Strange things happen when you have two children and no life.
You can get a sitter - go to dinner and a movie - but it's not as fun if you know that the big kid won't go to bed and the little kid might not stop crying until you return.
You could go to a restaurant that doesn't mind if your kids hang from the chandeliers and shoot peas from their noses. But that's not really relaxing.
Even if you stretch out on the couch after you manage to cajole the children to sleep, there's really no need to have another conversation with your spouse; you can already finish their sentences.
So what are parent's supposed to do?
I'll tell you what. They're supposed to try and date OTHER PARENTS who have kids 'roundabout the same age.
That's what we've been doing; courting folks who seem friendly and interesting, and who don't mind hanging out with us for a few hours on a weekend.
It's been tough. Scheduling has been more tight than JFK's flight patterns. Until this weekend, we'd been striking out. But then we got a bite. A nice family that owns a local ice cream shop invited us to dinner Sunday.
God, I hope I make a good impression. I hope I don't break anything or shoot beer out of my nose from laughing. ... That would be horrid.
I mean I'm already breaking the first set of instructions: Don't bring anything aside from yourselves ... **
PEAR AND GINGER UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup milk (do not use low-fat or nonfat)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
3 firm but ripe Bosc pears, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick vegetable oil spray. Sift flour and next 8 ingredients into medium bowl. Combine milk and vanilla in glass measuring cup. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until lightly and fluffy. Add egg and beat until will blended. Add molasses and beat will. Mix in dry ingredients alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Arrange pears in bottom of prepared pan. Pour batter over.
Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer pan to rack and cool 10 minutes. Using small knife, cut around sides of pan to loosen cake. Turn cake out into rack and cool slightly. (Cake can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.)
Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.
**I hope it doesn't suck.