Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Summer Fun: Final List



Summer has just about drawn to a close.  And it's been a pretty good one.  Here's our final Summer Fun 2015 list of completed activities.



My sketch of our summer of fun
  • Have a lemonade stand (cookies for cancer?):  helped the local cat shelter
  • Party/activity in honor of Aunt Sis:  planted two memorial hydrangeas, which aren't happy with the heat
  • Go swimming at Y with friends:  Well, we went swimming by ourselves at the Y.  We'll go with Gommie
  • *Go to nature center:  for camp!
  • *Go to aquarium:  for camp!
  • *Go to bird festvial:  Such fun!  Loved the Eastern Screech Owl
  • Host a sleepover with friends:  went to a sleepover with several friends; had one sleepover last week and stayed up watching Minecraft videos and making fudge
  • *Beach trip in city--in August--they even went boogie boarding!
  • Mario kart-athon--Well, they did a few Splatfest-athons!
  • Movie night--lots of these, most recently with Back to the Future
  • Learn to cook weekly dinners--they did another favorite-meal cooking lesson with Mama, with steamed mussels for Bud and fried chicken for Sis
  • Hang pictures--we filled the wall in our bedroom.
  • Learn a new game
  • Do nothing special
  • Meet friends at ice rink:  Yep, it's now a weekly event.
  • *Attend town festival in June/volunteer at historic house:  we did this before school was even out!
  • Family book club (we're reading Menagerie and also Redwall):  I started Menagerie over 4th of July weekend.  It was pretty good.  The kids haven't started Redwall yet.
  • Eat Dole Whip:  first night of summer, we got Dole Whip and Fluffernutter sundaes!
  • Make ice cream:  Strawberry Soda is great.  Peaches and Cream is great, too.
  • Picnic:  we had a deli picnic, but I hope to do something more sophisticated soon.
  • Watch some movie musicals:  we started by watching "Lost Broadway Treasures" and other compilations of famous songs.
  • Play in sprinkler:  and used it to make a slippery water slide!
  • *Go to culture festival (Scottish, Irish, Greek, etc.):  we loved the Greek festival food, as always!  
  • Decorate chalkboard for summer:  we started our own mini-drawings of Awesome Summer Things.
  • Celebrate 4th of July:  Yes, we did!
  • Celebrate Solstice:  they stayed up "all night," which was midnight for Sis and about an hour later for Bud.  I even played Mario Kart with them at midnight.
  • Celebrate Mama's birthday:  a weekend of take-out meals and movies!
  • Birthday party for kids:   Minions movie birthday party, with decorate-your-own-Minion jars and Minion cupcakes.
  • Learn how to clean bathrooms:  Bud earned a ticket for this already--on his own initiative!
  • Learn an ASL sign a day (or more)
  • Learn some computer coding using Scratch:  they have started making a cat draw stars around the earth.
  • Make shrub for 4th of July:  Bud and I really like it
  • Photos with public art around town ("benching," Bud called it)  We're about a third of the way done.
  • Attend friends' Friday Night Dance Party:  for first one, the kids swam and tried "kiddy crack" (butter-cinnamon-sugar spread on graham crackers); they also like badminton, or "chaosminton" with several shuttlecocks.
  • Explore new music genres together ("Music Mondays"):  we started with the 80s, then Celtic (Secret of Roan Inish soundtrack), Broadway, jazz, and patriotic.  Not sure what this week will be.
  • Research places to go in England, etc:  I'm reading Susan Branch's book about falling in love with the English countryside
  • Purge and donate toys and books:  doing really well with this; lots of donations.  Kids prepping to have room makeovers.
  • Do a 1000 piece puzzle:  Bud and Mama are our puzzlers--they've done cupcakes, Broadway, London, New York, among others.
  • We also made or ate the following foods, which I totally forgot to blog about:

FODMAPS Rice Pudding

1 litre of lactose-free milk
100g of raw rice (Arborio, white, basmati)
1 tablespoon of raw sugar
Cinnamon

1.     Pour lactose-free milk into a medium-large sized saucepan.
2.     Place saucepan onto a stove top and allow lactose-free milk to almost reach boiling point. Then reduce the heat, add in the rice and allow to simmer.
3.     Add in 1 tablespoon of raw sugar to the milk-rice mixture and stir through. Continue stirring frequently for approximately 20 minutes until the rice is tender and the mixture has thickened to your liking.  If mixture is too thick you can add more milk. If mixture is too runny continue cooking – it will thicken up.
4.     Keep stirring frequently so that the milk doesn’t burn and to avoid rice pudding sticking to the bottom.
5.     Once cooked, remove rice pudding from saucepan.

TRADITIONAL SERVING SUGGESTIONS
·       Serve it hot with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.
·       Serve it cold by cooling it in the fridge first, then a sprinkle of cinnamon on top 

OTHER SUGGESTED TOPPING
·         Grated dark chocolate
·         Maple syrup
·         Blueberries and strawberries
·         Banana and passionfruit
·         Grated chocolate, strawberries and a drizzle of maple syrup
·         Add zest of an orange or lemon while cooking, for a taste of citrus


FOR THE CAKE:



 Butter for greasing baking pans
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
⅓ cup best-quality cocoa powder
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
¾ cup sour cream, at room temperature

FOR THE FROSTING:

6 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
3 ounces ( 3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ½ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  1. For cake: heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter sides of two 8-inch cake pans, and line bottoms with parchment paper. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a knife blade, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream. Process to make a smooth, thick batter.
  2. Using a rubber spatula, divide batter between pans, and smooth tops. Bake until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes; do not overbake. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before removing from cake pans.
  3. For frosting: Combine chocolate and butter in a large heat-proof bowl, and heat until melted in a microwave oven or over a pan of simmering water. Remove from heat, and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Stir in corn syrup, sour cream, and vanilla. Whisk in confectioners' sugar until very smooth. Frosting should be thick and spreadable. If necessary, add a teaspoon or two of boiling water to thin it, or additional sifted confectioners' sugar to thicken.
  4. Cut four strips of waxed or parchment paper, and place them side by side on a cake plate, covering the surface. Place one cake layer domed-side down on plate.
  5. Spoon about a third of the frosting onto center of cake, and use a knife or a spatula to spread it evenly. Place the other cake on top, domed side up. Spoon another third of frosting on top of cake, spreading to make swirls or a smooth finish. Spread sides of cake with remaining frosting, and allow to sit for a few minutes until set. Carefully remove paper strips. Place cake under glass or in an airtight container, and set aside in a cool place until serving.

FROM BOOK CLUB CAKE PARTY (we just sampled--delicious!)

 Toby’s (Not Quite Perfect) Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting, from Lisa Graff, A Tangle of Knots

FOR THE CAKE:
2 1/2 cups flour (plus extra for preparing the pan)
 
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
 
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
 
1/2 teaspoon salt
 
1 cup butter, at room temperature (plus extra for the pan)
 
1 1/2 cups sugar
 
2 teaspoons vanilla
 
3 large eggs, at room temperature
 
1 cup milk, at room temperature
 
           FOR THE FROSTING:
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
 
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
 
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
 
1 tablespoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the bottoms of two 8-inch round cake pans with butter. Using the cake pans as a template, trace two circles onto wax paper and cut them out, placing one wax circle in the bottom of each pan. Grease both pans with butter again, covering the wax paper as well as the sides of the pan. Sprinkle the inside of the pans lightly with flour, and tap the pans to distribute it evenly. 

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. 

3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.

4. Reducing the speed on the mixer to low, add about a third of the flour mixture to the batter, combining well. Add about half of the milk and combine. Then add another third of the flour mixture, the last of the milk, and then the last of the flour, combining well each time.

5. Pour the batter into the pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

6. While the cake is cooling, make the frosting: In a double boiler or a heatproof bowl fitted into a saucepan of simmering water, carefully melt the chocolate chips. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

7. In a large bowl, cream the butter with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add about half of the powdered sugar, blending well. Beat in 2 tbsp of the milk and all of the vanilla, then beat in the remaining powdered sugar, followed by the remaining milk. Add the cooled melted chocolate to the butter mixture and beat until smooth.

8. When the cakes are completely cooled, place one cake layer on a plate and spread a thin layer of frosting on top. Repeat with the second cake layer, and cover the whole cake with frosting.

*recipes adapted from Real Simple's Yellow Cake with Strawberry Filling recipe and Betty Crocker's Cookbook, Ninth Edition.


The Owner’s Peanut Butter Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting,  from Lisa Graff, A Tangle of Knots
What you'll need:


         FOR THE CAKE:
small sliver of butter (for greasing the cake pan)

2 1/4 cups flour (plus extra for preparing the pan)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, at room temperature

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature

         FOR THE FROSTING:

3 cups powdered sugar

2/3 cup creamy peanut butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 to 2/3 cup milk


What to do:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the bottoms of two 8-inch round cake pans with butter. Using the cake pans as a template, trace two circles onto wax paper and cut them out, placing one wax circle in the bottom of each pan. Grease both pans with butter again, covering the wax paper as well as the sides of the pan. Sprinkle the inside of the pans lightly with flour, and tap the pans to distribute it evenly. 

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat the peanut butter and eggs with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in vanilla and milk until well combined. 

4. Gradually add the flour mixture into the peanut butter mixture and beat until combined. Divide the batter between the two cake pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool cakes completely before frosting. 

5. While the cakes are cooling, make the frosting: In a medium bowl, cream the powdered sugar and peanut butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 2 or 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and 1/4 cup of milk, and beat until well combined. Gradually add more milk, one teaspoon at a time, until the frosting is smooth and spreadable.

6. When the cakes are completely cooled, place one cake layer on a plate and spread a thin layer of frosting on top. Repeat with the second cake layer, and cover the whole cake with frosting.

*recipes adapted from Betty Crocker's Cookbook, Ninth Edition 


Marigold’s Lime Pound Cake,  from Lisa Graff, A Tangle of Knots


 FOR THE CAKE:

large eggs, at room temperature


1/2 teaspoon vanilla 


2 teaspoons grated lime zest (from approximately 2 limes)

2 tablespoons lime juice (from approximately 1 lime)

1 cup butter, at room temperature (plus extra for greasing the pan)

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour



What to do:



1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with butter. 


2. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, lime zest, and lime juice. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and the salt and beat, starting on low speed and then increasing to medium-high, until well combined, about 2 minutes more. Slowly add the egg mixture and beat until well combined, about 3 minutes.

4. Reducing the speed on the mixer to low, gradually add the flour to the batter, and beat until just combined.

5. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before serving.

*recipe adapted froReal Simple's Citrus Pound Cake with Cranberry Syrup     

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