Thursday, July 21, 2011

Awesome Thrift Store Find!

 Cuisinart DLC-2007N Prep 7 7-Cup Food Processor
As I've discussed before, I've recently become obsessed with vintage Pyrex. One of my favorite flea markets for Pyrex is on the other side of town from where I live. On my way home, I've driven past a very sketchy thrift store a couple of times. Last night, I was getting ready to meet my mom and was running a bit ahead of schedule, so I decided to stop. This thrift store is really, really sketchy. The ceiling was leaking and I think the place doubles as a Bingo hall? Anyway, I found this beauty, but it didn't have a tag on it. It turns out it was just $4.99! I wasn't sure it would work, because there was no place to test it out. I figured that a $5 donation to charity would be fine either way, but it does work! It's missing all the attachments except the main blade, but I don't mind. I am so excited to finally have a food processor to try out all the recipes I've sadly had to pass on because I didn't have one.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Note About My Grandmother

This night, sixty years ago, was the last time my grandmother ever saw her abusive husband outside of a courtroom. On this night, according to what various family members and news stories have told me, my grandmother's husband was beating her with his .38 caliber gun when her brother Chuck tried to intervene. All three of them lived  in  a small trailer in rural Iowa together, along with my aunt Bertie who was just an infant at the time. My grandmother was just nineteen years old and was far away from her home in northern Iowa and her brother was only twenty-four. On that night, in what was later characterized as a family argument, my grandmother's husband shot and killed her brother with that .38 caliber revolver, right there in their trailer.

There was a trial and the jury acquitted my grandmother's husband. She never saw him  again. The news reports say that my grandmother planned to continue on with the divorce proceedings she  initiated before the murder. My grandmother said in the new  reports at the time that "it wasn't right to let [her husband] go."

Interestingly, my grandmother has never once discussed this incident with me. It's not because it's a secret, thought until I started digging, I knew knew her first husband's name or even the name of her  brother who died. My grandmother first told my  mother this story when shes started dating my father in  1975. My younger brother knows far more details than everyone else in my nuclear family. I have a lot of questions, now that I'm older and know more about the criminal justice system and domestic violence. I probably won't ask right now, though. It doesn't seem right to make her think about these painful memories given how the last year has gone.

Fifty-nine years ago, my grandmother married my grandfather. They had five more children, including my father and my grandfather adopted my aunt Bertie as well. This spring, my grandfather fell and hurt himself severely. Since then, his medical condition has been declining and he has been moved into a nursing home. My grandmother remains in her independent living apartment. For the first time in fifty-nine years, she spends her days without my grandfather. My grandmother can no longer drive due to her glaucoma, so she relies on others to take her to see my grandfather and to bring her the necessities. She spends many of her days alone in her apartment.

I've been hanging out with my grandmother a lot this summer because I know she's lonely and we have a good time together. When I was a child, these grandparents took care of me every day until I went to kindergarten. They watched me grow up and turn into the woman  I am. My grandmother is also the best baker in the  family and her recipes are a major source of inspiration.

What I didn't realize about my grandmother until my recent revelations about her life is what a bad ass she really is. She was practically a child herself when she tried to leave her abusive husband with their child in 1951. She went back home after her husband was acquitted of murder and found a new love for herself and her daughter. Besides that, she had six children with no anesthesia! My grandmother is a fighter who always had a sense of what is right and what she wanted. Even now, that remains true as she stubbornly stays in her apartment and maintains an unwavering hope that my grandfather will improve and be able to return to their home together. There are countless other examples of her deciding something and then making it so.

I love you, Grandma. You remind me that the most important things are worth the struggle. As they say, keep loving, keep fighting. You're awesome.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Strawberry Cream Cake

This weekend was great! I finished up a whole bunch of work for my journal this week and after my class for the legal clinic on Friday I was free, free, free! My friend Allison came to Iowa City to visit because she just moved back to the Midwest for graduate school. That was great, too!

On Saturday, I made this strawberry cake. The recipe is essentially this recipe from She Simmers, except I didn't make the cake from scratch, I doubled the filling recipe, and I put a frosting on top.  I baked a white box cake in my 10" spring form pan and then split is in half. The filling is cream cheese, whipping cream, sugar, gelatin, and strawberry. I put the pink topping on because I am really bad at splitting and the top ended up breaking when I moved it. The topping is just margarine (I know, I know, but butter is expensive right now and I had a stick of margarine), pureed strawberries, and powdered sugar.

I also drank this beer over the weekend. It has the flavors of ruby red grapefruit and ginger. Was there ever a more perfect beer for me? I do not think so.

This cake is really, really good. But also intensely rich. Five of us didn't even manage to eat half of it. And now everyone is gone and I'm going to leave it with Matt. Although, I worry that if I leave it for him in his time of intense bar studying, he might now eat anything else. At least it has multiple food groups represented?

Friday, July 1, 2011

More Pyrex

For the first week this summer, I did not have to go to Iowa City in the middle of the week. I cannot even describe to you how much more relaxed I felt because of this. Normally, I leave work on Tuesday night, hop on the Megabus, get to Iowa City about 7, eat dinner with friends, and then crash. On Wednesdays I do whatever remote work I can, meet with my professor who is advising my internship, and have my clinic class. At about 9 P.M., sometimes later because the bus is coming from Chicago, I get back on the Megabus and head home to Des Moines.

Due to my excess of free time and my general procrastination - what, there are write-on packets to finish scoring? - I've been going looking for more Pyrex. I admit, I love the hunt. Here are the most recent finds:

A solid blue divided casserole dish. I'm guessing this had a fancy lid at some point. I'm thinking it might go with a set of cinderella bowls I have in Iowa City, but I'm not sure. I think this will be a good piece for making freezer meals that I need to flash freeze into individual portions. 

Crazy Daisy/Spring Blossom Butter Dish! I love butter dishes, and I actually didn't have one already.

Spring Blossom/Crazy Daisy Sugar and Creamer Set. These are kind of strange. They're meant to be used alongside the Corelle of the era. I like them and was especially excited to find that the lid was included.

These are three of the four bowls from the highly sought after primary colors mixing bowl set. From the research I've done online, these are the original set from the 1940's. Now, to find the missing green bowl. These were a steal, by the way, and even though I don't normally go for solid colors, I knew I had to snatch them up. I think I have a new secret place to find Pyrex. They even told me they are processing a bunch of estates right now full of housewares...I will definitely be back.

These are a couple of Pyrex casseroles I picked up. I have a larger pink gooseberry casserole, so I decided to go ahead and add this to the collection. I like the blue pattern, so it had to come home with me as well.

This weekend is the 80/35 Music Festival in Des Moines and Matt and I have VIP tickets, so we have an exciting weekend planned. Perhaps even some baking will actually occur. We shall see!