food

Four Generations

This weekend we headed to Grandma’s house for our first ever, mom and kid sleepover.  The kids had no intertest going to a restaurant as suggested by Grandma, they wanted to cook her dinner and serve it to her as if her kitchen was Chez Grandma’s French Bistro.  Grandma being Grandma agreed this was a fantastic idea.

On the drive to her house, my son asked me if it would be okay if he asked Grandma questions about how she and Grandpa met and what her life was like as a child.  What more could you ask for from your child?  I told him that Grandma would love to talk about Grandpa.  I think people avoid asking questions about loved ones who have passed away to avoid avoid triggering saddnress or loss.  I believe it must be hard for someone like my Grandma to NOT talk about the man who meant everything to her (and still does) for over 70 years.

We had a wonderful time, my Aunt Janet came over to complete the full 4 generations of Ostermeier’s!  My kids were thrilled that Aunt Janet actually LIKES to play games with them and doesn’t mind getting down in the dirt.  For dinner, the kids served mac and cheese, huge deli sandwiches, salad, hummus, and cupcakes that we bought from the cupcake truck.  They ran around the backyard like my sister and I did as kids, we visited my aunt’s house and investigated her back yard, we played some games of Uno, ate sweets (cause as my daughter says, Grandma is the best sweet maker around), Grandma and I continued our effort to trace the lineage of our family tree combining folder after paper folder and logging them in to Ancestry.com.  It was especially sweet when Aida told Grandma that her middle name is Tongret and that her great grandpa painted a picture just for her.  Grandma chimed in that yes, he sure did.  In actuality the painting was painted by Grandma’s dad, Bland Tongret.  Grandma gave it to Aida when she was born because we chose Tongret as her middle name. 

Grandma made a wonderful breakfast, cinnamon rolls, eggs, cinnamon toast, extra crispy bacon, YUM.  We ended up messing up grandma’s house beyond recognition (sorry).

I can’t think of a better way to spend a weekend with my family.  I can’t think of a better way to honor the life of my grandfather.  His spirit and presence is everywhere in that house.   At one point Grandma said, “It is good for the kids to know this place.”  And she is right, this house of Grandmas has been a fixed beacon in my ever moving life.  This house is home, filled with love, love, love. 

Grandma and Aida!

Grandma and Aida!

Sandwich bigger than the plate!

Sandwich bigger than the plate!

menu, restaurant, kid

“restaurant” menu

family viewing photo book

Here Aida shows Grandma and Janet our family photo book. Jonah wants to see too!!

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What I learned today

The cake frosting experience wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  I learned a lot in a very short time.  This recipe for buttercream frosting is maybe the best tasting thing I have ever eaten.  The cake itself really tastes good too.  Here are some things I learned and didn’t learn.

  • I need to pay attention to the sides of the cake.  I used two nearly-the-same size cake pans, bu the small difference in their sizes made for quite uneven sides to contend with.  I finally gave up trying to make them perfect, but I can now see that with enough patience and practice, I’ll be able to pull this off (I hope)
  • I need someone else’s math skills to half, double or quarter my recipes.  I struggled to convert 17.5 oz of sugar into cups assuming 4 lbs. of sugar is 9 1/2 cups and then I need it multiplied by .4 .  Seriously, I had to call my mom.  Still not sure we got the right amount of sugar, but it tastes amazing.
  • I thought my cake leveler would be awesome and it really just seems to be a pain in the butt.
  • Factor in the crumb coat.  I was an idiot and didn’t do a crumb coat because it didn’t look like I had enough frosting.  So, I went straight into application. I think the entire cake would have looked better with a solid base layer.
  • Too little frosting is a BIG error.  I think next time, I’ll make extra just to be sure.
  • Mix mix mix mix.  My overall colors didn’t turn out as solid nor as bright as I wanted.  One factor was clear, I didn’t mix thoroughly enough.  I also might need to get a different kind of gel coloring.  The Wilton blue just doesn’t seem bright enough for me.  Maybe what I am looking for isn’t possible in a buttercream.  The color I want for the wedding case is much more subtle though.
  • Amazon boxes make for great cake boards, at least for these practice cakes.  I’ll go with Rachel’s suggestion for the real deal and buy wooden cake boards.

That’s a lot for my brain to take in in one day.  Hope you like it.

Tales of a misdirected cake baker – Shopping list

This weekend I talked to the sister who is planning her wedding.  I asked how her wedding cake selection is going.  She looked at me with a little bit of surprise and said, “well….I don’t know since you are the one making the cake.”  I remember (foggily and perhaps under the influence of much wine) mentioning at one point or another that I would be willing to make the cake, but the pressure might be a little too much for me.  I also remember a discussion of focus, I would obviously be focused on the cake and unable to pay a lot of attention to other aspects of wedding preparation.  That said, the $800 + wedding budget line item convinced me that this would actually be the best wedding present I could give them.  I’ll be detailing the step by step processes I go through. 

My first challenge is to decide the size of the individual tiers and develop a shopping list. 

  • pans.  I have yet to decide if I should go with 2″ or 3″ deep pans there is strong sentiment online for both.  I’ll keep researching and will share the links. 
  • dowels
  • cake boards
  • cake stand
  • cake leveler
  • icing spatula
  • cake decorating turntable
  • icing coloring
  • fondant rolling pin (large and small)
  • ruler
  • fondant rolling surface
  • ingredients (duh this will be once we decide flavors of the layers)  

My goal today is to order the cake pans and a couple of other of the necessary supplies.  I still can’t decide on the 2 or 3 inch. 

Wilton has a good website to figure quantities.  Though apparently I am supposed to use different calculations depending on whether this is the main dessert or not.  I’ll have to figure that in.  Well, I do love a challenge.  We’ll see how this goes.  Luckily I have a few of test runs in my future.  I figure we’ll need a Christmas cake this year, certainly a cute cake for the shower I’ll also be planning and there is a 9 year old birthday in March as well.   Any ideas, suggestions or advise is greatly appreciated here!!

Progressive Appetizers and Drinks, 5 houses, 5 hours, 10 friends!!

I have always housed a bit of envy for tight knit little neighborhoods where people spend time together, raising children, eating and drinking together.  I guess I imagine the smalls subdivisions of my youth with the swimming pools their center (in which I never lived).  Last summer I was pleasantly surprised when hundreds of my closest neighbors enjoyed a movie in the park across the street.  That evening, I snuck out with a few fellow parents for a mini spontaneous wine tasting.  The idea of a travelling appetizer and drinks evening was born.  5 homes in five hours.  Little bites and cocktails at each one.  Fellow blogger and neighbor Virtual Farm Girl blogged about the evening already and is going to compile a list of the recipes.   The food was amazing. 

I feel incredibly fortunate to have such talented drinking friends.  Our kids got along fabulously and so did the grownups.  My husband passed out a 10 and I was right behind him.  I hurt so much the following day, but what a great night.  I would kill for the empanadas and soup right now.

Intelligentsia can bite my fat ass

I love coffee.  I love good coffee.  I spend a fair amount of money each morning on coffee.  It is something that has become a part of my routine that I love.  I work downtown Chicago and for years I would go to Starbucks for the morning cup-o-joe.  One day, a new coffee shop opened up and opened my eyes to a different variety of coffee.  They had great staff, they were friendly and they even offered inexpensive refills throughout the day.  They also had a buy 10 get one free card.  What a joyous moment it was when I found them.  Then, things began to change.  They stopped the discounted refills entirely.  The nearly sent me over the edge, but I figured, they needed to keep costs down.  You know, prices are high for the addictive beans.  Also, the staff became not as friendly.  A few would still chat with the customers, but most even stopped smiling.  Then the FINAL STRAW.  Intellegentsia decided to stop selling the large coffee.  In the July 9th edition of the Chicago Tribune, the owner of Intelligentsia said, “Drinking our coffee is not like drinking jug wine,” said Intelligentsia Coffee founder and Chief Executive Doug Zell on Tuesday. “We’re focused on intensity of flavors and providing coffee in the way it tastes best. And it’s not in that size.”  What in the heck is he talking about?  This is the biggest crock of shit I have heard in a long time.  So I started to read some of the comments people put into the Chicago Tribune web site, and you would be amazed what people are saying.  Basically, somehow Intellegentsia’s not wanting to sell a large coffee is about people being too fat.  I quote Sara in Chicago,

I wish ALL companies would do this. A great way to begin tackling the obesity problem is to address how portion sizes have gotten out of control in this country.
Or SMK of Elk Grove Village
Snobby and elitist, folks? I don’t think so. Not every beverage has to be 32 oz, fatties.
My favorite comes from some sprite named Small is Beautiful who says
only in a city ilke chicago would people think intelligentsia is acting “elitist”. go ahead keep on drinking your 20 oz coffee and continue to weigh over 200 llbs
So tell me this folks…..
How does drinking a 20 oz 3 calorie cup of coffee determine if I am fat or not? 
Do only fat people drink large coffees?
 
 
 
 
 
Suffice to say, I will NEVER buy thier coffee again.   I will go back to my  Venti cup of consistency called Starbucks feeling a little sad that I am not supporting a local business (which I do as you can see from previous posts)  while Starbucks laughs their way to the bank. 
 
So if you see me on the street…get out of my way…I will be the fat ass with 20 oz of goodness in a cup and a smile on my face.