The New Food Addiction: Molten Lava Cakes

Leave it to Sam’s Club to come up with tasty desserts.

The big box warehouse club is famous for such yummies as angel food cake, quart boxes of strawberries, damned good carrot cake, baklava (during the fall) and other fattening wonders has come up with a new dessert.

Molten Lava Cakes.

Four come to a box, and each is big enough to split. There are two chocolate and two apple/caramel. Forty-five seconds in the microwave, a dollop of ice cream, and folks, it’s as close to heaven as a person can get on earth. Imagine chocolaty goodness with a warm center.

The advent of molten lava cakes is laying waste my plans on slimming down. I wasn’t hoping for swimsuit material, but I at least wanted to fit into my skinny clothes. Right now, I’m in my fat clothes and two and a half pounds away from having to buy a new wardrobe.

I wish I had more willpower, but sadly I must admit to having less than none. In my line of work, and because it’s a mile away, I’m at my local Sam’s Club at least three days a week. That’s because for less than $5 one can buy a rotisserie chicken that makes a meal for a couple of days. The croissants are to die for, and sample weekend is enough so that I don’t have to make lunch on Saturdays.

Since the molten lava cakes are a seasonal item, I can only pray for the season to come to a close.


The Great Bell Pepper Debate of 1986

This recent post by our illustrious mandolin playing, freelance writing, golfing, bona fide medical doctor (Dr. Bibey) about his proposed shopping trip today with his wife caused me to remember the reason why I do not go shopping with my own husband.

Now my Dear Mr. Demonic is a wonderful man. He’s smart, funny, and a fine, upstanding citizen. He’s been a good husband and a loving father. He has provided for us in ways that most men cannot. But for all his wonderful qualities, there is one thing we cannot do together.


As I indicated in my response to Dr. B’s post, with the exception of Christmas shopping for the kids (pre-Internet, now you can buy anything online), I don’t go shopping with Mr. D.

The reason: I would like to stay married.

Oh, sure, I said the same thing about working with Mr. D. I tried it about 25 years ago, when we were just dating. I was filling in for his regular girl while she was on vacation. The end result was the longest two days of my life, we ended up in a horrendous fight, and almost broke up. After that, I thought it best to give him some room. A man likes to feel his workplace is his kingdom, and my Dear Mr. D. is a king among business owners.

Ten years ago, due to some touchy circumstances that I won’t relate here, I took the bull by the horns and forced my way into his business. It was the best thing I ever did. It was hard at first, since what I was doing amounted to little more than a hostile takeover. In the end, it was good for both of us. I could see his world from his eyes, and he abdicated his role as scary, mean boss to me. That left him being the good guy, and he likes it.

But the better thing was to keep my desk with the office girls and his office down the hall. There are days when I don’t even see him. There are times when he’s there, but we email each other instead of getting on the intercom. In addition, he goes out of town a lot. We’re like two ships that pass through the workday, with an occasional quickie in the conference room before people show up. It’s been so successful, now he’s going to transfer the entire thing to my name. I think it has something to do with taxes, and likely more to do with the fact he would like to hit the golf course more often.

But, back to shopping. I can’t shop with him, or for him.

Our temperaments are different. I tend to swoop down into the sales racks and leave if I don’t find anything 75% off. He doesn’t care what things cost, and he also likes to finger things. Unlike my previous boyfriends and husband, I don’t buy his clothes, not even his underwear. That’s because he’s incredibly fussy. He likes to match the smallest, minutest threads on a pair of pants to another on a tie.

We used to shop for groceries together when first married. We’d make a date of it on Saturday afternoons, after his half day at work and before going out for dinner to a corner eatery with Ms. Pac Man in the lobby. There was a local store we liked, and I liked to go with him mostly because there was a check out girl there that had the hots for him. “Oh, no,” Mr. D. professed, “She’s just friendly…” My woman’s intuition kicked in the first time I saw Miss Hottie.

She was more than friendly, she was predatory. I promptly found a new store. (That was the Young Me. The Old Me is so tired out, she would likely say, “Honey, if you really want him you can have him.”)

One Saturday, as we were shopping together, Mr. D went to find something in the liquor aisle and told me to pick up some bell peppers in the produce section. We were making spaghetti that night. (Mr. D’s spaghetti sauce kicks butt, if you must know.) When we rendevouzed back at the cart, he took one look at my pepper choice and chastised me. That’s because one of my peppers had a small, almost indistinguishable wrinkle in it.

I’ve never lived that one down. He still looks over my produce.

Grocery shopping together came to a screeching halt when my son, Mr. D Jr., came into the picture. At first, it was because I would take the opportunity to go shopping while he watched D. Jr. as a baby. I came to enjoy those long moments alone, just me and my cart in Meijer Thrifty Acres. When the kids were a little bigger, they actually liked going to the store. They were fairly well-behaved and never clamored for sugary cereal or candy. They didn’t have much exposure to commercial TV, and besides, those things were considered treats in our house. Or, vacation food.

Now that it’s just Mr. D. and me in the house, we still go shopping alone. Instead of once a week splurges at Meijers, we go every day and pick up a few items, just like the Europeans do. Stocking up the fridge is only okay when there is a houseful of people. I don’t want to cultivate any more mystery food than I can take care of in a 15 minute period. We usually visit the same store within a half hour of each other.

I guess I could blame the entire shopping habits of the Demonic Family on a couple of bell peppers, but that would be a stretch, now wouldn’t it?

Thunderous Kitchen

I’ve written in other places about going home, and the things that happen when we all get together. There are six of us siblings, and we’ve always been loud, rambunctious and overwhelming. When one of us who lives far away comes home to visit, the rest get together and prepare a large dinner at my dad’s house.

Nowadays of course, there aren’t just the six of us. There are the grandchildren, and now a great-grandchild. The house isn’t very large, and the kitchen is a basic 10′ x 12′ 1970s model with very few amenities. (In fact, my father never seemed to have a decent set of knives ever, so I took to buying him good knives that were reasonably sharp.) All of us are pretty good cooks, if I do say so. My brother, now a computer programmer and law school student, worked his way through college as a chef, starting out in small eateries and ending up in a classy Denver area restaurant. He’s an excellent trained chef, but the rest of us have our moments, too.

The other thing we share is a dry sense of humor. We tend to pick at newcomers in the fold (new boyfriends, new husbands, new friends). We call this behavior “grilling” the person, like you would a steak. The intention is to make sure that person is worthy of inclusion into this very special circle. The outsider has to have a special sense of humor too. One such person is my best friend from high school. She endured my father calling her Suzie Q 35 years ago, and still shows up occasionally for a family dinner.

Last night we had one of those dinners at my dad’s house. The kitchen is always full of action, and it’s amazing that we can get anything done in there. My own daughter dislikes these get-togethers, because we ARE loud. Come to think of it, my husband never cared for them either. You have to be able to get into the action and hold your own.

My dad takes a beer and retreats into the sun room in the back of the house. He built it especially for these family reunions. The room is the entire length of the house, about 40 feet, with a table just as long in the center of it, and so can easily accommodate 30 people or more.

I ended the evening by arm wrestling my 12 year old nephew and throwing him to the floor. He got into my face after I teased him about his girlfriend. (You love her, you lurv her, lurv her, lurv her!) I think he was in shock that an old lady like me could do something like that.

Actually, so was I.


Children and Food Remembrances

This post got me thinking about children and food remembrances.

When my children were very small, I liked to keep a vegetable garden, and have them help me with choosing the items to plant. I would then force my then-seven-old son to labor on the plot, showing him which things I considered weeds and which were our dinner. (My daughter, at four, mostly planted flowers around our plot.)

I wanted them to see that food doesn’t come ready made from the local grocery store, that someone somewhere has to put a little thought and effort into making a plant come to life so that it will nourish us. They were surrounded by children whose parents’ idea of making a dinner from scratch involved microwaving a frozen entree. Everything else was McDonald’s and pizza. This may seem convenient to some, but it really doesn’t take much more effort to make something from raw, fresh ingredients. OK, so I’m a food snob, too. I like my food to taste different from the norm. And now, I am concerned about the additives that are put into food for whatever reason. Less is more.

One time, I asked my son where raisins come from. He didn’t know. I told him that they are really grapes shriveled in the sun. Of course, he didn’t believe me. So I took a grape and put it on a sunny windowsill. I told him and his sister that we were going to watch this very carefully over the next week or so and see what happens. It turned into a raisin, and he was totally awed.

The first time I made pumpkin pie from scratch, they couldn’t believe it. “Pumpkin pie comes from the store.” They thought it was a completely different animal than a carving pumpkin, and thought that a pumpkin’s only job was to be a jack-o-lantern. No, it isn’t. Sure you can buy a pumpkin pie from a store, but it’s not the same. When kids are little, they will go on fall field trips to the neighboring pumpkin patches. We took the little pie pumpkins, and I showed them how to cook the pumpkin down and make a pie. They still like for me to bake my pumpkin pies from scratch.

So it is with fire, too. The first time we had a cook out at the beach was for my daughter’s fourth birthday. All her little friends gathered around in awe over the use of charcoal and kindling. They all believed that barbecued anything came as a direct result from a gas grill.

We had always bought brussels sprouts. (I made them eat them by claiming they were round space ships. Broccoli was considered small trees, and asparagus were long space ships.) The first time I brought home a stalk of brussels sprouts from the farmers’ market, I thought they were going to go crazy. Now I always manage to grow a few out in the yard.

I always plant herbs, chard and lettuce in my flower bowls. It elevates them from the slug-filled ground, and the squirrels and rabbits are either too short or too stupid to jump into the flowers and find them. When I need a bit of lettuce or want some chard for my soup, I just go outside and pick it.

I’ve been canning tomatoes for the last couple of years, and I send some jars to my son in San Francisco. He appreciates the lovely tomato goodness in the dead of winter when he wants to make a pasta sauce.

All of this attention to food takes very little time and even less effort.

I just wanted them to know that our food doesn’t have to come in cardboard or as a frozen block.

Levels of Fatness

I was just thinking of fatness.

I used to be what I thought was “painfully” thin. People would comment that I was so thin, I would blow away in the wind. Actually, where I grew up, it was always very windy in March. Gale force winds around 80 miles per hour. Indeed, I have blown away in the wind.

I hated that joke about turning sideways, sticking out my tongue and looking like a zipper. What genius thought up that stupid wise crack?

The wonderful thing about the olden days was that I could eat and eat and eat and not gain an ounce. I vividly remember eating double Whoppers with cheese like they were no big deal.

Then I went to Germany and lived there for nine months. I went from a bone-thin 92 pounds to 105, thanks to bratwurst, jager schnitzel, spaetzle and Greek food. (Yes, Greek food.) When I came home, American food suddenly was bland and tasteless, and I lost the 13 pounds I had gained.

The best job I ever had was at the Post Office, or so my husband says. Somehow, I wrangled a position pushing mail around on huge carts. My job was to get it from elevator, push it over to a floor scale, have it weighed, then push it to where people were waiting (dejectedly) to sort it. Many of the carts weighed in excess of thousands of pounds. I kept all my slips and totaled them, just for fun. Some nights I would push around 50,000 pounds of mail. I was slim and trim, lean and mean when I worked there. I had arm muscles and leg muscles that went for miles.

I met my husband at the Post Office. (He worked there, too.) My husband hasn’t done much in the meantime to keep me lean and mean, slim and trim. In fact, he is the reason why I am a mother, twice over. Pregnancy will make a woman fat in no time at all. Sure there’s a baby in there, and some other stuff that has no purpose in a woman’s life. In fact, after gaining 42 pounds with the first one, I cried and gave up getting on the scale again. He wasn’t due for another three weeks. I jumped up and down trying to get him out of there.

My husband is also a consummate chow hound. He’s a gastronome. He loves food. I do too, but I have to stop eating before my buttons pop off, and I do. He doesn’t. He has very little self control. Anyway, at 6′ 3″, he can hide excess poundage pretty well. I, on the other hand, am a dwarf at 5′ 3 and one half inches, so ten pounds of extra blubber on me looks like I’m pregnant again.

My husband and I also indulge in really nice wines, usually from California, although we are expanding our repertoire by jumping to the continent of Australia. These days we are also auditioning the fine Spanish wines, like Temperanillo and Riojas. Wine might look light, but it has just as many calories as a beer. Maybe more so, since it’s heavily sugared.

Since my son left for college three years ago, I’ve gained a good 15 pounds. I’d like to have my son as a back-up scapegoat in case the husband one falls through. I can no longer wear tiny little slip dresses with spaghetti straps. That is because when I put those on, I look like a sausage in a casing two sizes too small. I threw away my over-sized tee shirts, because I felt someone of my age should wear something a little more formal. Now I am kicking myself over that move. I could use roomy and comfortable lounge wear.

When I look in the mirror, I see something on my stomach that wasn’t there before. It’s FAT. It’s rather unappetizing, but I’ve seen worse on others, so I’m counting myself lucky.

I don’t have time to exercise, and with the exception of yard work, am pretty sedentary. I like food too much to go on a diet, although I’m thinking of buying my daughter’s ADD pills. They’ve worked wonders on her. I tried several diet “aids” but the side effects weren’t worth it. Plus, I didn’t lose an ounce.

Damn it. I sure wish I was thin.

Someone Save Me From Myself

I enjoyed a wonderful Mother’s Day, which included a sumptuous brunch at a local high-brow eatery. Since I’m the mom and it was my day, I decided on the venue. I chose brunch, knowing full well that I wasn’t going to be coerced into cooking dinner. Not on MY DAY, people. I also chose the fancy-schmancy digs because I’ve had their food before. It’s some of the best this major metropolitan area has to offer.

On the way down to brunch, I was entertained by the two other Demonics, Mr. and Ms. Mini-D, who used the twenty minutes in the car to complain. Mr. D remembered our last brunching experience there (back in 1999) as chaotic and crowded. Ms. Mini-D complained that her feet hurt in her new high heels. I just smiled. I was getting my brunch, dammit.

Once we arrived, they were surprised. It wasn’t so crowded (the economy is pretty sucky, who can afford brunch), and they gave us a nice little table for three. There was a live band and we had to pass by the dessert table to get to the ballroom. The smell of chocolate was heavenly and we barely made it into the main dining area.

Brunch is best tackled diplomatically. My modus operandi is to stay away from anything too heavy. I won’t do a made-to-order omelet, just because eating one takes up too much valuable stomach space. I tend to scoop up my portions in tiny little tastes, thus leaving room for more opportunities. Needless to say, (and I’m ashamed to admit this) but this list is just part of what I ate: raw oysters, shrimp cocktail, luncheon meats and cheeses, stone crab claws, Caesar salad, eggs Benedict, sushi, mozzarella and tomato salad, prime rib, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, and pasta. Of course, there was an array of desserts, which included teeny-tiny creme brulee, raspberry mousse, chocolate covered strawberries, fondue, and yummy lemon bars. I washed it all down with some good strong coffee and mimosas made with freshly squeezed orange juice and plenty of champagne.

This was not the entire brunch, but is instead a brief run down on just what I ate. There was a lot more that I didn’t even get to. There was more that I ate and forgot. I’m a foodie. I tend to recall the memorable morsels of deliciousness and the more mundane items that neglected to entertain my palate fall off the radar and into the abyss of memory loss.

After engorgement, we went home. The sky opened up and the rain was cold and relentless. We were too bloated for outside activities anyway. My dear Mr. D settled down to watch golf. Ms. Mini-D took up residence in the basement. It was too cold for me to type, so I decided to watch “Mildred Pierce” on an upstairs TV. Joan Crawford starred as the mother who did too much for her snotty, spoiled daughter. Turner Classic Movies decided to make poke fun at mothers on Mother’s Day.

By 3:30, I had dozed off. I’m thinking that cold, rainy weather and dark skies made taking a nap a viable enterprise. When I woke up at 5, I still felt like a fattened pig. I was chock full of tryptophan and champagne, and barely made it downstairs, where Mr. D was yelling at Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia.

“I have to go on a diet.” It was all I could say.

“Yeah, tomorrow.” He didn’t even look up. He always says that when I mention dieting.

“No, I’m serious!” I always am, but like food too much.

“Grubble, gruff, maygle…” Mr. D often mutters under his breath. I don’t have a clue what he said, but that’s what it sounded like.

I can tell he’s not going to be very helpful. I’m going to need someone else to help save me from myself.

Well, It’s Official…

My lab tests from my yearly physical exam are in, and the results are this: I have dangerously high cholesterol. This, even though I take medication for it religiously and fasted for more than 24 hours before the test.

I also know that I inherited the high cholesterol gene from both parents. One died of a heart attack, and one survived two heart attacks and an angioplasty. I am a walking time bomb, a heart attack in the making. I know what I have to do.

I know what my weakness is. It’s food. I know this and my doctor knows this, because she enclosed a nice little leaflet telling me which foods to stay away from and which to embrace as My Lord and Savior. Unfortunately for me, it looks like I’ll be taking the Bland City route to good health.

There is a heavy curtain of sadness at the Demonic house today. I am mourning the loss, yes, the loss of extreme meals. Let’s face it. There’s nothing better than a really nice hunk of prime rib that has been roasting in its own juices, bathing in a crust of homegrown rosemary and slathered in garlic. If it’s Kobe beef, all the better. I’m a real fan of a nicely grilled veal chop, especially after it’s been marinating for a few hours in lemon juice and oregano. Last Sunday, I made the best friggin’ au gratin potatoes on the planet, using heavy cream and Gruyere cheese. The potatoes melted in the mouth and the texture of the cheese sauce was velvety and smooth. It was so tasty, I could have eaten the entire pan for my dinner.

My crab cakes are to die for. There’s very little filler, yes, people, it’s mostly all crab and Old Bay spice, with some egg and mayonnaise to hold the lumps together. I also make killer crab stuffed mushrooms, which have different cheeses in the stuffing and are crowned with a dusting of Parmesan. And let’s not forget lobster! Lobster! My favorite food! It is stripped from my diet like a son going to Sing-Sing is torn from his mother. Usually I won’t even use butter to dip the lobster in. A good lobster needs no butter, folks. There’s not only lobster tails, there are lobster corn chowders (mine kick ass), lobster bisque, lobster stir fry.

Then, of course, there’s the Grand Marnier souffle at the Ritz Carlton. Pop the delicate top with your spoon and pour the liqueur in. Accompanied by a little scoop of homemade ice cream, this dessert is heaven on earth. It’s the perfect end to a rich and heavy meal. And cheesecake! Oh, my God! I am mourning the loss of cheesecake, rich and rewarding, with perfectly dry graham cracker crusts and strawberry sauce toppings. Oh, my, and Godiva! The doctor said I had to give up chocolate! The horror of it all! My favorite Godiva is the dark chocolate with cool mint interior. No wait, it’s the wonderfully yummy raspberry filled starfish. No, wait, it’s the ganache centers. No, wait! It has to be oozing complexity of buttery soft caramel mixed with the luscious creaminess of pure milk chocolate.

Holy cow! Don’t tell me! I have to limit my intake of wine!!! The nerve of that woman! Less than one glass a day? And I have such an amazing array of wine in my cellar, too. Mr. Demonic is wringing his hands in joy. No longer will he have to share bottles with me. No, he can consume all of that liquid gold himself.

Speaking of Mr. Demonic, I’m most annoyed. He eats the exact same food I do, and yet his cholesterol is less than 200!

Oh, yes, and the last thing. Exercise. I have to exercise now. I was starting that this week, I was just waiting for my carnivorous son to go back to his West Coast home.

I’ve had my epiphany. I don’t wanna die! I’ll be good, I promise!