Tag Archives: home

Baking Barefoot – Apple Cinnamon White Cake

It’s a lazy little Saturday and I was padding around barefoot this morning (because it still feels like summer and it’s warm outside), dying for fall to arrive*, when I found a sweet recipe for a seemingly simple apple cinnamon white  cake that seemed perfect for today – a little something to bring on that fall feeling in the absence of actual fall temperatures. Plus, I had apples that I bought for some reason I no longer remember and needed to get rid of them before they went bad**.

*And by “arrive”, I mean for the weather to be cooler than 75 degrees on any given day so I can wear my favorite riding boots without sweating.
**Which is where most of my kitchen inspiration comes from: An attempt to resuscitate almost-expired items in my fridge or cupboard before
they move toward the light. I’m like the Dr. Quinn of foodstuffs.

In any case, as you likely know, I’m a bit of an impatient baker* so – surprise, surprise! – I might have combined the first and second steps of the directions  (evidence below), which made me burst out laughing, because… well, what else is there to do? I forged ahead anyway.

*Or, I don’t read directions.

Recipe below (modified slightly from Jinglebells’ original recipe):

Ingredients

  • 1/3 C brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 C white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped

Directions (follow more closely than I)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Grease and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan (this is where the Crisco comes in handy)
  • Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. (Note: important for the remainder of the recipe. Don’t combine this step as I did.)
  • Beat white sugar and butter together in a bowl using until creamy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time; add vanilla extract.
  • Combine flour and baking powder together in a bowl; stir into butter mixture. Mix milk into batter until smooth. Pour half the batter into the prepared loaf pan; add half the apples and half the brown sugar mixture. Pat apple mixture into batter. Pour the remaining batter over apple layer; top with remaining apples and brown sugar mixture. Lightly pat apples into batter; swirl brown sugar mixture through apples using a finger or spoon. (I missed the swirling step, too, but the cinnamon mixed through still adds that kicky little sweet spice to the cake.)
  • Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.
Chopped Apples and Peeler on Cutting Board

the recipe didn’t specify, so i used fuji apples. which are delicious.

 

Crisco Can

i’m old school. i still like to have a can of crisco on hand, always (i bake like my mother).

Baking Bowl

perhaps the sugars weren’t supposed to be added together with the butter from the beginning. maybe they were supposed to be separate. maybe.

Baylor With Pig's Ear

little dogs must be occupied to prevent severe boredom while baking. a disgusting, greasy pig’s ear does the trick nicely.

Apple Cake and Fork

despite the initial mixup, the end product is pretty delicious.

Apple Cake in Baking Pan

recipe success!

Success: Something about the smell of sweet goodness in the oven really does make today feel a little more like fall. And something about enjoying the taste of that goodness with a steaming cup of coffee and a happy little dog chewing his bone in the background makes a house feel like a home.

Happy Saturday.

I Know You Are, But What Am I? (Or, A Lesson in Patience and Partial Parenting)

I have had a revelation:

Living with children is NOT the same as babysitting.

Oh sure, I knew this on some level already – but lately it’s become that much more clear. When you babysit, the kids are excited to see you because you are new and different from their parents. No one talks back, because you’re the “cool” one – besides, there’s nothing to talk back over. You’re not really enforcing any rules anyway*. You watch movies or play games or build living room-wrecking forts to pass the time, and everyone wants to participate because it’s a total novelty. Dinners are a simple affair of microwaveable processed foods or take out, and before you go home* at the end of the night, you get paid.

*Wink, wink – don’t tell your parents!

**“Go home” being the operative words here.

Babysitting is AWESOME.

Living with children, on the other hand, is exhausting. Especially if you’re not the parent: you’re not really a babysitter, but you don’t really have any authority either. As a matter of fact, if you were the babysitter you would have more authority because the parents would be out of the picture entirely for a set period of time and would have adamantly admonished the children prior to their departure that you were “in charge” and they had better be “on their best behavior”.

Ah, what I would give to have the authority of a 12-year old girl at this point.

In my living situation, I think I was a novelty for about 2 weeks, and now I’m just “around”. Playing games* is sometimes like pulling teeth, but I’m reluctant to suggest watching movies, because while I may not be the parent I am invested in the children’s general mental well-being so I don’t want to be responsible for turning their impressionable young minds to mush.

*Games that are NOT Mass Effect or SkyRim.

No one really talks back, but there’s a level of patience in day-to-day management of kids (little AND big) that requires you to summon a Buddha-like Zen face at any given time. It’s a series of the same questions, phrases, conversations and requests that causes you to repeat an internal mantra about 37 times a day: I am the adult, I am the adult, I AM the adult – just so you can remind yourself not to stoop to their level.

And on that note, you’d like to think that you will have all the right, kind, thoughtful responses for everyone at all times, even in your most exasperated moments, but sometimes you really just want to say, “I know you are, but what am I?”*

*This is where the repetition of a different mantra comes in: I will be an adult, I will be an adult, I WILL be an adult.

I’m loath to suggest any of the living room-wrecking forts that were once my signature time-passing babysitting tactics, because I am now the one that has to clean them up. Oh sure, I could ask the kids to help with the cleanup when we’re done – but I’m still mostly in the category of “cool partial-parent/guardian/adult figure person” and I choose to err on the side of staying cool by not asking*.

*I’m so well aware of how this tactic is going to bite me in my “cool” butt later.

Dinners are more fun than they used to be when I was single* because now I’m cooking for an appreciative family and am honing a lifelong skill of mastering the kitchen at the same time**, but clean-up for five is definitely less fun than clean-up for one, which makes cooking less appealing to begin with. Also, brinner*** is a novelty when you’re the babysitter, but when you’re the live-in adult, you are very aware of: a) giving the kids the impression that carb-laden sugary meals are acceptable nutrition, and more importantly, b) massive meltdowns caused by aforementioned sugar just before bedtime.

*I’ve just realized that, as a single adult, I was eating every night as though I had a babysitter – simple, microwaveable foods and take out. It was so great.

**Well, I’m getting there anyway.

***Brinner = breakfast for dinner, a processed food-laden meal in which pretty much every component can be microwaved.

And when the meltdowns happen, you can’t “go home” – you are home. No parents return from their night out to take over; no magic meltdown fairy arrives with a real, tiny unicorn to mesmerize the over-sugared little ones into blissful sleep. No, you are the one serving up glasses of water with a side of guilt to an out-of-sorts kid way past bedtime and kicking yourself for not putting just a little more effort into meal planning that evening. And when you finally fall exhausted into bed, it is without a dime to show for your myriad efforts of the day.

But I’ve also learned that, on the upside, living with children is considerably more rewarding than babysitting. You get way more insight into their lives, because they know you well enough to tell you things (and still think you’re cool enough to maybe share more than they would with their parents). And while you don’t get to “go home”, you get to stay home and be there to share all the other aspects of daily life with kids: jokes during meals, impromptu games of Jenga, movie nights with popcorn and the silly little interactions and routines that are only developed when people spend time – daily time – together.

It makes me realize that after the 16th knock-knock joke, the 82nd pointless interruption, a sink full of dirty dishes and an explosion of socks all over the house, it’s worth it to be home at the end of the day – because home is where a family lives. So when I’m tempted to respond with the age-old “I know you are, but what am I?”, I remind myself that I am the adult – not the babysitter, but someone way cooler.