Mushrooms ala Cocoa

Is it wrong to think that the mixed scent of warm chocolate and cooking mushrooms is fantastic?

This is the conundrum I found myself in one night last week. It had been a very long day of housework and taking down, packing, and storing all of the Christmas decorations. I had the remains of the Beef Roast and its gravy (which I had frozen to be used later, on a day like this day), sour cream, and some fantastic portobello mushrooms, so I decided to make a Throw-Together Beef Stroganoff for supper. I got some noodles boiling, and started sautéing the mushrooms in my cast iron pot, and immediately the kitchen began to smell delicious. As I stood there, my aching feet decided to make their presence known, as well as other various body parts that had been used and abused carting large and heavy bins around, and I felt in a desperate need for a pick-me-up. Thankfully I have a small bag of Chocolate Mint Cappucino mix in my cupboard, which made for the perfect cup of decadence.

I stood there at my stove, stirring the sautéing mushrooms and sipping on my cup of chocolaty goodness, taking deep breaths and thinking to myself how wonderful mushrooms and chocolate smell.

(The stroganoff was fantastic. I poured the left-over roast and gravy into the pot with the mushrooms and let it all heat through, then I put in about a cup of sour cream, and mixed in the noodles. There wasn’t much left for leftovers once my family got to it.)

A Fudgy Christmas

Christmas Eve was magical… in a snowy, swirling, hold-your-breath kind of way. We were traveling to visit the Grandparents, and it began to snow. It was dark, and in the dark the wind swirled the falling snow all around us. The highway was eerie; we were the only car that we could see for most of the drive. Once in a while other cars would appear, their red taillights glowing hazily around us, and then in a swirl they would disappear, coming and going in the gusts and flurries like ghosts.

As I said, magically eerie.

We made it, and spent a wonderful Christmas with the inlaws. Good company, delicious food, talk and games and laughter. We video-chatted with some relatives living oversees right now, and loved and missed them all the more.

Now the cleanup begins.

My house is a mess; it always is in the aftermath of packing for a trip. But that’s okay. Refreshed from the holiday and nourished with a large mug of steaming coffee I am ready and armed to tackle the house and the gremlins that messed it up!

For those of you that don’t know, I am fully convinced that every house has gremlins. They’re the ones that take and hide things you put in a ‘safe’ place, and they like to collect socks. Just one of each pair, because they have no sense of decency or polite manners.

Hawkeye & BurstThe boys have been reading their comic book constantly since they got it. My eldest, who likes to tell me he has ‘super eyes’ when I ask him to look for something (and then he goes around the house, bug-eyed, looking for it) was thrilled to find that his hero-self had the power of Super Sight. And my second son (who runs around the house as fast as possible saying “I’m Fast Man!”) likes the fact that his hero has Super Speed. He now has an excuse to run like crazy through the living room and the hall!

I have made two large batches of fudge. One was enjoyed at the inlaws’, and the second is waiting to be enjoyed with my side of the family. It really is the best recipe ever, and it’s SO easy.

You can do any flavor extract you like, but my favorite is the almond. It pairs beautifully with the dark chocolate!

First, put a piece of wax paper or tin foil in your 8×8 pan, enough so you have some coming up over the two sides. This will be how you get your fudge out of the pan.

Next line it all with plastic wrap.

Dark Fudge — Recipe Dark Fudge

1 can (14 oz) Sweetened Condensed Milk

3 cups chocolate chips (semi-sweet or dark)

1 1/2 tsp Almond Extract

Put all the ingredients into a double boiler (or a pot, as I do) and over low heat. Take a wooden spoon and mix, mix, mix. Stir constantly to keep the chocolate melting evenly and not sticking to the bottom. It will be somewhat stiff. Once it is mostly melted turn off the heat and then mix like crazy to get the last few pieces of chocolate to melt.

Pour into your prepared pan. Put it in the fridge to cool. After two hours, grab hold of the foil/wax paper and lift it out of the pan. Remove the plastic wrap, cut into square, bite-sized pieces, and thoroughly enjoy!

I did. 🙂

Being a Parent…Even In a Store

Yesterday was a great day. It really was. We found more Christmas decorations, I finalized my shopping list, and we all left on time to head to Rosemary’s doctor appointment. The whole thing was fun. Except for the shots. But I digress.

The point of this post is to go over what happened in the late afternoon, while shopping. The boys understood that they had to be good, or else they wouldn’t get the special treat I had in store for them when we got home, which they would get during the great Tree Decoration. Unfortunately, barely a quarter of the way through my list, my second son got tired AND hungry at the same time, and decided to run wild. He’s normally a fantastic child: obedient, sweet, loving. But this was anything but.

Now don’t hear me wrong, he wasn’t a monster, he just QUIT LISTENING. He pulled things off of shelves (which meant I spent more time telling him to put things back than I did checking things off of my list), climbed out of the cart (he has no fear of falling), and bawled every time I told him “No.” He opened a box of crackers and was ready to open the bag within the box when I caught him. Thankfully we were getting crackers anyway, and it was a kind I like. That went into the cart. The last straw, and the end of the shopping trip, was when I went down the chocolate aisle to get a couple small treats for stockings. I was going to get a dark chocolate orange to put in the boys’ stocking, when my son saw the gold-wrapped, hollow chocolate bears. I took the one he had grabbed and put it back on the shelf, only to have him snatch another one. This snatching race went on for only about ten seconds, during which I rescued about four bears, but in his disobedience he then knocked one down and I heard it shatter within its gold wrappings.

There went my money for chocolate stocking stuffers. And there ended the shopping trip.

I explained to him that the treats he had been looking forward to in his stocking would no longer happen, because of his disobedience. He would have to make do with some broken pieces of chocolate, which would be shared with his older brother, who was NOT happy with him.

The cashier was sweet and dear, and tried to convince me that I really didn’t want a broken chocolate bear, that they wouldn’t hold me responsible for the broken treat and make me buy it. And I didn’t explain to her, although I should have (nicely of course) that I wasn’t just holding to the “You break it, You buy it” rule (though I do follow that, and my kids are quickly learning it too).

I was parenting.

I don’t believe in laughing off bad behavior for the sake of the parent. No matter how embarrassing it is to have your child act poorly in public, no matter what they have done, don’t laugh it off in front of people and then deal with it secretly at home. Don’t make a public deal of it, either. Simply deal with it.

I was teaching my son the rule of Consequences. His behavior and loss of temper had lost him stocking treats and earned him instead a broken bear. If he had sat in the cart, as he had been told, and patiently let me do the Christmas shopping, he would not have gotten in the trouble he did (per his behavior during the entire trip, not just in the candy aisle, Sackett Man took him in hand when we got home) and he would have had some wonderful surprises waiting for him.

Now I know he’s little. So I didn’t go into this long-winded and adult-oriented explanation to him. For him it was more like: “You DON’T disobey. When I say stay in the cart, you stay in the cart. When we’re in a store, you DON’T take things off of shelves, and you DON’T open things in the store. Ever. Now you broke something. That was naughty!”

He got the message.

We ended the day on a good note. We put up the gold garland on the tree and wrapped it all in Christmas lights, and then our two boys, with chocolate on their faces, ran around and turned off lights and then stood, mouths gaping and eyes wide with wonder, at the magically glowing lights. They stretched out their arms wide, and Roman said “It’s beautiful!” and James said “Wow! It beafuful!” and then they readied for bed and heard a story about Christmas Reindeer.

And they went to bed with smiles on their faces and the glow of the Christmas lights in their eyes.