Chillin’ With Martha!- Icebox Spirals & Bull’s-Eyes! -278 eggs, 205 3/4 cups of sugar, 207 sticks of Butter, and 260 1/4 cups of flour used so far- 12 recipes to go!
August 18, 2012
Every now and then Martha has a recipe that befuddles me. I first attempted to bake Icebox Spirals and Bull’s-Eyes almost a year-and-a-half ago. The buttery dough sat in the freezer and never really solidified to the point where it could be worked with. Finally, in frustration, I threw the oozy dough in the garbage and vowed to return to this recipe when I felt I could muster the time, strength and patience to deal with Martha’s sadistic instructions. The recipe is simple enough. No eccentric ingredients needed. Flour, butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt are combined to make two doughs- one chocolate and one vanilla. The doughs are then frozen to solidify the butter just enough so the dough can be rolled out. Once the two doughs are flattened, the chocolate dough is place atop the vanilla, sealed together with a generous brushing of egg white. The two doughs are then rolled together into a cylinder and then sliced into discs that reveal the spiral pattern underneath. Another portion of chocolate dough is rolled into a log and wrapped with a layer of the vanilla dough, again sealing these two together with egg white. Once sliced into discs they reveal the “Bull’s-Eye” pattern. The difficulty of this recipe is the time one needs to dedicate to its completion. Each step in the process requires the dough be refrozen as the butter melts and becomes too pliable. This recipe took a couple of days to be completed properly. The entire time I worked on these, I thought to myself, “These had better be some damn good cookies.” I baked a batch of these for friends around the new year and placed them in little gift bags. They were accepted appreciatively as they were really very pretty cookies. The only problem was they were without any real flavor. Ultimately pleasing to the eye but flat on the palate. One of the recipients placed them in her oven to bake a bit longer so that the sugar would burn just enough to add at least a bit of flavor to these beautifully bland cookies. So thanks, Martha. You’ve given me a cookie that actually tastes better burnt.
I know it’s been a while since my last post. I apologize. There’s a lot going on in my life right now. The details of which I’m not going to bore you with. Instead, I’ll pick up from my last post and bore you with the details of my recent wedding in April. I promise this will be the last post about the wedding and I’ll finish out this blog with the stories that I love to tell so much.
In May of 2011 I joined my sister and two of her kids in Orlando, FL for an exhausting week of theme parks and touristy endeavors. During that time I really bonded with my twelve-year-old nephew, Valerian. I promised him that when he turned thirteen I’d take him to New York City. Later that year, the State of New York passed same-sex marriage and my partner, Dan and I were instantly engaged. I asked Val to be my best man and he was thrilled to be part of our special day. I arranged to fly down for the Easter weekend to Baton Rouge to retrieve him and then fly to New York where we’d stay with my dear friends, Andy and Kathy in Astoria, Queens. It would be just Val and me and New York City for three days before the rest of the wedding party, including my intended, would arrive. The night before Val and I were to depart Baton Rouge en route to LGA, I received a text from American Airlines that my flight was cancelled and had been rescheduled for later the next day with a five-hour layover in Orlando. This would’ve put us at Andy’s and Kathy’s home at around 1:00 in the morning. This was an unacceptable solution. I whined. I complained. I yelled. I threw a fit. And finally, I booked another flight for the two with a connecting flight in Philadelphia. What I didn’t know is that our flight from Philly was a tiny puddle-jumper that seated just a handful of people. The winds were terrible. This was April, after all. The flight over the city in the tiny prop plane was bumpy as the plane swooped from side-to-side. Each sway of the plane was accompanied by “Dear God!” and “Sweet Jesus!” from the large African-American woman seated across from us. Each time she did this, Val and I would giggle to ourselves. Secretly, I was terrified. I’ve never enjoyed flying and am prone to motion sickness. Even though the flight was only forty minutes, it was the longest forty minutes I’d endured in a long time.
We arrived at Andy’s and Kathy’s safely and that evening I took Val on the train into Manhattan- Times Square to be specific. Val loved the trains. He loved watching the people. When I use the word, “loved”, I mean the teenager of the word. (i.e. no visible emotion shown- I have about forty photos of Val in the city with the exact same expression in each photo. To those without exposure to teen boys, this expression may appear to be one of disinterest or even disdain. This is merely a façade. Smiling is simply not part of a teen’s face’s repertoire and smiling is usually not reactivated until college.)
Once we arrived in Times Square, I guided him through the tunnels and corridors to the exit stairs leading up to the center of Times Square. I looked at his face as we emerged into a world of artificial light and noise. I remembered my first time in the big city. He was spellbound and for a moment, I shared that moment with him.
I’ve always loved New York. It’s vastness. It’s diversity. It’s energy. Over the next few days, Val and I simply explored. We visited the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in the Bowery under the advice of my friend, Andy. We walked through Chinatown and Little Italy. We explored the Village and Chelsea. We walked along the new High Line park looking over Jersey. We strolled through the financial district and South Street Seaport. We took the Staten Island Ferry and had dinner in a seedy little bar my the dock. We visited Strawberry Fields in Central Park and stood atop Rockefeller Center. We stood in line at TKTS and got tickets to see Phantom of the Opera. Val loved the grandness of the production and even though, it’s a bit of a cheesy musical, it was a good introduction of the size and scope known as Broadway.
We exhausted ourselves each day and at night we slept soundly. Soon it was time to move to the hotel in Manhattan and await for the wedding party to arrive. Val’s mom, sister, brother and Aunt set up camp at the Hampton Inn a block away from our hotel at the Hilton-Fashion District. Dan’s Best Gal, Juli soon arrived with her daughter, Sofia. That evening we all walked down to Herald Square and Macy’s where unbeknownst to us, Madonna was making an appearance to sell her new perfume. None of us saw her or even sampled her fragrance. I imagined it smelled like penicillin and Astroglide. My sister, Nicole, likes to shop. That’s a bit of an understatement for anyone who knows my sister. Specifically, she loves to shop bargain-discount and thrift stores. I have no doubt that I’ll be appearing on a reality show about hoarding in about twenty years from now as she is starting to show early symptoms. I’m not being mean. I’ve seen her closets.
The next day Dan and I headed off to the courthouse to get our marriage license. This must be the happiest place in NYC. People from all walks of life were there. Some wore the wedding attire dictated by their homeland culture. Other’s look like they just rolled out of bed. (Not a clean bed, mind you.) Dan and I took our number and waited. Thirty minutes later, we had our marriage license in hand. Now we simply had to get hitched and have my officiant, Andy sign and mail the document back to the recorders office. Dan and I cried a little as we left. Happy, happy tears, of course.
We then met up with the wedding party at the World Trade Center Memorial. There was a lot of waiting in line and some pretty stringent security scanning. It was a lovely tribute to all those who lost their lives on that tragic day. After an hour or so we exited to across the street so my sister could experience the shopping experience of Century 21. What is Century 21, you may ask? It is one of NYC’s best kept secrets. Five stories of discounted brand-name merchandise. We spent more time there than at the WTC memorial, wait-time in line included. I hate shopping, but I obliged. My sister had purchased at Macy’s a pair of Bella Ballerina’s for my six-year-old niece, Reide. These are über-girly shoes that have pivots on the soles so a child with absolutely no ballet skills can still spin a clunky pirouette. They were cute but it was just too painful to watch her try to walk in them through the NYC streets. She’d have to hold guard rails with both hands in order to slowly guide herself up and down stairs. Uncle Dan, to remedy this situation, bought her practical walking shoes.
Once we conquered the vast crowds and the endless check-out line at Century 21, we all headed to South Street Seaport for lunch overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge.
We then headed back to the hotels for a little down time before having to meet up with Kathy and Andy at an Italian Restaurant in Chelsea for a wedding toast and pasta. Drinks were shared along with a few stories and then we were off again for a night of theatre. Dan, Juli, Nicole, Reide and Sofia headed off to the New Amsterdam theatre in Times Square to see Mary Poppins and my sister, Alyse, my nephews-Aidan and Val, and myself all headed to Union Square to see a performance art piece called Fuerza Bruta (Brute Force). The show was basically a loud party where the audience stood the entire time while the performers danced, flew and swam in a flexible swimming pool that descended from the ceiling just above the audience’s heads. A few of the ladies wore open blouses sans bras. This made me a hero in my nephews’ eyes. After the show, my sister and I took my nephews and their erections to a microbrewery across the square for drinks and nibbles. Dan then called me to meet him and our friends from Arizona, Jen and Zach at the Parker Meridian near Central Park South. We sat and drank, just the four of us, until the early AM hours.
The next morning, the morning of our wedding day mind you, I realized I was without my messenger bag. The bag that had our marriage license, our itinerary, and everything we needed to guide us through the crazy week. I knew I had it with me in the hotel bar at the Parker Meridian. I called the hotel and they connected me with security. I was just about in tears when I asked if they had seen a green bag. The security man answered, “Why yes, we have. Are you Mr. du Broc?” “YES!” I screamed and then thanked him profusely. I arranged for the bag to be delivered to our friends’ room with plans to meet up with them around noon at the Plaza Hotel to retrieve it. The destination wedding gods were on our side.
The entire wedding party set out for Central Park. We then assembled at the Plaza hotel to wait for Jen and Zach to arrive. The girls went to look for the fictional Eloise at her home in the Plaza Hotel. Aidan and Val went to explore FAO Schwartz and the Mac Store across the street. I sat at the fountain and thought about how, in a few hours, surrounded by friends and family, I’d be married to the man I love.
A few hours later, that’s exactly what happened. In the dark basement space of a popular Chelsea restaurant, friends- some of which I hadn’t seen in twenty-five years, gathered to celebrate our union. Andy stood before us as his wife sang, accompanied by a skilled guitarist, Here Comes the Sun. Dan and I were led down the aisle hand-in-hand with Reide and Sofia. The congregation, some with drinks already in hand, watched tearfully. The energy in the room was perfect. Dan and I exchanged vows. My sister, Alyse and Dan’s Best Gal, Juli each read a bit of poetry we’d secretly chose for each other. We cried. Quite a lot, to be honest. We laughed when Andy mispronounced Dan’s last name during the vows. We laughed a bit louder when I repeated the vows correcting Andy’s pronunciation. We were pronounced married. We kissed. Everyone applauded. We exited while Kathy sang Our Love is Here to Stay.
Everyone then ate too much. Drank too much. Shared stories. Danced. At one point, my dear friend and ex-roomie, Aaron blared a bit of New Orleans second-line jazz and a good old-fashioned second line march formed. We then had a couple’s dance to the song Dan and I once cried our eyes out to when I first left Kansas City to return home to NYC. We didn’t know if we’d ever really see each other again. It was Joni Mitchell’s song Both Sides Now. She sang it when she was a young soprano, but had recently rerecorded it. Time had not been kind to the soprano. She was now a raspy contralto and the song, once sweet and innocent, took on a different meaning altogether. It was now easy to hear the truth in a voice that had actually experienced life from both sides. Dan and I held each other as we swayed back and forth. We looked about the room. Husband held wife. Mother held child. Father held daughter. All of us swayed to the music and wept a little. Moments like these are precious and rare. Life is uncertain. The only certainty is that it will bring hardship and change. Hold each other while we can. Celebrate the love today for who knows what tomorrow brings.
Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way