Friday, January 23, 2015

Don't Believe Me, Just Watch: Recipe Update

In my sultriest Katy Perry voice I am happy to tell you:

I baked a cake.

And I liked it.

It's not what I'm used to.

Sophie, formerly known as Prince er, Elle, left me the recipe for her Fondant aux Clementines.

She converted metric to US standard and wrote little helpful notes such as " Don't forget to grease the pan and to put a little bit of flour in order not to make it sticky".

She patiently answered my Viber text requesting what size baking pan to use and immediately posted on my IG cake picture "perfect".

I want you all to know the last cake I baked looked like an apple pizza so I'm thrilled with this.

Not only is it easy to make, it's delicious to eat and it's seasonal.

So get going!

Sophie's cake: ( as written)

3 eggs
 150g-3/4 cup sugar
 150g-1+ 1/4 cup flour
 1+1/4 teaspoon baking powder 
 150g- 1/2 cup+2 tablespoons butter
3 clementines

Sophie's syrup:
3 clementines
2 tablespoons of orange juice ( I used blood orange)
50g-1/4 cup of sugar

Preheat over to 350.

* In a bowl mix the eggs and the sugar until it turns into a light yellow color.
*Add the flour and the baking powder
* Melt the butter in the microwave (around 1 minute 30/ 2 minutes). Pour into mixing bowl. Mix well.
* Zest your clementines and add it to the preparation then add the juice of the clementines. Mix well.
*Pour the mixture into a cake pan. ( she uses a 24cm round cake pan, at her suggestion I used a 9.5inch pan) (remember her earlier instructions about greasing and flouring pan.
*Put in the oven for 35 minutes
* While it is baking, prepare the syrup by mixing the sugar the juice of the 3 clementines and the orange juice in a saucepan on medium heat.
Mix constantly stirring 5 to 10 minutes, until it gets syrupy.
* When the cake is done, pull it out of the oven and pour the syrup over it immediately.
Let it cool before unmoulding it.
*Decorate with wedges of clementines if you have any left

From my lips to your ears: Ooh la la.

Merci Mademoiselle. xoxo

Update: in my excitement I deleted the 3 clementines that go in the cake batter itself. These 3 are zested, yes this is the peel, and then the juice is added to the batter.

The other 3 clementines go in the syrup.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How I Hijacked My Weekend

I had a flat white from Starbucks on Friday afternoon.

I don't know why I switched from my usual iced latte to a hot drink made with two shots of ristretto served with skim milk but I did and I was wired like it was 1986.

Wired enough that when I came home from a full days work I decided to switch bedrooms from the little cosy room in the front to the larger room at the back.

This involved 3 dressers, one old (read heavy) pie safe, 2 beds, bedside table, lamps, 2 mattresses, 2 boxsprings, well you get the picture.

About 45 minutes into it, as I was attempting to wrestle a box spring out of an old brass bed frame I realized my shoulder was screaming.

It had been screaming since Christmas so I listened and after a brief look outside to see who was home, I text Vicky, my glamorous but strong friend across the street, for help.

Three minutes later, full make up, blonde hair flowing, still dressed from work, she was at my door asking what we were doing. Moving bedrooms I told her.

At some point as we were shoving my mattress through the little hallway she asked me if I had taken a caffeine pill.

I am a caffeine pill I told her. Flat white still at work.

45 minutes later we were as done as we were gonna get.

By Sunday I had my clothes moved into the new closet, plants and shelves arranged, pictures hung and had slept like an angel both nights. The sun rises on the front of the house. This has confused Gus so much this morning he let me sleep in till 7:15, believe me when I say this does not happen.

Also believe me when I say I was almost late for work.

I have now created more work for myself because I have to get the little room back into fighting shape before I can rent it out.

And this is a busy week. But I'm pretty sure I know where I can purchase that extra get up and go I'll so desperately need.

 ( This is not a paid announcement)

Monday, January 12, 2015

My Scandi Home

The quiet days of January are upon us.

Outside is white, grey and rainy.

Inside is black and white and dry.

Cats sleep.
I eat.
Was I the last blogger standing who hadn't roasted a cauliflower?
A head of cauliflower does give one pause, especially if you're cooking for one.
But I took the plunge and over 3 days finished it all.

Then had to talk myself out of buying another.

We had a snow day so I made my favorite soup loaded with kale, potatoes, onions, garlic, black eyed peas from the freezer and sausage.

And yesterday, Senor from around the corner, finally returned from New Orleans,made jambalaya with chicken and andouille sausage. We ate it, appetites heightened by the karmic ending of the Packers/Cowboys game. ( Just had to sneak a little football in here didn't I).

I attempted baking, Martha's applesauce, oatmeal cookies. I skipped the icing, swapped out cranberries for the raisins and found myself with a tower of cookies. I couldn't tell if they were good.

The Irishman next door had shoveled me a "wee" path. ( a wee path can you stand it?)
So I forced rewarded him with cookies. I brought a few into work and once they were pronounced edible I brought in the rest.

The applesauce flavor seemed to intensify with age, nice.

This was the first time I had ever baked that I had all my ingredients measured out in advance. It  certainly made it easier but it will take more than one so so batch of cookies to make a baker out of me.

Next week I hope to bake Elle's Clementine Cake for flower shop birthdays.

The full report and recipe coming soon. 

You may notice I'd doing pretty well with that NY resolution to feed myself better.. but why oh why did I forget to add go back to the gym?

Shouldn't these go hand in hand?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Good, The Bad And The Playoffs

I have an hour to calm down from the heartbreaking loss of the Detroit Lions to the Dallas Cowboys and get in a proper mood for season 5 of Downton Abbey.

Well, heartbreaking if you're A Michigangster, and that I am.

So,deep breath Jane. And thanks Susan for all the text. They helped until I text " Jesus" and you replied " I think he's their only hope now".

The good: the newly turned 3 year old , the former Mr. B, came for dinner with parents.

He declined a seat at the table. Like his father he seems to prefer lounging on the couch.

Unlike his father, he likes watching endless loops of Thomas The Train and Donald Duck.

The good: dinner was delicious. I made a rice pilaf spiced with cumin seeds and scattered with chopped cilantro and parsley.

Middle Eastern meatballs with finely chopped onions and garlic, laced with heaping teaspoon fulls of cumin, paprika, a bit of cayenne, salt, pepper, chopped parsley and cilantro, an egg and a handful of breadcrumbs.

These were simmered in a sauce of chopped tomatoes, sauteed onion, garlic, a chili pepper with the same herbs and spices as above.

The good news: there are 2 left.

A romaine salad with sliced beets and pomegranate seeds tossed with that nutty vinaigrette I'm so nutty about from How Cook Everything. Maybe it's just the change from balsamic to sherry vinegar.

 The bad news: I forgot to take pictures.

In other bad news: the Lions lost and if the former Mr. B was paying any attention to Aunt Jane he now has quite a vocabulary to show off at "school" tomorrow.

Father forgive me, for I know not what I say.

Blame it on the Motor City.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Rather Surreal Ramble On The State Of My Appetite On This The Last Day Of The Year

Well I wrote a long and heartfelt post about food last night then promptly deleted it.

And search as I might, I'll be damned if I can find it.

But having just fed myself a delicious New Years Eve dinner of smoked salmon and capers with  toast and a crisp salad full of pomegranate seeds and avocado with peels of parmesam I felt the need to revisit last nights thoughts.

I have a complicated relationship with food.

I love to eat, I love to cook for others and I adore being cooked for.

But when it's just me for me, things get a little looser. A little lighter. Maybe an egg, with some cheese, in a tortilla, with a few slices of avocado.

After GG left food lost its appeal.

By the time Superman moved in I was heading toward invisible.

But surrounded by his love of cooking, eating and feeding me something began to stir in my heart: a feeling of guilt.

I had to reciprocate, so I started with a frittata. It wasn't great but it was a beginning.

By the time he left last December I was nonchalantly whipping up an asado negro for football Sunday.

When he moved out my interest in cooking drifted away.

I'm sure if you asked Elle or the little doctor what I had for dinner they would shrug their shoulders but maybe mention whatever it was, I wrapped it in a tortilla.

Don't get me wrong, take me out for Thai, meet me for sushi or call me up for fish and chips at the pub down the street and I'll match you bite for bite.

It was home cooking for one that had me stymied.

But over these last few months, I got my mojo back.

I don't know where it went or why it returned but I'm happy to report I'm treating myself like a favored guest.

Christmas Eve I declined all invitations and cooked myself a little rare filet, tossed a salad and grilled some bread spread with olive oil and garlic.

I sliced half the filet, sprinkled it with Maldon salt and devoured it. Then I did the same with the other half. And it was good.

I have cooked beans, soups and chili in the freezer.

I have a pantry full of grains and vegetable drawers full of well,vegetables.

And most importantly I have an appetite.

So my New Years resolution is to keep cooking, for one. And to keep blogging for sanity.

Oh and to travel more.

Gus resolves to get me up earlier and travel around the neighborhood more.


Friday, December 26, 2014

A Christmas Story

It's the most wonderful day of the year: Boxing Day.

Nothing needs doing on Boxing Day except a trip to the store for cat food.

I can't seem to move out of the once desirable vintage leather club chair by the Christmas tree.

( No longer desirable because the you know whos have managed to claw through and pull out hunks of innards and leaves scratch marks on every remaining inch of leather.)  ( But still very comfortable, so screw it).

(And the tree smells divinely of fir still).

So I'm reading Delancey and inhaling deeply and thoroughly enjoying this day of rest.

Christmas dinner at my friends Ann's was just right.

She and her husband decorate as if it were a second White House.

And cook as if royalty were coming to dinner, we had Oysters Biltmore for starters, prime rib with a horseradish cream sauce, a cheesy potato thingy from Ina Garten's latest, green beans with masses of shallots and I made a salad with romaine, pears, pomegranate seeds served with a nutty vinaigrette dressing via "How To Cook Everything". Ann told me her husband didn't like nuts in his salad, I ground them up for the dressing. #baddinnerguest

I came with a friend. Ann's sister Grace who lives in Richmond and knows little about my day to day affairs (apparently) insisted on addressing the two of us both together and separately as if we were a long standing couple.

He was on antibiotics for some kind of virus and I was running on fumes from a month of hard labor so neither of us could muster up the energy to dissuade her of this notion.

Right around the time we were making coffee and trying to open the wedged closed drawer that held the pie servers I lost my voice and turned into a frog.

Over a table of pumpkin and apple pie, chocolate brownies and cookies I tried to stop her as she was telling "us" about the new Wegman's market soon to open in Alexandria and how easy it would be for us to shop there. And how fabulous the produce was....I croaked up that I didn't expect J and I to be doing any grocery shopping together, but I was ignored.

Did I want to take some prime rib home for his lab, did he feed it table scraps? Had we been here, had we gone there there? What Senator had he worked for?

I don't know, I barely know him. I just knew he had no plans for Christmas day, is 6 months into an awful divorce, is extremely civilized and would be able to play nice with strangers. Plus he drives, I don't, Ann and her husband live about 30 minutes away. Longer if you follow Google maps.

So, festive house, perfect meal and just the right amount of awkwardness to call it Christmas.

It was a quiet ride home. I'm sure I'll be able to laugh about this once I get my voice back.

Poor guy.

Wonder if he has a blog.

I'll ask Grace.

Or Lucy, she looks like she's got the 411.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Picture if you will, a flower shop two days before Christmas.

Everyone is totaled and all the designers hands are laced with invisible pieces of cedar. The aloe vera plant is our best friend.

We have circles under our eyes (our red eyes),band aids on our fingers and a box full of orders to fill.

Customers are dropping off presents, and containers for us to fill.

The same 5 CD's we'd been playing for 2 weeks are still playing.

We pop another cookie or white chocolate pretzel in our mouths, take another hit of coffee and keep on keeping on.

Betty, the talent, has a monster migraine but just keeps churning out masterpieces.

She has forgotten her medicine at home so makes do with Advil. Advil is not the answer.

We try to keep it down but can't stop the holiday madness.

Then Betty gets a phone call from her friend Carlos.  She thought he was in Bolivia visiting his wife Gladys, she's been living there for 4 years while going through the immigration process .

He's been here in Virginia with the 2 children, one 12 the other 9. He flies them to her in the summer and on school vacations. He is both mother and father to them while working more hours in a day then we can imagine.

Now there's a 1 year old with her mother.

This summer Betty asked me to write a letter to the judge who would hear Carlo's petition to bring Gladys back to the States.  She gave me her feelings and I put them into words.

It was one of 4 letters.

When Carlos called her today he was in our parking lot, he had to leave Bolivia early, he needed to see her.

Betty flew outside and when she did, she said her head popped open.

For there was Gladys and the new baby Iris.

Home for Christmas. Legally here. Good to stay.

Betty brought them in to meet me.  "This is Gladys" she told me, she's come home". "This is my amiga Jane, she told them. She wrote the letter".

I just started crying. And hugging everybody and crying some more.

Florists are very emotional.

I'm sure they wondered who this amiga loca of Betty's was.

Legally Gladys could have been made to stay there 10 more years. Her oldest daughter would have been 22 by the time she returned to Virginia.

It's a Christmas miracle. It brought smiles to our faces, made migraines disappear and allowed us to fly through the rest of our day with hearts filled with gratitude for a compassionate judge and a good lawyer.

And I had to share the joy.

And the tears.

Don't give up before the miracle?

I get it now.