Cookin’ With My Sister

My Irish Twin sister and her husband came into town from Minnesota for our babies’ graduation.

Seriously, a few days before they arrived, we were wearing jackets and thinking the rain would never end.  We went from that to a summer-like heat wave.  Overnight, we went from the 50s and 60s to the 90s with a heat index in the 100s.  Nothing in-between.

Between the heat wave and the noise and swarming of the 13-year cicadas, it was not very pleasant being outside.

But, we braved the elements anyway and visited a local winery one day with my niece.  We had lunch outside.  It was just such a long, cold, and brutal winter (especially for the Minnesotans), we hated to eat indoors.

Every time I visit my Irish twin sister in Minnesota or my sister who lives in Oregon, I spend time going through the cookbooks on their shelves.  I have long coveted my Irish Twin’s copy of The Fanny Farmer Baking Book © 1984.

I’ve tried to buy this cookbook.  Really, I have.  But, it’s been out of print for quite some time now.  The recipes in it are lovely.  The Blueberry Coffee Cake on page 578 is one of my favorites.

My sister finally gave it to me.  I will no longer have to worry that I am going to accidentally put it into my bag when I am visiting her.  That would be stealing, and that would be wrong.

She also gave me a new cookbook, Real Women Eat Chiles.  The bouquet of peppers on the cover of this book reminded me of those from my garden last summer.

Banana, Serrano, and Habañero Peppers.

Jalapeño Peppers.

While the peppers on the cover look “real” the woman does not.  The real women I know have white hair, wrinkles, and waddles.  Well, okay I am just describing myself.

And I may also be describing my sister - they laugh alike, they walk alike, at times they even talk alike (name that show).  Our husbands cannot tell us apart by our voices.

My sister and I like to cook together.  When we are together we usually try new recipes.

This was our menu for our new recipe meal this time:
Belge-ette De Veau (Laura Calder) aka Blanquette de Veau à l’Ancienne (Julia Child) aka Veal Stew with Onions and Mushrooms
Basmati Rice
Haricots Verts à l’Anglaise (Buttered Green Beans) (Julia Child)
French Bread
Bordeaux wine (2006 Château Côte Montpezat)
Heavenly Chocolate Cake Roll by Smitten Kitchen

Sounds fancy, huh?  Well, it was good.  Too bad my hubby was traveling and missed the fun.

And it really wasn’t that fancy.  Saying anything in French just makes it sound fancy.  We had veal stew over rice with buttered green beans and flourless chocolate cake.

You gotta love a recipe that includes a paragraph titled Technical Notes on Scum Removal (from Julia Child’s veal stew recipe).  Julia also recommended pairing with a Bordeaux wine, and the one selected was the only one available at our local grocery store.  I love wine, but I’m not really that smart about it.

My sister has celiac disease so she cannot have gluten.  We used rice flour rather than regular to thicken the stew.  We decided on a flourless chocolate cake and had trouble choosing between my friend, Laura’s, Chocolate Nemesis cake, or Smitten Kitchen’s Heavenly Chocolate Cake Roll.

In the end, we chose the cake roll because the description likened it to Ho Hos ® (and who doesn’t love Ho Hos ®?) and the recipe was from 1975 (the year I graduated from high school).

We carefully made the cake roll, and it was an epic fail.  The cake itself was divine, but it broke apart in spite of us diligently following the instructions to avoid this.  In the end, we stacked the pieces between layers of whipped cream, and I iced the entire thing with a chocolate icing that hardens.

It tasted just like Ho Hos ®.  Divine.

I’ll be making it again to try and get it to look pretty and not just to taste good.

But the best part of this meal was preparing it with my sister.  And not just because she helps with the dishes.  We spent the better part of the day in the kitchen.  We work well together.  The reward was getting to eat a good meal with a nice glass of wine with two of my favorite people in the world – my sister and, of course, by favorite brother-in-law named David.

Eventually, we got to graduation day.  My sister and brother-in-law have been working out and watching their diets carefully for a few months now.  Between them, they have lost nearly 90 pounds.  They look great.

After a few days eating their favorite foods in our home town and cooking together, they have to go home and work some of it off again.

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