Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred and Twenty-Two (A Restraining Order to Protect Cake Batter - Happy Birthday O)

Turning 9 is monumental, especially if you were just 8 the day before.  Yesterday, I let both my kids play hooky.  It was supposed to be a stress reliever for all of us in honor of O's birthday - and the fact that Grandma's ER visit and brief stay at a nursing care facility the day before taught us what Dorothy learned some time ago "There is no place like home."

O had the privilege of going to her favorite Japanese restaurant and dragging her mom to Chuck E. Cheese for some 9 year old madness.  Spencer got to skip school in the name of making a cake for his sister's birthday.  My dear friend Kitty was relegated to Grandma watch duty - due to Grandma's sprained ankle.

Perhaps, Spencer should just give up school and start a restaurant.  He has contracted kitchen fever.  No longer is he the secondary sous chef or the kid who gets to crack the eggs. He is the 13 year old man in charge of the kitchen - reeling orders at anyone who dares to cross his path.  "Kitty, get me the onions please - time to make dinner."  "Mom, the cake pans please?"  "Olivia, outta my way....I'm in charge."  This sometimes does not bode well for the now 9 year old who also wants to be in charge.

I can't even guess the recipe Spencer used/created for Olivia's birthday cake.  It was a stunning ALL NATURAL red velvet spelt cake with real butter cream frosting (no confectioner's sugar here....I was completely baffled that he made frosting with granulated sugar...but it was awesome.)  I do know that after Spencer made this wonderful cake, we ran out of butter, sugar, and are now low on Vita Spelt.

Somewhere in the making of this grand cake, the intentions got lost....Olivia wanted a swipe of the batter on her finger: Spencer insisted that the only hands in the bowls would be his; I ran to my third floor office for cover, locking two doors behind me.  Alas, to no avail.  The kids know how to break in, and Olivia came up crying about the cruelty of not getting to eat batter, and Spencer followed later demanding a "restraining order" against his sister so the cake could be finished, or else there would be no birthday celebration at all.

A "restraining order" regarding cake batter?  Has this lawyer, turned baking entrepreneur had too much influence on her kids?????  Have we lost the meaning of the cake???

As the madness ensued, I attempted to maintain some sense of semblance as I was making business plans regarding something or other....I felt for my business partner on the other end of the telephone line, as I bounced between the concept of supermarket orders and the need for a restraining order to protect cake batter.

Olivia's Red Velvet Spelt Birthday Cake created by Spencer
Somehow, without a restraining order, the cake did get baked, and I managed to grocery shop for birthday fare, and make grilled chicken, seared steak, Spelt Right pizza and fitayers, salad, salad dressing and rice (thank you Kitty)....just in time for our expected guests - Kitty, Donna and her two kids and our unexpected guests, my brother and his adult daughter, Caitlyn.   My friends were in awe at the amount of food I made...."Way too much," they said..   I knew better...especially with Spencer, the chef, and Alan my brother in the house.   The dinner was devoured, plates wiped clean.  Thank goodness for the loving dad, spouse, son-in-law, brother-in-law and overall good mensch Tim who made the kitchen spotless after the celebration and all the shenanigans.

The Birthday song, along with the beautiful cake, topped off the evening, and reminded us the meaning of the cake - a family's love for a NOW nine year old girl with a little batter on her finger, and no retraining orders on her record.

Happy Birthday Olivia.  We love you.

The sweet end to a raucous day

Monday, April 4, 2011

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred and Twenty-One (Green and White Spelt Right Pizza - in honor of the coming of spring)

I was very lucky to be invited by my good friend Kitty to a performance by Jazz/Blues Great Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters at One Longfellow Square in Portland.   The music transformative...the pre-show dinner, divine!

We made a green and white pizza on Spelt Right dough.  This Spelt Right dough is absolutely the best savory dough on the market....I might be a bit biased because I created the recipe, BUT, seriously it is so darn good that once you have it, you will not want to go back to the boring pasty wheaty dough.  I promise!

Green and white in honor of a winter that won't quit and a spring that is fighting furiously to break through.  This is what we see as we peek out our windows in Southern Maine: green and white.

And, so we made a pizza in honor of the season of purgatory - neither here nor there, neither spring nor winter, just some white and green, or green and white, depending upon your perspective.

Ingredients: GREEN chard, mushrooms, fresh garlic, salt and pepper to taste, EVOO, WHITE mozzarella and provolone grated cheese.  One SPELT RIGHT pizza dough.

Instructions: Fully thaw and rise Spelt Right pizza dough in its bag.  Chop chard, mushrooms, garlic.  Saute in EVOO until slightly limp, but not soft.  Lightly oil a stainless steel baking pan.  Stretch dough on pan until it full covers pan.  Sprinkle cheese over dough, top with veggies.  Bake at 450F oven for 15 minutes or until done.

RESULT:  A divine moment in purgatory.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred and Twenty (Spelt Coffee Cake the Answer to an April Fool's Snowstorm):

It just AIN'T fair.  Finally, we saw a glimpse of spring.  The brown beaten wet grass in our front lawn and the last remnants of polluted snow banks littered with tar and sand all sang the notes of spring to us.  We could hear it!  The kids even got to take out their bikes for a day or two.  The cats started choosing the out-of-doors, rather than their litter box, to deposit their cat duties.  It was glorious!

But, that all changed.  April 1, 2011, the day that makes us all FOOLS, brought us a whopper of a snowstorm.  School was cancelled, roads were too slick to drive anywhere, and Olivia - now almost 9 - was BORED out of her mind.

"Ahh, honey, please let me get just a little more shut eye...we can rest, stay in, keep on  our jammies."  No doing for this kid.  She was BORED, is BORED, and will forever be BORED, unless we figure something for her to do.

Well, I was NOT going outside.  I've had it.  I am not built for cold, but for some reason, I was born into a 4 season climate with long winters, and moved to 4 season climate with longer winters.  What's the matter with me?  I need to go south.  It is in my blood.

So, what to do?  Well, this almost 9 year old is an excellent reader, and an even better speller.  Just ask her?  How to you spell...PHENOMENAL...well, she'll tell you, and then tell you some more.

I said, let's make cookies...She suggested something better.  COFFEE CAKE...."O.K., Olivia, you get out the cookbook, follow the directions, and get to work."  And, that is what she did.   We modified the recipe just a bit to use spelt instead of wheat, and to make our own sour milk with milk and fresh squeezed lemon.  The result was an absolutely decadent coffee cake - phenomenal in fact.  The problem is our family of 5 ate the entire cake (with a few pieces to spare for some special friends) in less than a day.  Great cake, but we'll make this baby only once a year.  Too much sugar and fat for our daily intake...but once in a while, especially on such a FOOLISHLY snowy April's day, it is the perfect treat.

1 and 1/2  cups VITA SPELT organic white spelt flour
1 cup organic VITA SPELT whole spelt flour
1 and 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2/3 cup BUTTER
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon all spice
2 beaten eggs
1 and 1/3 cups of milk with 1-2TBL freshly squeezed lemon juice (let sit for at least 5 minutes)
1 cup chopped nuts (we used a mix of pecans and walnuts)
1-2 TBL organic molasses (optional)

Butter a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish. Set aside.
In a medium bowl. combine flour and brown sugar.  Cut in butter until mixture looks like coarse crumbs.  Set aside 3/4 of a cup for topping.
Stir in baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and all spice into remaining crumb mixture.
In another bowl, combine the eggs, milk and lemon.  Add wet mixture to dry and mix together.  Pour batter into prepared baking dish.  Combine nuts with reserved crumb mixture, drizzle in molasses.  Mix together in crumb form and then sprinkle over batter.
Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

ENJOY!!!  Eat as you watch the snow gently coat the escaping vestige of spring.