Monday, October 15, 2007

desperately seeking churros




















Today is Multi-Cultural Day at our elementary school, and the kids have been encouraged to bring desserts that reflect their heritage. As you might imagine, Surfer Dude is all fired up about this, planning on making some spectacular dessert to wow his classmates and cement his reputation as Iron Chef 2020.


There was a small glitch in this, however, in that he forgot to tell me about it. So Sunday at 5 pm when I rolled in the door from a four hour shift I hadn't wanted to work, (timed perfectly to wipe out the entire day with one short shift), he met me at the door and told me we needed to make crepes for school.I said What? He said Crepes, and then told me the whole story. I said But we don't have any French blood. And he said We can make something from any country we like, it doesn't have to be a country we're from. (Being a chef in the making, he considers French cuisine to be the top of the tier, so to speak, so it figures that he'd pick crepes). I looked at the clock and started totting up everything else I still had to do (grocery shopping, dinner, bake a cake for my friend Stacey's 50th birthday Monday, pick up Sasquatch downtown and get ready to be at work at 7 am) and thought crepes? I haven't made crepes since French class in Montessori school when I was twelve. And even then I don't remember them as being what you'd call successful.


I tried an end run and asked if he'd consider other desserts. I said that the crepes would be cold and probably wouldn't taste so hot by the afternoon when the dessert buffet would be spread out. He wasn't swayed. I said Well, if you're okay with people thinking you make soggy crepes it's okay with me. That hit him in his little culinary heart all right. He asked if I had any other ideas. I said Wouldn't it be nice to make something that actually does reflect your heritage? And before I could say Boo, he practically shouted Baklava! Let's make Baklava!


Now for those of you who have never made baklava (and this absolutely includes me), it's an ungodly time consuming process that involves lots of skill and practice to pull off. I remember being a little kid and watching all my female relatives come over to spend the day gossiping and trash talking and making tray after tray of baklava to put in the freezer. (I also have a clear memory of eating most of a huge tray myself once when no one was looking and puking for days as a result, with my aunt's shrill rebukes raining down on my head while I heaved). All of this flashed through my head and in a reflex move I said my word of the week. NO. Next idea?


But then I had a brainstorm. The FG's grandmother was full-blooded Hispanic and my kids love churros. So I said How about churros? He wrinkled up his nose and said Only if we make them from scratch. I'm thinking Rub a lamp, kid, but I said How about if we buy the frozen ones, but after we cook them you can toss them in some powdered sugar and cinnamon as your personal touch? To my amazement, he went for it. Patting myself on the back for my sneaky/lazy mom ingenuity, we walked off to the store.


They had no churros. Nada. So we came home, got in the car and drove to the other grocery store where I knew for a fact they had frozen churros. Strike two. I had no idea what was going on, but obviously there was some churro fest in town that we hadn't been invited to. My blood pressure was heading north. So, standing in the frozen foods aisle, we desperately brainstormed a Plan B. I'm thinking buy a pack of Twinkies at this point and he's wondering how long it takes to make creme brulee and where he can find a blowtorch. A small divergence of goals, I do believe.


We finally decided on a pie. Why pie? Couldn't tell you. We headed back into the aisles to buy ingredients (does Anthony Bourdain serve frozen pie? asked SD huffily) and then all of a sudden he stopped in his tracks at a dessert display that had, of all things, french pastries in neat little packages. With big, round eyes he took in the puff pastry and whipped cream filling. It was love at first sight. He didn' t even notice his mother doing her happy dance right by the spaghetti sauce because she wasn't going to have to make a pie. We bought three packages with different fillings and he's perfectly content. (I was dying to say Does Anthony Bourdain serve already made french pastries? but I know when I'm well off. One word out of me and I'd be up to my elbows in puff pastry until midnight).


So tomorrow he'll head off to Multi-Cultural day with a dessert that celebrates other people's heritage, but not his own. And you know what? I'm totally okay with that.

28 comments:

ped crossing said...

When you are done painting all the rooms in your house, will you come work on mine. We are at 4 years and counting. With five rooms left to go and more significant remodeling after that.

I'll go to Costco and buy you churros.

Hang in there, these are chaotic times!

Kaycie said...

I've got a third year French student, and every year at Mardi Gras, we have to make something French and different from the year before that she can take to school and share. We've made "langue de chats" (cats tongue), which are piped, very rich butter cookies, and another cookie that was dipped in chocolate on one end, I forget the name. From scratch, of course. I draw the line at King cake!

Anyway, I'm right there with ya, RC.

PixelPi said...

RC: Ever since I found out Anthony Bourdain (bless his skinny, tobacco clogged, Keith Richards after a shave and a haircut appearance) is a reformed heroin addict (or so he says), I haven't worried much about what he cooks. I wouldn't touch any of it. Would you really believe that was powdered sugar A. Bourdain was sprinkling on those churros? Good going on the French pastries.

PS I have made baklava from scratch. Once. It will never happen again. Ever.

-Ann said...

Great story, well told. We have a running joke in our family because my youngest brother would always wait until Sunday night to make these ridiculous homework/school announcements. ("I have to be a stop sign in the school play tomorow." Not that he ever did, but he did come up with other doozies.)

Willowtree said...

What's the big deal about pancakes with too much water in the mix? Baclava is wonderful, but I wouldn't want to make it. Churros are the perfect answer! I love them little guys.

Oh, you're on the list for next Monday.

ciara said...

well, least it was quick, easy, and painless. i think anything that doesn't require much effort is a-ok in my book. i remember once steve and his son made norweigan cookies (or somewhere around there) w cardamom. one taste was enough...i wouldn't even feed it to a dog lol oddly enough some ppl actually like those things

Woody's Mom said...

I am assuming your "happy dance" resembles my "diamond dance" in which case, we are soul sisters. Yes, even in Aisle 5 with the spaghetti sauce.

But let's go back in time to 1978 and my French class and our Food Fair. I made HOMEMADE chocolate eclairs, dough and all.

(Let's kiss that weekend goodbye.)

When I got to school, my ********** algebra teacher told me, "You better not be selling those for some club" and I could not, although I tried many times, convince the arsewipe what the eclairs were for. Certainly not for profit...

In the end, I had to give him one, pro bono, to get to French class. I am not over that moment yet.

My mother always brought up (though this story was never verified) that there was a time when "someone had to be a wise man the day before the Christmas pageant and it has ruined my life since" ... thus we lived in TERROR that one day *we* would actually bring home the assignment of giving up an old sheet and and old towel for The Pageant.

The HORROR.

Was this outloud? Am I being billed for this "sharing"?!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Wow, churros in the frozen food aisle? We definitely don't get those here. I always get the shopping list at 4 p.m. on Sunday for what my daughter needs for Monday's food technology class (and whatever happened to home ec?). Drives me mad. Just finished catching up on your weekend. Sounds very busy. Love the song, by the way.

Flowerpot said...

I think that's perfectly all right too. Why not?!

Potty Mummy said...

Hang on a minute RC. At what point during the baking, dinner cooking, grocery shopping, taxi service, and dealing with the french pastries did you find time to write this post?

Will your next song be 'In the wee small hours of the morning...'?

Jen said...

I've been in a baking mood, myself lately. It's how I can tell I'm pregnant. Last week I made a chocolate fudge cake with raspberry filling, topped with cream cheese frosting. It was beautiful. I couldn't eat any of it. Baked some cookies early this past week. I've got my sights set on pumpkin pie for Wednesday.

laurie said...

i love it i love it i love it.

you think crepes are too much work and he says ok, baklava!!

the kid might be a chef some day. or maybe he'll be an attorney!

Iota said...

Thank goodness for that British aisle in my local Dillons. When my time comes, I know just where I'm headed...

I'd like to see that happy dance of yours. Does it go round in a little circle, or just involve jumping up and down with large grin on face?

Kimberly said...

Oi-yoi-yoi. Glad my kids aren't in school yet. That sort of thing would just about kill me right now.

Swearing Mother said...

I had a similar experience with my son. He had to take in the ingredients to make a "festive pudding" but didn't tell me until breakfast time on the cookery lesson day. I had a packet of choc chip cookies, a large pot of double cream and damn all else. So we made a pot of strong coffee and added just a dash of brandy. He dunked the biscuits, whipped the cream, sandwiched them together and used the rest of the cream to cover it and - voila! Add a recycled plastic robin and you have a coffee log (don't mention the brandy), which was a resounding success, especially with the tee-total cookery teacher.

You can do this with neat sherry, it's absolutely gorgeous and what's more, you get to drink the leftover sherry from the bowl and its full of choc-chip cookie crumbs. Brilliant.

Amy said...

Good move talking him out of crepes. Cold and soggy sounds gross. But with all the time you spent running around just to buy some frozen desserts, you could have made the baklava.

I've lived in this house for 10 years, and I still haven't painted the whole thing. I'm impressed how quickly you're getting it done.

Akelamalu said...

Why do kids never, ever, give you enough notice????

Glad he settled for the frozen pastries and just to cheer you even more you have an award to collect. :)

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I don't know how you do it! I think I would have phoned in sick.

Crystal xx

Jo Beaufoix said...

RC I want to see that happy dance.
And I'm so impressed with SD. He'd have known what to do with my scary chocolate wouldn't he.
It's going in the chilli tomorrow so I'll et you know what we think.

Mya said...

I wouldn't know what a churro was if it bit me on the bum.Do they taste good? I find crepes are hugely overrated and not at all filling.
Did you get thrown out of the store after the happy dance?

Mya x

ahna said...

And breathe....

m@ said...

I've seen this "happy dance". It's kinda like a medium-speed, understated Charleston- the part with the flung arms and kicks- but with more butt-wiggling. (There's also some "musical" accompaniment, as well- kind of a "da-da, dah-dah, dah- da-da-da dah dah".)

It is kind of cute, even though it does tend to look like a convulsive fit to the uninitiated.

my two cents said...

What gets me is that this same assignment NEVER ends. Just last week we had to bake (twice, of course) a dish from our heritage. The fifteen-year-old boy wanted to bring in spaghetti sauce to share (for a morning class). I don't know how he planned to do this, it would have been cold by the time third period rolled around, so he settled on chippy chunky chewey bars, which don't reflect our heritage, except, as he says with great enthusiasm, "They are famous among my friends." Good enough for me, and he was able to make them himself. The fifteen-year-old girl went with the no-fail brownies (the one's I left the recipe for over at Jo's yesterday). Then she and her friends only put out half of their goodies (and this was first period at 7:40 a.m.) and took the rest with them for lunch! Smart little things!! The biggest catch in this assignment for me was, "Mom, make sure you send it in a disposable container, I don't want to have to go back for it at the end of the day." I complied. I'd love to try SD's crepes one of these days. Can I request strawberries??

The Rotten Correspondent said...

ped crossing - Costco! THAT'S where I saw them!

kaycie - on the one hand I think we get brownie points for being supportive moms. on the other hand...WTF??

pixelpi - Oh, I don't for a second think that Tony Bourdain is a fine upstanding citizen, but he is the shining star in SD's eyes.

ann - and why is that, I wonder. would it kill them to give us more than `12 hours notice?

WT - somehow I pegged you for a churro guy. don't know quite why.

ciara - it was way quicker and more painless than I expected. It was a first!

woody's mom - yet another reason not to trust a math teacher. I bet they were good...

wakeup - well, I thought churros in the frozen food aisle, but evidently my brain gave up the ghost after the weekend.

flowerpot - they were such a hit that by the time SD and Gumby got through the line they were gone. He probably told everyone he made them from scratch.

potty mommy - believe it or not, I was in bed by ten. We ate dinner, the FG cleaned the kitchen, I threw the cake in the oven and wrote the post while it baked. It's an unfrosted cake, just some powdered sugar. I turn into a pumpkin about 11.

jen - honey, you can come and bake for me any time you want.

laurie - it really could go either way. he thinks like both.

iota - my happy dance embarrasses the hell out of my kids. just the way I like it.

kimberly - be happy while you can because it's never ending once it starts. just train your kids early to not wait until the last minute. riiight....

swearing mother - now that's thinking on your feet. brilliant! whoever said you couldn't be creative in the kitchen??

amy - well, I have white wall issues. I like some color in my life. now having said that - I'm pooped.

akela - thank you thank you! more bling for the sidebar!!

crystal - they wouldn't have cared. for some reason sick nurses don't get too much slack.

jo - I think the chili is going to rock. dark chocolate will be great.
let us know.

mya - a churro is kind of like a doughnut shaped like a stick. It's a buttery dough and then it's deep fried and rolled in cinnamon sugar. they really are good. if you don't have to make them, that is.

ahna - in through the nose, out through the mouth.repeat as needed.

m@ - well, well, the Film Geek speaks. His first comment in forever and he tells me I look like I'm convulsing. tell me what you really think, dear...

The Rotten Correspondent said...

my two cents - strawberries are his specialty. he puts them in everything. you've brought up a good point about the disposable stuff...one more thing to find. aargh!

my two cents said...

p.s. The fifteen-year-old girl reports that there was baklava at her class!! It probably was homebaked, but not necessarily, it is readily available on Washington Blvd., but not cheap!!

laurie said...

here's to swearing mother! that recipe sounds fabulous!

i made an irish whiskey cake this weekend. the cake was just OK. but let me tell you....licking out the batter bowl? i got quite the buzz....

ped crossing said...

Be nice to math teachers. You never know who might be one. :) Or used to be one.