Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day Weekend

So on Friday I mentioned I was planning to relax this weekend with my family and friends. My husband not only had all three days of the weekend but was also able to take off half of Friday too. Abigail and I had spent a week away and got home late Thursday night, so he wanted to have the opportunity to catch up with her.

I'm not sure why I thought I'd be relaxing though since we'd planned to have a few friends over on Sunday afternoon. We have grand plans when invite people over. I insist on making at least two or three elaborate desserts since I don't get an opportunity very often. Lee patties out burgers in advance, and usually gets the idea to try at least one new dish.

For this gathering, I chose to make vanilla gelato and chocolate gelato (both from a favorite book - The Ultimate Frozen Dessert Book, which I'm happy to see is not out of print like I thought it was) and a yellow layer cake with fluffy chocolate (buttercream) icing. Lee's new "recipe" was a Chicago dog - basically he had all the ingredients for a Chicago dog for anyone who wanted to try their hot dog that way. Of course, we grill everything, so it couldn't be a true Chicago dog (since they are only steamed or boiled) and while we had celery salt, sport peppers, tomato slices and dill pickle spears, we couldn't find poppy seed buns or nuclear relish. Oh well, it was close.

I wasn't thrilled with my gelato choices, either, although everyone else seemed satisfied. I've made pecan gelato before using this book, and while it wasn't exactly like gelato I've had, it was definitely different than any other homemade ice cream I'd made - smooth, creamy, filled with intense flavor. (Gelato is different than ice cream in the use of more whole milk than cream and a lot more eggs.) The chocolate used 100% cacao and was unsweetened. It's very rich, but it wasn't smooth or creamy like I expected - it was actually pretty grainy. I don't know if I didn't cook it long enough or what. The vanilla was the real disappointment though. It had seven egg yolks - seven! - and I expected it to be rich and creamy and wonderful. But it was also grainy and almost crumbly in texture. Both custard mixtures were strained before cooling, so I don't think it was a cooked egg thing. If you know anything about ice cream making, please let me know if you have any ideas on what went wrong.

So, anyway, we spent Friday afternoon and much of Saturday shopping and preparing for our late Sunday afternoon get-together. Relaxing - what was I thinking? I love doing this, but I don't know why I thought it wasn't going to be a busy weekend.

Abigail was, as usual, not happy when people started arriving at our house, but within an hour she became a social butterfly, showing off her toys and not sitting still to eat more than a bite of burger and a few chips. I was so glad that she started to enjoy herself.

We had a wonderful time hanging out with our friends and making new ones. It did start to rain late in the day, but we'd finished grilling by that time fortunately. We were able to squeeze in a game of ladder ball when the rain let up too.

And Monday was the lazy, relaxing day I expected, although hubby woke up feeling less than well. I managed to take a long walk with our next-door neighbor, and now feel energized to do some more exercising. Woo hoo!

I have a confession, though. I've been out of town so much lately, although you probably couldn't tell by the near-daily posting. I was able to "stockpile" some posts that I knew wouldn't go out of date, and have them post while I was out of town. Silly me, though, I didn't really leave any for when I got back and I'm kind of feeling the just-got-home blues. So I'll try to keep up the daily posting, because I really like it, but I can't promise anything. If you have anything you would especially like to see me write about, let me know. Ideas are welcome!

Hope you had a great long weekend, and enjoy the first full week of September. I fully believe in holding onto summer as long as possible, and do not plan to let fall in until later this month. I live in a relatively southern region, I have the luxury!

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