Baking Day

I went off the deep end two days ago and spent the day in my kitchen.

I made a large batch of Chex Mix first, so that it could bake as I worked on a loaf of banana nut bread. Dear Husband loves quick bread, and I had bananas that were too ripe for my taste. I’m going to try freezing them for the first time so that I can see how they work in banana walnut bread when defrosted.

While the nut bread was baking I made a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough. In our household they really shouldn’t be called chocolate chip cookies because I swap the amounts of nuts and chips. If DH was baking, it would become a nut cookie, with no chocolate chips.

I tend to make large cookies, so those baked up quickly. The next item up was a Dutch Apple Cake. I tried it yesterday and was a bit disappointed. The cake is very dense, and there’s not enough cinnamon on the apples. I’ve eaten it at breakfast, but I don’t think I will make it again.

And last, but definitely not least, I made a three layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. I found the recipe online. It’s called “Sandy’s Chocolate Cake.” It might be from Taste of Home. The cake is made with brown sugar, which surprised me. It’s a superb cake recipe. I don’t have three cake pans, so I cooked the first two layers, and when they were cool enough to take out of the pans I cooked the third layer. I resolved that problem yesterday by buying three matching good quality cake pans!

The icing was made with bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate, butter, sour cream, vanilla and 10X sugar. I think if I ever make this frosting again, I might try making it with just semi-sweet chocolate. I was surprised with how the icing came together, but I think it’s a great recipe.

I don’t have room in the refrigerator for the cake in a cake keeper, but luckily the garage is very cold and works well as a refrigerator. I have one piece of cake each day. I will probably eat less than half the cake before I have killed off my jones for chocolate cake. Dear Husband doesn’t eat cake. He’s a pie guy, so the next time I bake, I’ll be making pies (and maybe bread).

I think I’ve satisfied my need to bake, at least for a while.

Christmas Books

I love books. I want to be able to go back and re-read a passage, or look for a map or a chart, or something that has important information. I have a well-worn Kindle and use it all the time, but I find it harder to navigate than an old fashioned book.

There are good reasons to have a Kindle. If you travel it’s a great way to carry lots of books with you. I can check my mail or Facebook, or read the newspaper, or play games. But, when I’m at home and I have choice, I prefer to have a book in my hand.

For Christmas, Dear Husband gave me three books. I bought him two more. I haven’t started them yet, but I have Barak Obama’s “A Promised Land,” and Michelle Obama’s “Becoming,” The third book is “Clanlands.” Oddly, the first book I read was one of the ones I ordered for DH, a Clive Cussler Oregon Files pot boiler, “Final Option.” Of the characters Cussler created after Dirk Pitt, I like Juan Cabrillo and his crew the best.

I’m hoping that Christmas of 2021 I will be able to put Diana Gabaldon’s next book on the list, and perhaps Louise Penney and Donna Leon will have new books out, too. And, maybe Lois McMaster Bujold will write one more book featuring Miles Verkosigan! The thing these women have in common is that they have all written multiple books in a series. I love to see a story unfold and the characters develop.

If you love books as much as I do, consider ordering them from your local bookstore. Part of what pleased me about my Christmas books was that I knew DH bought them locally. Now that card files have gone the way of the dodo, the next best thing is to wander the aisles of a bookstore. One day I went to the help desk. I listed four series of books that I loved, to give the ladies an idea of my taste in books, and asked them for recommendations. It was a good way to find new books to read! I’ll have to try that at the library, too.

Crosswords

I have the oddest pattern in my life. I go to bed, and a couple of hours later I’m wide awake. So, I get out of bed and do the crossword puzzle. It helps to pass the time until I am tired enough to go back to sleep. Well, maybe not the Monday puzzle, which is pretty easy, but certainly the other days of the week.

I’d really rather be doing the puzzle over breakfast, with Dear Husband there to share it. Sunday morning I couldn’t remember the name of Hagar’s dog, and DH came up with it: Snert. I suppose I would have gotten it eventually, but it amazes me what he is able to remember or sound out.

I’ll tell DH the number of spaces and what letters (if any) I might have. Without seeing the grid he can come up with possibilities. He’s quite good at it. Unfortunately, he’s a creative speller, so he won’t bother to do the puzzles on his own, but he seems to be content to start the day helping me.

My mother used to do crossword puzzles in ink. I’m not willing to work on puzzles unless I can do it electronically. I use the option that tells me when I put in a wrong letter. I suppose I could do it my mother’s way, but it would take me all day.

When I was first doing puzzles as an adult my favorites were those by Eugene T. Maleska. He was the editor for the New York Times puzzles. He and I thought about language the same way, and I was more likely to finish one of his puzzles. Now, the editors are not requiring information in the clues such as “two words.” I don’t think the clues are as clever as they used to be, so when I come across a good one, I share it with DH.

I’ll have to put Maleska’s puzzles on my wish list and see whether any of the kids can find them for me. Perhaps I will be doing puzzles like my mother after all.