This past weekend, Tony and I visited the Gerbers while Dad was also visiting. All of the visiting was mostly because of Tracey's birthday, which is coming up on the 31st.
I made Coffee Ice Cream in the new ice cream maker Tony had given me early this year so I wouldn't be at the mercy of our unpredictable freezer. This one creates its own freezing power, so there's no need to store canisters in ... our unpredictable freezer. The ice cream turned out fabulously, even though the first batch of custard was still warm when it went into the machine. The texture was decidedly creamier than it was using my old ice cream makers, and the coffee flavor was very well developed, aided by a half teaspoon of vanilla extract I stirred into the custard right after straining it.
Dad said the ice cream was "your finest hour." I assume he meant that only regarding my ice cream making, not everything I've ever done in life. Hee hee. Here are two of my satisfied customers, posing for the camera:
They're posing because candid shots of people eating never turn out great. Because they're chewing and so are making chewing faces.
I like that Dad is now at the stage in his life where he has a beer with lunch and, well, I won't say demands but, let's say, makes it very clear that he is having ice cream for dessert after lunch even though it seems like the plan is maybe to have it after dinner. So he, Tracey, and I had some after both lunch and dinner.
David and Dad had picked up Tony and me in Ridgewood. Upon entering the house, I made a rare mistake in confusing the twins. Mike was wearing a T-shirt that was in a color more like Matt would wear. I should have noticed the purple bracelet. And if I'd waited a moment and seen them both at the same time and interacted with them for a moment, I would have known who was who.
While Tracey and David cuddled on the sofa and watched golf (a local guy was in the lead in the tournament), the rest of us played Muggins and Foodie Fight. I was lucky and paid attention—I called a Muggins on everyone but Tony—so I won our favorite card game. At one point, Tony was down to one card, but Mike prevented him from getting rid of it. Woot! Here's everyone else contending for second place:
For those keeping track at home, Tony came in second, followed by Matt. Pop Pop pulled out a win for fourth place over Mike, who'd gotten stuck with a lot of high cards.
Mike started out very strong in Foodie Fight. Tony, who read all of the questions so the game would move faster, wanted to award Mike two pieces for correctly answering "What is the name of a traditional English dessert that layers spirit-laden cake with jam, custard, whipped cream and garnish?" after Tony had said, "You'll never get this." Mike knew it was a "trifle." In your face, Tony!
Everyone, including Dad, cracked up when Tony asked Dad "Should I stop there?" after starting the question "What Chinese duck dish ... ?" (Dad isn't fond of ethnic food that's more exotic than Italian.) The rest of the question was "... is valued for its crispy skin, achieved by pumping air between the skin and the flesh?" And the answer, of course, is Peking duck. Because how many other famous Chinese duck dishes are there?
I caught up to Mike and, after Tony started awarding two pieces in whatever colors you still needed pieces in for a single correct answer, I won the game. For expediency's sake (dinner was almost ready), he had also started letting other players guess if the original person who had been asked the question guessed incorrectly.
For dinner, we had hamburgers, potato wedges, and a wonderful dish of asparagus and cherry tomatoes that Tracey has made for us before:
We (all of the adults except David) also killed off our second bottle of red wine for the day. But who's counting? *Grady raises both of his ears into the air to indicate two.* Oh, I guess Grady's counting.
Here are two more pix from a day that was filled with a bunch of fun things:
Tony in the big comfy chair in the Gerbers' family room:
And my obligatory Selfie With Molly that I posted on Facebook:
A week ago Saturday, Mark and José threw a birthday party for Mark's wonderful cat, Sam, who turned 18. They're always posting on Facebook photos of Sam wearing hats. Like this one of Sam in his party hat that José posted on Sunday:
In a huge coincidence, one of the party guests, Sarah, remembered having seen me and Missy in Beasty Feast earlier that day, when I was picking out a treat for Sam. Sarah lives a street over from us, and we hit it off right away. Tony regaled her with stories of cats he's known throughout the years, including the one his upstairs neighbor in Boston warned him was a terror but who adored Tony and would sleep in his clothes hamper during the day. He also talked about the cat from his childhood who attacked his mother every morning and latched on to her housecoat with her claws. (She totally deserved it.)
Enough about those cats, though. Here are some photos I took of the birthday boy and of Mark presenting a cake to him:
I sent a bunch of photos to Mark, who put some of them on Facebook. My favorite comment was from Mark's friend Fredrick, who posted this:
And finally, here's a birthday decoration and some of Mark's collection of Flatiron Building artworks:
When I grow up, I so want to live in Mark's apartment.
The Gerbers, Tony, and I went to visit Granny the third weekend in February for her birthday, which, ARROHK,* is on Groundhog Day.
It was a nasty day weatherwise: snow and then a bit of melting and then an overnight freeze.
Granny was in good spirits again. She told us stories from her childhood. That's where her mind almost always is: on her parents and siblings when she was young. Tony says it's not unusual for someone Granny's age to focus on her childhood when it was a mostly happy time, because it was a time without obligations.
I learned that Tracey and I both get our nose from the Callahans, Granny's mother's side of the family, not from the Mauls, her father's side, as I had previously thought.
On the wall behind Granny in that photo was a display of photos of the Helping Hands Club from the high school Tracey and I went to, Cumberland Regional, visiting the nursing home's residents, including one of a student with Granny. It's a nice photo that I took a photo of, but I probably shouldn't run it here without blurring out the girl's face, since I don't know her, and that would make the photo a lot less appealing.
Here instead is a shot out the window of the common area where we were hanging out:
And speaking of outside views, Granny was moved to a new room where she's next to the windows. Woot! And her new roommate, named Ginny, is a delightful woman who's very bright and friendly. Though Granny isn't inclined to be particularly friendly back to her. Because I think she's probably concerned that if she gets too friendly, it'll be an indication she's accepted her living situation.
Here's a photo of Gran and Pop from way back in the day that's in Granny's room:
We took Granny to Chili's again for dinner. She was reluctant to go because of the shitty weather, but we persisted. She once again enjoyed some beer, though in a smaller mug than last time, so it was easier for her to hoist:
Here are the 'phews at dinner:
And here's a selfie of Tony and me back at the hotel after we dropped off Gran at the nursing home:
I love that pic.
The night was still young, so Tony and I slushed/slid our way to the T.G.I. Fridays, our second chain restaurant of the night, which is a stone's throw from the hotel. Geez, if we go to any more restaurants with laminated menus, we'll be ... wait for the zinger ... Dan and Paul. Zing!
We had only wine. And we had it how we like it: generous pours in big-ass glasses. :-):
The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel, including a sumo or two I'd brought with me. Then we visited Granny again for a little while. We didn't see Dad at all because he had been recently diagnosed with shingles and so wasn't permitted to go to the home. He's a lot better now but still isn't completely rid of the pain and discomfort.
I took Granny some gluten-free, dairy-free Five-Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies I'd found the recipe for in the March issue of Martha Stewart Living. They are amazing in their simplicity and tastiness. I reckon Martha's people have already considered this aspect of the recipe but ... the next time I make them, I might try beating the sugar, salt, and eggs first and then adding the almond butter and then the chips. I tasted a burst of salt in one of the cookies because it's difficult to get everything evenly mixed when all five things are stirred together at once. Regardless, I'm very pleased to have this recipe in my repertoire. It's super easy and fast, and the cookies have a good texture that doesn't give any hint of their flourlessness or butterlessness.
Tony and I posed with Granny before we all left:
Oh, I should also mention that Dad was present to witness Gran being named Valentine Queen on the 13th. Go, Granny!
*As regular readers of Hawleyblog know.