Archive for the ‘Reagan’ Category


February 18, 2010

Reagan has a friend, S., that is a foreign exchange student  from the Ukraine.  Yep, poor girl came all the way from the cold Ukraine to the cold mid-west.  One of S’s friend got sent to Hawaii.  I’m sure she’s not jealous at all!

S. has a really good grasp of English.  Occasionally, though, you have to explain a word or phrase  to her.  Like “spazz” or “ditch” or “back door virgin.”

Is it wrong that I’ve now nicknamed “S.” as “BDV?”

Reagan and BDV are both going to prom this year and I have the joy of taking them both shopping later this  month.  Prom, already?   But Rea’s still my baby!   In honor of the upcoming prom I’m trying to start a new slang phrase:

ON like a PROM DRESS!” 

As, in “Boy, I can’t get the lid off this jar of pickles.  It’s ‘ON like a PROM DRESS.”   Or, wow, you are WWAAYYYYY  too young to have sex.  That dress better stay ON like a PROM DRESS.”   

All joking aside,  Reagan and I have been talking about sex and relationships a lot.  Her boyfriend’s parents have set up some  rules, such as they are allowed to hug goodbye, and he can put his arm around her shoulders, but “NO TOUCHING” and “NO sex before marriage.”

Reagan told me about the birds and the bees convo they had with E.   Then she told me that everyone at her school already thinks they are having sex.  I asked “WHY???!!!”  And she said, “you know, because he’s a junior.” 

I guess ALL juniors have sex?  (At least that’s what the kids think.  Of course, as an adult, I think they all think “EVERYONE  BUT ME IS! HAVING! SEX!!!”)

Which, of course, logically means “NOT EVERYONE IS HAVING SEX!!”

The hardest part of the conversation is getting across the idea that I simultaneously think she’s wonderful, responsible, smart, etc, but still NOT READY to have sex.   It seems that every teenager thinks he/she is the most mature teenager ever.   (And, as such, is READY to have sex.  Because, you know, all the other LESS mature teenagers are doin’ it. ) 

Ironically, the mere fact that they think they are ready to have sex is PROOF that they aren’t ready to have sex!

Luckily, Rea has said that she is too young when I’ve broached the subject of the pill (She responded “Geez, mom, I’m only 15!  I”m not going to have sex anytime soon!”)  Which is a relief.  I’ve stressed to her that I don’t think she’s ready, that she couldn’t support a child, and I’m keen on reminding her of her goals -going away to college, travelling, lots of fun life experiences-which are a lot more difficult to reach with a baby in tow.

I should know.  LOL.  Not that I regret having my kids, they are wonderful.  But as a returning student, it’s WAYYYY harder (and less fun) attending college when you are simultaneously dealing with a job, a spouse and kids.   For example, this last week I had a test, a project, multiple writing assignments, a quiz and I had to chauffeur kids around town, celebrate Valentine’ day, bake cookies (okay, I will admit that was a “want” rather than a “need” but it’s how I relax)  and I had to take Taylor to the doctor.

Speaking of Taylor, he gained 7 1/2 pounds!   Very good news.   I really think this whole weight loss thing was a way for him to grasp for some independence and autonomy.  It was something he could control.   (And his parents, in his mind, could do nothing about.)

Luckily for me, he hates going to the doctor.  (Which, isn’t pleasant when you are with him at the doctor’s office and he’s sighing and rolling his eyes and grumbling about how stupid this all is.)   His hatred of going to the doctor leaves him with two choices:

Lose weight and go to the doctor more, for more invasive tests


Gain weight and stop going to the doctor (other than for normal check-ups.)

This puts, as they say, “the ball in his court.”   I feel a little manipulative in that  by making those the only two options, I’ve pretty much made it certain he will chose option 2.   However, I also think that option 1 is not punitive, but a natural consequence if he continued to lose weight.

(He, of course, thinks there should be an option 3, in which I leave him be, but I just can’t do that.)

Anyway, the 7 1/2 lb weight gain makes me think it’s working.  I’m also working on addressing some familial issues within our household.  My husband has been kind enough to start a new routine in which he makes breakfast for the family every weekday.  Chris works long hours, which makes a family dinner every night impossible.   (The kids and I eat together, but Chris gets home a couple of hours later) Breakfast together is more do-able.    Chris and Taylor have been going out to eat together on Tuesday nights (Chris is off at 6 pm on Tuesdays.)  And I have been making Taylor chat more, even if he doesn’t seem to enjoy it, LOL.  

I also hope to get Taylor more involved in grocery shopping and food preparation.   I think it’s important that he has healthy eating habits and I do worry that the focus has now become “get him to eat as many calories as possible!”  Which, while it may have been necessary at the time, is not the healthiest eating pattern.    (As evidenced by my 20 lb weight gain, LOL!)

Anyway, I think the situation is resolving itself and, hopefully, will end up being a positive, due to a renewed emphasis on family.  Thanks to all who have shown concern; I was really fearful posting about it, that people would think my son has horrible issues and that I am a terrible parent.   -Jennifer


Homecoming 2009

September 28, 2009

Reagan and Ryan

I’ve decided that homecoming is a lot like Christmas.  Lots of money, tons of prep and then it’s over way too fast!   This was my first homecoming experience as a mother (rather than as a teenager) because my son didn’t attend last year (or this year.) 

Reagan, however, was determined to go.   She was asked by a boy from her school, a junior (she’s only a freshman), who, in an effort to impress her, told her an anecdote about throwing a flaming gopher at a passing car.    Fearing he would make a vest out of her skin, she said “No, thanks,” and asked a boy, Ryan, that is her “facebook friend” and attends a different school.

We shopped for a dress, shoes, jewelry.  She got her nails done and her hair curled.   Being concerned about skin cancer “mean,” I wouldn’t let her tan.    

Finally it was the day of homecoming.   That morning I met friends for breakfast.  Karma and Jim were in town for their twenty year high school reunion. 

Me, Karma and Jim 2009It was great to see them.  Plus, Karma solved a mystery for me.





But, back to homecoming.  While I visited with Karma and Jim, Rea got her hair done.  Then we headed home, she did her make-up, put on her dress and heels and we ran over to our neighbor’s house to take photos.

Reagan HC 1

(Meanwhile her brother was still in his pajamas, playing video games.)

Then we headed to the riverfront to meet her date, Ryan, and his mother.   He put on Reagan’s corsage: Corsage    And then she attempted to pin on his boutenniere:  What the hell

Rea looked at the pin, looked at the flower, looked at the pin, looked at the flower,  then turned to me and said,
“What the hell?”   So ladylike.  I was so proud.    



They seemed a little awkward posing for pictures.   Ryan’s mom said “put your arm around her!”  But this was as close as they got:   Reagan HC laughing

Then we headed back to Princeville and took MORE photos at Rea’s friend’s Ethan’s house.  

Pretty girls, HC Pretty Girls!

After many, many photos, they headed out to dinner at a local Japanese steakhouse.  (The kind where they cook at your table.)   Taylor and I also went out to eat enchiladas at his favorite restaurant.   Glum Taylor     Honestly, he’s not that glum!  He just doesn’t like being photographed.

It was too dark to get any good pictures at the dance.  But the kids had fun.  Most of the girls took off their heels and they did all kinds of crazy theme dances, like the cha cha slide and the macarena.     Once the dance was done, Rea and her date went to a bonfire til around 1:00, then we had to drive Ryan home.   A 45 minute drive in extremely foggy conditions.

What not to say to your daughter and her date on the ride home:  “Are you guys getting hot back there?”            

During the late-night drive Reagan fell asleep with her head on Ryan’s shoulder.    When he arrived home, he said goodbye but she didn’t walk him to the door.  No good night kiss!  (The whole “teenage boys want to have sex with teenage girls, and vice-versa, it’s a natural thing, but not something you are at all ready for at fourteen” discussion may have been unwarranted.)   I’m not sure if she was relieved or disappointed about the lack of kissing.  Nevertheless, she had a great time and it was a lovely first date.

TWD #33: Applesauce Spice Bars

August 18, 2009

I made some variations to this recipe, chosen by Something Sweet by Karen, partly due to necessity, mostly due to an urge to experiment.  

I like to try new things and figured this was an ideal recipe to play around with, since the ingredients aren’t expensive and I wasn’t making it for an event.   Plus, I’m always telling my kids, “don’t knock it, til you try it,” whether “trying it” means eating sushi, or joining the golf team.  (Rea is one of two girls!)   I did start to second guess this wisdom the other day when Rea told me the following:

R:  “Oh, I know why L. and J. broke up.”  (L and J are 15 years old) 

J:  “Why?”       

R:  “I can’t say, you’ll give me a look.”  

J:  “Oh, you have to tell me now.  I won’t give you a look!”

R:  “Well, L. gave D. head, so J. broke up with her.”  (D. is another 15 year old) 

J:   (mouth a-gape)

R:  “You are giving me a look!   I told you so!”

J:  (still gaping)

R:   “I know what you are thinking!   No, I haven’t  And NO, I WON’T!   GROSSSSSSSSSSS!”

(Funny enough, that wasn’t what I was thinking, I was still in shock about the sexual activities of two kids slightly older than Rea,  I hadn’t even gotten to the point of worrying about her.)       

So am I a hyprocrite to be thankful that my fourteen-year-old daughter isn’t so willing to try new things, afterall?    I’m also thankful that she feels close enough to me to discuss something so potentially embarrassing.  (Warning to any parents of younger ones,  the “birds and bees” discussion is a piece of, uhh, cake compared to discussing fellatio, pornography, etc…)

Enough of the anecdotes and back to the real reason we are all here.  Cake.   I made this cake last night, subbing in a cup of granulated sugar with two tablespoons of molasses due to a lack of brown sugar in my cupboard.

I also decided to follow Holly’s excellent suggestion on the Dorie P&Q forum.   She browned the butter.  I love the nutty, rich taste of browned butter and thought it would be great in this recipe.  It definitely was.   (Of course, now I want to make the recipe as written to compare the two.)  

Furthermore, I had a partial bag of Hershey’s cinnamon chips wallowing in my cupboard, so I decided to add about a 1/2 cup of those to the batter and to top the glaze with more pecans (there were already toasted pecans in the batter)  that I toasted in a little browned butter and sprinkled with sea salt.

While I loved my variations, I’m also sure that the recipe as written is wonderful, perfect for the upcoming apple season.   If you are interested in this quick and easy recipe, please buy the book, or visit Karen’s site.

Applesauce Spice Cake

Okay, it doesn’t look so appealing. I slightly under-baked mine AND covered it before it was completely cool (I was tired after an evening of back-to-school clothes shopping) so it got a little mushy from the condensation.   Next time I would bake it the longer time (28 minutes, rather than 23) and let it cool completely before covering.

Even better than the “*Tractor Story.”

July 9, 2009

Over the weekend I took my nephew A. and Reagan, my fourteen year-old daughter, to watch fireworks at a nearby small town.   After the spectacle, the kids made a mad dash to the car; it must be totally uncool to go to a family event,  you know, with your family.  When I arrived at the car, I asked Reagan, “Where’s A?”   She responded, “peeing on a tree.”

When A. got done, Rea said “You better be careful.  You might get crabs doing that.”

A. incredulously replied, “Tree Crabs?”

I think Rea’s abstinence-only sex ed class may not have been very informative.

But, I must admit, I laughed all the way home about the “Tree Crabs.”

*Is it lame that I’m still making Seinfeld references?

Rea, overall, hasn’t been very fun or funny lately.   She’s a bit bored with summer and whiny.  Oh, the whining.  “Why can’t you drop us off at the mall?”  “Why can’t we go to a movie tonight?”   “Why… Why….  Why….”  She’s worse then a four year old.  Plus, I think she’s forgetting that SOME of us have to go to work the next morning.  NOT everyone can stay up late.  (Hmmm… now who sounds whiny?)

But right when living in a box down by the river starts to sound appealing,  she always redeems herself.

For example, recently a teenage relative came to stay with us for awhile.  I heard Rea talking to him while leading him around the house.  “Here’s the fridge, there’s always good food and milk to drink.  Here’s the microwave.  Don’t turn it and the toaster oven on at the same.  You’ll blow a fuse.  The bathroom is right here.  Don’t use too much TP or you have to plunge it.  My mom and dad’s room is right there.  They are pretty cool and will take good care of you.”

“Pretty cool” and “take good care of you”  are high praise from a child who is more likely to say to me “**Why don’t you trust me?”  “**Why are you so strict?”  “***Why can’t I _____, ______, or ______ like everyone else?”

(**Because you’re a teenager.)

(*** Because you might get “tree crabs”)

Soda Wars

May 18, 2009

I rarely buy soda.  We aren’t health nuts, as evidenced by my frequent baking, but the orthodontist recommended “no soda,” and when you’ve shelled out $10,840 for braces, it seems prudent to follow her directions.  My kids, of course, LOVE soda, and, when I bought some this Saturday, they actually had a “Soda War.” 

It was like “The War of the Roses.”  Over a carbonated, lemon-lime beverage.  


First Tay took the case of Sprite (which I only bought because it was a REALLY good deal) into his room, joking that it was “all mine!”  (Yes, that was accompanied by a chuckle of glee.)   

I think the kid needs to get out more.

At lunchtime Rea realized the soda was missing, so I told her to go ask Tay for one.   He gave her three.

Which made her quite self-righteous.  “Only three?  Three isn’t half of twenty-four!” 

Good to know her math skills are on par, but, really, how many sodas does one need with lunch?  Especially since, when soda is “in stock,” the rule is one soda per DAY.

I needed to study and reminded the kids of the another rule: “Do not interrupt me unless you are bleeding heavily or the house is in flames,” and headed to the solitude of my bedroom and my astronomy textbook.

Meanwhile, Reagan plotted a soda retrieval expedition and stealthy stole the cans from her brother and hid them in her room.   Taylor, discovering her devious ways, masterminded a counterattack, and, in the process, broke her door frame.

Reagan called her dad at work to complain about Taylor’s trespass and destruction; of course, she conveniently left out her role in the shenanigans.

Taylor sincerely apologized and attempted to fix the door.   All was good. 

Then Chris arrived home from work and, failing to consult me about subsequent developments,  read Taylor the riot act.

Then told me, “You shouldn’t buy soda.  We don’t need soda in the house.”

The soda wars were this close to turning into their floral namesake.

Random Tuesday Thoughts

April 7, 2009


Has anyone else noticed that baby carrots keep getting bigger and bigger?  They really should be renamed big-ass toddler carrots. 

I am beginning to think I hate Cindys.  “Cindy’s what?” you might be thinking, but I am referring to anyone/everyone named Cindy.   That might sound harsh, and an odd prejudice, but think, honestly, when was the last time you met a Cindy that you liked?    (Of course, Cindy, if you are reading this I don’t mean you!)

Taylor, my fifteen-year-old boy, was talking about his love of  Rubik’s cubes (he can solve one in about a minute, no matter how much you mix it up) and Halo 3 and chess and how it’s, oh, “not dorky at all.”   I told him that I think he’ll be like our good friend Coyote, a late bloomer, and go to college, get a good job (I didn’t mention that Coyote is currently unemployed, LOL), work hard and, once he’s a catch and all the girls want him, he’ll marry a nice girl like Lemur.  

Taylor’s response:  “Lemur’s NOT a nice girl.”

(How does he know about her anal sex fetish?)

(Just joking Lemur!)

Me:  “Taylor?!”

Taylor:  “She’s a GROWN-UP!”

Apparently he misunderstood and thought I was advocating him dating a thirty-year old?  Dude, only if she’s really hot! 

Speaking of Lemur, we ran a race on Saturday.  And by “run” I mean, “got beat by a 70-year-old man wearing khaki’s and a dress shirt, who was walking with his five year old granddaughter.”

Lemur and I are also doing the moonwalk.  Not that moonwalk. moonwalk  But an actual walk to and from the moon.  Wait, not “actual” as in “really walking to the moon” but as in an event in which you walk the distance to the moon and back.   Not having read the details, I asked Reagan “How many miles do you think it is to the moon?”   She said “maybe 100?  Hmm… I think it’s farther than that.  “Maybe 300 miles?”

Chris googled it and said it’s about 240,000 miles one way.  Rea and I were WAYYY off.  Panic set in.  That’s a lot of miles over a ten week period. Luckily, it turns out that our whole team combines mileage to equal the distance.  Whew.  Thank goodness I don’t have to walk  6,857.14 miles per day!   

The other day Rea and her friends were talking about religion.  One is Catholic, one is atheist, another Methodist and so on.  Til they got to Jessie, who said “I’m Mexican.”   Rea said, “um, that’s not a religion.”  He insisted that he is Mexican AND that is his religion.    Rea told me this whole tale, how she insisted it was NOT his religion, but then asked me “It’s not really a religion, is it?”

Hope that was random enough for you’all, and please take the time to visit Keely at The Un Mom for more Random Tuesday Thoughts.

Random Tuesday Thoughts

March 24, 2009


My  daughter is grounded, and it’s way worse on me then on her, I do believe.  Why do I feel so bad that she feels bad when I know she should feel bad for screwing up?  Anyway, grounded from TV, the phone and video games, she is pretty bored and is spending all her time baking.   And making marshmallow fondant, which I find inexplicably irresistible.   I may have to unground her just to save my waistline.

Is my asthma inhaler supposed to have similar affects to those good old fashioned whip-its! my friends (you know who you are!) and I used to purchase and huff?   Because it does.   But maybe I’m doing it wrong? 

Sunday I went hiking with my friends Lemur, Coyote and MarySue.  Coyote and MarySue were rock/fossil/Native American artifact-hunting while Lemur and I huffed and puffed our way up and down a couple of hills.  After rejoining the searchers we were chatting about blood pressure and Lemur said “I hate having my blood pressure taken, almost worse than anything.”

My response:  “Worse than anal sex?”

I am sure Lemur’s husband, the aforementioned Coyote, thinks I’m a big fat weirdo.

Plus, thinking about this later in the evening I got really paranoid.   What if Lemur and Coyote had recently had an anal sex escapade and enjoyed it?   And now Coyote is worried that Lemur lied about her level of satisfaction?   Or what if they had and then sworn each other to secrecy and now Coyote thinks she broke their vow of silence?   Or what if they haven’t and now he thinks she cheated on him?

Mind you, this was right after I had told them all this story. 

On our hike we also discussed my irrational fear of serial killers/rapists in the woods.  I don’t worry about getting mugged/raped/killed on dark city streets, but there’s something about being surrounded by nature that makes me fretful.  MarySue and Lemur conceded that it freaked them out, too, making me feel slightly less like an anxiety-ridden crackpot.  Shortly later we overtook and attempted to pass a lone woman walking on the trail.  MarySue was in the lead, said “excuse me” and went to pass, accidentally bumping into the woman, who fell over.  She was wearing headphones!  Is that not crazy?  I really wanted to tell her, “You know, with headphones on you really have no chance of escaping the hiking serial killer rapist.”         

In this whole “going back to school” process I’ve found out that there are some weird scholarship opportunities out there.   One requires that you write an essay in the form of a letter to your state representative expounding upon the merits of Zero Population Growth.   Another requires a 7,500 word paper on the history of cartography.     (The ZPG one I’m applying for, the cartography one, I think not, that’s a longass paper!)   I’m also applying for a scholarship through the Chicago Urban League.   Interestingly that one requires a photo ID but doesn’t require that I live in either Chicago or an urban area.     Another requires proof of anal copulation.   (Okay, not really.)

If you have a chance, please drop by and visit Keely of  “The Un Mom.”  While you’re there, please beg her not to kick me out of Random Tuesday Thoughts for my depravity.

TWD #4: Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread

January 27, 2009

This weeks “Tuesdays with Dorie” recipe is a “Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread” cake, selected by Heather of Sherry Trifle.

I made this cake on Saturday night.
Because my life is exciting like that.

Other TWD bakers said this cake tastes better the day after baking and I wanted to take it to my book club the next night. Nothing like foisting cake upon a group of women, many of whom are watching their weight! Oh, and I brought a previous TWD concoction, the pear tart, with me, too. Boy, my family was sad to see that pear tart head out the door.

In an effort to make this cake more appealing to my family of rascally chocolate/pear tart lovers I added a tablespoon of sifted cocoa powder to the flour mixture and used semi-sweet mini-chocolate chips for the stirred-in, unmelted chocolate. The mini-chocolate chips tend to disburse evenly, melting and pretty much absorbing into the batter. Additionally, instead of mincing the fresh ginger I used my rasp grater and grated a piece about an inch long.

I fear I may suffer from ADD because whenever I reach a point in a recipe that requires a break, for example, in this recipe, while the melted chocolate cooled, I start another recipe. That’s how I ended up also making the components for the pear tart. Later, while the cake was baking I also made Leche Quemada (burnt milk candy.)

Now, I’ve never actually tasted Leche Quemada, which posed a bit of a problem. My recipe gave me time frames, no color guidelines to watch for, no temps to reach like most candy recipes. Thus, every step of the way I wasn’t sure if it was progressing as expected.

I was a little nervous to bring it into work Monday, as both my co-workers are familiar with the candy. But they said it was perfect, even with the foodie touch of sprinkling the top with a little sea salt to give the taste a boost.

See, I told you I have attention deficit issues! My post has
(d?)evolved from TWD to my everyday cooking adventures.

I baked the cake for exactly 40 minutes, allowed it to cool and made the frosting.

Frosting or Icing? Here in IL, at least in my family, we say frosting.

For the “fricing” I cut up three ounces of Sharffen Berger 70% cacao bittersweet chocolate and melted it over simmering water, added a dash of coffee, whisked in the butter, stirred in the powdered sugar and allowed it to set for ten minutes before icing the cake.

I am AWFUL at decorating cakes. I just can’t make things look pretty. (Accept for my daughter, of course, she’s awfully pretty!)

In fact, if I ever own a bakery it will be called “The Fugly Bakery.”
Any investors out there?

The motto will be “Ugly, but delicious!”

Anyway, the “iceting” spread amazingly well and tasted really rich and chocolate-y.

I also made the ginger infused whipped cream that’s mentioned next to the cake recipe. I brought heavy cream almost to a boil, added eight slivers of ginger and allowed it to steep overnight in the fridge. The next morning I strained out the ginger and whipped the cream, adding confectioner’s sugar to taste and a teeny-tiny pinch of ground cinnamon.

Secret Server REALLY liked the whipped cream. I did, too, and felt it was the perfect accompaniment to the cake.

If you like gingerbread, you’ll really like this cake, it’s incredibly flavorful. Thanks, Heather, for picking such an interesting and delicious TWD recipe! (Oh, and if you want the Leche Quemada recipe, leave me a comment and I’ll post it or email it to you!)

I wet my pants a little.

January 16, 2009

Me: “It’s freezing out here. It’s a good thing I have these mitten-y glove thingies.” (Yes, in my everyday life I’m quite articulate.)

Reagan: “What?”

Me: “They have places for each finger and then a flap that pulls over and they look like mittens. So they are ‘Gluffins,’ I guess…”

Reagan: “What? What are they?”

Me: “Gluffins! You know, Gloves and Muffins!”

Reagan: “Muffins?”

Me: “Oh, yah….”

Reagan: “They are GLITTENS! Are you high?

Me: “No, I’m not high! What do you know about being high anyway?”

Reagan: “Gluffins! Gluffins! I think you are high!”

Me: (laughing hysterically, yet denying illicit drug use)

Me: (still laughing) “I hope ‘Jaylor’ and ‘Take’ enjoy the ‘chries’ and ‘fricken’ we are having for dinner.”

Reagan: “You are so weird!”

TWD #1: French Pear Tart

January 6, 2009

French Pear Tart 4\"And now for something completely different….

My dear friend SS and I signed up for “Tuesday’s with Dorie,” (TWD) a bi-weekly food blogger challange in which you make an assigned Dorie Greenspan recipe from the book “Baking: From My Home to Yours.”

I’d never actually made a tart (other than of the “Pop” variety) so I was especially excited about this recipe. I view TWD much like I view my book club, a chance to try something new, that I might not normally pick myself. In baking I have a tendency to choose recipes that are chocolate and portable (cookies). For book club I apparently pick out books with a recurring theme: “multigenerational family curses.”

Okay, back to the tart. I faced a few obstacles in making this recipe. First, the recipe requires a food processor; I own a very nice one, (Thanks, Mom!) but I dropped the work bowl at just the right (wrong) angle and broke the handle. This was more than an inconvenience, as the handle must latch for the processor to run. I called Kitchen Aid, and the new one is on the way (and cost $50!)

Too late for my tart, though!

My second obstacle was the lack of a tart pan. The recipe specifies a 9″ one. I do own a 9″ springform pan but I was afraid the tart would not brown as well due to the higher sides. Thus, my epic search for a tart pan began. (Again, not enough time to order one online!)

SS and I met “in town” on New Year’s Day evening to search for the appropriate pan. Despite living in a metropolitan area of over a 350,000 people, we have no kitchen supply store. Thus we decided to search TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Target, Walmart and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Guess what? A holiday, after six p.m. is not the best time to go shopping. We traversed the town but only Target and Walmart were still open. And NO tart pans at either place.

Saturday, after spin torture class, we went to BB and B, dragging along my teenage son and our non-cooking friend L. (They were really amused by our cries of “OMG, look at these cute cookie cutters!” and our lustful looks at baking implements.)


Sort of.

They had an 11″ tart pan. They had a set of six 4″ tart pans.

I opted for the smaller tart pans, figuring I could use them for other desserts and quiches for my family.

Plus they are super cute.

I had most of the supplies in hand for the recipe but had to make a quick stop at the grocery store for blanched almonds. Next time I’ll make my own as SS sent me a link with directions.

Feeling energetic I decided to make the tart that night. Unfortunately, I decided to work on the tart at the same time I made a dinner of roasted chicken, gravy, mashed potatoes and sauteed garlicy broccoli.

Unfortunately for my dinner, not the tarts.

Luckily no one ended up with salmonella.

I made the poached pears first; I happened to have three perfectly ripe pears on hand. I combined the pears with water, sugar and lemon juice and simmered them gently for fifteen minutes.

While the pears cooled, I made the tart dough. I whirred the flour and sugar in my blender, dumped it in a bowl, and used my metal potato masher to mix in the cold butter; then I kneaded the dough very briefly on a silpat mat, pressed the dough into the tiny tart pans and popped them in the freezer. (And I mashed the potatoes and put the broccoli in the microwave.)

My blender (Motto “Now for more than just smoothies!”) was useful in grinding the almonds for the almond cream. I pulsed them until finely ground and then mixed them with butter, corn starch, vanilla, sugar and egg yolk. I refrigerated the almond cream while I cut the pears into slices. (And cut up garlic for the broccoli and took the chicken out of the oven. Too early.)

Have I mentioned that I’m uncoordinated? And that I have a hard time following directions?

My pear slices, well, they were “special.” (But delicious!)

Now I had all the components ready but had to decide on baking times. The pastry dough had to be partially baked and cooled before assembly. I feared the time in the directions, for a 9″ tart pan, would result in overcooked crusts. I halved the blind baking time and that seemed just about right. (And made gravy.)

Setting the tart crusts to cool on a wire cookie rack, I ate dinner with my family.

And (barely) lived to tell the tale.

After dinner I put the almond cream on the cooled pastry crusts, topped them with mutilated pear slices and put them in the oven to bake. Again, I worried about the baking time, but decided to set my timer for 30 minutes and to check them at that point.

I joined my daughter in watching “Little Miss Sunshine.”

I love that movie!

About 25 minutes later Reagan said “It smells like your tarts are done.”
She was right and “bravo!” to Reagan for trusting her instincts.
(Seriously, that is a lesson it took me many years to learn and she already gets it at fourteen! Plus she knows how to temper egg yolks. My daughter is a wondrous creature.)

The tarts cooled until after little Olive “kicked ass” and they were fragrant and lovely and tasted wonderful.

Even my normally chocolate-dessert loving son and husband really liked the tart.
[Much, much more than the (literally!) bloody chicken.]