Everyday Cake

100_3796 smI made an ‘everyday’ cake today—a whip-it-out sort of chocolate sheet cake. I normally don’t frost my everyday cakes, but I had a hankering for peanut butter with chocolate, so I looked for a peanut butter icing recipe…and didn’t find one I really liked the look of.

So I tried a new one—a broiled icing—a hot mixture of butter, honey and peanut butter spread on the warm cake and lightly broiled.

“Hmmm…Looks like moth-eaten dragon breath,” said my daughter when she saw it.

“Caramel sludge!” declared my son.

“It looks more like a disease than an icing,” I said.

But the disparaging comments ended when we tasted it—very nutty and not too sweet.

“Pretty good, even if it does look…weird.”

For an everyday cake, that’s really all that matters.

Dinner cheat

100_3792 smOut late today, coming home tired and sporting a headache, I decided to just pull a jar of soup out for dinner.

Then I felt a little guilty about copping out of cooking, and thought I’d make biscuits to go with it.

Then I remembered the pie dough in the fridge (always make extra pie dough when you make it—there are so many glorious ways to use it). Score!

I rolled the dough out as if for a pie, then cut it into shapes with cookie cutters. After I placed the shapes on a baking sheet, I sprinkled them with grated parmesan cheese, and baked them at about 200C (400F) until they were brown and crispy (10-15 minutes…I didn’t really look at the time).

So fun, and so easy!

Garden Gloves

100_3697 smLess than two months.

That’s how long a pair of garden gloves lasts me in the warmer half of the year. I wear through the tips of the fingers. Once the finger tips are gone, they don’t do much good. I buy a new pair almost every time I’m in the gardening section at Bunnings, just because I know I’ll need one sooner rather than later.

I used to garden without gloves. When my kids were born, my mom bought me a pair, “So that you can garden, and just take the gloves off when you need clean hands to deal with the baby.”

Made sense, so I started wearing them.

I can’t remember if they helped at all with the baby, but they did help with my hands. Until I had gloves, I never realised that the itchy welts I seemed to always have on my fingers were a form of eczema caused by contact with plants (any plants, not just poison ivy; tomatoes are one of the worst). Once I started wearing gloves, those itchy welts all but disappeared.

Now I’ll hardly go into the garden without my gloves.

And since I wear through them so quickly, it’s probably a good thing. Think if I were wearing through my skin that fast!

Dementors

chocbar2 smJ.K. Rowling got it right when she decided that the treatment for dementor attack should be chocolate. Dementors (for the one of you out there who hasn’t either read the Harry Potter books or seen the movies), are horrible creatures that suck all your happiness away, leaving you with only your worst memories.

I’m convinced dementors primarily attack teenagers. In fact, one ambushed my daughter the other day. It was terrible…anger and tears that no motherly words could console.

Fortunately, I knew what to do. We were in town at the time, so treatment was as near as the corner petrol station. I raced in, bought a chocolate bar, and administered it to my daughter.

The effect was immediate and dramatic. Crisis solved! Dementor banished!

Looks like I may have to keep some chocolate on hand for the duration of the teen years…and it must be time to start teaching them the patronus charm.

Wisdom

Not strong enough...

Not strong enough…

It was a mistake. I should have known better. But the day was going to be a busy one, and I’d already forgotten to unload the sack of grain from the car the day before.

But it was early in the morning. I hadn’t had breakfast yet and was feeling hungry and not terribly strong. My body hadn’t yet warmed up.

So when I hefted the 40 kg sack of goat feed into the shed, I lifted it poorly, relying too much on my back and too little on my arms and legs.

I will be sore for days…possibly weeks. The result of pushing too hard.

Two weeks ago I was determined to get my pea trellises up. Instead of asking for help, I tried to do it myself. The trellises aren’t heavy, but they are tall. To move them, I have to stretch as high as I can and walk on tiptoe. Of course, I dropped one, cracking one of the supports in half.

I get frustrated with the limitations of my own body—how short and weak I am, how quickly I tire. I know I shouldn’t. Compared with many women my age, I have the strength and stamina of a workhorse. And, of course, there is nothing I can do about my height. Still, my plans are always bigger than myself, and I am regularly frustrated by my weaknesses.

But frustration isn’t all bad. Having big dreams and pushing ourselves to achieve them is what helps us grow. I am stronger and more efficient in my work than I was ten years ago. In spite of age and a lot of grey hair, I can accomplish more in a day now than I could in the past.

But ten years ago, if I lifted a sack of grain poorly, I wouldn’t have paid so dearly for it—a minor twinge in the back, perhaps—not days of pain and stiffness. The body isn’t so resilient as it once was. Perhaps this is where wisdom is born.

When our bodies can no longer live up to our dreams, we learn to expect less, ask for help, work smarter.

I sure hope so…my back would appreciate a little more wisdom.

Throwback Thursday—Kitchen disaster

quiche smI don’t usually talk about my kitchen disasters, but this one was a winner.

Making quiche on a weeknight is always a bit ambitious. You’ve got to make the crust and the filling, and then it has to bake for a good 45 minutes. It’s one of those meals that I need to start at 4.30 pm in order to have dinner on the table by 6.

Often, if I make quiche on a weeknight, dinner is late. This was the case one day last year. I had my heart set on quiche, but got home late. Made quiche anyway, in a mad whirlwind of activity. Finally got it into the oven and cleaned the kitchen. I was feeling good about my effort—dinner would only be 20 minutes later than usual. No problem.

When the quiche was done, I opened the oven and slid out the rack…and the quiche kept coming. It flew out of the oven as though it had been hurled, frisbee-style by some unseen hand. It soared off the rack and onto the floor, where the whole thing, including the pie plate, split in two. Bits of egg and vegetables flew everywhere, and I stared in stunned disbelief. An hour and a half of preparation lay splattered across the kitchen floor. At almost 6.30 pm, I wasn’t going to be making another dinner. What were we going to eat?

Thankfully, Ian sprang into action, heating up a jar of homemade soup from the cupboard. By the time I had the quiche cleaned off the floor, the soup was on the table.

I am now very careful whenever I pull a quiche from the oven…