Funnily enough, I wasn't even aware of what this week's recipe was.
That's how out of the Tuesdays with Dorie loop I've been this summer.
As soon as I learned that we weren't being held to the "post twice a month" stipulation, I basically stopped participating.
It's been a busy summer here anyway, but probably no busier than a lot of other peoples' summers.
But I guess I just needed a break.
The other day we went crabbing. (I know, I just pulled a very abrupt U-turn there, didn't I?)
Honestly? I wasn't 100% into it. But we were also combining that with a stop at my sister's house to see their new dog, Stella, and it was a nice day, and it was a good little family thing to do…so…grabbed the camera and a plastic bag (for any beach glass or cool shells I might find), and off we went.
Here, by the way, is Stella:
Isn't she sweet? Well, okay, she looks a bit wary in this shot. She's around 7 years old – someone my sister knows (or someone who knows someone who knows my sister, rather) found her where he worked, and no one stepped up to claim her, so now, she's living with my sister and her family.
My kids love her.
After making friends with Stella, we headed off to the water to go crabbing. (Or crabbin' – the "g" on the end seems unnecessary.)
Now, for those of you not in the know, one way you can try to catch crabs (oh, the potential for jokes abounds, doesn't it?) is to tie a rope to a piece of raw chicken (drumsticks work well) and toss it into salt water that crabs are known to frequent. It also helps to weigh the chicken part down so it'll sink to the sand – crabs do their food-scrounging along the bottom. It also helps to make sure the other end of the rope is secured to something nearby, otherwise the crabs could just walk off with everything – chicken, sinker and rope. And then wouldn't you feel silly?
So there we were – some chicken drumsticks, some rope, a couple of fishing poles, and a hankering (or hankerin') for crabs.
We were after blue crabs, like this guy, which offer more meat than some of the other crabs in our local water.
And, to cut this potentially long story short, we got two. We spent oh…four hundred hours crabbing, and we got two.
Alex and Bill got them. They went off searching through the marshy mucky area while Julia and I stayed near the deeper water with a couple of chicken legs on some rope.
The biggest crab turned out to be me. I was feeling all fidgety and annoyed because here I was, standing around getting sunburnt and pretending to eat the ice cream (balls of wet sand) that Julia was cheerily serving up, and thinking of all the OTHER THINGS I COULD BE DOING IF I WASN'T STUCK HERE MANNING THE RAW CHICKEN ROPES.
Poor, poor, pitiful me.
I started to think of myself as having something in common with the drumsticks, which were becoming more and more raggedy as time went on. I wasn't getting any blue crabs – or anything near enough to "keeper" size of any kind of crab, but there certainly were plenty of very hungry small crabs down there.
See them? At least five, but probably six or seven, really, little crabs all climbing over each other to get at the chicken.
And in my mind, that was exactly how I felt. Not like the little crabs – no – I was the drumstick. And my family and everyone and everything else IN THE UNIVERSE were the crabs. Climbing and clawing all over each other so they could get a piece of me. And I'd be able to float free, if not for that little sinker weight I was shackled to.
Anyway, so that's where my grumpy head was at the other day. Everyone needed – no – they REQUIRED me. And I went along doing my wifely/motherly/whateverly duty and did what they wanted me to do, went where they wanted me to go, and set aside what I REALLY wanted to do so I could put all of THEM first. At least, that's how it felt.
I know. It's not something I am proud of – my complete descent into self-pity. But there it was.
We headed home, I tried to take a nap, I failed, I made french fries, Bill cooked up the two crabs and some shrimp, dinner was very good, the kids went to bed, and I ended up watching this show called "Ghost Whisperer" that I've never watched before but Bill was watching it and he said it was pretty good.
So fine, we'll watch it. He had the remote.
Have you ever watched it? It's similar to "Medium," which I love, only the main character (Melinda? I know it begins with an M) doesn't work for law enforcement, she has a little antique shop. And "Medium" is based on a real person, whereas I believe "Ghost Whisperer" isn't.
Anyway, this episode involved a 6-year-old boy who had died but hadn't "crossed over" for some reason that would unfold during the course of the show. The whole goal of everything is for the child to understand that he was, in fact, dead, and needed to move on. And for his parents to realize that even though their son is gone from this life, he loves them and does not blame anyone and everything will be okay. As if the loss of a 6-year-old child can ever be "okay." But I digress.
Anyway, we eventually find out (SPOILER ALERT) that the reason the little boy died was because the vehicle he and his mom and his baby sister were in was a clunker and kept stalling. And it stalled, naturally, on a train track. And, naturally, a train was coming. The mother, who was frazzled and distracted because of the stalling and her son, who, like any normal 6-year-old, was frazzling his mother, and so she, the mother, told her son to get out of the car while she took the baby out of her car seat and as the mother gets off the tracks she looks around for her son and he is BACK IN THE CAR THAT SHE TOLD HIM TO GET OUT OF trying to get this sparkly dangly spider thing that was hanging from the rearview mirror. (That's what he'd been bugging her about while she was frazzled moments before.) So anyway, the mother screams, the boy looks up, we cut to the oncoming headlight of the train…and that's what happened.
And oh, the guilt. The mother's guilt. If she hadn't been so distracted —
I was a mess. A huge waterfall of tears. And the tears wouldn't stop. Not when the parents finally understood that that woman Melinda wasn't a wacko and that she was really talking to their son and he loved them and didn't want them to be sad…not when he was finally "ready" and saw the light and then was really and truly gone (oh, definitely not then), and not when the credits rolled and were followed by some idiot commercial for something.
They didn't stop for a while. I wanted to go someplace soundproofed so I could just bawl until I was empty.
I don't do well with that kind of show.
I just instantly AM that mother. And ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL my grumpy crabby I'm-a-chicken-drumstick-being-devoured-by-my-family self pity came rushing in and crashed against this (okay, yes, it was a story, but things like that DO happen, unfortunately) gut-wrenching feeling of GUILT for being distracted…for not just enjoying the day out with my husband and children instead of spending most of it wishing I was somewhere else and WHAT IF ————-
It took a while for me to let go of that.
So, you are no doubt wondering, what does that have to do with a chocolate souffle?
Not a whole heck of a lot, actually. But I'm getting there, I promise.
Yesterday I posted about making Beef Jerky. I submitted a photo of the jerky to Foodgawker, Tastespotting and Photograzing, as I usually do with food posts, as long as I've got a fairly decent picture to submit. That was in the morning.
Later in the day – while I was waiting for water to boil for the pasta – I checked my stats, because I am unfortunately obsessive about that and the number of page views has WAY too much of an impact on my mood. But anyway, I saw that both Foodgawker and Tastespotting had published the image (I was getting traffic from both sites), and I also noticed that I was getting a bit of traffic from another site.
(This is where I circle the whole story back to chocolate souffle. Stay with me.)
People were coming to my site from Susan's site – She's Becoming DoughMessTic.
And it didn't appear to be from some older post of hers, either. It was recent.
So I went there.
Turns out it was Susan's turn to pick the recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie this week, and she's the one who's chosen the Chocolate Souffle. And normally the person who picks the recipe might say a little something about why they chose the recipe they did.
And Susan did this (you can read her post here), but she also went on to mention some of the TwD-related people who have inspired her in one way or another as she's learned and grown as a baker/blogger/caterer.
Dorie Greenspan topped the list, of course, and there were a few other food bloggers/TwD bakers on the list, and…quite surprisingly, she mentioned me among them.
I was startled by it, and pleased, and then I felt kind of awful, too.
I haven't baked with the TwD group ALL SUMMER.
I participated in Susan's Operation Baking GALS project ONE TIME.
I haven't been commenting on ANY of the Tuesdays with Dorie posts by other participants in I don't know how long.
In short, I'm a slacker AND a loser AND a self-pitying chicken drumstick with a hyperactive imagination.
So I got up off my slacker loser drumstick ass and pulled Dorie's book off the shelf and opened to the Chocolate Souffle page and started checking the pantry to make sure I had everything I needed.
And I did!
So I measured everything out and assembled all the other stuff I'd need (bowls, a whisk, spatulas, a souffle pan) and was basically prepped and ready to go before dinner was ready.
I couldn't start early – the ribs were in the oven at 225 degrees F and the souffle was going to need to bake at 400, so I just waited until everyone was done eating and the table was cleared and the kitchen was mine, all mine.
I uncovered my ingredients (we have a bit of a fruit fly problem at the moment and I didn't want any getting stuck in the egg whites) and got my camera out.
And with that, I was part of the group again.
So thank you, Susan, not just for picking the Chocolate Souffle, but also for kicking me out of my slackery lethargy.
And here are the ingredients: The egg whites, chocolate ( I didn't have bittersweet; I used semi-sweet), egg yolks, sugar, and milk.
First, you combine the chocolate and most of the sugar in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until the chocolate melts.
Then you add in the milk, and stir some more.
And then you add the yolks, one at a time. And stir. Or whisk.
Then you put your egg whites in a CLEAN bowl and whip til they start to thicken.
And then you add in the rest of your sugar and whip the whites til they are glossy and nearly firm.
Then you add about a quarter of the whites to the chocolate mixture and mix them in. (This lightens the chocolate mixture, which enables you to fold in the rest of the whites a bit more easily.)
And then you fold in the rest of the whites.
And pour the batter into your previously buttered and sugared souffle pan.
Oops – haven't finished folding yet. Here I go.
Into the pan it goes.
I set the timer for 40 minutes and peeked only at the VERY end of the cooking process.
My souffle had puffed up nicely – about an inch and a half above the pan. Yay!
I took the pan out, CAREFULLY set it down on the counter and was about to reach for my camera to capture the success, when THE FIRE ALARM IN THE HALL WENT OFF! LOUD AND INSISTENT! BECAUSE SOMETHING HAD DRIPPED SOMEWHERE IN THE OVEN SOME OTHER TIME AND NOW THE FUME FROM IT INCINERATING HAD TRIPPED THE ALARM AND I HAD TO SHUT IT OFF BECAUSE MY KIDS WERE SUPPOSED TO BE ASLEEP.
And while I attended to that, the souffle deflated.
And so then it looked like this:
Which isn't terrible, but it's not AS pretty as it was before the stupid alarm went off.
It smelled fabulous…
I called down to Bill, who was watching the Sox trample the Orioles, to ask if he wanted some chocolate souffle and did he want any ice cream on it, and he said yes to both. So I scooped some out and plated it up, and topped it with vanilla ice cream.
And here it is.
So once again, Thank you, Susan, for picking this recipe and for unknowingly motivating me to get baking again with the group.
If you'd like to make this (without all my accompanying drama), you can find the recipe on Susan's website, right HERE, or in Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours.
And if you'd like to peruse all the blogs of the million and a half (or close to it, probably) OTHER members of Dorie's Posse Tuesdays with Dorie, click HERE.
You can be a chicken leg, or you can be a crab. Either way, you'll be welcome on at our dinner table.