Sunday, September 15, 2013

Reason #4,031 that I love my husband

Earlier today I was feeling a bit blue. It's a week to the day before my birthday and this time of year always gets me a bit down thinking about and missing my mom. As an only child, the sun rose and set on my birthday for my mom (and for me, if I'm being honest, for most of my life). It was an event and celebrated at home (usually just her and me), then later with my dad, with my mom's family, and as I got older with friends too. Every year on my birthday my mom would tell me The Birthday Story which was the story of my birth in the hosptial from the moment her water broke until the moment I was born. Even when I was in my 20s and no longer lived with her, it was our tradition that she would call me and tell me the story. As the years went on she added newer, funnier, and sweeter details. I meant for the longest time to write it down after she died but did not. Now it's been 11 years since I've heard The Birthday Story and it is getting pretty fuzzy in my mind. This year, on my birthday, I plan to write down as much as I can remember (clearly I'm not getting any younger and my memory not any sharper-ha).

So back to my wonderful husband...All of this pre-birthday sad blah feeling is just kind of riding along with me all day. This morning was particularly chaotic with FB starting to scale everything in sight (he's 13 months) and E cantankerous because he missed a nap. So I was feeling tired and blue and overwhelmed scheduling travel for my crazy job (that I love, but that sucks the life out of me sometimes). On top of that I am really missing my girls-my dearest friends (both female and male) and feeling really disconnected from the life I used to have.

There I was, stuck in this gloomy place in that particular moment, when I looked over and the light caught M's face. Well, actually he was standing over the sink getting a glass of water and turned and gave me a sweet smile for no reason other than he's my sweet hubby. With no warning and a bit out of nowhere, I started spontaneously singing "I got you Babe" and grabbed him and leaned close. After the first verse (yes, I take it seriously when I sing):

"They say we're young, and we don't know
Won't find out until we grow
I don't know if all that's true
But you got me and baby, I got you"

If you know the song, you know what comes next is the first "Babe." Then "I got you, Babe." So when it comes time for that first line of the chorus M chimes in with what I can only describe as a gorilla voice with the first "Babe." I went with it and we sang the chorus together and whirled around the kitchen for a moment. Then I ran to pick FB off the chair he had climbed onto since he was about to fall over and hit the ground from at least 3 feet.

The sweetest part of this whole thing is that M is not a Sonny and Cher fan. Nor a fan of any oldies-esque music (except maybe the Iggy Pop and The Sex Pistols). He is a metal guy and tolerates my love for cheesy (mostly 70s) love songs with a mild disdain. But he knew I needed a moment, and he joined me without hesitation...which surprised me...which made me laugh a bit...which reminded me that I am super lucky to have a great partner and best friend. He makes my dark moments brighter, even and especially when we dance badly in the kitchen while our home continues on it's chaotic journey around us.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Honey, I baked you a cake

I am bursting with pride for my wonderful hubby, M. After taking two grueling 8-hour exams over a six month time frame, he now has his professional license in our state...the highest honor for his field. I wanted to mark the occasion by making something special for our family to eat together. On hand I had some amazing organic North Carolina strawberries from the Farmer's Market. M is not really into traditional cake so I tried to come up with a creative and delicious dessert. I wanted some kind of shortcake or parfait so decided to make a strawberry cake and serve it topped with homemade vanilla pudding.

The pudding needed to chill for a couple of hours so I made it first. In the past, my homemade pudding was not terribly successful so I didn't have really high hopes for this one. I was pleasantly surprised...the recipe from Tasty Kitchen was easy and it turned out great! There's nothing like the smell of homemade pudding on the stove. It reminds me of making pudding with my Gram as a little girl.

Pudding done, I washed and hulled the organic strawberries. I found this recipe for a simple strawberry cake and decided to give it a whirl. First you simmer the chopped strawberries with cornstarch, lemon juice, and sugar:

And pour them over a simple batter made with lots of butter (!).

Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes and voilĂ !

I served the cake warm with the chilled vanilla pudding on top. Delish! A seasonal homemade treat - filled with love for my family, my amazing husband, and the life we have built together.

Homemade Vanilla Pudding
Adapted from Homemade Vanilla Pudding and Strawberry Trifle by Cook, Bake, and Decorate

3 Tablespoons cornstarch
½ cups organic cane sugar
⅛ teaspoons sea salt, finely ground
3 cups whole milk (I used our yummy Homeland Creamery milk)
3 whole egg yolks (local, free range)
1 teaspoon organic vanilla
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

Combine the first 5 pudding ingredients together in a large saucepan and whisk over medium heat. Whisk consistently bringing the pudding to a boil and boiling for 2 minutes (the pudding will begin to thicken at this point). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and butter. Cool the pudding in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Strawberry Cake
Adapted from Strawberry Pudding Cake by

unsalted butter for greasing the pan
1/3 cup organic cane sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 cups sliced fresh organic strawberries, hulls removed
1 cup organic all-purpose flour (we get flour from NC's own Lindley Mills)
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon organic sea salt, finely ground
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
1 large egg (local, free range)
1/2 cup whole milk
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon organic vanilla

Put the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 375F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. In a small saucepan combine the 1/3 cup sugar with the water, lemon juice and cornstarch. Stir to combine then add the berries. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, then continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Whisk to combine.
In a large bowl combine the egg, milk, softened butter and vanilla. Combine until well mixed then add the flour mixture, whisking only until combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking dish, spreading it out evenly. Pour the berry mixture evenly over the batter. (Note: berries will sink into batter.)

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center portion of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes before serving.

¡Buen provecho!