Friday, October 10, 2008

Next time, just give at the office

Gallows family has a knack for it, even when we try to do something for a worthy cause...

I don't know what made me think of this story...probably something triggered in my mind as I checked out at the grocery store tonight, and was asked to donate $1 to support some sort cause relating to cancer, or leukemia, or diabetes. I usually donate the dollar--I mean, how can I not when in between my organic yogurt, and the rice pasta, and fruit, were things like Oreos...and Dubliner cheese...and Ben & Jerry's Americone Dream ice cream..who am I to say "sorry can't spare a dollar" when I just blew off 20 bucks of crapola?! So I donated as I always do.

Anyway, it made me think about the Relay for Life...Now, for those who may not be familiar with this fundraiser to help raise money for cancer research, it's an event usually at a school track, you form a team, everyone asks for donations, and then all teams show up with tents and provisions, and starting at about 10am on a Saturday you start walking the track in shifts...and you don't stop walking for 24 hrs. Point being "at least one person from your team must be on the track at any given time the 24 hrs."

So in the summer of 1999, a bit over a year after we lost Mom to cancer, my sister-in-law (eldest brother's wife) joined the committee for planning our local Relay for Life. And so me, my 4 siblings, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and even 2 former college hosuemates of mine, plus the husband of one of them formed a team of 10 walkers.

Now, picture it...a high school track, and in the middle of it, where the grass is, is "tent city". People started showing up with their camping tents--setting them up for the naps overnight. Also they all staked out their area adding some chairs to sit in while they were waiting their turn during the day, some had the sun canopy things to gather/sit under where they placed their chairs and hung out the whole day...also, people showed up with coolers of food, drink (no alcohol allowed), and little BBQ's, sterno set ups/etc. The organizers also had some food/drinks set up, along with music, and of course the dreaded porta potty's (by "Royal Flush"--gotta love that, I'll never forget that that!!)

Then WE show sister's husband was key. He shows up with his pickup which had...
- gas grill
- HUGE tarp/tent--I mean so huge all 10 of us fit easily underneath it--and have room to spare for the huge cooler of food/drink, we had an extra table where we set up the food/etc ..hell, I was expecting elephants to come by to help us raise the darn thing.
- provisions for lunch/dinner Saturday--plus eggs/bacon/bagels for the following morning

We had maybe 5 tents total for the overnight that we scattered about around our "headquarters" and everyone brought their own lounge chair, and beverages. We had a huge cooler where we threw all the waters, soda--and "contraband" (ok, we may have had snuck in a beer or 2..)

The event started at 10am on a Saturday...the rain started about noon.

And it continued to be a chilly rainy/misty/breezy 24 hours. During which we had a huge kettle of soup, burgers, and Lord knows what else. It was a cold miserable day, but we were in good spirits and making the best of it. As for me, I was away from my cozy home, but I was ok, because I had my trusty folding chair-in-a-bag which also had a cup holder, and fold-out foot-rest. I may have had to go w/out TV for a night but darnit I was going to be comfortable.

Yea, if you were a team anywhere near us, you hated us. You hated us more when you smelled bacon and eggs at 7am...yep, that was us too.

Anyone who donated was able to buy a votive candle and a brown bag of sand to place the votive, and write the name of either a cancer survivor--or someone who lost their battle to cancer--on the bag. There were tons of these votives lit all around the oval track at one point--and they had a list of every name, and read them out. My brother was asked to get up to read a set of names, including our mom's...It was really special. And sad that the rain came again and extinguished most of the candles, and soaked the brown lunch bags. But my point here being, believe me, the cause and the purpose of the event was not lost on us. We lived every day with a missing piece of our family, our hearts--she was the engine and heart of our operation.

Yet somehow, as with anything, we'll manage to turn any normal event into a "production" (as my sister and I like to call it).

It got windier and rainier, people began just hunkering down in their tents rather than stay outside--and there we were, chowing down on food, comfortably huddled under this huge tarp. Two sides of which had pull down plastic sides to boot...
When it got very late, we'd take turns going to sleep in the smaller tents with our sleeping bags...which was chilly I must say--all in all, for all the comforts of home that we had, it was still one long night. But we took it seriously--we were there to walk, and walk we did.

We thew on rain gear, and made sure someone from our team was on that darn track all 24 hrs--and out of the 100 or so teams that were there--when 3am rolled around, there were maybe 30 or so people on the track, including someone from our team. So not everyone played by the rules--but with the weather we had, I'm sure a lot of teams went home early and never stayed the night. But as we had better shelter, we also felt the need to show we also were going to take it seriously enough to have someone walking....

Now, about half way through the night, I think it was my brother who turned to my brother in law and asks: "Where did you get this tarp anyway??"
And he replied with pure honesty, not at all meaning to be ironic, or dark, or even funny, "oh, the landscaping company I work for digs graves--this is from the cemetary...they let me borrow it." Then it hit us as we looked up at this thing, with the dark green color, the scalloped edges...the curved top...the roll down sides for 'weather'. We were at a cancer fundraiser. Sitting under a cemetery tarp. It was one of those moments where people get quiet, freeze, shifting eyes back and forth trying to catch a glance at someone else...not sure if the others are amused or just apalled...then it became, "who's gonna break first"...and then we all just started laughing...'Holy crap, is THAT what this is?!" "We're awful people!" "We are so morbid!"

But screw it, we were dry (or close to it), we had walked the entire 24 hrs, and raised money for a meaningful cause.

And that was the first, and I am sure the last, Relay for Life my family has been involved in...

From now on, I donate my money in the grocery line...

Monday, October 06, 2008

R&R in Tucson!

I had to go to a work event in the Prescott area of Arizona and took advantage of the chance to take a few extra days, and drive down to Tucson to visit my dad--it was a fabulous visit, and one that I think we're both still smiling fondly about...

There we went to a few spots, and here are my favorite photos.

(No "people" pictures of me or my Dad...some photos are too special for a public blog if you ask, I don't have his approval for likeness usage....ha!)



Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

As you now know my love for TV, perhaps you did not know that for 10 years I made a job out of that enthusiasm and made "useless" knowledge of TV trivia "useful." From 94-04 I worked for the now defunct Columbia House Video Library. Back in the late 80's they got their start in creating Collectors Editions of classic TV with the likes of Star Trek, I Love Lucy, All in the Family...the list goes on. I joined in 1994 right out of college and during my 10 years our number of tv shows grew by leaps and bounds--by the time the DVD format came to be we probably had close to 100 shows offered on home video. (All sold via direct mail). We were the only game in town for TV product as this was before DVD and before all the Hollywood studios finally got on the TV show bandwagon of releasing their own shows. Before DVD they did not bother and would just license the shows to us. From there we'd choose the episodes for each volume, hire designers to create the VHS cover art, find an expert on the show to write our liner was tons of fun, and the people that worked in our small department (much smaller than our fellow Music Club or Movie Club) became close and had a ball.

One of the reasons I was hired out of college (I started as an admin assistant to the VP of New Product Development and moved up from there) was because I said in my cover letter that I was once a member of their I Love Lucy continuity series (I received 1 VHS a month...until my parents cut me off around 20 VHSs when they realized that it was going to be every.single.episode...)

The interview was only the 2nd job interview I had gone on out of college--and was the best one I know I will ever have. The questions, aside from "so tell me about yourself" went something like this:

"What is your favorite TV Show?"
"What magazines do you subscribe to?"
"What newspaper do you read"
"How else do you get your news?"
"Your favorite movies?"

Now, here I was, a small-town girl in the Big Apple, in a high-rise near Rockefeller Center...and although I came close to saying some 'make-me-sound-good' answers I was upfront and answered these question with:

- I Love Lucy and Seinfeld
- I don't subscribe to magazines, because I still live at home and was in college the past 4 years (though I think I added that our house received the TV Guide and I read it faithfully every Thursday when it came in the mail)
-As for newspaper, I blurted out our daily local newspaper...did not say NYT or Daily News and thought "God she's going to think I'm such a bumpkin"

I forget some of the other questions, but they were all pop-culture related...very fun and so up my alley! We also chatted about tv shows, and I told her how in middle school I bought a book of tv show lyrics and discovered that Bewitched, The Munsters and even Leave it to Beaver had lyrics to their themes...and she asked me and I sang some off-tune bits.

She hired me. She later told me that her questions did have a method...for example had I answered "I read the New York Times" she would have come back with: "What's the front page story today?" (she read about 4 newspapers a day...) If a professional coming in for an interview tells her they get their news from tom brokaw each night, then she knows that they leave work by 5 to get home in time for the network newscast, and it was a minus to her. Had I replied, "I read US News & World Report" once again she would have quizzed me on the last article I read....Wow, talk about dodging bullets! I was upfront, honest, and had she asked what the front page story was in my local paper, it would have been something like, "New Street Light Replaced Stop Signs in Major Intersection"

But I digress...more on this job and the amazing people, funny stories, and remarkable experience in future posts...Point being I found myself putting my love of TV to use--in a job. I could not have described a better career/job for myself. I found myself in the midst of others who shared my love of TV and I relished my time there. I also made some of the best friends--and still stay in touch, and after moving out of the greater NYC area, don't see them nearly as often as I'd like.

Just this summer I had an opportunity to accompany some of the gal pals from my C.House days to Santa Monica to the taping of the TVLand Awards. (They won seats at a table plus VIP party passes through a silent auction..someone dropped out and I was invited to take the spot. Longer story in between b/c then the writer's strike happened so it was postponed from an April date and rescheduled to June, then I lost a job in the Spring and backed out of the trip. By May I landed on my feet with a great new job, and heard that no one had taken my spot, so before I knew it I found myself booking a flight to Santa Monica for a long weekend. Dear Husband said, "you're crazy to fly to CA for just weekend--but I hope you have fun!" He knew this was a chance of a lifetime for me--I was going to my mecca...TV Land! I had been to LA/Hollywood a few times when I worked at "The House" and seen the likes of Paramount Pictures (my very favorite studio), CBS Television City (oh the history there! That was a blast!) but I had never gone to a real Hollywood award show, complete with walk on the red carpet!

The show taped on a Sunday, and we all got dolled up and arrived in a limo....we were shown down the carpet (the one that ran beside the 'real' red carpet--ours was red, and ran alongside the press-lined "star" carpet..but ours was like the 'Fast Lane' in a toll booth--we had to keep it moving and no one was asking what our current projects are...or who we were wearing...

Wardrobe Note: but if I was asked who I was wearing I'd have replied:"off the rack Oscar de la Renta...I just bought it at the Santa Monica Macy's this morning...oh, and Isaac Mizrahi sandals that I got for a STEAL at Marshalls!"

Speaking of my dress--I am in love with it...I brought a totally different one with me, but decided I hated it and went shopping the morning of the awards...could not find a thing at Macys was about to leave all bummed out, and then saw this dress--only 1 left in my size, and it fit like a glove..pleated skirt, patent leather belt--which, hello, matched my black patent leather Mizrahi strappy sandals! (it was so meant to be!) AND...ready for this? Pockets. Mr. de la Renta is a God who had worked pockets into the was a late 50's-early 60's style and I was floating on air walking back to the hotel from the store knowing it was perfect for a classic TV event! I was embracing my inner Laura Petrie!

Anyway, so onward into the Santa Monica airport hanger we went--a huge space that is used for such fetes. After strolling the carpet, we hung out by the door for a long time to watch stars come in (and by "stars" I mean for the most part the beloved actors who perhaps are not working as much these days, but whose work will shine forever on TVLand and DVD!)

At one point during the ceremony, during a tribute to Mr. Garry Marshall (a HUGE favorite of mine) Dick Van Dyke, Jack Klugman, Ed Asner, Henry Winkler, Cindy Williams & Penny Marshall were standing up on the stage at once...I'm telling you I got the chills, and a bit teary-eyed. These were icons for me...they were my friends growing up as I watched reruns of Dick Van Dyke and The Odd Couple...and episodes of Laverne & Shirley....I was SOOOO hoping I'd be able to shake Mr. Van Dyke's him for even a brief moment, but unfortunately did not come to pass...I would have been at a loss for words though, thinking about him in Mary Poppins...the D.Van Dyke show...Chitty Chitty Bang maybe not meeting him was a good thing. Other recipients that night were Roseanne...The Golden Girls...and even The Office received a "future classic" award! Steve Carrel was there (no J.Krasinski though..bummer!)

Afterwards we were told the after-party was up at Casa del Mar...there we encountered some up close and personal conversations with the stars that decided to attend...not all the big folks went, but hey, we had a ball drinking and mingling with the likes of:

Jack Klugman--a true blue gentleman. He was sitting with his companion (wife? not sure) and everyone else was walking/standing/mingling. As we got our first drinks and started scanning the crowd, my friend Kelly noticed him sitting by one noticing or saying anything to him, so she went over and introduced herself, and then walked back to us a few minutes later, saying "he is SO NICE!" Then Michele said to Kelly, "take me over, I want to meet him too" So they both went up to him again. I was thinking to myself that I had to get over looking foolish, and this was the time to start breaking the ice and meeting the Michele and Kelly came back all smiles, and I looked at Kelly and said, "Ok, wanna make it a hat trick? I have to go meet him.." Kelly was laughing and said, "he's going to love me for bringing him all these girls!" so up we went, and he did laugh. He shook my hand, said it was great to meet me, and I told him the honor was mine, and thanked him for all his characters, the laughs, and so many great tv moments and that I thought he was such a great part of TV history...he was standing up to leave as we chatted, beamed back at my nice words and offered, "wanna get a picture?" and he posed with me. Then I asked if he could take one more with his new best friend Kelly...if it wasn't for her I never would have met "Oscar Madison"..then he was on his way...

The rest of the night I kept my camera strap looped on my wrist, and mingled...we broke up our party of 6 and worked the crowed in various paired-off groups so we could meet people and have a conversation vs walking as a huge group and looking like rookies. We noticed a lot of others were getting photos, so soon it did not become a big deal to say hi and ask for a photo.

Later, on one of my trips to the open bar I noticed Creed and Oscar from The Office also getting drinks, and no one was around them...I ordered my drink, turned to them and they smiled and said hi..and I told them that I was a fan, that their characters were awesome and the fun they have really translates to the viewer--that they must just laugh all day at the scripts/etc. They were appreciative and said they're always glad to hear people like the show, and they have a ball doing I asked if they were game for a photo...and happily they were!

Another amusing moment was when I passed by a lamp and realized that it was wearing my dress! (see photo)...ahh well, so I got a photo with me and lamp too. Those cosmos were sooo good!

Cindy Williams came over to the group of us later on, and she was so happy--like us, the mood came from the wine as much as the atmosphere! She told us about what she was up to lately, and we had an all around fun conversation. We asked to get a group photo, and she was all for it. Then she said, "I have to go find my driver..." she was tipsy for sure (though an hour later, we found she was still there, hanging out, having fun!)

We got back around 11pm to the hotel (the whole awards started around 3-4pm, so the after-party was going on earlier than most..then shut down around 10:30 or so...) We sat at the bar next to our hotel and recounted the night to 2 bartenders who looked at us like we were speaking another language when we asked them if they knew who Jack Klugman was...or had ever heard of Little House on the Prairie (because we chatted with Nellie Olson for a long time at the party) or seen Laverne & Shirley. Wow, that was depressing to us and we felt ancient!!

We threw some music on the jukebox, had most of the place to ourselves, and laughed, drank and enjoyed the whole recounting our night--and of the fun weekend.

I'll never forget it--a walk on a red carpet, meeting some great TV legends and having a great time with some gals I used to spend many a happy hour with at places in the City....and spending 3 sunny days by the Santa Monica to boot! It was the perfect event to go to with others who shared my love for TV. We all were psyched about the fun weekend...and I found myself missing the banter and camaraderie with the old crew.

Don't get me wrong, I love my life now and the path I've taken. I don't miss that commute--and the long nights of drinking are well behind me and my liver thanks me for it, but I sure do miss the 'gang!' We had our own Cheers whether it was the Playwright or Hurleys. These days, the folks have just about all moved on from CH now that it is owned by BMG and the department we all worked in went away years ago. There was no longer a need to create collector's editions now that the studios all sell their own. But unlike me and a few others, most of the gang still see each other often as they all still work/live in NYC. So when I see them it's usually an occasion...a wedding, unfortunately funerals, or a summer BBQ/etc. We even do a huge C.House reunion--which spans all the clubs/departments. It's usually in December in NYC...I've missed that last THREE....I am determined to make this year's!! With the new job I have now I know it'll be possible...I just hope they do one now that I know I can make it! :)

Now that I recall the time there, it's almost like my own personal Camelot--brief and shining. Or maybe better yet, my Brigadoon--I feel the way towards it like my days at Fairfield U: it's a world that reawakens for me for only a brief time, and not very often, and though years have gone by since seeing each other, it is as if no time has past at all. And when we emerge from the mist we laugh heartily, toast to friendship, and dance our jigs and reels until it fades into a mist for me once more until the next time...

I had that moment, that window into the old days in Santa Monica. Between the friends I saw, and the shows that were honored and the stars who maybe are forgotten by many, but beloved still by all of us. Their shows are not just a touchstone from growing up as a child--they had a second life, and are touchstones for my years spent at Columbia House. Another house altogether, yet no less a "home" to me.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bakin' n 'Bloggin!

So one of my nearest and dearest, Cathy, shared with me not too long ago that she was invited to join an online baking club, called Tuesdays With Dorie.

In this club, all members purchase Baking..From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, and each week a different recipe is chosen and everyone bakes and blogs about it. The only rules are members must participate in at least 2 recipes a month. (oh ya, and have a blog...I started a new one just for the Dorie posts!)

Hearing about this baking community dovetailed beautifully with the fact that I had JUST baked my first layer cake from scratch, and was itching to do more! I am so excited!! So, sign me up!I will post my first recipe next Tuesday, Sept 2nd over on Lisa Is A Baker blog!

AND the recipe for next week is for cookies...which happen to be my favorite baked good.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


So usually on the weekends I can be found sitting on the kitchen floor, in front of a shelf filled with old Bon Appetit and Cooking Light issues, a stack on my lap, flipping through, trying to find something different and inspired to make for dinner.

I happened to be flipping through a June 06 Cooking Light and came across the very last page, where they often have a parting recipe and lovely set-up shot of the food in all its perfectly-baked/cooked/sauteed/grilled/blanched glory. The photo totally drew me in, making me think, “wow that looks so good!” yet mocked me with it’s triple-layer cake smugness, and made me add “…but I doubt I could do THAT…”

Staring up at me, was the most pleasing looking cake, with a name both refreshing in flavor and nostalgic in style: Lime Chiffon Cake.

I don’t know if it was the “chiffon” in the name (being a retro-type of cake style...something Lucy Ricardo would make, while dressed in clothing made of material of the same name) or if it was the hot day and the thought of a lime-flavored dessert going so well after dinner (because lime margaritas and mojitos go so well BEFORE the meal, then certainly a lime-flavored dessert will complement its ending!) Anyway, I kept going back to this page—staring and thinking that perhaps this would be my very first “from scratch” cake. I have always enjoyed baking and have tried my hand at many things, but an honest-to-goodness scratch layer cake (let alone THREE layers--with a filling--not just frosting--in between) was new territory.

I quickly took inventory of provisions….when faced with a new recipe I like, I start playing the game of, “How many ingredients do I already have in the house”. The amount of time and money it will take to locate the ingredients I DON’T have rules exactly how quickly I close the magazine and move on.

As I ran through the recipe, I mentally checked off most of the ingredients…it went something like this:
Limes: “I’ve got those” (b/c of the aforementioned cocktails)
Lemon Extract --"hmm..I've got vanilla, almond, and 2-3 others--but not lemon...
Cream of Tartar--"I KNEW this would come in handy one day...I hope it's not too old.."
Can of Sweetened Condensed milk : “yep, got it—wait, or is that a can of evaporated milk that I have in the cabinet??? Darn, I always mix these up--which one goes into pumpkin pie because that's the one I have…”

(A walk to the cabinet proved I did not have the sweetened condensed milk…it also turned out that the can of evaporated milk I DID have had expired 4 months ago….probably because I buy about 4 cans every Fall of evaporated milk, thinking that I don’t have it in the house for pumpkin pies…and then as it turns out I DO have at least 2 cans already…this same exercise also occurs when it comes to canned pumpkin—so trust that at any time of year, guaranteed I’ll have 3-4 cans each of One Pie pumpkin, and of evaporated milk...but zero sweetened condensed milk.)

And so on…I made my way all the way to the bottom of the recipe and was getting excited—and a bit scared because the only things I found I needed required a simple trip to Stop & Shop. Usually, it seems there is at least one totally exotic or rare ingredient that would require half the day looking for, across 5 stores, and then finding it, only to discover I need to spend a fortune on it just for that ‘pinch’ of something for the recipe…and then the rest spoils before I'll ever need it again.

So I started reading the recipe, this time assuming I’d find some technique I’ve not yet tried or mastered that would be the clincher for scaring me off the recipe….As I went through each step I started saying to each: “ok, I can do thatyep, I can do that too..” the only tricky part ahead of me seemed to be the egg whites and being sure I beat them to the correct consistency for the chiffon (a chiffon cake is a batter made up primarily of beaten egg whites, which are folded in, and give the resulting cake a fluffy, light texture….thus the "chiffon" moniker)

Was I actually going to attempt this?! Yes. And so to Stop & Shop...where I purchased all ingredients with little to no issue.

Other than cake flour that is. See, I had no clue which brand to buy…I had "Softasilk" by Pillsbury in my hand, when this caught my eye

Here was my irrational reasoning in the middle of shopping as to which one I'd choose, Pillsbury -vs- Swans Down:
Pillsbury has tons of products to output--whereas THIS company's only gig seems to be cake flour. Not to mention the design on the front looks like a logo/brand that has been around for decades….I bet it's a tried and true brand for real bakers....In fact, I bet there are grandmother’s country-wide who say, 'I’ve used Swans Down for 50 years—it’s the only one I use...'

"Yes," I thought, "that's the cake flour of a baker." Then I took it from the shelf, turned to see a 2,000 year-old knight in armor standing next to me in the Baking Needs aisle, who declared upon my taking the flour from the shelf: "You have chosen....wisely." (Ha! c'mon, did you really think I could get through this long-winded story without a movie quote?)

Bonus: I flipped over the box and saw "America's Favorite Cake Flour Since 1894" on the back, and that clinched it. Swans are also my favorite animal, so bonus for the good vibes from the box.

I found myself with a quiet Saturday afternoon, and I started lining up all my ingredients. I took the time pre-measure everything out, and had it all lined up ready to go. I love the mise en place technique because there is something about those small glass bowls I use to hold all the separate ingredients that makes me feel like a legit chef! I am a sucker for those things! Love that I have a set of glass nesting bowls of various sizes all the way down to a tablespoon size….it just makes me happy!

It took some time to get it all measured out, and assembled and into the oven—I had to make the filling first so it had time to set/chill for several hours so by the time the layers cooled I was good to go...had to cut out my wax paper for the bottom of the pans....and then the process of mixing the batter up and mixing the egg whites up separately took extra time b/c of having to clean the bowl in between and being sure it was totally dried/toweled off (Note To Self: It could be time to get an additional bowl for the Kitchen Aid so I don’t have to empty out, clean it, and reuse it when doing work in 1 recipe). It could have taken less time, but I was very serious: this first cake-from-scratch HAD to come out perfect…or I’d be annoyed and could find myself running from the kitchen forever, hurling cupcake pans, parchment paper and silicone mats to the curb.

In the midst of all of cleaning up while the layers cooled, I took a call from one of my two sisters--this time, Sister, the Younger. The call went something like this:
Her: “hey it’s just me…whattya up to?
Me: “I’m baking a cake from scratch---triple layer lime chiffon!
Her: (laughter…. laughter.....more laughter....) “WHAAAAT!? (Laughter…laughter..finally composes herself): “sorry, it’s just not the answer I was expecting…triple layer lime chiffon--who DOES that??! Where did that come from!!?”

I finally stepped back and realized that it was rather absurd…but I was determined. I figured if I made the cake now, when I didn’t have an occasion for it, then I know if I can make it when I needed it "for real." I know to start with this instead of a simple 2-layer vanilla/yellow or even chocolate is a leap, but it was what I came hells bells, I'm going for it, sister.

Here it is, in all its lop-sided glory....(photo lopsided too--I took w/ my phone, so it's not good at all...I have a view of it pre-cut, but it's taking forever to download them...) This one was taken to show the inside layers...all the lime filling, and chiffon-y goodness! You can see how my cool whip topping did not keep its form too well...the lime and sugar when added to it made it sort of fall apart in consistency and all of a sudden the whipped topping was airy and 'holey'--almost disintegrating while I frosted--but it held together. The recipe called for "Fat Free" Cool Whip, but I splurged and got the 'real' kind--but next time I would probably not flavor the topping. Not only did it fool with the texture, but the cake and filling are lime enough for me.

Other than that edit, I LOVED it! I was psyched!

As for the sister that laughed at the shock of my domestic endeavor (and if she's reading this, she's mad that I'm not pointing out that she was quick to point out that she was not laughing at me as much as the shock of such a random type of cake that I was baking--so truly, she's my biggest champion in all things), she benefited as she & I went shopping the very next day and I showed up to her apartment with a section from my creation....

Score one for the happy homebaker!

RECIPE AS FOLLOWS: (c) Cooking Light (June, 2006)

1 teaspoon finely grated lime rind
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Cooking spray
1 tablespoon cake flour
2 cups sifted cake flour (7 1/2 ounces)
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon finely grated lime rind
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
3 egg yolks
8 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime)
2 1/2 cups fat-free whipped topping, thawed
Fresh mint sprigs (optional)
Fresh blueberries (optional)
Lime wedges (optional)

To prepare the lime filling, combine 1 teaspoon lime rind, 1/4 cup lime juice, and sweetened condensed milk in a small bowl, stirring until blended. Cover and chill 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 325°.

To prepare cake, coat bottoms of 3 (8-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray (do not coat sides of pans); line bottoms with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray; dust with 1 tablespoon flour.

Lightly spoon 2 cups cake flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine 2 cups cake flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until well combined.

Combine oil, 1/3 cup juice, 3 tablespoons water, 1 teaspoon rind, lemon extract, and egg yolks in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add oil mixture to flour mixture; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.

Place egg whites in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Gently stir one-fourth of egg white mixture into flour mixture; gently fold in remaining egg white mixture.

Divide cake batter equally among prepared pans, spreading evenly. Break air pockets by cutting through batter with a knife. Bake at 325° for 20 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool in pans for 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Remove wax paper from cake layers. Cool completely on wire rack.

To prepare frosting, combine 3 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons lime juice in a small glass bowl. Microwave at high for 30 seconds or until sugar dissolves. Cool completely. Fold into whipped topping.

To assemble cake, place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread half of filling over cake layer. Top with second layer, remaining half of filling, and third layer. Spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Garnish with mint, blueberries, and lime wedges, if desired. Store cake loosely covered in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Slice cake into wedges.

16 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 290(29% from fat); FAT 9.3g (sat 2.1g,mono 4.6g,poly 2.1g); IRON 1.1mg; CHOLESTEROL 47mg; CALCIUM 122mg; CARBOHYDRATE 44.9g; SODIUM 218mg; PROTEIN 5.3g; FIBER 0.3g

Jan Moon , Cooking Light, JUNE 2006

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

now THIS is TV

God I miss the ABC, CBS and NBC Fall promos like this....who else remembers these 2-3 minute ads?!

Must D TV! Part 1.

"It's the most wonderful time of the year!"

Anyone who knows me--whether it's for decades, years, months, or hell hours, knows that I love TV. TV is Good.

But I will admit, I am usually feeling let down by today's shows...they leave me uninspired, and want for more--except for a few gems that make me feel that somewhere out there in LA-LA land are producers, writers, actors who get it right.

As I wait with eager anticipation for the new seasons to start, much like going back to college to the gang, here is what is currently programmed on my DVR, just waiting for the new episodes to gear up.

Here are the returning classmates I look forward to seeing again

The Cool/Most Popular Kids:
The Office

Class Clowns:
30 Rock
How I Met Your Mother
Til Death
Family Guy

The Bad Boy:
Gordon Ramsay.

My Gay Best Friend:
Project Runway

The Geeks (note: "geek" to me is a term of endearment)
Dr. Who (BBC America)
The Colbert Report

The Jock:
Friday Night Lights (it's NOT about the football..I urge you to watch this show!!)

The "Hot Guy who is also super smart, super nice--and could be too perfect to be true":
Mad Men

The Girl who gets drunk at every party and acts like an ass...but I end up hugging and chugging with regardless because hell, I'm drunk too (aka: the reality shows I hate to admit I watch):
America's Next Top Model
Amazing Race
American Idol

When it comes to Mad Men and Friday Night Lights I think they are the best shows on TV today...I'll defend that statement to the death--And in true TV fashion, like Bobby Ewing and Buffy, I'll simply rise again.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Welcome Back, Baker

So the main part of my blogging was just posting answers to another blog and linking to it (Friday's Feast, which I have not visited in some time).....and I threw in an occassional thought now and then...but it's gone dormant for over a year, and I think I'm going to come out of hiding and actually try to keep up with this blogging stuff...and actually TELL people (who I know) about it...

And what better timing than right before TV season starts again! busy season...when I start to fill time slots with new favorite--and old favorite/returning shows!

Confession: Back in the day (and by "back in the day" I mean no more than 5 yrs ago) I used to highlight/circle stuff in the TVGuide that I didn't want to miss every was a ritual...but the world has changed... TV Guide is no longer the 'digest' size (I can't seem to get into it now that it's turned itself into People magazine.)

Now, it's not that I've stopped tracking what I want to watch--it's just that now I use modern technology to do it for me, in form of a DVR!

Next Time on The Kids Table: "Must-D*-TV"!