Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Yummy Ugly Cake

Last night, I was in a baking kind of mood, and since the bananas on the counter had reached a "use 'em or chuck 'em" state, I dug out a recipe for banana cake. I'd never made it before, though I've made banana bread before, but never the sort you'd ice.

Now, I love to bake, and I'm pretty good at it, too. I've had my share of disasters, but they are fortunately not the norm. So I was a little surprised to pull my 2 little cake pans out of the oven to find that both centers had sunk a bit. Usually I'd blame that on the kids running through the kitchen, but since it was about 9.30pm, that option was unavailable to me.

Once it was finally cool, I started icing it, and oh. dear. As much as I like to bake, I seem to be generally rubbish when it comes to icing things. I can never seem to get it uniform and smooth and without loads of crumbs smeared throughout. By the time I was through with this sucker, it looked as if someone had tried to eat it and cover up the missing bits.

However, it was unanimously voted the best banana cake any of us had ever had. Those of us who don't like banana bread loved it, and even the dessert snob (that would be Eleanor), who turns her nose up at pretty much anything but ice cream and cookies, inhaled her piece. So, I am pleased to share with you the recipe for the Yummy Ugly Cake (aka Banana Cake), found here.

2 cups sifted all purpose flour

1tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup butter or veg shortening

1 1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 mashed ripe bananas

2/3 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt

1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts (optional - these would probably be great, but some kids have "views" on nuts in their food)

1. Grease and flour well 2 round cake pans.

2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg.

3. Separately, cream butter. Slowly add sugar and beat till fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with bananas and buttermilk and mix until smooth and blended. Add nuts if using.

4. Spoon batter into pans and bake at 350 for 25-30 min. Cool for 10 min, remove from pan and cool completely before adding...

Vanilla Frosting

4 tbsp butter, 2 tsp lemon zest, 3 cups sifted confectioners' (icing) sugar, 2 to 3 tbsp cream or milk, 1 tsp vanilla.

1. Beat butter and lemon until creamy. Gradually add half of the sugar, blending well.

2. Beat in 2 tbsp cream, vanilla, and remaining sugar. Add enough cream to make icing smooth and spreadable.

Just do a better job of icing the sucker than I did, please.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mighty Acts of God

Here is the lovely book that led us through our homeschool Bible time this past year:

Mighty Acts of God has been such a wonderful tool for our family. Each day we'd read the passage (this might take a couple of days if it's covering several chapters), then the chapter in the book. I say chapter, but it's only 2 or 3 pages per chapter! At the end of each chapter are questions that really helped our discussion time go from "Any questions?" to something rather meaningful.

There were several times when I was either stunned or moved or both by how clearly and helpfully some difficult concepts were explained. Of course, the true test of a good "school" book is if the kids will read it outside of school - and they did!

Add in a memory verse each week, and Bible time it sorted. Obviously, though, this would serve very well to help lead through family devotions or even for a curious kid to read through on his or her own.

I hereby recommend it! So do these people...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My funny kids

Like Mommy, he can sleep anywhere!
They were supposed to be "Princess Leia buns", but they turned out more like "Shrek ears".
When I first found her, she was completely covered, doing her math work. Of course.

All the sudden, I heard "Mom, look!" I looked long enough to take a picture, then I couldn't look anymore...

Sunday, May 15, 2011


This morning in church, one of our pastors started to relate a story I found myself familiar with: Joshua Bell, international violin virtuoso, playing virtually unnoticed in a D.C. Metro station. The full story, incredible when you think about it, can be found here.

The point was this: it is shocking to consider that a man who plays for crowned heads of state could be so widely disregarded, but how much greater the travesty that the God-man should live 33 years on this earth, suffer the cruelty of a Roman cross, rise to life again, and all the while, the world walks on by, ignorant of the greatest gift the world has ever known?

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Humble Washing Line

I know I'm in the minority here, but when the weather's warm, I try to hang my laundry outside. I did not grow up doing so, but after nine years in a country where it is very much the norm, the habit stuck. If my habits are not enough of a reason for you to give it a try, here are a couple more incentives:

  • It's cheaper. Seriously. This reason alone should encourage you to give it a try.

  • You know how you have to check the lint trap in your dryer and scrape all that lint out to make sure everything dries properly? Well, that lint is your clothes. Consistent tumble drying wears your clothes out faster. Which means more money. Again.

  • Hanging woolens in the sun doesn't shrink them, unlike the dryer. Definitely a plus when you're a knitter!

  • The sun can actually make your clothes cleaner! Don't ask me to explain how, but I've found that some stains fade in the sun, especially if a little lemon juice has been splashed on it.

  • It slows you down. I know that on the surface, that sounds like a "con", rather than a "pro", but how many of us complain about how busy we are? It's rather a pleasant, mindful thing to walk outside in the sunshine, hang a few things on the line and take your time about life, even if only for a few minutes.

  • This morning, I was out hanging up last night's laundry pretty early, around 7am. This meant I got to listen to the family of hummingbirds chittering away as they zipped around the yard. That alone is reason enough for me. :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Warming Wee Ones

First, a sweater for a gorgeous little girl with a lovely name - Emma Kate.

The pattern was very straightforward, once I actually read the directions clearly. On my first try, I didn't do the increases correctly and ended up with something way too big.

The Plymouth Baby Bunny yarn is wonderfully soft, and washable. Overall, perfect for wee babes.

And because I've been wanting to make this vest for a long time, I felt it needed just the right yarn to make it worth the while. It was worth the wait...

The wool was Cascade Lana Bambu, and so wonderful to work with. I still have another half a skein to work with (amazing - a wearable baby garment that only needs half a skein!), and I can't wait to find another pattern worthy of it.

And did I mention that I loved the pattern? Fun, clear and quick - all needful qualities in my knitting projects. Now I just need to find a baby to put it on, quick!