Friday, May 31, 2013

Cream Puffs

Pa loves the Hall version of cream puffs. Being the naturally sweet (loving) family we are, cream puffs to us include a divine joining of cream puffs and eclairs. Chocolate frosted puff pastry filled with vanilla pudding and whipped cream. Yum!

As a child we made them exactly twice a year, February 1st and Father's Day. At that time I was but the youngest in a skilled team. Grandma baked the pastry and supervised. Heather and Amber divided the pudding and cream. Heather usually did the pudding because her seniority of 17 minutes clearly proved she was most trusted not to burn herself, or the pudding. So she started the pudding and we all took turns stirring. We were true bakers and made everything from scratch. Amber was allowed to whip the cream (amazing because there was a incident involving her fingers and the beaters). I made the frosting. Then we formed a line and assembled our desserts.

Then I moved to college and rarely made it to Lamar on the designated cream puff days. Then I developed food issues and could no longer eat. Fine I can eat, but so many of the treats and Sunday dinner dishes Grandma taught us to make are gone. Some can be "modified" as long as you enjoy eating things that taste like cardboard. I prefer to keep my memories untainted. While browsing gluten free whatevers on Pinterest I found a cream puff recipe. After a year of debating and a quick call to Grandma for tips I jumped into this large project.

Now that I'm the only member of the team I took some short cuts and it was noticeable. Instant pudding. Over whipped cream. Under sugared frosting. It was a calculated risk and when it all swished together in my mouth it didn't matter. I had made a gluten free representation of my childhood (in just over 2 hours).

Grandma taught me other things than just food prep. She would recite rhymes and prose of lessons. We couldn't start cooking until we had "Clean hands and a pure heart" and when I was being naughty she'd  begin "There was a little girl, who had a little curl..." I can't be sure that "haste makes waste" was one she repeated, but in my haste I did make waste.

Once my fork received the final lick I thought about the five remaining pastries sitting on the counter. Perhaps one more cream puff would be my reward for jogging around the block this morning. In the kitchen I discovered that a lone frosted top with no bottom to fill. One of two things had happened. My ant problem had moved to the kitchen and those ants had a sweet tooth. Or I had reached for the frosted top and mistakenly grabbed a whole unfilled pastry, placed it as the lid and consumed it greedily.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

So Not a Picnic

This rush to summer has created an ant problem. They arrived in Pippa's room and after many battles of Raid, vinegar, and dead scarecrow ants they retreated. I foolishly believed that retreat was to the alley where they might find a pizza joint enticing.

As it were, my mukluks held far superior enticement. In the form of the perfect spot for a colony. This went unnoticed for weeks. While they built in the walls and out cracks and easements bridging any gaps to my slippers, a few soldiers pioneered into our bedroom. There they sought thrills climbing into the crevices of our computers. Every morning three to six ants would crawl across the computer screen. I imagine they received a few jolts that left a sweet scent of yumminess for others to trail. Otherwise I have no explanation for the continued trek into the electronics.

We wisened and laid bait. The ants countered and found new points of weakness in our perimeter. Soon they were crawling across my chest while I lie in bed. I freaked. The bedding was washed immediately and Skip had to pull the bed away from the wall. Then a set up surveillance. Periodic flashlight sweeps. Occasional trap checks. And plenty of bait.

The ants slowed to a stop and tonight I found Skip snuggled in bed right against the wall. I admit to a creepy vibe when you know your pillow could fall at any toss or turn, but while others sleep I have phantom ants marching down, down, down.