Saturday, June 27, 2009

Six Unimportant Things That I Love-the meme.

Okay. So.

I'm reading through the updates on my Google Reader and at the end of
one post, I see my blog's name at the bottom.

Whoa. I shook my head twice, blinked my eyes thrice, and looked again.

Just when I thought there was no one out there but the crickets,
I discover I was wrong.
(I promise, I won't do the Sally Fields thing here, although the situation
clearly calls for it. It's just too easy.)

Someone (besides my best friend Carmen) must be out there acknowledging
my space in the blogosphere.

I feel like one of the Who's.
I am here! I am here! I am here!

So, thanking The Distracted Housewife very kindly, (it was she
who tagged me, BTW), I will get down to the business at hand.

Six Unimportant Things That I Love:
(in no particular order)

1.) My waterbed: I have had the same waterbed since 1981 and find it incredibly difficult to
sleep on anything else. On extended stays away from home, I turn into a zombie after more than one night on a hotel mattress. That waterbed is my refuge, my solace, my happy place, my

2.) My garden: When we moved into our current home, there was a potentially lovely rock garden out back with perennials already there, struggling to survive. I planted hostas and some more Asian lillies and waited. Those plants have really taken off and they feed my soul every time I got to the garden.

3.) A picture of myself standing in Trafalgar Square. Several years ago I made a solo trip
to my All-Time-Happy-Place, England. I stayed with a friend in Kent and one day we drove up to town (London) for the day. He took a picture of me standing in front of the National Gallery, leaning against the fountain wall. There is the mother of all grins on my face, and not just because I had succeeded in achieving my weight-loss goal before the trip: no, I was in the one place I'd always wanted to be, and it was one of those EEEEEK! moments. (More on those in a later post.)

4.) My Get Smart DVD's. With all of life's trials, tribulations, and travails, isn't it great to know there is a place where buffoonery reigns supreme, violence is a sock on the jaw, and the eternal struggle of Good vs. Evil boils down to Kaos and Control? Whenever chaos rules my daily life, I take great comfort in getting an iced beverage and lounging on the aforementioned waterbed and vegging out with Max, 99, and the gang.

5.) Beatles songs. I have formed a religion whose creed is "The answers to Life can be found in Beatles lyrics." Amen. Try it; you'll see.

6.) My patients. Not that they're unimportant. I work for a visiting nurse agency, mostly treating the Medicare generation. When I meet an elderly person with whom I can really connect and form a special bond, that's magic. For whatever good I can do for them, when they tell me that I've made them laugh for the first time in ages, they've handed me the world.

Now, I understand, I tag some other someones to reveal their
Six Unimportant Things That I Love.

The Other Side of Fifty.

The Busty Baker

English Mum in Ireland

Friday, June 26, 2009

One Lump or Two?

I have had a hankering to try a root beer cake for quite a while, and being
faced with two recipes, I chose this one because it was larger. It filled a
Bundt pan instead of a snack-cake type one. I figured if the cake
turned out well, I'd want plenty of it around. Most chocolate cakes don't last very
long in our house, and I'd love to blame it on the male population but in a rare
moment of self-confession, I admit that I'm the one with no self-control.
I just can't leave it alone until it's gone--and then I begin plotting anew for the next
dessert to grace my kitchen counter, erode my self-discipline, and increase my self-loathing.

By the way: it really does taste like root beer--chocolate root beer, which is wonderful
and puzzling at the same time--you can find this out if you dip an index finger into
the batter, just to test it, of course. Don't forget this taste-test, because after it's baked, you lose some of the root beer overtones, as it were.

Root Beer Float Cake

(from Joy the Baker)


2 cups root beer (don't use diet)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. spray the inside of a 10- inch Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray or butter generously and dust with flour, knocking off the excess.

In a small saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder and butter over medium heat untilo butter is melted. Add sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

In a small bowl whisk the eggs until just beaten. Then whisk into the cocoa mixture until combined. Gentle fold the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture. The batter will be slightly lumpy. You can give it a quick whisk if you like, but don't overbeat the batter or it could cause the cake to be tough.**

Pour the batter into prepared pan and cook for 35-45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking until a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack or cake plate to cool completely.

Sorry there are no pictures for this one, but if you've seen one dark brown Bundt cake, you've seen 'em all. Besides, I forgot to take any pictures before it got scarfed.

**For fear of over-beating, I did not worry about the little lumpies that were in the batter--BIG MISTAKE!!! The finished product ended up with little pebbles of white flour (or something equally nefarious) that my sons were convinced were chunks of mold and thereby refused to eat. That meant more for me--NOT a good situation, as my too-tight scrubs will attest).

****caveat!! This frosting was a little weird. I followed the directions faithfully with no substitutions, etc. but I would do it differently next time. It's a great buttery frosting with a beautiful texture, but very salty! I was puzzled why you would use unsalted butter but then add salt to it. Next time I will use salted butter and eliminate the teaspoon of salt altogether--I mean, I realize that a bit of salt can enhance the chocolate flavor, but this was overpowering, and I only used half what the recipe called for. I'm glad I listened to my gut feeling or it would have been inedible. And for me to consider anything chocolate as inedible...

Try this frosting at your own risk--

Chocolate Root Beer Frosting

2 oz. 60% cocoa, melted
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup root beer
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using an electric hand mixer, beat softened butter and cocoa powder. Once combined, add the melted chocolate, salt, powdered sugar and root beer. Beat together until smooth. Spread on top of cooled cake. slice and serve with vanilla ice cream.