Top 10 Things My (and all) Children Want to Discuss at Dinner

  1.  Poop
  2.  Anuses
  3.  TV shows
    1.  Ones that no adult in the universe is interested in
    2.  Ones that everyone at the table has already seen
    3.  Ones that no one at the table has seen
  4.  The First Grade War (alternatively, The Fourth Grade War)
  5.  People with bad table manners at school (thereby ruining each other’s appetite)
  6.  Blood, surgery, accidents, gore in general
  7.  Boogers, teeth problems, ear wax (thereby ruining my husband’s appetite)
  8.  Politics (thereby ruining everyone’s appetite)
  9.  Chemistry, cars, horses, money
  10.  Food

Just wait until they are adults and their father and I show up at their houses for dinner.  We’ll flop around, take our shirts off, cry, pick at the food, make rude noises, fart loudly, shriek like banshees, talk about wildly inappropriate subjects, leave the table multiple times, and cry.  I just hope we have enough of our wits left to enjoy it.

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Lemon Cake with Sour Cream Chocolate Ganache

Double Layer Lemon Cake with Sour Cream Ganache: many words for a simply delicious cake

OMG, this cake is so good.  Moist lemon cake, rich chocolate frosting – my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  There are several steps  but none are difficult.  Make sure you’ve got all your ingredients before starting and pretty shortly you’ll have a new favorite cake on your kitchen counter.

Lemon Cake with Sour Cream Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/2 lb butter (unsalted if you’ve got it, or use salted and half the amount of salt you add to the batter)
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 extra-large eggs or 5 large eggs
  • zest of 6-8 lemons
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (unless you use salted butter, then use 1/2 tsp)
  • juice of 6-8 lemons
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk*
  • 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups full-fat sour cream

If you have 6-8 lemons sitting looking at you (if they are large use 6, if they are small use 8) wash then zest them (a microplane grater works best for this task.)  Set aside zest.  Roll the lemons on the counter for 10 seconds before juicing to release all the pulp and juice.  Juice lemons, set aside juice.  

Grease two 9″ cake pans and either line with parchment rounds cut out to fit the bottom of the pans or flour the well-greased pans.  (You can also do this cake in one layer in a Bundt pan.  Grease and flour it.)  Preheat oven to 350F.

In a mixer beat butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy.  

Add the eggs, one at a time beating between to incorporate.  Beat in the zest.

In another bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  

Measure 3/4 cup of lemon juice and add to the buttermilk*.  Into the butter/egg mix add the flour mix and the buttermilk mix, alternating.  Start with 1/3 of the flour mix, beat in.  Add 1/3 of the buttermilk mix, beat in.  Etc, finishing with the last of the buttermilk mix.  Scrape the sides of the mixing bowl then beat the batter for a couple of minutes.  Pour batter evenly into the pans (or one Bundt) and gently tap on counter to distribute evenly.  

Bake cakes 20 minutes then check with a thin knife or toothpick inserted in the middle.  Bundt cakes will take much longer, 45 minutes – 1 hour.  Thinner cake rounds will take less time, 20-30 minutes.  As soon as the cakes are done, remove from the oven and set on a cooling rack until you can handle the pans without burning yourself (about 10 minutes).  Remove cake and allow to cool on the rack.  

While cake is cooling, make the glaze and ganache.  Into a small saucepan put 1/2 cup lemon juice and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar.  Over low heat, stirring often, melt the sugar and make a simple syrup.  Once the cakes are cool to the touch, use a pastry brush and brush all over (tops and sides) with the lemon syrup.  While that glazed cakes are cooling, melt the chocolate chips (either use the microwave or double-boiler).  Remove the melted chocolate from heat and using a hand mixer beat in the sour cream.  If you have any lemon juice left throw it into the ganache.  Scrape the sides and beat the ganache until well-mixed.  Use 1/4-1/3 of the ganache in between the layers of the cake and use the rest to frost the tops and sides.  You want to use the ganache before it cools too much to be pliable.  If it hardens up, melt in the microwave a few seconds at a time just until it is soft enough to spread easily.  Cut slices and eat.  You can hold out a pinch of the lemon zest and use to garnish the top of the cake, if you like.

*A note on buttermilk.  If you aren’t someone who always has it on hand or you don’t want to buy a whole carton you can make your own easily using regular milk and vinegar.  Measure your milk just shy of 3/4 cup then add 2 tsp white vinegar or, you know, lemon juice.  If you need to top it up to make 3/4 cup add milk.  Stir and you’ve got buttermilk perfect for baking.

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Pomegranate Gingersnaps

These cookies bake up delicate, flavorful, sweet, tangy, and utterly delicious.  If you are looking for a light and fresh take on a gingersnap this is the recipe for you.  Never heard of pomegranate molasses?  Check out your local Mediterranean market and get a bottle.  It is heady stuff.  (Make sure to buy one that is 100% pomegranate, not one with extra sugar or preservatives.)

Pomegranate Gingersnaps

  • 12 Tbs butter
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (you can use half whole wheat for a heavier cookie)
  • 1 cup sugar, plus another half cup for rolling
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch ground white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp granulated salt (leave out if using salted butter)
  • 1 large egg

Melt butter, stir in molasses, and set aside to cool.  Meanwhile mix dry ingredients together, leaving out the extra sugar for rolling.  (A word here about the spices.  You can play with the ratio of these.  Traditionally all of these make an appearance in gingerbread and snaps but if you like one more or don’t have one, try using different amounts.  For an even more exotic gingersnap leave out the cloves and substitute 1/4 tsp ground cardamom.)  Once the butter molasses mix is cool to the touch, beat in the egg.  Mix the wet into the dry, cover well, and refrigerate for at least half an hour.  Preheat oven to 375F.  Put the extra rolling sugar into a small bowl.  Form cookie dough into balls – between 1/2″ and 1″, depending on how bit you want your cookies – then roll in the sugar.  Place cookie balls on ungreased or parchment lined baking pans.  Bake for ~10 minutes until the bottoms are lightly brown.  Cool and enjoy.

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One of Those Moments

It’s been a long time since I’ve done this (write a post here) so, you know, please be patient while I get back into the swing of things.  This evening I had one of those moments – those ones when you think, I don’t want this to end.  We were out to eat at a local place where the food was very good, the service was friendly and efficient, there was live music playing, and I just loved my children so much I started to cry.  You ever read the children’s book Frederick, by Leo Lionni?  While all the other mice are frantically gathering food for the long, cold, impending winter Frederick gathers colors, words, sunshine which he then doles out to keep the other mice happy when the winter is (as expected) long and cold and the food runs out.  That’s what this evening felt like:  I was gather moments, memories, feelings for when the children grow up, for days when I adore them less, for times when I am sad or lonely or distracted or frustrated.  I will dole them out when I am hungry for them and need them.  For now, I will just bask in the glow of a nearly perfect evening.  That feeling might, just might, last through bed time.

 

 

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It’s a Cupcake…It’s a Hamburger…It’s a Trompe L’Oeil!

cupcakes 2

 

Are they meatcakes or cupburgers? Who cares, these are fun and tasty, too. Kids love them, adults are amused by them, we all think they’re great.  The “bun” is a cupcake, the “burger” is a brownie, the “cheese/mustard” is buttercream, and the “lettuce” and “tomato” are these candy beltsrips.  If you can’t find these candies, you can use other colored gummies or licorice candies.

Bake the cupcakes and bake the brownies. While they both are cooling make the buttercream. This recipe will make one dozen. You want to find a cutter (I use a small glass) that is just slightly wider than the cupcakes. Cut the brownies into rounds. Cut the cupcakes in half and put the brownie rounds on the bottom halves. Top with two red and two green candy belts then a spoonful of the buttercream. Carefully put the top on each cake.cupcakes 3

for cupcakes:

4 ounces butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbs vanilla
1 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp baking soda
sesame seeds for topping

Butter and flour cupcake tins, or line with papers. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Add in flour, mix thoroughly. Add in milk then baking soda. Beat well, put into prepared pans and top each cake with a sprinkling of sesame seeds then bake until firm and pick comes out clean.

for brownies:

Brownies

1 cup chocolate chips
1 stick butter
1 egg
1/4 cup applesauce
1 scant cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup flour

Heat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9×13 pan. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heavy bottomed pot. Allow to get cool to the touch. Beat in the applesauce then the egg. When it is well beaten, add the sugar. Mix well then add the cocoa powder and flour. Put the brownie batter into the pan and bake until set up, about 15 minutes.

for the yellow/orange buttercream:

4 oz butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 Tbs ground turmeric
1/4 cup milk

Cream the butter then beat in the sugar, vanilla, and half the turmeric. Add the milk 1 tsp at a time until it is soft enough to droop but not runny. Add more turmeric until you get the color you want.

cupcakes

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