My "back to school" letter from the superintendent arrived today, AND Schlafly just announced that their pumpkin ale should be hitting stores next week...so that makes it official: Summer is Over.
This has been the most rejuvenating break I've had in a while. I cut back on hours at my other job, so I've had time to do some things around the house...like redecorating the living room and cleaning out the basement.
In June, I made a list of 50 things to do this summer. So far, I've done 15 of them. But, I plan to do a few more in the next couple weeks...go to the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park, check out the new library downtown, finish painting the kitchen, have drinks on the roof of the Moonrise Hotel, try baking bread in the crockpot, and go thrift store shopping.
That list also includes going on a road trip. This week, Corey and I drove up the Great River Road to Galena, Illinois. We stopped in Quincy for a reunion with some of his high school friends; in Nauvoo to check out the historical sites (and get creeped out by the Mormons in the process); in Davenport, Iowa, where nothing is open on Mondays so we swam & drank beer at our hotel then went out for pizza; and in Galena where we ate at an old-school Greek steakhouse and spent the night in a fancy bed & breakfast.
It was good to get away for several days, to discover the gorgeous rolling green hills of northwestern Illinois, and to spend some time with my favorite guy. Life is good.
Know what else is good? This dessert, which we made in my cooking class last night:
Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova
ever-so-slightly adapted from Nigella Lawson
For the chocolate meringue base:
6 large egg whites
1 1/3 cups superfine sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, or raspberry vinegar
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (finely chopped)
For the topping:
1 cup heavy cream
1 pint (2 cups) raspberries
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat.
- Beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over the cocoa, vinegar, and the chopped chocolate. Then gently fold everything until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in.
- Mound onto the baking sheet in a fat circle approximately 9-inches in diameter, smoothing the sides and top. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 300ºF and cook for about 60 minutes.
- When it's ready it should look crisp around the edges and on the sides, be dry on top, and have a slight hollow sound when tapped. Remove from the oven and cool completely on the pan.
- When you're ready to serve, invert on to a big, flat-bottomed serving plate or cutting board.. Whisk the cream until thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue, then scatter over the raspberries. Coarsely grate the chocolate on top.