Happy Thanksgiving (And A Free MP3)

Happy Thanksgiving all.

Something to be thankful for? FREE Mp3 for Amazon Students

A deal too good not to share. Realizing it doesn’t apply to all, probably most, ignore that part and take my Thanksgiving greeting. We’re off to the cousin’s for some gobble-gobble goodness. My morning has been spent drinking coffee, making pumpkin bread. It’s hard not to have the smells of Thanksgiving festivity in the house (since I’m not hosting). The bread helped with that problem.

Peace, love and gratitude for an abundance of joy.

Happy Birthday To Frank

Yesterday was Frank’s birthday. 42nd I think. I’m getting terrible with these things. Nevertheless, it was a birthday, and we celebrated it. In our house, the birthday boy (or girl) gets to choose a dinner (in or out). Being that I was working yesterday, I really tried to steer Frank in the direction of eating out. We started with the possibility of creating a menu, and I immediately grew exhausted. After a few emails back and forth, dinner out at Buffalo Wild Wings was the plan.

My husband likes chicken wings. Seems like every year we end up at some wing location for his day of celebration.

I did wonder about the cake. As I pondered this on the way home, I planned. I knew I had some cake flour at home. I’d whip up something. I thought about making one of Jack’s Chocolate Cakes. I had no mayonnaise. White cake? No… what to make, what to make? My mom usually makes Frank one of her apple spice cakes with cream cheese frosting. That’s it! I have a HUGE bag of carrots in the fridge. Mission Carrot Cake begins.

I checked out allrecipes.com and went out on a limb with the highest rated recipe for carrot cake called Best Carrot Cake Ever. I know. Risky rebel that I am. I saw the ingredient list and had mostly everything on hand. My mission began.

Some of the comments on the allrecipes.com website mentioned the cake being “pudding-like” which scared me, so I read a few responses just in case. If you decide to make this cake, do these two things:

1.) Soak the raisins. Bring water to a near boil on the stove, shut it off; add raisins.

2.) Drain most of the liquid from the carrot/brown sugar mix before using it. Drain the pineapple, too. Maybe that’s three things. Oh well. I put my pineapple in a colander and let it drain for a good 15 minutes during prep. time.

Other than that, this is a recipe that works. I didn’t even substitute anything. Well, I subbed the white sugar for granulated cane sugar, but that’s not a biggie.

As I said, I was on a mission. So much so that when the birthday boy came home from his hard day at work, I immediately sent him to the store for cream cheese and pineapple. Pathetic, no? I felt bad, actually, after he left. I realized I hadn’t even looked him in the eye, said hello, gave him a kiss or anything. I focused obsessively on my cake preparations and missed the whole point all-together. A habit that needs breaking.

You know those recipes that you make that totally fill the house with a smell better than any scented candle will give you? This was one of those. It. Smelled. Divine. I whipped up the frosting (1 stick butter, 16 oz. cream cheese, 1 tsp. vanilla, 2c. sugar) and put it in the fridge. After de-panning the cakes and putting them on racks to cool, we went to dinner. Dinner was good. Loud. that place is loud. But good. Our whole family was there, which is the best part. As they grow older it becomes more difficult to get everyone together in one place. Full and sassy, we came home to the yummy-smelling house and I frosted the cake.

Four candles for 4 decades.

So good. One of those instances where a thin slice is all you need.

This recipe was a definite keeper. Better than store-bought and totally tweakable. The only problem is that I have an entire half a cake left and very little willpower. Cake for breakfast. Cake for lunch. Seriously, this cake’s calorie count you don’t even want to know — especially with that frosting. Which is why, immediately after publishing this post, I’m going for a walk. See ya.

Mulberry Blueberry Pie

We have a mulberry tree in our backyard. It has been growing now for a few years and bears a decent amount of fruit. The kids love to run out back and pick the berries at random times. The other day Franny was outside long after the others had tired of picking berries, and came in suggesting that I come out and pick berries to make a pie.

There was no bone in my body that felt like whipping up a pie on a warm summer day. But he was so enthusiastic and sweet, it felt completely wrong to give into my own lazy desire to play sloth. I examined the tree, as he washed out a container for our pickings. He was the holder, I was the picker. Slightly taller than Lootie, who had the farthest reach of the three boys that were picking earlier, I was able to get to spots that still had some nice, ripe berries on them.

Not enough for a whole pie, but I had a bag of frozen blueberries in the freezer to supplement, and was pleased to have the opportunity to put them to use in a pie. Frozen blueberries are a common staple at our house, but I’ve yet to have actually made a pie with them. I used this recipe from Crisco for a Bluebbery Pie as a base for the pie we were making. I say “base” because of my inability to stick directly to the recipe when baking. I did my best to stick close to this one, though.

I had about 2 cups mulberries and the rest blueberry.

Franny was in charge of stirring, but he got sidetracked by the guinea pigs. I picked up the scent of bubbly, boiling fruit on the verge of burning, and ran to the rescue. It had started to scorch on the bottom, but thankfully not enough to taint the flavor of the filling.

I used the double crust recipe, but it didn’t seem make enough for the bottom and the top. So I enlisted in my standard oatmeal topping (oats, sugar, molasses, butter, cinnamon, salt and a dash of vanilla).

Initially I started to roll the dough for the crust, but that didn’t last long and soon I was using my preferred method — my fingers to press the dough into the dish.

Franny helps with the filling.

Top me off!!!

Ready for the oven…

Franny holds up our creation.

It was fantastic, and I’m not a big fan of fruit-filled pies. Thank you Franny for suggesting we make pie. I’m so glad we did.

Making Old-Fashioned Doughnuts

I found this recipe for doughnuts and we’re making some.

Quick Doughnuts
Ingredients:
4 cups sifted flour
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
2 tablespoons shortening
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour milk or buttermilk

Sift together flour, salt, soda, cream of tartar and spices. Cream shortening and sugar; add eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Add milk and then sifted dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly until smooth. With as little handling as possible, roll dough out on floured board 1/4 inch thick. Let stand for 20 minutes. Cut with 2 1/2 inch cutter or glass bottom, and use a small cutter for the middle. Fry as above. Makes about 3 dozen doughnuts.

Below are some pictures of our doughnut adventure; don’t expect perfection.

cutting the circles for doughnuts

frying doughnuts

sugared and finished doughnuts

They turned out pretty good, although I was a little nervous because some were a bit doughy in the center and the recipe involves eggs. They are darker, too, because I used a majority of whole wheat flour (a staple in this house), and a bit of cocoa powder. And I don’t have a picture of use eating because it was a regular old feeding frenzy.

I’d like to make these again at some point, but boy, my stomach feels like lead and I’m sure to have a heart attack within the hour.

(reposted from 2005)

Banana Bread Joy

I love the smell of fresh baked breads, muffins, cookies, pies, soups. The real deal, too, not an apple-cinnamon candle burning away on a shelf. Today I decided to bake some banana bread, not for the craving of it, but mostly just for the warm, cozy feel it gives to a home. Having a bunch of browning bananas sealed the deal.

As I measured flour, poured molasses, beat bananas, I gave thought to the joy little things like making bread give me. I miss the freedom of being a stay-at-home mom. I miss focusing on my family, being able to fill the house with delicious scents on a near daily basis. I would be perfectly happy not working, and managing a household. I would never claim to be the best at household management, but it is definitely something that I desire naturally. Sometimes it is still hard for me to believe that only a little over a year ago I was a stay-at-home(maker) mom.

We ate less convenience foods then, and I had more time to meal-plan, grocery shop and clean. But, I also figured, since we needed more money and I did not have any solid experience in the workplace, it was a good idea to get a job, put some experience under my belt and make some money. It was either get a job and make money, or go to school and finish out my degree. When a job with decent hours, decent pay and a workload that seemed to fit the bill, I decided to grab it and forgo school (even though I had been accepted back into the program).

As far as simplifying my life goes, I’m not sure I accomplished that by choosing work over school. Though I’m not sure either choice would have simplified life, anyways. But as I made banana bread, I reflected on what was important to me “career-wise” and began to evaluate if I was making the best decision. I have no answer. But I did make some absolutely divine banana bread. Which, as the day goes, was simply a good decision.