The Wrong Way (Cannoli Lesson Learned)

I’ve believed whole-heartedly that there is always a right way and a wrong way to do things.

I’ve also spent hours considering if that could even possibly be the case anymore, anywhere in this world.

If the right way is discipline, the wrong way must be the lack of.

And it’s all terribly subjective. And I do mean terribly.

There are countless mystified moments I marvel at the number of people whom must have agreed that something was a good idea way before it became a viable consumable.

My latest mind-thumper was an ice-cream error. That’s the nicest way I can think of wording it.

The bottom line is this: Ben & Jerry’s Cannoli ice cream tastes nothing like any East Coast, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts cannoli that I’ve ever had. Even the weird Tennessee ones, were better than the medley pint of unidentifiable uncertainty purchased.

I couldn’t figure it out.

I’ll give it ‘creamy.’ I’ll also award it nearly flavorless, maybe a bit of vanilla once in a while and I can’t confirm cannoli shells or shards or chips. Remember the old chocolate lined Nutty-Buddy cones? That summer convenience store single serve frozen flavor comes close.

Why is this my direction tonight? Honestly, because I didn’t want to.

Once a week shouldn’t feel so hard. Still, some days, it does. Today was one of those days. Long and…. long.

However seemingly self-righteous, the right way to proceed is for me to honor consistency. Remain proud. Be disciplined, if only for the reminder next week that I own nearly 13 steadily maintained years of written history. There’s an innately pre-determined pressure to reward myself with internalized-bragging rights overrides almost every objection I’ve ever come up with.

But, anyway. The reward tonight is not cannoli ice cream. Because, I persistently plowed through that in three servings last weekend, each separate scoop no more definable than other. I wanted to believe it would taste better each time. I also wanted to believe it would make me feel better; physically, mentally. Which is how I came back to what I always come back to: my version of reward-driven ego isn’t usually healthy. It’s more likely damaging, which is a psychological exploration for another episode of “Not Wanting to This Week.”

The thawing end-note for my Tuesday evening melt is that I did it.

Plus, I get to offer this sweet nicety:

Ben & Jerry’s Chip Happens lives up to its ambitious description. The Crunchy Potato Chip Swirls are indeed crunchy. Brand confidence restored.

Cannoli Lesson Learned: Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, baby. Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing.

Quote for the Week:

I Didn’t Have Any of That So… (Sweet Nothing but Something; Desperation Dessert.)

I giggled because… yes.

You may have never heard about this COVID Cuisine adventure, but a friend FB posited: what is one of the weirdest food combinations that you’ve eaten during sheltering?? (be honest. lol)

I’ll tell you what I told her. It’d be completely dishonest for me to claim my COVID cuisine concoctions differ from my regular, um, creative cooking.

Honestly, though. About a week ago, I stared longingly into my cabinets of mostly health. My general rule is – if I don’t have it, I can’t eat it.

In any case, my jumble of left-over baking bits was mostly from Christmas. 2019.

I had to bring up the stool to reach the high shelf where I put all the should-be-inaccesible temptations. I found partials of: graham cracker crumbs, marshmallows, semi-sweet chocolate chips, vanilla, brown sugar, self-rising flour, regular flour, a box of vanilla pudding, a1/2 bar of Bakers white baking chocolate, two different types of cocoa powder and three different types of sprinkles. 

Among the rediscovered hidden treasures were Tastefully Simple brown sugar salt and blueberry vanilla salt. I was also in possession of an overripe banana, cream cheese, almond milk, butter, two baby apples, honey roasted peanuts and sour cream.

Considered seemingly viable choices lead me to a dismal Google exploration conclusion.

I had almost all the ingredients to make something. Unfortunately, these particular ingredients made nothing. (Nothing normal, anyway.)

Banana Pudding? No wafers

Banana Bread? Not enough bananas.

Cheesecake? No eggs or heavy cream or any type of cream.

Chocolate chip cookies? Sigh, no eggs.

Apple cobbler? No white sugar. Besides the pitiful apples might not even make a cup, leaving more cobbler than apple.

S’mores? No graham crackers, but I did have a couple cups of pre-crushed crumbs.

Where my mind went after about an hour of recipe search:

I can almost make a cheese cake. I don’t have eggs, but I do have an overripe banana. Didn’t I read somewhere once that bananas could replace eggs? Hmm. Suppose I mashed the fruit to replace the eggs? Mashed banana has a tighter consistency than eggs, so it seemed logical to me. Plus, banana cheesecake didn’t sound too bad.

Suppose, I added some chocolate chips? Ooo, banana chocolate chip cheesecake! “Now, we’re getting somewhere,” I announced to Blu. I received a yawn and a “why-did-you-disturb-me?” slow blink of indifference. “Maybe not,” I thought.

“Well, how about a S’mores pie?” If I used the vanilla pudding and powdered cocoa, made a graham cracker crust and plopped some chips and mallows on top? Maybe. Then, I had second thoughts about making a pie because I’d have to eat it. All. By myself.

Aha! I can make mini cakes in my 6-cup pan. There’s some portion control, right there. So, that’s what I did, sort of.

I made graham cracker crust cupcake shells. While those were baking, I slid back to the cheesecake idea. Yeah. That was it. The perfect tasty experiment. I mean, you know, all the pieces were yummy, so…. Banana Chocolate Chip Almost No Bake Cheesecake.

On my quest, I’d come across a tip that indicated using marshmallow fluff in a cheesecake batter helps it firm. I didn’t have any of that. I did have some humidity-melded marshmallows and the forethought to halve the closest recipe I could locate.

Crust (from the box): 1.25 cups graham cracker crumbs, 4 tbs butter

Filling (adapted): 4 oz cream cheese, 1 mashed overripe banana, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla.

Topping: 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. (Because that’s all I had.)

I placed each graham cup in one of 5 Pampered Chef small prep bowls. Remember, portion control. I planned on eating the 6th.

Flopped some filling in each, sprinkled chips and considered. Seemed to be lacking something. I still had a hankering for s’mores. So, a glob of mushy marshmallow landed on top.

When I was done assembling, a 15-second microwave run heated the taste-test. For some ridiculous reason, I saw the bowl of gooey goodness and decided to  mix it all up. It wasn’t baaaaaddd. There just weren’t any clear-cut flavors, and the brownish, lumpy presentation was lacking. I ate it.

I tried being a bit more reasonable on Sunday. Heated for same 15 seconds, let cool for a minute and spoon scooped through the layers. There’s no logical reason why it tasted so much better. In fact, I ended up eating two on Sunday. Not back-to-back, though. Portion control.

I’ve got this one on the counter waiting for me to nuke after I finish blogging tonight.

Quote for the Week:

Churdled (milk)

Then, it occurred to me.

Wait – my chocolate milk? I haven’t bought any chocolate milk, lately.”

“Yeah, you did.” Jeff came back. “It was just a little one, with the rabbit on it. I think maybe it wasn’t any good anymore. It smelled kinda funny. It was kinda old, too.”

My mind went from – I don’t remember buying chocolate milk to – “Wait – what? How old? It smelled bad, and you used it anyway?” I squawked and gaped.

“Well, it wasn’t that old. I checked the date. Just a couple of weeks. And, I don’t drink the stuff, so I don’t know what’s good!”

The rule-follower in me was flabbergasted. My brain shorted into partial words. I stumbled over ‘chocolate’ and ‘milk’ and ended up with an accidental coinage. “You gave me churdled milk? This is why perishables are date stamped!”

“Nah,” Jeff insisted, remarkably patiently, considering we were having this conversation  for perhaps the hundredth if not close to the hundredth time. “Those are just sug-gest-ed dates. Things don’t suddenly go bad on that date.”

“I know that,” I insisted, back. “But, they eventually do!”

That earned me an eye-roll. “Well,” he jokingly reasoned, “If you just drank the white milk, ya would’a had better coffee, then.”

“Yeah?” I countered, “and what is the date on that?”

Jeff yanked the fridge open and grabbed the milk jug. “Hmm,” he noted, grinning. “Says yesterday.” He pulled off the cap and, to my horror, full-on stuck his sniffer in the hole.

Not much scared Jeff. Inserting his nose into, or, even taking a swig from, a gallon of possibly spoilt milk, wasn’t on his list of scary stuff. For the record, though, being chased with a dead fish, was.

“Nope.” Jeff split-second analyzed the experience. “It’s definitely not ch-urdled, yet.” He glanced over at me, and grinned at my expression. “Probably wouldn’t use that either, wouldya?”

Me, grimacing back: “No. Especially, not since you just stuck your nose in there.”

“Aw, my nose didn’t touch the milk!” Jeff scoffed.

“So what, if it didn’t touch the milk? Your nose got wiped on the spout! You’re gonna have to pour the milk over that!’

“Geez, ok.” Jeff went for a paper towel. “I’ll wipe it out!”

“Don’t even think about giving me that milk, tomorrow.” I warned him. “And, don’t cook with it, either!”

Jeff guffawed. “You’re not gonna die from the milk!”

“Damn, right.” I replied. “Cuz, none of it is going past my lips!”

He took a swig, swished it around in his mouth, and ridiculously wiggled his tongue in my direction. “Wanna kiss?” he teased.

(To be fair, I guess Jeff helped coin the word. I dropped it, but he picked it up and ran for the punchline.)

Quote for the week:2019 05 28 Sometimes there is only one way to figure it out jakorte

 

 

Coffee, in a Clutch

Friday, September 29, 2006.

Jeff was up early with me, Friday morning, and very much back to being his usual perky self. While I was in the shower, he made coffee and packed my work breakfast and lunch for me. I knew I would be short a van pool passenger this morning, which gave me a few extra minutes.

So, I sat and sipped my creative, coffee surprise of the day. Raspberry flavored coffee with vanilla creamer. Jeff and I had joined the Gevalia coffee club, convinced by the free coffee maker. The flavor assortment was a bonus, too. Back then, whole beans were considered radical. But, we had a spice grinder; specifically dedicated to coffee. Fancy.

Jeff was the brew-master, in-charge of keeping our cabinet stocked. Each new shipment was a challenge to him. I can only recall one time when I had to explain that I hadn’t been able to drink the disaster in my cup.

I’m not a fan of scalding hot coffee. I prefer cold, however cool, room temperature, and lukewarm are acceptable alternates. Yes, I’m that person – the one who uses a spoon to chase ice around a water glass to cool my coffee. Because of this, I rarely drank my freshly- brewed, morning beverage at home. Hardly ever on my commute, either.

Insulated car cups hadn’t come close to popularity, or reaching and reacting the efficient way they do now. As the van pool driver, my commute was close to an hour. So, by the time I got to work, the coffee in my up-cycled, individual soda bottle, was a pleasant room temp. In summer, it was almost properly chilled from parking in front of the air conditioned vents.

The conversation about the concoction I threw away, ended in laughter, as usual.

I started it. “Whatever you put in my coffee, this morning, please, don’t ever do that again.”

“You didn’t like it?”

“No. It was terrible!”

“Oh.” Jeff pondered. “It seemed like it would work, to me.”

“What was it?”

“Hazelnut, but there wasn’t enough. So, I added the cherry kind we got in Traverse City. Then, we were out of cream, so I added the rest of your chocolate milk.”

He was right. A chocolate-covered, cherry cordial hugging a hazelnut sounded like it should have been good, but…

Quote for the Week:2019 05 21 complex flavors dont always make the cut jakorte

 

 

 

 

Better Late

I’d expected a card first thing in the morning, as we got ready for church. I’d waited  through the service and through our late, diner breakfast.

I was impatient, but decided not to spoil the fun. I’d over-eagerly done that, before. Most notably, by ruining Jeff’s engagement plan and proposal.

I figured there would be a surprise when we got home. Only, there wasn’t one.

Halfway through Sunday, July 23rd, 2006, I finally said it. “It’s my birthday, you know.”

“I know,” he replied casually. “I didn’t have time to get you a present.”

“You didn’t have time?” I asked.

“Besides,” he tacked on, “I could never surprise you, anyway, ‘cause you see all the bills.”

“That’s true,” I laughed. “Did you get me a card?” I was still hopeful.

Jeff’s flat answer was, “No.” Then, a half-hearted, “I never made it out.”

“Well, why didn’t you make me a card?” I wanted to know. “You used to always make me cards.”

Jeff sighed, “I was gonna bake a cake later.”

“Oh, ok.” I understood. Going out and getting around was getting more difficult, so that made sense to me. “You could have wished me a happy birthday, though.” I stressed.

“Yep.” he acknowledged, with a nod. “I probably should have.”

Just about dinner time, Jeff got up, and said he was going to go make my cake. I told him he didn’t have to, and that I’d be just as happy ordering Chinese food.

So, that’s what we did, complete with my favorite almond cookies and ritual fortune cookies. As usual, Jeff wanted to know what my fortune said. I read it to him, to which he responded the same way he had every time since we’d first met. “Mine,” he’d wiggle his substantial eyebrows and the tiny little paper slip, “Says – ‘Lucky Number –  69!’”

Three days later, I came home to a colorful Happy Birthday sign in our home-office window. Strategically hung facing the driveway, so I’d immediately see it when I pulled in.

Waiting for me inside, was a stellar dinner. Jeff made a special meatloaf concoction of ground beef, sausage and salsa baked under a cloak of ketchup and garlic. Accoutrements: hand-smashed, garlic red-potatoes with butter, Brussels sprouts drenched in butter and dinner croissants… with butter.

The butter-use was a nod to the occasion. Our frugal budget and our smidgen of health-consciousness meant margarine, in tubs. When planning special dinners, or upon getting good celebratory news, Jeff would roar, “This calls for Butter!”

After dinner, Jeff told me to close my eyes.  I opened them to a cake and a card. The double-chocolate cake was covered in neon yellow frosting and featured a black-piped beak plus google eyes to which he’d added eye-lashes using more black piping.

The card was a comic one. Amusing and strange, with an extra bit of Jeff’s handwritten humor. “Better late, than never.”

We went to bed full of cake topped with canned cherries and vanilla ice cream, holding hands, and giggling. I loved that chicken cake, and my husband, completely.

Jeff had managed to surprise me on a day I wasn’t expecting anything. I like to compare this birthday to the way I consistently and erroneously surprised him the day before his birthday; every year.

That card, though.

It was the last one.

Jeff had, unwittingly, been philosophically correct. I would gladly take always late, instead of never again.

Quote for the Week: 2019 03 05 late is always better than never again jakorte

2019 03 05 better late than never card jakorte