Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Posted by Jamie
Between school and careers, traveling and, quite possibly, selfishness, we are marrying older and having our children later than our parents and grandparents had them. This means that when our children enter their teen years we are pushing fifty or more. As our children are coming to terms with puberty and those turbulent adolescent years which bring the coming of adulthood, we are dealing with our own mid-life crisis, both of us passing over the rocky road of a life-changing period, coming to terms with a process that neither of us are really prepared for. And because of the bad timing, we end up bumping heads a little too often. Our kids are trying to look older, act older, appear older while we, yes, are trying to turn back the clocks. We are trying to wrap our heads around the fact that we have aged even if we don’t feel it at all, they want to grow up all the while clinging onto the safety of childhood. We color our hair and slip on something tight and try to deal with the withering look or, worse maybe, the eyes rolled heavenward in disbelief of our teen; the teen avoids the scrutinizing glare, the judgmental scolding of the parent when he or she appears in the hallway dressed in a similar uniform. The line between teen and parent of teen gets finer every year.
Remember when moms and dads dressed like moms and dads? Remember the good old days of TV families, like The Cleavers or Rob and Laura Petrie? You know, dads wore suits to work then changed into beige cardigan sweaters and slacks before the 6 o’clock news came on and moms wore shirtdresses or skirts and blouses, sweater knotted casually around the shoulders, looking so cool and collected while dashing between clubs and grocery store? Moms and dads fell into recognizable categories and there was comfort in knowing that when we got home from school we would always find the same thing every day. And moms and dads never crossed the line, stepped over into our teen territory either in their wardrobe, their activities or their language. We wore the bell-bottomed jeans, they wore the polo shirts and banlon, we biked with our friends, played board games, surfed and danced, they played bingo and bridge or Mah Jong, had cocktail parties and went on cruises. We listened to The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, they played Herb Alpert or Burt Bacharach LPs. Now the line is oh-so fuzzy and our roles are tossed topsy-turvy up in the air like balloons, blown this way and that, changing day to day.
I turned fifty this week. No matter how I saw it coming, it still surprised. The years pass and somehow I feel younger now than I have for a long time. But how to be a good parent when I feel so young, when I loathe playing the part of “a woman of a certain age”, the traditional mom? Changing times call for changing roles, yet I think that the younger generation is actually more uncomfortable with the setup than we are. We twitter and Facebook, we blog and we text. We chat with our girlfriends on Skype, giggling and gossiping like schoolgirls, laughing about hot musicians and hotter rugbymen, we hold hands with and kiss our husbands in public and while watching tv, we dress in the latest fashions, fashions quite possibly meant for younger women. And even while our sons’ friends say “Wow, your parents are so cool!” our sons wail “Why can’t you be normal like other parents?” Our tiny pleasures incite embarrassed glances, their friends only invited over when we are out. They shake their heads in dismay when they see us hunched over the computer, typing furiously, giggling hysterically as we tweet or update our status. And as I slip on my Doc Marten boots over my favorite fishnet stockings, hands are slapped against foreheads, as husband chases me around the house whooping like a crazy man, dog hot on his heels, as we fall in a heap onto the sofa and start making jokes about the latest celebrity gossip, they get up and silently slide out of the room.
Can we be the cool parent at our age or are we simply an embarrassment? Should we get upset each time they say that we just don’t get it, that we grew up in The Dark Ages and therefore there is no way we understand anything that they are going through, that we can’t possibly know how to correctly use any of the internet social sites? Do they resent our advice, our advice lost somewhere between 1960’s straight-laced parental thinking and cool 20th century ideas? Well, yes. But what’s new? I actually think that our teens are just going through the same old teen rebellion, that ages-old parental disdain not unlike what we went through at their age and secretly they are pleased that their friends think we are cool, are pleasantly surprised that we have a popular blog, are proud when their friends gobble down crazy mom’s cakes and cookies and beg for more. They laugh at our jokes (no matter how hard they try to suppress the grin), enjoy going on vacation with us and think it’s funny when their friends flirt with us (yes it has happened!).
So stay cool, keep on truckin’ (no, wait, that’s wrong…), allow yourself the same freedom of expression that they assume for themselves, laugh at yourself (and at them) long and hard and enjoy that youth for as long as you can hold onto it. One day, they, too, will understand and be glad that we taught them how to be content with what we have, who we are, what they are and what they can be. As I wrote in my birthday blog post: Time is fleeting, life is ephemeral, youth is a game. Enjoy it while you can. Everything else will fall into place.
And I’d love to share an incredibly delicious, luscious, lemon treat that we all ate with gusto on this most important of birthdays.
LUSCIOUS LEMON SOUFFLE PUDDINGS
Makes 6 individual soufflé puddings.
1 cup (200 g) sugar, divided
3 Tbs (45 g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
3 large eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbs lemon zest
1/3 cup (50 g) flour
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup (80 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup whole milk (I used half low fat milk + half light cream)
1/8 tsp cream of tartar (if you don’t have cream of tartar replace with a few grains of salt and a drop or 2 of lemon juice)
Preheat the oven to 325°F (170°C). Butter 6 individual ramekins or pyrex bowls.
Remove and set aside 2 Tbs of the sugar. Separate the eggs: place the yolks in a large mixing bowl and the whites place in a separate bowl preferably plastic or metal.
Cream the butter with the rest of the sugar (1 cup less the 2 Tbs) until blended and fluffy. Beat in the yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition until blended. Beat in the vanilla and the lemon zest. Add the flour and the salt and beat just until combined. With the mixer on low, beat in the milk and the lemon juice. It will be very liquid.
In the separate bowl with very clean beaters, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until foamy and then until soft peaks form. Continue beating the whites as you gradually add the 2 tablespoons sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form.
Fold the whites into the yolk/lemon batter just until incorporated and you have no more chunks of whites.
Using a ladle, fill the 6 ramekins with the batter almost to the top. Place the filled ramekins in a large baking pan (placing a piece of newspaper on the bottom of the pan keeps the water of the water bath from boiling) and very carefully (so as not to get any water in the lemon batter) fill the pan with hot water, so that the water is halfway up the ramekins. If you like, place the baking pan in the oven and then pour in the water; this will avoid you having to lift and move the baking pan after it is filled and risk splashing the water into the batter.
Bake for 40 – 45 minutes. The tops will be puffed up, maybe ½ to 1 inch (1 – 2 cm) above the rim of the ramekins, and a deep golden brown.
Remove the baking pan from the oven then carefully remove the ramekins from the water bath onto a kitchen towel. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Like a soufflé, the tops will sink a bit when cooling.
Serve hot or warm – they can be eaten later but are best when fresh from the oven or just slightly cooled – with a sprinkling of powdered sugar or a dollop of whipped cream.
These mini soufflé puddings are a cross between a soufflé, a mousse and a pudding: they will have a top layer of puffed, light as air soufflé and the bottom layer will be creamy, almost like a pudding. They are tart and lemony like the best of lemon pies but warm, light and soothing and oh-so elegant.
They are also delicious after a day or two in the refrigerator, like a fabulous, rich lemon mousse.
This post was written by JAMIE
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