Monday, April 30, 2012

Barbecue Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I found this recipe in my GoogleDocs. I don't know where it came from but it sure sounds yummy.

Barbecue Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwich
from Veronica's Cornucopia (I guess)
  • 2 slices Texas toast
  • 2-3 T barbecue sauce
  • 2 oz sliced sharp or smoked cheddar cheese
  • 4-6 slices cooked bacon
  • 1 oz shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • Butter or margarine
Heat a skillet over medium. Spread the barbecue sauce over the bread slices, then over one slice arrange cheddar cheese slices, bacon over that, then sprinkle the Monterey Jack over the bacon. Top with remaining bread slice. Melt some butter or margarine in the skillet and place the sandwich on top of the puddle, scooting it around until the bread absorbs the butter. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until cheddar looks melted, then remove and melt more butter in the pan, flip the sandwich and cook additional 4 minutes and serve hot.

Makes one sandwich.

Veronica's Notes: Your sandwich will require several minutes less cooking time if you use regular bread. Also, the Monterey Jack isn't necessary but I like to glue the bacon, cheese and bread all together by putting cheese on both sides. Change it up as you desire!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Netflix for Baby Clothes

I have long thought there is a finite amount of baby clothes in the universe.  Yes, there's always new stuff to buy, but as soon as that happens, some raggedy onesie goes off to the big crib in the sky.  Further, I think the passing of baby clothes around from old parents to new parents is a rite of passage for all of us.

The Brave Astronaut attic currently has several boxes of clothes in it.  Some have come from friends with children older (and now bigger) than LBA and SoBA.  There are boxes that Mrs. BA has put up there, waiting for the next clothing donation truck to rumble by.  And we have passed along our fair share to neighbors in town as well.

So when I read this article (nearly a year ago, now), I was not the least bit surprised.  I'm just surprised it took this long (and that I didn't get the idea out there first).  It is a brilliant idea, given the fact that kids grow out of things so quickly (many of the clothes that we received often still had the tags on them!).  Although now it seems the website has gone silent.  A Marketing Opportunity for the Brave Astronaut!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tennessee - #16, June 1, 1796

Tennessee is our next stop on our trip around the country. It is also the second state in a row (following Kentucky last week) that I have not been to, yet.  Tennessee was nearly admitted to the Union in the days following the American Revolution as the State of Franklin, but the admission was turned down by the Continental Congress.  Tennessee is the first state to be admitted to the Union that was territory that was under the direct control of the US Government.

In the Civil War, Tennessee was the last state to join the Confederacy and the first to rejoin the Union after the conflict.  Tennessee gave more soldiers to the Confederate Army and more soldiers to the Union Army than any Southern state.  In 1920, Tennessee became the final state necessary to ratify the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

Tennessee has a significant impact on the industrialization on the United States, with the Tennessee Valley Authority created in 1933 and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which helped to build the nation's first atomic bomb in the 1940s.  The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville cements Tennessee's hold on the home country music in the United States.

Tennessee is credited as the home states of the two Andrew Presidents, Johnson, and Jackson and Manifest Destiny President James K. Polk.  Andrew Jackson also served as the state's first Congressman following its admission to the Union.  President Gore is also from Tennessee . . .  oh wait.  Never mind.

Currently, the Governor of Tennessee is Bill Haslam, a Republican. Both of the Senators from Tennessee are Republicans, Senior Senator Lamar Alexander and the Junior Senator, Bob Corker. There are nine members in the Tennessee House Delegation, 7 Republicans and 2 Democrats.
  • State Capital - Nashville
  • Largest City - Memphis
  • Date of Admission - June 1, 1796
  • Area - 42,143 sq mi (36th)
  • State Motto - "Agriculture and Commerce"
  • State Nickname - the Volunteer State
  • State bird - mockingbird
  • State flower -iris
  • State tree -tulip poplar
  • State University - the University of Tennessee
  • State Archives - Tennessee State Library and Archives
  • Population (2011 est.) - 6,403,353 (17th)

Prominent Tennesseans (here's a few lists to peruse, one, two, and three)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Potato Chip Cookies

Doesn't that sound outstanding? Sweet Salty Goodness in one bite? Count me in! Via the Smitten Kitchen.
"When I was in the 4th grade, my lunch table mates had a habit of taking the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that their mothers had lovingly prepared, (trimmed of crusts, devoid of frights like gloppy grape jelly) opening them up, arranging some potato chips over the filling and smooshing the sides back together again before eating them. I don’t have a single other school lunch memory to draw from. I don’t remember if I ever ate a Sloppy Joe, if my school district considered pizza a vegetable, or whether my mother packed apples or cheesy poofs (likely the former, drat) in my lunchbox; I also can’t remember the name of a single person at that table. But I have a have a crystalline impression, unmarred by time (and, frankly, the current brand of early senility that has caused me to need 20-odd minutes to recall the word “unmarred”), of the odd delight that was those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; I remember their crunch and I remember how they tasted.

"How they tasted was phenomenal. I’ve tried to explain this potato chip in a sea of sweet, rich ingredients to people for years and they, as you might expect, look at me like I’ve done lost my mind (nothing new, really). My husband, a guy who loves salt the way most people love chocolate, doesn’t restrain himself from looking grossed out when I bring it up. But I know the truth: they are wrong, the potato chips are right.

"And now, I have further ammo; ammo in the form of a cookie. Here, you don’t have to apologize for hiding the potato chip, it’s right there, in the title, and sprinkled on the top, like the very best sea salt crunch. This is no time to feign interest in being a grown-up. These are like potato chip sandies or shortbread; the texture is crisp, the flavor is butter, vanilla, pecans and, you know, a little something-something. They’d be amazing dipped in chocolate, alas, I ran out of time. And I’d like to think that somewhere out there, that office mate of mine from a few years ago who would crumble potato chips inside her tuna sandwich when she thought I wasn’t looking, knows these are for freaks just like us.
Potato Chip Cookies
Adapted from Emeril
Shockingly, we actually felt that these cookies needed more salt; just a smidge. Sounds crazy, right? If you’re using an extra-salty brand of potato chips, you might not find this necessary but I used Cape Cod, which is pretty salty, and felt that the salt in a crushed half cup was insufficient in the cookie batter.

I’ve included two “finish” options — one is the potato-and-sea-salt flakes you see on my cookies and the other is the chocolate dip I wished I had time for. I was thinking of these as an either/or finish, but I see no reason why both cannot be use. That said, I’m pretty sure the chocolate would steal the show.
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped and toasted pecans
  • 1/2 cup finely crushed potato chips
  • 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
Potato chip salt finish (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon crushed potato chips
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons flaked sea salt
Chocolate dip finish (optional)
  • 4 ounces (115 grams) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon butter, canola oil or vegetable shortening
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter with 1/2 cup of the sugar until lightly and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla and table salt, if using, until smooth. Add the pecans, 1/2 cup crushed potato chips and flour together and mix until just combined.

Place the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Scoop a tablespoon-sized mound of dough and form it into a small ball with the palms of your hands. Roll the ball in the remaining sugar until coated. Place on prepared baking sheet and using the bottom of a drinking glass (or, in my case, a kitchen tool I’m unhealthily obsessed with) to slightly flatten the cookies. Cookies only need to be an inch apart; they only spread a little. Sprinkle with a few flakes of the potato chip salt, if using. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake cookies until lightly golden at the edges, about 15 minutes. Transfer to cool on a wire rack.

If dipping in chocolate, melt chocolate with butter, oil or shortening in a double boiler or in short bursts in the microwave. Stir until smooth. Dip half of each fully cooled cookie in the chocolate, and let dry and harden on a wire rack.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Kentucky - #15, June 1, 1792

Kentucky was the first region west of the Allegheny Mountains to be settled by American pioneers. The region was part of Virginia until statehood was granted. The state has the greatest length of navigable waterways and streams in the contiguous United States; and the two largest man-made lakes east of the Mississippi River. Kentucky shares a border with seven states (care to name them?), only Missouri and Tennessee border more states (8). It is the only US state to be bordered by three rivers.

The Bluegrass State is home to the Kentucky Derby, the first race of horse racing's Triple Crown. The Derby is traditionally run the first Saturday in May.

Although Illinois is known as the "Land of Lincoln," Kentucky is the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States. While not born in Kentucky, Zachary Taylor was raised in Kentucky.

Currently, the Governor of Kentucky is Steve Beshear, a Democrat. Both of the Senators from Kentucky are Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul, son of Ron Paul, the Representative and presidential candidate. There are six members of the House Delegation, 4 Republicans and 2 Democrats.

Prominent Kentuckians (here's a few lists to peruse, one, two, and three)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Vegetables are good for you

Especially Brussel Sprouts. C'mon, you know you want some. These have bacon and raisins in them.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Raisins
Bon Appétit | March 2012
by Jenny Rosenstrach and Andy Ward

A little bit of bacon and a handful of raisins add a smoky sweetness that balances the slightly bitter flavor of the little cabbages.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 thick slices bacon
  • 4 cups Brussels sprouts (about 1 pound), trimmed, halved
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, turning occasionally, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Let cool. Coarsely crumble. (Make sure crumbled bacon is unreachable by children, or it will disappear before you need it again.)

While bacon cools, add brussel sprouts to drippings in skillet; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until well browned in spots and beginning to soften, 5-7 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add raisins, shallot, and butter; cook, stirring often, until shallot is soft, about 3 minutes. Add broth to skillet; increase heat and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until broth has evaporated, 1-2 minutes. Stir in vinegar and crumbled bacon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Vermont - #14, March 4, 1791

Today's post is the first state to join the union that was not part of the original thirteen colonies. Although, in this case, that's only partly true. Vermont was part of New York and New Hampshire before being made into its own state. Vermont played a significant role in the American Revolution when Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys staged a raid on Fort Ticonderoga on the New York side of Lake Champlain (which lies between the two states). Vermont is the only New England state that does not border the Atlantic Ocean.

Vermont is the leading producer of maple syrup in the United States. Just don't tell Jed Bartlet. During the US Civil War, the state of Vermont saw the northernmost battle site with the St. Albans Raid. I've been to Vermont on a few occasions, vacationing in Woodstock, visiting the best ice cream factory ever in Waterbury, Robert Frost's grave in Bennington (and the Revolutionary War Monument), and Calvin Coolidge's birthplace and home in Plymouth Notch.

For a small state, it has produced two U.S. Presidents, Chester A. Arthur and Calvin Coolidge.

The Governor of Vermont is Peter Shumlin, a Democrat. Vermont elects its Governors for two-year terms. The Senators from Vermont are Patrick Leahy, a Democrat and Bernie Sanders, an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats. Vermont has only one At-Large Representative, Democrat Peter Welch.

  • State Capital - Montpelier (it used to be the only US State Capital without a McDonalds - but I don't know if that's still true - it is the nation's smallest capital)
  • Largest city - Burlington
  • Date of Admission - March 4, 1791
  • Area - 9,620 sq mi (45th)
  • State Motto - "Freedom and Unity"
  • State Nickname - the Green Mountain State
  • State bird - the Hermit Thrush
  • State flower - Red Clover
  • State tree - the Red Maple
  • State University - The University of Vermont
  • State Archives - Vermont State Archives and Records Administration (VSARA)
  • State Historical Society - Vermont Historical Society
  • Population (2011 est.) - 626,431 (49th)
Prominent Vermonters (here's a few lists to peruse, one, two, and three - sorry C in DC, very few women to be had from here)

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Final March Madness Bakeoff Recipe

And so we come to the final week of Mrs. BA's March Madness Bake-off Contest.  She made it out of the Sweet 16 (the first round) with her kick@$$ Pecan Lace Cookies, through the Elite 8 with her Butterscotch Cashew Bars, and out of the Final Four with her sinfully rich, Chocolate Blackout Cake.  The Championship Round was "Bring Your Best."  She experimented with one recipe, which was determined by the R & D team that, while good, it was not the "Best."

So she went this way.  The cake was, of course, amazing.  However, she came in second.

Gateau de Crepes
(from the New York Times Magazine, May 15, 2005)

For the crepe batter: 
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 7 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch salt 
For the vanilla pastry cream: 
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped 
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted 
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
For the assembly:
  • Corn oil
  • 2 cups heavy cream 
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or more 
  • 3 tablespoons Kirsch 
  • Confectioners' sugar 
  1. The day before, make the crepe batter and the pastry cream. Batter: In a small pan, cook the butter until brown like hazelnuts. Set aside. In another small pan, heat the milk until steaming; allow to cool for 10 minutes. In a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the eggs, flour, sugar and salt. Slowly add the hot milk and browned butter. Pour into a container with a spout, cover and refrigerate overnight. 
  2. Pastry cream: Bring the milk with the vanilla bean (and scrapings) to a boil, then set aside for 10 minutes; remove bean. Fill a large bowl with ice and set aside a small bowl that can hold the finished pastry cream and be placed in this ice bath. 
  3. In a medium heavy-bottomed pan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch. Gradually whisk in the hot milk, then place pan over high heat and bring to a boil, whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes. Press the pastry cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the small bowl. Set the bowl in the ice bath and stir until the temperature reaches 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Stir in the butter. When completely cool, cover and refrigerate. 
  4. Assemble the cake the next day: Bring the batter to room temperature. Place a nonstick or seasoned 9-inch crepe pan over medium heat. Swab the surface with the oil, then add about 3 tablespoons batter and swirl to cover the surface. Cook until the bottom just begins to brown, about 1 minute, then carefully lift an edge and flip the crepe with your fingers. Cook on the other side for no longer than 5 seconds. Flip the crepe onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat until you have 20 perfect crepes. 
  5. Pass the pastry cream through a sieve once more. Whip the heavy cream with the tablespoon sugar and the Kirsch. It won't hold peaks. Fold it into the pastry cream. 
  6. Lay 1 crepe on a cake plate. Using an icing spatula, completely cover with a thin layer of pastry cream (about 1/4 cup). Cover with a crepe and repeat to make a stack of 20, with the best-looking crepe on top. Chill for at least 2 hours. Set out for 30 minutes before serving. If you have a blowtorch for crème brûlée, sprinkle the top crepe with 2 tablespoons sugar and caramelize with the torch; otherwise, dust with confectioners' sugar. Slice like a cake. 
Batter adapted from ''Joy of Cooking.''
Pastry cream adapted from ''Desserts,'' by Pierre Hermé and Dorie Greenspan.

YIELD Serves 10
Originally published with THE WAY WE EAT; Building a Modern, Multistoried Dessert By Amanda Hesser, May 15, 2005

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Rhode Island - #13, May 29, 1790

Today's post is Rhode Island - the last of the original thirteen colonies to become part of the United States. It is somewhat ironic (?) that the smallest state in the Union and member of New England is the final puzzle piece of the fledgling United States. However, for a small state, it has a really long "official" name (the longest official name of any US state) - Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. It is not clear why the state is named Rhode Island. There are some who say it is for the Greek Island of Rhodes and others who say it was the Dutch, who named it Roodt Eyland (Red Island) for its red clay soil. However, it is in no way an island. The state was founded by Roger Williams, who had been banished by the Puritans from Massachusetts for his religious beliefs, as a place for "only civil things."

Rhode Island is the home to the Ivy League's Brown University, where both of the Brave Astronaut's parents went. In fact - the family lore is that the two of them met on a park bench on the campus after being set up by a mutual friend. They never saw or dated anyone else. My mother grew up in Providence and never wanted to go anywhere else to college.

Rhode Island is also home to Newport - the playground of the rich and famous. One can tour several mansions of Gilded Age scions, including the Astors, the Vanderbilts, and the Bouviers. In the early part of the 20th Century, Newport was the home of the America's Cup races and on land, the International Tennis Hall of Fame may be found there.

For a small state, it holds a number of famous firsts:
  • The first law prohibiting slavery in North America was passed in Rhode Island on May 18, 1652.
  • Slater Mill in Pawtucket is regarded as the birth place of the Industrial Revolution in the US.
  • The oldest Fourth of July Parade in the country is held in Bristol, Rhode Island.
  • Ann Smith Franklin (Benjamin Franklin's sister-in-law) of the Newport Mercury was the first female newspaper editor in America
  • Rhode Island was the first Colony to declare independence from Britain on May 4, 1776.
  • Pelham Street in Newport was the first in America to be illuminated by gaslight in 1806
  • Watch Hill has the nation's oldest carousel that has been in continuous operation since 1850.
  • The first nine hole golf course in America was completed in Newport in 1890.
  • The Rhode Island State House was the first building with an all-marble dome to be built in the United States (1895–1901)
  • In 1980, Rhode Island became the first and only state to decriminalize prostitution, but prostitution was outlawed again in 2009
Lincoln Chafee, a former Senator, is currently the state's Governor, having won election as an Independent, though previously was a member of the Republican Party. Rhode Island is one of the few states in the Union that does not have a Governor's Mansion. Both of Rhode Island's Senators are Democrats, Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse. The small state has two Congressmen, also both Democrats.
Prominent Rhode Islanders (here's a few lists to peruse, one, two, and three)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hope Springs Eternal

Baseball Season starts tonight - in fact, as we speak, the opening game (not counting the games that were played last week in Japan) is underway.  There has been a lot of buzz around the Washington Nationals this year - I think they are going to be fun to watch this year.  "I think there's 3 or 4 potential All-Stars out there" (that one's just for Amy in Ohio).  I have tickets for a game on April 13, purchased as part of a five-pack, but unfortunately I can't make the game as the Brave Astronaut clan will be otherwise engaged.

This weekend will also feature a little golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia.  the Brave Astronaut will be watching as he always does.

George Will pushed out his 2012 baseball quiz over the weekend.  How's your baseball knowledge?  Click on the link for the answers - but after you've attempted the quiz, boys and girls.

Think you’re ready for Opening Day? Prove it.

Name the person or persons who:
  1. Hit the most home runs in the 1960s.
  2. In 2011, joined Hank Aaron, Brooks Robinson and Pete Rose as the only players to appear in at least 140 games for 16 consecutive seasons. 
  3. Had the most hits in the 1950s. 
  4. Played for the Boston Braves, Milwaukee Braves and Atlanta Braves. 
  5. Had the most hits in the 1990s. 
  6. Had the most hits in the 1940s. 
  7. Holds the career record for grounding into double plays. 
  8. Hit .322 with 42 homers and 129 RBIs in 1970 and .333 with 37 homers and 122 RBIs in 1972, but finished second to Johnny Bench in MVP voting both years. 
  9. Pitched the most wins in the 1960s. 
  10. Has the most career hits without winning a batting title. 
  11. Led the majors in total bases in the 1980s, ahead of Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt, Eddie Murray, Robin Yount and Andre Dawson. 
  12. Is the only pitcher to hurl a shutout in four decades. 
  13. Only once in a 22-year career — in his last season, when he was 42 — struck out three times in a game. 
  14. Allowed the fewest hits per nine innings in a career. 
  15. Started more World Series games than any other pitcher. 
  16. Is the only catcher to lead a league in triples. 
  17. Turned an unassisted triple play in a World Series.
  18. Played more than 500 games each at catcher, first and third base. 
  19. Has the highest single-season batting average since 1901. 
  20. Led American League pitchers in wins in the 1960s. 
  21. Has 283 wins (more than 40 Hall of Fame pitchers) and 16 Gold Gloves but is not in Coopers­town.
  22. Played the most games of anyone whose entire career was with one team. 
  23. Was the only player to win the Cy Young Award after being traded in midseason.
  24. Led their three respective teams in career singles, doubles, triples and home runs. 
  25. Was the only lefthander since 1900 to win at least 350 games. 
  26. Won an American League batting title without hitting a home run.
  27. Had the best career pitching record against the Yankees. 
  28. Leads all third basemen in combined hits and walks. 
  29. Is the last pitcher to win at least 20 games in four consecutive season.
  30. Pitched three Braves wins over the Yankees in the 1957 seven-game World Series. 
  31. Pitched three Tigers wins over the Cardinals in the 1968 seven-game Series. 
  32. Pitched three Giants wins over the Athletics in the five-game 1905 Series.
  33. Pitched a record 24 consecutive wins. 
  34. Holds the National League career record for grand slam home runs. 
  35. Has appeared in more games than any other pitcher. 
  36. Had a career batting average of .356 but never won a batting title. 
  37. Got at least 100 extra-base hits in two consecutive seasons. 
  38. Won Rookie of the Year, MVP and Cy Young awards (not in the same season). 
  39. Pitched the most consecutive strikeouts in one game.
  40. Hit his last three home runs in one game. 
  41. Before David Freese did it in Game 6 of last year’s World Series, were the only two players to hit an extra-inning walk-off home run when facing elimination. 
  42. Was hitting .394 when the players’ strike ended the 1994 season on Aug. 12. 
  43. Said, “It beats rooming with Joe Page.”

Monday, April 2, 2012

Winning Recipe Number 3 - Chocolate Blackout Cake

So Mrs. BA made it to the final round. It was time to "bring her best." After winning the cakes round, we went into some heavy R&D for what she should make for the finals. Come back next week to see what happened and what she made.

Meanwhile, here is the winning cake recipe. It comes from America's Test Kitchen for a cake from a Brooklyn (NY) bakery that went out of business, which boggles the mind as it sold this cake.

Chocolate Blackout Cake
From the episode: Forgotten Cake, America’s Test Kitchen
Serves 10 to 12

Note: Be sure to give the pudding and the cake enough time to cool or you’ll end up with runny pudding and gummy cake.

  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate , chopped
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), plus extra for greasing pans
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour , plus extra for dusting pans
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Table salt
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 cup strong black coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the pudding: Whisk sugar, cornstarch, salt, half-and-half, and milk in large saucepan. Set pan over medium heat. Add chocolate and whisk constantly until chocolate melts and mixture begins to bubble, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in vanilla and transfer pudding to large bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours or up to 1 day.
[Mrs. BA would like to point out here that when she was making the pudding - the 2-4 minutes that are mentioned is really more like 18-20.]

For the cake layers: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-inch cake pans. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in bowl.

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cocoa and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Off heat, whisk in coffee, buttermilk, and sugars until dissolved. Whisk in eggs and vanilla, then slowly whisk in flour mixture.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool layers in pans 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack. Cool to room temperature, at least 1 hour.

To assemble the cake: Cut each cake in half horizontally. Crumble one cake layer into medium crumbs and set aside. Place one cake layer on serving platter or cardboard round. Spread 1 cup pudding over cake layer and top with another layer. Repeat with 1 cup pudding and last cake layer. Spread remaining pudding evenly over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle cake crumbs evenly over top and sides of cake, pressing lightly to adhere crumbs. Serve. (Cake can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What's Next?

So I didn't win the MegaMillions Jackpot.  My tickets were not even close.  However, in looking them over, I noticed in the fine print on the back of the ticket there was a clause that read, "if the winning MegaMillions ticket is purchased in the state in which you live, the holder of this ticket shall be awarded a percentage of the winnings."

As soon as the winner of the jackpot comes forward, of course, the IRS will come forward for their share.  But then, evidently the Comptroller of Maryland will also secure funds for those who hold tickets, provided they come forward today.

Evidently this offer only applies to Jackpots that occur at the end of March and the beginning of April.