Saturday, August 30, 2014

Kids Unscripted; Chapter 28

Ben: (after Talia played a really good move on a board game) "Oh, it's ON now!"
Talia: "Yeah, we turned it back on..."
(Talia and Elias playing hospital:)
Talia: "So what's your problem? Are you too hot?"
Elias: "Too cold!"
Talia: "Ok" (and apparently he goes in something like a toaster oven because then I hear...)
"DING! 9 degrees! You're just right!"
Talia: "Why is the answer always no?"
Ben: "Maybe you're asking the wrong questions..."
Ben: "When you're a kid you just have to learn, learn, learn."
Talia: "Yeah, and you get tired of teaching me sometimes, that's why you rented me a school..."
Me: "It's bedtime"
Elias: "WAAAHHHH!"
Me: "Do you want a story about a frog?"
Elias: "No..." 
(Broken hearted) "bad frog..."
Talia: "You're too little to do that!"
Elias: "No, Elias is big, BIG!"
Talia: "Fine, you're too big to do that."
Elias: "Yes, ok. Big."
Elias: "Mommy, I'm a super hero."
Talia: "Where's the fireplace? Or the chimney?!"
Me: "We live in the desert..."
Ben: (to Elias with his play stethoscope) "Did you hear my heart?"
Elias: "yes, talking..."
Ben: "What'd it say?"
Elias: "Hello, Elias!"

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Non-birthday cake

I've been wanting to try to make this layered cake since I saw the recipe on, (not an advertisement) but this isn't the kind of thing I would make to have around the house. The way I see it, the more calories something has, the more people it's meant to be shared with; so I had to find a volunteer and an excuse to make it for them.
A friend had a birthday coming... And this was the perfect excuse, so I asked if I could bake her a birthday cake.
It was my first time to make a ganache...

And a cream cheese, peanut butter filling.
Like many layered-cake-learners, I had a problem with the top layer cracking...
So, I obviously still need practice. (My next victim/volunteer wants this for her birthday next January, so maybe I can figure out the cracking issue before then.)

The crazy part was, I misunderstood her birthday and it ended up being just an excuse to make it and be with friends after all. So there you go: Non-Birthday Cake.

Recipe here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Butterfly Birthday

For her birthday party this year, Talia chose a butterfly theme. She looked through my recipe book and chose a yellow cake recipe and a chocolate whipped cream recipe for the frosting. She also chose a pineapple jam filling. We looked up how to make circle cakes cut and turned into a butterfly shape and she helped decorate it with fruit.

We used this cake recipe:

And something like this frosting recipe:

It was a lot of fun to make and then to share. The flavors combined nicely!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Making Atchara (Pickled Green Papaya)

When a Filipina friend gifted me with a green papaya I had never used one before. She mentioned using it to either make atchara (pickle) or it could also be used as a vegetable in chicken soup. As I had no idea what I was doing, I looked up lots of online versions of atchara and finally decided on this one.

The first step, is to peel off the outside.

Then scrape out the seeds...
While green papaya seems to usually be julienned in this manner, I couldn't seem to do it well and just ended up putting it in the blender... so maybe the texture wasn't as nice as an authentic version.

After dehydrating with salt overnight, it is very important to rinse it well and squeeze it to get all of the bitterness out. I did the rinsing/squeezing part twice to make sure.
Then mixed in all of the spices, (alas, no fresh ginger, so powdered, and I didn't have red bell pepper so I omitted it.) Then add the brine and let pickle in the fridge in a sealed container for at least 5 days... and then:

This version turned out nicely. It's a tangy sweet and sour pickle used with fried or foods that need more flavor in the Philippines. I liked how it turned out. Ben works with several Filipinos and I gave him a jar to take to them to be taste testers. One said, (since every region in the Philippines has their own version of atchara,) it was not bad, but where he was from used less vinegar. The other one said it was great and just like his mother made it and he couldn't stop eating it.

Cooking a food outside of its culture, especially when you haven't gotten much experience with that culture, is challenging and interesting at the same time. This was a fun project!

Thursday, August 7, 2014