From piles of leaves to birthday cake testing to Thanksgiving recipes dotting the kitchen counter, a few things that have been happening in our world ..
(This post may contain affiliate links)
Cooking – Soup; lots and lots of soup. It seems lately there are so many people we know and love, who we've either taken a meal to or tucked one away in the freezer for. A neighbor home from Europe with a terrible case of viral pneumonia. Extended family fighting cancer. Something for the kids; a meal from mom to warm up on a chilly winter's night.
Sipping – Lots of Hot Apple Cider
Weekly Lesson in Humility – “Grandma, I was a ghost for Halloween!”
“Really? I wish I was there“
“You would've been scared Grandma; you're not as brave as Pappa and me” #twoagainstone
Guilty Pleasures – Cooking magazines in November
Asking and Answering – “What are you doing for the holidays?”
Looking Forward To – My brother and sister-in-law will be home this year (the first Thanksgiving in, I can't remember how long, that my parents won't be traveling to Austin). We'll be cooking, playing cards, playing pool, and catching up
Reminded – This week of how just how hard your twenties can be. When you're still figuring yourself out, starting a career, learning the art of saying yes, and also saying no. To the sweet soul for whom we chatted, I wish I'd have thought of it at the moment, but some food for thought from Brene Brown.
“What would you say to your twenty-five-year-old self?”
“All the pleasing and proving and perfecting what you're doing is getting in the way of what you're supposed to be doing. You will never live the life you want to live without disappointing other people. You'll need to choose now.
Your thirties are notoriously difficult of this. You think ‘I can be me and be authentic and make everyone around me happy.'
And this is the gift of mid-life. The gift of mid-life is ‘something's gotta go, and for the first time in your life you're like, and it ain't gonna be me' ” ~ Brene Brown via Chase Jarvis Live
Milestones Reached – The puppies are finally potty trained(!) Retired to the basement are the baby gates and kennels.
Realizing – Even a king size bed isn't big enough for two people, three dogs, and a couple of kitty cats
Admitting – How truly tough the past few months have been. Two puppies proved a far greater challenge than we'd ever dreamed.
Forgotten – The season when the kids were little. How dark the nights could be; how long they seemed to stretch. How heavy a baby's head feels on your arm during a 3 am feeding (or how exhausting moonlight trips to the backyard with a playful puppy can be). I'd forgotten until I'd doze off, blink, then hear a whimper and mobilize for the routine all over again.
The night seemed endless, until at 5:30 am when the sun began to rise. How comforting was the light, the realization that the day has begun, and you're no longer the only one
Pursuing – Therapy Dog Certification .. for both Harry and Sally. We've had several people tell us they would be great candidates and have started along the training path.
Excited For – My grandson's first birthday this weekend
I'm in charge of the cake, so this week I've been experimenting.
It's occasions like this that are fun to experiment with new recipes. For his mom's baby shower, I brought a masterpiece, the most incredible chocolate beet cake you've ever laid eyes on. Everyone tried it, told me it tasted expensive, and moved on.
This recipe is far more traditional. It's not a multi-layered, out-of-the-ordinary ingredient, or fancy chocolate cake. Instead, it's simple and relatively unassuming. An everyday cake that you might not make every day.
It's filled with chocolate, moist, easy to make, and delicious to eat. It doesn't have sugar in the cake or frosting, and whole wheat pastry flour stands in for more traditional all-purpose. A generous slashing of whipped chocolate cream frosting to top it off
A note about the cake: You'll want to refrigerate any leftovers. As the cake chills, the texture will become truffle-like. At room temp, it will have a more crumb-like texture. Similarly, the frosting will set as it chills but stays billowy and light at room temp
~ Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
Simple Chocolate Birthday Cake
- Chocolate Cake
- 2 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp fine grain sea salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, barely melted
- 1 cup maple syrup, at room temp
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup coconut milk, room temp
- 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, shaved or finely chopped
- Whipped Chocolate Cream Frosting
- 2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- ¼ cup butter, at room temp
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 cup heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
- Chocolate Cake
- Preheat oven to 350° F degrees. Butter and flour an 8x8 square cake pan
- Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and sea salt into a large bowl.
- In a separate medium bowl whisk together the melted butter and maple syrup until it looks like caramel.
- Whisk in the eggs, vanilla, and then the coconut milk.
- Pour the maple syrup mixture over the flour mixture and stir until barely combined.
- Add the chocolate and stir until everything comes together and is no longer dusty looking (avoid over-mixing)
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 30 - 40 minutes.
- This is a cake I like slightly under-baked, so I pull it out when the center is still a bit undercooked (the toothpick doesn't quite come out clean when testing)
- If you're going to use it for a layer cake, then bake it all the way (clean toothpick). Remove from oven and allow to cool (absolutely completely) in the pan before frosting
- Whipped Chocolate Cream Frosting
- Melt the chocolate in a double-boiler, or in a bowl placed over a pan of boiling water.
- In a medium bowl beat the butter until smooth and fluffy.
- Beat in the maple syrup
- Add the melted chocolate
- Stir until silky smooth (any flecks of butter should be melted)
- Pour the chocolate mix over the whipped cream and fold the chocolate into the cream. Keep going until the chocolate is well incorporated.
- Use an offset spatula to frost the completely cooled cake. If the cake is at all warm, the frosting will weep and melt. (It will still taste good, but isn't what you're after)