It rained last night. A soft, pitter-patter type of rain that I didn't even notice at first as I was reading in bed, snuggled under the fluffy warmth of my white down comforter.
I was reminded of spring in South Carolina - well, every season really, since there's no time of year there that doesn't see rain. We don't get much rain here in Colorado so I savor the moments that we do.
Sitting in bed, pillows propped up behind me, a glass of white wine on the nightstand, a bowl of ice cream balanced on my knees and a book in hand, I was so engrossed in my book that I didn't hear the rain bouncing off the roof and splattering the grass. And when I finally looked up from the pages and noticed the rain, I opened the window a few inches to let the chilly air in.
Air that was filled with the cool, fresh scent of the rain.
I snuggled deeper under the covers.
The book I'm reading is What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty. A little more than halfway through it, I had to force myself to put it down at 2am so I could get some sleep. Jamie was already asleep next to me, oblivious to the lamplight.
The premise of What Alice Forgot is of a 39-year old woman, with three kids, who is in the middle of a divorce, who falls and hits her head while working out at the gym. When she wakes up, the injury-induced concussion has wiped out all of her memories of the last 10 years, and she believes she is still 29, pregnant with her first baby, and happily married.
She doesn't recognize the person she's become over the last 10 years. She and her older sister, who were once very close, have drifted apart, and she doesn't understand her sister's anger with her. She doesn't know her children or have any memory of giving birth to them and raising them. She doesn't understand why she and her husband, who were so happy together, are now getting a divorce.
I've read a few books lately where the main character has amnesia. Before I Go To Sleep, by S.J. Watson was really interesting, where the main character not only has amnesia, but has lost the ability to create new memories, her mind wiped clean every night. And my book club just picked Wait For Me, by Elisabeth Naughton, which I didn't think was particularly well written at all, but still had an interesting plot with the main character having no memory before the last two years of her life. When her husband passes away in an accident, she starts learning things about herself that he never told her, and goes in search of answers.
Both of those books deal with conspiracies against the women, with someone using their memory loss as an advantage to control and manipulate them. But the reason I like What Alice Forgot the best, besides it being more well-written, is that it deals with real human relationships - the joys, the pitfalls, the arguments, the happy moments, the ways we all interact and the ways we change. Especially the way we change. That she had changed so much in 10 years that she didn't appreciate or understand or even like her new self. That she had to get to know her own children. That she had to try to understand what had gone wrong in her relationships with her sister and husband, what part of it was her fault, why she was no longer the person she remembered being, and what she should do about it now.
I still have a third of the book left to read, so if you've already read it, don't tell me what happens!
Besides my impulsively written little book review, I suppose I should talk about the ice cream and cookies I made. I've shared this peanut butter cookie recipe before, for those Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies a couple winters ago, and it's the only peanut butter cookie recipe I've used in years. With a little Easter candy to use up, I pressed chocolate peanut butter eggs, Reese's peanut butter cups, chocolate chips and Reese's Pieces into the hot cookies right after baking, so they could melt right into the center. Over the years, I've usually done this with Hershey's kisses.
And the rest of the peanut butter cups went into the ice cream. A dark chocolate, rich, impossibly creamy ice cream. The custard was so thick after chilling that it could have been used to fill a chocolate pie, and I knew even before freezing it that it would be fantastic.
And now, I have a book to go finish reading...
...It's later in the evening, and I finished the book. I LOVE the ending.
Chocolate Ice Cream
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Hershey's Special Dark)
- 5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup chopped Reese's peanut butter cups (optional)
In a saucepan, combine the cream, milk and salt. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat (not boiling).
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cocoa powder - mixture will be very thick. When the cream mixture is bubbling around the edges, slowly drizzle about a cup of the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture, whisking them to temper the eggs. Scrape the egg mixture back into the saucepan. Whisk constantly and cook for 4-5 minutes over medium heat, until slightly thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Remove from the heat and pour through a mesh strainer to remove any bits of cooked egg. Whisk in the chopped chocolate and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, preferably overnight.
Whisk the chilled custard to loosen it up - it will be very thick like pudding. Churn according to the manufacturer's instructions of your ice cream maker until soft-serve consistency. Fold in the chopped peanut butter cups if using them, and transfer to a container. Freeze until firm, about 4-6 hours.
Yields about 1 1/2 quarts.
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen
Peanut Butter Cookies
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar (plus 1/4 cup for rolling)
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Assorted chocolate candy, such as kisses, peanut butter cups, mini eggs, chocolate chips, etc...
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars (1/2 cup each) for 3-4 minutes until fluffy, scraping the bowl occasionally. Beat in the peanut butter until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla until well combined.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, just until moistened. Refrigerate the dough for one hour until firm enough to roll into balls.
Roll the dough into rounded tablespoonfuls, then roll each in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar to coat each ball. Set on a baking sheet and freeze the balls for one hour (this step will prevent the cookies from spreading too much as they bake).
Preheat the oven to 375. Place the frozen cookie balls 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Bake for 8 1/2 - 9 minutes, until pale golden brown.
Remove from the oven, and immediately press the candy into the cookie while it's hot. Let the cookies cool on the pan for 2 minutes, then carefully transfer to the counter and cool completely. They will be very soft, but will set up as they cool.
Yields about 3 dozen cookies.
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen