Monday, October 19, 2009

Martha Stewart I'm Not

The other day I found myself on the blog, Bake It Pretty, gazing longingly at the perfect autumn recipe:  Ginger Tea Bread

It was a lazy Sunday morning, so thought I would give this recipe a whirl.  Let me tell you, I was feeling a little Martha Stewart-ish when I discovered that I had NOT ONLY all of the necessary spices, but also a full, unopened jar of molasses.  Molasses! Who keeps that just lying around?  I considered myself a kitchen goddess for all of ten seconds, because that's when I noted the best by date on the jar:   February 2007.   How embarrassing.  Oh, well.  On to the spice cabinet. Ginger - check!  Allspice - check! Cloves - check!  Cinnamon - check! 

 All expired?  Check!  Good grief.  The ginger was so old it didn't even have a Best By date on it.  Fear not.  Apparently, I used to have OCD and had written the purchase date on the bottom of the jar.

Does that say 2002 or 2007?  Oh, surely I haven't had that in the cabinet for seven years.  I did a quick search on the internet for "the shelf life of spices" which led me to the McCormick's website (duh) where I found a handy dandy spice-o-meter.  If your spice jar doesn't have a Best By date, you just enter the code on the bottom of the jar and the city of manufacture.  I did that, and this was the result I got:

Yep.  2002.  Expired.  And don't call me Shirley.

Undaunted by the fact that the main ingredient was seven years old, I proceeded to make the recipe anyway.    That's when - using a knife to break the seal on the molasses jar - the knife slipped and cut my thumb.  

Good grief.   It hurt worse than it looks and it was bleeding!  It still hurts today, but don't you worry about me.  I washed it up and put on a Band Aid.   The remainder of the recipe went without incident.  However, can I say I hate loaf pan recipes?  I had way too much batter for that one pan.  Fortunately, I had some mini pans.  Even though I doubt Martha would use aluminum disposable pans, I poured the extra batter in them.   The two little loaves cooked up perfectly in about 23 minutes, but it took the regular sized pan about 15 minutes longer than the recipe called for.  As a result, the edges were a lot darker than I would have liked.   

The mini loaf popped out of its pan easily and was absolute perfection.  Considering the fact that half of my ingredients were expired, it tasted pretty darn good.  My Martha Mojo resurfaced a little at this point, and I got a little cocky. Trying to take the cake out of the pan before it completely cools is not a good idea.

This is Exhibit A after I tried to smush it all back together:

 Amanda from Bake It Pretty, suggests wrapping the cake in plastic and serving it the next day.  Excellent idea.  The flavor gets stronger and the hard edges I was worried about softened.  I took it to work where it disappeared quickly.  I've noted before my co-workers may not be the best gage of good eats as they remind me of the hyenas in The Lion King.

Unless, of course, they're raving about my quasi Martha Stewart-type offerings.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I'm Just Wild About Harry

If you read this, you already know I love Harry Connick, Jr.  I think he's talented, funny and handsome.  Simply put:  the total package.  Imagine my excitement when his new CD was released last week. 

Your Songs is a collection of standards - old and new - done in Harry's signature big band style. I made the mistake of reading a review of the CD first, which said:

"There's a little too much of a lounge lizard 
creeping into this collection of pop standards and 70s faves."  

I bought it anyway.  Fortunately, my memory is crap these days, and had forgotten all about the review by the time I got to listen to the CD.   It wasn't awful, but there was something not quite right, something I couldn't quite put my finger on.  What was it...?  And then the words LOUNGE LIZARD popped into my head.  I'm so sorry, Harry, but that's the God's honest truth.  I wanted to like it, I really did.  I wanted to like it because you sang the most understated, respectful version of the National Anthem on September 11:  

I wanted to like it, even after visiting your website a couple of weeks ago and found the O in Connick looked like this on the website banner:
I won't lie.  My bowels seized up a little when I saw that.  But I'll listen to the CD again. Did I mention I truly want to like it? Besides, I resigned myself long ago to the fact that if I discounted entertainers solely on the basis of their politics, I'd be stuck watching Chuck Norris and Kelsey Grammer in a remake of the Odd Couple at The Buck Creek Playhouse.