Let them eat cake: chocolate cake!

Well, I saw this recipe from The Telegraph for a chocolate cake with a kick of ginger. Sounded good to me so I thought I’d give it a try. First let me check for ingredients. No muscovado sugar but I do have brown sugar. No double cream but I do have evaporated milk. No golden syrup but I do have light corn syrup. No chopped dark chocolate but I do have dark chocolate chips. No dairy milk but I have nut milk. I’m good to go!

Spoiler alert: This essay is about process and not the recipe. I will show you the end product and review the taste. For fans of the GBBO this did not come out as a signature bake, a show stopper, nor would it have passed the technical. I would have to leave the tent!

First of all I pulled together the ingredients for the cake. This cake used oil and not butter and had more sugar than flour which I thought was interestingly different.  So I am standing in my kitchen with Google on one hand, a cookbook open to a chart of conversions from  Metric to Imperial and vice versa, a calculator, and pen and paper. I have to convert grams to cups and portion of cups, weight to volume.  This takes quite a bit of finagling since Siri says one thing and the chart says one thing and the calculator says another thing. Finally I decide on a formula and measure out the cake ingredients. Luckily my liquid measuring cups have ml markings. The batter comes together and is very thin, and there is not a lot of it either. This is to be baked in 20cm round pans which to my measurement were the 9-inch pans. I fit parchment paper, pour in the batter, and bake.

(I have just now double checked the 20 cm measurement and find that it is 8 inches. There is a reason for the “measure twice, cut once” truism.)

The cakes were very thin. Clearly the result of the above mentioned measurement error. But they were raised so I put them on racks to cool. They smell and look good.

While the cakes were baking I had put aside and prepped the ingredients for the ginger caramel as well as the chocolate frosting. But for the frosting I figured the cocoa would make it chocolate enough and did not put in chopped chocolate chips. Boiled (was to only melt) the frosting ingredients and set aside to cool and thicken. Which it did not do. I put the frosting in the fridge. Still liquid. I melted some chocolate chips to try to thicken it which did not really work. So I have fudge sauce for the frosting. Great.

Meanwhile I am looking at the very thin cakes and decide I’ll bake another set of cakes from a tried-and-true recipe, Best-Ever Chocolate Cake (https://mykitchenmythoughts.com/2016/02/18/best-ever-chocolate-cake/) that my mom always made. I whip this up. This cake uses a cup of butter and has more flour than sugar. I bake this in two layers in the 8-inch cake pans. Why? I was not thinking properly? I wanted a cake with good height? There was much more batter than the other cake and the 8-inch pans took longer to bake than I expected and I was afraid the edges that were trying to overflow the pans would burn. They didn’t and finally the cakes were done. I now have these cooling on the racks and turn my attention to the caramel.

I do not make caramel. I cannot recall ever making caramel. The instructions did use the word “stir”. This turned into a sauce that did not thicken to drizzle state when cooled. I wondered about that when I was pouring in the ginger cream (ginger infused evaporated milk) and remember almost all GBBO bakers commenting on NOT stirring the caramel while bubbling. Live and learn.

Now I have four cake layers, fudge sauce, and caramel sauce. I put the two thin cakes together by drowning them with the fudge sauce and a few spoon of caramel. I now add the first layer of Best-Ever. This is tall enough and would be too tall with the fourth layer. So I now have to use the rest of the fudge sauce for the top of the third layer. I’m drowning the cake and the sauce is overflowing the cake plate. I busily scoop around the cake and try to spread some sauce on the sides.  Then I pour the caramel over the top of it all. It dawns on me that I forgot to add the tiny bit of sea salt to the caramel so I sprinkle that on top.  Cake is complete. It looks a mess. And after all that, we don’t even have a slice until the next day. I put it in the fridge overnight.

To review:

  • I used the wrong sized pans for both cake batches.
  • I stirred the caramel.
  • The chopped chocolate was essential for the texture and thickness of the frosting.
  • The fudge sauce (supposed to be frosting) was absorbed by the thin bottom cakes so they became very dense. It did not saturate the Best-Ever cake layer all the way through so there was a bit of cake texture there.
  • The ginger only came through from the sauce on the top of the cake.
  • The chocolate was too intense and although very rich did not result in the best tasting chocolate flavor.
  • It would be helpful to have a kitchen scale.
  • We’ll be eating chocolate cake all week!

Does this ever happen to you? You try something new and are disappointed. It is not certain that it is the recipe or how you carried it out? That does not mean I will stop trying. There are those home bakers who have tried-and-true cakes, pie, cookies that they consistently bake. The only one I have is Best-Ever Chocolate Cake. But I like to try new recipes and they sometimes do not turn out a well as I had hoped. I have a trove of cookbooks, I follow cooking blogs, and the internet has almost everything else. The adventure continues.

quiche

So I was going to have some friends over for lunch. I picked the day of the week that was supposed to be sunny and reasonably warm so we could sit and visit and eat outdoors. Outdoors is more Covid-safe than indoors. As 2020 would have it though, the day was rainy, rainy, and rainy! So the lunch visit did not come together which is probably just as well. Indoor eating venues are not particularly the smartest choice these days. So it worked out that two friends weren’t feeling well (Covid negative, no worries!), another one was having a crisis in her work environment, so we cancelled.

I had already made a pumpkin cake to which I had added chocolate chips, walnuts, candied ginger, and dried cranberries. I was planning a crust-less quiche for lunch and decided to go ahead and make this.

My quiche “recipe” is two cups milk/cream and 4 eggs. Everything else is up to the cook. This was made with evaporated milk as I did not have “real” milk and am not certain “fake” non-dairy milk sets well in custards. I fried up some bacon for this and added the red pepper since only Hubby and I would be eating this.

  • 4 eggs
  • 12 ounce can of evaporated milk, topped up to two cups with plain unsweetened almond milk
  • about 6 ounces frozen spinach
  • one smallest red pepper, chopped
  • about four inches of bacon, diced; I hacked off a section of frozen bacon.
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Start oven to 350 degrees F.

Fry up the bacon. Drain the fat and put the bacon bits in the bottom of the 8-inch square baking dish. Add the onion, red pepper and spinach to the pan and sauté until the onion is softened. Add this mixture to the pan with the bacon and stir together. Meanwhile beat the four eggs with a fork and add the milk and stir until combined. Pour this over the veg and bacon mix in the dish. Oh, before that sprinkle the cheese over the veg. Bake for 35 minutes until nicely set. Let cool in pan about 10-15 minutes and then cut and serve. Yum! The leftovers made a nice breakfast the following day.

tomatoes, garlic, and mushrooms

These aren’t really recipes but comments on throwing ingredients together to make meals. Yes, I suppose that is what makes  a recipe. Anyway the amounts of the vegetables in the following meals will be entirely up to you and what you have and want to use.

This is a bunch of tomatoes, garlic, and mushrooms served over egg noodles. My Hubby likes egg noodles. When he makes pasta he cooks bunches of it. He does this for tuna-noodle in the summer and with spaghetti which then becomes his spaghetti pie. I try to cook just enough for the meals I am planning.

I have vegetables delivered weekly from Imperfect Produce. You can google that and see if it would be right for you. I may have mentioned it in a previous blog but am not sure. So I had a bunch of tomatoes that arrived green. I let them sit on my counter for a couple of weeks and they did turn red. Meanwhile I had 3-4 other tomatoes in a weekly delivery. And the mushrooms have been very nice lately. I am still trying to put more vegetables in our meals. We’ve done a lot of big roast ups of whatever vegetables are on hand but Hubby has let me know that he is done with broccoli!

  • 6 or so smallish tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  •  8 ounce package white mushrooms
  • Italian seasoning to taste
  • Egg noodles or pasta of your choice
  • Grated Romano or parmesan cheese to serve

Boil water and cook the noodles. This will take 5-8-10 minutes depending on how al dente you like your pasta. You can use whatever pasta you have on hand. This might be nice with bowties.

Slice the garlic and sauté in oil or butter. Slice mushrooms and add to pan. Roughly chop tomatoes and add them to the skillet and stir together with a few shakes of the seasoning. The garlic will take about 3 minutes; the mushrooms add 5, and then the tomatoes for about 5 more.

Drain the pasta. We put our pasta in the bowls and then add the tomato mixture. Serve with grated cheese. Enjoy!

broccoli and carrots and more

Thoughts:

Hello readers. Let’s face it, 2020 has been a pretty awful year all around. I’m sure we can find bright spots but it’s been grim. And now hurricane season has arrived. Yikes! But I did not decide to write again because of “all the bad stuff”. No, I figure I like to write so I should write. I’ve cooked and I’ve baked and I’ve taken pictures of food but that’s been it. I’ve also been sewing, clothes for me, and masks for everyone!

So what is new with me? We did find some campgrounds open this summer and have had a few camping weekends. Finally my daughter and the grandchildren were able to join us for two nights this month in their humongous tent.

Earlier, in the middle of the summer, I fell off my new bike and broke my wrist, the one on my dominant hand. It’s hard to do many of the things I enjoy without the use of my right hand. Hubby has been, literally, my right-hand man! After surgery and physical therapy I am on the mend. I have been out of work but will be returning soon. Returning to work will be an adjustment. Teleworking was an adjustment earlier this year, and now going into a new office space (they moved us around, the space is not really “new”) and then figuring out how long and if partial teleworking will still be in place. This bit of a taste of “retirement” will come to an end.

Food:

Hubby recently decided he would like to reduce carbohydrates to address the pandemic weight gain. I, too, have gained. Any change in eating habits in this household must come from Hubby. I have not been able to induce him into any changes such as less meat, lean meats, more fruit and veggies, vegetarian fare, etc. I was thinking of eating in a semi-vegetarian way, vegetarian during the week and meat on the weekends. That would be 4 days vegetarian (not vegan, I like my eggs and cheese, and need the calcium) and three days of meat. Sounds reasonable to me. I’ve also been getting produce delivery from Imperfect Produce and have need to use the vegetables in a timely manner.

So I got out my One Pot Vegetarian (by Sabrina Fauda-Role) cookbook and browsed. So tonight I cooked an adaptation of her recipe for Sauteed tofu, broccoli and butternut squash on pages 82-83. I do not have tofu in the house, nor do I have butternut squash. I’m also cooking this just for me. So here’s my list of ingredients:

  • 3-4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 small head of broccoli, sliced
  • nub of ginger, peeled and chopped, about 2 tablespoons
  • 2 small carrots, cut in rounds (original recipe calls for a pound-plus of grated butternut squash)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce!!! this was too much. Use 2 tablespoons at most, maybe even two teaspoons.
  • 2 ounces goat cheese with herbs (original recipe calls for 9 ounces of herb tofu to be sauteed in the first step with the veg.)
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut flakes, to serve

Heat oil and saute the broccoli, ginger, and carrots for 10 minutes, stirring as needed. Then add the soy sauce and cook for another 5 minutes at the end of which I added the cheese and stirred until melted into a nice sauce. Serve in a bowl and top with the coconut.

This was tasty but clearly there was too much soy sauce for my taste. If I used twice the vegetables, the amount given may have made more sense. The original recipe’s butternut squash would have absorbed more of the soy sauce along with herb tofu. My single serving did not need all that soy sauce.

This cookbook is excellent. These one-pot dishes can be adapted easily. I have mine covered with post-it notes and commentary on what I have made and what I would like to make. I hope to make more vegetarian dishes to round out our eating habits, both for our health and for the planet.

Be well, stay safe, avoid crowds, wash your hands, and wear the mask!

 

 

Ooey-gooey Chocolate

It’s been awhile since I’ve written. Writing is an interesting phenomenon for me. I used to write my memoirs of my mundane ordinary life. I did this on computer and then in some handwritten journals. I then wrote the blog. At present I am exchanging emails with my best friend from high school in the middle of this pandemic. She’s in the Midwest; I’m in the Northeast. The point is that these writing episodes do not seem to overlap. I’m writing either one or the other. And lately I decided to handwrite letters to my son who is in the Northwest. But here I am back on the blog.

It’s not that I have not been baking or cooking. Well, actually, I have been doing less as Hubby has picked up cooking and dinner making. He continues to make me breakfast as I go off to work, either at the Agency or to the Dining Room. Either commute is not a hardship as the Agency is just up the street and across the road. Most of my baking is for something sweet. I have made a few batches of brownies. The problem with that is we tend to eat the whole pan in one sitting, or in two days, whichever comes first!

So I wanted to make something chocolate but not brownies…again! For some reason I had a couple of cake mixes in the baking pantry. Why do I have these? Because I thought I would have to bake my own birthday cake which is traditionally German Chocolate. I have made German Chocolate cake from scratch but have no problem making it from a mix. I’m telling Hubby that I found coconut so have all the ingredients and plan to bake the cake.  He has to tell me then that he has bought me the cake as a surprise and now I went and ruined his surprise!

In my search for something to bake I remembered a cookie bar made from cake mix and sweetened condensed milk. It takes me some time to find the recipe notebook with this scrap of cake mix box. These are called Macaroon Cookie Bars. They are sort of a brownie as well.

  • 1 package chocolate cake mix: I used a German Chocolate mix. The original recipe was from a Devil’s Food Cake Mix
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ¼ cups flaked coconut; divide this to use the ¼ cup separately
  • 1 cup chopped nuts; I used pecans

Mix the first 3 ingredients and press into a greased 13-inch x 9-inch baking dish. Mix the  remaining ingredients except for ¼ cup of the coconut. Spread that mixture on top of the cake mix batter. Sprinkle the ¼ cup reserved coconut on top. Bake for 350 degree F for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. The edges will be the darkest. Cool completely and cut into squares.

Super simple and yummy!

Pain de Pandemic

How are you all?

I am working from home (miracle of miracles) part of the time. When going into the agency I am wearing a mask. Said mask is to last 5 shifts. I made a cloth mask to wear over it although contact with people is minimal, making being in the office a very grim place to be. But I am working and am not furloughed and am counting my blessings.

On weekends I bake. This past weekend I made a cake and Hubby and I ate it in two days. Not a good thing. Lunchtime on tele-working days has resulted in an apple pie and a chocolate snack cake over the past two weeks. Oh, and cookie dough. The problem with cookie dough is that I freeze rolls of it and then can slice and bake a dozen cookies each day, which I did, and we ate! Weekends have bread baking sessions. So when Hubby went out to the grocery store he bought plenty of flour.

Looking through my Fleischmann’s yeast cook-booklet I came across Verona Loaf.  At the time of this bake I had been running low on flour so wanted a recipe that did not call for 7-8 cups. Verona Loaf calls for half that. Although it says “loaf” it is made in rounds or boules. This recipe makes two. And is more than just flour, salt, water, and yeast.

  • 3 ¾ to 4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3  cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 packages active dry yeast (I use instant yeast so 2 teaspoons)
  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • ¾ cup very warm tap water (120-130 degrees F)
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • ¼ cup cold butter

In large bowl thoroughly mix 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup sugar, salt, lemon peel, and yeast. Then add softened butter. Gradually add hot water to dry ingredients and mix at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add eggs, vanilla and ½ cup flour and beat at high speed for 2 minutes. Stir in enough flour to make soft dough. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk about 45 minutes.

I am using my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer. I use the dough hook throughout. I use speed 2 for medium although maybe that should be 4 which I use for high speed because 6 just seems too fast.

After the first rising comes the interesting part. This will now be laminated similar to puff pastry. First turn dough on floured board and roll dough to ½ inch thickness. Cut 2 tablespoons of cold butter into small pieces and place on center 1/3 of dough. Fold 1/3 of dough over butter. Now place the remaining 2 tablespoons of cold butter, also cut into small pieces, on top of the folded third. Bring remaining third of dough over to cover the butter. Now roll the dough into an 18 inch strip, fold in thirds, and wrap loosely in wax paper (or parchment) and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Repeat rolling procedure and folding into thirds and refrigeration. Repeat twice. Next, on floured surface divide dough in half. Lightly knead each half and shape into a ball. Place in 2 greased 8-inch round pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 35 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes. I have found that my oven requires the maximum bake time plus 5 minutes.  Remove from pans and cool on wire racks. (Sprinkle with sugar while warm. I’m not certain I did this last bit.)

This was a very tasty bread.

And more pains de pandemic:

Raisin white bread made with potato water!
Everyday mixed grain bread

Comfort Baking: Olive Oil Cake

My son and daughter-in-law visited so I baked a cake. I was flipping through magazines and so I baked a cake. I was looking through my news-feed and had to bake a cake. I sense a pattern here. I’m thinking I might be baking a cake in the near future as well.

I finally got around to making this cake. I was looking for the magazine that had created a recipe for veggie sauce with the mouth feel of ground meat. I had attached a note to the front of the magazine with the names and page numbers of recipes I wanted to try and this one was there. This turned out well, having a grown-up taste, not too sweet and quite moist. It is possible that I under-baked it by 5 minutes but that did not affect our enjoyment of the cake. The problem with this cake is that it was so easy to slice off a sliver each time one walked by it.

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for topping
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon zest (I used orange zest; the second time I used lime zest. Stick to lemon or orange)
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk.)

Oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9 inch spring-form pan. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together. In a separate bowl whip eggs on medium speed (stand mixer with whisk attachment) until foamy about one minute. Add sugar and zest increasing speed to high and beating for about 3 minutes. Reduce speed back to medium and slowly pour in oil, mix only one minute. Add ½ the flour mixture about one minute. Add milk and mix for 30 seconds. Add the rest of the flour mixture and mix for one minute. Of course, you are scraping down the sides of the bowl during the addition of the flour and milk. Pour the batter into prepared pan and sprinkle on the remaining sugar. Bake 45-50 minutes. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing. Supposedly let this cool completely before slicing. Hah!

And here’s another cake: Guinness Chocolate Cake in honor of St. Patrick’s Day but really because it was a Friday and I got home from work. For this one I made a Bailey’s Buttercream and not a cream cheese frosting.

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1875-chocolate-guinness-cake

Thoughts:

Weight loss is out the window. With all this Coronavirus Pandemic, hunkering down, figuring out how to work from home, how worried should I be, binge-watching Netflix for escapism, I eat what I want. I apparently bake and eat cakes too! See above. We re-watched the whole Lord of the Rings Special Edition DVD set. There’s a situation that puts this in perspective. I would have liked to put one of those images and quotes here but am not sure how or if things are copyrighted.

It’s all about priorities and enjoying life. I like to learn about food. I like to do new things with vegetables to eat more of them. I like to bake and cook. I am reasonably healthy and not too overweight. I do not want to add more anxiety in this day and time with regard to the food I eat.

Maybe I’ll get back on the weight loss train sometime later this year. One day at a time.

Scones for Hubby

Food: More Scones

One weekend I seemed to spend all my time in the kitchen. I decided to bake as well as cook. Hubby likes scones and I remembered a recipe that I had made once. It took me a bit of time to locate it in my various recipe notebooks but I did.

Basically scones appear to be made up of 2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, salt, 1/3 cup butter-like substance and 1 cup cream, and then flavor ingredients if using. The recipe I made is one touting itself as “healthier” with supposedly lower calories, lower fat content, and the like. This healthier tagline does not mean a hill of beans when Hubby eats half the pan in one sitting! And Hubby likes cranberry as the flavor ingredient but failed to remind me we have oodles of frozen whole cranberries in our possession.

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup butter (the healthier original called for trans-fat-free buttery spread)
  • 1 cup + 2 Tab. Yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • ½ cup dried cranberries (the original called for ½ cup raspberries)
  • ¼ cup candied ginger bits (the original called for mini chocolate chips)

Mix flours, baking powder, and baking soda in large mixing bowl. Cut in the butter until mixture is crumbly. Mix in the cranberries and ginger bits. Mix yogurt and honey and then mix with the flour mixture. This will be very soft dough. Pat out onto a floured surface and knead 2 to 3 times. Roll into a circle or square to about ½ inch thickness. Or pat with your floured hands. Cut into shapes or a circle to cut into wedges. I have a scone pan so I made a square and then cut into four squares and then four triangles per square. Bake at 400 degrees F for 12-15 minutes. You can sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top before baking but I did not.

These are quite tasty. They are best the day made but not too bad the next day either.

Thoughts: Stay Home and Stay Safe!

I am working hard at following my professional training on staying calm, maintaining hope, finding meaning, and practicing good public hygiene during this time of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Reading the news constantly has not been a good plan for my mental health. The public agency that I work for has deemed me essential. The folk we work with are in need of knowing that there are people to talk to who care who have not just shut the doors. The agency worked very hard and quickly to manage a part-time work from home which we have begun. Most of our face-to-face is for crisis and emergency management.  Most of the work now is phone contact for health promotion, supportive counseling, prompting self-care, and making sure people have access to basic needs such as medicine, food, and shelter as well as connecting with those living alone who have invisible struggles.

For myself personally I found the virtual church service this morning was a blessing. I did not expect it to be but lately I find I am often surprised by joy spiritually.

Hubby and my walks are around our neighborhood. People are walking their dogs or just themselves. We all wave and maintain social distancing standards. But the fresh air is good, and getting up off the couch, and a change of venue from the four walls!

Take care of yourselves. Follow social distance guidelines. Do not hoard supplies. Find comfort in faith, family, and friends. We are all in this together and will weather the storm. One day at a time and any other ways we manage our thoughts, feelings, and emotions to get through.

And don’t forget to wash those hands!

two pounds in two months!

Part A: dessert

So I made brownies. I am not always making brownies but they are easy to make and almost always good. I like fudgy brownies. I was thinking of making brownies all week but had run out of eggs. And we were not going to shop until the weekend. I waited. Then after buying 5 dozen eggs at the Walmart (the regular eggs were all packaged in Styrofoam which I do not like to buy) I made brownies. I decided to try Alton Brown’s cocoa brownies which claim to be fudgy and “ooiey”. https://altonbrown.com/alton-brown-brownie-recipe/ and/or https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/cocoa-brownies-recipe-2085484

I do not have a kitchen scale. I’m not that precise a baker. So I guess-timated the amounts of ingredients as he gives them in weights. These turned out very gooey. I did use the thermometer because I could not tell if they were actually done. We ate these while warm which meant they could not actually be picked up. They fell apart. Apparently that was not a problem in that we ate most of them! The next day they could be picked up and they were still very fudgy and very rich. Beating the eggs for a few minutes really does make a difference in producing the shiny crust on top. If I make these again I will bake them at 350 degrees F and not the 300 degrees in his directions. Here’s what I did.

  • 4 large eggs.
  • Scant 1 cup granulated sugar.
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar.
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour.
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter (melted)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

Beat eggs for 2-3 minutes. Sift dry ingredients in separate bowl. Add the sugar mixture and mix, then the melted butter and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan. The pan is 9 inch square, sprayed and lined with parchment so the parchment overhangs two sides by 2 inches. This will be used to lift the brownies from the pan. Bake at 300 degrees F for 45 minutes. Mine took 55 minutes and I had to use the thermometer to be sure they were done. Alton Brown says this should register at 195. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes and then lift out. Cut into 9 squares. Actually you could cut into smaller squares as these are very rich. Even letting them cool for that bit of time, lifting them out was difficult because they were so soft.

ooey-gooey brownies

Part B: two months of weight loss

Hah! Brownies are not good for weight loss. Eating Oreo cookies is not good either. And not counting calories appears to be my downfall. For the past two weeks I stopped counting calories. Counting calories makes me accountable for

  1. How many Oreos I eat,
  2. How many glasses of wine I pour myself,
  3. Portion controlling potato chips, crackers and cheese, and other late night-TV watching snacks,
  4. Not having seconds at meals.

So I have actually gained back the 2 pounds lost in January. I have a net loss of HALF a POUND! The good news is that I have lost 2.5 pounds since last summer and at times will weigh at a 5 pound loss since then. The inconsistency is frustrating.

So now I ask myself what to do. I want to bake and I want to enjoy my food. Yes, I should not be eating Oreos or Potato Chips, but I want to make a cake once in a while. I want to make new and interesting vegetable dishes.

Life is too short to not eat dessert!

Eat Your Vegetables!

In my endeavor to eat healthy and lose weight I am trying to put more vegetables in our meals. I find it difficult to eat the daily recommendations of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables. That is unless I eat a salad which is 2-3 in one. In winter I find it harder to find salads appealing. I don’t hold to the idea of restricting vegetables in my quest. I will eat peas, potatoes, and carrots and not consider them too starchy, even though they might be. Beans are a vegetable and I am talking the canned variety of kidney, pinto, garbanzo, and the like. Even corn.

To this end I have been renting books from the library searching for interesting and easy ways to add fresh and frozen vegetables to our meals. We usually add frozen mixed vegetable to noodles, leftovers, chili, and casseroles. We dry roast them in a skillet with onion and seasoning too. But now I am looking for variety.

Jacques Pepin and Julia Child are two of my favorite chefs for reading about them and their recipes. My neighbor gave me her extra produce from one of those produce delivery services that touts themselves as reducing food waste. I hope it is true. There were two misshapen but perfectly good butternut squash. And there was a recipe for Butternut Squash Sauté in More Fast Food My Way by Jacques Pepin (page 136). So I made that. Hubby had the task of peeling and cutting the squash and almost cut his finger off doing so! The dish was tasty. I did not take a picture of it; we ate it. And then I put the leftovers in a recipe for Lentils and Sweet Potatoes using the squash as substitute for the sweet potatoes. I did not take a photo of that one either.

Here is a photo of a vegetable dish: French Style Peas

This recipe is from One Pot Vegetarian by Sabrina Faude-Role. I modified the recipe a bit using baby broccoli instead of spring onions and used homemade vegetable broth instead of a vegetable stock cube. And it was tasty! Who knew one could cook lettuce!

  • Frozen peas, I had half a bag so about 1 ½ cups
  • One bunch baby broccoli, stems and all, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 8 ounces vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • A grind or two of pepper
  • 6 lettuce leaves

Put everything in a sauce pot, bring to boil, and simmer for 15 minutes. Voila!

Now I have many many cookbooks and many have vegetable recipes. The glory of renting books from the library is trying them out to determine if any are worth getting for one’s own kitchen library. That one pot book is for me. It is not Vegan but all vegetables; and grains and pasta and a few more things like plant based proteins. There are even some desserts.