Monday, October 7, 2013

And Now. . .

Some more pictures, taken over the past few days.

First, a very large leaf I found on the ground behind the house.  It was as big as my face.  

Rather a large leaf, considering that every tree in my yard is less than 10 years old, and the one closest to where I found the leaf is only about five years old.  Apparently it can grow really big leaves up at the top, and the ones closer to the ground are more normal in size.

DD2 turned sixteen over the weekend.  No big blow-out birthday bashes here.  Some close friends, hot dogs and brats, and a bonfire.  Oh, and cupcakes.  Sixteen of them, each with a candle.

That was for her party, which was Saturday.  On Sunday, her actual birthday, she requested cheesecake.  Which she did not want me to poke holes in with candles.  So I looked in the kitchen for something I could put candles on.  I mean, how can you not blow out birthday candles on your birthday?  Even if you did blow them out the day before, at the official party.

So anyway, I came up with a wedge of watermelon.

Again, I notice how we at this little place here differ from the conventional American life in this century.   Let's ignore our lack of huge Sweet Sixteen catered party at a reception hall (yes, my children have been invited to more than one of these by their peers--people who live in a low-to-middle class little farm town).  Let's ignore the fact that she did not receive (as did none of my older children) her own vehicle for a present--as do a surprising number of sixteen year olds in the area.  Let's ignore the fact that the cupcakes and the cheesecake were made from scratch by me, her mother, and that the watermelon came from our garden.

Instead, let's focus on this bit of strangeness:  Who in the world would put birthday candles in a hunk of watermelon?  (Us, apparently, and after she blew out the candles, DD2 ate the watermelon! before having a slice of her cheesecake.)

Speaking of cheesecake, it took me quite a while to find my cheesecake recipe.  Mainly because I don't make it very often and therefore it is neither memorized nor can I remember exactly which of my cookbooks the recipe is in.  What I ended up doing was looking through pretty much all of them and not finding exactly what I wanted.

#1 I did not want anything that starts with "1 no-bake cheesecake mix" as the first ingredient.
#2 I did not want a recipe that called for "1 container non-dairy whipped topping".
#3 I didn't want a recipe that included "1 graham cracker crumb crust".  As in the premade kind, from the store where you'd get either the no-bake cheesecake mix or the container of non-dairy whipped topping.
#4 I wasn't looking to use 5 boxes of cream cheese!  After all, this was a cake to serve just four people, not a large party.

Why oh why is it so darn hard to find a from scratch recipe for stuff?  After perusing over a dozen cookbooks and looking up recipes online, I cobbled together my own.  It turned out pretty darn good. (even if the picture is a bit blurry)

So, in the interest of helping others who find themselves in the same plight, here is what I ended up trying, in order to make a cheesecake in a 9" pie plate:

Graham Cracker Crust
about 8 whole graham crackers, crushed to make 1 1/3 cups of crumbs
1/4 cup softened butter
1/4 cup sugar

Mix all together with a fork or pastry blender until crumbly, press in bottom and sides of pie plate, then bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes, until lightly browned.  Cool completely.

2 8 oz blocks of cream cheese, at room temperature
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract

With a mixer, beat cream cheese, eggs, sugar, and almond extract together until smooth.  Pour into the cooled graham cracker crust.  Bake at 350 degrees 25-30 minutes, until center is set.  Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.

As an end-note to this post's weirdness, may I draw your attention to the platter holding the sixteen cupcakes.  It was purchased to hold hors d'oeuvers  (otherwise known as cheese cubes and crackers) at DH and my wedding reception.  In 1993.  Yes, I have kept it for a little over twenty years.  It has proved to be a useful investment, used time and time again for serving things at various functions through the years.  And despite it's large circumference, it stores neatly and out of sight, upside-down, on top of the cabinet that holds my double ovens.

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