Thursday, January 27, 2011

For Calming Nerves

We went on an impromptu trip to visit friends and family last week. I had a nine year old who was in desperate need of a getaway, and, to tell you the truth, we were all pretty excited to head out of town for a bit. Now, I really do like Des Moines a lot. It wasn't that. It's just that all of our best friends and family are not in Des Moines. The problem is, they aren't collected in any one place, so there is no one place to go for a reunion. In the end, we narrowed it down to four places. There are still many other people we ache to see, but we went with the places we couldn't do without. Four cities, nine days, and 1,984 miles.

And so, last Tuesday, with my tank full of gas and my van full of kids, I headed South to Arkansas to meet my baby niece, Peyton, who is already five months old! She is adorable! I was worried that holding and snuggling a baby would make me really sad about not having another one yet, but I found myself feeling like Aunt Abby for the first time ever. I had Amabel and August before any of my family and most of my friends had any children of their own. And once everyone started having their own children, I was in the thick of seminary, sleep deprivation from pregnancy and baby-hood of number three, and all of the chaos that is having three young children. Being around my sister with her three young children made me realize how far out of that stage I am. I have kids that can buckle themselves in their car seats, put their own coats and shoes on, are out of diapers and through with naps, and are basically kids and not babies. While this is a little sad still, I have really done most of the "grieving" over the last two years. And instead of feeling sad about not having a baby of my own, I was delighted to be able to enjoy someone else's baby instead of feeling distracted by my own.

We had a great time in Fayetteville, just visiting, playing in the snow, eating yummy food (did y'all know my sister is a phenomenal home cook and her husband is a chef?), and enjoying time with cousins. The only way it could have been better is if our other cousins were there. We haven't seen my other sister in four years! She has a daughter I have never met who is three! We hope to remedy that situation soon though.

The next stop was the River House. Oh, how we love the River House. George met us in Fayetteville on Thursday, and we all drove over toward Birmingham together on Friday. The river isn't actually in Birmingham, but all our friends live in Birmingham so it fees like Birmingham, but it's really about an hour or so outside of Birmingham. Anyhoo, we were there for the weekend and it was delightful.

On Monday morning, we headed up to St. Louis with a quick stop in Nashville to have lunch with my mom at our favorite restaurant. Some of you may know that I hadn't seen or spoken to my mom in two years, so this was a nice reunion for us. In St. Louis, we had another nice reunion with George's mom, sister, and brother-in-law. We hadn't seen George's sister and her husband since we moved this summer, and it had been several months since George's mom visited us up here. We had a great two night stay. We only managed to see one family from our group of friends in the Lou, but it was a really nice visit. We need to go back with time and plans to see everyone else.

Now we're back and I am way behind on my twelve days of recipes. I have had "for calming nerves" stuck in my head as a near rhyme for "four calling birds" since I started the 12 days. In the end, I don't think anyone has noticed my off rhymes, and I really don't know where I'm going to go after "Ina's Chicken Wings" to rhyme with "five golden rings." It's the sort of thing that is just slightly cute-ish and yet, I find myself thinking about it while I'm rinsing my hair or as I try to fall asleep- totally not worth it. And what's even funnier is that I never could think of a good cocktail recipe for "for calming nerves." I have a lot recipes piled up to share, but I really wanted to have one that fit the description- what better fits than a cocktail? I know, it's silly. It comes from working on the yearbook in high school I think. And anyway, I'm a bourbon and coke girl. The best mixed drinks are like most things- made by someone else, and particularly by my friends Annie or Rebekah. Both Annie and Rebekah were part of the 2000 mile trip of 2011. And both Annie and Rebekah have delicious drink recipes. More than anything though, it is friendship like theirs that calms my nerves :)

Annie's recipe for fantastic sangria can be found here. Bek doesn't have a blog, but if you give me a day or two, I'll post her recipe for fabulous Bloody Marys and, dare I promise, Bittersweet Chocolate Torte below. Then, it'll be Ina's Chicken Wings and seven more. Stay tuned...

Bittersweet Torte

  • 3 Cups Bittersweet Chocolate (I used Ghiradelli 60% cacao chocolate chips)
  • 1 1/4 cups butter
  • 12 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Espresso Cream
  • Mixed berries
  • Fresh mint

Note on the pan size: I have a very deep 9" pie pan, and I still had enough leftover batter to fill at least one (and I think it was actually 2) custard cups. Also, the cake does rise a bit, so allow for that when filling.


Melt chocolate and butter in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until until smooth. Remove from heat; cool. Combine eggs and sugar in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until well blended. Gradually add cooled chocolate, beating at low speed until blended.

Pour batter into a buttered, wax paper-lined, 9-inch deep round cake pan. Place cake pan in a large shallow pan. Add hot water to shallow pan to depth of 1 inch.

Bake at 350° for 55 minutes. Turn oven off; let stand in oven 50 more minutes or until set. Remove cake pan from water bath, and cool cake completely in pan on a wire rack. Cover and chill 2 hours. Loosen edges of cake with a spatula, and invert cake onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges, and pipe or spoon Espresso Cream on top. Top with mixed berries and mint sprigs.


Espresso Cream

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon ground dark-roast coffee (I used decaf that wasn't dark roast)
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Beat cream and coffee in a large bowl until foamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.

And the recipe for the Rebekah's Bloody Mary can be found here. Yum!

1 comment:

annie said...

woohoo!!! I'm so happy to see this recipe! :)

It was delicious and I can't wait to try it.

I'm so glad that you got to see your mom, too, Abby! I'm sorry, we were so involved with talking about my crazy children that I didn't even think to ask. I'm so glad that your lunch with her went well!

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