This is Evelyn in the morning today. Today is pleasant.
Yesterday was not pleasant. Yesterday was 100 degrees.
Fortunately, I went over to my in-laws’ air-conditioned house for a family party with my mother’s-in-law side of the family, the Smiths. The Smiths are known, among other things, for their love of mixed drinks (which have no seeming effect on them), and more importantly for me, their love of chocolate.
Unfortunately for you, I haven’t taken any photos yesterday – in part because I don’t like to shoot indoors, but mostly because I was trying to help my mother-in-law in the kitchen, so you will have to take my word for it.
The Smith family composition on that particular day included both of Dawn’s brothers – Mike, who is retired and lives in a condo on the beach in Florida, and Jim, still very much employed as a successful business owner. Mike’s wife, Sharon, is one of the sweetest, warmest people I’ve ever met. Mike and Sharon are Yoopers who speak with a Southern accent after living down in Mississippi most of their lives. Every summer, they come up to spend a month or so at their family cabin up in Michigan, and that is where we usually see them.
And here’s what happened on the food end:
My mother-in-law grilled a few of her farm-grown chickens on a beer can – a rather pornographic-looking operation, if you ask me. Because she would rather not use beer cans in the long run, she tried cooking one of them over a pint-sized regular-mouth mason jar filled halfway with beer, which worked great. Just be advised that, rather than putting cold jars with beer and the chicken onto a hot grill, she preheated the beer-filled jars first while preheating the grill, and then placed the chickens on when everything was hot to avoid the glass shattering from the rapid change in temperature.
For dessert, Dawn asked me to make some of my lava cakes, and I ended up overbaking some of them a little – because we crammed 16 of them in the oven at once, rather than the usual four, it seemed to be taking forever and I kept setting the timer again and again.
Note: if you wish to give these lava cakes a try, be advised that I now also stir 1/3 C of semi-sweet chocolate chips into the batter (you can also use bittersweet) to increase the chocolate factor.
My mother-in-law also made custard vanilla ice-cream with the recipe I developed. Here is how I “develop” recipes:
1. I try an existing recipe.
2. I do not like the existing recipe.
3. I do not like the existing recipe at all.
4. I make several batches of said recipe with serious modifications and substitutions.
5. I have no fear in the process.
6. I have no fear at all. I also have no boundaries.
8. Especially when it comes to chocolate.
9. Finally, I settle on what in my mind is a winning combination.
By the way, my mother-in-law is particularly known for her amazing cakes (and pies and other baked goods), including wedding cakes, so it makes me feel special when she asks me to bring dessert.
I am not known for my cakes.
I am not known for my pies.
But I guess I am moderately successful with gooey sweets.
Now for today. Today I am having people over. My husband is here and is helping immensely – my husband has this Martha Stewart side to him and is particularly good at creating party ambiance. I credit his mom and the Waldorf education, which emphasizes beauty.
I am not a Waldorf student. I grew up going to a Soviet school, which I quit after grade 9.
I never went to high-school.
But then I won a full scholarship to college.
I am full of paradox.
Anyhow, I am not big on creating party ambiance, that is what I’m saying.
For the main course, Jacob suggested that I use our bountiful eggplants to prepare stuffed eggplants from the Old Country, which he very much enjoyed. This dish is very ethnic.
I am slightly worried about my guests, but I think I will do it anyway. Also, some blackberry ice-cream and another eggplant appetizer.
I hope they come back!
Although I didn’t take any photos yesterday, here is a sample of what my in-laws’ parties are like.