The demise of Herbert: an animated tale

Last week something awful happened. What you are about to see is as disturbing as it is true. Many small creatures were killed or injured in the unfolding drama you are about to see….

Mimi came into the kitchen one morning last week. She was in a particularly good mood as she walked across the linoleum to the kitchen counter. She was going to check in on her sourdough starter Herbert to see how he was doing and feed him some breakfast. As she walked, her mind was preoccupied with ideas of how Herbert would assist her in the creation of some sort of yummy bread or treat. Should she make baguettes or maybe something decadent like coffee cake?

As she approached the kitchen counter where she had left Herbert for the night, she sensed a strange movement on the counter. Ants! Milling around directionless. Ants! Crawling around in every space. Ants! Teeth bared, tongues licking, investigating everything in sight. Some of them…crawling on Herbert’s jar!

Mimi was furious! She acted quickly. She grabbed a sponge: splat! Splat, splat, splat! She dispatched the ants quickly and mercilessly.

Once the ants were gone, she knew what she needed to do. Nervously, she held her breath and reached for Herbert’s jar. She lifted the lid and looked inside….

…there it was. A lone ant. Dead as a doornail. Floating. Toes pointed to the sky. Who knows how long it had been there contaminating the very medium that led to it’s untimely death.

She loved Herbert and wanted to revive him, but he was contaminated and beyond help. Herbert was buried at sea a few days later. He will be sorely missed.

Addendum:

Mimi thought the ant problem was resolved and tried to create a new starter a few days later. Her name was Nadine. She was a sexy wild yeast starter and she was thriving. Today, Mimi found an ant with an IQ of 10 floating, toes pointed to the sky in Nadine. Nadine was buried at sea later that day.

There will be no more sourdough baking on Delectable Tidbits until all ants have been eradicated from the ugly, drafty little house where Mimi resides. Mimi will be bringing out the big guns soon in her battle against these fiendish interlopers. Please leave a comment with your suggestions and war stories from the front of the ant battlefield. She thinks she knows what to do, but she will gladly take all of the help she can get. Do it for her. Do it for the memory of Herbert.

 

If life doesn’t give you lemons, use oranges instead

Oranges

Welcome to my pity party. My name is Mimi and I will be your hostess as well as the special guest of honor. Today was a bad day. It was what you might call a really bad day.

I’ve been laid off since the end of May and I’ve mostly been enjoying the boredom free time. This blog has never gotten so much attention ever from me. I have plenty of time to cook. I should be happy right? Well, wrong! Everyday, I look for a job online. Most days I find nothing in my field of expertise within a 250 mile radius. I try to find something to apply for but most of the job leads are in communities I have never even wanted to visit much less live in. So I’m never very excited about my prospects. It’s driving me crazy. Sure there were a couple of near hits. There was the university that has two job openings that I’d be perfect for but never called me back. Then there was the publishing company who put me through five interviews only to forget to let me know whether or not they have made a hiring decision. Those things made my days so much more exciting. I read the news. I know there are other people in worse situations than me, but this long drawn out waiting game is grating on my every last nerve and today I sunk into a deep and unending funk. It was really bad.

This morning, after I played my fifteenth game of spider three decks solitaire, I decided to move my depressed ass to the couch to watch the Food Network. (This was before the manic crying incident later in the afternoon). Giada was on. There she was in all of her buxom roman porn star beauty… making leftovers. Well, what she was doing was really what I call chicken evolution. She was taking leftovers and making them into something else. She made soup out of an old rotisserie chicken, crostini out of day old bread and cake out of old simple syrup (leave it to a food network star to keep simple syrup in the fridge and consider it leftovers). As I sat transfixed by Giada’s bouncing cleavage and her literally glowing teeth, I realized she was making a really amazing cake. Although I’m not always excited about the regular food she makes, I trust Giada when it comes to sweets. She has a sweet tooth and you can tell she loves to bake. If Giada didn’t come from a Hollywood family who prizes their looks we would probably mistake Giada for Ina Garten ’cause you can tell Giada likes to bake and she likes to eat!

Back to that cake. It was called Lemon Mint Cake with Lemon Syrup. It had all of the prerequisite cake ingredients but the eggs were separated and the whites were made into a stiff meringue which was folded back into the cake to make it light and fluffy. The promise of this cake was that it would have a crispy exterior, a light and fluffy interior and then a dousing of intense flavor from the syrup. As Giada cut herself a slice, I could see that her cake would live up to that promise. It looked so delicious. She took a bite and made that awful orgasmic cat call she makes when she bites into something that is supposed to be good…. But the sound was…somehow different. Perhaps genuine? Did I hear correctly, a genuine sounding orgasmic moan coming out of Giada and a pleased happy look of real contentment on her face? Rewind! Yes… I believe it’s true. I have to have this cake!!

But…Although I have a little mint in the backyard still, I have no lemons. Just a bunch of old neglected oranges. I am way to depressed to haul my butt to the store. But, orange and mint sounds great. I looked at my Boyfriend who has been giving me the look all day that a love one gives you when they wonder if they should call the suicide hotline on your behalf. I tell him, “I want to make cake will you have some?” He looks at me with a little smile on his face because he knows that baking will make me happy. (He tries to make sure I don’t see him wondering when I will go back on Weight Watchers and lose the five pounds I have managed to gain back). He says “yes, I would love some cake”.

I made that cake and it made me very happy. The crisp exterior does yield to a soft interior. It is like biting into a cloud. The syrup was heady with the scent of oranges. The whole cake was redolent of orange with just a hint of mint. Scrumptious. If I were a more outgoing person, a small orgasmic sound would have escaped my lips.

Sometimes it is the little things that keep you going.

OrangeMintCake

Orange Mint Cake with Orange Syrup

Adapted from Lemon Mint Cake with Lemon Syrup by Giada De Laurentiis

Cake:

3 eggs at room temperature, separated

1 cup sugar, divided

¼ cup olive oil

1/8 tsp salt

2 ½ tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves

3 tbsp orange juice

1 tbsp orange zest

1 cup all purpose flour

Syrup:

1 cup sugar

¼ cup water

¾ cup orange juice

1 tbsp orange zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9” cake pan.

In a bowl, beat olive oil and ½ cup of the sugar. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating as they are added. Add mint, orange juice and orange zest. Add flour and beat until just combined. Set aside.

Place egg whites in a separate large bowl. Beat them until they form soft peaks. Add the other half cup of sugar and beat until the whites form stiff peaks.

Transfer ½ of the egg white mixture to the bowl with the cake batter. Carefully fold the whites into the cake batter. Add the other half of the whites and gently fold them into the batter until well combined, taking care not to deflate the egg whites. Spread the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake the cake 40 – 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Move the cake from the oven to a wire rack and let it cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the simple syrup: Combine the sugar, water, orange juice and orange zest in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer for five minutes. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool for at least twenty minutes.

To serve, spoon syrup generously over each slice of cake.