Saturday, December 25, 2010

Buche de Noel recipe

So every year there's a recipe that I have to search everywhere to find. This year I thought it was lost and gone forever but at the last minute I found it. I thought I would type it up and post it as a just in case.

I got this recipe from my french teacher way back when I was in high school over 10 years ago and I've been making it ever since. My teacher said that this is an authentic french recipe and because of how it is worded I believe her because it sounds like a direct translation, the kind that you get if you go to google translate and type in whatever.

But I'll translate it into regular English in case anyone wants to try it.

The cake:

Preheat oven to 375.

You need either a cookie sheet that has sides, or a rectangle cake pan. First you need to grease the pan with shortening or butter, then you need to line the pan with wax paper, cut it to size if needed. Then after you put the wax paper on the pan you need to grease the wax paper.

After that you need a clean counter to lay out some kind of cloth or another piece of wax paper. Today I used cheese cloth but you can use a clean towel if you want. I find the towel leaves behind fuzzies. Wax paper works well but takes longer to cool. After you have your towel/paper in place, you need to sift powdered sugar onto it. The recipe calls for 3/4 a cup but I usually just sift until it is almost completely covered. Don't skimp on this, it is important.

When that is set up you are ready to mix. Beat 4 eggs until very light and foamy (the recipe says one at a time but I didn't realize this until today and I couldn't tell the difference between that and doing it all at once), at least 3 minutes.

Add 3/4 cup of granulated sugar and beat for 2 more minutes. It will be thicker and pale yellow. Then stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

Sift together 3/4 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Spoon it a little bit at a time into the egg mixture. Fold slowly because you want to keep the air bubbles. Then spread evenly into pan, making sure you get the corners.

Bake for 12-13 minutes, cake will be done when toothpick (or in my case a fork) comes out clean.

Remove cake and turn pan upside down on top of sugared towel/wax paper. Lift pan away, and remove the wax paper. Trim away the stiff outer edge, usually about 1/4- 1/2 inch (you don't have to do this if your edges didn't get too hard. Then roll the cake like you would a poster and let it cool rolled up.

I usually make 2 cakes so I can have one for the main part, and one for the "branches."

While it is cooling you can start the frosting.

There are 2 frosting recipes that you can use. The first one I used because I never remembered to buy the ingredients for the original.

Chocolate glaze

Combine 2/3 cup sugar, 3 table spoons of milk, and 3 tablespoons of butter in pan, bring to boiling and boil for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.

I found that I had to double this recipe to get enough for one cake. You also have to let it cool for a while before frosting, but don't cool too much because it will get hard.

Mocha buttercream frosting.

 Put 3 ounces (3 squares of bakers chocolate but I find chocolate chips work fine)  into double boiler until it melts. Set aside to cool slightly.

Mix 2 teaspoonsful of vanilla and 1.5 teaspoons of instant coffee granules together in a cup until the coffee dissolves and set aside.

Use electric mixer to beat 3/4 cup of room temperature butter until creamy. Add chocolate and mix, then add vanilla/coffee mixture. Beat for 3 minutes. You need 3 cups of sifted powdered sugar. Add one cup at a time into chocolate mixture, beating slowly. Finally add 3-6 tablespoons of cream (milk works too) until frosting is at a spreading consistency.

I usually don't mix the milk in and leave out about 1/4 of a cup of powdered sugar. It ends up being the same consistency but not quite as sweet. This recipe makes enough for a cake, so don't double it unless you're making 2 cakes, and even then you'll probably only want to do 1.5, if you know what I mean.

Now when you're done with the frosting you'll unroll your cooled cake. Put a layer of frosting (usually about half of it) on the inside of the cake and roll it back up. You can either put the cake on a serving platter, a board with foil, or you can do like me and just stick it on a plate.

If you made two cakes, do this to both except cut the second piece in half. I usually cut at an angle so it looks like the branches are growing out of the log instead of forming a cross. Arrange your branches however you want them then add the frosting, cover the entire cake. If you're using the glaze, wait until the frosting is almost cooled and use a fork to make it look like bark. If you're using the buttercream, wait until it is almost dry and use a spoon to make it look like bark.

The original recipe says to get sticks and leaves and rocks from outside to decorate but I don't do that. I usually just put a little powdered sugar into the sifter and sift it over the cake to make it look like snow. This year I got some cherries and used green frosting to decorate.

You're done! If you don't end up with frosting and sugar all over yourself, you're doing something wrong.

So here's my cake that I made today and have probably eaten more than I should have. It is worth it though.

Happy cooking and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Stealing shopping carts

I finally got my stitches out today so I can kind of type again without doing the one-finger-poke thing. It still hurts but at least now I don't have the stitches catching on things.

The day after I got my stitches I had planned on going shopping for work clothes. Since I'm a different size after having my son in June I've been wearing one set and washing them over and over thinking it won't take long to get into my old clothes. Oh well.

There's a strip mall that has several stores that sell clothing right next to each other. There's Fashion Bug, then Ross, then Shopko. I decided to check out Ross first because they're usually the cheapest. I had all my kids with me but had left the stroller at home so I was carrying my son in his carseat. I brought him into the store and tried to get him into one of the carts. They were all way too small. I've seen so many cart accidents involving carseats that are on top of the cart so I refuse to put my son in that situation. Their carts are something else. They're all different sizes, different colors, and they have metal poles welded onto them so they can't go out the door. Apparently they don't want you to buy enough of their merchandise to need a cart to take it all to your car.

So I finally find a cart that is big enough to wedge my son and his carseat in so I didn't have to carry him, then I start trying to push the cart and it feels like there's something stuck in the wheel, you know, like you run over a peanut or something and it gets stuck. So I look down and see that in addition to the beautiful poles they have attached to the cart, they have this metal plate that is welded on to the cart close enough to the wheel to put pressure on it. Nothing says "we appreciate your business" more than telling people that having to use a cart is an inconvenience to them.

So I slowly but surely push my special anti-theft cart to the ladies section. About halfway there, 2 of my children tell me they have to use the bathroom. This is just perfect because it is all the way in the back of the store. So after 20 minutes of pushing a cart that doesn't want to go we get to the bathrooms which happen to be next to the fitting rooms. We turn to go into the bathroom and the employee there tells me I can't take my cart into the bathroom, or even down the long hall to get to the bathroom.

I can understand not being able to take it into the bathroom, but the hallway? So I told her that I had injured my dominant hand, and my left wrist has problems lifting things and it is very painful to carry my son with or without his carseat. I told her that my cart was empty, offered her to check it, and asked if I could just wait outside the door so my kids didn't wet themselves.

She said no, the cart has to stay here. I told her that I wasn't stealing anything, she could see that my cart was empty, she would be watching me the whole damn time. I asked her what she was afraid I was going to do with the cart while I was standing in the hall.

I almost died laughing at her response. She looked at me straight faced and said "we have problems with people stealing the carts, not just merchandise." It took me a minute to realize she was serious. So I said "darn, you're on to me. I wore this sweater today for the simple fact that I could shove a whole cart underneath and nobody would notice, and I was planning on hiding the pole with a scarf." Then I looked at my kids dancing around and told them "go ahead and go in and go potty and try not to make a mess like you usually do. And make sure you don't clog the toilet with the whole roll of toilet paper since I won't be there to tell you how much you need." The look of horror on her face was priceless. But at least I wasn't given the opportunity to steal the cart. I'll have to find some other store that won't notice me shove a cart up my shirt.

While I was waiting for the kids to come back I was kind of looking around while watching the bathroom door. There were abandoned carts everywhere, probably about 6 of them. Then I noticed one of them didn't have a pole! It also looked a little bigger, and there was nothing screwing with the wheel. So I decided to switch carts and as I'm putting my son in it I notice that the cart is from Shopko. Which was perfect because I could just use it to push my son to the next store when I "returned" the cart to the correct store.

I pushed my old cart off to the side next to 2 other carts, assuming that since they were all lined up it wouldn't be in the way. The anti theft lady made this weird puff sound and went and took my cart (which was between the other two BTW) and pushed it to the end of the isle and into the way of customers. She marched herself back to her post in a "I showed you" type of way.

Finally my kids were done shoving toys in their clothes in the bathroom and we headed to the clothing. I don't know when the second anti theft lady started following us but she stood about 5 feet away and her only job seemed to be staring at me. There were a few shirts I found that I wanted to try on but since they don't allow carts back there either I decided to just put them on over my clothes to see if they fit. I had decided to get one and was trying to decide on another the best I could without a mirror and my creepy stalker said "you have to pay for that you know."

That was the breaking point. I took it off and said "Oh don't worry, I'm not going to pay for it but since you guys don't seem to want my business I'll find somewhere else to shop."

I threw both shirts on the ground and headed for the front. The lines were HUGE! Six people in one line, and more in the other, but I guess staring at someone who is trying to steal their shopping cart is more important. So as I'm heading out the door another employee stops me and tells me that I can't take the cart out of the store. I explained the cart didn't belong to their store and since I was going to be spending my money at shopko I would just return it for them. He tried to tell me that isn't how it works, I couldn't take the cart because it belonged to Ross.

I was so pissed off by this point I told him that he could call the police and explain to them that I'm not allowed to return a stolen cart to it's owner.

So at the end of the day I did steal a cart. But not really because I kind of did the Robin Hood thing, stole from the bad guy to give the good guy back what should have been theirs.

And in case you're wondering, my kids usually don't make huge messes in public bathrooms, I said that to ruffle some feathers. And I found an awesome sale at Shopko and was able to get several things for very cheap. I usually don't like shopping there because once an employee took my daughter out of the cart while my back was turned only long enough to pick up my other daughter and turn around. When I saw that she was gone I headed straight to the front of the store where I told TWO employees that my daughter was taken out of my shopping cart and I needed help. One was in the middle of returning a backpack, the other one was in the middle of organizing hangers. Both of course were more important than a missing one year old. The third person I told had to think about what to do. She told me that she knew there was something she needed to do but couldn't remember what. I finally was so frantic that I asked for a phone to call 911 when a manager came up holding my daughter. There was no page about a missing mommy, nothing. He was just standing there talking to her while she cried because she was being held by a stranger.

The employee that took her decided that she had been abandoned in a shopping cart. My purse was right next to her, strapped in with her. I was in front of the cart grabbing my older daughter. Yup, I was trying to get rid of one of them, they caught me. I didn't shop at that store for almost 4 years.

But maybe I will start shopping there more because apparently their carts are easy to steal and we all know how much we all want a shopping cart decorating our homes. Maybe I'll turn it into a planter and put it next to my toilet planter.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Blood and more blood

First I want to warn you that I will be posting a picture of my stitches. If you're squeamish, turn back now. You've had a fair warning.

A few weeks ago I bought what I thought was a good investment. I'm not so sure about that now. It is called a chef's envy and I got it for pretty cheep with lots of extras. I had only used it a few times but when I used it I loved it. Until yesterday.

I decided to have salad for dinner when I got off work. While my kids were whining that they didn't want salad I was getting everything out and ready for it. I had everything out and just needed to start cutting the cucumber. So when you use this dangerous contraption you secure what you're cutting into the "cowboy hat." There are little prongs to keep whatever you're killing in place, and the top moves up and down so you can push everything closer to the blade with each swipe.

Here's the cowboy hat from the top.

So you can see what I'm talking about. It looks like a hat. So underneath I had stabbed the cucumber and was sliding the whole thing across the blade:


And just for the hell of it, here are the two together for those of you who need a visual.

So I was slicing away, going pretty fast thinking I was all cool that I was going to slice a whole cucumber in under a minute. Then you can probably guess what happened. I cut my finger. For whatever reason, the blade decided just at that moment that it didn't want to be sharp anymore so the cucumber stopped halfway through the slice while my hand kept going.

At first I thought it was just a little cut, maybe like a papercut. It didn't even start bleeding for a little bit and my brain hadn't processed that a hunk of my flesh was gone. Then it started hurting like I cut my whole finger off and the blood started pouring out so fast I couldn't get a good look at how bad I hurt myself. I did what I could to keep myself calm because I didn't want to freak out in front of the girls and scare them to death. I put a napkin on my finger and squeezed it while it was above my head. I needed another napkin quickly and I waited about 5 minutes to get it to stop bleeding but it didn't even slow down. I sent my oldest daughter downstairs to tell my mom that I needed her to watch my kids so I could go to the hospital because it was late enough that all the urgent care places were closed.

But instead of driving myself, my mom drove me while my dad watched the kids. The people at the hospital asked me over and over how it happened. Like they didn't believe me, or they couldn't believe that someone could get hurt in the kitchen. It got really annoying. Then the ER doctor came to look at my finger and he started squeezing it which almost brought me to tears. Finally they came and gave me a shot to numb my finger. I've been through 4 pretty traumatic and painful csections so I'm pretty good with pain. I would rather have another csection than to cut myself again. It is painful, so very painful. After they got me numb they took their time. They had someone come clean it and wrap it up to wait to get my stitches.

Then about an hour after that the nurse came in and undid the wrap and told me the doctor was going to be in soon. She should have checked with the doctor because I sat there bleeding all over for the next 20 minutes. Since I was numb I didn't mind waiting all that much but without the bandage on I couldn't keep my hand above heart level without getting blood everywhere. So after bleeding everywhere and having blood all over my freshly cleaned finger the doctor came in to sew me back together.

It didn't take very long to give me 3 stitches. Then he instructed me on the aftercare and said that someone would come bandage my finger. I thought bandage would mean some gauze and tape. Nope, bandage meant getting a band aid put on my finger. I was given the choice between regular and snoopy and I figured that since I'm probably going to be making a $300 copay I deserve the snoopy.

So here's snoopy. Not a good pic, but I'm right handed and I can't do anything with my left, including taking a decent picture.

And when I undo the band aid, here's my wonderful view. Warning: this is the picture of the stitches that I warned you about. Don't say you weren't warned. Personally, I'm morbid and this kind of thing doesn't bother me so I'm posting it. Hell, I even watched my finger get sewn up.

I don't know why my thumbnail is yellow. It isn't yellow in real life.

Luckily the doctor used the long acting lidocaine and my finger didn't wake me up from pain until about 5am. It has been hell today, and the tylenol and motrin are not working all that great.

My other blood story is my 6 year old daughter's story. We were out of milk so I stopped at the store and got a few things that would be easy to make until I'm healed enough to not be in constant pain. While we were at the checkout my daughter bit some plastic to open it (mom of the year award here) and started crying. She had been whining all day so I didn't think anything of it until I looked at her and her mouth was full of blood and it was starting to run down her chin. Fabulous. Turns out a tooth that wasn't very loose at all had caught on the plastic and had been ripped out. So we got to go into the public bathroom and clean up her mouth. Yum.

Oh, and the toothfairy is too hurt to go to the bank to leave her money under her pillow so she's going to be getting a bunch of pennies and nickles for her bank. It'll look like she got more money anyway than to have a paper bill. Just as long as the tooth fairy remembers anyway.

I also had a horrible time clothes shopping today but that will have to be another blog. Typing with only one pinkie while trying not to move your hand too much to keep the pain down is a little hard. So you'll just have to wait until it doesn't hurt so damn much. Besides, I have to go get into my bank and count a bunch of pennies.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Jake met his dad... well, his dad met him.

I took Jake to the doctor the other day and found out he has pneumonia. I've been fighting with child support, vital records, and the social security office on behalf of his dad, you can read about it in my other blogs.

So Carl (my younger two childrens' father) had his family and friends call me about getting the birth certificate in to social security so he could get his disability benefits. Long story short, I didn't get the amended birth certificate for my daughter, only the one where the father's name is left blank since he never signed her birth certificate. I told his friends and family that if he wanted to talk to me he could call me himself.

He did and was absolutely convinced that the social security office would take the birth certificate that I had. I told him that I had already asked if they would and they said no, he had to be listed as the father. But he didn't believe me so he asked if he could take it down there. If he wanted to waste his time that was fine by me. But I wasn't going to go out of my way so I made him meet up with me while I was getting Jake's nebulizer machine.

Let me back up a little bit. I have hearing problems from meningitis that I got a few years ago. I don't like talking on the phone because I usually have to ask people to repeat themselves. It makes work really fun. As far as I know Carl also prefers to text and since I was at work the night that he called texting was our best bet. When I told him that they wouldn't accept the birth certificate I had he got mad and sent me a text saying "sorry for bothering you."

After everything I had done to try to do this for him, that made me mad. So this is what I sent to him.

"In all honesty I know you don't give a shit about our kids. And even knowing that I was still willing to help and I did try. I did order the birth cert, I have made more phone calls to child support not only to get you added to the cert but to also stop the child support because I knew you weren't working. I called vital statistics over and over until I finally got an answer. I didn't have to do all that and I sure as hell didn't do it for the money but I did it because some small part of me will always hope that you will change your mind and want to at least know your kids. I've had a really horrible past few weeks so you will have to forgive me if I"m not jumping at the chance to please you. If they will take the cert I have you are more than welcome to it. That is all I'm going to say."

So anyway, when I was getting my son's nebulizer machine he met up with me. He took some pictures of the kids, Jake slept the whole time, and Leiya wanted nothing to do with him after she remembered that he used to come around but he stopped seeing her even though she cried for him.

I'm hoping that things will turn around, but I'm not expecting them to. He was supposed to meet with me yesterday to bring the birth certificate to me but said he was out of money for gas. Then today he sent me a text asking when I wanted to meet up and when I got back to him he said that he was out and couldn't meet up with me. Like I said, I'm not expecting things to change but I can hope. Expect the worst hope for the best right?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


So the cough that Jake has that I thought was either a cold or allergy related is actually pneumonia. The cough started before Thanksgiving and has gotten worse. This week he started to make noises when he was breathing and last night I could feel movement in his chest when he inhaled and exhaled. Last week I checked the website his doctor has up that is kind of to defer every patient with a cough from wanting to be seen. The website said they didn't want to see him until he had it for three weeks. I had a gut feeling that it was something that needed medical attention but I hate being the person who freaks out and rushes a child to the doctor for no obvious reason.

But this time around it was serious. So serious in fact that the doctor got out the machine that checks your oxygen level in the blood herself and ran the test herself instead of waiting for a nurse to come do it. Then she went and got a nebulizer and gave him some albuterol. Of course they could have had a slow day but it is rare that a pediatrician has nothing better to do during the cough and cold season.

So I was told that Jake has pneumonia and the rattling is because his airway is partially blocked and he needs medicine to help him breathe easier. I feel really bad but in my defense he never got a fever, and until yesterday he didn't even act sick. I guess he was a real bugger when I was at work. I had bronchitis a few years ago and that completely sucked so I don't know how he can be so freaking happy. As I type he is right beside me wiggling and laughing.

To add to my mother of the year award he decided that today would be the perfect day to learn how to roll from his back to his front. Now in any other situation this would have been joyous. But he picked the exact moment his doctor walked through the door to try to jump off the table.

My mom had readjusted the straps on his carseat sometime within the past week and I noticed that they didn't get threaded through a section that they should have. It was a very quick and easy fix so I thought that I would do it while we were waiting for the doctor. Jake was on the exam table and I was in a chair right in front of him and I had almost finished with the carseat when the door started to open and he rolled over. Since the table is all bumpy it wasn't a smooth roll. I suppose if I hadn't been there he wouldn't have fallen on the floor but still. And I WAS right there.

So then they brought in his first neb treatment. They told me that he would probably fight it so I should hold him down on my lap. For those of you (like me before today) who aren't familiar with a nebulizer, there's a little mask (or if it is for an adult it is a tube that looks like an extra long inhaler spacer) that is connected to a round chamber where the medicine sits. Then there is a long tube that connects the medicine chamber to the nebulizer machine which blows air out. Through the magic of medicine the air blowing through the medicine chamber creates what I have been calling a mist that is pushed out of the mask. My son wears the mask and breathes normally, inhaling the albuterol. Most babies don't like thinks over their face.

So I expected him to fight it and he did for about 10 seconds. When he discovered that he could still breathe he was just fine and happy that he got to sit in Mommy's lap. He's had 2 more treatments since then and didn't fight it at all. I hope that isn't a sign that he's tortured too much by his older sisters.

So he's not quite as noisy when he's breathing but I can still tell he's sick. I don't know if he's contagious and my brother starts his chemo on Friday so I think it is best if we stay away for now. My brother had a stint put in today and some bone marrow extracted to test just in case. Also, my Aunt was admitted to the hospital yesterday after having a stroke. We're hopeful that she'll make a full recovery.

To add to all this, Jake met his dad for the first time today. It is a long story and I am tired so you'll just have to wait until I have time to relive that *wondrous* experience. Truthfully it wasn't so bad, more awkward than anything. And he's supposed to call sometime tomorrow so we'll see.

This week has just completely sucked. My daughter's birthday is Sunday, which is the start of a new week and next week better be freaking awesome to make up for this weeks suckiness.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holy bad news Batman!

Wow, these past few weeks have been hard on me. My brother has been waiting for a few weeks to get test results back from the doctor on whether or not he has cancer. The tests came back and yes he does have it and he starts his treatment Friday.

Then on Dec 1st a neighbor of mine, Marv died. He was older, but he was an awesome guy. He's lived down the street since I was 10. He lost his wife a few years ago but he just kept on going. He was diagnosed with cancer and I'm not sure if that is why he died, but they do know he passed away in his sleep.

On his porch he has a life size Dalmatian statue that my girls would go up and pet every time we walked by. He never once said anything to them about it. I was raised that you keep off people's property unless invited and I always told my girls that wasn't their property but he was not bothered at all that they wanted to pet his dog. He would sit outside in the summer and I think he actually liked that they would come talk to him and see his dog.

Almost 3 years ago I got meningitis. I was in the hospital for a while and was released the day before my oldest daughter's 5th birthday. I was still feeling horrible, I couldn't get out of bed, I couldn't eat. If I hadn't done her birthday shopping early she wouldn't have gotten anything. I barely had energy to watch her open her presents and blow out her candles. I knew she wanted me to spend her birthday with her and I hated myself because I couldn't. My parents had gotten her a bike for her birthday so they took her for a bike ride so she wouldn't have to be sad about me being sick. When they got to Marv's house she told him that it was her birthday and she got her new bike. He pulled out $5 and told her happy birthday. She was so excited about it that they didn't finish her bike ride, she had to come home and tell me.

Of course by this time in her life she was used to her dad not coming around or calling on her birthday and I think having two parents out on her birthday was a little hard. But that $5 really made her day, it really made her happy on her birthday when I couldn't and her own dad wouldn't.

When it snowed he got his snow blower out and used it on the whole street and in the driveways of the people he knew well. When he got too sick to do it he called his son over to do it for him. He was always happy even though you could tell he wasn't doing well. I'm glad that he is not suffering anymore but I'm sad to see him go.

So now I'm worrying about my brother. He's going in for surgery on Wednesday and to test his bone marrow. Then Friday he has his first treatment. My daughter's birthday is on Sunday but I don't think he'll feel up to coming over.

And today my Aunt was admitted to the hospital for severe vertigo and headache. They think they know what is wrong but they're doing more tests in the morning.

So please keep him and my aunt in your thoughts and prayers.