Sunday, August 12, 2012

An Apple and Ten Eggs a Day

I think we may finally have a break from the heat here in Wisconsin, not to mention a couple of days of rain. I am also trying to find out where exactly I was while summer was whizzing by.  I went to a store yesterday to get a bathing suit for Annabelle only to be greeted with not only school supplies lining the end caps, but snowsuits!  I realized that it is almost the middle of August and summer is almost over.  The positive thing about shopping for a child's swimsuit in August is that if you are lucky enough to find one, it is only four dollars and seventy-nine cents.  I suppose for that price I can overlook the Seasonal Affective Disorder that is looming behind the racks of winter boots next to the clearance flip flops. 

This shopping trip yesterday also provided me with a parenting lesson, which I always value and appreciate.  Annabelle and I stopped at the grocery store to get a few items to supplement our meals which are now comprised exclusively of eggs.  While in the produce section I parked the cart in order to go pick out some shallots.  Usually at the grocery store Annabelle is transfixed with all the bright lights, colors, and people-watching, but I believe those carefree days are over. 

When I returned to my cart I found Annabelle elbow-deep in the bin of apples.  I briskly walked over and attempted to pretend that this was my plan all along.  That as an engaged and intelligent parent I somehow trained my 10 month old baby to help with shopping and her job was to get the apples while I got the shallots.  I don't think anyone was buying it.  She did pick out an apple and I thought, "meh. she can hold an apple while I shop, who cares?" Mistake number one.  I then made my way over to the cheese case to find Gruyere cheese (authors note: you cannot find Gruyere cheese in rural grocery stores, you must resign yourself to Swiss).  While I was obtaining assistance from a deli employee I glanced at Annabelle, only to find that she had eaten the top half of the apple.  I gasped.  Embarrassed I explained, "Well I didn't think she could eat an apple."  and then we walked away.

As I watched her working pretty hard on a small piece of apple skin, I decided taking the apple away was in everyone's best interest.  Mistake number two.  It was at that point my sweet, well-mannered Annabelle unleashed a tornado of fury onto the poor unsuspecting shoppers of  Pick N Save.  I have never really seen Annabelle have a tantrum before and it was...terrifying.  Red-faced and screaming with fists clenched, Annabelle made it clear that she picked out that apple for a reason. And that reason was for her to eat it and no one was going to stop it from happening.

Far be it from me, her mother (and an adult) to interfere with her plans. I handed her the apple back.  It wasn't as though she picked up a donut, it was an apple. I'm sure it wouldn't kill her. And if forced to choose between a tantrum and coughing up appleskin...I pick the coughing up  apple skin.  And as I handed her back the apple and watched her face return to it's normal color I did what all horrified mamas do in those situations: I loudly exclaimed things like "Sounds like someone needs a nap"  or "Are you expressing your anger in a healthy and normal way" as if this would somehow negate the display of rage that people had just witnessed.  

So we carried on our merry way, again, as though this was our normal routine.  We walked up and down the aisles with my baby gnawing on an apple like this is something we do every day: Shoplift produce that is not appropriate for a baby to eat, but let her eat it anyway.  And I held my head up high when I handed a slobby, half-eaten apple to the checker and said "Oh, and this too please."  Yup. We do this every day. It's our routine, I am in complete control of the situation and my baby at all times.

The whole point of this shopping trip, as I mentioned, was to get some items for dinner.  We are now getting anywhere from 9-11 eggs per day and they are starting to pile up.  I have a cookbook that was written by an chicken-owning enthusiast entitled "Chicken and Egg" and found a recipe that not only looked like a good dinner, but also used a lot of eggs.  So for dinner last night I made a Mushroom, Bacon, egg bake.  Living where I live I was forced to substitute Swiss for Gruyere, but beggars can't be choosers.  I will admit this was a tasty dinner.

Mushroom Bacon Egg Bake
This delightful dish used 10 eggs.  If Bryan and I eat one of these every night we may have a chance at staying ahead of production.

Peach Raspberry Upside Down Cake
And this morning I decided that it was probably to my advantage to do some baking in further attempts to use these eggs, and I actually enjoy baking and this morning it was about 59 degrees in our house so it seemed like the perfect Sunday morning activity for Annabelle and I.  I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I am able to get things done with Annabelle scooting around the house reeking havoc the way she does. If I can clean the bathroom or get a load of laundry done without her setting fire to the dogs, then I feel like a superstar. 

 So from the "Chicken and Egg" book I decided to make a Peach Raspberry Upside down cake.  I suppose now, looking at this picture, it doesn't look as appetizing as I thought. Something seems to have gone wrong with the brown sugar and butter on the bottom of the pan, it doesn't seem to be the right color.  But I did have a piece of this cake and it was delicious.  I think it would be more delicious served warm over vanilla ice cream...but I'm not going back to Pick N Save with Annabelle this weekend in the event someone recognizes us as the shoplifting tantrum baby pair.
Blackberry (or in this case Raspberry and Blueberry) Cornmeal Cupcakes

Experiencing a rare burst of culinary energy, while the cake was baking I decided to immediately make Blackberry Cornmeal Cupcakes.  These cupcakes are a favorite of mine, but since I didn't have blackberries I decided to use raspberries and blueberries instead and they are just as tasty. 

Both of these recipes are so easy to make and I'd even go so far as to say that you could probably get either of them baked in less than six and a half hours if you didn't have a baby "helping" you bake.  I have learned that if something is supposed to take thirty minutes to complete, if you have a mobile baby you must multiply that by at least a factor of 7 to get a better estimate of when you will be done.  And if you have dogs, chickens, and a farmer in your house you might as well multiply it by 10.  But I am still proud of what I was able to accomplish.

Annabelle's "helping" consists of removing every item in the kitchen from the
cabinets and flinging them around into other objects until she gets bored, or
until I lose my mind...whichever comes first.
After I cleaned up the kitchen I sat back and thought about how fast this summer has gone by.  And while I am immediately depressed at the thought of winter around the corner I have to pat myself on the back for all the fun my family has had this summer. So many firsts for all of us.  Our first eggs, Bryan's first trip to the beach in thirty years, Annabelle's first trip to the zoo, her first merry-go-round ride, her first tractor pull, her first swimming lessons just to name a few. 

And her first birthday is just around the corner.  I never cease to be amazed at how quickly the time goes, it just doesn't wait for us.  So when Annabelle is sitting on the floor banging my expensive cake pans together I have to stop myself from worrying about damaging the pans and embrace how happy it makes her.  I know that it will not be long before I am wishing she was made this happy by the simple things.

So now Annabelle and I sit outside enjoying the cool breeze and I can't help but notice that the Goldfish crackers I have been giving her have been tossed over the side of her jumper because apparently nothing is more hilarious than watching your dog eat your snack.  Sigh.   And I also can't help but notice that as I type it is today's daily installment of my least-favorite chicken entertainment...chicken humpfest. I apologize for being crass but there is simply no other way to describe it. 

I would like you, the reader, to believe that I am sitting here sipping a lemonade being serenaded by songbirds and the whistling of the breeze through the corn as I type.  But you should know the truth.  The backdrop of this blog is nonstop chicken on chicken CRIME.  We have already attempted to control our rooster population a week ago with a feast of green beans and potatoes from our garden and....grilled chicken.  It looks like chicken casserole will be on the menu this week.  And I know that may sound barbaric but think of my poor hens.  My sweet girls who enable me to have Egg Bake for dinner, and blueberry cupcakes, and peach upside down cake are being taken advantage of.  There is no chicken Planned Parenthood or ACLU to help them, it's up to me.  And if I have to eat chicken noodle casserole in the name of hens' rights then , so be it.

Martha Stewart's Blackberry Cornmeal Cupcakes (From her book "Cupcakes")
1 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 Cup fine ground yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted then cooled
1 to 2 containers of blackberries (6 oz each)

1.  Preheat oven to 375.  Line standard muffin tins with liners. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar.  In another bowl whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter; pour over flour mixture, whisking to combine.

2.  Fill each line cup with a scant 1/2 cup batter.  Top batter with blackberries (3 to 4 berries per cup), then sprinkle evenly with the remaining 2 table spoons sugar.

3.  Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until evenly browned on top, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before removing cupcakes.  Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are baked, but will keep up to 2 days at room temperature in airtight containers.

Time goes by fast

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