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Showing posts with label baking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label baking. Show all posts

Monday, May 26, 2014

Positive Things I Did Today

  • Scrubbed the toilet. Don't laugh. H. took Punch and her pal to the Central Park Zoo to meet up with our other pals so I had a mini burst of energy to clean.
  • Put a yellow iris and two purple flowers from our chive plant in a pretty glass bottle on the bathroom counter.
  • Rested....again. This upper respiratory cold has been exhausting.
  • Sat at my computer at my desk and researched [1935, the year Anthony was born] and wrote.
  • Tweaked a favorite Ina Garten recipe to make vegan corn muffins, since Figgy has gone vegan again. Even H. and Punchy liked them--though they're still way better with eggs, milk and butter vs. soy milk, coconut oil and a little cup of applesauce. Good toasted with jam [or salted butter, for nonvegans like the rest of us in this house].
  • Went to Anthony's wake. 
Good night to you.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Palm Sunday

Caught tail end of noon Palm Sunday Mass due to car key mixup for getting Punch to Mo 's Mad Science bday party....thankful that the friendly usher handed me some ripe green palm as I walked in, despite my tardiness...admired grape hyacinths and blue and yellow pansies...baked the Gateau Royale from an Emily Luchetti cookbook for my friend Anne's was simple and elegant and gluten-free for the birthday was like a melty brownie baked in a springform pan in a water bath...topped with shiny chocolate glaze and a pale pink hyacinth from the front garden. Good night, with thoughts of my cousins Linda and Judi.

  1. Did get to church for a bit of quiet contemplation.
  2. Good dental care.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


H. lit a fire and it felt good to sit by it talking to Fig and friends--after a day of mixing, piping, baking and dipping Sarah Bernhardts for Valentine's, shoveling mounds of snow, cutting and gluing hearts for Punch's cards, scrubbing all those baking pans and bowls...good night. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Well, the sugar train has caught me again. But not for long. Decided to bake for H's book signing party tomorrow. The train stops soon. Good night.

1. Boot camp in the snow! Pretty.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


Figgy and friend made Baked Alaska today. His dad makes it every Christmas. I made it once in high school. It is a show stopper.  He also gave me a little glass of the cognac you pour over it to ignite it. I shall be sinking off to sleep now, Good night.

1. Walled Puff.
2. Private Benjamin.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sweet Surrender

Offset spatula image found on
Sitting in my sun room office writing about icing spatulas, whisks, pretty pale-blue prep bowls....I finally understand why I need an offset spatula. That's the one where the blade is bent near the handle, instead of being one straight flat surface. It's kind of like a step down near the neck, with the blade/spreading surface below. It keeps your hands/wrists out of the frosting and is great for coating mousse cakes and Sacher tortes with rich, warm, glossy chocolate glazes. You have more leverage and height than with a straight spatula. The offset is also supposed to do a sweet job of spreading cake batters.

On that useful note, good night.

  1. Walked Puff around block.
  2. Ate spinach.
  3. Bubble bath! Even if the locksmith did ring the bell near the end of it and I had to rush out, wriggle into bra and denim skirt, throw shirt on inside-out. 
  4. Anne and Nikki came over for [very simple] dinner by candlelight.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Muddling Through, One Day @ a Time

Vegan banana bread in fancy pan from my bridal shower at Good Housekeeping.
Coming down with a cold. Probably from eating waffle remnants from a kindergartner's breakfast plate. Also on a bit of a pumpkin kick. The pumpkin butter and pumpkin pie carry too much sugar, but do taste like fall, glorious fall. Good night to you.

This jar found its way into my shopping cart today.
I got this excellent one at Whole Foods yesterday. 
  1. Dropped off Tory Burch ladylike sandals at shoemaker to be reheeled.
  2. Weekly $20 salon shampoo & blowout at Vamp. Again, young 20-something Kerri Lynn is part upbeat life coach, part stylist.
  3. Bought and read two newspapers to read while eating omelette at diner.
  4. Walked Puff around block.
  5. Made turkey tacos with our garden tomatoes for dinner, and vegan banana bread from old black-skinned bananas I had frozen. With a small river of oven-melted Valrhona Noir Orange chocolate on top. [They sell blocks of the dark chocolate at Whole Foods.] 
  6. Private Benjamin.
  7. Met two friends for tea and talk tonight.
  8. About to brush teeth and read.
  9. Trying to remember, Stop, Drop and Roll--step back from some stuff with our Figgy. It's not just Figgy who has to grow and separate from us--we also have to grow and separate from her.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Of Lemon Cakes & Laundry

Made buttermilk lemon cakes for book group--because our book this time was The Great Gatsby, and when Nick invites Daisy to tea after Gatsby begs him to, the sweets served are lemon cakes from the delicatessen. The only lemon cakes I thought I could get from a deli around here would be Tastykake lemon cupcakes, and I couldn't bear to stoop that low.

Also caught up with laundry. Still hoping and praying, praying and a hoping. H. and I used to sing that to Figgy when she was in my belly. May things unfold as they should, and may we all stay safe and sound.

Good night.

  1. Slept late.
  2. Pored over my cookbooks, like I used to, to find my best lemon cake recipe.
  3. Walked to grocery store and back on this pretty day.
  4. Book group with friends! Laughter, compassion, wisdom.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Under the Pie Top: A Peek at the Big Berry Bake-Off

Experts from 5 beloved Montclair bakeries volunteered to judge. Left to right: Alisha from Cupcakes by Carousel and Colleen and Therese from Le Baker's Dozen* evaluating the Pies, Tarts, Crisps & Crumbles category on appearance [before tasting].
The entries were impressive, from Triple-Berry Pie to Raspberry Tart with Nut Crust, shown second from right--it was the big winner, made by Ronnie. She won a $75 Williams-Sonoma gift card and a dessert cookbook.

The judges at work. Note their cute babies.
The kids category winner, Julia, and her dad Charlie. Julia made Strawberry Cupcakes with Raspberry Icing. She and her dad volunteer at the soup kitchen, helping serve dinner on Sunday nights.

Every entrant paid a fee to enter, and we also had a bake sale and a raffle [$1 per chance] to win a blueberry cheesecake, peach/raspberry pie or blueberry almond tart. The raffle alone brought in almost $200. We raised good dough and sweet awareness, we hope, for Toni's Kitchen, the soup kitchen on South Fullerton Avenue in Montclair. It operates out of St. Luke's Church.

So many great entries: blueberry tarts, raspberry-filled macarons, a berry flag cake, blueberry cupcakes.......and many more....and it was an honor to work with Karen Kadus, who was amazingly organized and a visionary; my friend, Anne, who is Toni's Outreach Director; Diane, who oversaw the judges; and volunteers Anne Q., Melanie, Shannon, Jen, MJ, Liliana and Tonya.

Sweet dreams, indeed.

*Not pictured in this photo: judges from Gina's Bakery; Montclair Bread Company; and the Little Daisy Bake Shop.

  1. Last night I got a pound of good roasted veggies at Whole Foods. Had those for late dinner tonight with leftover roast chicken and whole-wheat bread. Felt good to eat something healthy after tasting so many treats today. [We sold them for $1 per slice after judging.]
  2. Nap.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Mark It in Blue: Big Berry Bake-Off, Sunday, July 28!!!

This sweet story about blueberry picking was one of Figgy's favorites.
If you live in or anywhere around Montclair--or are visiting--enter the 2nd Annual Summer Berry Bake-Off fundraiser for Toni's Kitchen, the soup kitchen in town. Includes categories for kids and adults, and great prizes, from Williams-Sonoma gift cards to kitchen accessories. All proceeds go directly to Toni's Kitchen, which also provides other support services for guests--even art and memoir writing classes after hot lunch is served on Saturdays.

I'm on the bake-off committee, so please spread this sweet rumor. We'll also raffle off nice homemade desserts [so you can take them home intact] and have a homespun bake sale. You don't want to miss this day. Bring on your best baked berry recipes--from muffins to scones, cupcakes to pie. Shortcakes, cheesecakes, layer cakes, bars...we want them all.

Another juicy detail...the judges! Our panel is composed of experts from five treasured Montclair bake shops: Gina's; Montclair Bread Company; The Little Daisy Bake Shop; Le Baker's Dozen; and Cupcakes by Carousel. If you've been to those bakeries, you know you want in on July 28.

See you that Sunday!!!!! Please check the link above for entry details. Then mark your calendar with blueberry-blue or raspberry-red ink so you don't forget the date. :)

  1. Walked Puff around the block.
  2. Enjoyed strawberry jam on toasted oatmeal bread, fresh cherries, and roasted veggies today.
  3. Reviewed our budget with quiet time I had while H. went to New Hampshire to get Figgy. Saw some areas where we can be more frugal.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Thanks, Aunt Tara

I owe Figgy's friend Christy Rose's Aunt Tara big time for the Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Krispies Treats recipe I've been making often lately. She once brought a batch to the Roses for a gathering. Christy brought some to us. Please, get me that recipe, I begged. I wrote on top that I snagged the hand-written recipe on a sheet of notebook paper on 3/2/03. I can't believe Figgy and Christy were only 7 then!

Tomorrow is Teacher Appreciation Day at Montclair High, and parents are asked to bring in baked goods en masse by 8 A.M. I made two large panfuls. Please let me know if I should post Aunt Tara's recipe.

Thank you, Tara--and thank you to my friend Jean, Christy's mom, because I'm pretty sure she jotted it down for me.

Good night.

  1. Important reading.
  2. Lots of ice water.
  3. Lit pretty candle on mantel on this dreary rainy day.
  4. Bought baby oil and bubble bath for future skin pampering.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Humming Along

I love Erin McKenna's cookbooks. Click HERE for the banana bread recipe.
Made a big to-do list today, divided it into work and life.

Did plow through a lot of it.

Sorry not writing anything profound. Good night.

  1. Kept dentist appointment--faced music. Hard.
  2. After unhealthy detour, rebounded. Got huge plate of steamed greens with shrimp and brown rice @ Chinese restaurant.
  3. Walked Sug around block.
  4. Iced coffee.
  5. Reached out to supportive person.
  6. Private Benjamin.
  7. Bought healthy ingredients and made healthy supper--black beans and cheese on whole-wheat tortilla, baby spinach, guacamole, and after, sweet green grapes.
  8. Made banana bread with a little added wheat germ, coconut oil instead of butter, agave nectar instead of sugar [pls see link to recipe, above].

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Batter up! Cornbread Festival

Some of the nine cornbreads* we sampled today in Cornbread Alley.
It poured on and off all day--we had to wear yellow ponchos at the annual Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg, Tennessee. My hair is a mess of spring curls. We were out from 7:15 A.M. till almost 9 P.M.--also visiting Ruby Falls, Rock City, Tour Point Park [site of pivotal Civil War encounter], Chattanooga Market, Lodge cast-iron pan factory, and for dinner, a wonderful restaurant called Easy Bistro & Bar, where I had a Smoke on the Water cocktail, tender filet mignon with whipped potatoes and café au lait pot de crème in a petite lidded white dish. Memorable meal.

So I think a photo essay will do--but hope to fill in more details about today another time. Needless to say, we all felt stuffed to the gills by the end of the night.
Ferris wheel with corn-yellow seats near the entrance.


Festival cosponsored by Lodge, age-old crafters of cast-iron skillets, and Martha White, Memphis maker of cornmeal, flour, hush puppy mix and cornbread mix.
Old-time charm.
On Cornbread Alley, the contestants bake their recipes outside [see the stoves?] and guests walk along and get samples of each to put on a plate. At the end, you put money in mason jars to raise money for the charities/churches who made the ones you like best. For instance, I favored the Boy Scouts' Cranberry Cornbread Bars, so I put a couple of dollars in that jar.
Under a tent, ingredients for whipping up the recipes.

I've seen fried Oreos at the Jersey Shore, but today--battered and deep-fried corn on the cob [plus fried pickles; layered barbecue sundaes in small mason jars; and corn salad].

We got some sample pouches--can't find Martha White brand in New York area, so eager to try it.  I like the packaging.

Couldn't believe this one!
The badge.

Coke truck.

God and cornbread. Even birdhouse churches for sale.

Time to get some rest. Feeling bad b/c Figgy was sick today and I was many states away--but of course her good Dad was there, with Saltine crackers and soda, and I checked in via cell phone calls and texts. Good night.

*My personal favorites were the Cranberry Cornbread Bars [cookies] made by Boy Scout Troop #63 and the Toasty Hushpuppies whipped up by bakers from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. And the best quote came from the young Boy Scout at the table. "These are so good," I said. "Did you make them?" I asked about the bars, made with melted butter. "No," he said with a big grin. "If I'da made them, I'da ate them." Other recipes included Apple Cinnamon Cornbread; Hush! It's Dressed Chicken [calls for hush puppy mix]; Pepper Jack Cornbread; Cranberry Cornbread Coffee Cake; Broccoli Cornbread; Tuscan Style Cornbread; and Popeye Hushpuppies, with chopped spinach in the batter. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Tempting Pitfalls en route to Chattanooga

We head to the National Cornbread Festival tomorrow. Can't wait.
Well, the Charlotte airport had a Krispy Kreme Donut kiosk, but I was able to study it and step away. At least the donuts were all packed up in boxes, sacks and cups so it was easier than if it were a full-fledged Krispy Kreme shop with the sweet, cakey scent warmly wafting my way.

Other airport devil: Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. I suppose in the grand scheme of things, a dark chocolate-dunked Oreo isn't too bad....but no coffee today so chocolate-covered marshmallow filled in. I really liked that I could buy a $2.50 chocolate bar to send our troops--and I did.

I'm not in Tennessee yet but as I wait here for my flight to Chattanooga, already hear lots of deep Southern accents, flowing thick and rich like honey on a biscuit. These folks must be shocked by harsher/brasher Jersey/NY accents like mine when they go through Newark Airport. 

Looking forward to National Cornbread Festival tomorrow. The fact that they choose a "Baby Cornbread Muffin" winner really drew me to this press trip. I kid you not. Plus I already own a cornbread cookbook, and love Ina Garten's recipe for corn muffins [hard to beat].

Check it:
Miss National Cornbread Festival Contest
Rules and Information
Age Groups
2 – 3 years ...........................  Baby Cornbread Muffin
4 – 5 years ...........................  Tiny Miss Cornbread Muffin
6 – 8 years ...........................  Little Miss Cornbread Muffin
9 – 12 years ........................   Miss Cornbread Muffin
13 – 15 years ........................ Miss Sweet Cornbread
15 – 18 years .........................Miss National Cornbread

Til later.

Just logged onto As I head into cornbread press trip, have to track food and exercise. I will be biking by the river one day.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Too Tired to Write

Was at Commonwealth Club from 6:30 P.M. til 11:40, in heels. Did not bring change of shoes for cleanup, as other women on the fundraiser committee did. Am too vain for that. We raised a lot of money for Project Graduation. I also won one of the baskets, with a $115 haircut/deep conditioning gift certificate, a $25 manicure gift card, a $40 gift certificiate to fashion store Barbara Eclectic and a pretty, glittery evening purse from Barbara E. All prizes--and there were a lot of great ones--and almost all food was donated by our local merchants. Generous. And a lot of hard work by the women on the planning committee, to get the donations.

I have to go to bed. Because all the little cream pie making in my kitchen was followed by lots of big bowl and pot washing. And after the party, we were hauling chairs, cleaning up, folding and carrying tables. Good night.

  1. Boot camp in the dome.
  2. Nap.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pi(e) Day, March 14

First King Arthur Flour sent an email yesterday:

03/14: enjoy pi(e) day with
$3.14 shipping on your $31.41 order

Then my friend Anne texted me about pie day today...

Then, I know Figgy loves I made five individual vanilla cream pies with sugar cookie crumb crusts. At first taste, they hadn't cooled enough, and the filling was bland--really lacking. But with hours to chill, it all came together. H., Fig and I loved them. [I also sent one home with our dinner guest.]

Happy Pi(e) Day. Good night. Let's lay our heads on pillows as light and fluffy as whipped cream.

  1. Private Benjamin with H. Tough stuff, but glad we tackled it.
  2. I walked home from the appt. It was energizing.
  3. Made healthy dinner, with brown rice, chicken, vegs.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Vanilla Sky

My new purchase, on sale @ Anthropologie.

I already own this book, and love it.
So today I met Amy--one of my editors--for lunch @ Raymond's on Church Street. We brainstormed, caught up, went through story ideas. And had a delicious meal! It was good to see her. Then, since I was over on Church Street, I popped into Anthropologie, with its nice sale room on the second floor.

And what to my wondering eyes should appear but Pure Vanilla, a beautiful cookbook of vanilla recipes by Shauna Sever [author of Marshmallow Madness!, which I don't own but would like to, and blogger @ Piece of Cake]. The gorgeous photos are by Leigh Beisch. [Cover price $22.95 but marked down to $14.95, then the sales associate took off another 20 percent b/c for some reason, the ingredient list for Creamy Vanilla Rice Pudding recipe is half blanked out. And rice pudding is one of H.'s favorites. So my price was $11.96.]

I have folded over SO MANY pages of recipes I want to make, especially Tuxedo Crème Cookie Sandwiches; Vanilla Cream Pie; and Vanilla Cloud Cake [a lofty angel food cake with a frosting made of cream cheese, melted white chocolate, whipped cream and two kinds of vanilla]; and Big Mama Vanilla Cheesecake. One of my latest plans is, once again, to return mostly to baking for others--parties, events, etc. And there's a big fundraiser March 22 for Montclair High School Project Graduation. It's a New Orleans theme, so I've volunteered to make a New Orleans recipe for Lemon Icebox Pie [it's really good, from a cookbook called Dam Good Sweet] in small tart sizes, and now I think I'll do some Vanilla Cream Pies in smaller, pick-up sizes, too. I love little pies. So comforting to look at...and to eat.

Tonight I'm making the author's Slow-Cooked Vanilla Spice Oatmeal with steel-cut Irish oats.. a little brown sugar and cooks overnight...should be nice to wake up to in the morning.....unfortunately, I don't have a vanilla bean, which I'm sure would make it fabulous...those were out of my budget tonight....but I have everything else. And it should be yum with a splash of half and half, sprinkle of sea salt and toasted pecans.

Let's all drift off to sleep on a vanilla marshmallow pillow, like fairies must do. Good night.

P.S. Yes, others may emerge from Anthropologie with a soft vanilla-white sweater, but me, I come out with a vanilla cookbook. 


  1. Boot camp in the dome.
  2. Faced music after poor food choices. Logged in, moved on best I could.
  3. Walked Fluff around the block.
  4. Made nice tomato sauce for supper, with ground turkey for me and Figgy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Recipe Makes the Rounds

I learned from my friend Nancy, back in high school, that this makes killer brownies.

My friend and fellow writer Kim [whose great blog inspired me to start blogging three years ago] posted this awesome recipe from L.A.-based master Joy the Baker on February 5: BROWN BUTTER ROSEMARY ORANGE CORNBREAD.

It is SO GOOD. Thank you, Joy, and thank you, Kim. There's a stick of butter, but it's spread out over a lot of servings. The cornbread is so moist and rich, and uses only one-third cup sugar, flavored with aromatic fresh rosemary and grated orange peel. I got a big juicy orange and went to town, adding more than the recipe calls for.

So fragrant, so delicious. I made a pan last week and a pan this week. I put a wedge in Figgy's lunch for a snack--feeling somehow like I was packing a pail lunch for a farmgirl. I'm making vegetarian chili tomorrow night to serve with it and while I'm avoiding sweets except one day a week, I allow myself this because it is not too much sugar per panful. But I won't lie: It is particularly hard to resist with butter.

For me, the most time consuming step is snipping the fresh rosemary into tiny pieces.

Good night. I really love Joy's site; the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pudding is on my radar for another sweet day.

  1. Boot camp in the dome.
  2. Walked Puff around block once.
  3. I broke through a weight plateau.
  4. Liked the sight of snow falling tonight when I took Puff out front just now.
  5. Baked two pans of Baker's One-Bowl Brownies just now for Valentine's Day, with walnuts, vanilla extract, freshly grated orange peel, espresso powder and a little coarse French sea salt. Topped with dark chocolate chips before baking and scattered after with tiny red sugar hearts. Packing most up for Figgy to bring to school tomorrow. But the point is, if I'm making brownies, I'm making the finest ones. I also love the recipe from Baked cookbook, but they call for chocolate I didn't have. To save money, made the recipe with the Baker's unsweetened chocolate I had.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Loving a Granddaughter Stitch by Stitch

Figgy's sewing teacher's grandbaby, Lorelai, in the dress Chris made her.
I've been meaning to post this since before Christmas. It's just so cute. This is baby Lorelai. Figgy's sewing teacher, Christine [Chris] is her proud [young] grandma. Chris works full-time and comes to our house after hours to give Figgy sewing lessons. She has been sewing since she was a girl and is as passionate about bobbins, tension, interfacing and the beautiful things you can make yourself as I am about......adjectives, editors, cookbooks, Tory Burch and fine chocolate. I watch Chris and I think, Gee, I love writing, or think I do, but could I ever convey the skill set with such enthusiasm?

It just makes me so happy to see that little face in that little dress....her grandma made the dress twice, because the first one was too big. She used yards of lace [I think Battenberg lace] to make the collar. Here's her email:

Wow, I am honored! Lorelai is just filling my heart every day with so much love and joy.  She has already sat on my lap pushing buttons on my sewing machine!  I guess she is my youngest student!   But that is not to say that all of "my kids" I teach to sew aren't special as well. I enjoy watching their self pride when they actually did make something themselves. Even gets them away from texting for a while!!! They feel so accomplished.  They just need to know that they can!  I think it's therapeutic as well.  There is way too much electronic entertainment today, which is breeding lazy kids and losing so many of the arts that those before us worked to hard to  keep alive. Wishing you all a very happy holiday.  Chris.  

Thank you, Chris.

Good night.

  1. Walked Sug around block once.
  2. Nap.
  3. Salon blowout--got my reward points, so it was only $10 plus tip.
  4. Made healthy dinner and special dessert, which I had been planning--Julia's Child's 8-inch single layer "Queen of Sheba" chocolate cake.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

While the Cat's Away

While the Cat's away--getting a brain zap @ Harvard, traveling to California for a luxury publishing retreat and getting his IQ retested @ Mensa, all three for the book he is writing--I  have more freedom at home. Freedom to:
  • Put my pretty wicker picnic basket in the living room. I'm quirky that way. I won it in a raffle once--it was a fancy gift given to Mercedes buyers. It has real plates, real glasses, tiny salt and pepper shakers. I don't have the Mercedes, but I have the picnic basket. And one day I will use it, like Grace Kelly in  "To Catch a Thief." The thing is, it's big and so H. wants me to put it in my office, right off the living room. Child that I am, I refuse to put it in the basement. But it crowds my little office and besides, it's just fun and whimsical to see it with the lid open in the living room, beckoning me to a summer picnic--with H. and Fig.
  • Make chicken sausages for dinner for me and Figgy. It's not that I don't cook meat or poultry when vegetarian H. is home, it's just that we have to have a meatless version then, too. So this is easier.
  • Play CDs in the morning. When it's H.'s turn to sleep and mine to get up @ 7 with Figgy, I can't play CDs to get myself going without a kick of sugar/cocoa/caffeine. But today I did. And I liked it.
All of that said, I miss him, too. BTW, here's what I blogged about a year ago while he was away--CHOCOLATE PUDDING.  And right now, I'm experimenting with the idea of not having sugar--hot mochas, chocolate, cupcakes, brownies, energy bars, other sugar-laden things--but planning to allow myself to bake something once a week. So far I have done without the treats since 3 P.M. yesterday. That's good for me.

Good night.

  1. Made daily checklist.
  2. Boot camp in the park. Running up steps, weights, lunges, sprints...
  3. Walked Sug around block.
  4. Veggies.