Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cheese Danish and Marching Band

I feel sometimes that every time I turn on the oven I'm just finding a new way to hate myself. If that's true, I'm also some sort of kitchen masochist, but I guess I should just embrace that and move on, the way I've embraced my fear of walking anywhere barefoot or my blind and reasonless hatred for Nellie Furtado.

Today's adventure in culinary inadequacy involved mom's super easy, no-fuss cheese danish recipe, which I decided to bring to the game today. Reading the recipe, and seeing how little actual cooking is involved, you'd wonder how it could possibly be screwed up, but somehow I managed.

Mom's Cheese Danish:

2 tubes crescent roll dough
2 8 ounce blocks of cream cheese, room temperature
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
cinnamon sugar

Clearly, this is not a diet recipe. Nothing that takes this:

a lot of sugar

and this:

cream cheese

and puts them together:

mixing the filling

could possibly involve dieting. As if that wasn't sugary enough, mom's alternate recipe involves mixing a can of pie filling into that, too.

Anyway, the directions are, like I said, pretty easy:

1) Preheat oven to 350 F.
2) Open one tube of dough and unroll it into the bottom of a 9 inch by 13 inch baking pan or dish. Use your fingers to press all the seams closed.

lower layer of pastry

3) Mix cream cheese, egg, sugar, and vanilla. I also mix in some of the cinnamon sugar, but mom does not.
4) Spread the filling on top of the layer of dough in the pan.
5) Unroll the second tube of dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper. Put another piece of wrap or paper on top and then press or roll the dough until it is the right size to cover the layer of filling.
6) Sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar.

ready to bake

7) Bake 18-22 minutes until top is golden brown. This is where I ran into trouble. I baked for 22 minutes, opened the oven to see if the top was golden brown, and discovered that my top shrank:


"Hmmm. This never happens when mom cooks it."

"Yeah. You must suck."

That is, of course, one possibility. On the other hand, I am reminded of the story in Martha, Inc. about how the young Martha Stewart, when asked for recipes, would cheerfully give them out, but leave out some key ingredient or process so that it would fail and not turn out as perfect as hers. I'm certain my mother would never do such a thing, but my danish didn't come out like hers does, and my rice cakes didn't come out quite like hers do, and my cake box cookies never seem to come out like hers, either. I'm not trying to fingerpoint a super-dramatic "J'accuse!", but there was this exchange on the phone earlier:

"How did your danish come out?"

"It tasted good, but the top layer shrank when I baked it."

"Oh. That's never happened to me."

"I think I let the dough get too warm while I was doing the rest." I've learned from the Food Network that you have to keep pastry dough cold. "I left the tube out on the counter while I was doing the other layers."

"Oh, yeah, you have to keep that tube in the fridge until you use it, so it stays really cold. I forgot to tell you."


I mean, you know, thanks for the tip, mom.

Nobody at the game seemed to think there was anything wrong, since they polished off the entire pan and two of them cut the last piece in half because neither one would let the other have it. They could have just been really, really hungry, but I'll choose to view it as a compliment instead.

Speaking of the game, we beat the hell out of Georgia. I didn't watch any of the actual game, but I went and peeked into the stadium at halftime to see the bands. Theirs wasn't bad:

UGA's band

but ours was awesome:

Pride of the Southland's UT

Pride of the Southland's Power T

They did some kind of circle move which everyone around me was talking about and seemed to think was a huge deal:

I was pretty impressed, and clapped when they took their bow at the end:

Southland bow

Also, Nick Lachey was at the game somewhere, but we didn't see him.

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