Adventures in Baking

Posted on Oct 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

Chocolate-Pumpkin Brownies

I made these!  And they didn’t suck!

OK, that’s a blatant lie; I didn’t make them.  I read the instructions aloud to my mother and she made them.

If only all baking involved me just telling other people what to do – I’d do it a lot more often.

However while instructing my mom on how to make the brownies, I had an epiphany: I’m much too much a perfectionist to be a good baker.

As “we” were making the pumpkin batter, I told my mom to mix the pumpkin puree, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger to the mixture that “we” had already prepared.  “My cooking instructor says to always double the spices when cooking with pumpkin,” my mother informed me.  I watched in horror as she scooped in not the allotted 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and ginger each, but an entire FULL teaspoon of the spices.

“Mom!” I gasped, “That is not what the recipe calls for!”

“Diana,” she replied, casting me a who-do-you-think-I-am look, “Who has been baking for 40+ years?”

Touché.  I decided to let this indiscretion go.

But then there was the sifting incident.  At one point the recipe called for sifted flour.  To my dismay, my mom showed blatant disregard for this instruction.  “You don’t really need to sift,” she said, flicking spoonfuls of flour into the batter.  “This works just fine.”

“Mom, I am not comfortable with this.  It specifically says to sift!  Why aren’t you sifting!?”  Sensing my panic, my mom obliged and sifted.  Although she could have also  sifted only because I had never sifted before and it is highly likely she felt compelled to demonstrate this baking technique lest she have another reason to feel she failed me as a mother.  Her grown daughter not knowing what sifting is?  The tragedy!

That momentarily quelled my panic at my mom’s reckless approach to this recipe.  But as it came time to pour the batter into the pan, I noticed that there were some significant chunks of flour that had not been stirred in properly.  I pointed this out to my mother, who once again dismissed my concern.

She was ruining my brownies!  After I worked so hard telling her how to make them!

At this point I was too wearied to argue anymore.  I left my brownies to fate.  30-40 minutes later, the brownies were ready.  I had already resigned myself to their ruin, but in fact, they were delicious.  Moist, chocolate-y, a perfect fall treat – I’d highly recommend them.  (Just FYI, the brownies have just a hint of the pumpkin flavor.  I could have used more, but they were still very good.)

Perhaps I had been a tad over-zealous in my commitment to the recipe as written.  Perhaps I should have trusted my experienced-baker mother.  Perhaps.

Or perhaps if only reading recipe instructions proves too stressful to execute, I should stay away from baking for now.

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Posted on Oct 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

I haven’t yet bombarded you all with the absolutely precious layette pieces I have acquired for Baby, but I’m super excited about a onesie I got in the mail yesterday that I just have to share! Sweet but with a bit of sass.  Just my style.  I mean, Baby’s style.  The onesie is from Mumsy Goose, an adorable boutique on Etsy that specializes in Baby and Toddler onesies and tees, as well as other baby gifts and accessories.  If you’re looking to outfit your kid or need a sweet baby gift, I’d definitely check out this shop.  The pieces are charming, creative and cute (but not sickeningly so).  And you can get personalization!  Which I totally would have done if I my husband and I could only figure out our kid’s name… Here are a few of my faves from their site (Click on the pic for info): Can’t wait till my little one is here so I can actually dress her in all this adorableness! Share...

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Irrationality of Blockbuster Proportions

Posted on Oct 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

My husband is a fighter pilot.  Sounds all sexy and cool, right?  Sure, until you’re pregnant and watch Independence Day.  Stay with me now. My gym has a fancy “Cardio Cinema” where you can pass tedious treadmill time (and it has become quite tedious now that I’m no longer able to actually run) by watching whatever the movie of the day is.  A couple of days ago it was the 1996 epic blockbuster, Independence Day (or, ID4).  Now who doesn’t love to watch Will Smith kick some alien ass?  Throw in Jeff Goldblum and Randy Quaid, and you’ve got yourself a winner. But let’s not forget the more tender moments of the film.  Between Will Smith’s BFF Harry Connick Jr. getting blown to smithereens by the evil aliens and President Bill Pullman’s wife dying after her helicopter crashes, Independence Day is a real tearjerker.  But watching ID4 in that gym, I went way beyond the bounds of normal movie-elicited emotion. When ID4 was released, I was 11.  El Toro was still a base.  (As a side note to all Southern Californians, remember when El Toro was closing?  The great debate?  What to do with the land – airport or park? Airport or park?  Well, aliens come and destroy the whole base anyway so turns out the debate was moot.) Anyway, having been released 15 years ago, I had forgotten much of the movie.  Specifically, that Will Smith is a fighter pilot.  In fact, I don’t think I really even understood what a fighter pilot was 15 years ago.  But now I’m married to one.  (Just FYI, Will Smith is a Marine, my husband is in the Navy.  But I digress). In the film, the U.S. launches an air attack on the alien mothership, and what happens?  THE EVIL ALIENS KILL ALL THE FIGHTER PILOTS. Cue panic attack. “Ohmygosh.  Ohmygosh.  That could be Damon.  When the aliens come he’s going to have to go fight them!  He can’t go fight the aliens!  He doesn’t stand a chance against their superior technology!  Noooooo.”  Seriously.  That went through my head.  So besides...

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Admit it: You Love Celine Dion Too

Posted on Oct 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

I’m only on day five of the WordPress post-a-day challenge, yet so far I have been very unimpressed with their post suggestions.  Recently they’ve been things like, “What do you think of the death penalty?” or “How would you reform the education system?”  Such topic matters do not belong on my blog; they belong at dinner parties. A much more appropriate subject for my blog? Celine Dion. Several weeks ago Rolling Stone released a poll of the 10 Worst Songs of the Nineties.  #7 was Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”. I’m sorry, did they get the list confused with the BEST songs of the nineties?! I was so distressed by Celine’s inclusion on this list that I haven’t been able to address it.  Until today. This morning as I turned on my car, my ears were greeted by the French-Canadian diva’s powerful (if a bit nasal-y) vocals. “Near, far, wherever you are…” Yesssssss.  I was instantly reminded how much I LOVE this song, and how undeserving its placement on this poll is.  The injustice! The Rolling Stone write-up states: “If you were a 13-year old girl in 1997 odds are very high this song made you cry your eyes out.”  True statement.  (Although I was 12, but close enough.) The article continues: “Now it probably just makes you cringe.” FALSE. As the music hit my ears, waves of emotions rolled over me.  I suddenly pictured Rose clutching Jack, “I’ll never let go, Jack.  I’ll never let go.”  I almost burst into tears on the spot. This illustrious song represented the height of my emotional maturity at 12-years old; It was the soundtrack to my tween years – and it’s all coming back to me now.  (See what I did there?  Another great Celine anthem.) How dare Rolling Stone discredit this glorious song?  How dare they suggest “My Heart Will Go On” is anything but a grand, majestic work of art that speaks to your innermost soul?  Whoever voted for Celine’s place on this list clearly has never let their dead lover sink into a freezing, dark ocean. ...

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Girls On The Run

Posted on Oct 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

Who has heard of Girls on the Run? I remember first encountering this organization on my runs by the Bay when I was living in San Francisco.  When I moved to Norfolk, I decided it was time to research them a bit more.  I loved what I found, and started volunteering as an Assistant Coach last season.  I’m off to practice soon, and wanted to give you the heads up on this great organization. As stated on their website: “Girls on the Run is a non-profit prevention program that encourages preteen girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through running.  Our curricula addresses all aspects of girls’ development – their physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual well-being.” It’s Girl Power, minus the mini skirts and British accents.  (That was a Spice Girls reference, for those of you that weren’t tweens in the ’90s). Girls on the Run is so much more than just a running program; I love the emphasis it places on teaching young girls a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle that includes, but goes far beyond, physical fitness. At the end of the season, the girls complete a 5K.  It was awesome running (or walking) with these girls and watching them cross the finish line.  It was so exciting to see their sense of accomplishment and for many, new-found sense of confidence as they finished the race.  There is no ugly competition, just girls working together, encouraging each other and cheering their teammates as they all strive to accomplish the same goal. Of course, the 5K is just the finale.  All season long, the girls train physically while simultaneously building their own self-esteem, practicing positive thinking, learning to be a good teammate, etc. etc. I’d encourage you to check it out!  If you don’t have time to be a coach, there are also lots of other ways to get involved.  Volunteering to be a Running Buddy on the 5K race day, for example, is a great opportunity to support these girls.  We’re still early on in the season so there’s plenty of time to get involved.  I’m sure I’ll...

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My Not-So-Triumphant Return to Yoga

Posted on Oct 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

Today I went to my first pre-natal yoga class in three weeks.  Three weeks ago, that class had also been my first in three weeks.  That’s two classes in six weeks.  Ouch. Holy Belly Bump!  My tummy seems to have grown exponentially in these last three weeks, making formerly simple poses excruciatingly difficult. Let’s take the seated forward fold.  This is not a difficult move.  You sit, legs together and extended, and bend forward (OK, there are a few more body mechanics required that I’m not going to go into, but you get the gist – it’s not hard).  Apparently 33-week pregnant bellies don’t bend so well.  As I leaned forward, I found myself suddenly stopped having barely moved from my starting position, surprised at my inability to go any further.  When did that happen? “You can spread your legs a little if you need to make room for baby,” the instructor instructed.  A little?  I was straddling the mat before I could even reach my shins. Child’s pose – a former sweet relief from taxing (but always invigorating, right?) poses.  Not anymore.  Now, with a 20-lb baby bump pulling down on my back, child’s pose offered nothing but discomfort and strain. How about a sun salutation?  These flowing series of poses are meant to warm up the body a bit.  “Warm up” now means for me, “Rapidly increase heart rate and leave you panting and drenched in sweat”.  Transitioning from a forward lunge to a plank proved nearly impossible, as my stomach seemed intent on preventing my front leg from extending backward. Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200.  Stay in a forward lunge until your belly is no longer protruding far enough to limit all mobility. The class was interminable; I kept checking the clock, willing it to be time for shavasana.  I never look forward to shavasana!  As noted before, lying motionless for 20 minutes “relaxing” and me don’t mix.  But not today.  Bring it on!  Put me out of my misery! I’d like to note, I think my body is failing pregnancy.  A pregnant...

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