Giving in to the Royal Wedding Bakewell Bars

The other night at a dinner someone brought up the upcoming Royal Wedding, and not in a giddy, excited way but more as an afterthought, like “Isn’t the wedding next Friday? “Oh yeah,” I realized, “I haven’t thought about it at all.” My friend Nancy chimed in with, “I didn’t care about his mother’s wedding and I don’t care about his.” Which was kind of funny since Nancy’s hair has reminded me of Princess Di’s ever since I met her in 1983.
But it was true. I really hadn’t paid the least bit of attention to the hoopla. Not because I have any ill will towards the bride and groom but really, who cares? Okay, I was kind of moved when they released their engagement photo simply because they looked so in love and so, well, hopeful. And I tried not to be cynical in looking to Prince William’s father, aunt and uncle in predicting the outcome of his tying the knot with Kate.

I have rarely touched on the subject of weddings on this virtual page for fear that any antipathy on my singleton part towards the business of getting married will be seen as my masticating on a mouthful of sour grapes. Not so. I wasn’t one of those little girls who ever thought about her wedding. I was always suspicious of fairy tales, didn’t dress up as Cinderella and I never taped a square of toilet paper to Barbie’s head to force her to marry poor, neutered Ken. I wasn’t even a guest at a wedding until I was 24 (see above friend Nancy and her marriage to the perfect Scott). And although I will treasure my memories of that first celebration (the wild cousin in a silver sequined micro-mini dress whose inebriated shimmies resulted in multiple spills on the dance floor comes to mind) most of the weddings I’ve attended have barely registered on my brain. Really, unless you are in the inner circle of the bride and groom, or something so tear-jerking or embarrassing happens, weddings tend to run together in a five-hour blur of seating assignments, feeling like you have to include the one sad person sitting at your table whom neither you nor the pals you are seated with knows, lame toasts and lamer food.

There was a year in my life when my then boyfriend and I spent way too many weekends flying to medium-sized cities to attend the weddings of medium-close friends. And the way that I remember them is really kind of awful. St. Louis was the one where the luggage of one of his female friends got lost en route from Hong Kong and she yelled at the concierge at the Ritz-Carlton as if he’d been personally responsible for sending it to destinations unknown. After which she dragged me to Neiman Marcus to buy a replacement cocktail dress and hissed, “They’d better have Oscar De La Renta!” assuming we were somehow in this together and I would appreciate the emergency need for a $2,000 dress. Atlanta was the one where we found a hotel notepad in the bedside table covered in the chicken scratch of a man on a mission; “Amber, blond, $350, Britnee, redhead, $275,” and in Boston I spent the five hours subtly hiking up my strapless bra every two minutes to prevent it from becoming a belt. As you can see, I have no memories of the actual weddings at all. Now, to be clear, these were the nuptials of people with whom I had a tenuous connection. Of course when it comes to my dear friends their celebrations have meant quite a lot to me, but really how many are we talking about? A half-dozen? And so it would follow that because I don’t know Will or Kate I’m not really going to care.
Not so fast.

After communicating my indifference with a shrug on Saturday night I turned on CBS Sunday Morning just as their segment on the wedding began. Standing with my cup of coffee I found myself slowly taking a seat on the couch, mesmerized by montages of pomp and circumstance, curling my legs under me and getting completely sucked in by the majesty of it all, the history of royal family weddings, that still of William and Kate sharing what seems like a real laugh and, of course, the video from that truly sad day when the young princes walked behind their mother’s casket.
Oh no! I was slipping and there wasn’t anything I could do. I cared. Who was she going to wear? What were they going to serve at the breakfast? How many cakes?! But I also thought about Diana’s senseless death, and the burden that life as a royal has placed on the shoulders of her sons, and about how this young, gorgeous couple should of course be filled with hope. I love that they’ve known each other for so long and I love that they crack each other up. You can’t fake that kind of relaxed connection and genuine intimacy. They seem so normal, within the abnormal context of their rarefied lives.
Unlike the women profiled in Bethany Kandel’s piece in the Times last Sunday, (if you missed it you must read it and gag) I will not be hosting a breakfast viewing party, handing out party tiaras to a gaggle of female friends, or encouraging my sister to pull my nieces out of school in order to have a bonding experience based on shoving the Prince Charming myth down their innocent throats. No, I will DVR the wedding (the networks’ coverage begins at 4AM but for a more authentic twist BBC-America is broadcasting from 6AM-2PM!), curl up with a cup of tea and sink my fork into Nigella’s deliciously almondy, buttery, jammy riff on the old fashioned British pudding, the Bramwell tart. I will then wish Will and Kate well and, as with all weddings, the party will be over and it’s back to real life. We all know there’s no such thing as fairy tales.

Giving in to the Royal Wedding Bakewell Bars
Adapted from Feast: Food to Celebrate Life, by Nigella Lawson, 2004
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1 1/2 cups + 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces

1 1/3 sticks (10 2/3 tablespoons) butter
4 eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups ground almonds (I used blanched)
2/3 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
1 cup raspberry preserves or favorite jam

Place cookie sheet into oven and preheat to 350. Line a 12 1/4" x 8 1/4" x 2" pan with foil, set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse flour, powdered sugar and salt just to combine. Add butter and pulse until crumbly.
Dump onto foil lined pan and push dough until you have covered bottom of the pan, using a sheet of wax paper to help guide the sticky dough is very helpful.Wash processor work bowl & blade, you will need them again.
Bake for 20 minutes until pale golden. Leave oven on.
While crust is baking, melt butter and set aside.
In bowl of food processor pulse eggs, sugar, and ground almonds.
Keep work bowl on processor.
When crust has baked for above 20 minutes, remove and allow to cool for three minutes.
Spread jam onto crust.
Switch processor on and pour melted butter down the chute until combined.
Pour butter mixture onto jam lined base.
Top with sliced almonds.
Bake for 35 minutes. It will be dark, golden brown.

Yield: Cut into bars or squares, your choice. However, you know how much butter is in these rich treats so to be kind to yourself and your friends, cut into 24 squares and have just one.


Not My Nana José Chocolate Pecan Cake

I didn’t grow up with a “Jewish Grandmother” and for that I will always be resentful. Yes, I had grandmothers (in fact I had three, if you count “Nanny,” my mother’s step-mother), and yes, they were Jewish, but they weren’t what you’d think of as "bubbes." One was cold and withholding and her idea of a treat was a painfully dry Pecan Sandie. The other had an estranged relationship with domesticity, and Nanny made it clear she preferred her “real” grandchildren to the ones produced by her step-daughter. I always wanted the kind of grandmother who told you you’d catch cold if you didn’t wear a sweater when it was 70 degrees, whose kitchen smelled like chicken soup (even though I hate chicken soup), and who brushed the hair off your forehead.
Nanny and Grandpa, my mother’s father, hosted Seders for their large, blended family at their apartment until they moved to Florida in the mid-1970’s. Nanny, despite being a decent cook, showed her ambivalence in the oddest of ways. As I've mentioned, we kids tore apart the house searching for the afikomen we got the most inappropriate prize: a large chocolate Easter bunny. Talk about mixed messages.
As adults, we all have to “get over it” and create lives of our own, often informed by what we wish we’d had. These days the Passover Seder is held at my parents’ place, even though they have three grown children who theoretically could be hosting themselves but wouldn’t dream of it since our father loves having the whole "mishpochah" around his table. Under the most normal of circumstances he is a bossy guy which often causes me to answer “Why is this night different from all other nights?” with “It’s not.” But of course it is and he adores his official role as “leader.” His Haggadah is filled with little notes in the margins, who should read what, who didn’t do a good job reading what last year, which grandchild learned to actually read this year and will finally be able to tackle the Four Questions.
Every Passover I make a flourless chocolate cake (since my sister and mother won’t open their mouths unless cocoa is involved). For years I played with dense cakes filled with so much artery clogging butter that we practically had to roll away from the table, unable to find the energy to actually stand up and walk. But a few years ago I found a recipe in the Times that has now become the Seder standard.

"Nana José’s
Chocolate Pecan Cake" is from Patricia Jinich, a Mexican-Jewish culinary instructor (with an upcoming show on PBS) who works in the Washington, DC area and grew up in Mexico, the result of her grandparents’ emigration from Eastern Europe. What first grabbed my attention was the idea that anyone has a Nana named José. What’s in a name? José seems so exotic and I bet she’s a lot of fun. Regardless, it’s much more glamorous than my Sylvia and Mollie. But more importantly it is a lovely cake. There is only a bit of butter and the whole thing is topped with a juicy, sweet and citrusy berry medley. It’s simultaneously decadent and refreshing and a great way to end the traditionally heavy Seder. But it is so good there really isn’t any reason for it to be specific to Passover. It’s a wonderful, wheat-free alternative for those who are living gluten-free and looks so pretty piled high with berries (and whipped cream if you feel like being super indulgent) that it would be at home at any festive meal. Even Easter!

Meanwhile, luckily for my nieces, my mother is doing the perfect job as a very contemporary "bubbe" (although she’s probably going to kill me for referring to her in the same sentence as any Yiddish word, but that’s a whole other story) combining love, care, warmth and so much fun. I’m sure they won’t waste any time on resentment and I’d like to think if I’d had a nana name José, I wouldn’t have either.

Not My Nana José Chocolate Pecan Cake
Adapted from Patricia Jinich, The New York Times, March 31, 2009
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1/2 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 ounces chopped dark chocolate, (I used Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Chips)
1 cup pecans
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt

Ingredients-Fruit Garnish

3 tablespoons brown sugar
Zest of 1 lime
¼ cup fresh lime juice (you’ll need 2 limes)
3 pints assorted berries, washed and, if you use strawberries hulled and quartered.


Preheat oven to 350
Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and grease with the 1 tablespoon butter.
Combine remaining butter in microwave proof bowl
and nuke for thirty seconds, stir and nuke again until melted. (Or melt together over double boiler.) Let cool.
In bowl of a food processor chop pecans finely.
Add eggs, vanilla, sugar, salt and the melted chocolate/butter mixture, processing until smooth.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a cake tester/toothpick comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Do not over-bake. Remove to wire rack and let cool completely.Directions-Garnish
In a large bowl combine brown sugar, lime zest and juice.
Add berries, toss mixture together gently and let macerate until ready to serve. Stir again just before serving.Remove cake from springform pan, place on serving platter and top with berry mixture.
Yield: 8-10 slices


Pretty (?) in Pink Birthday Cake

Cake decorating is a pain in the neck unless your name is Cake Boss or you’re an artist. The most illustrious cake designers seem to have a fine arts background or, in the Boss' case, are born to the trade. And let me just make note that although Cake Boss cakes are spectacular, I consider his use of Rice Krispies treats to be cheating. Meanwhile, I am the least artistic person I know.
I’ve already confessed to my lame attempts at pottery but I’ve never told the story of the time in high school when Annie, my very talented friend, took on the task of teaching art classes to four children and asked me to assist in the childcare department while she dealt with the paint. The hook was that two of the kids belonged to Carly Simon and the art lesson was in her apartment. I had been singing along to Carly since I bought Hotcakes with money I got on my ninth birthday and I was thrilled. So, we went to her incredible apartment on Central Park West and she answered the door, all 5’10” of her in a purple, drop-waist, Norma Kamali, flouncy, sweatshirt dress, the grooviest thing to wear in 1982. After greeting us warmly, she waved over a man in the next room, "This is my friend John. Travolta." Can you imagine? You’re 16, in your idol’s apartment and Mr. Cleft Chin and Still in Shape smiles and shakes your hand and says, “Hi girls, nice to meet you both.” After some small talk about co-ed vs. single-sex education (not sure how that happened) her son and daughter returned from wherever they were with their cousins and all four kids gathered round the kitchen table while Carly and John went out. The question that kept running through my mind was "are my cuffed, olive green leather boots cool enough to be in the presence of two superstars?" They weren’t. But the point is, while they were gone Annie supervised the kids, and me, in some serious watercolor work. A few hours later, Carly returned to review the creativity that had happened in her absence and, while flipping through all the masterpieces, she stopped at my watercolor and said to her EIGHT year old daughter, “Nice job.” So that gives you a sense of my skill level. And I haven't improved much since.
Recently, when tackling the requested floral portion of Niece One’s birthday cake, I decided it would be safer to go with pre-made fondant and cookie cutters. It’s also kind of cheating but easier than trying to deal with a pastry bag filled with buttercream and swirling it around hoping something like a flower flows from it. I planned everything perfectly. Monday: a trip to Michael’s (always a treat) for the fondant/cutter supplies. Friday: a session making the cake and the requested pink buttercream. Saturday: assembling the cake and Sunday: delivery to the party. Piece of cake!
While the cake itself was fine the problems started with the frosting. After adding a few tiny dabs of pink gel food coloring I couldn’t understand why the buttercream still looked so pale. So I added some more, then just a little more and it seemed to be a pretty pastel shade. That was until I put the bowl back onto the mixer for some extra fluffiness and KABOOM, the beaters hit on the ball of food coloring that must have sunk to the bottom of the bowl and the frosting turned into a shocking pink that was simply sickening. Think Pepto-Bismol meets Barbie's Dream House. My stomach began to churn. "Okay, maybe it will lighten up once it’s actually on the cake," I thought hopefully, and frosted the cake. "Okay, maybe it’s a little better? In the right light?" So I kept on going. Rolling and cutting was easy and the paleness of the pink fondant seemed to relieve the brightness of the frosting just a tad so I used a little extra buttercream to polka-dot the butterflies and then ruined everything even more when I gussied up the tulips. It looked awful. And I had to make a 7pm movie and the party was the next day. Well, I could stay up late and start again? I called my sister who, because she’s a good sister, was reassuring and warned the birthday girl that her cake might be a little brighter than she’d requested. Niece One seemed fine about it but still, I couldn’t stop thinking about the tulips. And the color.
I’ve never been as anxious over any of the desserts I’ve made for people paying me a pretty penny as I was over Niece One’s cake. And I’m still not sure why. Of course I love her and I hate the idea of not coming through on a promise. Maybe I was burdening her with my own birthday issues, assuming she was primed for disappointment too? The echo of her frequent praise, “You’re the BEST baker!” reverberated in my head and just made me feel worse as I replaced the tulips with daisies first thing Sunday morning and wrote her birthday message on top of the cake with pink decorator gel, hoping to turn ugly into pretty. Still hideous. It was with a heavy heart that I opened the cake box on my sister’s kitchen counter and displayed my creation to the family. “Um, I think you missed something,” my sister the academic pointed out. In my nervousness about the cake's appearance, I lost the ability to spell, and made a glaring typo. “HAPPY BIRHDAY” screamed from the top of the electric pink cake, only to be matched by the hysterical laughter of Niece One. “Happy Birhday! Happy Birhday!” she squealed and soon became completely distracted by her arriving guests. What a relief. Except not really. I still felt awful but an hour later she inhaled her slice and, with a mouth full said, “Yum!” Next year, she’s getting no flowers. I haven’t got time for the pain.

Pretty (?) in Pink Birthday Cake
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Yellow Cake
From Food and Wine, June 2007
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature

(click here if you want to see photos from prior blog post)
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper; butter and dust with flour.

In a bowl, mix the 3 cups of flour, baking powder and salt. In a cup, mix the milk with the vanilla. Set aside.

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter at medium speed until light and creamy. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy, 4 minutes.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl. Beat in the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the milk mixture and scraping down the bowl.

Scrape the batter into the pans. Bake in the lower third of the oven for about 35 minutes, until springy.

Let cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and invert onto a rack. Peel off the paper, turn the cakes upright and cool completely.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook, Martha Stewart 2005

4 large egg whites (or 1/2 cup if, like me, your freezer is full of egg whites from when recipes call for just yolks)
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into tablespoons
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions-Buttercream click here for photos from prior blog post (ignore jam)
Combine sugar and egg whites in the heatproof bowl from your electric mixer and place on top of a pan of simmering water (you are creating a double boiler).

Whisk sugar and egg whites constantly until sugar is completely dissolved and mixture is warm to touch, @ 160 degrees on candy thermometer.

Remove bowl from pan, place in mixer and using whisk attachment beat on high speed until whites hold still peaks.

Continue beating until mixture is fluffy and cooled, @ 6 minutes.

Stop mixer, remove whisk attachment and change to paddle attachment.

With mixer on medium-low speed add softened butter a Tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition.
(If after you've added all the butter the buttercream looks curdled or separated do not worry. Beat on high and it will come together.)

When mixture looks fluffy, and makes a thwapping sound as it is being beaten, you can stop.

Add the vanilla and beat to incorporate. If desired, tint buttercream with food coloring to your liking. (Be stingy--you don't want to end up in electric Barbie pink-land.)

Yield: 4 cups frosting, enough to frost 24 cupcakes or 8"-9" two layer cake.

Directions-Frosting Cake
Place several pieces of wax paper strips in sunburst pattern on serving platter or frosting turn-table

Place one cake layer on top of wax paper strips
Place one cup of frosting on top of cake layer and spread with a spatula (offset is best). Place second cake layer on top of first layer and frost top and sides with remaining frosting.

Sprinkle work surface and plastic rolling pin with powdered sugar.
Place fondant on work surface and roll out to desired thickness (1/8" is good)
Using cutters of your choice, cut fondant and lift cutouts with a small offset spatula or, if you are very careful, your fingers.
Place cut-outs wherever you like on the cake and press gently to adhere. If you like, decorate shapes with extra buttercream using a pastry bag and a small tip.
Carefully remove wax paper strips and serve. Feel free to chill for a bit but cake is best served at room temperature.
Yield: one 9 inch layer cake (16 slices)


What Happens with Mom in Vegas Fruity Muesli

So last week I established why I wanted to see Celine Dion but what I didn’t discuss was why I wanted to go to Las Vegas. Like many of my hopes and dreams I will blame my curiosity on the movies. That’s the problem when you’re a person whose favorite place to be is a multiplex: your sense of reality can get a little distorted by celluloid. From the various portrayals of Danny Ocean to Bugsy, Casino, Leaving Las Vegas, and The Hangover, Sin City has been presented on film as a fusion of glamour, seediness, excitement and cheese that’s both appealing and appalling. All of it adding up to, “Huh? What’s going on there? I want to know.” And just like most instances when fantasy meets reality the truth is a mixture of disappointment and embarrassment.
As we started our descent I was confronted by the first of many surprises. I had no idea that the Las Vegas skyline looks like it was dropped from the heavens intact and set down in the middle of nothingness. I’m not sure why I was taken a back since I know the history of how the place was built, but to see it up close was so jarring. Yet it makes complete sense given the instant gratification that forms the foundation of the city’s culture. And what a welcome: walking through the airport is a bombardment to the senses that was only a hint at what was to come. Blaring music, flashing lights, dinging slot machines and an endless wait for our bags and a cab brought us to the front door of the Mandarin Oriental a little fried and frayed.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the hotel was lovely and made lovelier by the fact that it is both casino- and smoke-free. However, it is so dimly lit that you’re squinting down hallways to find your room or the gym or the café. The woman behind the desk said, “It’s meant to evoke a 1930’s alley in Shanghai!” when my mother told her she couldn’t see. (Not surprising in a city with its own Eiffel Tower, Empire State building and Canal Grande.) And then there’s the wind chime-y music that seems to be demanding, “RELAX RIGHT NOW!” I don’t know about you but I really resent enforced serenity. I was not relaxed. I had been traveling for hours, after a sleepless pre-trip night, and all I wanted to do was take a hot shower. But as part of the soothing hotel plan, the water pressure was so low—as if a nice strong force would be too stressful for the weary traveler—that I got even more stressed out. I will now stop complaining about the Mandarin because I got used to the water and it was a blessed respite from the craziness I was yet to experience.

The biggest thing the movies fail to capture about Vegas is the number of people who visit it. I could not get over the crowds and I come from the city that never sleeps! Excuse me but I was planning on having a moment when taking in the amazing synchronized fountain display in the “lake” in front of the Bellagio. I did not plan on sharing that moment with 1000 other people, and elbowing my way through the huddled masses to get a decent view. Do you want a cab? The line forms over there, behind the 100 drunken gamblers needing to go four blocks but unable to figure out how to get to the sidewalk and well, walk. I hate cabs and really just wanted to use my feet, which was only possible if we were willing to snake through every hotel lobby hoping to find the right door to lead us either outside or to the next hotel nearest our hotel. There is no such thing as “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line” in Las Vegas. It is all about walking in circles. It is designed so you’ll get so disoriented you’ll just plunk yourself down in front of that slot machine or go into the fourth Chanel you’ve spotted in a day to drop a lot of money you don’t have. That was the other thing. The stores! Really, does a town need every single hotel to be a mall? Who is walking into Vuitton, Cartier, Van Cleef, Jimmy Choo, and Tom Ford at 11pm? That 400 pound man in the Hawaiian shirt and gym shorts? I felt so sorry for the salespeople, working under what seem like klieg lights with no sense of time or weather conditions. What a nightmare.
I’m not a complete idiot. I do realize the basis of the city is to get its guests to spend their cash but I hate feeling like I’m being taken. (And I really shouldn’t say “I” since I was my mother’s guest and so she was the one who was took.) Why would a cab to one end of the strip cost $20 when the driver took the highway and only $10 when another driver took the local streets? I hate that we didn’t know to say, “Buddy, stay on Las Vegas Boulevard, we’re not suckers!” Why did my breakfast cup of green tea cost $9.00? I could buy 40 sachets of Tazo Om tea for the same price! Ugh, that made me so mad.
You can’t open a magazine now without being told how fabulous the Vegas dining scene is and I had a list of recommendations that would’ve taken us weeks to work through. As a rule I’m not a big fan of “Buona Sera!” white tablecloth fine dining. I like good food but don’t need so much fuss. That proved to be impossible. I guess most people spending too much on their dinner like fuss. We hit Joe’s Stone Crab (yum but we felt rushed and the key lime pie is good but frankly, the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe is just as delicious), Spago for our pre-Celine dinner (my mother was a big fan of the smoked salmon pizza and now I am too) and Bartolotta, an Italian seafood restaurant in the Wynn hotel. Okay, this was the meal that made me nuts. When I first checked it out online it didn’t seem to be outrageous. Oh boy. When I opened my real menu, while we were already seated in the opulent dining room, looking out onto a sparkling “lagoon,” surrounded by bejeweled women on a “girls weekend” and business men on expense accounts, I took one look at the right side of the menu and I almost fell off my chair. (Let me officially apologize to my mother who calmed me down even while her hand shook handing over her credit card.) Then when one of our two waiters announced proudly that their fish was flown in daily from the Mediterranean I felt even worse. I’m no locavore but does my dinner really have to come from 6000 miles away? I don’t enjoy thinking about my carbon footprint while I eat. But why was I surprised? I was in a land where gardens grow inside casinos, Venetian canals flow through the “Piazza San Marco” shopping mall and verdant golf courses dot the desert. And here’s where I feel even guiltier: I ate the best piece of fish I have ever had in my life.
The morning of our departure my mother was very ready to go home. I was still curious. Did I see everything? Did I miss anything? Well, yes. When you travel with your mother to a place like Las Vegas you have a very different experience than if you were to go with a group of friends. (Just like the time my sister and I attempted to escape our broken hearts by spending a week in Paris, it wasn’t the ideal scenario for enjoying the City of Lights. Still fun, but different.) We had breakfast in our room, finished packing and for the third day in a row I enjoyed the most delicious bowl of $15 muesli, cold and sweet, fruity and creamy. Mom asked, “How does it feel to be leaving a place you know you won’t ever visit again?” I said, “Don’t be so sure. I may not be done.” I plan on renting Oceans 11 and enjoying the Bellagio fountain show with George Clooney in peace. And in New York.
What Happens with Mom in Vegas Fruity Muesli
Adapted from Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa, Miami Beach/Bon Appétit, January 2010
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1 1/4 cups quick-cooking oats
2 Tablespoons wheat germ
2 Tablespoons ground flax seed
2/3 cup milk (obviously skim is the healthiest choice)
2/3 cup plain yogurt (as above, no fat is, no fat)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 cups grated peeled pears or apples
1 cup chopped nut of choice (I went with raw hazelnuts and almonds)
3 cups chopped fresh fruit (I chose strawberries, blueberries and pineapple)
Mix first 6 ingredients in large bowl. Let stand 5 minutes to soften oats.
Whisk orange juice and honey in medium bowl. Stir in grated pears or apples and almonds, then 3 cups chopped fruit. Stir fruit mixture into oat mixture. Cover and chill overnight.
Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with some granola or nuts for crunch or a dollop of yogurt or just as is.

Yield: 6 servings