Wednesday, September 20, 2006

ALL IN THE FAMILY

Well, things have been a little hectic of late. Did I mention I'd be posting daily, every other day? Good, I hope not. As my days blend into shoveling kids on buses, traveling from Queens to Suffolk County to Manhattan...I'm a little on the side of bleary in the eye. My family of origin - crazy lot that we are, have intermittent family emails going. They run hot - 20 to 30 a day back and forth then...cold - silence. Then back and forth. Out of one such bombardment, it was decided that all would turn up at my sister Susan's home for Thanksgiving (at her invitation of course). You see, it seems she has sold her house as her husband cooked dinner one evening (I digress) and this would be their last Thanksgiving at their lovely home that has hosted many a fun filled family gathering. My niece Caitlin emailed her plans for dessert below which I then just asked if she would make her offer to bring dessert into a post for this here blog. How sweet! Yeah, read on.

Without further adieu, let's give a nice warm Simply Said welcome to my niece Caitlin! Make it warm, I'm trying to talk her into starting her own blog!

CAITLIN AND SHANNON BRING THE DESSERT

My name is Caitlin Rush and my big sister's name is Shannon. Shannon is a senior at Amherst College where the bohemian environment serves to encourage her attraction to organic food and interesting recipes. I am a deferring Smith student, a fact which could be used to prove my tendency to delay or avoid even the most necessary of decisions.

Shannon and I commit to the simplest of ideas only after enduring the same amount of mental strain that most people reserve for buying a new car. We have to "test drive" every idea and possibility that pops into our head. A phrase that comes up too often when we are trying to accomplish something, "Well what if we...instead?"
Imagine that Shannon and I have offered to bake dessert for the Thanksgiving family dinner?

Shannon and I decide to bake a cake. As we flip through my Moosewood cookbook looking for a good cake, we decide to make something more interesting, like a trifle. However, one of us mentions that a trifle may look a bit ambitious. After discussing the various pros and cons of a trifle, we decide that the family would be happier with something more traditional, like a pie.

We'll then go to the grocery store for pie ingredients and walk back and forth in between the frozen food aisle and the baking aisle over and over again, trying to decide whether to buy a frozen crust or to make one from scratch. We'll call my mom, who will tell us to buy a frozen one.

We'll get off the phone and decide to do neither, screw the pie, and flip vigorously through the pages in my cookbook in the middle of the grocery store trying to find something else to bake. We'll decide on cookies. Shannon will want to make some interesting fusion of peanut butter cookies and macaroons, using Splenda and unbleached flour, and in listing the potential ingredients for these splend-nut-aroons, we'll call my mom to ask if we should pick up some baking powder. Mom will be exasperated with the two of us and say that if we're making cookies, we should make chocolate chip cookies. We'll get off the phone with mom and deliberate for a while the possibility of reviving the pie idea, until we remember the crust issue. We'll leave the grocery store empty handed, at 10:00 o'clock as the grocery store is closing, the day before we're supposed to leave, knowing that mom always keeps a 5 lb bag of chocolate chips at home... just in case.

Around midnight, covered in flour and amidst a destroyed kitchen, we'll throw our burnt cookies away and overpack our bags with three outfits and a wide selection of pajamas for the next day and go to sleep.

We'll stop by the grocery store again in the morning (ignoring the points and stares form the store clerks who angrily waited for our departure the night before so they could close up), and head straight to the frozen food aisle where we'll plan to buy three cheesecakes, pondering for half an hour whether to buy three plain, three different flavors, or two plain and a variety box. At this point Shannon will tell me to call dad for some input. He'll tell us to buy whatever, the Rushes love cheesecake, but to hurry up.

We'll end up choosing three plain, a variety pack and a strawberry, another thirty minutes later, ten of which Shannon and I will have spent in front of the pie crust section of the frozen food aisle where we fretfully discuss the possibility of buying the frozen crust and pie ingredients and baking the whole pie at Aunt Sue Sue's. At the checkout lane, Shannon will realize that she left her discount card in the car so she'll run to the car to get it, leaving me behind with one of the disgruntled cashiers. We'll finally pay and leave and arrive at aunt sue sue's two hours late (not to the surprise of any of our relatives, some of whom will have been waiting to see which cheesecakes, if any, we will arrive with, having been informed of our dilemma hours earlier by my dad, and some of whom will arrive after Shannon and I, having encountered various dilemmas of their own on their way to aunt sue sues), with hot cheesecakes, because we will undoubtedly either forget to buy ice, or decide we don't need it.


POSTSCRIPT BY AUNT G:

You mean you two don't make the cheesecakes yourselves?!

25 comments:

G said...

You know this is reminding me of the wonderful kids' book about consequences, If You Give A Moose a Muffin. Lucky for you two, as a family we are indescriminate when it comes to dessert.

Shannon Rush said...

Cay-Cay- I'm literally dying! And so proud of my little sis... BTW, the apple-picking season is in full swing up here, which means apple pie, which means we best get hopping if we ever want to make it to Aunt Sue-Sue's in November....

Dad said...

Please don't listen to your sister, Caitlin. I think the falling into itself carrot cake was the best I've ever had, and hey of course, did anyone ever mention you can't have Thanksgiving without PUMPKIN PIE?

weirsdo said...

That was a great post. We order a lot of our Thanksgiving, which is a Lucullan repast, but I do have certain sides I make every year. If you are willing to relinquish the boho health food, the ice cream pumpkin pie on gingersnap crust with optional caramelized almond topping is a can't miss.
Congratulations on your prestigious colleges. (Dr. Weirsdo went to Williams.)
Before you go, please remembeer, "after Shannon and ME." (I'm sorry. I can't help myself.)

FelineFrisky said...

Great tale, ah, the inner workings of a family gathering's dessert. Well told, LOVE your descriptions! LOL I sense a bit of sarcastic humor, yes? Just enough. Thanks for the interesting view of your dessert saga. I'll have a slice of chocolate cheesecake, please. Yum! D :)

pinky said...

Oh, goodness! This made me laugh so much. I can completely and totally relate. I've been delegated only small things to bring to family functions, because I either forget or spend 6 hours in the grocery store trying to decide. Wonderful post!

brian said...

When in doubt, just buy it. The days of cooking from scratch are long gone.:)

Joel said...

Awesome post...Caitlin must start her own blog, she is clearly a natural and a chip off the block of one Aunt G to be sure! After reading this, however, I find myself terrifically hungry and still a couple of hours away from lunch which, by the way, will never match up to the vivid and delicious images created by this fine story...damn.

caitlin said...

Joel- I hope you are closer to your lunch hour.. thank you for the compliments!!

Brian- I couldnt agree more

pinky- good to know its not just us!!


Feline frisky- chocolate cheesecake!??! oh goodness i didnt even think of that... decisions..

weirsdo- thanks for the helpful correction, and for the dessert suggestion!

Dad! you know how frustrated i get when you add in possibilities

SHanny- im there sista

G- thanks for featuring me!!

Shoo Shoo said...

Hey Caits! I sooooo love your apt description of a Rush mind deep in the throws of trying to make a "simple" decision. We may be a loving and thought-provoking group but good God do we tread ever so close to the edge of a tortured existence.....but, ALWAYS in good company! lol p.s. Shoo Shoo is the name bestowed by Julian and Tali, my little Angels!

First Nations said...

welcome! do start blogging! y'all are goooooood.

i couldnt agree more. cheesecake? no, honey; Sara Lee roll on THAT.

~ good girl ~ said...

Caitlin, this is such a wonderful fab post!! I love it! I was chuckling every few seconds. Heh. I can truly tell you are all part of G's family ;-) Not a whisper of doubt do I have. G talks about the procrastinating DNA that is a hallmark of her household. Damn, she was right.

I mean..err..sorta right. Well, maybe not that right. Yea, not that I'm saying you procrastinate or change your mind a lot or defer decisions...Not saying, is what I'm saying.

You got all that?

Yea, rampant DNA indeed :-)

Good call, G. Love this post.

GG x

Sar said...

Good for you encouraging your niece, and I'll back your support - go for it, Caitlin!

Oh and one more thing...

MMMMMMM Pumpkin Pie

neva said...

laughing, and it will not surprise my NBFF to know this conversation may have well happened dozens of times over the years between me and my *own* sister (we of the ADD/OCD(ish) leanings).

trifle is a fabulous desert. and really easy *if* you buy the angelfood cake pre-made (cuz then you can just tear it into pieces). i'm tellin' ya, i used to make this a lot (before i started making my killer Cinnamon Pound Cake). you can also make a terrific cheese cake using (brace yourselves) Cool Whip, Cream Cheese, and sugar! throw in some canned pumpkin and a pre-made graham cracker crust, and voila! Pumpkin Cheesecake. mmmmmmm.

that said, i'm going to send my NBFF an old family recipe (from an old family i used to be married to) for Gert's Dunkers (like a chewy oatmeal cookie, only a gazillion times *better!). you can go organic, and *bonus*... there be fiber galore, lass (pirate speak, sorry)! so you can feel as tho' you're getting "rid" of the calories from these unbelievably yummy-tho-fattening cookies as fast as you eat 'em.

desert is basically all i do, can you tell? like Mrs. Weirsdo, we get Thanksgiving "take-out" whenever possible.

excellent email-extravaganza-turned-into-a-post! but then, from what i know of your family thus far, i would expect nothing less! xoxox

caitlin said...

GG- what you are not saying, is entirely correct... to list the various ways that procrastination has shaped my life would take a very, something that I will wait to do, until a better time..


Neva- I would love to hear some of your recipes!! The Gert's Dunkers and instant cheesecke sound FAB in capitol letters!!

Jenna Howard said...

Holy Dinah this was delightful. I laughed and laughed until I realized...this could be me!!

Gasp!

Anomie-Atlanta said...

Dear Caitlin, never admit that you didn't make the cake. If you say you made it with enough conviction no one will question you. ;)

G said...

Hey Caits, I tried two or three comments today from scratch. All went into the great big frozen comments section of Bloody Blogger. So I'll just say that I think we have some nice recipe ideas going here, some encouragement to start a blog of your own (I mean not that I mind you staying here while I'm gone but, you know), encouragment to admit to nothing (is anomie a lawyer I wonder?) - in general, the conviviality that is blogland.

I'm not posting tonight, so this little post can just ride on through tomorrow.

Thanks for coming to have some fun. See you at Thanksgiving?

xox

pia said...

Wanted to wish you something for one holiday, but I will take Thanksgiving also

Hi Caitlin and Shannon

Anonymous said...

lol!!! That was great and sure did bring back some very fond (and not so fond) memories of very similar events.

Thanks, G!

Pavel

shoo shoo said...

Caits - one other postscript.....I hope you know that I meant tortured existence as in rushexistence which is always a hoot, no matter what we do!

And that you reallllly should start a blog because your story just made me laugh and lifted my spirits all day! lol

weirsdo said...

Here's the pumpkin pie recipe, in case anyone is interested. It is totally easy, except for the optional nuts, which burn if unwatched.

Linea 10-inch pie pan with gingersnaps or vanilla wafers. (Go for the gingersnaps.)
Spread 1 pt. softened vanilla ice cream over cookies. Freeze until firm.
Mix 1 can (1 lb.) pumpkin with 1 and 1/2 cups sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ginger, 1/4 tsp. cloves, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. (Since this recipe was printed in the 60s, they've come out with "pumpkin pie spice," which can probably be substituted for the individual spices.)
Whip 1 cup heavy cream until stiff. Fold into pumpkin mixture.
Pour over ice cream. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours.
At any point before serving, combine 1 cup slivered blanched almonds with 1/4 cup sugar over low heat, stirring quickly (or they'll burn). When almonds are caramel colored, remove from heat and put on wax paper (I just put them on the pie).
The recipe recommends MORE whipped cream, but no one who has ever had our Thanksgiving dinner was ever up for this. On the other hand, most rave about the almonds, which I have not seen included in other versions of this recipe.

caitlin said...

Weirsdo- recipe sounds great, ive never seen an ice cream pumpkin pie before, sounds liek something we will have to try

DaBich said...

Ok I posted but it seems blogger ate it.

Now I'm hungry again...for cheesecake, and cookies, and pie, and chocolate..OH NO! lol

Miz BoheMia said...

Ha, ha, ha, haaaa! Oh Caitlin, you had me at "bohemian"...

YES! Start your own blog I tell you! Bohemians everywhere are clamoring for more and hey, not being one fond of cooking but definitely one who swoons at the thought of baking, this post spoke to me fo sho! FO SHO!

G, you got yourself a sizzlin' niece! Besos and off I go up above!