Archive for September, 2011

September 13, 2011

Adventures with Alice: Dobos Torte

So … after much thought and consideration … my lovely mixer has been named!

Originally suggested  by KA, Alice is, in my opinion, the perfect mix between proper lady and partner-in-crime. And it shortens nicely to Allie when the mood strikes. Lauren said it was masterful. That’s enough for me!

Sunday afternoon, we began our first adventure together. The plan had been to do a batter bread Saturday afternoon, but yeast buying mishaps put that on the back burner, and we turned toward that ever beckoning mecca of the stand mixer: dessert.

While browsing Smitten Kitchen, looking for tips for the best’s sister, Felicity*, I came upon this recipe: the Dobos Torte. It’s a super famous Hungarian cake and … being Hungarian and all … I’d eaten it growing up. It was fancy looking, and a little daunting, so of course I decided to try it.

Clearly, no inaugural use would be complete without throwing flour all over the kitchen. If you think this is a mess, you should have seen my apron. Apparently this is Alice’s idea of a joke.

You guys, for all the daunting directions, this cake was SUPER easy. Can you separate eggs? Yes? You’re set. No? Well, you’ve got 13 to practice on. It was the most complicated part of the entire thing. And yielded such lovely photos as the one on the left, above. Seriously … mix away! Whee!!

The most DIFFICULT part had to be stirring the batter. Deb warns that before folding in the whites, the batter will be the consistency of mortar. She’s NOT KIDDING. My arms got a workout, just getting ANYTHING mixed in. Then again, this also provided folding practice … something I do NOT get enough of in my kitchen. I need to remedy that.

Baking took 5 minutes. Seriously. I’d never done a sponge cake recipe before … so the idea that I had to actually shape the cake on a cookie sheet threw me off a little. But it didn’t run, and it baked relatively flat. Win! Cooling took just another 5 minutes (I did multiple sheets of layers, so each cooled while the next was baking.) This reminds me … I need to get another cooling rack, so I can cool more at a time. Limitations in baking are no fun.

While the baking was going on, I pulled together the frosting/filling. Yes, it really only took 10 minutes. 5 to melt the chocolate. 5 to whip it all together. Easy easy.

From there, it was stack, frost, stack, frost, stack, frost, done! I had enough batter to make 10 layers … so I used them all. The end result was a little goofy looking (I didn’t make enough frosting, so had to really stretch there at the end), but I had high hopes.

Monday night was the moment of truth. I took it to dinner with my bible study group, and served it for dessert. As I cut the first slice, I was holding my breath … but look what we saw!!

SUCCESS! And a delicious delicious success at that. The torte was a total hit with the friends. The best compliment though, came from my dad … Hungarian baker extraordinaire. I sent him a photo and he replied “That looks amazing. Much better than your grandmother or I ever made. Well done.”

::wipes tears away::

I think Alice and I are going to be the best of friends.


* Felicity is a senior in high school. The ever crafty girl that she is, she decided to take “Home Ec” as her home-study class. This essentially means that twice a week she has to try a new recipe for class … basically, it’s an excuse to destroy her mother’s kitchen. And she’s QUITE the cook. Any recipes anyone wants to throw at her … send them along. She’ll send you photos when she masters it. =)

September 12, 2011

The Day and The Decade

Friday night, the husband and I attended a taping of The Kalb Report at the National Press Club.

The guests were Dan Rather (formerly of CBS News), Charlie Gibson (formerly of Good Morning America), Brit Hume (Fox News), and Frank Sesno (GWU School of Media and Public Affairs, formerly of CNN). The program was “Anchoring 9/11: The Day and The Decade.”

It was stunning. Just an amazing program. To hear these men, each of which anchored a news program through the long hours of 9/11, discuss their roles, their emotions at the time, their fears, their “duty”. To hear them say they were HONORED to be there, amid all the horror.

It was the perfect reflection, for me. To really soak in what the day was for so many of us … but without the horrifying photos and videos. Without having to re-live it. It was a space where I could reflect and grieve for the past, without having to do it all over again.

The bit that brought me to tears, though, came from Charlie Gibson:

Dick Chaney gave a speech shortly after that in which he said, and I thought it was very profound, he said, “This is a war. For the first time we Americans will lose more people on domestic soil that we will lose overseas.” We have always been protected by oceans. And, of course, it has turned out not to be true because we have lost more people in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it did sort of ignore the Civil War but that’s okay.

But I thought that statement was very profound. And basically what it said to me and it is something that I kept in mind in the weeks and months afterward, whenever you drive through the Lincoln Tunnel, whenever you get on an airplane, whenever you put your kid on a school bus, whenever you kiss your kid good night, it’s a little act of courage there. And that was something that I don’t think we thought prior to that day 10 years ago.

I cried, because it’s true. It’s a sense of innocence lost, and the fear of what may be. I so wish we could get that back.

Sitting in a room full of college students barely old enough to remember the attacks (and definietly not old enough to have understood it), it almost felt like closure. I watched Charlie Gibson that day, as we sat riveted, fearful of what we’d see next. Hearing him speak now, 10 years later, about what he was feeling … it’s like we’ve come full circle.

Watch the program, or at least read the transcript. It’s wonderful.


* These seasoned anchors also discussed their views on the state of news media today. It’s not in the broadcast, as it was part of the Q&A, but it IS in the transcript. Food for thought.

September 9, 2011


As many of you will remember, last week I went off my rocker on Twitter trying to figure out who sent me the large cardboard box sitting on my doorstep. You see, this box contained THIS:


WHEE!! But seriously, that’s a rather expensive surprise gift.

Much digging around happened (all the while trying to keep myself from being giddy over the entire thing) until finally my phone rang:

“So I hear they forgot to put our note on the packing slip.” *

It was Miss Jenn, the lovely lady who I’ve been working with to alter and personalize her Sisterhood of the Traveling Dress wedding gown! She and her bridesmaid, Monica, had arranged to send me the mixer as payment and thank you for the work I was doing on their dresses.


Now knowing who the mystery benefactor was, I proceeded to jump around the house squealing, with the husband. He knows it’s something I’ve been wanting for a long time (seriously, I had to choose between a mixer and other things multiple times in the past couple of years), and was just as giddy as I was to finally have it. **

So we unpack it, and realize … OOPS … our kitchen stuff really doesn’t match. But crap, this is the color that was especially picked out for us (i.e. it wasn’t the standard red). Hmmm … what to do?

Well, Jenn settled that. While stopping by for her final fitting she saw it on the counter and said “Huh, that’s not the color I thought it was going to be.” She proceeded to fill me in on the sneakiness she and Rachel had been doing, trying to figure out which color we wanted, and told me to return it for the color we liked best.

So we did. ***

She showed up yesterday.



Meet … well, she doesn’t have a name yet. Lauren says she looks like “a lady who lunches”. Anyone have name suggestions? And I tell you right now, my mixer will NOT be named Muffy. Yick.

Isn’t she pretty? I may or may not have spent the better part of last night with my cheek pressed against the top, hugging her. What? Don’t look at me like that! You’d do it, too!

So yes … a name is needed. And a suggestion for an inaugural use. After all, the weekend is here, and the great wide world of baking is mine to conquer!



* Or something along those lines. Sorry, Jenn, I can’t remember exactly!


*** The color is Pistachio, for those interested. The husband keeps saying it looks vintage-y … which is the same thought I had when I first was looking at the different colors. $10 says it’s the same color as my mom’s. It goes perfectly in our kitchen. I LOVE IT.

September 8, 2011


Lately, I’ve been EXHAUSTED. I’m not quite sure why, but I can’t seem to shake it, no matter how early I get to bed, or how many naps I take.

So, today … while my brain takes a breather … have some photos of the ever-cuter nephew. You know you’ve missed him.



September 7, 2011

Workin’ It Out: Failure and The Fear

Oh, how I wish this was a different entry.

Anyone who’s checked in on my workout tracker lately has noticed … um, there haven’t been any more x’s. I  mean, sure, I’ve had a run here and there, but really, 3 weeks have gone by with no forward movement.

I’m displeased with this for a number of reasons:

1. The race is in 7 weeks. Under 2 months. And I intend on finishing it, right?

2. I’ve put on weight. Not a lot, but just enough so my work pants don’t really fit.* I tend to put weight on in my torso … which leads to embarrassing questions when people still see you as a newlywed. No, I’m NOT pregnant, asshats, I’ve just been lazy and eating crap lately, so I’ve got a bit of a belly. BACK. OFF.

3. I used to be SUPER disciplined when it came to exercise. Dance’ll do that to ya. But seriously, there were no excuses. No “I’m too tired/sore/sick” no “I don’t wanna”. Me, the girl who loves sleep to an entirely unhealthy degree would get up at 4am to make it to the pool on time to get my swim in before school. Every day. Sun, rain, scorching heat, deep freeze. Now? Discipline? HA!

And that’s the big one.

I’m so damn irritated at myself for thinking up excuses and giving in to them. I mean, nights when I’m going to fall asleep on the treadmill (and DO, in the middle of dinner?) … ok, maybe not the best night to run. Days my back is killing me? DEFINITELY not the best day to run. The one day a month where I can’t MOVE for cramps? That’s always been my day off, so ok. But the “it’s such a HASSLE!” or “it’s too cold out” or “I have no clean workout gear”.** That’s just bullshit. Excuses, and LAME excuses at that. It pisses me off that I keep giving in, and I can’t figure out WHY I do.

This weekend I had a HUGE conversation about it with my husband. He’s of the opinion that he needs to set goals he can’t reach, in order to push himself. As such, he was irritated with my goal for the 10k.*** I explained it to him like this:

This race is arguably bigger for me than his upcoming marathon is for him. When you take into account that he’s doing it because he likes to run, and I’m doing it to prove to myself that I CAN, that becomes fairly clear. The point of this race for me is to really prove that my body can still handle something this big, nearly 5 years after the accident. I set realistic goals because I NEED them to be achievable. If I set myself a work-hard-for-it goal and then don’t make it, I’m going to be devastated, not just disappointed.

It’s Fear. Big F, not little f. Bone deep. It’s the Fear of never again being able to do what I once was capable of. The accident didn’t kill me, but trying (once I was healed) to do basic steps and NOT being able to? That did.

It’s hard to explain the Fear. I don’t think many people really know that they haven’t experienced it. The closest I’ve ever felt was when my godson (at age 2) wandered off at the park, while our backs were turned for 10 seconds. The all-consuming terror of having lost a child, increased to it being YOUR child. Your whole world. You’re not scared that they’re gone, you’re terrified that you won’t get them back. I think THAT is what the Fear is like. My whole world, taken from me, and I don’t know I’ll be able to get it back. That’s about as well as I can put it into words.

I’m terrified of failing. Of having my body say “Nope, sorry, you had your chance.” And so, I don’t try. It’s so much easier to sit on the couch and watch a movie, or curl up with a book, and not risk failure. Not running means not having to dissect every twinge in my back, looking out for a bad reaction. It means not having to face the fact that maybe, just maybe, I CAN’T do this, no matter how badly I want to. It means protecting myself from the Fear.

And I’m sick of it. I need to get up, off my ass, and TRY. Seriously, how many times have you had to push yourself to do something, only to have it turn out to be great?*** Or pushed yourself to your limits and beyond, and seen just what amazing things you were capable of?  Sitting on the couch, disappointing myself (and my husband), gaining weight, because I’m SCARED is not going to get me there.

So, we begin again. 7 weeks out.

And when I cross that damn finish line, I’m going to find a quiet place, sit down, and sob. Becuase that medal won’t just be evidence of beating my injury, it’ll be evidence of beating the Fear. And … much like the parent who finds their child, and is overwhelmed with joy, and terror, and relief, and sadness for what could have been – all at once … all I’ll be able to do is cry.

I cannot wait for that day.


* Seriously, I’m broke. Buying new pants is NOT an option.

** Worst. Excuse. EVER.

*** My goal is to RUN 75% of the race, walk the remaining 25%. I think it’s doable. Maybe a run 3 – walk 1?

**** Kayaking in the rain was like that. Easier to say no, but WOW, what I would have missed.