this in mind, I swear and promise (and all that jazz), that we will have a new shiny and comfy thing to fit this very purpose in the next couple of months.  And, I can assure you, all hell will break loose if we don't.  Just ask Emilia if you don't believe me.

The girl was so excited tonight moving the couch out of here.  She helped Michael move the car, propped the door open, ran around with the cushions, helped me sweep the garage afterwards, and announced several times what a good helper she was.  Seriously, she was exhilarated.  Then we came in, closed the door, and I went back to the business of trying to feed Leo and getting dinner together.  Emilia stood in the kitchen and began to sob.  'But I don't want to sit on the cold couch now!  I just want the other couch!  It is warm and snug and cozy!'

To be honest, she does have a point.  The little slick leather affair (that now sits where the other did) has always been called The Cold Couch, because it is just that -- freaking cold.  And it is not squishy.  And it isn't terribly comfy either.  But it looks a lot better, and I happen to be in a fragile state these days with The Gypsy Waggon effect.  So the Cold Couch it is -- for now.  Besides, we can now fit a Christmas Tree, and this is very good news.