Cake Maker

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Meg has been wanting to learn how to decorate cakes. Our friend Sarah is very good at it, and volunteered to teach her. She made a fantastic lemon cake with raspberry jelly filling. Sarah’s daughter Natalie and their friend Sofia helped a bit as well. To give you an impression of how good the cake was, note that even Spencer liked it, who usually only likes ice cream cake. Thanks Sarah!

Good Friday = Hot cross buns

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One of the great traditions I learned from my mom is hot cross buns. I have taken the tradition from her and been making them with the kids for several years now. As a kid I remembered having them for Easter, and at some times during Lent as well, even though one should technically be fasting. The last couple years I had been waiting until Easter to have them, but I learned last year that I had been doing it wrong – they should actually be made and eaten on Good Friday, so that is what I did this year.

Meg and I had lots of fun making them. Spencer helped out with the frosting part. I also decided to put the recipe on the website too, in case you want to try it at your house. They came out particularly good this year.

In addition to hot cross buns, we also made cream cheese mold cookies. I am actually not sure what they are called. My mom made them with Meg a couple years ago when we were visiting them in Michigan, and Meg thought they were super cool. My mom gave us a couple of her candy molds so we could make them ourselves. Clare tried to make them with Meg once last year, but they ran out of powdered sugar and gave up. We also used up so much powdered sugar that we had to ask a friend for some more for the hot cross bun icing.

Cream cheese mint delights
Cream cheese mint delights

We made green mint trees, lemon yellow stars, orange sunflowers, and red almond roses ( and also some yellow roses, because the stars didn’t come out very well). I remember my mom making these for church events when I was young, but I don’t really remember helping. After some trial and error with the consistency, I realized that I needed to take the mention of “play-dough” in the recipe seriously. The dough needs to be quite stiff in order for it not to stick in the molds.

In addition to tasty treats, we also have been enjoying all the magnolia trees in bloom. Clare and I took a long walk today while the sun was peaking out and snapped a few pictures.

Fun with food

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Taking pictures of food is fun, isn’t it? I wanted to share a few fun food pictures we have taken over the last couple months, which I have neglected to publish.

Egg explosion!

This morning I made hard-boiled eggs, and one exploded while cooking. Clare liked it anyways. (I had actually been going for soft-boiled, but they cooked a bit too long).

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Exploded egg

Colorful plate

I heard somewhere that it is healthy to eat a variety of differently colored food. My plate yesterday had green, orange, purple, white, and brown. I don’t think it gets much better than that.

Taco Town!

One of my favorite tv shows is Saturday Night Live, and I enjoy watching old skits on YouTube. I have also introduced the kids to these. They particularly like the fake commercials. One of our favorites is the Taco Town commercial, which is making fun of Taco Bell creating ever bigger combinations of food. Clare recently found a Mexican store in town and bought a bunch of hard taco shells, so I got inspired to try the soft and hard shell combination. It works really well. I have not added blueberry pancakes yet though.

Artful plating

Meg has become a big fan of artful plating of food. Here are a couple of her recent creations.

Smiling roll

Awhile ago we got a roll from the bakery which ended up having a bit of a strange shape. It looked like it was smiling at us. We were certainly smiling after eating it.

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This roll’s looking at you kid

Happy pi day!

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Today I made pizza in celebration of pi day (although I made it square, because that fits our pans better). I used the special pizza flour, which made it really elastic. I also tried my hand at tossing the dough instead of rolling it out, which worked fairly well. I made about 1/3 plain cheese for Spencer and 2/3 veggie for everyone else, with onions, yellow peppers, mushrooms, and onions.

Pizza Pie!

It has been really rainy here the last several days. Last night there was some a big of lightning combined with hail. The forecast for the next several days looks similar. However, in spite of the rain, there are frequently some brief dry periods. Yesterday after dinner we took such an opportunity to take a short walk. It was still a bit chilly and windy, but at least not raining. We saw some daffodils blooming along the way.

Spinach Artichoke Dip Recipe

 

Rob ordered some spinach artichoke dip the other day and he felt it was greasy and overpriced. He was disappointed because good spinach artichoke dip is just so good. So we jointly went on a quest to make up a version of our own. I am posting it here for future reference, because I’m pretty sure we will be making it again. But not for a while. Seriously, this recipe makes a ton of dip. Great for parties, not great for just having sitting in my fridge for whenever I feel like having some.

 

spinichArtichoke

 
Ingredients:
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 large yellow onion
2 10 oz packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
16 oz marinated artichoke quarters, coarsely chopped
17.6 oz container plain 2% Fage yogurt
2 eggs
1 package 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese
6 oz shredded parmesan cheese
16 oz shredded mozzarella, italian blend or combination “melt-y” cheese
seasoned salt
black pepper
white pepper
italian seasoning
Mrs. Dash seasoning

Saute garlic and diced onion over medium heat. Food process the spinach to get a fine texture. I added back some of the juice from the marinated artichoke, as it would not chop super fine once I had drained it. Add chopped spinach and artichokes to garlic and onions, continue cooking to drive off moisture. Food process eggs and yogurt together and add to cooking mixture. Cube the cream cheese and mix it in until it is melted and homogeneous. Mix in shredded cheese a little at a time to avoid clumping. Reserve some parmesan if you want to melt it over the top. Cook for several minutes with the lid on to make sure the eggs are cooked all the way through. Season to taste with listed spices (or experiment). It took more seasoning than I initially expected. Luckily tasting is a pleasant process. ūüôā Serve warm with tortilla chips and/or fresh veggies.

 

Thanksgiving

Lots of good food

Lots of good food
Lots of good food
We stayed home for Thanksgiving this year. It was very nice not to be traveling, and since we invited some friends and family over, it also forced us to clean the house, which was good. Our old roommate from Ann Arbor, Stephanie, came to stay with us for a couple days. She was very helpful in cleaning up and preparing food. Thanks a bunch! Our friend Nick from Boulder, as well as my Aunt Betty, Uncle Phil, and cousin Melissa also came. We had a very nice time, and some excellent food. I got a few pictures, but unfortunately did not get any of Phil and Betty, or of Clare and me. Oh well, maybe another time.

Canning

7 pints of apple butter, and 4 half-pints of hot pepper jelly

7 pints of apple butter, and 4 half-pints of hot pepper jelly
7 pints of apple butter, and 4 half-pints of hot pepper jelly
Yesterday we did some canning. Last weekend I picked a little over 1 bushel of apples from the apple tree in our backyard. This was very impressive, since last year we had none. There actually were apples on the tree last year, but we think the squirrels ate them all. It is possible that the chickens scared away the squirrels this year, which makes up for the fact that the chickens have eaten about one quarter of our tomatoes.
more details follow

Let him eat cake!

Messy Spencer!

Messy Spencer!
Messy Spencer!
Spencer enjoying his birthday cake
Spencer enjoying his birthday cake
Spencer's cake
Spencer's cake
We got cake for Spencer’s birthday from the German bakery by our house, das Meyer. We got a white cake for the kids, and a black forest cherry cake for the adults. From the looks on people’s faces, they both seemed very tasty. Spencer was definitely a fan. He was even nice enough to share a little with Dave. Enjoy the video.

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Egg sandwich

Spencer with barbecue sauce face

Spencer with barbecue sauce face
Spencer with barbecue sauce face
Spencer eating some of Clare's egg sandwich
Spencer eating some of Clare's egg sandwich
Spencer frequently likes to eat what we are eating. Although Clare generally likes variety, she almost always has an egg sandwich for breakfast, with one piece of toast, some barbecue sauce, 2 over-medium eggs, and some cheese on top. Even though we frequently make a scrambled egg for Spencer for breakfast, he still likes to have some of Clare’s egg sandwich, and she is nice enough to share. It is of course messier than scrambled eggs, but that doesn’t seem to bother him.

Blackberries!

Spencer likes blackberries, but we don't like the mess

Spencer likes blackberries, but we don't like the mess
Spencer likes blackberries, but we don't like the mess
Keeping with the messy eating theme, here is another shot of Spencer making a gigantic mess eating blackberries. We might hold off on these for awhile.