W is for Wacky Cake.

I’m sure everyone who bakes has heard of Wacky Cake!

It’s a neat little cake that can be whipped up IN IT’S OWN PAN, using economical ingredients and it comes out fabulously rich and moist. There are no eggs, milk or butter and I know what you’re thinking “Gross. How is THAT a cake?” That’s the whole point of it! No eggs, milk or butter and its still amazing! How wacky is that?!

It was born during the Depression era out when rations for milk and eggs were scarce and the recipe and its variations have survived to this day.

I enjoyed this growing up but up until this year had never made it myself. When I finally did, I added my own touch and am pleased as punch with the results!

Cinnamon Chili Wacky Cake with Chocolate Ganache

  1. 1.5 cups flour
  2. 1 cup white sugar
  3. 4 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
  4. 1 TSP baking soda
  5. .5 TSP salt
  6. 1 TSP -well rounded- cinnamon
  7. .5 TSP cayenne powder
  8. 1 good glug vanilla extract. It’s actually 1 tsp but ya know…
  9. 1 TBSP cider vinegar. I used good old ACV.
  10. 6 TBSP Vegetable oil. I used Olive and it was fine.
  11. 1 cup water

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)

Sift your dry ingredients into an 8×8 inch ungreased cake pan.

Make three wells in dry ingredients and in add: oil into one, vinegar into another and vanilla into the last one.

Pour water over it all and mix it up really well with a fork. Scraping down to the bottom and sort of whisking it all together to incorporate it all together.

Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool. Frost with your favourite topping (Or not. This is good without it!)

Lazy Chocolate Ganache

Heat a few TBSP cream and a couple of handfuls of good chocolate chunks in the microwave for about a minute. Stir to melt and incorporate chocolate and cream together. Pour and spread over top of cake. Let set for a bit then eat.

YUM!

Photo by Rafel AL Saadi on Pexels.com

T is for *Tea. A-Z Challenge.

Tanzanian style tea!

I enjoyed many vibrantly spiced cups of tea whilst in Tanzania last year and of course I just had to go and fall in love! It’s like chai only so much more. A true cup of beauty! Rich and spicy. Warm and comforting. Like nothing I’d had before.

I’ve been trying to recreate it ever since to no avail, even though Grace, our lovely friend and guide so generously gave me detailed instructions. The spices I have aren’t as fresh, the water and milk are different, the tea is not even close to being as fragrant…boooo! I got the sugar down though, ha ha. That’s one thing! I’ve been driving myself nuts with the process but have still come up short. I guess it’s just one of those things.

ANYhoo, I do have a version that comes close and while not exactly “right” it was made per a Tanzanian’s instructions and it’s good!

Ready? This recipe serves one.

Smash up:

  1. 1 cinnamon stick
  2. 7 cardamom pods
  3. 5 cloves

Grate 5 slices of ginger.

Add one mug’s worth plus a touch more of water to pot. This mug holds 1.5 cups of water. You’re adding a touch more because some water is going to boil off in the process.

Add your spices to the water along with a good couple of grindings of black pepper.

Yeah,yeah. I didn’t grate the ginger. I am lazy. You should though!

Bring to a boil and boil gently for 5 min.

Turn heat to low and add your black tea. Steep for 5 minutes. Bring back to a simmer. If you’re not having milk, strain and serve. If you are having milk, you have to use canned milk. Seriously. It’s a must. Just trust me. Add your canned milk to the pot and heat through. Strain into mug.

Add sugar if you wish-I do- but the sugar must be the unprocessed kind:

Et voila, Tanzanian style tea.

I highly recommend you actually go to Tanzania and enjoy it authentically there! My version is good but there is nothing like the real thing. Report back here if you do!

Makeshift Meals-Brussel Sprouts Hash & Eggs.

I had some Brussel sprouts left over from Yule (gasp!) and as I’m the only one in this house who likes the yummy little cabbage brains,I knew I could eat them however I liked!

Soooooo. I roasted them up with some wee potatoes (also left over from Yule) and seasoned them simply with salt and pepper.

Or maybe just salt…I don’t see any pepper? Do you?!

I couldn’t stop myself from picking at them just the way they were but that does not a meal make.

Channeling my inner brunch lover, I promptly fried two eggs and plopped them on top:

And enjoyed the hell out of the whole mess! It was amazingly satisfying. I will definitely be adding this one to the menu when I open my hip new diner in … never.

You should try it too!

Makeshift meal? Will you marry me? ❤

Simple Pleasure- Roast Beef Sandwich

I first came to love a simple roast beef sandwich, 26 years ago whilst standing in the kitchen with future mother in law.

I’d had them before, but usually always with deli meat, never an actual piece of roasted meat. This just screamed comfort to me. Hominess. I was a girl who craved such things even as a young 19 year old.

I can remember Mum apologizing for serving me leftovers – I think I was over for lunch that day-and I thought she was so cute. Leftovers! Like having REAL left over roast beef in sandwiches was a bad thing. I don’t think there was ever a day in my own family where we’d ever had such a thing. Her left overs were my luxury!

We ate happily together and that sandwich has stayed with me ever since. It was so simple yet so good. Quality ingredients put together well.

In the years since, I’ve fine tuned my version of the sandwiches we ate that day. My meat is barely cooked – hers was WELL, well done- I add salt and pepper and slather on way more butter than Mum ever would. Sometimes, my meat is spiced, sometimes its plain. But its always basically the same- meat, white bread, and butter. Yum!

Butter something white and yeasty
Pile on the meat!

Season with salt and pepper
Add some sides and enjoy!

What’s your favourite way to enjoy a roast beef sandwich?

Makeshift Meals- Chocolate Chili, Chocolate Banana Bread-Bananas.

What? Banana bread can be a meal.

Especially if you make it into an epic dessert like I did!

Here’s the scoop.

I was feeling dessert-y but didn’t want to make anything and didn’t really have anything laying about that was turning me on. Until I remembered the big chunk of chocolate banana bread I’d popped in the freezer and the half hand of brown bananas.

So, I microwaved the banana bread then lightly toasted it in the oven.

Then, I sliced the bananas into long chunks and pan fried them in a shit load of butter, until golden on one side. When I flipped them over to brown the other side I sprinkled over a big soup spoon of brown sugar and let the whole lot caramelize for a few mins. THEN, (this is the best part ) I poured over a good glug of chocolate, cinnamon chili Kahlua, let it all come together (without the loss of my eyebrows or home ) and poured the whole lovely mess over the warm and toasty banana bread.

It was rich as hell but really good. You should try it sometime!

Family Dinner, Bullies and Pie.

For the first time in a long ass time, the Hubs and I had everyone over for dinner. Just because. As of late our family has been fractured. Disconnected. 

First there was ( and is ) my son’s drug addiction. Then there was The Great Marriage/Mental Health Fiasco of ’16. We’ve been struggling! Grasping at what was. Hurting with what is. Longing for what could be. 

But fear not! A shift has occurred, as shifts do and somehow – I’m unable to pinpoint it all exactly – our family is coming back together, once again.

Dinner went well! There was food- mac n cheese, roasted sausages, mixed vegetables- there were laughs-lots of good natured “roasting” lots of chasing the kids around, lots of jokes and silliness, there were grandkids..

and there was pie!

When I was making said pie, I was triggered by a memory of a former life. 

My very first job after having my son was in this crappy little bakery, tucked away in the back corner of a garden shop. I was a clerk. I sold treats, sliced bread, made sandwiches, washed dishes and sometimes got to bake cookies.

It would have been an alright job had it not been for one of my co-workers. A spoiled, rich asshole and son of the owners. A man prone to temper tantrums. Legit, tantrums. The kind a toddler would have.

So I’m working away up front, his mother is in the office and Dickhead is in the back doing baker things. I’ve got customers in the shop and we’re all distracted from our calm by the sound of metal clanging and things flying around , followed by the slamming of a door. What the…??? I know what’s going on but the customers don’t so they very quickly finish up and take their leave, visibly disturbed by the commotion. I don’t even remember what I said to them…probably nothing. I have no idea WHAT the problem was this time but from past experience, but I’m sure we’ll ALL hear about later.

Dickhead comes back in after a while – Shawn! His name was Shawn!- Anyway, Dickhead comes back in and the mystery of why is solved. I hear him talking to his mum about how his egg whites wont build because apparently I didn’t wash the bowl properly- grease in your meringue bowl impedes lift-  and how I’m an idiot and this and that and on and on. He’s totally raging and trashing me, saying the vilest of things. 

This is all said out loud with no regard for privacy. I can hear every word. Mommy is trying to calm him down and placate him and he eventually chills and tries to make it all again, saying nothing to me. Nobody says anything to me! Which makes the whole thing even more awkward. 

I carry on with my job, tense as fuck, not knowing what I should do in any direction. I’m not the only one who does dishes in that place! Do I say something? What should I do? Ahhhh! I hate this! I have to walk past Dickhead much later and he is still simmering with rage. So much so that, as I pass him he spits out at me ” You stupid fucking cunt!”

Whaaaaaat?! 

Now, present day Lael would have stopped whatever she was doing, gathered up her belongings and walked out the front door, never to be seen again. No question.

Past Lael wasn’t as wise. Or as brave. What did I do? I ignored him. Which I guess is a defense in itself. But then I kept on working there until I eventually quit because Dickhead started sexually harassing me.

OY!

The thing of it is, I didn’t tell anyone about that first incident. Why? I felt ashamed. Like his asshole behavior was a reflection of me. Maybe I really did do a shitty job of washing the bowl…I was paralyzed with fear and doubt and …the ickiness that comes from being around adults who have temper tantrums and treat people like garbage. Of course, even if it was my fault, is a poorly washed bowl ANY justification for being so aggressive and awful to another human? Nope! Of course not! I wish I had said something to someone, I know now I would have gained wisdom and clarity. But live and learn!

Silence is NOT golden. Silence is isolating. I’m grateful for the lesson.

I’d love to go back in time to redo THAT experience. In a way now, every time I speak up, stand up and take myself out of a toxic situations, I am! 

All this from pie 🙂 

Which was delicious! I found the recipe online, here. 

Have you ever been in a situation like that? Have you ever thought back and wondered WHY you put up with something so obviously toxic? What did you learn in hindsight?



Blueberry Muffins w/ Soph and Grammy.

We had our girl over the other weekend. This kid is getting huge! Yet she is but a wee four year old. How can that all be ? 🙂

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Growth mystery aside, we had fun with her. We went and saw a movie- Smallfoot.- where that kid ate her weight in popcorn, I swear. We hung around the house and played with some toys – Grammy and Grumpus ate A LOT of plasticine food on tiny Ikea plates.- We even made real food! Blueberry muffins, using my mother in law’s recipe.

 

We had some silly fun and ended up with a delicious treat. (I may or may not have added in some white chocolate chips )

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Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

  1.  2.5 cups flour
  2. 2.5 tsp baking powder
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 1 cup buttermilk
  5. 2 large eggs, well beaten
  6. 1/2 cup butter, melted
  7. 1.5 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen. Whatevs.

Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Make a well and add buttermilk,eggs and melted butter. Mix well, and fold in blueberries. Will well greased tins with batter and bake at 400 F for 20-25 min. Enjoy.

Sophia said the muffins tasted like ” rotten garbage” Ha Ha Ha! Little shit. They did not, I assure you. I think maybe they just weren’t cupcakes which is what she really wanted to make.

I learned a thing or two from this experience and as I am a child care professional – no really!- here are my tips for cooking with your grandbabies

  1. Make the things they want to make. Soph wanted cupcakes, I didn’t have the ingredients for those so we made muffins. She was happy to do something with me, but cupcakes would have been a bigger hit. Give the kids the power of choice here.
  2. Make sure your grandchild is old enough to help you in the kitchen and make sure the thing you’re making and the tasks you give them are age appropriate. It saves on frustration all around AND ensures their safety. Are they stable enough to stand on a stool? Is the stool stable? How are their listening skills? Can they follow direction? What about their fine motor skills?
  3. Speaking of safety, don’t freak out too, too much about this. I let Soph lick the butter knife, she ate some batter (like I could stop her, ha) I’ve let her cut things up. With attentive supervision all things are possible. Use your judgement, talk them through it and take a few reasonable risks.
  4. Tidy up the place a bit. Have all your ducks -ingredients- in a row. My kitchen was a train wreck and it made things a bit more challenging. But I’d already invited her in to help and she was eager to do so and didn’t want to wait for Grammy. Next time, I’ll make sure I keep my mouth shut til its clean and I’m organized.
  5. Have fun! You can still teach good hygiene and proper measuring techniques as you go but the real goal here is to spend time with your love, engaged and connected. Don’t worry too much about the mechanics of the thing. Enjoy your time together!

 

We’re having the younger one this weekend.

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OV is eight months old now and army crawling all over the place! Time to baby proof Grammy’s place. He’s going to be a helluva lot of work for the next little bit but boy is he ever cute. I suspect I’ll survive 😉