Monday, January 12, 2009

The End of the Holiday Season

My oldest son turned 25 Saturday. He wasn't here, having had to return to South Carolina the previous weekend. Like so many in the financial world, he was laid off, but he found an opportunity to teach some Economics courses at a community college down there. It isn't much money, but it is a foot in the door. However, since classes start next week, he had to return for "new professor orientation" last Tuesday. So, he took his birthday cake with him, and drove his birthday present (sort of), a new exhaust system for his car. Not attractive, not fun, but expensive and useful.

Three of the kids returned to college Saturday morning. They drove my 4WD Suburban, and were grateful, since the first 90 minutes of the 5 hours were snow infested. I had to put my daughter on a 7AM plane Sunday morning, so I stayed up all night, and left 30 minutes before I should have needed to, because it snowed all day Saturday. Well, I needed that extra 30 minutes (imagine the fun of following 4 snowplows side by side across the interstate at 23 miles per hour for 15 minutes, and you'll have a picture of my joyous journey. Fortunately, my winter car is a 1995 Cadillac with front wheel drive, and I never slipped even a bit. Now, I admit that there are two 90 degree turns in my driveway, within 50 feet of each other, and I drove over the lawn to make them gentler. But still, I drove through 5" of snow like it was nothing, and over 30 miles of snowy/slushy/slick roads without incident. Gotta love the "winter beater".

Of course, my daughter's plane was cancelled, as were 3 after hers,
and the airline provided buses to Philly so the other 3 planes could make their connections, but not for her plane, so she sat in our local airport for 5 hours, calling me and bawling me out. Do I run this airline? Where's my big executive salary? And when is the government going to offer me a bailout? Oh, yea, I don't run any airlines, airports, or even the weather. Silly me. I sent my other son out the door for his 5 hour drive around 1PM, after the snow had been stopped for 12 hours, so the roads would be clear. Now we just have the little guys and the talented son, who, incidentally, is taking apart my breakfast room so he can begin ripping out the floor. I may be in hiding for a week or two.

The last meal I served before the kids left was beef stew with "corn bears". Think corn bread, which everyone loves, turned into little tiny bear shaped pans. Jeffrey got me those pans for Christmas, because everyone knows Moms love cute stuff, and it turns out everyone loves corn bears, too. But the star of dinner was Focaccia.
I found this recipe in the newspaper a while back, and never got to trying it. I
was bored while the menfolk were watching football Saturday, having wandered through the room and voted for the cute turquoise outfits, and then the adorable bright red ones, as the teams that should win. Yes, I know we don't vote for the winners, but it's tradition around here. I also periodically gasp with horror that they aren't playing in an orderly fashion, but cheer for them "slugging" each other. My sons laugh at their normally smart mother being such a football dope. I can, however, make a pretty good bread! So, without further ado, here's a great, boredom-eliminating Focaccia.

FOCACCIA - Italian Herb Bread

1-1/2 cups warm water
3 tsp (1 envelope) yeast
3-1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil

olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan
1-2 tsp basil
1-2 tsp oregano
1-2 tsp garlic powder

Sprinkle the yeast on the water, then stir in the remaining ingredients with a wooden spoon. This dough is really soft, so it will not be kneaded, simply stirred in a bowl (or mixed in the bread machine). When the dough is smooth, scrape it into a greased 13"x9" pan, and smooth it out as best possible. Let it rise about 30 minutes, until doubled in size. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke holes in the dough. Drizzle oilve oil ove rthe top of the bread dough, then sprinkle with the parmesan and spices. Turn on the oven to preheat to 375F, and let the dough rise another 15 minutes. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until browned nicely. Remove from the oven, let the bread sit 10 to 15 minutes to cool somewhat, then cut into 2" squares.
They tasted even better than they looked. There was none left.


SissySees said...

My favorite restaurant serves Focaccia. Yours looks great! I might have to try to make some.

My Nana lived in Chicago most of her adult life, and she and my grandmother (Nana, ironically was a great-aunt - don't ask) both swore nothing made it through snow like a big ol' Caddy!

Christo Gonzales said...

well that bread looks great so if it tasted better I dont know what to say...

you sure do have a lot going on and you take it all in stride...

Shelby said...

Oh wow, I can't imagine the stress of so many of my children out there on the road! Happy 25th B-day to your oldest and congrats on the teaching job! I know it's rough out there. Our university has put a hiring freeze on also. Its sad!

Bunny said...

You sound like me when I watch football with my husband, ok I don't watch i'm sitting here with the laptop! He'll ask me who I want to win, then he says, ok what color do you like!! If the Steelers aren't palying I don't care who wins! Yes we certainly got hit with snow didn't we!! Thankfully I was on vacation and didn't have to venture out in it!

jesse said...

That bread looks so perfectly fluffy! And I love that baby picture of your son... all the best to you and your family during this recession.

Pam said...

Your house must be so quiet now. The foccacia looks so tasty. I still have never made it...I guess it's time I try.

The lace looks great on the lampshades below. You are so crafty!

Paula said...

Oh, look at that baby! Do you remember your 25 year old being that tiny? Gosh, I want to reach through the picture and pick up that baby! Did he like others holding him, or did he just want his mama and daddy? He looks so darling, too, with that puppy! Is that Thor's predecessor? I remember you saying that Thor wasn't your first dog (plus the pictures of Thor with your littlest guys ... well, I did the math!) Well, your first born certainly looks adorable. I hope he finds his teaching career to be rewarding. Glad the others made it back in their respective corners ... including your oldest girl. Hmmm ... is she a chip off of her mama's block? Ha! Good luck with the latest home project ... take lots of pictures as your son works along. I live vicariously, you know! The focaccia looks terrific. It's one of my most favorite breads for eating, dipping, sandwiches, etc. Yours turned out beautifully.

veedogknitter said...

Happy Birthday to your son! The focaccia looks wonderful, as does EVERYTHING you cook/bake!

Anonymous said...

Okay I'm mesmormized by the bears and foccacia wow, I would be in heaven! You are such a good Mom!

Foccacia has been on my list of things to master! Why not start with this recipe.

pam said...

Those corn bears are so cute! And happy birthday to your son! The foccacia looks fantastic, it's one of my favorit breads. I use the one from the Hensperger book for Roman bread (I have pictures of it on my blog, I think).

Claire S. said...

Glad everyone got where they were going - in one piece. Your house must be REALLY quiet this week :-)

The bread looks good - I think it's going on the to-do list.

Happy birthday to your son.

The Blonde Duck said...

I love your dry sense of humor! You'd be a ball to have around! Did your daughter ever make it to school?

Tatersmama said...

MMmmmmm, everything looks fantastic!
I've tried making focaccia bread, but my local ( and I mean local, since it's 4 doors down) bakery makes the best I've ever had.
Besides... I'm a lousy cook at the best of times.

I don't know how you do all that you do, and still stay so darn young looking!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to your son! <3 And safe travels to you guys for the rest of the Winter season. It's a little hairy over here too, and I think 4 wheel drive is going to be a MUST for my next vehicle. I love my 96 van, but has so little traction these days. Driving is always a white-knuckle adventure.

Thanks for the Focaccia recipe! :oD

Greg C said...

Well at least he is returning to a great state. SC that is. That food looks great. I thought the little bears reminded me of goldfish. :)

Anonymous said...

I had to add that I made the Focaccia today. I had it cooling on the counter when I left with the kids for choir. When we returned, 1/3 of it was gone, and my husband greeted me with, "That bread is great!"

We love it. Thanks again. :o)