January 2010

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2010.

Great Tuesday greetings blog friends!  I have a killer headache from some nasty head cold I can’t seem to shake.  I feel well for a couple of days, and then it sneaks in through the back door, and I feel terrible for another day or two.   So much for the super-hero immunity I thought I had.  Boo.

Anyhoo, I can’t think very clearly, so you get some random thoughts about me.

1.  I cry while watching award shows.  So much sincerity and the love of telling and sharing stories, for aren’t we all a collection of words, experiences, and emotions?

2.  I love peanut butter.  Have I told you this before?  I can’t remember.  With jelly or chocolate, in a spicy satay, on a pancake, sprinkled with smoky salt, or slathered on a rye crisp.

3.  I believe in the power of architecture: wood, steel, glass, concrete, and LOVE.

4.  I love ruffles, pearls, velvet, and brooches – all the trappings of a woman with a girlish heart.

5.  I love smoked fish – sardines, salmon, trout – best when purchased in early morning, at a shack by the sea,  dearest friend at my side, the scent of the sea and warm smoky fish filling the air.  A slice of heaven, for sure.


Happy Birthday Daddy!  I love you!


I don’t try to imagine a God; it suffices to stand in awe of the structure of the world, insofar as it allows our inadequate senses to appreciate it.

Albert Einstein

When I was in junior high, one of my best friends was Terese Sievers.  She was sweet, smart (a whiz at math), beautiful, with perfect black hair; a fine person and a marvelous friend.  I spent a lot of time at her house: meals, parties, and sleepovers, her adorable little brother Todd waking us in the morning.  Among my favorite memories is the time we baked this cake together.  I had never baked with a friend before, and there was a definite specialness to it.  We worked with ease in her kitchen, so much so that it overshadows any memory of my first bite of cake.  Working together mattered more.

Though the memory of this cake is fine, it has very little to do with how I feel about it now.  I am hard pressed to find another chocolate cake that I like so well.  This is moist, rich, and always delicious, and certainly among the easiest to prepare.  I am not one for fuss in the kitchen – my Julia Child days having long past.  The hubster is a big fan as well, nearly always suggesting I make it when I am in the mood for chocolate.  Thankfully, too, I’ve adapted it so it is pretty healthy, as far as cakes go, with the rolled oats and whole wheat flour providing a good amount of fiber, but in secret agent fashion.  Let’s call it MI5 cake, shall we?

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake

1 3/4 cups boiling water

1 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

1 stick butter, softened (8 tablespoons)*

2 eggs

1 cup flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips**

3/4 cup nuts (optional)

Pour water over oatmeal in a large bowl, and let stand 10 minutes.  Add both sugars and butter.  Mix well.  Add eggs.  Sift dry ingredients together, and add to oatmeal mixture, mixing well.

Pick a pan – 13×9 or Bundt

For the 13X9:  Grease pan well.  Add 1 cup of chocolate chips (and fruit if you are using it) to batter, pour into pan, and sprinkle remaining chips over the top.   Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean and the cake springs back when touched.

For the Bundt:  Grease pan well.  Mix in chocolate chips (and fruit if you are using it), pour into pan, smoothing the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean and the cake springs back when touched. Cool for 5 minutes before turning out of the pan.

The cake is great warm, at room temperature, on it’s own, sprinkled with powdered sugar, or frosted.  You really can’t lose.


*If you are itching to make the cake, but your butter is not soft, do what I do: use a cheese grater on the butter.  I also do this for pie crust.  Freeze the butter and put it through the grater.  It will still be cold and in uniform pieces.  I love uniformity in the kitchen!

**Use any chocolate chip you like, but know that white chocolate chips tend to melt entirely and form slightly unsightly cracks in the cake (this is why God created frosting).

***If you like dried fruit, this cake is the perfect vehicle for it.  I am rather fond of adding dried cherries or raisins (reduce the amount of chocolate chips by whatever amount of dried fruit you use), but was thinking that cranberries and apricots would work nicely, too.  If you like orange, you could also add the zest of one.  Oh the possibilities!

Tags: , ,

The Portland Chinese Classical Garden, in celebration of ten years in the heart of the city and the changing of its name to Lan Su (Garden of Awakening Orchids), offered free admission for ten days, starting after the new year.  The hubster and I took advantage, as we hadn’t visited the garden since it’s inaugural season.  It was as beautiful and tranquil as I remembered, and quite thankfully, they limited the number of people in at a time, so it did didn’t feel at all crowded, save in the line out front.

The flow of water creates the unique shape of a Lake Tai Rock.

The dragonfish swallows all evil influences and protects the building from fire.

I have always admired paths like these, so beautiful and precisely laid.  And, just in case you were wondering, no one stepped on my blue suede shoes.

Bamboo is a friend of winter, bending in storms, but not breaking – a reminder of perseverance.

The Chinese believe that a view within a view creates the illusion of infinite space.

The Yin reflection of the sky is mirrored on the Yang of the earth below.

I have always loved this sign, but it would not be our final stop for lunch.

Being who we are, we decided an Irish meal at Kells was on order.  Fish and chips (the BEST), soup, and salad.

And, of course, a little Guinness, too, with hard cider to make a Snakebite.  A fine winter day.

Hey brother.  Happy Birthday!

Tags: ,

« Older entries § Newer entries »