Delayed Gratification


Look what I the kids got for Christmas!  I’ve waited a long time to get for the kids to be old enough to get an Easy Bake Oven!  I remember how much I loved mine as a little girl, foisting impossibly tiny cakes on my parents.

Now that I’m the Mommy, I realize just how awful those little cakes really taste when you aren’t bursting with that I-made-it-myself pride.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for SNOW CREAM!

2008-01-17 first snow039The Floridian in me never ceases to be amazed when it snows enough to actually stick to the ground. I just love looking at the whole world being draped with a nice, white blanket of snow.  And of course, the JavaKids and I have to find a way to turn it into a way to make something in the kitchen!

I’m linking you to a post from earlier this year for snow cream and snow candy — both delicious and easy to make!  I was going to add photos, but to be honest, unless  you a professional food photographer, snow candy while still in the snow does not look much different than — uh– yellow snow from a dog — and once you lift if out of the snow, it is in a child’s (or Mommy’s) mouth so fast, you can’t get a photo of it!  Snow cream doesn’t look like much more than white mush in a photo!

You can also mix up a little food coloring and water and get out there and do a little snow painting.  Or just go out and roll around in the white, fluffy stuff!  Just have FUN!

When you come in, mix up a huge batch of my favorite hot chocolate, read a good book, indulge in a bit of Robert Frost, and relax!  (Until it’s time to deal with those sopping wet jackets, snow pants, boots, mittens and so on….)

Spider Cupcakes

2009-10-29 spider cupcakes-editedIt’s been a while since I’ve posted a fun treat.  Here’s my “oh my goodness, I need to make 42 cupcakes” solution for some Halloween fun.  I did not invent these, in fact a friend described to me that she was making spider cupcakes and I did a quick search on Google and found tons of variations. 

Sadly, my digital camera decided to die a sad Error 18 death this week, so this grainy photo from my phone will have to do.  Note that these are not up to Martha Stewart’s standards as my children insist on helping (can you imagine?!) and I have long ago decided that family fun far outweighs aesthetics.  Oh, and my son was quick to point out that spiders have eight legs, but as many people mentioned in their instructions, eight legs get a big cumbersome on a cupcake.  My son said spiders also have multiple eyes, but I informed him we were sticking to just two.

What you’ll need:

  • cupcakes (we made Devil’s Food — I recommend some form of chocolate so you don’t have to do a perfect job of frosting them)
  • chocolate icing of some sort (we used a chocolate fudge icing)
  • something for legs — if you can find shoestring licorice, great, we couldn’t find that so we used pull apart cherry Twizzlers.
  • something for eyes — we used M&Ms

Make the cupcakes and allow to cool.  Recommendations online varied about doing legs before or after frosting, but we chose to do them before, poking them into the cupcakes themselves.  I recommend putting them as close to the edge as possible and poking them downward (instead of at an angle) and then trimming so that the bottom hits the same point as the bottom of the cupcake.  You can cut with kitchen scissors.

After that, smooth on icing with a knife or small icing spatula.  You can just roll it right over the tops of the legs and don’t worry about icing underneath the legs (see the beauty of having chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing?)  It does NOT have to be perfect — kids will eat these in a nanosecond.  Plop on two eyes and you are done.  I personally prefer that the Ms of the M&Ms are hidden, JavaGirl insists that they are face-up.

Some people like to add candy corn fangs to the front.

Other suggestions for legs are: pretzel rods, fat black licorce (these would be fat legs that stick straight out), and pipe cleaners (non-edible, of course).

The whole family was able to get involved – JavaDad attached legs, I frosted, and the kids added the eyes.  JavaGirl was thrilled to take them to school today and JavaBoy can’t wait to take them to his class tomorrow. Seeing the pride in their eyes makes me glad I didn’t succumb to the temptation to just buy store-bought cupcakes.



2009-07-17-garden_0010When you go from being a serial plant killer to actually producing edible vegetables, it is quite an amazing transformation. The sense of accomplishment makes you feel giddy inside and yet it seems almost ridiculous to feel so proud for the simple act of putting seeds into soil and adding water and sunshine.

Yet there I was, proud as could be, when I found actual produce in my yard yesterday. A small harvest, yes, but signs of success. The JavaKids and JavaDad joined in the jubilation as we have all eagerly anticipated the fruits of our labor.

2009-07-17-garden_0004We gathered two cherry tomatoes, several green beans, and a large zucchini we nearly missed seeing. We have several tomatoes growing very well, just not ripened yet, and lots of vines (pumpkin, zucchini, cucumber, and watermelon) growing and sprawling with the promise of providing more to harvest. I’m not sure our peppers are going to do well, but we will see, and we never got the corn planted after all.

The garden isn’t well planned and isn’t pretty, but it’s working and we’ve learned a lot about what works in our yard and what we can do better next year. And I’ve finally learned that I am not the grim reaper of the plant kingdom after all.

When Life Gives You Basil… Make Lemonade!

purplebasil2I have a LOT of basil.

I mean a LOT. My mother brought me a sprig of purple basil from my great-grandmother’s garden a few years ago and it has turned into a hedge of basil, I kid you not. It is a wonderful bounty, and I love to share it — I gave each child in my son’s preschool class a plant to start in their own gardens and I’m always offering it to passing neighbors, strangers, the A/C repair guy…

But this year’s bounty far exceeds any previous year’s and I’m at a loss as to how to use it. I’m looking for additional recipes!

I’ve made some different pestos, and so far I like the version from Andrea’s Recipes — although I have to ask — do most people toast their pine nuts first or not?

I’ve made this creamy basil pesto three times now, with a few variations on the cheese, and we like it. (The original recipe is for shrimp, but I’ve made just the sauce, and put it over rigatoni or ziti with chicken or ham and peas.)

I’ve made this lemonade and it had a nice flavor — an added complexity to lemonade you would never expect. This is the blessing of a bumper crop — it makes you try new things!

I have not yet made this version of syrup for lemonade/gimlets, but plan to eventually. (I am not a big drinker, but I’ll try a gimlet, just to try one — we have these gorgeous martini glasses we got as wedding gifts and I don’t think we’ve ever had a reason to use them!)

And I’ve made this basil chicken with rice dish, which was very good.

I would love to hear from you about your favorite basil recipes, especially if it uses large quantities of basil!

And what is YOUR bumper crop this summer?


Learn more about how my crop started from this DC Metro Mom’s post.

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