Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mohr im Hemd

I finally got up the nerve to try my own Mohr im Hemd. This was the dish that we always ordered if we found it on the menu. It translates as "The Moor and His Shirt" which is so politically incorrect that it isn't easy to find, even though it is a traditional Viennese dish. It is a steamed pudding, like the Christmas dessert I grew up on and it is very moist and very chocolate, though not as sweet as an American dessert. It was successful enough that Rob had me make it twice more in the same weekend.
Happily, after learning how to make it, I feel less guilty about eating the stuff. How often does that happen? Here is the recipe I used, as opposed to the top secret family recipe that I don't even have, or the recipe from my Austrian cookbook that asks for 'gratified butter':

MA's Mohr im Hemd
3 bread rolls, crusts removed and cubed
1 c milk
3/4 c unsalted butter
1/4 c sugar
8 oz best and darkest chocolate you can find
8 eggs
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c walnuts, ground
1/4 c bread crumbs
chocolate sauce
whipped cream
Preheat oven to 340 degrees. Grind walnuts in blender or food processor. Separate eggs.
Soak bread cubes in milk for a few minutes, then press out the liquid in a fine mesh sieve.
Melt chocolate over low heat. Cream butter with 1/4 c sugar. Add egg yolks, then bread paste, and finally the slightly cooled chocolate.
Whip egg whites with 1/2 c sugar until soft peaks form. Fold into egg yolk/chocolate mixture, and finally fold in the bread crumbs and walnuts.
Grease either one large tube cake pan or several ramekins with butter and dust with sugar.
Spread mixture into pan/ramekins and place into a deep baking dish. Fill baking dish with one inch of water and bake in oven for 40 minutes for ramekins or 55 minutes for the large pudding pan. (I did mine in a steamed pudding dish, which has a lid; when finished, it looked dry on top)
Let cool about 10 minutes and then turn out. Serve with chocolate sauce (the 'moor') and whipped cream (his shirt).
This dish really cries out for a good Scharffenberger chocolate, but alas, there was none to be found. So we used Ghiradelli, and as Joss shows, it was a reasonable facsimile.

It would seem that the chocaholic gene is dominant. So there is our secret recipe, and the end of Mohrquest 2009. Let us know if you try this! [food styling and photography, courtesy the Professor]
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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bear River Bird Refuge

From Promontory we talked about going to see Spiral Jetty, but after talking to the rangers, we decided we'd wait until we had the truck and save ourselves the $500 towing fee for minivans in the middle of nowhere. Instead, we stopped by the bird refuge by Corinne way up at the top of the Salt Lake. Our camera has no real telephoto, so this was the best I could do. We saw pelicans, blue herons, snowy egrets, something or other grebes, swallows and lots of things we didn't know the names of.
It was pretty and no one was around.
We let Joss drive.
This was the pelican Chuck-a-Rama. You could just see them saying:
"Percy, please have another carp!"
"Oh, Penelope, I couldn't possibly. I've had three already."
See the spots above here? Those are the backs of the carp, swimming in water too shallow for them. Kind of creepy, but then I've always thought Chuck-a-Rama was pretty scary too!
I can't believe how big Sebastian is! Because he's younger than Maddie and Will, no one makes a fuss over him, but I'm telling you now, he is going to be bigger than either of them. He's a stealth grower. He is already wearing bigger shoes, pants and shirts than Will was in 1st grade, and Will was a mammoth. I'm certain he's the biggest kindergartner, but I wouldn't be surprised if he were also bigger than all the first graders at his school.
And here is Joss showing his cuteness plumage. This is the only thing ensuring his survival lately. He screams all the time because he doesn't know how to talk. Instead he usually yells "Mom-mom-mom-mom-MOMMMMMMMM!!!!" When he isn't in his high chair shrieking, he is emptying drawers and cupboards of everything. EVERYTHING. Earlier this week I put him down for a second nap when I couldn't take any more. I called Rob to confess that I was hoping he'd be able to talk when he woke up. No luck.
We saw a lovely sunset, ate dinner in Brigham City, and drove home tired.
On Monday we were going to go visit more, but we got tired of driving (read: driving with Joss in the car). So we took the kids miniature golfing at Trafalga. This was enlightening (we've never taken the family miniature golfing before -- when I say we don't do anything in Utah, it's because we don't do anything) and overstimulating (oh the lights! oh the games! what the devil are 'dippin' dots'?) and pretty expensive to knock balls around on astroturf. Then we tried to go to the dollar theater along with half of Utah Valley. Everything was sold out for the entire afternoon and evening so we went home and I showed the kids "Man From Snowy River" instead. All three kids liked the horses and the music. Maddie could not be-lieve the hair bows.
Believe them, m-dear. That's what we used to wear.
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Friday, September 11, 2009

Golden Spike in Promontory

For the long weekend we decided to go somewhere. We went to Promontory, Utah to the Golden Spike National Historic Site. Rob had been as a kid and remembered it as a big dusty spot in the middle of nowhere.

I wanted us to see a reenactment that they do over the summer. They had one scheduled at 1:00pm and we made it, barely. I was glad that we saw it. I think the kids really got into the history and significance a lot more seeing the people in period costumes, hearing the speeches given and telegrams sent and even the prayer that was said; of course the two locomotives made a big impression as well. Even Joss took notice when they blew their whistles and rang their bells and belched steam.
Afterward the kids got to meet the actors and hold the spikes and race the locomotives as they rolled down the tracks.
The kids worked hard to get their junior ranger badges at the site. One of the rangers noticed Will's shirt, which was in German and so Ranger Ott gave the kids the whole junior ranger spiel auf Deutsch. We learned a lot, like the two companies who met at Promontory, the names of their trains, who missed and who hit the golden spike, how many miles each railroad had to come, and the name of the restaurant in Promontory (it was called "Restaurant").
Then we had a picnic out front. Joss was not much of a junior ranger, but he was all about the eating. He loved the watermelon almost as much as he loved the huge knife we brought to cut it. Somehow it always managed to find its way into his hands . . .
All told, we spent nearly three hours there. It was definitely worth going for a reenactment, and the kids also liked the Peanuts film that they show inside. I was glad we did something new in Utah, and was nice since Will is learning Utah history this year in school. We need to work harder at doing things here and visiting our own tourist sites. Why know more about Vienna than Utah?!
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In which my drop in the polls with 8-year-old boys is explained

Will: Mom, why did you name your blog 'The Professor and Mary Ann'?
Me: There used to be this TV show named "Gilligan's Island" and in the theme song -
Will: I know, I know. But why didn't you name it something classy?

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Reaping Where We Did Not Sow . . .

We did plant something of a garden before we left, but not much. Thanks to our generous friends and neighbors and the farmers' market, though, we've put up quite a lot since returning.
I made the Barbara Kingsolver tomato sauce, raspberry jam, strawberry rhubarb (we still had rhubarb in August!), peach raspberry, and our first forays into low-sugar jam with peach and blackberry. We rather liked them, though they weren't so popular in Delaware. We've also been freezing berries and peaches and drying herbs and tomatoes. My family laughed when I got Rob a dehydrator for Christmas a few years ago (mostly because it was as seen on TV!). Ahhhh, but we will be laughing when we're making the black bean soup with Rob's dried tomatoes this winter.
You can see on the bookshelf that I just finished Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food. I find I need to read about one book like this a year to recommit to all the work and money and time it takes to eat healthier. In the past, the books that have helped have been Small Wonder, Fast Food Nation, Omnivore's Dilemma, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and now this one. I was impressed at how much different material this book has from Omnivore's Dilemma. This one also made me decide it's time to be better about composting. Anyone have any titles for next year's book?
It has been fun to get back into the kitchen, especially with cool August canning weather, but other things are falling apart and I need to get on top of those now. Like finding my keys . . .
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See Betsy Go!

See Betsy Swim! and Bike! and Run! Which is what we did last Saturday for her first triathlon.
The kids were so impressed that they want to do it next year. Ay ay ay! I'm not certain I'm ready to do that!
We are so proud of you, Betz! Way to go!
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The Natalie Portman, please

My hair has been like this for nearly 25 years. Sometimes shorter, sometimes longer, sometimes with layers cut by overeager hairstylists which I then have to grow out . . . but basically a blunt cut with no bangs.
It was time for a change.
So I went to see Kirby and asked for the Natalie Portman, circa Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. Not the shaved head, nor the Queen Amidala. Of course it had to be a children's movie!
And this is what I got. Unfortunately these are Saturday morning pictures where I haven't styled it or even showered, but who cares? That is the best thing about the haircut. I don't care.
Rob said I looked like Simon Le Bon.
He said he felt like he was sleeping next to Rod Stewart.
This morning he said I looked like Ducky in Pretty in Pink.
I wet my hair down and Maddie said I looked like Draco Malfoy.
Sebi said that I have even more monkey-chicken hair than he does in the mornings.
I note that there seem to be masculine/80's themes to most of the comments here.
And I just don't care. I love it short!
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A Roger and Sandy McFarland Reunion

Happily, the week the kids started school, Rob's sister and family came down from Idaho. The whole clan went up to South Fork for a picnic on Saturday and we got to see everyone and catch up on some very busy summers. Family members have made a movie, been polishing up a crime novel, training for a triathlon and made a quick jaunt over to Australia for work. That's just the tip of the iceberg!
Joss has been pretty clingy through all of the traveling and changing hotels, cars, people, places and countries, but his aunt Betsy was more persistent than he was used to. He was won over quickly.
Meghan, Maddie, Kailey and Jessie. It is always so fun to see the kids get together. They blend seamlessly and play beautifully and it is often hard at a glance to tell who belongs to which family.
Rob and Rick and their Mini-me versions played in the water.

Eventually everyone else joined them.

We played until we were all played out. We can't wait until next time!
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Just Dive In

While we were in our holding pattern over Rhode Island, I made a grocery list. From experience I know that I'll be up before the rest of Provo and need to go fill up the fridge before the family wakes up and wants whatever mealtime they think it happens to be.
That done, we made appointments with Gwen to cut four McFarlands' hair. Gwen is the only person we've found with the expertise for the peculiarities of the gigantical McFarland cranium. Having booked her for most of the afternoon, we were ready to take our morning naps. That was Friday.
We went to the farmers' market on Saturday, and it is fun to see how vibrant and thriving that scene is now in Provo. A great place to go buy produce and run into friends.
On Sunday both Rob and I forgot what time our ward meets. So we got everyone there just in time for the last hour: Sacrament Meeting. Oops!
Monday and Tuesday nights we went to Back to School night and saw classrooms and met teachers. We did not have beautiful back to school feasts with themes and menus like this or this. We managed back to school blessings and went to bed at about 7:30pm, calling it good.
On Wednesday, Maddie and Will went back to school! Will has a fantastic fourth grade teacher, and Maddie has her aunt Betsy ("Now I have to get used to calling her Miss Mac!") in sixth grade across the street from BYU, also fantastic. [Notice Will's Weird Al shirt. I ordered this for him while in Vienna, thinking each kid should have something new for the first week of school. Apparently I did too well and we've had to limit the wearings to once a week.]
A week later and Sebastian started kindergarten! He goes in the afternoon and he is just the right blend of laid-back and cautious. He doesn't really know anyone in his class, but he's cool with it right now, and he still is most concerned with snack and recess.
Which leaves me and Senor del Fluff every afternoon. I'm finding that he has strong opinions on how the house is kept. Essentially, if I'm doing it, he wants to be doing it instead.
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And We Flew Home

I'm terribly backlogged, but I'm still optimistic enough to try go in order. We flew home. It was just another trip, but this one was memorable because:

- Austrian Air placed our family all over the plane again despite several e-mails and phone calls; some counter workers in the Swechat airport now have Rob-shaped bite marks. This cinches their slogan as "Heaven in the Air -- Hell on Earth" which we thought up for them. Think it would get them sales? We begged complete strangers to switch with us once again so that Joss, Sebi and Will wouldn't have to sit by themselves in three different rows. I couldn't help but notice that they managed to get a dozen or so AFS students all together in a group.

- Once we reached New York, we were sent to a holding pattern over Rhode Island; then we were diverted to a small airport in Connecticut. We had to stay on the plane. Will had a panic attack and the flight attendants popped open the back door so that he could waggle his hand outside and feel the fresh air. We refueled and were able to land at JFK.

- We spent three hours navigating JFK even once we landed. At one point (not the worst) Rob, MA, and Maddie each had an overloaded luggage cart, Sebi pulled a rolling bag, and Will carried Joss, who was slipping out of his arms and popping his buttons as we went from terminal two to terminal three, over curbs and by whizzing taxis. The person or committee who designed JFK is going to have their own eternal torture working in a JFK-shaped circle of purgatory.

- We finally arrived at our hotel to find MA's two brothers had both been waiting there for hours. Thanks John and Jeff! It was the one thing in the whole trip that made us feel like human beings instead of shippable goods. And it wasn't easy coming out to see us since we were staying in Jamaica. They talked to the kids and helped us get dinner and we talked about the latest TV/movie/internet phenoms that Rob and I had missed over the summer.

- Breaking up the trip was nice in that we all had a chance to take showers and jump on the beds, but we were still exhausted by the time we reached SLC. Certain kids still broke down in tears when we had to get off the plane (was it really fatigue or were they just sad to say goodbye to their personal TV/movie/game consoles?).

- Delta didn't lose our luggage as we had hoped were certain they would. Instead they had it all waiting for us in their lost luggage office and the shuttle driver nearly fainted when he saw it all. We came home to find everything clean and in order and our friend had put up a 'welcome home' sign on the door. We swore we were never going to leave again and fell into bed.