This feels a little like a break up.
Google, who I am normally very enamored with, is shutting down Google Reader on 1 July 2013, and to jump in with both feet, on 1 November 2013 it is also discontinuing iGoogle.
These are two services that I personally use on a regular basis, and it makes me a little sad to know that soon my home page will no longer have a banner of cupcakes across the top of it, my email, the weather, my feed reader, and a little pet turtle looking back at me. (Yeah, I have a pet turtle on my home page. So?) It’s been the opening page of my browser for years, and I’m going to miss it.
Google Reader has me at a little bit more at a loss than iGoogle because it has been an invaluable tool at keeping me organized with who’s been posting what and making sure I don’t miss too many posts by blogging buddies. The community of blogging has been one of the most rewarding parts of this little project, and I feel like by reading you get a little view into people’s lives (and kitchens) that you wouldn’t otherwise get to. I don’t want to fall into a situation where I miss out on events, stories and recipes because of the loss of this tool. If you use Google Reader for the feeds you read, remember it isn’t very long before this service disappears.
There are other feed readers out there, and I’ve transitioned over to blog lovin’ which I am so far enjoying and figuring out. This may be of little or great interest to you, but if you’re sitting in the same spot I was, where you know you are going to need to find a new tool to use and aren’t sure what to do, this is the feed reader that I would suggest.
Part of me feels like I’m jumping ship, that I should stick around until they are shut down. But I think maybe in this case it’s for the best to explore other options before needing other options.
I’ll miss you Google Reader. And you too iGoogle!
Chocolate always helps with a break up, have a slice!
Chocolate Chess Pie
Not-So-Secret Pie Crust, enough to line a pie pan
1 1/2 Cups sugar
1/4 Cup cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
5 oz evaporated milk
1/4 Cup melted butter
1 Tbsp vanilla
- Roll out the pie crust and use it to line a pie pan, trimming off or folding over the edges.
- Set the oven to 350° F to preheat while you prepare the pie filling.
- Stir together the sugar, cocoa and salt in a mixing bowl.
- To the bowl, add the evaporated milk, melted butter, eggs and vanilla. Whisk until smooth.
- Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell, and pop in the oven to bake.
- The pie is finished baking when the filling is set but still a little wobbly in the center, and has formed a deliciously crackly layer over top.
- Let the pie cool before serving. It pairs well with ice cream if served warm, but on its own it’s at its best room temperature.
This is such a delicious, easy dessert. The best part is the crackly top that forms on the filling. Delectable, I love the texture! Much like another dessert that was featured here not too long ago, it is also assembled quite easily with a handful of ingredients that a person is likely to have hanging around in the pantry. Before this recipe I didn’t keep a can of evaporated milk in the house for just in case, but now I do. If someone stops by at random, I can make this pie without working up a sweat.
One thing I will note, though, is that this pie is pretty rich. Most pies I make I’ll cut into 8 pieces, but this one warrants getting cut into 12 for sure!
This time last year: Sundried Tomato, Snap Pea, and Gouda Skewers
And the year before: Chicken Thighs in North African Spice Paste
And the year before that: Lemon Meringue Tarts
Wedding countdown: 101 sleeps!
For as long as I can remember, I’ve imagined that if and when I got married I would change my last name. Call me old fashioned, or bending to the patriarchy, but I did. Well immersed in being hopefully (never hopelessly) romantic, I admit that I was one of those girls who would imagine being Mrs. Dana NewLastName.
Here’s the thing though, now that my last name’s days are numbered I’m feeling a little bit more apprehensive about the change.
My last name goes really well with my first name, my parents did a really good job picking out Dana to go with our last name. Being that I have two short names that flow together beautifully, I’ve got a number of friends who commonly refer to me as Dana LastName rather than just Dana. (Hi Dan! Hi Artemis!)
My last name is also really convenient. It’s short. People know how to spell it because it is fairly common and it’s spelled how it sounds. My last name starts with a letter close to the beginning of the alphabet. You know the nice thing about being close to the top of the alphabet? You only have to pay attention to the first couple of names called and then you’re free to daydream.
Also, in a way that might be kind of weird, I really like the way my last name makes me feel connected to my dad. Due to his passing away when I was so young, I never really got to know him in a way that I can remember him. He feels more like a concept or an idea than a person who once was. Having his name at the end of my name makes him feel more tangible, less ethereal in my mind.
Mr’s last name is none of these things: I’d be graduating from 6 letters to 11, it sits after the middle of the alphabet, it isn’t spelled how it sounds, and it is very unique. There aren’t a lot of HisLastNames in the world. When someone asks his last name he often just spells it rather than saying it because it saves on confusion and typographical error.
I really like his last name, it has great character. It’s a little bit funky and that is kind of how I like things to be. But his last name is so opposite, so different from the last name experience I have had so far that it makes me feel a little scared. But maybe that’s just fear because it’s change and change tends to be kind of scary?
I want us to have the same last name because I feel like it helps make a statement that we are a team. If you put together a sports team you don’t get to name it the Winnipeg Boots and Cats. It’s Winnipeg Boots or Winnipeg Cats, you know? At the same time though, people don’t need to have the same last name to be a family or to act as a team. In my idea of the concept you don’t necessarily even need to be related to be a member of a family. Still, part of me sticks on the team feeling of having the same name, of being united under a single banner.
Rebecca Woolf wrote a great piece on this whole business of last names, and the conversation that ensued was great as well (if you’ve got some time for reading). There is a small part of me that feels like grumping about the patriarchal naming system our culture decided on. Why is it that the only real discussion on the table is whether I’m taking his name or not? We’ve talked about him taking my name, or using a mash up name that combines the surnames you both started out with (hilarity is the only result in our case), or going with something completely new for both of us, but none of these options are things that we’re actually really considering. Parts of me wonder if this is the situation just because of our case in and of itself, or if we’re following social conditioning to go this ‘normal’ route?
My Mr really owns his last name, it fits him and he likes it, so of course I’m not pulling for him to change his to mine. His involvement with the military also kind of quashes changes to his last name, all of those tags are in his last name and would be a pain to change out. Mr has jokingly suggested that we be Mr and Dana Danger. The only real discussion, though, is whether not I’m Dana LastName or Dana HisLastName, and while it does not make me upset, I do find it curious.
Mr would be more happy for me to take his last name, but tells me he wouldn’t be upset if I wanted to keep mine. Experiencing no pressure coming from him is a fortunate position for me to be in. What a charming diplomat!
Either way, it’s taking someone’s father’s name, isn’t it? Barring any changes that were made when our predecessors crossed the Atlantic from Europe, it is either his father’s father’s father’s name or my father’s father’s father’s name. One of the commenters on Rebecca’s post, Catherine, said something that has stuck in my mind, “When it was time for her to get married, she decided that she could either take the name of the man her mother chose or the name of the man she chose.” It’s not an answer for everyone, and I don’t know if that’s the answer to what I’m feeling so disquieted by, but I do think it is making me feel more settled.
I believe I know what my decision is, but alas, I hesitate.
Have you got some magical insight?
Either way, if you’re here for regularly scheduled The Funky Kitchen, fear not! I still have a recipe for you!
Granny’s Chocolate Cobbler
(recipe adapted from not from my Granny, but from Susan Hawkin’s Granny)
1 Cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
7 Tbsp cocoa powder (divided into 3 and 4 Tbsp)
1 1/4 Cups sugar (divided into 3/4 Cup and 1/2 Cup)
1/2 Cup milk
1/3 Cup melted butter
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 Cup brown sugar
1 1/2 Cups water from a recently boiled kettle
- Start the oven heating up to 350° F.
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and the first measures of sugar and cocoa.
- Mix in the milk, melted butter, and vanilla to form a simple batter.
- Pour the batter into a high walled 9 by 11 baking dish (or dish of similar size). The batter will be slightly stiff, so use a spatula to spread it out over the bottom.
- In a different bowl, mix together the remaining 1/2 Cup of sugar, 4 Tbsp cocoa, and brown sugar. Sprinkle this over the batter in the baking dish.
- Pour the hot water slowly over top of the two layers already in the dish. Do not stir!
- Bake in the oven until the center is set (~40 minutes).
- Allow to cool a few minutes before digging in.
I know, you read the recipe and think that something is wrong there. Batter with dry ingredients on top, and then water on top? With no mixing? Yes. That’s how you do it. And it is amazing.
You get a gloriously moist chocolate cake floating in a puddle of gooey chocolate sauce. And when you scoop out portions of cake, ladling the sauce over top you forget any doubts you had about the strangeness of the recipe. A scoop of ice cream on top, and maybe a smattering of colorful nonpareil sprinkles? That’s what I call comfort food.
Also, it’s nice to have something that is so easy to make, and requires such ordinary everyday ingredients in your repertoire when the spoils are so comforting and lovely. If you get a phone call and a friend is going to stop by in an hour, you can have this warm and ready for when they arrive, likely without having to run out to the store for ingredients.
I know I haven’t had anything but gushingly good things to say, but I will say that the original recipe calls for a dish that is too small. There was a minor overflow in the oven, which was too bad, but easily ameliorated by using a larger dish.
Mr says: It’s awesome! Like a brownie over chocolate pudding.
This time last year: Black Pepper Cookies
And the year before: Balsamic Roasted Vegetables
Do you ever get stuck?
There are quite a few other things to do, but all that you can muster is hunkering down with a blanket and a book. Or maybe an episode of Doctor Who or two, but definitely still with a cozy blanket.
My mental to-do list whirs in the periphery: there are cases of tiny jars that need filling with tasty things, the dishwasher needs unloading, I should get in touch with that DJ we talked to, Trooper always likes a walk, sewing and knitting projects to finish…
But I’m stuck. Like baked on lasagna to a dish, I just don’t want to come off.
It’s one of those weeks I guess. Not a good time for layer cakes, I don’t have the gumption for whipping eggs or cream, or making filling and stacking the whole thing together. It’s the type of week for muffins. Mix until it just comes together, anything more will make them get hard like stones? Sounds like a plan.
Blueberry Lemon Thyme Muffins
2 Cups rolled oats
2 Cups soured milk
2 1/4 Cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp salt
1 Cup brown sugar
1/3 Cup melted butter
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 Cups blueberries
the zest of a lemon
1 tsp thyme
- In a bowl, pour the soured milk into the rolled oats. Set aside to soak.
- Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar.
- Separately, combine the eggs, butter and vanilla.
- Stir the egg mixture into the soaked oats.
- Toss the blueberries through the dry ingredients, this will help keep the berries suspended in the batter.
- Bring the wet and dry together, stirring minimally, until they just come together.
- Spoon into muffin tins, so that the wells are about 3/4 of the way full.
- Bake at 400° for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops start to go golden (~10 minutes for mini muffins).
A blueberry muffin will always win in my books, especially when brightened up with lemon. And the little bit of thyme thrown in for good measure adds a subtle herbaceous feel to the background flavor. Overall quite a nice muffin; I find the texture you get from a muffin batter started with soaking rolled oats in milk is hard to beat.
Mr says muffins are tastier when they’re mini.
This time last year: Mushroom Cranberry Pilaf
And the year before: Pear Upside Down Brownie