Monday, March 31, 2008
Emi named hers Kuro-chan ('kuro' is Japanese for 'black'), Abby named hers Nori (seaweed), and Sage's is Kobe (after Kobe Bryant.) At first his was "Shaq" and later changed it. I would definitely say that chick does not look like a Shaq! Besides, Kobe sounds cuter.
Emi has been really good at taking care of them. She's been hanging out with them a lot and cleaning their cage. I can see her getting attached to them already.
Abby's chick is the most hyper (like Abby...) and she doesn't like to be picked up. I'm sure after a while she will come around. Kobe is the mellowest of the three. She'll just hang out on my hand. All three are just so adorable.
I'm really excited we've finally made the first step towards having chickens. These guys won't start laying for about six months, but once we build the coop (hopefully within the next couple weeks), we'll go get older hens which will start laying right away. Yes, we are turning into hillbillies!
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Here's the recipe:
For the Cake
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.To Make the CakeSift together the flour, baking powder and salt.Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out cleanTransfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners.Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).
To Make the Buttercream
Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.Remove the bowl from the heat.Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again.On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.
To Assemble the Cake
Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.Spread it with one third of the preserves.Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream.Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover).Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.
The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but I think it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the refrigerator. Whether you wait or slice and enjoy it immediately, the cake should be served at room temperature; it loses all its subtlety when it’s cold. Depending on your audience you can serve the cake with just about anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.StoringThe cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If you want to freeze the cake, slide it into the freezer to set, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator.
I'm not sure if the cake didn't rise as much as it was supposed to, but cutting that in half would of ended in really thin layers of cake, so I stuck with two layers instead of four. I cut up fresh strawberries for the center, sandwiched by the buttercream. The buttercream had a really nice texture, nice and thick, not runny at all. Next time I would add some sort of flavoring, I had omitted the lemon juice and subbed vanilla, but the flavor was very bland and it was like eating shortening. But I was pleased that it wasn't overly sweet. And maybe instead of buttercream in the middle, a custard cream would be good. All in all, a very pleasant experience. Thanks Morven!
Friday, March 28, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
The girls were so happy with their bunnies. I don't think I would gotten the same reaction if I had gotten them a basket full of junk...I mean, easter goodies.
Being a sucker, I went out and got a few things to put in their eggs. I color coded them so they were only allowed to pick their "own" eggs. I hid them so they don't have to move anything to find them, but hid some of them hard enough so that they have to look at it at the right angle to see it. The usual five minute (if that!) egg hunt lasted over 30 minutes. Now that's hunting!
Since Sage wouldn't be happy with a stuffed animal, I gave him my old football helmets (I grew up with brothers....) Some of them had logos on them that aren't used anymore, so he seemed stoked that he has something that you can't buy anymore (well, maybe on ebay...).
Our local supermarket is really limited on fresh fruits and veggies, so when I saw some mint I grabbed it. Made some tabbouleh with it, and ate it with some homemade tortilla chips.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
I realize homemade cookies taste so much better than ready-to-bake cookies, but these were so cute and after it being on sale and my coupon getting doubled, it was only 50 cents so why not, right? The kids still enjoy them, and cookie cutter cookies are something I hardly ever make so I thought it was ok to cheat sometimes.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Emi getting fouled and shooting a free throw...
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Yesterday's bento, tonkatsu (breaded fried pork), on a bed of shredded cabbage and carrots, rice and takuan, and mandarin orange segments. Emi's friend asked her what she's eating, and she replied, "fried pig"! That sounds bad, doesn't it? I guess it's my fault for when they ask what were having for dinner, I don't say "pork" but "buta-chan" (li'l piggies.) It's one of those times when a direct translation doesn't work. My poor kids, people are going to think they're weird (if they don't already!)
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
This red dragon took him 6 hours (!), from a single sheet of paper.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Good thing I eat whatever I want without thinking twice about consequences...
Snowed about six inches last night. I like it when it snows during the night, and then we have a sunny day. The kids went out to play to a possible last snow day of the season.
A B&W of some snow on the pine tree.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Breakfast: Chikara Udon. Basically, udon noodles with mochi. Growing up, there weren't Japanese stores everywhere like they do now, so we'd go drive to Los Angeles to look at Japanese stores. We usually ended up at a noodle restaurant, and I remember Teru and I, almost always ordering this. Back then, mochi must of been a rare thing for us to eat, before the days of the mochi maker...
Kids' bento today: Lasagna, a variety of cherry tomatoes, tangerine, and Fizzix, a fizzy Gogurt.