Berry Awesome Cobbler

While I dearly love food — eating, cooking, growing, canning, baking, shopping, ogling, etc. — there are really only a few desserts that turn me into a dangerous fork-wielding maniac.  I generally prefer savory food to sweet.  I can’t put down a really good, crusty bread.  I will eat a giant bowl of tabouli without pausing to breathe.  Cheese, bacon, cabbage, nuts — I can’t be stopped.  But sweets?  I love making them but generally find that I’m sated with just a small bit of the finished product.

Except for two very specific dishes.  Tiramisu we can discuss at another time, but suffice it to say I make very very good tiramisu.  Today I want to discuss cobbler.  Specifically berry cobbler.

I love berry cobbler in a way that would sustain a marriage for 50 passionate years.  But mind you, it has to be GREAT.  There is nothing worse that a shitty, soggy, tastes-like-paste cobbler.  And I have been angered by plenty of these.

The best cobbler, to my belly, is also the simplest.  And the best recipe is Meme’s Blackberry Cobbler, from the very excellent cookbook Bon Appetit, Y’all by Virginia Willis.  Even Martha agrees.

I pretty much follow the recipe, though I make changes depending on what I have available.  For example, today I desperately wanted cobbler but also desperately wanted to not go to the grocery store.  So I used three cups of frozen mixed berries and tossed them with 1/3 cup of sugar mixed with 1 T corn starch because they were *really* juicy. (NB:  I generally hate corn starch and do whatever I can to avoid it, but sometimes I give in and use it when soupiness would ruin the dish).  I also used bread flour today because I ran out of AP and, for the first time in decades, I did not have any more in the pantry because for some weird reason I intentionally bought rye flour instead of AP last week.  Yep.  I make awesome shopping decisions while pregnant.

Anyhoodle, here’s the basic recipe.  You can use fresh or frozen berries.  You can use other fruits, too (peaches, cherries, etc.).  I usually add lemon zest to berries, fresh grated nutmeg to cherries, and almond extract instead of vanilla for peaches.  ENJOY!

Berry Awesome Cobbler

Meme’s Blackberry Cobbler from Virginia Willis’ Bon Appetit, Y’all

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 cups fresh blackberries
  • 1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream, creme fraiche, or ice cream, for serving

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in a large cast-iron skillet or ovenproof baking dish, in the oven, 5 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, place blackberries in a large bowl. Using a potato masher, mash blackberries to release their juices. If blackberries are tart, sprinkle with sugar.

In another large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add 1 cup sugar, milk, and vanilla extract; mix until well combined. Remove skillet from oven and add melted butter to flour mixture; stir to combine. Pour mixture into skillet and pour blackberries and their juices into the center.

Transfer skillet to oven and bake until top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the batter comes out clean, about 1 hour. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature with whipped cream, creme fraiche, or ice cream.

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Filed under Food Pr0n, Recipes, southern foods

Pink Chocolate

The other day Luli informs me that she wants to make pink chocolate cupcakes.  So, we did.  I was planning to write a whole post about making your cupcakes moist (RRRAWWWRRR!!!), but I apparently have a poppy seed stuck under my space bar from eating on the computer (yeah, I know — unless you want to tell me how to get it out, I don’t want to hear it).  Also, I’m having some wicked braxton-hicks contractions — like nonstop.  Also, the Fetus has moved such that I can actually eat for the first time in weeks, so I’m going to go devour a box of Milk Duds.

In the meantime, here are our gorgeous Pink Chocolate Cupcakes:

Pink Ladies

SDH PINK CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

Cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 T powdered espresso or coffee
  • 1 cup boiling hot water
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup and 1 T granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 c sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375.  Lightly butter, or line 20-ish muffin cups with paper liners.  In a small bowl, stir the cocoa powder, the espresso, and the boiling hot water until smooth. Let cool to room temperature.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Then in the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat only until incorporated. Then add the cooled cocoa mixture and mix until smooth.

Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full with batter and bake for about 16 – 20 minutes or until risen, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. (Do not over bake or the cupcakes will be dry.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.  Frost after the cupcakes have completely cooled.

Frosting

  • 8 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 8 oz  cream cheese, softened
  • 4 T unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar

In the top of a double boiler or a heatproof bowl, melt the white chocolate, stirring often. Remove from the heat once melted and let cool to lukewarm. Transfer the melted white chocolate to a large bowl, and add the cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Beat together at medium speed until you have a smooth sauce. Add the confectioners sugar and beat until smooth.  Tint with red or pink dye (I use Wilton’s).  Or don’t.

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Lowered Expectations

When I was pregnant with my first, I obsessively read every book on pregnancy and childbirth I could get from the library.  I mostly focused on the more “medical” books, but I also read a far amount of the schlock, as well — probably because as an expectant single mom, I felt a desire to belong that was normally absent from my psyche.

I thought that the ‘What To Expect’ books were horribly condescending and really kind of crappy to anyone who wasn’t a white, hetero, married, non-poor, etc. etc. etc.  I honestly found the book that was written by Jimmy Iovine’s wife to be more helpful and less judgmental.  Because seriously — if ANYONE ever “gave me a look” when I ordered dessert at a restaurant while pregnant, I would be across that table so fast they wouldn’t remember anything but a blur of pregnant fury.

Bloody show, indeed.

My opinion hasn’t changed much and I really haven’t read any pregnancy books since then. And aside from Hip Mama and Mothering, I’ve found most pregnancy/parenting magazines to be utterly void of anything helpful or interesting.  Nor am I the type to hang out at pregnancy websites unless I am looking for a very specific answer to a very specific question.  I’d much rather troll around GFY or io9.  I mean, I get that most of the appeal is the excitement of being pregnant and wanting to share, but I sort of feel like I’ve already done enough research and am ready to just focus on practice.

So, I exist in a pregnancy bubble.  I’ve got everything I need baby-wise.  I have bins of diapers and clothes and I’m part of a circle of ladies that have been shuttling around an ever-growing heap of maternity clothes for about 6 years now.  A quick peek down my shirt assures me I can feed the baby.  As for the rest, I generally just hope that the mechanics of pregnancy and childbirth haven’t changed too much since the last one.

Anyhow, I had an unusually long wait to be seen at Dr. YoureHavingAGiantBaby’s office yesterday.  The tv was running some weird ad/show on repeat, I’d failed to find anything interesting to read via my blackberry, and my husband had quit responding to my text messages (probably because I was mainly just updating him on how many times I’d peed).  So, I picked up a copy of some parenting magazine.

Holy shitballs, y’all.

It was about 11% “interviews” with CelebrityMoms like the wife of that dude from Creed and 89% advertisements-that-looked-like-articles for crazyass crap like this:

Yes, those are holes over the boobs.  It’s like the opposite of pasties.  But WHY?  It’s advertised as a garment to ‘hide your unsightly belly while nursing.’  They should have spun it as a garment that will ham-fistedly advise your partner that sexy times are GO.

And really, most of the ad-ticles were for utterly unnecessary and perplexing things.  Or they were for books and products that would show you how to be a skinny pregnant bitch who is a tiger in the sack and wears 4 inch heels at all times and is confused for a model.  While all the “interviews” were with women whose jobs consist of being sexy, having gobs of money, and being utterly out of touch with the way that 99% of people live.

I mean, I GET IT.  We, the pregnant polloi, are not doing it right.

When you are pregnant — especially for the first time — it’s almost like puberty all over again.  You have to get to know your new body, your new gender/sexual identity, and your news feelings — both emotional and physical.  It’s a weird and disconcerting time.  Not to mention that around the bend is an entirely new source of fear and anxiety — parenthood.

And really, the LAST thing any woman needs on top of that is to be told that she “has to be” skinny/sexy/confident/energetic/happy/taut or else she will be embarrassed/ashamed/deficient/guilty/weak.  But yet that is the capitalism of American pregnancy, isn’t it?  There is only a handful of “right” ways to be pregnant, but don’t worry, we have an infinite supply of things you can buy to get there.

Seriously, fuck off already.

Expectant mothers, please feel free to be exactly and whatever the hell kind of pregnant person and new parent you want to be.

And if that involves wearing a the tank equivalent of crotchless panties, more power to you.

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Filed under Babies: Making and Raising, Cultural Oddities, Getting to Know Me, Signs of the Apocalypse

Could I BE Any More Pregnant?

I suppose, yes.  I could be carrying 100 tiny fetuses.  Or I could be heading into week 72 of pregnancy.  As it is, however, I am carrying a monokin and am somewhere between week 35 and week 38 depending on which doctor you talk to.  But this is what I looked like last weekend:

All Fear Pregantor!

To be honest, I don’t think this picture actually does it justice.  My belly/uterus is GIANT.  It enters the room a good five minutes before the rest of me. People gasp and cover their children’s eyes when they see me.  I am truly a spectacle.  And it probably doesn’t help that I have officially quit giving a shit about how I look and have decided that I will not wear any more “maternity” clothes.  I went to Target the other day wearing my husband’s 2X New Pornographers t-shirt and a pair of cut-off sweats that might have belonged to K.  You wish I were kidding.

On the plus side, as you can see, I am a lucky bitch who is not prone to ankle swelling, so from the knees down I look great in those cut-off sweats.  And the reality is, giant uterus aside, my weight has stayed about the same since January (it’s okay — I gained enough for the whole 9 months in the first 4). But because of my AFI level and the reported size of the fetus, there just isn’t a whole lot of room for anything else.  Plus I have developed aversions to dairy and wheat for some insane reason and can only eat sweet stuff at night and in very small doses.  So I try to make the most of what I can manage to cram in; almonds, high-protein bars, and cereal with almond milk are my constant edible companions.  Yeah, I miss eating normally.

But back to the original question.  The latest news is that this baby is supposedly already well over 6 pounds.  And my perinatologist is still insisting that my due date is May 21.  So…   If a fetus gains approximately 1/2 a pound a week at this point and I have five weeks left to go, then I will have 9 lb + full-term baby.

Nope, no way, no how.

Let’s just go ahead and get freaking real here for a second:  I am NOT having a 9-10 lb baby.  My first was 6.6 and my second 6.13.  Both were completely healthy full-term babies and had perfect Apgar’s.  I refuse to believe that I am currently carrying a week 35 fetus who is already bigger than his full-term sister and brother.

And lest you think that I am stupidly attempting to substitute my own medical assessment for that of a trained professional, I should point out that this same doctor also thought my last baby was going to be a huge fat monster baby, and so they induced me at 38 weeks.  They had measured her to be already well over 8 lbs; she was 6.13.  Not to mention, my OB thinks I am most likely 2 -3 weeks further along.  I like her thinking better.  Plus, my theory does not result  in me being pregnant for five more weeks and then trying to give birth to a full-grown adult.

Because the bottom line is, I don’t really know how pregnant I am.  But even assuming that they have over-estimated the size of this baby, I simply cannot fathom being this pregnant for 5 more weeks.  Two weeks more, okay.  I can swing that.  I have still have shit to do before the baby is out and about.  But FIVE?

I refer you again to the above picture and ask, could I BE any more pregnant?

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Yo, Cupcake…

Hey Cupcake...

When I’m tucking Luli in at night, we like to talk about what we are going to do the next day.  Sometimes we make plans to do mundane stuff like read books or play with blocks; other times it is more exotic things like make bacon or go to the bank.  Luli really likes going to the bank.  Anyhow, the other night Luli asked if we could make cupcakes, and I of course said ‘sure’ because I am not some sort of monster.  Also, I like cupcakes.

The next day Luli arose all excited for cupcake makin’.  Truth be told, I did, too.  But while I love cupcakes as much as the next person, I didn’t feel like using any of my usual recipes; nor did I feel like making the usual 2 – 3 dozen.  I figured a nice dozen would be enough.  Luli requested chocolate frosting.  I agreed.

This recipe is loosely based on Beranbaum’s Yellow Butter Cake recipe (from the Cake Bible); I’ve noticed the Joy of Cooking recipe is almost identical.  I don’t know which came first.  Mine is different.  As I’ve prattled about elsewhere, I follow much of what the fabulous Rose Levy Beranbaum teaches, but not all.  As a southerner, I generally find her cakes to be a tad on the dry side — especially if you have to refrigerate layers during frosting and filling.  Anyhow, I wanted a quick easy dozen cupcakes with a simplified, non-meringue buttercream, and here is what I came up with:

The Hussy’s Quick and Dirty Dozen Butter Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Buttercream

Cupcakes

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 T whole milk
  • 2 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons room temp unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Frosting

  • 8 oz milk chocolate chips
  • 8 T room temp unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350.

In a small bowl, lightly combine the egg yolks, oil, T milk, and vanilla extract.

In the bowl of your electric mixer combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt).  Add the butter and remaining milk.  Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened, then beat on medium for about 3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Turn speed to low and slowly add the egg mixture.  Beat on med for about one minute.

Divide the batter and pour into lined cupcake tin.  If you only fill the tins halfway, this will make about 14 cupcakes.  So either fill the tins a little more and just make a dozen, or bake the excess in a mini-pan and let your kids have their way with it.

I use my face to frost, right?

You might want to give them an off-set spatula to use.

Hairnets!

So, if you’re lucky, you will get something like this:

Mmmm...Nice tongue prints.

Anyhow, back to the cupcakes.

Bake 17 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in center. Remove cupcakes and cool on rack.

While cupcakes are cooling, melt chocolate in double broiler.  Remove from heat and stir until smooth.  Let chocolate come down to room temp.  Add butter and beat until smooth and shiny.

Frost your completely cooled cupcakes.  Put remaining buttercream in jar and refrigerate; this makes the perfect late night pretzel dip or can just be scooped out and eaten while one pretends to look for the mustard.

SDH Butter Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Buttercream

Cupcakes will best retain moisture when kept in an airtight container like tupperware or Vader’s hyperbolic chamber.

Behold my cake-frosting prowess!

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Filed under Cakes, Chocolate, Food Pr0n, Kids in the Kitchen, SDH Exclusive Recipe

Ba(b)y Watch…

Greetings From Inside My Uterus!

Okay, so for anyone keeping track, I am now 32 weeks pregnant.  Or possibly 33.  Or 35.  Whatever.  As far as I’m concerned, I’ve just got a few more things to wrap up and then it’s ON.

Ozzy, as we have been unable to stop calling him, is measuring about 4 1/2 lbs now.  My AFI is still pretty high but was actually lower rather than higher for the first time, so yay.  Also, I don’t feel quite so on the verge of splurting, so that’s nice.  I am still bouncing between peaced out mode and disgruntled badger mode several times a day.  It’s mostly just frustration that I can’t physically get everything done.  Well, that and the worrisome roof leak.

Anyhow, while I’m not normally prone to sharing pictures of my internal lady bits, the above photo was pretty funny.  I think he’s ready.  Or possibly just mocking me.  Especially since I’ve been having BH contractions so strong they take my breath away.  It’s like he KNOWS his room isn’t ready and I haven’t pulled all the diapers out of storage and I haven’t fixed the crib yet (Luli broke the hell out of it).

You would think that after going through this twice before, I would *GET* that no amount of preparation actually prepares you.  You fix the crib and the baby wants to sleep in her car seat.  You drop cash on a Snugli and the baby prefers the sling.  I get it.  It really doesn’t matter.

But nonestly, though, I am a little nutso about “the baby’s room” because frankly this is the first time we have had one.  With my first, I lived in an efficiency.  With the second, we lived in a small two-bedroom and didn’t have space for a crib.  So really, this is the first time we have actually have a “nursery” in any sense of the word.  The room needed a TON of work, as it has been a man-cave, a spare room, and a nasty drop zone for all the odd bits and ends for the last two years.  And really, it hasn’t been cleaned in that time, either.  The walls (plaster) are in pretty crappy shape and there are chunks of plaster missing from the ceiling from when the drop-down was put in.

But we’ve gotten a lot of work done and really, it just needs to be painted.  And I know where all the diapers are.  And we don’t need the crib right away anyhow.  So I just need to relax, eat a protein bar, and get back to work.

I just need a few more weeks…

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Meyer Lemon Curd

Meyer Lemonpalooza, Part Two

As promised, a little how-to and what up on lemon curd.  Specifically, Meyer Lemon Curd from my Earth Fare bounty.

Curd Glorious Curd!

For starters, I would credit the origin of my recipe, except I have NO idea where it came from — it consists of a hastily scrawled page in one of my recipe notebooks.  So, if this recipe looks familiar to you, please comment and let me know where it comes from.  Anyhoodle, behold the glory:

Meyer Lemon Curd

  • 12 egg yolks
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 6 meyer lemons, zested, juiced and strained.  This should yield 1 cup of juice and about 4 T of zest.
  • 1 cup of butter, room temperature and cut into chunks

In a heavy saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar.

Place saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the lemon juice.

Once fully combined and sugar appears dissolved, switch to a wooden spoon.

Soon to be curd

Stir continually for 10-15 minutes, lowering the heat as you go so that it does not boil.

When the curd is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, remove from heat and stir in butter.

Strain the curd through a mesh sieve into a bowl (bowl should be glass or  stainless).  This is to get rid of any nasty cooked bits of egg.

Whisk in the zest.

Mmmmmm...

This will yield about 4 cups of curd.  If you are going to can, process in water bath for 20 minutes.

Eat it all in one sitting or pace yourself and keep it in the fridge.

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