Tag Archives: Baking


This year I did NOT hastily make New Year’s Resolutions in the waning moments before Rosh Hashana. Why bother? I always make the same exact list. Every year I resolve to yell less, and to run and write more. In a few weeks I hope to run a marathon, and I’m doing so much more writing that I barely have time to blog. The yelling is wishful thinking. For that, I’d need a personality transplant. 

I also resolve to bake less. This year I’m doing a pretty good job. This week, however, my baby turned five. She turned five and asked for a cake with flowers. A cake with flowers that I made myself — how did she even know enough to ask that?

I happened to be in Whole Foods where I picked up some vegan, gluten free, grass fed cake mix (because, why not?) as well as some plant based food coloring. I do not NEED to buy grass fed cake mix and plant based food coloring, but I did NOT want to make a trip to a separate store, especially when that store is likely to be the single dingiest place on earth – my local A and P. 

Turns out, though, that when you use plant based food coloring and try to make an rainbow cake, each layer of the cake will be a different shade of orange. Believe it or not, this is meant to be blue, pink, orange and yellow:


And the shades of rainbow, all of which turn out to be turmeric, do this to your nails: 

 I showed this to the kids and explained that this stain happened because I was wearing clear nail polish. 

“Clear nail polish,” asked a certain 11 year old boy. “What’s the point of that?”

The birthday dessert was looking pretty sorry and I was yellowing quickly. I had no idea how to really frost the cake. My eldest, while watching me dissolve into a full on pre-birthday panic attack reminded me that our neighbor, a high schooler, is also a rather adept cake maker. 

And so he was. He came to our rescue and the gelatinous pile of turmeric mush turned into this:  

 Victory was mine. Mine, with a little help. Fortunately, Fiona hates cake. Her birthday, which is less than two weeks away, will be celebrated with ice cream and gummy bears. 

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I must have brought the underwhelming, underperforming snow with me from Seattle.

All day long we were barraged with reports of coming blizzard that would shut the city down tomorrow. Sidney’s preschool was cancelled before her morning was over. The other kids had school cancelled before the first flakes fell. (Long Island is set to bear the brunt of the storm. I’d make a snarky comment here, but I’m technically bridge and tunnel now, so I really don’t have grounds for snark.)

To be fair, it has snowed. Somewhat.

It just hasn’t snowed anywhere near enough to shut down this city, and it certainly hasn’t snowed enough (yet) to warrant a snow day. (Though this does beat Seattle’s snowless snow days.)

Still, in anticipation of a house full of perpetually hungry children on a constant snack-troll, I made some cookies. (Snow days are no way to begin a New Year’s health plunge. Nobody wants to snuggle up with a celery juice, not even me.)

My mixer is a constant reminder of both my dislike of baking and of my ability to kill any appliance that enters my kitchen.

I have to switch it on and then whack it with my fist to get it whirring. If I desire a higher speed, I need to whack it again. Even though it appears to have 8 settings, it only has those two speeds. Sometimes I need to unplug it to shut it off. I’ve been known to shout at it, but that’s never gotten me anywhere. It seems I cannot even get an appliance to be subordinate.

I’m going to sleep now. I’ll need my wits about me tomorrow, what with all those children and that errant mixer.


Filed under baking, children, cooking, food, New York City, parenting, winter

My (brief) Adventures in Porn.

As I have mentioned, over here a wordpress.com, you can see which search terms people enter to get to your blog, and which blogs refer readers your way. Last night I got an email that someone had listed my blog on her site — I believe the kids call it “ping back.” I went to the site in question — Did a fellow Mommy Blogger fan put me on her blogroll? Did I make it onto a list of funniest people in Seattle? (which is about as competitive as getting on a list of fat people in L.A.)

No. Someone chronicling her adventures in (ahem) bondage decided to write about getting her period (who know that was kinky? certainly nobody in this house.) and she posted my link: Boogers and PMS

The post was about my four  year old’s moods, but I can only suppose this blogger was casting a rather wide net. Of course I looked at her dirty little site. Then I looked at some of the smutty links she had on her blogroll. And then for a few minutes I did some heavy duty judging, which is remarkably easy when you are a Victorian, as I am.

And then, right in the middle of reading some dreadful stuff by some guy who referred to himself as “Daddy” (eeew), I realized that this was probably something of my doing. You can’t write about vagina necklaces and not expect the dirty people to find you.

Which brings me my latest genital riff:

M is the baker in this house. While I like to cook, I do not enjoy baking, and am not especially good at it. Especially bread. (I like to make a big performance out of my inability, and march around my little kitchen announcing that bakers are predictable, dull, and lack a certain joie de whatever, telling M that he’s so very lucky to have married me instead, what with my flexibility (mind out of the gutter, porn friends who have found me by accident) as well as my unbridled spontaneity. But really we both know that I’m just restless, sloppy, don’t like to follow directions, and have the attention span of a toddler.

Therefore, if we want freshly baked challah each week, M bakes it. (Challah, is a Jewish braided bread.) For some reason I do not fully understand, the week after Passover we bake something called “Shlissel (key) challah.” Some people actually bake a key into their challah, others shape challah into keys.

M chose the latter. But God love him, he doubles every recipe he comes across (you never know when angry Cossacks will come banging down your door and if you have to leave the shtetl in a hurry, it’s good to have three tons of freshly baked bread), and his oversized creations were shoved, rather inartfully, onto a baking sheet. He shaped them, and I put them in the oven later in the day. When he came home from work, he asked:

“Well, do my shlissel challah look realistic?”

To which  I replied, “Well, I suppose if shlissel were Yiddish for giant, doughy, penis, then yes! Bravo!”

I cannot print his response, but I’m sure he still feels very bad about it. I can say looking back on this, and considering my decision to write about it, that I can’t be shocked at all that I have now have porno street cred. I may like to read Victorian detective novels for cheap fun, I prefer my romances to be Edwardian, but I may not be as clean as I thought I was.

As for M….  Reader, I married him. And he may not get all my jokes, but he bakes the best damn doughy penis challah in the Pacific Northwest.

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Will Mrs. Patmore Bake My Hamantaschen?

Purim is around the corner — the closest thing we Jews have to our own Halloween. We dress up, give out treats, and wait for treats to be given to us. Of course there’s a whole story behind it: a Persian king got rid of his wife because she wouldn’t dance naked for him and his creepy friends one night. He replaces her with a young hottie who may or may not have been betrothed to her cousin. The cousin convinces her to hide her Jewishness and marry the king and save her people from the plottings of an evil madman. We won. The end.

To celebrate our victory, we eat hamantaschen — these triangular cookies stuffed with fruit, chocolate, and sometimes poppy seeds.  Because I live in a community of cooks and bakers, each year I am inundated with Facebook uploads of trays and trays of perfect hamantaschen. I think I may have tried to make them years ago but it was a complete and utter disaster and I haven’t dared try since. But the kids are off school today and I thought: “How hard can it be? Are my children missing out on the experience of stuffing jam into rolled out dough? Could I be doing more?”

So I spoke to my sister (another accomplished baker), got some advice, and dove in.

I made some fillings:


I got out my tools, made the dough, and dove in.

The result:


Even if you don’t know what hamantaschen look like, you can probably tell that they are not supposed to look like exploding brains. Jews may eat some pretty crazy stuff, but even we are above eating exploding brain cookies.

Luckily, you do not have to bake well to be a Jew. (My Mormon pals tell me I’d be all but excommunicated by now.)

I’m not even sad about it. I used up all my sad last night watching the Downer Abbey season finale. While the show was grim and cruel, my biggest takeaway from the entire episode was watching the downstairs crew prepare the family for the Scottish sojourn, and thinking: “Really? These people don’t even have to pack for themselves?”

Forget baking these bloody hamantaschen. I’d never have to remember to pack pacifiers, bathing suits, and toothbrushes for seven ever again.

Sign. Me. Up.


Filed under children, downton abbey, food, parenting, Uncategorized

Resolutions 5773

Jewish new year is next week and I’m so big on resolutions I’m going to commit to some now, and then again in December, when I’ve botched these ones royally. I’m thrilled to have two bites at the resolution apple.

1. BAKE LESS: This week I felt like a superhero when I baked blueberry muffins before work. A sad, wan looking carton of berries sat in the fridge and I knew I had to use them or lose them. So, I whipped up a batch using the muffin recipe I’ve been using for years from my battered copy of Joy of Cooking. And then I forgot to spray the pan, so I went from superhero to ginormous loser in 12 minutes flat. Which is why I ought to bake less. I’m no good at it, I don’t enjoy it much, and usually it leaves me feeling hollow: either I mess up and leave out an ingredient (often the eggs, I have no idea why), or because I succeed and the sheer predictability of the outcome bores me. Adieu baking.

2. BRING THE LIST: Ok, if you’re not in the mood for mundane, skip this. But although I am a happy maker of shopping lists, unless I make them on my phone, they never make it to the supermarket with me. Which leaves me wandering the aisles of the store trying to remember what I wrote. Or just buying everything I see in the hopes that something I bought is actually on the list.

3. DO NOT HAVE A BABY: Less mundane, perhaps. But when Sidney turns 2 next month it will be the first time I have a two year old and am not about to burst with child, or nursing a tiny baby. I have blocked Facebook friends who insist on posting cute baby pics (those with ugly babies I can handle) and am steering clear of newborns in general. I am convinced that if I can make it to January, the urge will pass and I’ll be in the clear. Stay tuned.

4. Stop losing at SCRABBLE by more than 100 points.

5. FLUSHING: No lavender-scented-plug-in in the world can do battle with the smell of a giant turd that’s been festering in the bowl for 12 hours. I taught them to read, I’ll be damned if I can’t teach those buggers to flush.

6. Avoid YENTAS: There are mean girls everywhere, but nobody is more vicious than a town gossip.

7. Stop THROWING things to make a point: I tried to give up yelling, but no-yelling is so 5772. At this point I’d be happy just to stop throwing toys around to demonstrate to the kids what an enormous mess they’ve made, knowing that I’ve just given myself more to clean up. I’d also like to stop throwing books they refuse to read and food they won’t eat.

8. Make peace with the fact that my girls’ hair is only going to get better than mine.

9. Stop hating on SEATTLE. Alright, nine out of ten ain’t bad.

10. I’d like to learn how to speak Spanish, how to preserve lemons, and how to swim a mile in open water, but for now I’d be really, really happy if I could learn how to stand in front of three stacks of coffee-cup lids and just know which one fits my cup. It would be nice not to make a fool of myself by trying all three, until I finally get the right one and getting subsequently scowled at by Seattlites who fume when they think of those used, unsuccessful lids sitting in landfills for an eternity.

And of course, there are the usual suspects — run more, read more, write WAY more, and wear better underwear.

Not in order of importance.

Happy new year everyone.


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