Tuesday, May 16, 2006

No Mothers Here

There are no mothers here.

Well, except for me, when I do something while with my friends that is either really stupid or unusually crude. But that is a different context. And is always preceded by the word ‘dumb’. (OK, ok, they’re a bad influence!)

There are no Mothers here, but there is a Mom.

It seems that Mothers are out, Moms are in. Based on my very informal and limited survey, plus some recent articles in several papers, no one under the age of 70 wants to be called Mother, and no one wants to call them Mother either. Mom, Ma, Mum, even Mama. They should just call it Moms Day and get it over with.

Mothers pose in pictures by artists like Whistler. Or they’re in movies from the 40s and 50s, with Liz Taylor smiling innocently and naively and saying things like “Yes, Mother!”, or “Oh, Mother! Please?!”. I mean, who talks like that?! It’s more like “Mom – stop wearing all my clothes!”. Or “Mom – I need a huge pile of cash and a ride – and can you pick us up too?!”.

Mother has become an iconic word. Not a living entity. A moral virtue, not the person who whisks little ones from soccer games to music lessons in the 5 kabillion ton land/sea troop cruiser.

Here we have a Mom. An active, working, butt-kicking (at times), fashionista Mom.

And every year, for more than 15 of them now, she gets to watch, with varying degrees of anxiety (less now, it used to be more), our antics as we try to figure out what she might possibly like, and to provide some degree of nourishment.

12+ years ago, that all involved a lot of broken dishes, bad food made poorly, and probably more work the day after than the whole affair was worth. Because I always want everyone to have a hand in the activities. And when you’re just 2, well, the activities have to get scaled back to that level.

Nowadays it goes pretty smoothly, however.

TeenBoy made excellent chocolate dipped strawberries. All by himself. Picture perfect. He picked out the sweetest berries, melted the chocolate, everything nicely dipped, perfect! (Clever thing to make, since at least ten times as much chocolate disappeared as could possibly be clinging to the strawberries!).

TeenGirl got an idea for a rhubarb strawberry banana crisp sort of thing from the FoodNetwork, from that apparently hunky Tyler Florence (he looks more chunky to me, but hey! I’m not starring in my own TV show!). And it was great! She adjusted the sugar and butter to something more in line with our tastes, and did a wonderful job.

Plus she made the fruit tray. Cherries are already here!

All I had to do was make some Müsli-Semmeln, i.e. Müsli Rolls. These evoke memories of the pre-children times living in Munich. Carefree days. We discovered a bakery there, called Rischart’s. In the middle of Munich. With wonderful pastries. And a sort of whole wheat breakfast roll filled with nuts, raisins, oats, etc., i.e. müsli. Sweet enough to be enjoyed with a cup of coffee for breakfast, but not too sweet that didn’t go with cheese as well. So it became sort of an addiction. Until the cold-turkey trip away from Munich.

The recipe I found worked well enough. I am not the master baker, although I have made a lot of bread in my time! But this dough was super heavy. I would likely cut back on the butter and up the water next time, try to lighten up the dough a bit. Just for safety, I put in two packets of yeast.

I let it rise overnight in the fridge, which I often do to make a nicer, finer crumb. But the next morning it had barely moved, let alone doubled. I feared a major disaster (backup plan was a store bought whole wheat baguette), but letting it rise in a warm oven seemed to loosen up the fat in the dough, and eventually it rose quite well. It just delayed breakfast.

So, flowers, home made cards, rhubarb strawberry banana crisp on non-fat yogurt, müsli rolls and chocolate-dipped strawberries. Plus some super strong coffee.

You might wonder – fruit, more fruit, nuts, where’s the food?!

Me, I would probably have had bacon-wrapped foie gras sautéed in butter with double caviar hollandaise sauce drizzled with truffle oil (hold the fries!). Or something more along those lines.

But I cook to please! And Moms on the go, well I guess they gotta eat light! But once she was gone on her Mom’s Day walk with TeenGirl, we tanked up on food while watching the LA Clippers win (basketball, of course). (If they don’t want us to watch it, they shouldn’t show it on TV!).

Müslibrötchen (Müsli Breakfast Rolls)
Translated from German by surfindaave

Note – the water requirements for whole wheat flour can vary significantly. Add water slowly and adjust to ensure dough is not too wet or too dry.
Note- most European recipes measure by weight, not volume – so get a scale! It’s soo sooo sooooo much easier.

1 kg whole wheat and white flour, mixed (I used 60% whole wheat, 40% white. You could also add rye flour, but I could not find any.)
0.5 liters warm water
1 package dry yeast (I used 2!)
10 g salt
250 grams honey (I warmed mine in the microwave)
100 grams butter (about 1 stick)
300 grams raisins
200 grams slivered almonds
200 grams hazel nuts, chopped
some rolled oats (I put a handful in the dough, plus some sprinkled on top)
a few tablespoons sugar
1 egg, mixed with a tbsp water for an egg wash

Place the flour in a large bowl. Make a depression in the center. Add the yeast, and sprinkle with some sugar. Add some warm water, and let proof for 10 minutes, until foamy.

Add the remaining warm water, honey, butter, salt, raisins, almonds, and nuts. Mix dough until it comes away from the sides of the bowl. Adjust with a little water or flour as necessary if dough is too firm or too loose. Remove to a floured board, and knead for 10 to 15 minutes.

Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, covered with a damp towel.

Lightly knead the dough again and form into a thick log. Cut into 16 to 24 even pieces (depends how big you like your rolls!), and form each piece into a flattened ball. Place balls on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, and let the balls rise in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes until well puffed.

Heat oven to 375ºF. Brush tops of dough balls with some egg wash. Sprinkle with rolled oats. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes (depending on size), until well browned and baked through.

The rhubarb recipe is here:

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