Saturday, September 24, 2011

Life's been good to me so far!

Thank you, Joe Walsh. ;)

Well, life for me is generally pretty darned good, but this month, I won me some goodies!

The first is this book "Cooking for the Birds" that I got from winning a haiku contest offered by WildBird magazine ( @WBeditor ) on Twitter.
This other set of goodies is actually for ds#1 who is the main birder in our family. The nice people at Audubon Guides (@AudubonGuidesfound out that my 15 year old is an avid birder and sent a package for him, no strings attached! I have to say I did buy their birding App, but it was on sale for a great price and I was going to buy it anyway.
Their Mushroom App is on sale right now for half price, so you budding mycologists should get yours now.

Speaking of getting freebies, a friend gave me a large bag of grapes, so I got to make some jam. YES!  Thanks bunches, Carol!  ;)
After making jam, I painted my front door, after having serious red-front-door envy (thanks for nothing, Amber and Sherrie).
I experienced a moment of panic when I realized that it was middle of September and I hadn't started chemistry labs for my older son yet. Thanks to Meg's materials, I had no problem getting going on them. I decided that because ds#1 doesn't have anyone to do labs with this year, ds#2 can do them with him. Ds#2 would be in grade 8 if he were in public school, while ds#1 would be in grade 10.  However, doing the labs together reminds me of just how far apart they are sometimes. While ds#2 works pretty much at grade level, ds#1 works at the level of at least a sophomore undergraduate, if not as far up as senior. This is lab 2; the colors aren't food coloring or markers. They were all chemical reactions:
This little guy made me smile. It was hanging out outside our bedroom window. Duude, you're not camouflaged with our screen. I can see you! Silly stick insect.
And because Suzanne asked about them, I have to share photos of the mixing bowls I inherited from my MIL:
The one on the far right is the yellow Pyrex dish I use for pretty much everything. The one on the far left is a blue Pyrex bowl in the same set. Here's a close-up (pardon the gunk on it...I had butter and shortening in it just before I took the photo) :
Alas, I don't have another bowl in the set...but I would be totally happy to receive one as a gift!  ;)

Another thing that makes me happy is when a dessert works out. However, even when it doesn't work out, it still makes a decent breakfast. This Coconut Banana Cake was just so-so.  I think if I'd used all cake flour like the recipe asked and also used a fresh coconut, it would have been pretty darned good. Man, I haven't had a fresh coconut in forever.  I miss living in the tropics sometimes.
If you want to try making this yourself, here's the recipe, from The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook:

Lemon curd filling - homemade or store-bought
2.25 C cake flour
1 C sugar (I always halve the amount)
3/4 C shortening
1/3 C milk
2.5 t baking powder
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
2 eggs
1 C mashed ripe banana (about 2 bananas)
1 Coconut (about 2 pounds) or 1 7oz pkg flaked coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour 2 9" round cake pans.  Into large bowl, measure flour and next 9 ingredients. With mixer at low speed, beat ingredients just until blended. Increase speed to medium; beat 2 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl.

2. Pour batter into pans. Bake 25-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.  Cool in pans on rack 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely.

3. While cake is cooking, prepare and shred enough coconut to make 2.5 cups shredded coconut. Wrap shredded coconut in plastic wrap and refrigerate (along with remaining coconut).

4. In small bowl, with mixer at medium speak, beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form.

5. On plate, place 1 cake layer, rounded side down; evenly spread with lemon-curd filling. Top with second layer, rounded side-up, lightly pressing cake onto filling.  Frost side and top of cake with whipped cream; pat shredded coconut into cream. Refrigerate cake.

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." ~ Douglas Adams