Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Morning

Sunday is my favorite day of the week.  I was born on a Sunday.  According to the old English nursery rhyme--

Monday's child is fair of face. 
Tuesday's child is full of grace. 
Wednesday's child is full of woe. 
Thursday's child has far to go. 
Friday's child is loving and giving. 
Saturday's child works hard for a living, 
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day 
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

I especially love Sunday mornings.  The Ex-Ex finds it a bit insane that on the one day I could sleep in, I don't.  Of course, he reaps the benefits of my early rising because it is when I bake.  This morning, though, it is not my usual muffins or scones.  Today it's lasagna.  Son #2 and the Most Adorable Puppy in the World are home.  They are home for a quick visit so that Son #2 can get some warm clothes. Yesterday afternoon he asked me if I would mind making a pan of lasagna for him to take back to Tennessee with him.  Mind?  Are you kidding me?  A request like that makes me jump right up and run to the grocery store to get supplies.  So I did, but I waited until this morning to bake it.

I call my recipe Grant's Lasagna.  It is basically from the back of a Barilla lasagna noodle box, but I always make a few changes.  
I had some leftover meat (I combined pork sausage and ground beef).  I couldn't let that go to waste, so I made savory muffins.

Sausage Muffins
makes 12
Whisk together and set aside:
1/2 c. baking mix
2 eggs
1/2 c. milk

Mix cooked, crumbled sausage with shredded cheddar cheese (I used a mixture of parmesan, provolone and mozzarella.  Add sage or herbs, if you wish,  and salt and pepper.  You could throw in some hot sauce.  Spray 12 muffin cups with non-stick spray.  Put about a tablespoon of the batter in each cup.  Spoon the sausage mixture on top of the batter.  Then put another tablespoon of batter on top of the sausage mixture.  Bake for about 25 minutes at 375˚F.

On this Sunday morning, I am also reflecting on the things (and people) I am crushing on right now.

Let's see...

My camera.  I was going to save my tutoring money and invest in an SLR camera and learn to use it. But I came to my senses and realized that I am a point and shoot kind of photographer.  I take loads of pictures and just don't have the patience to mess with dials and all that.  (They are also heavy and more difficult to just throw in one's already heavy and overcrowded purse.)  Therefore, I am in love with my Powershot SX 700 HS.  It is supposed to have Wi-Fi capability, but I am not there yet.  Nor am I sure it works very well from what I've read.

Cook's Illustrated magazine.  A student gave me a subscription for Christmas a few years back and I am totally in love with it.  The recipes are tested and tested and tested, so the kinks are worked out for me.  Friday night, in anticipation of Son #2's arrival, I made sugar cookies from the All-Time Best Recipes edition.

Chewy Sugar Cookies
makes 24 cookies

2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. sugar plus 1/3 c. for rolling
2 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/3 c. vegetable oil (I used coconut oil- not liquid but the same measure- it worked well)
1 large egg
1 Tbsp. whole milk
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350˚F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl.  Set aside.
Place 1 1/2 cups sugar and cream cheese in large bowl.  Place remaining sugar in shallow dish and set aside.  Pour melted butter over sugar and cream cheese and whisk to combine (some small lumps of cream cheese will remain but will smooth out later).  Whisk in oil until incorporated.  Add egg, milk, and vanilla; continue to whisk until smooth.  Add flour mixture and mix with rubber spatula until soft, homogeneous dough forms.
Working with 2 tablespoons of dough at time, roll into balls.  Working in batches, roll half of dough balls in sugar to coat and space evenly on prepared sheet; repeat with remaining dough balls.  Using bottom of greased measuring cup, flatten dough balls until 2-inches in diameter.  Sprinkle tops of cookies evenly with remaining sugar.
Bake cookies 1 sheet at a time, until edges are set and just beginning to brown, 11-13 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking.  Let cookies cool on sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack.  Let cookies cool completely before serving.  (The baker can try a warm one just to be sure that they taste okay!)

Next on the list.  Ron Rash.  I recently read Serena.  Mr. Rash teaches at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC.  My niece-in-law is now a freshman there and Serena was her required reading book.  I couldn't put it down.  The movie version will be released soon.  The book is set in the Appalachian Mountains, but the movie was shot in Europe instead of NC.  I will go see it, though.  A short dialogue between Rachel and Widow Jenkins struck a chord with me--

"...But your father loved you.  I never doubted that and you shouldn't either.  I'll tell you something else I think.  It would have been wrong to take you away from these mountains, because if you're born here they're a part of you.  No other place will ever feel right."
Widow Jenkins put her glasses back on.  She turned to Rachel and smiled.
"Maybe that's just an old woman's silly notion-- about the mountains, I mean.  What do you think?"
"I don't know.  How can I if I've never been away from them?"
"Well, I never have either, but you're young and young folks these days get restless,"  Widow Jenkins said, slowly lifting herself from the steps, "so if you ever do find out you'll have to let me know."

I am now reading Rash's book The Cove, also set in the mountains.  I just discovered he will be in Chapel Hill at Flyleaf Books in early November.  Mark the calendar.

Tatiana de Rosnay.  I discovered Sarah's Key a few years ago while just hanging out in Barnes and Noble.  Another must read.  About the Vel d'Hiv round-up of Jewish families in Paris during WWII. I now show this movie to my 8th graders and we visit the site of the former vélodrome when we are in Paris during our spring break trip.  Two years ago, during the spring break trip, we were wandering the streets of Paris and came upon a motorcycle rally at the Hôtel de Ville.  My Favorite Parisien was paying more attention to the dignitaries and speeches than I was and all of a sudden, he grabbed my arm and said Mme de Rosnay is here!  We have to find her.  We chased her down so that I could meet her.  She was getting ready to get on her moto.  I quickly introduced myself and MFP snapped a photo and we let her go.

At the end of the school year, my 8th graders have to write a thank you letter in French as part of their final exam.  They can prepare it in advance and write to whomever they wish.  I hunt down the addresses and mail the letters.  Sometimes they/we get responses.  This past week, my phone pinged with a message.  I looked down and let out a yelp.  I had a message from Tatiana.  Oui, en français.  I sent three thank you letters and a note of explanation to her in care of her editor.  She had just received the letters.  She sent an email to one of the girls (who did as I suggested and included her email address) and just wanted me to know how much she enjoyed les lettres merveilleuses.  How cool is that?   I recently read A Secret Kept.  A movie version of that is in the works, too.  I plan to get her latest novels when I am in Paris in January.  She mostly writes in French but also in English. 

The Phantom of the Opera.  The play is at the DPAC and we are going to see it today.  The Ex-Ex's best friend from middle and high school (who is Brother-in-Law's brother... and they aren't even from the mountains!) and his wife invited us to go with them this evening.  

I am very excited.  I love this story.  The 1943 black and white film version explains why he wears the mask.  I showed part of it to the kiddies last week in class since some of them would be going to see the play.  I have been inside the Palais Garnier, the Paris Opera where the play is set, several times.  If only I could find the door that leads down to the lake...  I admit that I have tried.  No such luck.  This door leads to the Phantom's box.

And last but certainly not least, gay marriage is now legal in North Carolina as of Friday afternoon. Finally.  We will still have to listen to people rant and rave because they are against it, but whatever.
It's about time is all I have to say.

Time to get back to my baking.  Cook's Illustrated's carrot cake is next.  We have Monday off for fall break and the Ex-Ex and I are headed down to the In-Laws' house to visit with Aunt B who is visiting from Missouri.  I shouldn't go empty-handed!  I also need to check on the cats.  They refuse to make friends with Adorable Dog.  They are hiding.  Yesterday, I found them in the bathroom.

Cat 1 in the sink.

Cat 2 beside the toilet.

Bon appétit et bon dimanche à tous et à toutes!

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