Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Cool: Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake

Did you have friends, as you were growing up, whose parents were cool?

I did.  And as the daughter of decidedly uncool parents, I made a conscious decision that I was going to try to be one of those cool parents, if I ever got the chance.

There are days when I fail miserably.  (Let's face it; there are lots of days when I'm not cool.)  But there are also days when I knock it out of the park.

It's zucchini season around here, and my kids are not exactly zucchini lovers.  They tolerate it, but like Bartleby, they'd prefer not to.

Until the zucchini cake.

I had a giant zucchini that needed a home, and I decided to make the Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake from the Kinfolk Table that I've been eyeing since my husband bought me the book for Christmas.  I brought said cake to a poolside gathering, where it was almost completely devoured.  My son ate four pieces of it, and my daughter wolfed down her one, asking only halfway through what the green bits were.  ("Apples," I lied.  I told her the truth later, but in the moment, she didn't need to know.)

I offered the single leftover piece to my son for his camp lunchbox the next day, and he was thrilled.  When he came home, he told me how all of his friends were jealously ogling his chocolate cake for lunch; he explained, "well, it's zucchini, so it's sort of healthy.  And it's homemade, so it doesn't have lots of junk in it.  But it's still cake."

Oh yeah, I thought.  I've arrived.  I?  Am COOL.

Tonight, as I was making zucchini curry with N., she mentioned that she really doesn't like zucchini.  I reminded her of the cake.  "Well," she said definitively, suspiciously eyeing the wok where the coconut milk and curry paste were simmering, "I have a good idea!  We should be making cake!"


Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake 

2 1/2 c. flour (about half and half white and whole wheat pastry)
1/4 c. natural cocoa powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground clove 
1/2 c. butter or margarine, at room temperature
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 3/4 c. sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 t. vanilla
2 c. zucchini / courgette finely diced (or grated)
1/2 c. chocolate chips

 Preheat the oven to 325℉. Grease the inside of a 9 x 13" baking pan and line the base with baking paper. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and cloves in a medium bowl and set aside.

Beat the butter or margarine, oil and sugar in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on a medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and beat until just combined.

Reduce the mixer speed to low, add half of the flour mixture, and mix for 15 seconds. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat for 5 more seconds. Stir in the zucchini and half the chocolate chips. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the remaining chocolate chips.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool completely in the pan, about 1 hour.  Devour.
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Friday, July 10, 2015

Couldn't Be Simpler (and Banana Pancakes): a Guest Post from Mr. Half Baked

S. is a man of few words.  So when he says he has some to share, I have to take him seriously.  Here's his guest post.


The lesser-known fourth law of thermodynamics states that things are always complicated, and only get more complicated as time goes on. Never simpler.  This applies to all aspects of life, such as taxes, politics, cell phones, daily kid schedules, and food rules.  Tonight wasn't looking any different.  As our weekly food shopping cycle comes a close and the refrigerator is bare, we sometimes revert to what we call "Breakfast for Dinner".  Tonight was one of those nights.   For I, this is exciting as it means scrambled eggs, one of his favorites.  For N, it's complicated and only seems to be getting more so.  As a parent, I'd like to get some eggs into her for protein.  The problem is that she doesn't like any eggs she can see and taste.  French toast used to work, but not any more, not even with the promise of maple syrup.  She wants pancakes, and she's adamant about it.  Pancakes from scratch are a lot of work, and there's really not much protein in them.  And after all the effort, she probably won't even really eat them.   Dinner is suddenly getting complicated.

Desperate for a compromise solution, I turn to the internet and search for "recipe pancakes eggs".  Lo and behold, one of the top hits is this.  I can't believe my eyes.  Just two ingredients, eggs and bananas.  That's it.  No flour, no baking powder, no butter, no sugar, no nothing.  Two ingredients, and I have both of them.  And to top it all off, it looks like a web page that J might even read sometimes.  It has that strong female bloggy vibe.

In just minutes I have my first batch ready.  N eats her first one in record time.  I sees them and has to have a couple of them too.  They both claim that these are their new favorite food.  "Even better than marshmallows?"  "Yes, better than marshmallows."

I don't know if I believe they're actually better than marshmallows, but I'm grateful for a simple dinner.  Simple to make, simple to eat.  A rare exception to the fourth law.
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Monday, July 6, 2015

#Microblog Mondays: The Little Free Library

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Our Friends of the Free Public Library (of which I'm a board member) built and maintains three Little Free Libraries in town, where we occasionally drop off books that people can take home, circulate ones that don't move, and clear out junk that gets left by others.

I go by at least once a week, and sometimes I wonder how people decide what to put in there, and what it says about what we think about what's good literature, or what it says about what and how we share with people we don't know.

If you had a Little Free Library in town, would you drop off the books you love, or the books you need to get rid of?  Do you give away things that mean a lot to you, or things you don't care about at all?  What are you willing to share?

What would you hope to pick up?

Do you have a Little Free Library in your town?

Also, on a somewhat related note, I need almost all of the books that are coming out here, and a short sabbatical in which I re-learn how to read, because I think I may have forgotten.  What's the best book you've read lately?  (And would it find its way into a Little Free Library, or are you hoarding it?)
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