Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Enter Mom, stage left

My mom is coming tonight for one of her rare visits. I’m very excited. She only comes up from Australia once (sometimes twice) a year. She’s been in Texas this past month visiting my sister and her family. Now it’s almost time for the New England leg of her American tour. Wohoo!!

Here’s what anticipation looks like at my house:

Last night at 8 pm I got home from water aerobics, rinsed out my suit and surveyed my domain. Not to put too fine a point on it, my domain was looking a little fuzzy. Two cats + two girls with a lot of hair = apartment with many hairballs. So. That was the first step. It’s amazing what a little dusting and vacuuming can do. (The Ella Fitzgerald version of that old tune was about what a little moonlight can do… I have no idea why I brought that up. It just popped into my head. I must be giddy with excitement and such.)

Groceries and cooking. I bought Irish Breakfast Tea because Mom went all tea-drinky when she moved to Australia. I don’t drink tea, but I like to provide. I also bought the sort of things you eat while you’re drinking tea – namely, cookies and crackers, or, in proper tea-drinking lingo, ‘biscuits’. For meals we have the fixings for chicken burritos and if so moved I might even make a quiche. I made a double batch of piecrust a few weeks back and the second crust is in the freezer, awaiting its destiny.

Birthday Pie. This gets its own listing, separate from ‘Groceries and Cooking’ because it’s an important part of family tradition. When my sister and I were little we were allergic to practically everything – beef, milk, sugar, wheat, corn. All that good stuff. Since birthday cakes tend to contain most of that stuff (except for the beef of course – even in Texas we don’t put beef in birthday cakes), they were not exactly a good option. So we compromised on Birthday Pie – still has some of the good/bad ingredients, just not as much as cakes. We still make it for birthdays, and I tend to make it whenever family comes to visit, since we so rarely see each other on our actual birthdays.

Here’s the recipe, in case you’re inspired. (This recipe is also still found on the underside of many Cool Whip containers, although the fine makers of that product don’t use the proper name for it.)

Birthday Pie

4 oz German Sweet Chocolate (or any other tasty chocolate)

1/3 cup milk

2 Tbsp sugar

3 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1 container Cool Whip, defrosted (for those of you who live in non-Cool Whip countries, whip up a batch of slightly sweetened whipping cream till it’s good and fluffy – your pie will be enormously rich but along the same lines as the usual version)

1 graham cracker pie crust

Melt the chocolate in the microwave (I check every 30 seconds to see that it doesn’t over-cook). When it’s melted and smooth, stir in the milk. In a separate bowl cream the sugar and cream cheese together. Add the chocolate mixture. When smooth fold in the Cool Whip. Pour filling into pie crust and pop it in the freezer for at least 3 hours.

The nice thing about this recipe is you can ‘slim it down’ – ie, no sugar, light or fat-free cream cheese, light Cool Whip, etc – and it still tastes good. The only thing you must be sure to do is use really good chocolate. I like the Baker’s German Sweet Chocolate for tradition’s sake, but using Scharfenberger makes a tasty version. Yum!

Other preparations: I have hung a little bag of stuff on my closet door. This is the traditional ‘Mom bag.’ My mother and sister and I all set aside little bags (or sometimes really big bags, boxes even) of stuff we’ve saved in preparation for a visit. Usually stuff we know the others will like. This bag also usually contains – anyone who knows my mom will not be surprised by this – various ebay purchases she had shipped to herself at my address.

Speaking of Mom and ebay, I was simultaneous delighted and a little apprehensive to realize, sometime last month, that my mother’s visit to Boston coincides with a MAJOR antiques/flea market that occurs in western Mass. 3 times a year. I am taking my Mom, the Trash n Treasure Queen, to Brimfield. I’m looking forward to it, and also am a little quaky inside at the very thought. She’s been talking for a week now about the pros and cons of her various shopping bags – which tote bag will be best for Brimfield? The largest one? The strongest one? The waterproof one? I have no idea what the ultimate choice will be. Also, no idea what she thinks she’s going to purchase there. Am quite intrigued.

So. To sum up: Mom’s on her way. I’m excited. My house is de-fuzzed. My fridge is stocked. Fresh tea bags and cookies in store. Giant flea-market excursion planned for the weekend.

The next installment in this series should be a good one!

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