Month: June 2014

The BEST Pancake Recipe

I like to celebrate special occasions with a good hearty breakfast. When I started making pancakes from scratch years ago, I made it my goal to find the best recipe out there. I love fluffy pancakes, and I love making these. This recipe is one I have been making for years and is an adaptation of this pancake recipe I found on allrecipes.com.

You will need:

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of butter, melted

Directions

  1. Combine the milk and vinegar and set aside to sour.
  2. In a bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix together with a whisk.
  3. Add the soured milk into the flour mixture as well as the yolk of the egg. Set the white aside.
  4. Mix the flour, milk and egg yolk until combined. Do not over mix. It’s ok if there are some lumps.
  5. Use a hand mixer or stand mixer to beat the egg white to soft peaks.
  6. Gently fold the egg white into the batter using a spatula.
  7. Use about 1/4 of batter for each pancake. I like to use an ice-cream scoop.

I like to serve these pancakes with warm Maple syrup. They are light and fluffy, and just delicious. I am always amazed at how good they are. I don’t make them often but when I do I’m so glad I did.

photo 1-4 photo 2-4

 

photo

photo 1-3 photo 2-3

 

Happy Cooking!

signature.blog

Cookie Thursday

Welcome to Cookie Thursday, a new monthly series that will feature a new cookie recipe one Thursday a month.

It should come as no surprise that have a sweet tooth. I try to keep it in check but it often gets me in trouble. Take tonight for example, I was sitting at home thinking about baking when I remembered a jar of almond butter I had sitting in the pantry. Could I make something with it? I immediately went to Google and as I typed in my search query I decided I would attempt to make the first recipe I clicked on.

I came upon Sally’s Baking Addiction and her Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe and immediately headed to the kitchen. This simple 5 ingredient recipe was a cinch to make and the results were amazing. I am definitely going to be making these again. What’s more, I did not miss the flour or the butter one bit. To me, the cookies taste just like regular chocolate chip cookies.

As always, I altered the recipe a tiny bit. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup (250g) almond butter at room temperature or cold (not warm)
  • 1/2 cup (90g) dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (190g) semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350F

In a bowl, combine the egg, almond butter, brown sugar, and baking soda. Add vanilla extract if you’re choosing to use it. Mix well using a stand mixer, hand mixer or wooden spoon. The almond butter is very thick so if you choose you mix by hand you will definitely flex those muscles. Once all of the ingredients are incorporated add your chocolate chips and combine.

I decided to make smaller cookies so I spooned about a teaspoon and half of batter per cookie. I flattened them out a little with the back of a spoon.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes and leave to cool on the cookie sheet before setting on a wire rack.

I got about 30 cookies out of this recipe and even though they’re small they are the perfect size in my opinion. After calculating the caloric value for all ingredients used it works out to about 70 calories per cookie. Not bad for a cookie made with whole ingredients! Unrelated, but I believe that eating real food is best. I do not eat reduced fat or reduced calorie anything. Fat is good, it keeps us full longer and a lot of flavors are fat soluble. It’s why low fat foods are injected with chemical nasties- to make up for the loss of flavor that occurs when the fat is removed!

This is the first gluten free recipe I’ve ever made and I have to say I am pretty impressed. Although I have no medical need to eat gluten free I am very excited to try out more recipes.

photo 1

photo 2 photo 3 photo 4-3

 

signature.blog

Closets and teamwork

A new week always brings with it the promise of possibilities and fresh starts. I always tell myself, this is the week I will get the housework under control. I don’t always succeed but I manage to remain hopeful that I can do better next week. If I don’t hit the ground running on Monday I feel like I will never catch up for the rest of the week. I managed to get things done today and I have big plans for the rest of the week.

We have been going through our closets and cleaning them out. Does anybody love all the extra room they create by doing this? I feel so much more organized now that I have space to play with. It’s always interesting to see what seemed so important during the last clean-out end up in the Goodwill pile this time around. What changed? I don’t really know but it’s the reason I try to do this at least twice a year. So much of what we decide to keep depends on our mood. Sometimes I am very cutthroat and can be very unemotional about everything, but other days I want to keep a faded receipt because in that moment I consider it to hold sentimental value.

Because I don’t have a lot of storage space I have learned to be judicious about what I do keep. Some of Diego’s outfits have been saved but most of the clothes he’s outgrown have been donated. We have made several trips to our local Goodwill and our house feels lighter for it.

Last week I got the baking bug again. I’ve always loved baking abut it had been a while since I was inspired to bake. After the pop tarts I made oatmeal cookies. They were really good and didn’t last long.

On Sunday, my husband surprised me with a Ninja blender system (an early birthday present). I am very excited to put this to use. I am especially excited about the food processor attachment.

I think most readers of my blog know that I stay home with Diego full time. I can only speak for myself, but a lot of the time I find it very challenging to get chores done during the day. For a while I strived to have the house perfectly organized, dinner cooked, and myself cleaned up a bit by five o’clock everyday. It was easy at first. Diego spent his days in his bassinet and I could get to work. Now it’s more challenging and my plan to do it all backfired. Currently, my husband and I do some stuff together and it helps out a ton. I still cook dinner and clean up downstairs but things like sorting clothes and putting them away go by so much faster when we work together. It also gives us a chance to talk, listen to some music and just spend time together once Diego has gone to bed. I am always shocked at how much more pleasant and faster it is to clean up the kitchen after dinner when we do it  together.

It seems so obvious but sometimes we forget that we need each other and we take it for granted that the other person has a handle on things. I think that working together is always important in any relationship. It gives us a common goal, a shared experience and a feeling of closeness. Some days, when one of us is burnt out, the other will take over so that the other person can rest. This is team work, too.

I hope you’re all having a wonderful week!

signature.blog

Making Pop-Tarts at home!

The other day a group of friends were discussing treats and Pop-Tarts were mentioned. I haven’t had a Pop-Tart in ages. My adult tastebuds find them too sweet and artificial.  When I mentioned this, one of the girls shared this recipe and as soon as I saw it I knew I would be making my own take of it. My husband loves Pop-Tarts but stopped eating them because, well, they’re not good for you. Now, we can have them as an occasional treat and know exactly what was put in them.

The dough is easy to make. I am by no means an expert baker but I can get by. You can use a food processor to make the dough but you can always cut the butter  into the flour by hand either by crumbling it with your fingers or using a cutter (or two butter knives). Once there are no large chunks of butter you are done. If you’re mixing it by hand you might be wise to take a break here and there as the heat from your hands will make the butter too soft and you don’t want that.

When you add your 4 tbsp of ice-cold water you want to mix the dough only until it’s combined. Over-mixing will result in a chewy dough as opposed to light and flaky.

After making the dough I formed it into a disk, wrapped it and put it in the fridge to firm up while I worked on the filling.

The recipe called for strawberry preserves and I’m sure this is a fine ingredient to use but I wanted something a little more fresh. I do not have a recipe for the filling I made but the general idea is to mix some fresh fruit into the filling. I used about a cup or two of strawberries that I mashed up. To that, I added a splash of limeade and about a half cup of all natural strawberry jam. The jam I bought did not contain high fructose corn syrup or any dyes. Sugar was the first ingredient listed so I knew I would not need to add any more sugar. Also, I would substitute the limeade for fresh lemon or lime juice if I had it. Bring this to a boil, stirring frequently. Once it’s reduced a bit take it off the heat and pour into a heat-proof glass vessel. Leave to cool completely before using.

I was not very neat when it came to rolling out the dough and cutting it into rectangles. One of the things I love about homemade goodies is the rustic imperfection of the end result. I don’t want my tarts to look like they were mechanically manufactured. I like that they look amateur and homemade. That’s just me, you can be as perfect as you like. It’s all good! Also, I chose not to add the icing and sprinkles because I figured they were sweet enough on their own.

These can be frozen and baked off as you need them. Or, you can bake them and then freeze them.

This recipe made eight tarts. There are only four left!

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 5

 

photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5

I am teaching my son not to rape

There have been many news stories recently that have caused me to contemplate Diego’s future and what I want to instill in him. I have a lot of thoughts in my head so this post will probably be all over the place. The shooting of six women in Isla Vista brought about an important conversation about the treatment of women. The gunman’s manifesto has become an example of the mysogyny that runs rampant in our society. The hashtag #yesallwomen was a heart-wrenching read. And it’s absolutely true that all women have at some point or another experienced sexual harassment of some sort.

Men feel entitled. They are taught to feel entitled to access to women and their bodies. You hear men complain about being friend-zoned. I have such an issue with this term because it puts an emphasis on sex and romance being the point of any male/female relationship. I have seen a disgusting meme featuring a sloth whispering in a woman’s ear with the caption “She put me in the friend zone so I put her in the rape zone.” Even more disgusting is the fact that this meme has a name: rape sloth and if you’re brave enough to Google it you will find hundreds of memes that reduce rape to nothing more than a joking matter. If you are a man it’s not enough to not have raped, or to not plan to rape. By sitting back and doing nothing when your buddies joke about it makes you an accomplice. Men like that contribute to the problem. Any person that stays silent when this is joked about is perpetuating this idea that it is acceptable to joke about rape. It is never ok.

Growing up I remember very clearly a delineation between what was male and what was female. I understood at a very early age that boys were better, stronger, faster, and smarter. I was taught that when a boy hit me, stole my pencils and pulled my hair it meant he liked me. I will never forget when my sixth grade teacher dismissed my complaint about a fellow male student and then proceeded to tease me that he liked me. I “dated” him for a while in seventh grade. It all ended when he forced his tongue down my throat and disgusted, I pushed him away. I wasn’t ready for that but he forced it on me. Other boys told him to dump me for being frigid. When I told him I wanted nothing more to do with him he seemed shocked.

I learned a lot from that brief relationship. I learned to be scared of boys. They don’t respect boundaries. They are taught that boundaries are meant to be broken, pushed, annihilated. Boys are taught from an early age that girls are things to conquer. I’ve had strangers grab my ass, request that I flash them my boobs (because when you’re well endowed you’re no doubt looking for attention), and been felt up without my consent. And that’s just the physical stuff, men have made lewd remarks since before I was of age.

Now I have a son and I feel a huge responsibility to raise him to be the man that all men should be. The kind of man that will respect women not because she is another man’s daughter but because she is a human being. That is reason enough to treat women right. I cannot begin to explain how infuriating it is to hear people use women being someone’s mother, sister, daughter or wife as a reason why they ought to be respected. Why should my relation to another male be what determines my worth? I reject that reasoning.

Diego is still young, much too young to have a conversation about consent but the educating starts now. It starts by teaching him that no and stop are powerful and meaningful no matter who uses them. This is important because I want him to feel empowered to use them himself but also because it will teach him that when the words are used the action stops. Every single time.

Forced affection is also something that I will not subject him to. I think it sets a bad precedent for the rest of a child’s life to be forced to hug and kiss against his will. Not only is this dangerous for children in general in terms of child abuse/molestation but it teaches him that even if affection is unwanted you still have to submit to it. It will always be his choice how to express his affection. This is also about teaching him consent. Both his own as well as that of other people.

It’s time to push back against what’s become so common: the belief that women need to avoid rape, that where we go, what we wear and how we act somehow contributes to rape.  Rape is ALWAYS the fault of the rapist. It’s time for this conversation to be at the forefront of our consciousness instead of relegated to radical feminist talk.

I am teaching my son not to rape. I am teaching him not to slut-shame, fat-shame or body-shame. I am calling out my husband when he says something sexist. It’s an on going conversation that we will continue to have as a family. I don’t think that it should take having a daughter for a man to understand that the constant threat of rape that women live under is unacceptable.

Not long ago I was walking to the pharmacy and a guy was walking behind me. Pretty mundane, except my hairs stood on end and I was on high alert. I was walking down a busy street in the middle of the day. I know for a fact that my husband would not have given the other pedestrian a second thought. That is male privilege.

There is so much to be said on this topic. A lot has been said on it already but I hope it continues to be discussed. We have a long way to go. I see men that I love and respect fall short everyday. I see micro-aggressions all the time. In tweets, Facebook posts, comments, etc. I will never again stay quiet because complacency costs lives. Because I have a son who will one day go out in the world and leave his mark. Because my friends have daughters who will one day be out in that same world and I want to do my part to make it better for all of us.

Women are right to fear men and to the men who are offended when women fear them don’t tell me you’re offended. Don’t tell me that not all men are like that. Tell your fellow men to not be scum to women. Call them out and set them straight. There aren’t enough good men around.