Sunday, March 31, 2013


It's not something people like to do, and truthfully it's not something mouse ever enjoyed. Yet now, it's a metaphors for life, the act of smoothing the wrinkles. Making something look crisp or pretty. Now, before anyone emails Daddy suggesting mouse needs a serious intervention...Irs really not a Stepford Wife thing or why mouse finds enjoyable. It's more about clean corners and crisp lines that appeal so to mouse. And just so you know, not everything is ironed. Most things are hung up as soon as the dryer is finished or folded and put away. But there are some things that routinely no matter how quickly she pulls from the dryer they're already wrinkled. Sheets come to mind -- for some reason they always wrinkle at the cuffed part at the top. The sides and corners do as well, but mouse doesn't care much about that.

So mouse irons them. Not the whole sheet, just the cuff parts and pillowcases. Yes, it's cheating. But it requires mouse to remain mindful of her task. Maybe that's what's so appealing? The act of focus is practiced and observed in the task.

Regardless of why it's something mouse actually enjoys.

Laundry, overall, just isn't. Need to figure out a way to feel joyful while doing steps, steps.

Monday, March 25, 2013


In the post about being weird, mouse explained that even a picture can inspire mouse to clean. It sounds whacky -- and totally mouse. Recently this image caught mouse's eye on Facebook.

Well, inside the sun room, we have some built in shelves...wouldn't it be so much brighter painted white? Daddy was nonplussed at the idea when we moved in, "Mouse do you realize those shelves are mahogany?" he replied somewhat annoyed. 

The very idea of painting over that wood was unthinkable to him. But also, let's just say the idea of painting over any of the wood trim was an impossible idea. Which is why we ended up with a very dark dining room (think hunting lodge). While it's contents are clearly a mixture of us both, the room overall just isn't. So little by little, mouse has been making very subtle changes. More sconces, more opportunities for brightness.

Back to the sunroom and the mahogany shelving. Daddy's pretty insistent not to allow mouse to paint it. Possibly due to a recurring nightmare of mouse one day changing her mind and saying that she wants to restore the wood to its origional state.  

So for now, this image is being filed away under: Dreams. At least until mouse sees another image to replace it.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

After Party-Party

It was really stressful. Really, super stressful. But it went really well! Seriously mouse was having nightmares all Wednesday night. By Thursday morning mouse was all a bundle of nerves. Tuesday morning we nearly cancelled it all together. But also knew we were fully committed. Had we taken on more than we could handle? Good friends assured mouse we hadn't. Thanks so much to all who encouraged mouse! Daddy's faith never wavered. Not once!

Thursday morning mouse woke, exhausted. The day ahead seemed completely daunting. By the time she dropped the baby off at Lucy's, mouse too was ready to drop! No rest tho, ran home to start dinner and get everything ready. But when she came through the door, mouse looked at the pretty table she set...dunno suddenly the pressure felt lifted.

The meringue came out just lovely! The prime rib roast was very nearly perfect. The ends were a tad past well...but overall most excellent.

Conversation, making rounds ok that part was exhausting for mouse. Daddy seemed tho to enjoy it and beamed proudly at mouse.

After we both collapsed on a sofa and drank a glass of wine, toasting a successful first formal gathering.

The first of many Daddy reminded mouse.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Cat's out of the Bag

Really don't know what exactly compelled mouse to share the link to this blog.  It's nothing exciting.  

The final push to the big formal party...the nerves are starting to make mouse unable to sleep.  

You want everything done today...but if everything is done too far in advance...well you'l freak out when you have to redo everything.   And ya we're still having a small gathering tonight.  Oh well, there's nothing that can be done about it all now.  

This week's plan: 

Monday is tine to give the house a thorough walk through and making note of things that need to be cleaned like baseboards (which actually aren't too bad) doors, light switches, check silver and polish if needed.  Wipe down kitchen cabinets and appliances.  Check the long lighter making sure it works/purchase new one.  Set up canopy outside in case of rain/snowfall -- check weather for outdoor heater or light firepit?  Might as well look around for chametz too while mouse is at it all.  Cleaning the inside of cabinets with damp cloth -- getting rid of all crumbs.  Put down new clean shelf paper

Tuesday is the running around shopping day.  Making sure we have everything we need for all the food, and ya mouse will be picking up the prime rib roast at the butcher shop.  Make place cards to avoid confusion.  Take Dogs to groomer. 

Wednesday is cleaning and prep day.  All the foods that can be prepped in advance (yes Daddy knows he'll be eating soup and salad for dinner).  

Cooking Prep
  • Onions, carrots, celery pre chopped and ready to be dumped into the vessel.  
  • Romaine for salad washed, bagged up for easy dumping
  • Dressing made
  • Croutons made
  • Pie made and ready for meringue on Thursday morning. 
  • Make up a few appetizers to serve with cocktails
Cleaning Prep
  • Dust/polish dining room table, bring in extra chairs
  • Check the flow around the rooms, moving furniture as needed
  • Dust in corners, under and behind sofa...Using a fork to remove or lighten divits in the carpeting
  • Set out the silver trays, tea/coffee etc arranging the after dinner table with cups, saucers, plates forks etc.  
  • Iron all the linens
  • Scrub, scrub scrub all the kitchen countertop surfaces and relocate the toaster 
  • Place the linens on the table 
  • Set the table
  • Dust the TV
  • Check the ipod for play list marked party (a smooth jazz mix with 5 hours of music) double check speakers
  • Arrange Candles
  • Sit in various chairs to make sure views aren't impeded by anything
  • Make sure there are a couple ashtrays outside, for smokers/cigar smokers 
  • Set up bar area, making certain glasses are cleaned 
Thursday is the big day
  • Make Meringue
  • Pick up bread, take butter out to soften 
  • Drop off baby!!! Ya...
  • Rib Roast must be in the oven no later than 3pm. 
  • Arrange small trays with appetizer bites 
  • Peel, wash potatoes, shred horseradish
  • Take shower, fix hair and makeup
  • Dress for party
  • Open red wine and decant at appropriate time 
  • Take out white wine to warm a tiny bit before guests arrive (never serve white wine too cold)
  • Last minute tidy of the kitchen and floor areas 
  • Last second tidy of the house
  • Study mouse's mantra for the evening:  Enjoy the party and know you've planned as much as you could.  

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Please don't misunderstand in anyway by reading these pages that mouse is in anyway an accomplished chef or even cook (sometimes being a mother does feel rather like being a short order cook) but there's lots she hasn't a clue how to attempt.  For gatherings, formal or informal mouse tends to stick to things she knows and it's incredibly rare that she screws those up.  Even if she does it's easy for her to hide an error.   A bit more sauce or extra icing or whipped cream can cover most errors.  

Weeknight meals are extremely simple and rarely lavish, unless mouse is experimenting with flavors.  Occasionally she'll try something different.  But it's best with the baby around to keep the meals easier because it's so easy to loose her place in a long complicated recipe.  

There is a skill she's never quite mastered, while most desserts turn out just fine for mouse there is one group that's just eluded her.  The Pie.  

Pies -- honestly mouse would rather do a crumble or just about anything other than a full on pie.  Now she has done a rustic pie, where you take the pie dough set it on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and just fill the center with fruit and pull the sides up.  It's appeal is that it's not supposed to look perfect.  

The second, albeit larger issue for mouse is the pie crust itself.  A funny aside, it seems to run in the family because when her grandmother passed away mouse found no fewer than 35 different pie crust recipes.  It's a very hit and miss process with mouse.  Sometimes it come off lovely and other times, gah wouldn't feed it to the dog.  

For our big formal shindig mouse wants the dessert to not only be kosher but kinda impressive too (after losing a whole weekend of possible research due to unfortunate events) and mouse was feeling the crush.  Most of her tried and true recipes aren't kosher and it wouldn't do for guests to have to wait several hours before dessert.  

Then Daddy mentioned he's fond of pie.  And yes he is.  He loves a good key lime or lemon meringue pie.  

So yesterday, mouse began experimenting just with the dough.   Unfortunately you can't make a small amount of dough (mouse has  a freezer full of dough balls with giant Xs on them).  One website recommended that all the ingredients be very cold when you begin including the flour.  Unfortunately that didn't work out too well.  The flour must have picked up moisture from the fridge after just a tablespoon of ice water it seemed to come together well enough, but it fell apart in the cooking process.  

There's also another issue, the rolling out process.  To watch people on those cooking shows you'd think it looks so simple.  Yet when mouse rolls out her dough, it just doesn't look like that at all.  It looks just terrible.  The times it did look lovely, the taste (overall) was horrible and it wasn't flakey at all. 

This must be why there are million different pie crust recipes.  Some insist if you want a flakey crust you must use lard.  Other's say vegetable shortening and still more say butter.  Honestly mouse must have been doing something wrong with each because NONE would come out right or the way mouse wanted.  

What makes a tough pie dough?  Apparently it's not just one thing, but could be several.  Over  mixing,  is common.  Over rolling.  Adding too much flour during rolling.  It's mind boggling.  Then exasperated, mouse sat down and thought about it.  

How did on earth did her Nona make pie crust without a food processor.  Truth was she didn't.  

So mouse began anew.  This time with a bowl and pastry cutter.  And learned what the dough should feel like.  The texture between her fingers.  And it worked.  Emboldened mouse did several more batches (yes we're using a lot of flour (nearly 10 pounds in this learning phase and let's not think about the other stuff).  It rolled out fine.  

So, mouse decided to further the experiment the following day.  Could she do it again?  Would her fingers remember the process?  Really she couldn't wait to get started.  After a trip to the market for more flour, shortening and the other pie ingredients like lemons -- eggs, etc.  mouse set to work again.  

The filling was easy  and came together quickly.  It was tasty.  But the meringue was an issue.  It wasn't tall didn't brown nicely....after just a short amount of time it seemed to weep and fall.  It took 4 tries (and yes mouse made four complete pies during that time) to get the meringue just right.  

At this point, honestly, mouse was rather mentally lost, the baby had been coloring and playing with her toys, running around but without mischief (yes mouse is counts her blessings on that).  But now it was nearly dinnertime and the baby was becoming very cranky.  

Pie for dinner?  No.  Daddy or mouse wouldn't approve of that.  Tentatively mouse picked up her cell and sent Daddy a text asking if he wouldn't mind picking up dinner.  He replied with a question...that depends will there be pie for dessert?  Really mouse laughed....and replied yes.  

True to his word he came home with food, a very nice spread in fact.  Think he must have gone to Whole Foods but really mouse was grateful because she couldn't stand the sight of another pie.  

The final pie, wasn't cut.  The meringue peaks were nearly perfect.  It was a pretty pie mouse would be proud to serve.  The other pies revealed a good crust, the pie filling was incredibly tasty those meringues tho did leave a bit to be desired and the reason mouse made so many.  The final one remained uncut because mouse was curious to know how long it could last in the fridge.  24 hours is optimum.  It was rather nerve wracking for mouse.  

Really must have looked at the thing in the fridge a hundred times, half expecting it to be completely deflated.  

By morning a pretty sight at all.  It was quite soft looking.  

Back to the drawing board.  

This time, mouse remade the pie without the meringue topping and left that to sit in the fridge over night.  Then in morning,  right after breakfast, mouse made the meringue.  It came out nice...looked good...Actually a bit better than before.  Nicely browned.  

After dinner mouse cut it and finally we had a taste.  Daddy approved very much.  He said it was the best pie mouse has ever made.   Still very nervous but plan on making another pie this coming weekend...

Really don't know if lemon meringue pie will still be Daddy's favorite by the time the dinner party arrives.

Just so you know the pie pictured above is not the one mouse baked.  Very similar tho. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Brunch adventures

As mouse has mentioned in a post on planning (here), it's really important to try a recipe a few times before you do it for friends, family or more important people. For years now mouse has been completely obsessed with poached eggs. Many times she's tried...even using one of those little inserting things in a pan (they got stuck) so mouse decided to teach herself to poach eggs in a pan of simmering water.

So mouse watched several YouTube videos on the subject. The water was simmering vinegar was added...the water swirled...egg gently added...

And mouse watched in complete horror as it dissolved in the water! Around a dozen eggs later mouse has four perfectly cooked poached eggs. Daddy, well aware of mouse's experimenting arrived home at the appointed time, and mouse served him two of the eggs over a hash made from left-over corned beef snd potatoes.

Suspiciously Daddy eyed the plate, complimenting mouse on its appearance then broke the was truly a thing of beauty seeing it. The whites were fluffy, the yoke not terribly runny...we'll say runny in a good way.

Daddy smiled at mouse, asking if she followed a recipe for the hash...yep she had...and the eggs too she beamed proudly..

"Tell me mouse are the eggs supposed to be cold?" Daddy asked, with a cockeyed grin.

Not missing a beat, mouse replied, "As a matter of fact they are."

Later after a little more reasearch, mouse learned to keep the poached eggs warmed in a water bath.
The brunch went well tho, when mouse tried it out for friends a few weeks later.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Random Weirdness

When mouse watches a movie, or television show that shows someone cleaning it inspires mouse to clean or dig into corners and organize things. Now, it must show the right type of cleaning. Hoarder shows just don't count, nor do those "my home is a disaster please clean it for me and get rid of my crap" shows don't count. Some decorating shows can inspire mouse to clean or move things. Even reading a book can inspire mouse to clean.

After being still with all this, mouse has arrived at the conclusion that the more the home shown resembles in some ways her own home, the deeper the need or desire! Recently, after watching the film The Long Walk Home, mouse went on a complete cleaning spree -- which had nothig to do with rhe plot really at all. It's something when mouse remarked about to Daddy, he in turn gave mouse a quizzical look.

For some reason the exchange made mouse feel a bit defensive, which possibly has much more to do about her childhood than anything else. Rambling and rehashing the reasons to him, and waiting for the little light of recognition to wash over him. When he failed to see the connection, which was evident to mouse, again she relayed it to him. Mystified Daddy patiently listened, then curtly replied that he heard her the first two times. It seemed meaningless to him.

As if to really make Daddy understsnd, mouse tried something different using a cooking show as inspiration to try a new dish. Nothing.

Watching hockey or football doesn't make him want to run out and play or spend money on cleats or ice skates. So mouse supposes that it would seem off beat to him. The only thing watching golf on tv inspires him to do is run to the pro shop.

Yet it's times like these, mouse feels very simple.

Bit by Bite

Working on a menu is tedious at least it can be. Trying new recipes is well, trying but needed and our family becomes weary when they see mouse approach holding a spoon. Daddy once grabbed the kids and ran. Another time, he exclaimed to a table full of family in a wry tone that he used to love tiramisu, that was until mouse spent three weeks perfecting her recipe.

It's exasperating and frustrating because after so many tastings and samplings, your appetite and your taste buds are just ruined. This is why mouse has learned to love our neighbors. To them she can bring all the samples she wants. They're painfully honest too.

So when mouse began experimenting with mashed potatoes for our dinner -- now it should be explained mouse makes quite wonderful mashed potatoes. Lots of cream, butter sometimes goat cheese or roasted garlic. Except for the roasted garlic, completely non-kosher. Of course mouse also didn't understand it and Daddy was too polite to say much, in the beginning.

Later he examined and his mom was very polite and helpful too. Really think they were both very pleased that mouse was willing to go to such lengths.

Food is a great equalizer -- it's something we all have in common. It can be comforting when we feel horrible about something. It can evoke a memory or feeling when you smell something cooking or cathartic like kneading bread. Everyone gathers and eats, they share stories and mouse likes that idea.
So mouse now brings food to neighbors (never on a whim), but let's them know in advance. So, mouse will be bringing a side dish of mashed potatoes.

First mouse boiled the potatoes, to the first batch she added roasted garlic, soy milk and fresh herbs plus a little water.

The second contained the garlic, soy milk and chicken stock.

The third used beef stock, soy milk, horseradish, and herbs.

We'll see which people preferred.

Number three was the big winner, so long as mouse went light on soy milk :)