Archive | January, 2010

No sugar, no wheat, no alcohol, no caffeine.

28 Jan

Next Monday, February 1st, I will begin the above cleanse…..According to my friend, this cleanse will rid my body of my toxic sugar addiction, cleanse my mind and spirit, and result in excellent skin and beautiful hair.  There may also be a period of emotional stress resulting in depression, anxiety, and feelings of worthlessness.  Yikes!  However, since I like to do extreme and odd things–I decided to give it a go.  I can do anything for a month, right?  My sister, a couple of her friends, and my mom are all joining in on the cleansing–starting next Monday.  (Hmmmm, I have got to think of a fantabulous way to celebrate and kick-off this cleanse.  Maybe Smitten Kitchen’s Homemade Oreos?)  And anyone else that feels like a whole month of boring—join us! 

There are a couple of problems that come with this cleanse.  One being cravings.  Another, grumpiness.  I haven’t yet decided what to do about the cravings.  February is a pretty quiet month (or so I thought) as far as gatherings go, so I felt that I would have less temptation.  However, I thought wrong.  I forgot about Nova’s birthday, the Super Bowl, Chinese New Year, Valentines Day, and the start of the Easter candy season.  Not to mention the fact that I volunteered to make 100 mini cupcakes for Sawyer’s “Elegant Party”.  I think I like to torture myself.

Watch out, because next week, I will be making sweets and blogging about them—-but not able to sample them.  Even the thought of it makes me grumpy.

I. Can’t. Stop.

25 Jan

Looking at cooking blogs, that is.  I feel like I am doing something shameful as I sneak away to my laptop to look at one more recipe…or click one more link.  As soon as my husband  comes into the room, I immediately switch the screen back to someting more respectable, namely Facebook.  I am obsessed.

It all started with the start of this blog–before I even opened my wordpress account, I didn’t really have a good idea of what blogs were.  I would read some of my friends blogs on the trials and tribulations of motherhood and others on the art of writing children’s stories—but it wasn’t until I started thinking, writing about and constantly baking cakes, did I realize how many great food blogs there are.  And it was during my cake “research” that I realized how much great food there is and how much I enjoy cooking it. 

Lately, I have been particularly smitten with Smitten Kitchen, 101 Cookbooks, and Amateur Gourmet, and yesterday’s cooking frenzy was entirely related to their blog posts (and one of my own).  I made Seeded Flatbread and Red Lentil Soup from 101 Cookbooks, the Mushroom Bourguignon* from Smitten Kitchen, a double batch of granola (my secret recipe inspired by a post by the Amateur Gourmet), and a chocolate crazy cake with maple buttercream frosting, decorated for Valentines Day (I know it is a bit early but I felt like I needed an excuse to use my pretty pink sugar sprinkles).  It was a busy cooking afternoon and my sweet children cooperated by yelling and screaming into a microphone, in the other room, while I ignored them.  (They were playing around with voice altering software, so it was all good.)

Of course I took pictures, but of course I left the camera at home so the photos will have to wait.  In the meantime, check out the above links for some great recipes and photos of the same food taken by real food photographers. 

Are there other food blogs out there that I should know about? 

*Oh, and by the way, as I was cooking the Mushroom Bourguignon, I started to get scared.  I don’t like mushrooms THAT MUCH and the recipe calls for 2 pounds (that’s a lot of mushrooms!).  But, with the egg noodles and a little bit of sour cream, it was delicious!  My hard-core carnivore husband even went back for seconds AND ate the leftovers for breakfast this morning.  It was that good!

Recipe: Shirley’s crazy cake with cream cheese frosting – latimes.com

22 Jan

This looks so easy and interesting, I have to try it.  Possibly tonight after I get a ton of work done, organize my house, and see Avatar!

Recipe: Shirley’s crazy cake with cream cheese frosting – latimes.com

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How old is too old for tofu?

21 Jan

I was asking myself this very question, just two days ago.  I was home.  I wanted sweets.  I am not sure if I have already explained one of my many New Year’s resolutions—but one of them was to stay out of the grocery store.  I am tired of running to one store or another every time I decide I am going to make something “special”.  I want to gather more from my garden, support my local farmers and fishers, and eat whatever we have at home. 

So……the diellema begins when I get a craving for something sweet.  I have some old Nila wafers, one pack of graham crackers, old tofu product, and a very old container of Cool Whip.  (I think I bought it to make that famous Barbara Mandrell cake—but never got around to it.)   My idea was to make a cream pie using the chocolate tofu product–however, the “use by” date was more than two months earlier!  What to do?  First, I researched.  I think I Googled, “How old is too old for tofu?”  and found many conflicting opinions.  Some said, “No way!”, others recounted graphic food poisoning stories, and still others wrote definitively that, “Tofu is fine until 70 days after the “use by” date.”  I liked the last commentors view on the subject but still wondered where his information was coming from. 

I called my mom for her advice—she said, “Eat it if it doesn’t smell.”  I asked a friend if I could feed it to her child; she said, “Sure! Tofu is already fermented.” 

Based on my research (which took about ten minutes), I felt confident in my decision to make (and feed to my two children and their friend), a chocolate tofu cream pie with a graham cracker crust.  We ate it and have reported no problems (except for fighting over the last slice).

If you happen to have these ingredients on hand—make this pie, and don’t be so worried about rotten tofu!

Tofu Chocolate Pie

1 cup of graham cracker crumbs

1/2 c butter, melted

1/3 cup sugar (I used brown because that is what I had–but white would work as well.

Mix crumbs and sugar.  Add melted butter.  Using your hands smooth out the crumb mixture in a pie pan.  Bake at 350 for about 4-5 min. 

Next, take chocolate tofu product.    This is what I had:

Mix 2T cornstarch and pour in pie shell.

Bake for 45 min at 350. 

Let the pie cool for a couple of hours or until the next morning (if you bake late at night).  Find some small children to pile Cool Whip and chocolate shavings on top!  Refrigerate for as long as you can wait and then dig in…….

Oh, just in case you are also doing reseach on how old is too old for tofu—-our tofu product was exaclty 69 days past the printed “Use By” date!

One marathon finished, a baking marathon soon to begin…

14 Jan

I realize that I post a lot about things I am planning to do, rather than things I have done.  Well, this is another one of those posts.  We have returned from our holiday vacation, I have run my marathon, and it is supposed to rain this weekend.  Rainy weekend equals baking projects!  What will I be baking, you may ask? 

Here’s the short list:  (which may grow longer still)

1) More granola!  We have gone through three batches in one week…..Actually, I think there is some peanut butter granola left but it doesn’t look quite right so no one is trying it.

2) Bread.  I have yeast, flour, water, salt and oil.  I am baking bread this weekend.  Just the traditional run-of-the mill whole wheat bread-and if it turns out-possibly some white bread.

3) A nice cake.  I still haven’t decided which cake to make but I am leaning towards the Rainbow Cake blogged about on CakeSpy—- 

It looks so fun, festive and perfect for Nova’s birthday party.  I’ll make a test cake this weekend and see how it turns out.

4) I am also leaning toward this simple cake from the Amatuer Gourmet for an after dinner snack…….I have apples, cornmeal and sugar so it doesn’t require any trips to the grocery store at all.  (One of my new year’s resolutions is to stay out of the grocery store as much as possible—which means buying from local farms, using the ingerdients I have on hand, expanding my garden, and making things I may normally buy (e.g. Hostess Cupcakes or cheese).  (Just to be clear, I don’t normally buy Hostess cupcakes–but I did make some and they were GREAT!)

5) Seeded Flatbread (and Portuguese Potato Kale Soup):  This seeded flatbread recipe comes from 101 Cookbooks and the photos make my mouth water.  Normally, I would shy away from anything “seeded”, but in an effort to expand my palate and my cooking skills—I have decided to try it.  This will be our dinner on Sunday night……I can’t wait.  I suppose I should think of something else for the kids—-I can just see thier expressions when I set these two items on the table. 

My other goal for this weekend is to actually photograph my creations as I am cooking.  This is usually my intent but sometimes I can’t find the camera, the batteries are dead, or I don’t feel like uploading them to the computer.  But, I just got a Mac laptop, with Photoshop (finally!) and I intend to use it. 

Happy Baking!

Granola…..

8 Jan

We have been on a granola making kick!  Sawyer and I made some really good granola the other night—so good it may even be worthy to sell…….We have been tossing around names for our granola company, “Me and Mommy’s Granola”, “Crazy Kids Granola”, “The Best Granola in the World Granola”, “Anuenue Granola”—and trying out new combinations of ingredients.  Last night, we made peanut butter granola, cherry,pecan, cashew and almond granola, and pumpkin seed chocolate granola.  So far, I have only tried the pumpkin chocolate combination–and though it was a bit salty–it has great potential.  A few tweaks and it will be ready for worldwide distribution.

I am running the Disney Marathon this Sunday—so there will be no cake baking this weekend.  However, as a reward to myself, I plan to make a beautiful and delicious cake.  Maybe this cookie-cake-pie from CakeSpy.com?   I would have to do VERY well in the marathon to deserve that as a reward!  Anyway, first things first, I need to finish that race–then I will think cake.   (However, it is very likely that I will be thinking cake throughout the race……whatever will get me through, right?)

Happy New Year!

7 Jan

Our new year started with banging pots and pans on the snow covered porch of my parents-in laws.  It was midnight, the moon was bright, the snow was beautiful and the kids were up and were in good spirits.  Two weeks in Vermont is really good for you.  I had big plans to make cakes and cookies (like usual) but those were  replaced with snow play.  We went sledding, skiing, snoeshoeing, cross country skiiing—we ate lots of cheese, bread, fudge, gingerbread, cake, chocolates.  It was great. 

There was some cake-baking in Vermont but it was mostly by my father-in-law.  He has religously been making the same cake, on the last Tuesday of each month, for the past two years.  The cake is great and I realized that I could learn a lot from him by watching his baking techniques.  He measures things exaclty.  He doesn’t just scoop things into the measuring cups–he carefully sifts, heaps and levels the dry ingredients.  Perfectly —with no messy evidence.  He mixes by the timer-before he starts the mixer-he starts the timer so that it mixes for the exact amount each time.  He carefully cuts out parchment paper (in perfect circles) to place at the bottom of the pan.  He lets the cake cool COMPLETLEY before frosting!  As you can plainly see, his cake baking technique is vastly different from mine.  I do not measure nicely, cut out parchment paper or let the cakes cool…..(I mean, who has the patience for that?)  But, as I humbly learned..those things matter and his cakes turned out beautiful and delicious and mine was only delicious.  So, one of my new year goals is to bake more slowly and more carefully.  (I have a ton more but I’ll bore you with those later.)

 In other news:  This is going to be the year of 40 Cakes!  

Since I don’t have a nice cake to share with you and I won’t be sharing my awesome granola recipe (my son and I are considering selling it), make these brownies.  They are simple, delicious, and like the recipe says, they taste even better the next day.