Sunday, June 16, 2013

How Jen Lancaster Kept my Mind off New Kids on the Block (and how the Tao of Martha made me want to clean the spice cupboard and make Father's Day Cheesecake)

So it was a rainy Tuesday in Portland. Shocking, right? It seemed like everyone I knew was at the New Kids on the Block, Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees concert in Pittsburgh and I was bummed. Who doesn't want to go relive their childhood with a bunch of middle aged women getting drunk and oogling washed up 90's boy bands?

Instead of mopping and checking facebook like a crazy stalker to watch the newsfeed action, I talked my husband to spending the entire day in Portland so I could see Jen Lancaster. For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure, this is an awesome experience. She is funny, down to earth and you can really see how her books are written and how her brain works. Mid topic she will be reminded of something else and you will follow her down the verbal rabbit hole until she gets back to the orginal story ten minutes later. All of her books have had places that made me laugh, tears streaming down my face and trying so hard not to shake the bed as to wake my slumbering husband next to me -- some books more than others. This woman can entertain me with antics of her mis-behaved pets, projects gone awry and pretty much anything she wants to talk about for hours.

I was so excited to see her again (I was able to attend her Portland book signing of Jeneration X last year too.) I always have these big things in mind when I see people who I absolutely love. I want to tell them how their work (be it musical or authoring some of my favorite books) has impacted my life or thoughts or gush about how much I love them. Instead, I just stand there awkwardly and don't know what to say. (Or blurt out strange things that probably make them look into bodyguards or restraining orders.) As I stood in line to have my book signed, I kept trying to think of something witty and adorable to say. Something that would make Jen think I wasn't a crazy stalker and that if the time and place were right (for example not when my toddler is running around Barnes and Noble using the escalators as an amusement park ride) that we would be BFF's and go for cocktails. I too could entertain her with tales of my poorly behaved pups. We could bond over a love of Barbies and booze. She would soon become my mentor and guide me into the publishing world (of course in this scenerio I also have a book of poingant yet hilarious stories that is in pristine edited condition in my handbag to share with her.) We can laugh about our husband's crazy building projects and how yes, John and Fletch would probably be BFF's too. She would invite me to her next soiree and we would all fly to Chicago and B could play in her pool with her lovable and crazy pitt bulls and chase her asshole (her word not mine) cats.

BFF plan fail.

After an hour and a half in line all I could think of to say was are you going to Pittsburgh again this year? So now I am in her head as the idiot Pittsburgh girl who is always in Portland.

She did tell me she is going to Primanti's this year if it kills her and I told her the Colossal Fish Sandwich is the best (there may also have been blabbering about minced meat fish and how gross that is. What I need is a BFF to go with me to this and smack me when I start to ramble about gross and inappropriate things.)

So all in all one of the most exciting (and embarrassing) nights I have spent in the Pacific Northwest (and I know I don't get out much. Most of my nights consist putting a screaming toddler to bed, a drink, the dvr and my husband who falls asleep about 7 1/2 minutes after sitting down on the couch. Needless to say, he no longer holds the rights to the remote.)

I really enjoyed The Tao of Martha but it was in no way what I expected. It was much more an Ode to Maisy. If you read her blog or follow her on social media, this will be a sweet (and yes still funny) and sometimes tearful book. If you have no idea about her life or her dogs, I suggest you don't choose this as the very first Jen Lancaster book you ever read. There were less hilarious escapades and more profound moments than I expected. Spending a year looking to Martha certainly taught her a lot and that is expressed in the book along with all the love she had for her first beloved dog.

I was, however, inspired by the trip to the Container Store and storing everything in my pantry in glass jars with super cute labels. That is some organizing I can get behind. I also love the idea of going above and beyond for every party. This is always what I aspire to do and turn into a crazy ball of stress who can't have any fun because the party is not going the way the party should be going in my head. I run around and snip at everyone until John puts a cocktail (or five) in my hand an suggests (orders) me to drink and calm down because everyone is going to leave and never come back and I might not let you ever host a party again.

Her book made me realize that maybe if I was more organized ala Martha and less let's make two dozen jellyfish out of coffee filters and crepe paper for B's Nemo party for three days, things might come together a little more enjoyably for everyone involved. Maybe I need to get my creative brain in check instead of letting it show up to the party a day or two before and insisting I start a bunch of different arts and crafts projects (or making butter molded into the shape of easter eggs and bunnies) when in reality it is too late for such beautiful details. Can I train my creativity to come out to play earlier than it typically does? Wouldn't that be a crazy and amazing thing to do.

Today is Father's Day and as we are pretty much as far away from family as we could possibly be, I wanted to do something special, especially after reading this book. A little what would Jen as Martha do? so to speak. One of John's favorite things is cheesecake and since I have become a teeny bit obsessed with clean eating/giving up animal products/not eating GMO's sugary treats in this house have been few and far between. 2 hours and $50 worth of organic junk food later, I started mixing and trying to convert and Oreo Cheesecake bar recipe into something that could be made a teensy bit healthier (every little bit counts!)

So I cut the sugar in half. Switched the sour cream out with plain greek yogurt and used flax for the eggs. At least my cheesecake will have protein, probiotics and omega-3's (that is if all those things survive the heat of the oven, which I am not positive they do.) And crossed my fingers it comes out for the best.

The recipe I adapted I found on and the link is here (if you are interested in going whole hog.)

This is how I rolled:

For the Crust:

1 package Annie's Bunny Grahams in chocolate

2 TBS Earth Balance Spread (or grass fed butter)

Preheat the oven to 325

Pulverize the poor little bunnies any way you choose. I used the food processor to grind them into fine crumbs.

Melt 2 TBS butter

Add melted butter to graham crumbs and mix well.

Press mix into the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 pan (I like to use a fork for the mixing and the pressing.)

Bake at for 10 minutes - (and start working on the filling)

Leave the oven on when the crust is done

For the Filling:

2 8oz packages of cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 flax eggs (or regular eggs at room temp)
1/3 cup plain greek yogurt (or sour cream)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
16 (or so) coarsely chopped "Oreo" cookies (I used Newman-O's)

Beat the cream cheese until smooth and slowly add sugar. Mix until the sugar is well incorporated into the mix. (So it's all smooth and not gritty)

Add the "eggs" and mix well (If you are using real eggs the original recipe called for them to be added one at a time. I just dumped all my flax eggs in as I made them at the same time in the same cup.)

Add the vanilla and the yogurt. (make sure to keep scraping down the side of the bowl too!)

Once everything is all smooth and dreamy fold in the chopped Oreo or substitute Oreo cookies.

Pour the entire mix over the crust.

Bake at 325 for 40 - 50 minutes (the middle should still be jiggly)

Let them cool for 2 hours.

Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight before serving.

So there was a lot of time involved for cooling and chilling so this isn't for a last minute I need a desert super quick kind of event. (Luckily my last minute this time was in the morning and not the afternoon as I didn't read the entire recipe through before deciding to make it. This is a bad habit I need to fix.)

But they were really good. Not as creamy as real cream cheese but they made my (desert deprived) tummy and husband happy.

Happy Father's Day all!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment...I love hearing from you!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...