Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Four Blunks and Swishy

My mom was born in Romania where she learned to bake astonishingly marvelous desserts. When people are done weeping for joy after consuming one of her pastries, they usually ask me, "Did your mom teach you how to make this?

The answer is no.

 Not because I lack interest in baking. I love to bake.

Not because I lack ability. I'm actually not bad in the kitchen.

And not because she won't share her recipes. She's thrilled to give them to anyone who asks.

The problem, my friends, is that her directions are impossible to follow. You doubt me?

Let me illustrate the point:

Me (eagerly): So, you're finally going to teach me how to make your famous torte.

She (cheerfully): Sure, sweetheart. It's easy. First, get out a big bowl. No, a bigger bowl. Now add a couple of eggs. 

Me (confidently cracking the eggs and then carefully writing): Two eggs.

She: Those eggs look small--add another one.

Me (amending my recipe): Three eggs.

She: Now throw in some flour.

Me: How much flour?

She: You know. Just put flour in until there's enough.

Me (pause): Yeah, um, how about I just add flour, and you tell me when to stop, okay?

She (watching me pour the flour in the bowl a half of cup at a time): That's about right.

Me (meticulously writing): Okay, three and a half cups of flour.

She (stirring the batter and then throwing in another handful of flour): Maybe more.

Me: Mom! How much was that? A fourth of a cup? A half of a cup?

She: Yes.

Me: Yes, it's a fourth of a cup? Or, yes, it's half of a cup?

She (shrugging): Sure. One of those.

Me (protesting): Mom, you can't add anything unless I measure it so I'll know how much to use next time. 

She (waving me off): I can't waste time with all this measuring. Now, you need four glumps of milk.

Me: Did you say 'glumps'?

She: You know, 'Glump, glump, glump, glump.'

Me: Wait, what?

She: Then two bangs of salt. But not from the clear salt shaker--you need two bangs from the silver salt shaker.  

Me (perplexed): Two bangs?

She: And then mix the batter. If it's too thin, add half a handful, maybe a handful, of flour. If it's too thick, add half a glump of milk.

Me (completely confounded): Half a glump?

She (lowering her voice to a mysterious whisper): The secret...

Me (leaning in): Yes?

She (looking deep into my eyes): ...is to stir only in one direction. If not, you confuse the batter.

Me (massaging my forehead): The batter is confused? 

She (resuming her normal voice): Then add a swish, swish, swish of white sugar.

Me (bewildered): How much is a swish of sugar? 

She: No, no! I said a swish, swish, swish of sugar. You need three swishes or it won't be sweet enough.

Me (completely lost): Three swishes?

She: Then a quick wooshy-wooshy of oil and a bloomp of vanilla. 

Verse of the day: (Ecclesiastes 8:1) "How wonderful to be wise, to be able to analyze and interpret things." Indeed.

Anica's Egg Nog Cream Puffs
(the easy version for us mortals)

For the puffs: 

1 ¼ cups of water

¼ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
½ cup of butter or shortening (but not margarine or oil)
1 ½ cups of flour
4 eggs 
  • While stirring, bring the water, salt, sugar and butter to a boil on the stove.
  • Add the flour and stir vigorously. Cook and stir until the dough leaves the sides of the pan and forms a ball.
  • Take the pan off of the stove, cover the dough with plastic wrap, and let it cool in the pan.
  • When cool, add one egg at a time, stirring well by hand with a wooden spoon. Expect the dough to be difficult to mix. Mix it only in one direction or you’ll "confuse the dough."
  • Drop egg-sized clumps onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Do not open the oven door, but turn the temperature down to 325 and bake the puffs for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Cool.
  • Cut the top off of the puffs, making a lid. Scoop out excess dough in the middle leaving the hollow shell.
  • Fill puffs with cream and replace the lid. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle with chocolate glaze.
For the Egg Nog Cream:

3 boxes of Instant vanilla pudding (3 ¾ oz. size box)
4 envelopes of dry Dream Whip
5 cups of milk
1 tsp. of rum flavoring (or vanilla)
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg 
  • Beat all the ingredients together with an electric mixer for three minutes.

For the Chocolate Glaze (optional):

2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. corn syrup
1 tsp. rum or vanilla flavoring 
  • Melt butter and chocolate on the stove in a double boiler (or in a regular pot on low).
  • Add corn syrup and flavoring, stirring continuously.
  • When blended well, drizzle sauce over filled puffs.


  1. hahaha! my wife and I read this together, loved it!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. Hey, newlyweds, take notes on the posts ones about how Jay and I resolve conflicts so you know what to do (or avoid). Should come in handy in one way or another!

  2. My mother-in-law cooks like that, too! Oh to be that good and that confident in the kitchen!

  3. I seem to remember eating quite a few of these pastries :) They were hands down the best I've ever eaten.

  4. Did you get the version of the recipe with the "glump, glump, glump" descriptions?? :-)

    1. Oops - that was Linda, you have lots of L's in the family!

    2. Yeah, I finally FORCED her to slow down and let me measure everything. Then I tried to make the torte again using that recipe so she could tell me what was wrong with it (and she changed it a lot the second time). I had to weather some very tense moments, but I was DETERMINED that these recipes would not end with her. They're too good. I can send them to you if you want them.

  5. Mmmmmm...yep, that's the sign of a "MASTER" - cooking and baking by "instinct." I certainly didn't get that gene!! I just burned french toast a day ago. Ugh. Ate it, too, because I was hungry & don't cook--that was my specialty for the day.

    Hee hee - I still remember when Mom got upset that if we stir haphazardly the "batter gets confused"! ;-) Love this post & the memories.

    Love, L-
    (As in Lora ;-)

  6. This is so hysterical but perplexing!! I guess everything has to do with one's own interpretation....right?? I have to admit that there were several of those terms I have no clue about either!!!

    Can't wait to meet her soon......