A little over 10 years ago I started a new job at a fairly small startup software company in my wonderful Portland, Oregon. The day I was hired nine people were laid off. I remember thinking . . . yikes. There were a lot of struggles as the company tried to figure out how to fire the assholes and keep the good ones.
My office (sort of cube actually) was very near a play room containing a pool table, chess board, pinball machine, guitar, leather couch and a huge flat screen TV with a bunch of popular video games. People would drop into that room for fun whenever they needed a break. I remember hearing guitar almost every afternoon. At lunch the couch was a popular spot where gamers would gather and compete with people in another conference room at a large screen TV there. At times I was irritated because I’m one of those people who works best in silence but still…it made me feel good to hear multiple renditions of Stairway to Heaven on a daily basis.
We had some great traditions, like themed release parties. When a new software version was ready to release a party would be held with a theme. So, for example, if the theme was “South of the Border” there would be a margarita bar. Those days it was not unusual to see someone with a beer on their desk while the party wound down. There was also this tradition built around a mystery person named Dr. Fun. The Doctor was an unnamed person who was responsible to–every so often–find a way to spend a little company money to create a fun event for people to attend. Just because.
Well, those days steadily disappeared as we became a larger and more responsible organization. No more rec rooms, no more themed parties with alcoholic drinks, no more Dr. Fun. The company has tried to keep the feeling that used to be there but it is really not possible. A drink ticket is a cold remnant of a warmer occasion and no matter how much I want to get into the new “recess” I just don’t like it. The whole metaphor of controlled play bugs the hell out of me and, frankly, the frantically happy announcements about an upcoming “recess” sound so fake and condescending I am just too rebellious to attend.
Today I attended what felt like a funeral. A week ago we learned that the company had been purchased by a large, Public Equity firm. As a part of the metamorphasis many people were released from their jobs today–people who had worked for the company for almost 10 years–people who knew Dr. Fun personally. The meeting to discuss the restructuring felt more like a funeral than a business meeting. I attended by phone and even I had a tear in my eye and a very sad heart.
I’m not saying that I think the choice to become part of this huge PE firm was a bad choice. It may be the best business decision we have made in some time. Time will tell. What I am saying is I am sad. I miss my old friends, the ones that made me feel so comfortable when I was the youngster, the ones I drank a little too much with at company parties, standing on the cold upper deck of a riverboat, the rain in our faces. The ones with whom I stood in a very long line full of colorful characters to watch a matinee of The Lord of the Rings. Thanks Dr. Fun. Rest in peace. I will miss you.
I learned to love this in Italy so I came home and learned to make it. It is a combination of a lot of other recipes with my own twists. I think it is quite good. You decide. I make it when I need cooking
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This recipe will make one 9 x 13 pan of tiramisu. Best consumed within 3 days of construction but it will be good for almost a week refrigerated.
- 7 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup dry marsala (Wine section—usually near the port. You may use other flavored “spirits” like brandy. I have used Benedictine and it was good but a little too sweet. I suggest you keep it authentic.)
- 8 ounces softened (room temperature) mascarpone (plain—no flavored stuff)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups brewed espresso
- 2 ounces good, semisweet chocolate
- 1/3 cup rum (light rum, not too expensive but not crap either—bacardi works fine)
- 2 teaspoons real (natural) vanilla extract
- 50 or so ladyfingers
- Cocoa powder for dusting
- A 9 x 13 square glass baking dish
Making the pieces
- Chill a glass bowl in the freezer. You will whip the cream in this bowl.
- Put the glass baking dish in the refrigerator to chill.
- Leave the mascarpone on the counter to bring it too room temperature.
- Make the espresso. If you are making it yourself, use Italian roast or French roast. Something dark and strong.
- Drop the chocolate in pieces into the hot espresso. Stir it to incorporate the melted chocolate into the espresso. Add the rum and vanilla and mix. If you need to heat the espresso slightly to melt the chocolate that is fine but don’t boil it. Set it aside to cool.
- In a large double boiler, with a wire whisk, cream together egg yolks, sugar and salt. Add the marsala slowly while whisking over gently simmering water. Be sure the water is not too hot. You don’t want scrambled eggs. Continue to whisk. The mixture will double in volume and become very smooth and thick. Take off of the double boiler and set aside to cool to about room temperature. This mixture is called zabaglione. This process usually takes me about 10 minutes.
- While the zabaglione is cooling down, whip the cream in the chilled bowl to soft peaks.
- Stir the mascarpone into the zabaglione until completely incorporated. Fold in the whipped cream—gently.
- Spread a thin layer of the zabaglione mixture in the chilled glass dish.
- Give the espresso mixture a good stir to be sure the chocolate is not all at the bottom of the dish.
- Quickly dip the ladyfingers into the espresso mixture being careful to not over soak them. They will soak up the espresso very quickly. I usually give each side a 3 second dip. You might consider dipping one then breaking it in half to see if it is soaked through. You don’t want mush but you also don’t want a crunch in the middle.
- Place the lady fingers in a layer in the glass dish. Cover with a good amount of zabaglione mixture.
- Repeat. I recommend layering in the opposite direction. You should have two layers of lady fingers covered with zabaglione mixture.
- Refrigerate the tiramisu for at least 4 hours. Lightly dust with cocoa right before serving. If you want, you may sprinkle with semisweet chocolate shavings instead but . . . I think that is just too much.
My favorite ginger molasses cookie from Mom. Christmas is not complete without them.
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4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (or more) ground ginger (I like 3 tablespoons myself)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
1/2 cup molasses
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix dry ingredients together well in a large bowl.
- Mix wet ingredients together separately.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.
- Form dough into balls about 1 inch diameter.
- Roll balls in sugar and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Bake for 13 minutes for chewy for 15 minutes for crispy cookies.
- Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before removing to paper towels to completely cool.