Monday, June 30, 2014

The Purple Fairy

While doing a massive clean-out of the kids' rooms yesterday (eek, I don't even want to think about it--too awful), we ran across this:

Anya's purple fairy costume.  It was her very favorite dress-up item for many years.  She wore it all the time:

But I have to admit, my hands-down favorite memory with this is of the astronaut fairy:

Now that was an outfit, an attitude, and an original.

I'm insistent on culling the things that we don't use/need anymore in order to make the house more livable for all of us. But there are a few exceptions, and I think the purple fairy dress falls into that special category of things that need to be saved due to the unique memories it holds within its (unnatural) fibers.

What little items conjure up big memories for you?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

In My Kitchen: Learning

(Joining Heather for the kitchen blog hop).

At my university (like many), we have a Office of Teaching and Learning (OTL).  While Anya was trying to make baked doughnuts (more of a muffin than a doughnut) on her own Tuesday, it occurred to me that--at least for this summer--the kitchen is kind of the OTL in the house.  This was reinforced when, the next morning, she insisted that we supervise while she made her own scrambled eggs (eaten alongside a baked doughnut).  

The kitchen as OTL not only captures Anya's desire to learn more about cooking and baking, but also our parental commitment to using the summer schedule to make sure that the kids develop habits of making their own food, contributing to dinner preparation (not always feasible when school is on for three of the four of us), and set up and clean up.  All a learning process.  Life skills.  And, hopefully, a time of communion with each other.

Sam, however, is less interested in the learning aspects of cooking and baking than in eating the products thereof...though sometimes he keeps us company, cubes in hand (the picture only shows about 1/3 of his cube collection...!)  (Okay, in his defense, he already knows how to cook a few things, he's just not interested in learning more.)

What learning is going on in your kitchen?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

In Her Room

She says it's a family reunion.  Clearly, she is currently identifying with my side of the family. (She's got out about as many stuffed animals as there were people at my mother's house a couple of weeks ago.)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

In My Kitchen: Joy

(Joining Heather at her kitchen blog hop)

So much joy in the ordinary things in my kitchen this week:
  • Soup on a rainy, chilly evening
  • A cleaned and organized pantry closet!
  • The baking utensil drawer that I have managed to keep organized for a whole year
  • morning light (yeah, about the rocks--you don't have any on your counter?--I use them to keep my place in cookbooks. Plus, I just like ocean-softened rocks)
  • A plate that always makes me smile
  • Sunflowers...and a ceramic piece (from Ecuador) that I love so much that it's always on my dining table
  • Simple food (and my ongoing love affair with avocados)
  • Soapy cleanup from baking
  • The best pasta dish ever (found at Oh She Glows)
  • Finally: Anya's ballerina hot dog (only Anya would make a hot dog dance ballet...have I mentioned lately that I love that girl?)
I love how summer let's me hang out in the kitchen and really enjoy it!  (Plus, I'm avoiding work on reviewing a translation of my first book--the work is close and tedious and tiring...the kitchen always sounds like a good place to go to escape!!!)

What's bringing you joy in your kitchen this week?

Friday, June 6, 2014

She Reads

My daughter, like me, knows how to curl up with a good book.  The cat senses this and heads to our laps whenever she can get away with it.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

In My Kitchen: Contemplation

I'm in my last week or so of 30 Day Vegan, and contemplating how I want to continue to incorporate some of this experience into my regular eating.  I'll never be a full-time vegan (egads, it's so much easier to bake with eggs), but I could see plant-based foods making up about 70-80% of my intake on a "regular" week.

I also noticed that eating granola with chocolate chips in it tastes just like cookies.

Finally: keep thinking about making a coffee spice cake.  It's one of the cakes that I grew up eating, and it remains a crowd-pleaser among my family and friends.  I had to include Mum's hand-written recipe cards above--about 10 years ago, she gave me a book full of her favorite baking recipes for my birthday.  I love having these recipes in her handwriting--it was truly a great gift.

However, if anyone wants to copy a clear version of the recipe, here it is typed out:

Coffee Spice Layer Cake (not to be confused with coffee cake: this is a true dessert cake)

2 and 3/4 cups flour, sifted four times then measured 
             (or just use cake flour)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice

Put all measured dry ingredients into a sifter

Beat together at high speed, about 3-4 min. (until light and fluffy):
1/2 cup butter (my mother used crisco)
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs

Add sifted dry ingredients to the mixer alternately with:
1 1/4 cups cold coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla 
(admission: I almost always just mix it all together in one go)

Pour into 2 greased and floured 8- or 9-inch layer cake pans and bake at 350 degrees (Fahrenheit) for about 35-40 minutes--depends on your oven.  It's done when the cake is pulling away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

Mocha Frosting:
2 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
1/3 cup cocoa (I use a bit more)
1/3 cup soft butter
1/4 cup warm coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream the butter, add other ingredients, and beat it (by hand) well until the frosting is smooth. If you need to, add more hot coffee a tablespoon or so at a time.  

What are you contemplating in your kitchen this week?