Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I can't find the wafers anywhere

Since photos are such a pain to upload on this connection (I know - you're tired of hearing that particular whine. I'll shut up and deal with it), I won't show you how our garage is progressing until I feel like sitting and waiting. Instead, I'll share a goody I found a few months ago, and hinted at a couple posts ago:


This is seriously delectable chocolate richness. It's rich, it's dark, it's melt-in-your-mouth heaven. I only wish I had invented it myself. You can view the complete recipe online at, one of my favorite time-consumers. Or you can view it here, with my running commentary :)

For crust
28 chocolate wafers such as Nabisco Famous, finely ground in a food processor (1 1/2 cups)
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled completely

Now, as the title of the post hints, I have been unable to find those darned wafers anywhere, even after swallowing my pride and asking staff at the grocery stores. Yes, stores. I took this mission to heart and spent more time looking for the wafers than a honey-do procrastinator at a hardware store. I finally gave up and bought a package of Oreos, even though I like to follow a recipe EXACTLY, at least the first time.

Talk about a trip down memory lane! Remember c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y twisting the two disks to separate them and have all the filling on one instead of divided between the two? That may have been the hardest part of the whole process. I thought about using chocolate graham crackers, but having never tasted one, I went with the devil I knew, and scraped filling until I had the requisite 28 wafers

For filling
1/2 lb fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), coarsely chopped
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

I don't know about you, but I looked at the bittersweet chocolate bars in the baking-goods section, and I looked at the bittersweet chocolate chips, and I thought "why get a knife dirty?" I used the chips made by that company in San Fransisco, which happened to be 60% cacao.

Special equipment: an 8-inch (20-cm) round springform pan

Oops. The only springform pan I have is a 10-incher. I used it. I may invest in an 8-incher before I make it again (which I will), just to make the tart thickerer.

Garnish: unsweetened cocoa powder for sprinkling

Make crust:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Wrap a sheet of foil over bottom of springform pan (in case of leaks). Lightly butter side of pan.

Stir together ground wafers and butter in a bowl until combined, then pat mixture evenly onto bottom of pan and 1 1/2 inches up side. Bake until crust is slightly puffed, about 10 minutes, then cool completely in pan on a rack, about 15 minutes. Leave oven on.

Make filling while crust cools:
Melt chocolate and butter in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth, then remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.

Whisk together eggs, cream, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a bowl. Whisk chocolate mixture into egg mixture until combined well.

Assemble and bake tart:
Pour filling into cooled crust and rap pan once on counter to eliminate any air bubbles. Bake until filling 1 inch from edge is set and slightly puffed but center trembles slightly when pan is gently shaken, 20 to 25 minutes. (Center will continue to set as it cools.)

Cool tart completely in pan on a rack, about 2 hours. Chill, uncovered, until center is firm, about 4 hours. Remove side of pan and sprinkle with cocoa to serve.

Cooks' notes:
• Tart can be chilled up to 3 days. Cover loosely after tart is completely chilled (covering before may cause condensation).
• Crust, without filling, can be made 1 day ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature.

February 2007

There you have it.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Burned out

We ventured away from the lake last night, and caught the action at a "burnout" contest.

Contestants take turns having their vehicles strapped down, with the drive wheels positioned on a wet steel plate. At the starter's signal, they accelerate. Of course, they don't go anywhere, but they generate noise and smoke prodigiously, and are judged on the amount of each they produce.

This entrant made the finals. Lest you believe this to be soley testosterone-based, the second-place winner was a 72-year-old grandmother (I'd post the picture I have of her in her truck, but the pic above took twenty minutes to upload. I hate dial-up).

Like the announcer said, where else can you sit in the shade and drink beer and watch people burn up hundreds of dollars worth of rubber?

And unlike Nascar, there are no left turns.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

This didn't really happen today, but..

some things just feel like Friday the 13th events: Charlie the black lab drives his owner's car into the river

I am SO not getting in the car today...

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Thursday, July 12, 2007


It seems I confused a little the other day with my reference to getting settled in, phone lines, etc. Ms Whatsit concluded that I had moved, and in a way, I suppose that's true, but it was our annual, temporary move from wherever we live to the shore of a lake in Minnesota. We've been doing it for thirty years or better, leaving most times the day school got out (sometimes even from the school parking lot). Of course, now that we've retired, we get to play a little looser with the timelines. This year we took off the last week of June.

The drive was 1133 miles, The SUV was packed to the windows - I could barely turn around in my seat. But here we are (if I can get this photo to upload in less than threee days):

As always, click to biggersize.

We're far enough from the nearest town that DSL nor cable are available, and wireless requires line-of-sight; we're not about to cut down the oaks to provide that, so until we raise a permanent structure worthy of supporting a satellite antenna, we get by with dial-up. Slow dial-up. Shared airport-to-airport... At least it's faster and more reliable than fifteen years ago, when we limped along on a modem hooked to our cell phone.

Every year we try to add to the comfort level of our summer home: the deck went up fifteen years ago or so, and was expanded when we added the gazebo/screen porch (even with doses of Frontline and heartworm pills, I'd rather avoid mosquitoes when I can). This year we hooked up to a rural water system - now we use the well to wash the car or water the lawn, and just enjoy the heck out of the improved quality of the water in the shower.

We anticipate a garage for the boat this year as well, but given our affection for over-kill, it will also have a storm shelter below and primitive (for now) living quarters. Eventually we hope to say goodbye to the trailer. For a price :)

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Thanks. I think I needed that.

Ms. Whatsit was kind enough to rattle my cage a little by tagging me with the eight-random-things-about-me meme, and now that we're settled in and the phone lines are working again, I've caught up with my blog-reading, and it's time to procrastinate while I try to decide what to do next, I'll try to tackle it.

The Rules
1: Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves which others do not know about them.
2: People who are tagged need to write in their own blog and post these rules.
3: At the end of your 8 random facts post, you must select 8 more people and leave a message at their site that they have been tagged….

1. I think eight-random-things-about-me has come to mean instead eight-things-about-me-that-I-bet-most-folks-don’t-know-but-I-think-might-be-interesting: it’s lost the quality of pure randomness that the term implies, because we don’t dare write down every little thing about ourselves on uniformly tiny slips of paper and then just draw blindfolded and share the first eight of them out of the hat.

2. I love the way that people from different parts of this country use our mostly-common tongue differently. I admire that Mark Twain spoke and wrote fourteen distinct dialects of English, and that he did it to such marvelous effect. Jeff Foxworthy has an appreciation for the way language serves us, and I appreciate that flexibility. When I was younger, I could fall into approximations of the way people talked fairly easily. I lament the increasing difficulty I have doing that as I grow older. I am glad that I was immersed in French at an early-enough moment that I was able to acquire the language with some depth and fluency without a ton of effort.

3. I’d rather think or talk about projects than actually sweat over them to complete them. Maybe that’s why I don’t post so very often.

4. I grew up with close family ties to rural Minnesota; in my extended family my father was the only one who didn’t make his living on a farm. Consequently, I have kind of a I-can-do-it-myself attitude about projects of all sorts; I truly can’t fathom why anyone would call a plumber or an electrician or a carpenter when it would be cheaper to just buy the tools you need to perform common-sense tasks yourself. Of course, that means that I sometimes realize two years later that I should have put a trap in the drain from the washing machine, so that the guest shack doesn’t stink like unvented sewage so bad when the wind blows out of the north.

5. Common sense isn’t. I totally understand that a predicate nominative requires a nominative pronoun. It’s common sense. So’s the fact that an adverb can serve equally effectively after the verb as before. It just has to be close, and most of the time, the closer the better. Common sense. And I understand that water flows downhill unless it’s under pressure, and that makes plumbing entirely accessible. Again, common sense. (Except the part about the traps and the vents: I have to go back and retrofit a trap.) And electricity is just as simple. Common sense. I firmly believe that there’s no such thing as common sense: there is a community of knowledge. And I am blessed to be still enthusiastic about acquiring more parts of it. I am even more blessed to have had that enthusiasm encouraged.

6. I make a truly melt-in-your-mouth-delicious chocolate truffle pie, but I haven’t shared the recipe with anyone because if you seek it on Epicurious dot com, you shall find it. The only part I don’t like is trying to find the chocolate wafers – I generally end up scraping the white out of Oreos and using the black cardboard parts for the crust. I have shared the results with friends, and they like it, I like the fact that it only takes an hour or so (not counting unstuffing the Oreos).

7. I like hyphens, colons, semi-colons, and the word “anyway.”

8.I despise Microsoft Word’s writing tools. They’ve flagged two words in this post as misspelled and only two of my sentence fragments.

I have every intention of ignoring the last rule. The dogs I would tag have demonstrated an aversion to playing these games. They'd rather chase squirrels and rabbits and the neighbors' cat.

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