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Posts Tagged ‘book review’

Sticky Chewy Messy Gooey, by Jill O’Conner

 

I recently tried making my first homemade almond milk. The almonds I bought wanted nothing to do with becoming nakey, however, even after soaking them for a full 48 hours. I had to peel the skins off like too-fresh boiled eggs. It took forever, but the almond milk itself was a delicious success. Until I ruined it with too much honey. Typical. Note to self: measure next time, and use simple syrup.

Anyway, I kept the leftover almond meal in the fridge with the ultimate goal of finding something yummy to bake it into. Then, last night karma was kind. My friend and I were looking for something yummy to make for dessert, so I pulled this cookbook off the shelf and we started drooling through the recipes. Imagine my delight when I turned to the recipe for Almond Brown Sugar Pound Cake, AND I had all the ingredients!

This morning, after saying good morning to my little plant babies in the garden, I assembled the ingredients and set to work.

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted before measuring
1 1/4 cups almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
…all got sifted together into a medium bowl and set aside. Then…

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened

…were creamed together until whipped and fluffy. Then…

2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons homemade vanilla extract

…were gradually added and whipped again until fluffy. Yes the double addition of vanilla is thoroughly decadent, but the recipe called for 1 tablespoon each of vanilla and almond extracts. I don’t have almond extract, and I didn’t want my cake to feel slighted in any way. And it IS homemade extract, after all. So there. Then…

6 eggs, at room temperature

…were added one at a time and each addition was mixed thoroughly for at least a minute. Then…

…I folded in the flour mixture by hand with a rubber spatula until all the almond flour was completely mixed in. I then poured the batter into a greased and floured Bundt pan and baked in a preheated 325° oven for 65 minutes.

I let it cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then turned it out onto the rack. I used my doneness-testing-wooden-skewer to poke holes in the cake for the glaze. To make the glaze, I added…

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup water
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

…and 2 teaspoons homemade vanilla extract to a small saucepan. That part wasn’t in the original recipe, but what kind of butterscotch glaze doesn’t have vanilla in it? Seriously? The situation had to be remedied. (Yes, Jill O’Conner, there is such a thing as a vanillaholic.)

The recipe suggests boiling the glaze for about five minutes, but I like my glaze thicker, so it boiled for about 10 minutes.

I moved the cake from the rack over to its final resting place on my cake server. In retrospect, I’d have left it on the cooling rack and put parchment underneath it to catch the glaze as it poured over (then reuse the glaze). I had to use a silicone pastry brush to thoroughly glaze this lovely cake. It worked, but I think the other method would be less messy. On the other hand, I got to scoop the excess glaze off the edges of the cake server and give them the required taste testing.

Oh. my. goodness. This cake is amazing! I found the cake itself to be a tad sweet (not that that is a crime, by any means), but hubby disagreed. The butterscotch glaze is amazing, and I love the texture that the almond meal adds to the cake. I was also pleased to discover that this cake has that crunchy-sweet bottom that is essential to any good pound cake.

This will definitely be making routine appearances in our kitchen.

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Chances are, the majority of the first readers to stop by here will be friends and family. But, since the random passer-by (Hi, Random Passer-By!) is possible, I’ll tell you all about our family and what you should expect to see here.

Let’s start with li’l ole me… Kimi's Wedding PhotoYes, it’s my wedding picture. Yes, I’m totally made up and looking unusually spiffy. Don’t worry, the real me will turn up soon enough. But I digress…

I was born in Florida and have lived here my whole life. I love it! Well, with the exception of a few unreasonably hot days in the summer and some equally unreasonably cold days in the winter – it’s fantastic. No matter where you go, there are all kinds of adventures accessible within a tankful’s range.

I feel like I’ve lived a pretty interesting life. My lifelong interests include horseback riding, martial arts, swimming, reading, writing, music, and theater. I’ve held a good variety jobs, including bakery employee, veterinary clinic receptionist, horseback riding instructor, swimming pool leak locator, scuba instructor, nanny, and Mom. I like that last one best.

Most of what you’ll read on this blog have to do with that last (and best) job. It has quite a job description! Childcare professional, educator, housekeeper, personal assistant, chef, baker, baby milk maker (moo), bedtime tucker-inner, lullaby singer, referee, defender of the peace, and all-around good snuggler (just to name a few key resume points).

I love my job, and it definitely keeps me busy. Like right now, for example, I have a peaceful, cuddly, warm baby fast asleep in my lap…but if I move her…well, not so peaceful anymore. Moments like this give me plenty of time online, but not so much time for the rest of my job. But seriously now, who could pass up that much sweetness and sugar all in one tiny little package? Which brings me to my wonderful husband…

DSC_0008 This is Adam with our sweet little bundle of honeysuckle goodness (you’ll meet her later). Did I completely cheat by jumping right past his fancy wedding picture into the deep end of randomness? Yep. But the blog is called that for a reason, after all. Anyway, Adam is completely, totally, and in all ways amazing. Not only is he one of the funniest people I’ve ever known (closely rivalled by my daughter Gracie, another one you’ll meet later), but he is the kind of husband and father every family needs. He’s smart, hard-working, motivated, multi-talented, loving, and would do absolutely anything for us. Does it get any better than that? I think not. He is a printed circuit board designer by day and an aspiring movie maker with an affection for horror movie makeup by night. He also once had a gig as a drummer in a punk band. It doesn’t get much more random than that…starting to understand the theme? Let’s move on…

Gracie This is Peyton Grace. AKA “Gracie”. Doesn’t she look sweet and pretty, playing in the pool dappled with sunlight? Yep, she’ll cute the “awww!”s right out of anyone, but don’t be fooled! Note the impish grin? Yes, this darling beauty is the quiet stinker of the house and hands-down the funniest kid I’ve ever met. Invariably, Gracie will come up with some perfect little gem of 5-year-old silliness that puts me in stitches. Yes, they will all end up posted here (check out the Twitter feed up there on the right). Her favorite things include horses, swimming, princesses, and any cute animal.

Here’s an interesting fact about my wonderful Princess Grace: she was born with a thumb and two fused fingers on her right hand (complete simple syndactyly). When she was six months old, she had surgery to separate them at Arnold Palmer Hospital, performed by Dr. Birnbaum of Nemours. The results were fantastic, and Gracie has never let it slow her down. She is truly amazing and thinks it’s really cool that she can reach in places the rest of us can’t! If you ask her, she’ll tell you all about how the doctor gave her a heart-shaped scar on her fingers so she’ll always remember Mommy loves her.

Next is my Kaitlynn Beth. AKA “Kaitie”. Gracie’s twin and our tomboy in a tiara. DSC_0170Always laughing, always playful, she can really put a smile on our faces. She’s smart as a whip, but often has her head in the clouds, which can make her challenging sometimes. A natural athlete ( the kid has one hell of a six pack for a five-year-old), she has had her share of bumps and bruises while giving me mommy-heart-attacks. She loves to swim, and is learning how to snorkel. She’s an avid reader and can do so at about second grade level. Some of her favorite things are animals, books, art, and princesses.

DSC_0104My stepson Derrick Orion rounds out the list of bigs (that’s short for “big kids” around here). Cute as a button, our seven-year-old bean pole is as tall as most nine-year-olds. He’s one of those kids that makes you wish the energy he has came in a bottle. Consequently, one of his favorite things to do is run. Fast. His non-stop “play mode” does get him into trouble sometimes, doing homework with him is often like pulling teeth, but this sweet little blue-green-eyed boy doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. Some of his favorite interests include dinosaurs, sharks, reading, TV, and video games (which, to his dismay, are not free-flowing around here).

Last, but certainly not least, our “little”. Sweet baby Caroline Olivia. Born July 30th, she is the newest addition to our random clan. We have no fear that she will grow into her destiny of randomness. She is a mellow, happy baby and is just starting to show us her big smile! She looks so much like her Daddy that we call her his little clone, but when we look at pictures of me at her age , we look very much alike, too! We are all looking forward to watching her grow. Some of her interests include staring at the toys in her bed, Mama’s milk, Daddy’s lovin’, filling her diapers, spitting up, and generally being ridiculously cute.Sweet Caroline

We are really enjoying life as a blended family. It definitely has its challenges, but it’s all so rewarding! The bigs have such a great relationship, and I sincerely hope it carries on into their adulthood.

And finally, I think I should mention the whole purpose of me writing in the first place. I want to record our activities and experiences to share with other parents. I have found that some of the greatest resources are online articles posted by parents who are experiencing similar joys and issues as we are. So, without further ado, the topics that will make it to the blog are including but not limited to…

  • blended families and step-parenting
  • family trips and activities, including reviews
  • natural living choices, including: chemical-free food and home environment, cloth diapering, breastfeeding, delayed/selective/non-vaccination, organics, etc.
  • adventures in public education and supplementing at home
  • our Family Friday tradition, including: themed crafts, meals, and other fun
  • parenting and family related book and magazine reviews
  • movie, TV show, video game, and other entertainment reviews in relation to family
  • recipes and food successes (or failures) with our picky eaters
  • baby and big kid milestones and cuteness (obligatory mom stuff)
  • weekly meal planning
  • and, of course, the gems of randomness that spout forth from the mouths of our babes (and my husband)!

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