Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Odds and Ends

Broken Streak-The Blog Strikes Again

Poor Margarita, the day after I blog about her goal of not missing even one day of school this year, she comes down with a fever and can't go. :(

Best Apple Cake Ever

I love apple cake. I have serious issues when it comes to making pie crusts, so I have to assuage my love of apples and cinnamon with cake instead of pie. I have tons of recipes (well, so really only 5) and am always trying to find the best one.

The Search Is Over.

I will be throwing out all other apple cake recipes the next time I organize my recipes. This baby is the bomb of apple cakes. Don't let the spring form pan scare you off (they don't scare you? Hmmm, I guess that's just me)-it is so worth the uneasiness I feel about using it.

1 3/4 c sugar, divided
1 t vanilla
2 large eggs
1/2 c softened butter
6 oz cream cheese
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 1/2 c flour
1/4 t salt
2 1/2 t cinnamon
3 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced

Preheat oven to 350. Beat 1 1/2 cups sugar, butter, vanilla and cream cheese at medium speed until well blended (about 4 min). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture beating at low speed until well blended. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Combine half of this mixture with the apples in a bowl, and then stir into the batter. pour batter into an 8 or 9 inch spring form pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour until cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Cool completely before serving (good luck with that! We can never wait-I think it's better warm anyway)

Looking for a Good Book?

In my last few months of reading, I have read two books that I thoroughly enjoyed. They are both books I bought for my book club; the first I was a little embarrassed to introduce to the group-the storyline is so...gruesome and sounds so awful-but it had so many good reviews on Amazon (4 1/2 stars and an unusually large number of reviews-372) that I ordered it anyway. After seeing that it hadn't been checked out after a couple of meetings I decided to give it a try (truth be told, I was feeling just a tad insecure in my role as The Book Buyer).

The book is, "The Hunger Games" by Suzzanne Colins.

I could NOT put this book down. I took it with me on my little trip to Argentina last month and I read the entire flight (not what I had planned on doing since I rarely fly without children-I was thinking more of a nice long nap), and then I kid you not, I was reading every time I stopped moving, no matter how briefly, in the airport (waiting in the immigration line, waiting for my bag, waiting in line to use the cash machine, waiting for the taxi to pull up, etc, etc.).

The story line is not something that would normally attract me: a futuristic world where the central government requires yearly of each of its outlying "rebellious" provinces, one male and one female youth to compete in a nationally broadcasted reality-show where they fight to the death until one victor remains. Awful, huh? I know, it just sounds hor-rib-le.

But, I loved it. Romance, action, bravery, perseverance, friendship, loyalty.

The second book is, "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett.

It is set in the Mississippi during the 1960's and is told from the perspective of three different women: two black women who work as maids in white households and a white woman recently returned from college with hopes becoming a writer who struggles to fit in to her old life. She comes up with a plan to write a book that tells the personal stories of several maids that she knows. You can imagine that it's not easy to find even one maid who is willing to risk her job, or possibly her life, to share such stories in a book that could be read by their employers. She eventually finds 12 who are willing and writes her book, at a very heavy price for both her and for the women she interviews. But, along with the struggles and losses, there is also triumph of the human spirit-and that's why I loved it so much.

I think I'm drawn to books that involve issues of domestic help since I have lived in countries where it is commonplace, and have had domestic help the last eight years. This book really made me think about what some women give up to have their "freedom" from the mundane-ness of child rearing-the chance to be there consistently for their children in the simplest of moments-to give a hug, wipe a nose, or read a story before nap time. It made me glad I've never employed someone solely as a nanny-sure, I like to have a maid that is capable to babysit here and there when I have to be out-but I have never wanted someone else to be in charge of my kids. A lot of people do that here.

Anyway... two good books.

The Current Bain of My Existence

Library books.

I feel like I am in a constant state of searching. The three older kids are each allowed to check out 3 books, 1 DVD, 1 video and 1 magazine at a time. That's a potential of 15 different objects in my home at any one time that must be returned at some point to the school. There is always something lost...

And that's about it from here...


Maine Mom said...

I am so bummed that Margarita missed a day of school! (I'm sure she is bummed out a bit more, though.)

The Pillsbury already made pie crusts are the only way to go when making pie! I've never had apple cake before, but it sounds yummy!

I'll have to read "Hunger Games". It must be a great book if you chose to read it instead of sleeping. :-)

Fabiola said...

I do hope Margarita is feeling better for the extended weekend.

I am a really good cook, but I cannot get ONE single pie crust right. And I LOVE Apple Pie, Apple Strudel (really typical in Southern Brazil).
I will try your recipe this weekend, since I am having guests for Sunday Lunch and that will lead to Sunday Tea Time or better said Sunday Coffee Time.

As for the books, thank you so much for the tips. I just bought the one that BG recommended on her blog on Tuesday. I am already in love with the book.


Ballerina Girl said...

I love the Easter background! Very cute!
Loved the Hunger Games, thanks for the suggestion! and I am hooked so far into the Help!
Glad Margarita is feeling better...
and hope that maybe, please, pretty please, you could make the apple cake for our next book group ? :)
Talk to you when we get back!
love, BG
ps- for Fabiola...Gabriela recommended that book too..
others- read what Gabriela recommends, she has GREAT taste in books!!!

Lynne said...

I read the Hunger Games last fall and loved it as well. The next one comes out this year sometime. I was a little bummed when I got to the end and realized that there would be two more books to wait for. I don't do so well at waiting which is why I tend to read the end of books before I finish them!

Janet said...

LOOOOOOVE Apple Cake! I will definitely give the recipe a go.

Thanks for the book suggestions. I love reading almost as much as I love apple cake.

I am certain I keep our library in business with our "donations" (late fees).

Have a great Easter!

nikko said...

That apple cake sounds fabulous. How could it not be with cream cheese? ;o)

Thanks for the book suggestions. I haven't read either of those two.

Stephanie said...

I will DEFINETLY have to try your recipe!!!

And I love your big suggestions! I will have to see if I can go out and get them! I am trying to stockpile books before I come so I have lots to read! :) Thanks!

lizzy-loo said...

sorry margarita is ill. when i graduated from high school there was a boy given an award for not missing a single day of school since first grade. unbelievable - i know. always good to have a new read and that is quite a responsibility to buy all the books. i have an apple cake recipe i adore. i will send it to you, even though your search is over.

Code Yellow said...

That apple cake looks scrumptious, and those books sound SOOOO good. I think I might have to get all of them!

Boohoo about Margarita. :( The ol' blog jinx, darnit! Hope she feels better soon!

Calandria said...

You jinxed Margarita! You totally did!

I am SO trying that recipe. I finally found a good apple pie recipe last fall--cranberry apple walnut. Mmm. I have to use ready-made crust, though. I have never been able to get it right.

I've heard nothing but good things about Hunger Games. I'm putting it on my list. I just saw The Help advertised on Amazon, so I'll put that on the list, too. Thanks for the great suggestions!

I would probably owe thousands in library fines by now if it weren't for the fact that I can see the status of my checked-out materials online. Lifesaver!

marina said...

MMm !! love the cake can I have a bit ")
and like your look !
happy easter, marina