Friday, April 25, 2008

If All Else Fails: Eat Cheesecake

Is there something in the air? I mean, besides air? Because it seems to me that a lot of folks in my immediate circle, not to mention my fringe periphery, seem to be in varying stages of losing their minds. I mean, I suppose we could blame it on April - as I so omnisciently and humbly warned you about. This April, while perhaps not exactly traumatic, is proving no less turbulent - per usual. Friggin' April man. The whole month needs a chill pill. The other 11 months need to take April out back and show it the business. I mean, January can push to 40-below for Pete's sake - so why does it let April pull this crap?

For example, I received an email this week from my sister with the title "random"; she had just been out for a run where she had the luxury of some lucid moments to herself. Dangerous, I know. She is a wifemotherdocter (her words in the email) and let me tell you - those roles by themselves aren't easy - but you run them all together and -- oooooooo, lordy -- I'd be writing myself some serious prescriptions and either crawl in a hole with my Oxycontin or maybe run naked down the street just to prove I'd unraveled my last nerve. That'd be one way to get the neighbors off your lawn. So, in the email - she used the word chaos 11 times as she described the endless crud this modern life demands of us. At any given time, her to-do list stinks of about 50 things that really do need to be done - and honestly, so does my list - and it drives me to the precipice.

Anyway, it really was a 5-star rant - full of the manic, multi-tasking energy that both of us are scathingly guilty of - and I cracked my knuckles to reply in kind. I was almost tingling as I typed, all ranted-up - typing my share of words in CAPS - firing off joyous expletives, describing my stink-butt infinite to-do list, my exhaustive fight with exhaustion. I mean, I-let-it-rip-and-it-was-SO-good. And I couldn't wait for her to read it and feel satisfied that I *understood* - and I was so thankful for email and that we could communicate across the miles. And, thank you, Al Gore, for inventing the World Wide WEB and everything and all that.

Later, she emails me and gleefully writes "Didja get my [expletive] rant?" and I'm all "Yeah! Didntja get mine?" - turns out, it never went through! So, "WWW" - let me get this straight - one of the most satisfying emails I've ever written just didn't go through? That's right. So, now I had to fire off a rant about a rant about a rant. I wasn't about to try to recapture the original rant, it was gone, gone! I don't know why I was so mad, but I was - it was one of those times that your blood boils and you kinda want to do something crazy like shave your head on the spot or go spill a bucket of paint on a table. I dunno. Still not over it.

Something in the air. Tony has been working 14-hour days for almost two weeks and is so loopy that he thinks everything he says, once he arrives home at night, is funny. And it kind of is, really. He gets home and his brain is pure goo - and he reminds me of a cross between a buzzed college boy and my nieces when they were around 3 years old and giggled really easily. So, it's been a mild joy to have such an easy target within close reach. And, he seems to be enjoying the self effacement as well, which really just reminds me of a nice, synergistic host-parasitic relationship. Cozy.

And, is it me, or does everyone seem to be suffering from insomnia? What is that? I'm almost beginning to think there is something seasonal to it - like dogs shedding their winter coats. I guess what confounds me is I cannot fathom just how many more hours I must shed before I can sleep normally again. I've been shedding my winter-sleep-coat for months now, enough is enough. Speaking of enough is enough, there is a guy I follow on Twitter, and I think he perfectly
captures how crazy insomnia makes one feel - here is his Twitter about it:

Here's the plan: I'm going to grow a goatee and put on an HEV suit and hunt down my insomnia and stab it in the head with a pen" - from Twitter

OH! Had I written that missive myself! See? Something in the air. Then again, without all of this angst - how would we ever hear of insomnia being stabbed in the head with a pen, you know? I suppose we can remind ourselves that suffering births plenty of creativity - just ask Van Gogh's ear.

So, with me sleeping about 4 hours a night and Tony working about 14 hours a day, our life feels about as balanced as Donald Trump's hair in a swift breeze. It's rough. So, I asked my beloved, my peach, my boom boom - "what oh what could I bake for you, beloved, to make your week better" - and he replied "Cheesecake". So, I guess when things are rocky, splintery, icky, bumpy, sleepless, and crappy - the thing to do is to make some smooth, silky, melt-in-your-mouth cheesecake - and then eat it. So I did. And then we did.

Oh, and I almost forgot - on top of everything else - I was diagnosed with Dry Eye Syndrome this week. This, after feeling for the last 2 weeks like I just might want to RIP my eyeballs out of my head. Could barely look at my computer screen this week. However, I did find that Twittering about it actually did help, but I don't know why. I just simply cannot tell you how satisfying it is to express something on Twitter in 140 characters or less and hit enter. SO satisfying! It's like Starbucks in word form, I kid you not. Twitterloo!

White Chocolate Cheesecake

If you like cheesecake, this is worth your while. It is good naked (meaning, without topping - although I suppose you could take that literally as well) or it goes wonderfully with raspberry sauce or coulis. I find many folks are wary of making cheesecakes as the process may appear a bit challenging - but I just want to dispel all that, because please understand - I am not a talented cook. This recipe is pretty darn easy - and I will tell you, the water-bath could be skipped if you don't mind the potential of a few cracks in the end result (which often is not a big deal). So, either way - you know? To further inflate your cardiologist's pocketbook, you could toss some white chocolate chips over the crust, just before you pour in the filling for baking - sinful and debaucherous.

1 3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp. sugar
pinch of salt
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

10 oz. white chocolate (use only white choc. that contains cocoa butter)
4 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. + 2 tbsp. sugar
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 tbsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and adjust baking position to middle rack. Butter a 9- or 10-inch springform pan and double wrap the outside of the pan with wide aluminum foil.

Make crust: Stir crumbs, sugar and salt in medium bowl. Pour in the melted butter and stir until thoroughly combined. Press mixture into bottom of pan and about 1/2 way up the sides of pan. Bake crust for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake. Reduce oven heat to 300 degrees. Put a kettle of water on to boil, in preparation for the water bath.

Make filling: Melt chocolate in double boiler and stir until smooth. In large bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add sugar and beat in whole eggs and yolks one at a time - beating well after each egg. Add flour and vanilla, beating until just combined; add melted chocolate in a slow stream, beating, until filling is combined well.

Set springform pan into a large roasting pan and pour filling into springform pan. Pour boiling water from kettle into roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of springform pan. Bake cheesecake for 1 hour or until top is firm to the touch. Turn off oven and leave cheesecake in closed oven for a further 1/2 hour. Remove from oven, remove foil, and let cool on a rack; then chill for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight, before serving. Cover loosely in refrigerator; will keep for 4-7 days.

For a simple Raspberry Sauce - heat 1/3 c. sugar and 3 tbsp. water over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally - about 5 minutes. Add 1 lb. fresh or 1 (12 oz.) bag frozen raspberries and cook until thickened. Cool a bit, and serve. If smooth consistency desired, put mixture through sieve to remove seeds.

She's so purdy, ain't she! This could save you a whole day of therapy!


Anonymous said...

ROFL - How can one person be so dam funny? I'll be back and may even dust off the oven...just dust though!

Twitter Dee

hungryandfrozen said...

Oh gawd that cheesecake looks good, and not too taxing to make either. I love white chocolate (even though it's not what the 75%cocoa mass purists would technically even class as chocolate...)and definitely agree with you on its therapeutic properties! May isn't far off, hopefully things are saner then... :)

My Sweet & Saucy said...

This cheesecake looks deadly! I love the raspberry sauce with the white chocolate...such a great combo!

Ann said...

Anon - If you will dust my oven, or anything in my house for that matter, you are welcome 24/7. OPEN DOOR. :)

Anonymous said...

I twitter too and I love it. "Stink-butt infinite to do list" is exactly how I feel about mine. Great read, thank you!

Anonymous said...

I just love this blog post! You cracked me up and made me very hungry. I've had a rough weekend... where's my cheesecake???


Ann said...

Hi Laura - yes the cheesecake is very therapeutic! And, even though white chocolate is a bit "gauche" - I'm with you, it's still worth the occasional indulgence!

Ann said...

Sweet and Saucy - it was deadly - and I too loved the combo. Thanks for stoppin' by!

Lacy - hello again! I'm on my way over to your blog to say hi!

Ann said...

Anon - if you stop back, leave me your twitter info so I can follow you! :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Ann!

Let me know when you plan on making soap and I'll give you a call and walk you through it.



Patricia Scarpin said...

Wow, these are amazing photos! The cheesecake looks so delicious.

Ann said...

Thank you Patricia! It was delicious...and didn't last long enough, except on my hips probably. :)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful cheesecake and great pictures. Without the water bath, can you tell me what to expect with any cracking? Thanks.

Ann said...

Anon - I've made it without the bath - and had a few cracks, mostly along the top-periphery. They sort of "settled" as the cake cooled, became less obvious - and then were further covered by the topping. Even without topping, they really weren't too bad. Hope that helps. If not, please feel free to email me! :)

Anonymous said...

lovely pictures!! can't wait to make this cheesecake. also, the raspberry sauce totally works with it.

Ann said...

Diva, it really was wonderful! I so hope you enjoy it. :)

in other words said...

thanks for posting this purdy cheesecake. i made it for christmas and it was a hit.

my first cheesecake too!