Saturday, November 8, 2008

gingerbread cake

Gingerbread Cup-o-Cake

Into a large coffee mug put:

5 Tbs all purpose flour
2 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
a rounded 1/4 tsp ginger
a rounded 1/4 tsp cinnamon

mix it all up and add:

1 Tbs very soft butter (or oil)
1 Tbs plus 1 tsp molasses
2 Tbs milk (or 1 Tbs milk and 1 Tbs well-beaten egg)

Mix it all very well and microwave for 1 minute and 45 seconds to 2 minutes. Turn it out of the cup to cool or eat it straight from the cup. It's yummy with some canned peach slices and a little bit of whipped cream


Friday, November 7, 2008

tis the season (almost)

Well, I haven't posted for a while. The kids have been sick, I have been sick. There has been that every present problem of too much to do and too little time. E is on a decorating kick. She is obsessed by snowflakes. I know, I know... It's only November, and a little early for snowflakes, but E is insisting on making piles of them. They now brighten every window in the house here, and all the front windows at E's grandparent's house too. And she makes pretty darn great ones for a 5 year old too! I will have to post some pictures soon.

I gave out my cake in a cup recipes to a bunch of friends... they are all the rage... I foresee everyone swearing off them after a few weeks of one a day and gaining a few pounds... but it's fun while it lasts.

I am trying to come up with a) some fun inexpensive Thanksgiving and Christmas projects to keep E busy and b) some projects that actually produce something she could give as gifts to grandparents and aunts and uncles. Hmmm... gonna have to think on this one... I'll let you know.

Friday, October 3, 2008

some cup-o-cake notes

ok... so, here are some notes about cup-o-cakes (that is, cakes made in mugs in the microwave.

my cornbread mug-o-muffin recipe works fine if you don't have buttermilk, just make the following changes: don't put in any baking soda, but put in 1/2 baking powder. Use regular milk instead of buttermilk (obviously).

any of the recipes can be made with less oil, though they are best eaten right away if you reduce the oil (they will get tough if leave them to cool when they are lower fat). I recommend using at least 1 teaspoon of oil or butter, and not omitting the fat completely for flavor and texture. If you reduce the oil or butter make it up with other liquid... basically make sure there are still approximately 5 tbs of liquid (if you used milk in the cake, just add more milk, if you used oj, use more of that, etc).

Know your microwave... some take longer some take less time. If you have a more liquid batter you will need to nuke it longer than you do with a stiffer, thicker batter.

be a kitchen scientist.... observe what happened if something doesn't seem to have worked, and try again using the data you have collected from making the cake once... lots of info on kitchen science can be found on the internet and in cookbooks... just keep at it or drop me an email if you would like some help! i am

oh... and for those of you who want to make the mug-o-muffin pictured in today's post, here is the recipe. It is

Apple Spice Mug-o-muffin

Into a good big coffee mug put:

6 Tbs all-purpose flour
2 Tbs packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
about a 1/2 tsp cinnamon (I eyeballed it, it was about 6 or 8 shakes from the container)
about 1/8 tsp nutmeg (again, eyeballed, about 2 or 3 shakes)
1/8 tsp ginger (about the same amount as the nutmeg)

Stir it all around with a fork and add:

4 Tbs milk
2 Tbs very soft butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 of a apple, grated (my apple was sort of a medium sized one, about 3 inches across at the widest point)
1 Tbs pecans (optional)
1 Tbs raisins (optional)

mix it all really well and put it into the microwave for about 2 to 2 and a half minutes (I set it for 2 and a half, but ended up stopping it at about 2 minutes and 5 seconds cause it looked done to me). Let cool 3 or 4 minutes and then turn out of the mug to cool a little more before sharing it with the kids

oh... and if you want plain spice cake just leave out the apple and maybe cook for not quite as long

Saturday, September 27, 2008

a lunch time muffin treat

ok... today's mug o muffin was an apple sauce and maple syrup flavored one. it was basically this:

into a big mug put:

5 Tbs all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tiny pinch ground cloves

mix it all up and add:

2 Tbs apple sauce (ours was home made chunky spiced apple sauce)
2 Tbs grade b maple syrup
1 tsp oil or butter

1 Tbs toasted peacans (optional)

mix it all up really well, and if it seems too thick add a little bit of milk to make it more like a cake batter consistency. Microwave it for about 1 and a half to 2 minutes. Turn it out of the mug and eat it up... yummy :)

Friday, September 26, 2008

More cake in a cup

so, since my last cake in a cup post, I have come up with a couple more recipes. We now eat cornbread in a cup for breakfast a lot with a sausage and some grade B maple syrup. Yum!

Northern Corn bread mug-o-muffin

Into a large mug put:

2 Tbs fine ground cornmeal

3 Tbs all-purpose flour

1 Tbs sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

a pinch of salt

mix it all up and add:

1Tbs very soft butter

3 to 4 Tbs buttermilk

mix it all up and nuke it for about 1 minute and 20 seconds. If you want to eat it now, just eat it right out of the cup, if not, turn it out of the cup to cool so it doesn't steam in the cup as it cools... its better if you don't let it steam, trust me!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

bento boxing

so, for several reasons we have started making bento box lunches for the whole family. For A because he goes to work every day and needs to bring lunch, for E because she is in school through lunch time now and is SO sick of peanut butter sandwiches (which she loved last year, but apparently is totally done with now), and for me because I never seem to find time when I am at home with a cranky toddler to make a decent lunch unless I put it together in the morning when I am making everyone elses lunches... L doesn't really get much of a bento right now, she is little and doesn't eat a whole container worth of food, but I sometimes make her a tiny one in a very small Ikea container with whatever fruit I am cutting up and some cheese and pasta or rice... but more often for L I just pull out some cheese and slice it as she gets hungry or give her a mini corn muffin or whatever she is after at the time... she doesn't really do meal times anyway!

So, anyway, back to bentos. We have been having fun making bentos... E likes getting to take sauce bottles and dip containers (she has always LOVED dip... think "you can eat this with ketchup? to the tune of "It comes in pints?"... if that doesn't make sense to you, well, go watch LOTR) . She loves anything that can be eaten with a sauce or a dip, so we send her a lot of chicken with a dipping sauce or salad bits and pieces that can be dipped in dressing... that sort of thing makes her very happy for lunch. A and I stick have been having more traditional bentos this week... fried rice with lots of garlic, grated carrots, chicken, and soy sauce (plus more things than i really want to list right now). We fill half to two thirds of our bento boxes with that and the rest with veg and fruit.

The cool thing about doing bentos has been that it has made me pay more attention to how much protein, carbs, and veg goes into each of our lunches. The deal is, a bento is about 1/2 carbs (traditionally rice, though we do rice, cous cous, pasta, bread, whatever seems to go with what we are eating.), then there is the other half (think of the whole box as 6 equil sections... 3/6 or one 1/2 is carb, then the other half is the other 3/6), which is 2/6 (or 1/3 for those who can do math) veg, and 1/6 protein. We usually swap our veg and carb and make it half veg and 1/3 carb, but we're kinda loose about that. Anyway, thinking this way about how much of each thing should go in has really helped me think about what to put in. I just go through the process... pick a carb from what we have on hand, say rice or noodles, a protein, say chicken, and a vegetable, say carrots.... I fill it all up in the appropriate amounts for the box and fill the gaps with things like strawberries or grapes... and it all works out great. If you want to check out my inspiration go to and check out useful things like where to get bento supplies (boxes, dip containers, small utensils, rice ball molds, etc.), or find out how big a bento you need for your age and gender. Its a great site and I highly recommed it to aspiring bento packers.

Oh, and bento is a cheap lunch option.... its a good way to use up leftovers.... hopefully I will put some useful bento box food recipes soon... until then... happy lunch packing :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

the easiest way to make instant cake

ok... so, at first I was skeptical when I saw a recipe for cake made in a coffee cup in the microwave, and the original recipe I found (no offense to the person who invented it) tasted like a chocolate rubber band... but, I got to thinking (being a kitchen science geek) that this idea had potential... so, E and I got to work in the kitchen and came up with 3 variations. Here they are :)

Ella's magic chocolate cake in a mug

get a standard coffee mug (about 8 to 12 ounces) and put in:

5 tbs all-purpose flour
2 slightly rounded tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
2 slightly rounded tbs sugar
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt

mix these ingredients together and add

3 tbs milk
2 tbs oil
1/4 tbs vanilla
1/4 tbs white vinegar

mix it all up and heres the great part... lick the spoon or have your kid lick the spoon... no eggs, no worries

you can add come chocolate chips or nuts now if you want

put it in the microwave for 1 minute, maybe 1 and a half. check it at one though... since there are no eggs it cooks really fast... if the top is bouncy and a fork stuck in it comes out clean, its ready. Its good with a scoop of ice cream dumped right into the mug.

Version 2: Vanilla Cake with chocolate frosting

Get a coffee mug (a standard 8 or 12 ounce one works just fine) and put in:

6 Tbs all-purpose flour
2 rounded Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt

mix it all up with a fork and add:

4 Tbs milk
1 Tbs oil
1/2 tsp vanilla

mix it all up really well and make sure there are no flour lumps at the bottom of the cup. Microwave it for 2 minutes and the minute it comes out of the nuke put a handfull of chocolate chips on top. Wait five minutes and your chocolate will have melted so you can spread it around for frosting. Give it a few more minutes before you eat it, or it will be very warm still.

You could forgo the chocolate at the end and after mixing everything together just before you cook it you could add a couple tablespoons of frozen wild blueberries for a blueberry muffin in a cup...

and, just to be different:

Carrot Cake in a mug

Get a large coffee mug and put in:

6 Tbs all-purpose flour
2 Tbs sugar (brown or white depending on your taste, I used brown)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

mix your dry ingredients up with a fork and then add:

4 Tbs orange juice (milk or butter milk would work too, though not be as good probably)
2 Tbs oil
1/4 tsp vanilla
3 Tbs finely grated carrot
1 Tbs chopped pecans (optional)
1 Tbs raisins (optional)

mix it all up and make sure its mixed all the way to the bottom (don't want flour lumps!) and put it in the microwave for 2 or 2 and a half minutes. Let it cool a little and eat it. It's really good with cream cheese and honey

Enjoy everybody

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

being poor-ish

so, lately the full extent of our lack of money has been sinking in... its a little depressing, and makes me realize just how bad we can be with money a lot of the time. I mean, I know there are plenty of people who have way less than us to live on, and they make it, but it's still tough living on one income no matter how you look at it. It's not as though Cape Crud is the cheapest place to live either. Anyway, being cheap or frugal or whatever you want to call it means a lot more work for me in the end.

So, to save a little money on groceries I have been doing things like baking our own bread (it costs me about $1 to bake a full-sized loaf of bread versus paying almost $4 for a comparable loaf at the local grocery store), growing our summer veggies and raspberries (I originally bought $40 of raspberry canes and when they are in season we get about a half pint every 2 days for a couple weeks at a time... when you consider that it costs about $4 to $5 for a half pint at the local grocery store, then we have been eating free berries since the beginning of this summer), and trying to not buy any pre-made meals (ingredients cost SO much less than pre-made food). With all these things though, we are still just barely making it in our food budget now that food prices are rising a lot lately... an example: We buy bottled water because our water is of unknown quality and doesn't taste good. The water we buy used to cost 79 cents a bottle a couple months ago, now it costs $1.19. The bread we used to buy cost $3.09 when we used to buy it a couple years ago, now it costs $3.99. Yet our food budget has not changed. We still need to get the same amount of food with that $100 that we did before, but $100 doesn't go as far. So, what to do? And then there is the problem of new clothes and shoes for E. L can use E's hand me downs, and A and I are just out of luck cause we can't possibly afford new clothes for ourselves... I am running on 3 pairs of socks one of which has holes, but I can't afford new ones... I'll have to wait for Christmas for them.

I don't mean to complain really... just put it out there.... and maybe offer some of you reading a few good ideas of things you can do too (like take some raspberry plants off my hands! They are taking over my yard now!!), maybe a recipe here or there... a progect to do with your kids... a money saving tip now and then... some ideas for inexpensive things to do with your kids.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Going on a bear hunt

So, we are off to PEI for vacation... I am glad and overwhelmed and tired... its tough being a mom at home sometimes.... too much to do, and always someone hanging on your skirt wanting something.... so, goodbye for now... we will be back soon...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Two little girls and Mom

So, I must be nuts... I am trying to start a Cape and Islands Babywearing group, and making posters kept me up too late last night. Now I am exhausted and the girls are going a little wild this morning wanting to be out and about. I am not sure it's worth all the time I am putting in, and it certainly isn't making me any money or glory... but I want to help people to see that carrying your baby or toddler is so much easier than strollers and is so good for baby... anyway... enough... I have things to do... places to go... people to see...

The girls like to dump the Duplos everywhere every morning lately... I am going to break my ankle one of these days tripping over them... but the kiddlets are happy...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

a regular morning

So, here I am.... i have a blog (stupid word, blog, dont you think??). Now what?

Well... this morning E. and L. and I went to Woods Hole for a walk... it was foggy and dreary and lousy out... but lovely and salty sea smelling too. I put L. on my back in a wrap and we walked around eel pond. People are so shocked to see a baby on someones back... we must have had half a dozen people stop and stare and ask me how I learned to wrap her up there like that... which is great, at least they were positive about it and wanted to know what its all about and find out more about it. It also gave me a chance to plug the Cape and Islands Babywearers meeting on July 14th, which was nice. I even had a grandma tell me that she might try to come, which would be fun. I am finding that most people are very positive about the idea of babywearing, but hesitant to actually try it... why is that?? They will end up carrying the kiddo in their arms if they don't have a sling, which is so much more tiring, but it doesn't seem to occur to them that they could make their life a little easier.... people are such masochists sometimes. Or maybe some people just really don't like their kids enough to WANT to carry them and make them happy... I don't know... its something that I wish I could change... I would like to see more babies baing carried and less SUV style gigantic strollers. Anyway....

After our walk we headed home through Cape Cod summer traffic and the usual assortment of slow tourists in very large cars made the ride twice as long as it should have been... sometimes I wish I lived in the middle of nowhere so that I could avoid the tourists... then I would miss the people though, and the ocean, and the misty sea smelling mornings walking around the pond with E. and L.