Sunday, January 25, 2009

coffee cake is required

Cold January mornings require coffee cake. Especially a Sunday morning when it's snowing and the house is quiet until 9. I knew it had snowed even before I opened my eyes or the blinds. There was a silence, a stillness that can only be achieved by a blanket of fresh snow.

coffee cake

I successfully located a recipe for this moist cake layered with brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon in my box of old recipes. The title on the 3x5 index card reads Mrs. Zinman's Coffee Cake. It found its way to me through an old friend who's mother graciously shared it with me many years ago. I've done some modifications to lighten it up a bit, which didn't seem to take anything away from its superb texture or taste.

snowy Sunday

After dinner my daughter asked, "can you eat coffee cake at night?" It's delicious warmed with a glass of cold milk on the side anytime of day, or night.

coffee cake

Coffee Cake
a slightly lighter version of Mrs Zinman's recipe

1/2 cup butter softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 3/4 cups flour
1 cup light sour cream
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cream together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients. Alternately mix flour and sour cream into butter mixture and beat until smooth.


1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
In a buttered and floured springform pan with a removable bottom, spread 1/3 of the batter. Sprinkle it with 6 Tablespoons of the filling mixture. Repeat this layering process two more times. Bake it in a preheated 325° oven for about 60 minutes. I baked mine for 55 minutes, but it was slightly gooey in the center. It could have used about 5 minutes more, in my opinion, but my husband talked me out of putting it back in the oven so he could enjoy its gooeyness.

Place it on a rack to cool slightly before springing it free from the pan.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

movie night

Fridays have been designated pizza and movie night at our house for several years. This means we will have anywhere from two to six people gathered around the tele, usually sipping suds of one type or another (microbrews for adults, root beer for kids), anticipating whatever is their ideal engaging and entertaining movie. The most difficult part of this night is figuring out what movie to watch. On nights when it's a family movie night, this decision is especially difficult. Finding a good "family movie" is challenging! I use the term "family movie" loosely, since some of our choices may not really fit the bill of being family friendly in everyone's eyes. We don't let our 11-year-old daughter view violent movies, and she doesn't want to see a lot of romance... ewww... but we figure it's often easier to have her close her eyes and sometimes ears, than rule out a movie entirely because of a questionable scene or a few bad words. Some of the movies out there that are so-called "family" movies are impossible for us to suffer through. So with that said, here are just a few of our favorite family movies: Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Shrek, Chicken Run, Cold Comfort Farm, Funny Face, Legally Blonde, The Devil Wears Prada, Raising Helen, Princess Diaries (1 and 2), Little Miss Sunshine (this one's not for young children, it's the only R rated movie we've allowed our young one to see) if you haven't seen it, it's a must, hilarious!

We have one of those Apple TV boxes that allows you to rent movies directly from your TV. The choices have been slowly expanding to include some of the old classics, one of our favorite genres. My husband ran across Night of the Iguana, a film based on a screenplay by Tennessee Williams and directed by John Huston, 1964, starring Ava Gardner, Richard Burton and Deborah Kerr. Since it was just the three of us, and our daughter was working on a school paper, she saw this one only in fragments. Great story, photography, acting, it always left you guessing, not at all predictable. This movie helped put Puerta Vallarta on the map as a destination resort.

Reverend Shannon (Richard Burton) and Maxine (Ava Gardner) in Night of the Iguana

Last night's fare included homemade pizza with a pesto base, topped with caramelized onion, roasted red pepper, roasted garlic, portobello mushroom, mozzarella, and a smidgen of goat cheese (chèvre).

homemade pizza

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Coop cleaning day

Whew! lots o poop in there! All surfaces were thoroughly scrubbed, the hens received fresh water, food, grit, shell... and last, but not least, fresh straw in the nest boxes. Wait a minute... WHAT'S THAT! Yep that's right, Gidget laid not one... not two... but THREE EGGS! What a nice surprise! and after four months of store bought eggs, it's definitely a welcome surprise. Thank you Gidget!

fresh eggs

Saturday, January 3, 2009

a whole lotta basil...

... puts a smile on my face, albeit green speckle toothed.

One of my family's favorite foods is pesto. We put it on pasta, use it as a pizza sauce, and we generally consume a lot of it. We nearly always have this staple on hand, but our supply was nearly depleted. So I bought two bags of basil at our local Cash and Carry yesterday and made a few batches to have in the freezer. As many times as I've tried growing basil, I'm always disappointed with the amount I yield. The growing season is so short here, I would need a greenhouse to be successful at growing these precious plants. Needless to say, I was ecstatic the day I discovered the large bags of fresh organic basil just down the street at a very reasonable price.

basil leaves

Here's my pesto recipe:

3 cups fresh basil leaves
3-4 cloves garlic
3/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup or a handful of pine nuts
1/4 cup good olive oil

Remove leaves from stems. Wash leaves and spin dry in a salad spinner.
In a food processor add 3-4 cloves of garlic and 3 cups or so of the leaves... these should be placed loosely. I have a smaller 7 cup capacity processor.

basil leaves

Grate the parmesan and add it to the leaves and garlic
pesto ingredients

Measure out the pine nuts and throw them into the food processor
pesto ingredients

Measure out about 1/4 cup of olive oil and add it to the mix
pesto ingredients

Pulse the food processor for about 10 seconds. Run a spatula around the sides and blend for another 10 seconds or so until it resembles this consistency without any large leaf pieces...

This recipe makes enough to fill one of these small size deli containers, which is the perfect amount to mix into a package of linquine noodles.

I repeated the recipe 6 times to make these batches for the freezer. These containers stack very nicely too.
tower of pesto

Voilà ... dinner!


Thursday, January 1, 2009

where's my daughter?

where's my daughter?

For two days our house was very quiet! I barely knew my highly energetic tween was in the house. She only put the book down to attend a few dance classes, and even then the book came along and she read on the drive to and from. I took her out to lunch... well sort of ... she was quite adamant about take out, and Burgerville is the only fast food I'll allow. Even the sweet potato fries were left to get cold and the milkshake forgotten...

sweet potato fries

chocolate milkshake

...of course I quickly went on to Amazon and ordered the other three books in the series.