Bombes Away!!

This dessert has it all! Fancy, visually delightful, and layers upon layers of lovely flavor — all without being overwhelmingly sweet. I just ate part of one, and have to admit, I moaned a little.

Making German Chocolate Bombes was more-or-less an all-day/two day project, but it’s January and I’m in the house needing to bake anyway. I’ll show you how I did it.

First, make a chocolate sheet cake. Let’s start with some chopped chocolate.001Chocolate and cocoa melt with the help of boiling water.

002While that cools, cream some butter and brown sugar in the stand mixer.

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Cake is concocted with additions of eggs, buttermilk, flour, leaveners…

007Here’s the finished cake. Lovely. Time to make the filling!

Process toasted coconut and pecans into a finer chop.

012Heat egg yolks, condensed milk, sugar, butter, and vanilla.

014Beat the egg/butter mixture with the coconut and pecans. Filling — yum!

 

016Next up, chocolate mousse.

Chocolate and butter melted together in a double boiler. Egg whites are mixed in the stand mixer until they’re stiff while the hand mixer whips heavy cream.  Here, the whipped cream is folded into the chocolate.

021Then, the egg whites are folded in. At this point, fold and fold again, until no streaks of white remain.

022Next, to start assemble the bombes.

The mousse is spooned into the molds and smeared inside evenly. The molds are frozen to set the mousse.

026The frozen mousse is stuffed with the coconut-pecan goodness.

030Finally, a round of cake is smooshed on top. I cut the cake with a cookie cutter. When I covered the filled molds with plastic wrap, I pressed down on the cake to squeeze everything together a little more.

031Back in to the freezer! Overnight is good, but at this point you could freeze them for several days, making a fancy dessert available when you need it most!

Out of the freezer, the bombes are popped out of the molds on to a rack…..

001And covered with a ganache made of bittersweet chocolate and cream. Voila!

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018Fun fact of the day: the bombe was introduced as a dessert in the late 1800s. It was typically an ice cream confection and took its name because it was shaped like a cannonball.

You know you want one!

 

 

 

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Rubbin’ & Bakin’ – The History

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Massage therapy and baking: some people think it’s a strange combination, the way I make my living. But for me, it’s just natural.

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Think about babies. Babies are very young, small people cleverly disguised in cuteness and need. A newborn infant needs a warm environment and love. Babies need to be held, cuddled, massaged, and given plenty of mother’s milk, and then they thrive, becoming children, adolescents, and beyond! The early foundations of touch and food form some of the basis for our structure, function, and emotional life.

Somewhere in the clover-leaves and labyrinths of my life, I discovered I was a nurturer. Maybe this came with the title Mom in 1985, but it wasn’t an instant thing by any means and certainly wasn’t anticipated — not by me, anyway!

In 1999, I found my way to a new career in massage therapy. I discovered it by accident — a thought dropped into my mind during a solitary walk around Mackinac Island. I had never even experienced a massage! It seemed a little risky at the time but I promised myself if I didn’t enjoy it I could stop. From the very first night of class in Ann Arbor, I never looked back. I loved learning anatomy and the systems of the body and how they interact. I loved practicing the different types of massage strokes and discovering how they could affect the various systems.  Working with individuals, helping develop treatment strategies for particular issues, and getting to know my patients was deeply satisfying. During a particularly trying phase in late 2001, I knew I had found my niche:  I realized the more I massaged and helped others, the more it relaxed and helped me. When I felt stressed and anxious, the best remedy was to get to work relieving stress, anxiety, and pain for someone else. Nurturing has this way of turning itself around, right?

I believe in the power of healthy touch!  There’s scientific evidence hugs help us live longer and better — and if you don’t already know, it’s also true for massage. The benefits of touch to the immune system alone are remarkable. Of course our bodies are systems within systems, all synergistic and searching for/creating homeostasis to keep us alive…. which brings us to….

2008, when I was recovering from a bone marrow transplant and unable to do massage therapy for a time. It was very hard — depressing, actually — because I did not see the people I’d become so familiar with and close to. I could not do the work that comforted and nurtured me, because working with others was strictly off limits. So I turned my attention to a love I’d acquired at the tender age of 8: baking pies. At first I just baked lemon meringue pies and gave them away.

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I started reading more recipes and baking all kinds of desserts: cakes, cookies, scones, muffins, cheesecakes, flan, bread pudding, you name it. I continued giving desserts away and soon, small orders started coming in. Goody Goody, my home bakery, was born. Goody Goody is for people who want something high-quality and delicious but don’t have the time and/or desire to create it — and I never mind if I’m not identified as the baker! I am constantly trying new recipes and still giving dessert away at every opportunity.

My work in the kitchen has become as comforting and fulfilling to me as my work in the massage studio — they are both opportunities to nurture, heal, and make someone smile.

2012: Feared Less – Enjoyed More

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Making 100 new-to-me recipes in 2012 was one of the best things I have ever done for myself! Experimenting with new foods, new combinations, new tools, and discovering magazines, books, and websites was challenging without being intimidating. Thanks to my challenge I now feel braver and more confident both in the kitchen and outside the kitchen. I want to share with you some of my favorite dishes from the year.

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Chocolate fudge cookies — crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside…

Coconut shrimp with haricots verts/fingerlings and pesto

Coconut shrimp with haricots verts/fingerlings and pesto

Chicken legs with leeks and peas

Chicken legs with leeks and peas

Skillet cauliflower gratin

Skillet cauliflower gratin

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Peanut butter brownie bites! So rich and fudgy you really could only eat a bite!

195Birthday cake recipe I invented and combined… chocolate cake, chocolate mousse filling and ganache frosting…. decorated with Moon and Stars of Love.

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Caught my first fish ever in Lake Michigan! This later became a delectable dish called Profanity Salmon.

A few of the tastiest things I made, I did not photograph! My bad! I must do better with my food photography this year. Italian Sausage and Kale Soup was a huge winner — ended up making it four times. The blueberry cupcakes with cream cheese, maple and sea salt frosting were an unexpected delight — tasted like breakfast AND dessert. I was able to perfect Fettucine Alfredo with a heavy, creamy sauce that to me is the ultimate in comfort food. Homemade mayonnaise was a DOH! Why haven’t I done this before? Looking through the list of the food memories of 2012, I could go on and on! I loved almost every single thing I made.

My absolute hands-down, forks-up favorite of all year, though, has to be the three-layer coconut cake baked just last week. This melt-in-your mouth marvel uses Coco Lopez (one of the essential ingredients found in a Pina Colada) in the batter, and marries perfectly with a cream cheese frosting smothered in shredded coconut. Seriously, I ate a slice of this cake every single day I had it around.

Coconut Cake

Coconut Cake

No, I won’t be trying 100 recipes as a goal in 2013, although I do plan to continue recording — and photographing — everything I make, and discovering more and more.  Food is a great conversation-starter, a great icebreaker, and something that helps bond people.  You can never go wrong sharing food, discussing food, or discovering food!

Be fearless! Have fun! Enjoy it all.

The Most Wonderful Time….

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Is NOW!

This is recipe number 41: Flourless Chocolate Torte. I had a decadent torte of this sort at Metzger’s German Restaurant in Ann Arbor back in March at Walter’s 90th birthday party. This one is splendid! It’s dense and rich and there’s enough to share with several people. I’m celebrating my four-year transplant anniversary — how fun is it to have two birthdays?

Spring sprung… I love the month of May! It even smells good. May is not just the month of Mother’s Day… it’s the month of lilacs, my favorite flower and scent. It’s also the month both of my grandmothers were born, and one of my sons. May has always been a special time in my life.

Mother's Day 2007This is one of my all time favorite photos, taken on Mother’s Day 2007. Pride and joy abounding, it was a wonderful day. Jens surprised me while I was having coffee in my bathrobe, walking in the front door in his dress whites.  We all had lunch in Kalamazoo. I remember coming home and being very tired.

Mother’s Day 2008 was a bit different. This photo shows pride, joy — and I think, a little bit of fear and a lot of hope. I had, only a few days before, received my bone marrow transplant from my sister. I felt like the luckiest mom in the world to have my two sons with me on this particular Mother’s Day. Only one visitor was allowed to stay in the room with me for the night, but on Mother’s Day Eve, a very kind nurse secretly brought in a second fold-down chair-that-turned-into-a-bed so Jens and Eric could both be with me. Frankly I do not remember when the three of us had last spent a night all together in one room, but that night was priceless. Of the 31 nights I spent at Henry Ford, this is the one seared into my memory for all eternity. The sound of the IV drip meshed with the sounds of two young men sleeping… priceless. This was a moment that defined my life.

Cancer touches every life. If you’re not experiencing it firsthand, someone you know is or has. There are no degrees of separation in the cancer world. It’s sad that disease is so rampant; yet, every trouble contains the seeds of hope. There is always a reason to smile, even in the darkest of hours. I’ll  never forget being 16 years old and driving past my grandma’s house en route to the cemetery for her burial. One of her neighbors was bent over, working on his car with his butt crack spilling out of his pants (this was in the day before that was common!) and oh, how we roared! The saddest day can bring the fondest memory.

One thing I learned this year, at least in a way I can now put into words, is: Doctors and medicine and technology can cure your disease, but only LOVE can heal and make you whole. Love surrounds my life! I’m betting it does yours, too. Thanks to doctors, medicine, and technology (not to mention a great gift from my sister), my last four years have not been borrowed time. While much of my transplant memory has taken on the surreal quality of the past, the lessons I learned then are often at the forefront of my mind.

Way I see it… I’m going to be spending a lot more time “AT REST” than in this life — so it’s more fun to be present and joyful, and eating cake, when ever possible.

Shiny Again

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To be honest, I’ve neglected myself for the past few months. This is almost a shameful thing to say not only because of my job as a massage therapist but also my history as the recipient of a successful bone marrow transplant in the not-too-long ago past. I know better, I really do. But sometimes the circumstances of life go out of control and off the rails you go. And off the rails I went, my awareness done gone, out hither and yon.

Fortunately, I somehow reached the enough’s enough point. Fatigue had led to mental and physical discomfort, and the cycle started moving fast. My anxiety reached a point last week where I actually started to wonder what it feels like when you have a nervous breakdown. There is no light strong enough to pierce that mantle, and I felt like my little glow was fading rapidly.

Today, I had a massage with the amazing Bee Queener. The immediate results have been enormous. When I got into my car following the session, I realized my tension was gone and my mind was clear for the first time in weeks. Settling into the post-massage bliss, I began to feel energized from within — empowered, in a way. By the time I returned to my cozy home, I knew the healing touch was reaching me at a cellular level — from my skin to my muscles, connective tissue, ligaments, tendons and circulatory system. And beyond!

I love to think of all the behind-the-scenes activity going on constantly within us — and how we can manipulate it through behaviors, treatments, or movement, for better or worse. We humans are fascinating creatures with amazing bodies but also with egos, belief systems, mental patterns, and last but not least, spirits.

The massage started with a touch to my body but it has worked its way through and affected me physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. Spiritually because the simple act of caring for myself has refreshed me so deeply I can continue on in my  healing work with and for others.

Tonight, my face is relaxed and my smile comes easily for the first time in what feels like, too long. I feel actual hope, instead of hoping to hope. My radiance is reappearing to a welcoming audience of loved ones. I’m relaxed and energized and excited about the possibilities held within each new day.

Here’s the rub: Massage has made my world shiny again. It works wonders on all levels, so when the world is getting you down – as it will – get yourself a treatment from a certified massage therapist. The results begin immediately but the residual well-being will last much longer. You can never go wrong by treating yourself right.

Waving Hello to the New

A wave while wading at Gulfport, Mississippi.

Last weekend I took the second of four seminars in a new-to-me healing modality, Touch for Health. Touch for Health integrates applied kinesiology with eastern medicine and other healing philosophies and practices to create balance and harmony within the patient. It’s very gentle but effective for pain management and emotional/mental stress.  The techniques used include touching neurolymphatic points along the spine and ribcage, neurovascular points on the head, and acupressure points along with the traditional Chinese meridians on the body. The client remains fully clothed during the treatment process, which makes it more comfortable for those who do not wish to disrobe as in a traditional massage session. In Touch for Health, we are taught to detect imbalances in the body’s energy. Energy imbalances are often the precursor to disease and typically are causing discomfort somewhere in the body.

I’m finding Touch for Health challenging to learn, but I also feel it will be rewarding as part of my massage business in the long run. As in my main practice, my goal is to help any person feel better, from the point where they are at. This means using whatever technique or combination of techniques to relieve the current overstressed situation, whether it is in the body, mind, or spirit. I am also having the idea of Touch for Health as deeply therapeutic, because it is so very intentional and focused. Touch for Health protocol allows the client’s body to “say what it wants,” customizing the session every time.

I’ll be taking the final two Touch for Health classes later in April and early June. At the moment I am using “guinea pigs” to practice my techniques as I learn, and the treatment is free. Let me know if you want to come in for a session; it lasts about 30 to 45 minutes. www.Touch4Health.com.

In the meantime, my year of 100 recipes is full steam ahead! This week I made the most yummy, yummy dish — Vinegar-Braised Chicken with Leeks and Peas (and Mushrooms — I altered the recipe right away).  Creme fraiche made the sauce rich and tasty. Tarragon and parsley added just the right touch of savoriness.

This one’s a keeper!!

Number 32.

 

 

 

I also made these scrumptious chocolate cookies. These are so tasty and practically guilt-free, as there is not a drop of fat in them. They’re held together by whipped egg whites, but the fudgy consistency belies the lack of butter.

Number 33.

 

 

 

 

My friend Tracy had a birthday this week, so she was the lucky recipient of my luscious Italian Creme Cake.

This cake is my personal favorite of all! It’s tender and delicious — coconut and pecans in the cake, and cream cheese-pecan frosting to complement.

 

 

The massage room and kitchen are keeping me hopping like the Easter bunny this spring but I’ve still been able to make time to soak in the beauty of the lengthening days, the brilliant colors of the flowers and trees, and the thoroughly awesome night sky.

 

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March play time

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This is homemade ice cream flavored with rosewater, saffron and pistachio nuts at Saffron’s Persian Restaurant in Louisville, KY. It is the most interesting dessert I have ever tasted! Flavoring with rosewater is nothing new; in fact, it is traditional in Middle Eastern cooking. But it is new to me. The curious thing was that it was so absolutely delicious and capped off the meal so perfectly that a few spoonfuls were more than enough. The pistachio and saffron flavors were definitely secondary to the taste of rose, the unusualness of which was delightful and unforgettable.

These are the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville. If you look closely at the bottom photo, you can see me in my green coat waiting at the box office. We went to see the hugely humorous Veri**on Play by Lisa Kron, who was also playing the lead role. This production tickled my funny bone (humerus?) on all sides, and my audience mates on all sides were also chuckling hard enough to shake my seat. I can not remember when I laughed so much, especially while realizing how at the mercy of “customer service” we all are in the post-Modern world. The best comedy, in my opinion, mimics and exaggerates our experiences to help us laugh at ourselves/situations — levity rules, Lisa! Thanks for sharing your talent with the world!

This is Lake Erie near Monroe, Michigan on Sunday, March 11. This is the earliest in any year I’ve walked a Michigan beach and I must say it was nothing short of perfect. There weren’t too many people out but the redwing blackbirds were trilling in force. The early spring is glorious, isn’t it? Nothing short of perfect.

Great Expectations in the Present

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When I slashed the tape binding the huge box from Amazon a couple days before Christmas, I was more than delighted with the contents. Inside there were four beautifully wrapped and ribboned packages.  It was hard to tear off the adornments, so I decided from now on, I’ll just have Amazon gift wrap everything I purchase.

I had asked my son Eric for two cookbooks: The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook and The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. I added a wish at the end: “For S&G, send me the French Laundry Cookbook. I’ll never make anything from it, but it will be fun to look at.” The French Laundry Cookbook was included in the array, and giggles ensued as I perused the pages of entrees and desserts the size of shot glasses commanding a price higher than the wage I earn in an average week! Ah, but the French Laundry (http://frenchlaundry.com) describes its ever-changing menu as a series of nine small courses meant to “excite your mind, satisfy your appetite, and pique your curiosity.” Not exactly the Midwestern take on eating, ’cause we’d rather leave with our stomachs full and a little something left in the pocketbook, but it is the coolest coffee table book I own.

The fourth inclusion in the Christmas book bounty was River Road Recipes: The Baton Rouge Junior League Cookbook. It’s full of traditional Southern recipes, tips, and tricks, including how to prepare squirrel, quail, or raccoon for cooking.  I’m not thinking roadkill, people. But if I decide to host a wild game dinner, I could make Squirrel Pie (this recipe takes six squirrels! If I want to make this, Dante is going to have to stop greeting my birdseed thieves by their first names), Dove and Oyster Pie (16 doves and four dozen oysters — these Southerners don’t skimp!), or Coon A La Delta (just one raccoon needed for this one). I’m planning to go to Baton Rouge in March and wondering what the restaurants might be like. Not the French Laundry fare, I’m betting.

My goal for 2012 is to make one hundred new-to-me recipes. Things I’ve never tried before, but also, new ways with old things. Doesn’t matter, just one hundred new recipes.

I’m pretty pleased. In January, I made ten new recipes. The one I’ll make over and over again was Italian sausage soup with potatoes and kale: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/rich-italian-sausage-and-potato-soup/detail.aspx. Mardi Gras King Cake was a hit for Twelfth Night and I would definitely do that again. I tried the “Ultimate” chocolate chip cookie recipe from Cook’s, but found it, ultimately, rather unforgiving.  A recent attempt at rolled sugar cookies for Valentine’s day ended up as pink-frosted blobs with dimples, but they really tasted good. So far, I’ve made 15 new recipes — a few runs, several hits, and a couple outs.

Starting a new venture is always fraught with great expectations. Great inspirations lead to fun results, no matter what.