Trifle Joy

Here is a picture of one of life’s little joys: food.  Not only food, but a dessert.  The happy tummy joy of trifle.  Actually, I think this trifle provides a bit of eye candy too.

With 6 of our family in town for the past week and the Christmas gift of a trifle dish, I could not resist making this happy treat.  Of course, the family all encouraged and helped me too.

While I lived in England for a couple of years I picked up a few recipes of British food that still remain with me.  The trifle is one of those that I have had to perfect with US measurements and ingredients.  I do cheat and use Bird’s Custard Powder because I have yet to perfect a custard worthy of a trifle.

It is not a perfect trifle, you can see the blemishes in the hastily made piece of art.  We whipped this thing out in about 2 days and unfortunately it shows.  We consumed it in less than an hour!

The bottom red layer is the classic sponge cake contained within cherry sugar-free gelatin.  I cheated and purchased the Angel food cake already cooked, so this is just cubed and smashed into the bottom layer.  I have found we are all happier after dessert if I use the sugar-free gelatin.  The whipped cream on top and the custard has about 6 tablespoons of sugar in this entire bowl.  Most of the sweetness actually comes from the fruit.

The next layer is the custard with mandarin oranges encapsulated.  You can see one on top of the custard above the yellow blemish in the custard lower custard layer on the right.

The next layer is orange sugar-free gelatin containing peaches topped with bananas.  All the fruit in this dish has come from a can, except the strawberries which were frozen and the fresh bananas.

The next layer is another custard with the strawberries on top.  Unfortunately family pressed the strawberries down into the custard so it is not as clean as I would have liked, but in the end, it is all about the taste anyhow.  The strawberries were halved while frozen but defrosted on top of the setting custard overnight.  That way I could avoid the little water pockets around them in the jello.

The next layer is of strawberry sugar-free gelatin poured over the strawberries.

The last layer is heavy whipped cream.  Like I mentioned earlier, each custard layer has two tablespoons of sugar.  I honestly think we could get away without sugar in those layers but I have not been so bold as to try.  The same speaks for the cream on top, it could probably go without sugar.  I may have to venture there on the next one.

The cream is formed with shaved mint chocolate on top.  The chocolate did not shave properly and more or less clumped together through the shaving so you see it in its pathetic form.

The trifle still tasted beautiful in all its wonder.  All 8 of us ate it mostly after a healthy dinner of potato soup, curry and rice, and na’an bread and rolls.  Talk about a mix of poor foods and then throw in the snobbish trifle.  Some day we will have to do a post about the curry and rice with na’an bread, another throwback from my years on British soil.

Valentine, the joke

It has proved to be a rough week.  I am ready for it to be done.
This week was most notably known for the Valentine.  One in which it is expected one spends amazing amounts of money for flowers that are at their most out of season time.  I really wonder if the flower sellers did not pick this date for the opportunity to have the off season to keep work busy.  Then again, the effort to keep a rose bush blooming at the exact opposite time of year is very labor intensive.  Anyhow, as usual, I buck the commercial trends of which our society is based.  I purchased one rose off of a coworker who obviously had three dozen more than what she needed (husband, father, and ex husband (who doesn’t have any visiting rights, but she allows him some)).
However, that was not the part of which holds my interest, or that of Amanda.  She was glad to have me provide one little flower.  Ironically, since we don’t have a vase, it graces our large glass pitcher begging for the remaining dozen.  It is simpleness in expression, or complete lonliness.  I haven’t figured it out yet.
Back to the subject at hand, this is usually the time of year in which I have inclination to get my yearly sickness out of the way.  I started to feel it this week.  Amanda had her bi-monthly illness just a week or two ago, along with her roommate, and with everyone at the office.  I thought I had made it through, but somehow I touched a doorknob or something that carried the disease two weeks after the fact.  So Wednesday I started to feel a little under the weather.
In addition, somebody at work decided to have a chili cook-off at work.  What demon possessed her to hold it on Valentine’s Day, I will never know.  Perhaps some sadistic impulse.  We stayed up late Tuesday night putting together the finishing touches on the white chili, without the white aspect yet.  I even put 4 red peppers into the mix to help spice it up more.
Wednesday dawned too early and I hauled myself out of bed to work along with the chili in the Crock Pot.  (It is always the debate, do I capitalize it or not.  Since it is a name, but now has become an object.  kleenex or Kleenex?  Guys or guys?)
By lunch I had prepared the rest of the chili and made my way for the cook-off.  We all consume a small portion of each chili, then put two votes for our favorite two.  Yikes!  I consumed at least two spoonfuls of about a dozen types of chili.  There was a Creole Crab Chili, there was the white chili (I had to have a bite or two to make sure it tasted good, plus nobody knew who brought which so I couldn’t give it away that it was mine.  It was good, but I overcooked the beans.  They were almost mush.) and there was a ground chicken chili.  There was a turkey chili and a vegetarian chili.  Interestingly, the beanless and chili pepperless chili was the number 1 pick.  Guess it goes to prove that a chili doesn’t have to possess chili to be a chili!  What type of a sick world is this?  Just like a quagmire doesn’t include quag or mire anymore.  The winning chili was more of a Sloppy Joe (which doesn’t include Joe anymore either!)
Well, funny things happen when you eat a dozen chili samples in the same sitting.  To add to it more, you are starting not to feel well.  But after you eat a dozen chili samples, you grab a bowl to start your actual luncheon.  After everyone has had their samples, you grab a bowl of chili to consume for lunch.  I had three bowls of different chili.  I also enjoyed a few half servings of probably four other chili types.  (I did eat my 4 cupcakes, 2 salads, beer bread, and partridge in a pear tree).
To say the least, it was an explosive meal for me.  I found out this was true of most in the office.  A dozen chili samples, mixed together in the stomach along with soda and salad, capped with more chili makes for a very bloated afternoon!  I can’t speak for others, but by the time I went home the effects of the chili would linger for embarrassing lengths of time!  That afternoon, I had the thought hit me that I needed to lose weight because my stomach caught my eye as protruding further than I desire.
So, I head home for a romantic evening with my wife.  I present my two gifts, the lone ranger flower, and a kiss.  We head home after catching a few free movies at the local library.  Hmmm, Founding Fathers or a tourist guide to France.  Both highly romantic.  I ended up borrowing Nanny McPhee off the neighbor girl.  It was by far the wisest decision I had made all day.
All evening, I had to get up to do little things in other parts of the house so as to not be impolite to my wife.  (Yes, we do not break wind in the presence of the other, if we can help it.  Accidents do happen from time to time, on both sides!)  The only problem was, as the night progressed, the trips upstairs or for M&M’s in the kitchen proved futile.  At one point, the walking of 30 feet for M&M’s (honestly to relieve some pressure) found that the stench started to linger.  She insisted I bring the M&M’s over to watch the movie.  I insisted I wanted to keep them away from her in the kitchen so there were more for me.  Really, it is the walking that helps sqeak out those abnoxious little gas pockets.  At one point, the walk to the kitchen and back would not leave the smell.  They started to follow.  Amanda was totally grossed out.  I was completely embarrassed.  She discerned my treks to the kitchen and we had a good laugh, after she became conscious again.
Our episode continues.  Later Amanda walked over to the kitchen to find the smell still there.  All evening, wherever I released those little farts, they remained.  It was a form of a marital minefield.  She insisted she could smell them all over the place.  At the computer, in the kitchen, the bathroom, and heaven knows where.  Due to my situation, we could not spend more than 5-7 minutes together without my having to vacate the premises for the toxification of a remote area of the home.
Finally, exhausted I climbed into bed and still feeling bloated.  It was announced that if I released one in bed the end of the world would come.  For an hour it was in and out of the bed to preserve the nose of my wife.  Finally she fell asleep and I relaxed and fell asleep myself.
It was not at all romantic and I awoke on Thursday so sick and ill I did not go to work.  I originally thought it was a cold, but I am not convinced it was a form of asphyxiation.  Those gas bubbles entered my nose and my bloodstream to produce a near fatal blow.  It took a good 8 hours of sleep during the day and a priesthood blessing to remove the effects.
NEVER have a chili cook-off near Valentine’s Day!