First Birthday: Cakes

Utter and totally exhausting exploding cake night.

Sigh.

I should be in bed right now.  But instead I am waiting on the second cake to cool COMPLETELY.  Why do I even bother with pretty bundt pans?  I torture myself at least once a year with this problem.

Ok, rewind time.

I started with the recipe on the back of the Fred & Friends sandwich cake pan.

I made a double batch so that I would have two cakes.

I made the second bake, the bundt cake, a lemon and poppy seed pound cake.  I zested an entire lemon and added the poppy seeds.

I greased both pans and floured them.

I did not wait long enough on the bundt cake to take it out.  Sometimes I wait too long.  I cannot figure out the happy medium.

At least the sandwich cake is still in one piece.  I am going to wait longer on this one.  Check back tomorrow for creative ways to piece a cake back together.  Hey, at least this way I don’t have to worry about slicing her first piece of birthday cake.

I guess I could always go and buy an ice cream cake.

At least we have a pretty peach pie to eat tomorrow, in honor of my father in law’s birthday.

First Birthday: Decorations

I have lost a great deal of art & sewing time this week, due to Greta cutting back on her naps drastically.  She used to take at least two 1-hour naps, sometimes 2-hour naps per day.  The increased wake time has increased her interest in everything.  It has been so much fun to spend time with her this summer and watch her learning taking place every hour.

The good news is that it is birthday week!  Greta turns 1 this weekend.  So, the next few posts will be kid birthday oriented…hope you’re ready, ’cause I don’t think I am.  🙂

I wanted flags to hang from the ceiling and chandelier for Greta’s birthday.  I just wanted the typical triangular flag banners that you see everywhere. Here’s what I came up with.

Triangular Flag Banner How-to

Supplies needed:
  • scissors
  • cardboard (for stencil)
  • glue
  • pencil
  • scrap booking paper
  • string

I started by creating a cardboard stencil.  I traced it around colorful scrap booking papers and cutting out the triangles.  Once I had a stack of these I began attaching them to string.  
A thin strip of glue along the top secures the string.

To make the flags double-sided, spread a small amount of glue on the other two sides and attach a second triangle.  
The finished banners look festive in the dining room.  I stuck with a purple, green, and brown palette.  The dried triangles have a few wrinkles due to the dried glue.  This bothered me, so I began searching for other options for banner-like decorations.
Lo and behold, I found these!  I found this on Pinterest, of course.  The pin comes from Martha Stewart and was intended for weddings, but I knew it would work perfectly for my birthday girl.  
Vellum Banner How-to

Supplies needed:
  • vellum (translucent scrap booking paper)
  • paper cutter or scissors, pencil, and ruler
  • sewing machine
  • thread

I cut my vellum into 4 x 4 inch squares using a paper cutter.  A paper cutter is a must-have for the amount of paper cutting I do.  I am simply too sloppy and rushed most of the time to cut things by hand.  
After I cut all my squares it was time to sew.  I started by pulling out extra length from the needle and bobbin.  This would give me a little extra length to hang my banners.  
Then I just simply started sewing.  I used a straight stitch and as I finished one square, I fed in the second square.  This created a little extra thread length in between each square.  This will create the ability for the squares to spin and move in a breeze.  
A close-up of one of the sewn square vellum pieces.  
They turned out beautiful and this really only took mere minutes to complete.  I wish I had done this before hand cutting and gluing the other banners.  Oh well, the variety is interesting at least.  
When Greta woke from her nap she was so interested in the banners hanging above her high chair.  I am getting more and more excited for her birthday.  The cake mold showed up today.  🙂 

Dutch Baby Heads & Baby Bibs

Eric is a master chef when it comes to breakfast.  I am a lucky woman in that I get a restaurant style breakfast – eggs, toast, and hot coffee at least 3 to 4 days a week, even during the school year.  We are not cold cereal people and will take the couple extra minutes for a hot breakfast.  On weekends though, we go all out!  Yesterday was one of those all out breakfast days.

One particular specialty of Eric’s is Dutch Baby Heads.  This yummy breakfast food (pastry?) is a family specialty and was often made on fishing trips.  He talks about making double and triple batches of this delicacy to feed all the hungry fishermen in Canada.

Dutch Baby Heads:

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
6 eggs
1-1/2 cup flour
1-1/2 cup milk

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Melt one stick of butter in your pan.  We use a large cast iron skillet on low heat while we mix up the other ingredients.  A 9 x 13 inch pan is also acceptable.  If using a cast iron skillet, once the butter is almost melted, it helps to heat the entire pan in the oven.

Combine eggs, flour, and milk.  We used almond milk and a mixture of whole wheat and white flour.

 

Pour batter over melted butter in pan.

Before baking.
After baking.

Bake until set and light brown (about 25 to 30 minutes).

Sprinkle with cinnamon and slice into servings.  Serve with maple syrup.

Recap:

Dutch Baby Heads:
Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
6 eggs
1-1/2 cup flour
1-1/2 cup milk
1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  
2. Melt one stick of butter in 9 x 13 inch pan. 
3. Combine eggs, flour, and milk.  
4. Pour batter over melted butter in pan.  
5. Bake until set and light brown (about 25 to 30 minutes).  
6. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve with maple syrup

My current sewing project is making baby bibs.  We know a lot of couples having babies this year, specifically summer and so I am on a sewing rampage.

I’ve been having fun with decorative stitching and making the bibs reversible.

I can’t show you all of them just yet.  However, here are two current ones.  I am planning on adding some of the extras to my Etsy site later this week.

Book Sculptures – Guy Laramee

This work is amazing!  Check out the carved books by Guy Laramee.  This first two are part of a collection called Guan Lin and was created in response to the devastation of the Japanese Earthquake and tsunami.  Laramee’s personal website is here.

Great Wave. Altered book, inks. 2012. 19 x 15 x 23 cm (7.5 x 6 x 9 inches).
In Advance of a Broken Land (Tsunami). Altered book, inks. 2012. 15 x 16 x 22 cm (9 x 6.5 x 8.5 inches).
This last one is one of my personal favorites.  The level of detail achieved here is incredible.  This one is from the collection called, The Great Wall. 
Longmen (2010)

Curried Whole Cauliflower

Whoa was this an easy crowd pleaser at our house!  This veggie is sure to become a mainstay in our heavy rotation meals.  The recipe comes from the April 2012 issue of Eating Well.

What you need:
1 large head cauliflower
1/2 cup mayo
2 tablespoons curry paste

What you do:

1. Remove leaves and trim woody core from cauliflower head. Place entire head in a microwave-safe bowl large enough to hold it.

2. Mix mayo with curry.  I used curry and garam masala, not curry paste.  I usually buy my curry (but as you see, this curry is World Market brand) and garam masalas at ethnic grocery stores, not the regular grocery stores.  They are tastier and more reasonably priced.  



3.  Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe plate.  Microwave on high until tender 6 to 9 minutes.  Let stand 2 more minutes, still covered.  Break into serving sizes.

We made a simple meal of curried cauliflower and veggie burgers on thin buns.  We even sliced tomatoes from our own garden.  
Look at that beauty!

Warning – dirty photos!

Made you look!

FYI, anything you see on this blog is not staged.

I have neither time nor energy to stage and make my food look prettier than it already is.  I am lucky enough to get nice lighting on the photos of my artwork, much less get any photos at all of the things I cook.  Often, my cell phone is the only thing handy, or is the fastest I have in the race against the nap clock.

More often than not, my kitchen looks like this:
Especially right now with a broken finger in a splint that is not to get wet.  Kudos to my wonderful husband and his dish washing super powers.  Here is a small hint though, ladies:
So why keep this blog?  Well, the 4H project queen in me still yearns to make delicious food and create beautiful things has the desire to share what I make.  So, I carve out the time whenever possible and I post it here, so that when I throw out my scribbled notes or lose that cherished recipe I can find it on Mommy’s Medley.  I also post to show that all moms can be heroes, regardless of your kitchen sink status, broken fingers, or lack of beautiful lighting for photos.  
Last night, I created a simple and tasty salmon loaf with something for everyone in the family.  Spice and garlic for Eric and Greta and quinoa, tahini, and falafel for me.  Eric is not a fan of quinoa on its own, but hiding it inside salmon loaf did the trick.  
Mommy’s Medley Salmon Loaf
Sauté in a pan with olive oil over medium/low heat until soft:
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves minced garlic
2 stalks chopped celery
2 tsp cajun seasoning
1 tsp parsley
freshly ground pepper
 Mix together:
1 large can salmon
sauté  veggie mix
2 beaten eggs
3/4 c. falafel
3 tbsp tahini
1/2 – 3/4 c. cooked quinoa (choose amount you prefer)
Press mixture into greased loaf pan.  I used a cast iron one which cooks very thoroughly.  Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or til top is golden (I know, super high tech).
Steamed carrots were a nice pairing with the simple loaf.  This meal is the Mommy Medley’s version of meat and potatoes.  Also, you could substitute the salmon for other protein sources very easily. 

Toy Car Caddy

Happy 3rd Birthday to Jai!  Jai is a little boy who always has a pocket full of toy cars.  He knows all the Cars movie characters and says, “Lightning McQueen!”  when it lightnings during a storm.  So, the toy car caddy is the perfect gift for his cars.  It is made from upcycled tee shirts and a pillowcase.  It has a road and driving details on one side.  On the other side, it has a pocket for his cars.  The strings are used to wrap the entire caddy up and is perfect for an one-the-go boy.

I started with a flannel pillowcase and cut one side open to make it easier to sew the road and other items.

The pond, roads, and trees are all made from tee shirts.  The pond has decorative stitching embellishments for waves.  

I used a ruler to measure the roads.  They are all 2-inch wide segments of black tee shirt fabric.  The curvy sections were the most challenging sections to cut and sew – a rotary cutter would be a better option in the future.  

To make the car pocket, I cut the sleeve off of a men’s dress shirt and used a section with a seam as the top edge.  I pressed the sides and bottom of the sleeve, pinned it to the pillowcase, and sewed the edges.  Next, I pinned off sections, using a toy car as my measurements for the width and sewed compartments for the toy cars. 

I used acrylic yellow paint to paint yellow stripes on the road.  This paint is strong enough to withstand washings.  

I used the same paint, but in blue to paint his name.  In hindsight, a stencil would have been a way to make the lettering neater.  
To take the caddy on the go, simply fold into thirds. 

Then use the ribbons sewn into one side.  They are long enough to make a handle if desired. 

Hokey, but hopefully fun!

Boozy Snooki Peach Pie

What is one of the best things about living in the South?

Peaches, of course!

The following is the making of my Boozy Snooki Pie, using the vodka crust.  Great thanks to Instagram, which is now my favorite app.

I use my trusty pie recipe wheel.  My sister got the template from Martha Stewart and gave this to me for a bridal shower gift.
Peel and slice 4 lbs of peaches into approximately 3/4 inch cubes.

Mix peaches in a bowl with 3/4 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, and 2 tablespoons butter.

For the crust, I used the Better Homes & Gardens red plaid cookbook recipe.  It is the simplest and best out there.  Before we move on though, a few important things to remember about pie crusts:

a. Always use butter, high quality butter.

b. Keep the butter, water and/or vodka, and dough as cold as possible. Work fast and handle the dough as little as possible.  If the dough becomes too warm, refrigerate before continuing,

c. When transferring dough to the pie pan, do not stretch, this will cause shrinkage during baking.

I use butter from a local dairy.  It comes in a tub, so measuring is a little tricky.
Cut butter into flour with a pastry cutter.  Pieces should be pea-sized.  A pastry cutter is a must if you are making pie crusts. 
 
Cut in 8-10 tablespoons freezer-temperature vodka in place of water to make a flakier crust.
Flour and butter mixture post vodka.  It should still seem dry.
Quickly form dough into 2 disks.  Handle the dough as little as possible.
Flatten dough and roll into a circle roughly 12 inches in diameter.  This is where a cold marble rolling pin is very handy to keep the dough cold.
Wrap dough around rolling pin and ease into pie pan.  Do not stretch the dough.  Transfer prepared filling into pie pan. Roll out remaining dough, same as first dough.  Transfer to top of pie.  Press edges together with fingers or fork edge.  I am not a fancy edge pie person – it needs to taste amazing, not look pretty to be on the cover of a magazine. Notice the rough edges below.
 
Cut vents for steam to escape.  These can be simple lines or a fancy design, such as shapes, letters or numbers.
Brush top with milk and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
Wrap edges in foil to prevent over-browning.
Place a sheet of foil with edges turned up on bottom rack to catch drippings.
Bake in 425° oven for 20 minutes.  Remove foil from edges.  Reduce heat to 350° and bake for 30 to 40 more minutes.  Insides should be bubbling and crust golden.

Cool on wire rack.  I firmly believe that a pie is always better with ice cream and on the second day, after it has had a day to set up.

Boozy Snooki Peach Pie

1. Peel and slice 4 lbs of peaches into approximately 3/4-inch cubes.

2.  Mix peaches in a bowl with 3/4 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, and 2 tablespoons butter.

For Crust:

1. Cut 2/3 cup butter into 2-1/4 cups flour with a pastry cutter.  Pieces should be pea-sized.

2. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon cold vodka over part of flour and butter mixture.  Toss gently with fork.  Push moistened dough to one side of bowl.  Repeat using 1 tablespoon at a time until all flour is moistened, use 8-10 total tablespoons of cold water/vodka mixture.  Divide in half; form into 2 disks.

3.  On a lightly floured surface, use hands to slightly flatten dough.  Roll into a circle approximately a 12 inches in diameter.

4.  Wrap pastry dough around rolling pin and carefully transfer to pie pan.  Do not stretch the dough, this will cause shrinking during baking.  Trim excess dough off, if needed.  Transfer prepared filling to pie pan.

5.  Roll remaining dough into circle about 12 inches in diameter.  Cut slits to allow steam to vent.  Place pastry over filling, trim excess to 1/2 inch past edge of pie pan.  Press edges together with fingers or using a fork.

6.  Brush top with milk and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  Wrap edges in foil to prevent over-browning.

7.  Place a sheet of foil with edges turned up on bottom rack to catch drippings.

Bake in 425° oven for 20 minutes.  Remove foil from edges.  Reduce heat to 350° and bake for 30 to 40 more minutes.  Insides should be bubbling and crust golden.
The vodka makes the perfect flaky crust.
 The peaches are almost too good to be real!
 P.S. The pie doesn’t taste like vodka at all.

Veggie Frittata for Baby

As Greta grows, one of the most exciting things, for me, has been trying out new foods with her.  It amazes me how she responds so enthusiastically to any Indian food, black beans, any cheese, yogurt, toast, pancakes, and crunchy foods.  However, squishy foods such as bananas & blueberries are suspect, blueberry waffles made for kids are not interesting, and peas would be great except for those pesky green shells that get in the way.

So why make your own baby food?  Well for one, it is cheaper and you avoid excess packaging.  But, the best reason to make your own baby food is to introduce your child to the foods you eat on a daily basis in your home.  My husband and I tend to eat spicy and flavorful foods.  Store-bought baby food is anything but spicy and flavorful.

We have been using the Baby Bullet to create our own baby purees and to introduce her to the foods we eat.  


The Baby Bullet is pretty fantastic and we use ours all the time.  


Find kitchen mix, blend, chop and slice appliances at Target.com! The baby bullet has all the power and convenience of the original magic bullet, but is specially designed to make delicious, healthy baby food. With the all-new baby blend blade, you can make and store fresh foods that are perfect for every stage of development. This set includes: a high-torque power base, two stainless steel blades, a three-piece batch bowl, a short cup, a spatula, a batch tray with lid, six date-dial storage cups, a stay-fresh resealable lid, a storage tray, a user manual and cookbook and a pocket nutritionist.

We picked up a used copy of Blender Baby Food by Nicole Young and have used it pretty heavily as well.  Yesterday, I created Vegetable Frittata out of said book.  The nice thing about this recipe is that you can use up extra vegetable purees and try different combinations for different flavors.  Be sure you have tried eggs with your child though – we did have a scary egg reaction earlier this spring.  
Vegetable Frittata
Preheat oven to 325. Prepare 8 inch square glass baking dish with brushed vegetable oil.
4 egg yolks
1/4 c (50 mL) vegetable puree 
1/4 c (50 mL) homogenized whole milk
1/4 c. (50 mL) shredded cheese
1. Place yolks, vegetable puree, and milk in blender; puree on high speed until well combined and smooth. 
2. Pour egg mixture into prepared baking dish and sprinkle with cheese. Bake in preheated oven until eggs are puffed and set, about 35 minutes.  Let cool slightly.  Cut into bite-sized pieces and serve.  Makes 4 servings. 
Nutritional Information (per serving – depending on veggies used)
Calories – 117
Carbohydrates – 2 g
Fiber – 0 g
Fat – 10 g
Protein – 6 g
Iron – 1 mg
Mommy scored one with this recipe – Greta gobbled the frittata up as fast as I could feed it to her.