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[Comments] (8) Life is flowing like ketchup on chop suey. . .: Hey there. We will be Kansans for only three weeks more. Dave is waiting for his dissertation defense date to be set. The dissertation is written, but still needs polishing. The boys and I hang out at the outdoor pool every day. Our biggest hurrah: we bought a house in Tallahassee. It is a darling little house, very mid-century modern. It reminds me of my great Aunt Jeunie's homes, and I adore its every little detail. Come one, come all, to see us in Florida. We'll even take you to the beach!

[Comments] (3) Rain, rain, GO AWAY!!: It has been raining for four days, so each day has felt very long. Dave has been worrying over his defense, I've been ill, and between those two things I've been feeling very sorry for myself. Atticus asked me one afternoon why I was being so grumpy. Right when he said it I had a moment of realization. "I've been poisoned!" I said, and this caught his interest. . . "I've been poisoned with self-pity!" Atticus reacted as if self-pity was not a very imaginative kind of poison, but I had a laugh at myself and felt better. At least for a little while. The boys and I have become used to spending a good deal of time outside each day, so the rain is a bummer. We miss the swimming pool and time on our bikes.

All the time inside has lead to some mischief. Here is the list of biggest mischief made: 1) I found the boys smearing wart medicine on their lips like it was chapstick (it is packaged in a tube). 2) They discovered a jar of buttons, and while attempting to open it, they broke the glass. Atticus decided after the incident to bring be to the corner where they'd hidden all the pieces. Good thing. 3) Samuel dropped a spoon in the toilet. Though dropping it there was a genuine accident, I still had to fish it out with my hands (he dropped it out of his mouth while standing to go pee). Gross!! 4) Atticus started a small cloth bag on fire in the microwave. Luckily, no damage was done. Except to the cloth bag.

We finally celebrated Dave's birthday today! Yay, happy thirty-four! He is back on campus tonight working on his presentation for Monday morning. Our fingers are crossed. I think he liked his cake, though, a Boston Cream Pie. The boys and I certainly enjoyed making it. Our real fun and highlight of the week was seeing Ratatouille at the theater this afternoon. We LOVED it!!! It is a winner for sure. Maybe I'll write a review. . .

[Comments] (1) Boston Cream Pie: Did you know Boston Cream Pie was created by a French chef working in Boston? Here is the birthday cake recipe the boys helped me make for Dave this year.

One layer of 1-2-3-4 cake recipe

Vanilla Pastry Cream (could be doubled for a thicker layer, but like Dave said, it is good to be left wanting more)

1 cup milk

1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar

pinch salt

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

2 large egg yolks

2 tsp. cold unsalted butter

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Shiny Chocolate Glaze

3 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 1/2 Tbsp. light corn syrup

1. Vanilla Pastry Cream: Rinse a heavy nonreactive saucepan with cold water; shake dry. Add 3/4 cup of the milk and the 1 Tbsp. sugar. Bring to boil over medium heat.

2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the remaining 1/4 cup of milk, the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the salt, cornstarch and egg yolks until pale and light, about 1 1/2 minutes.

3. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and gradually whisk some of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture. Scrape the warmed egg yolk mixture into the saucepan, and return to medium heat. Bring to a boil, whisking. Whisking constantly, boil for one minute. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and the vanilla.

4. Strain the pastry cream through a fin sieve into a clean bowl. Press a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a "skin" from forming. Refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours.

5. Brush off any excess crumbs from the cake. With a large serrated knife, split the cooled cake horizontally. Place the bottom layer on a cake plate or stand. Spread the pastry cream evenly over the cake, reaching nearly to the edges. Replace the top cake layer; gently press into place.

6. Shiny Chocolate Glaze: Combine the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a small, heavy saucepan over low heat. Stir until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool until the glaze thickens slightly to a spreadable consistency.

7. Spread the chocolate glaze over the top of the cake. If you like. let some of the glaze drip down the sides. Let the glaze set for 10 minutes or so. Serve at cool room temperature. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Preparation Time: About 15 minutes to prepare and assemble with cooled cake ready to go

[Comments] (1) 1-2-3-4 Cake: This all purpose yellow cake is absolutely wonderful and moist, and was a great performer in the Boston Cream Pie we made for Dave's birthday. The recipe comes from Classic Home Desserts, a beautiful cookbook written by Richard Sax. In it, he writes, "the name refers to the quantities of its ingredients: 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, 4 eggs." As you see, the following does not stray from the proportions that are were traditional to many a cook over the years. Even a dusting of powdered sugar is an unnecessary embellishment on this very tasty cake. It is my new staple! BTW, I cheated and only sifted once, all dry ingredients together.

Ingredients:

3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees f. Butter and flour three 8-inch cake pans, two 9-inch cake pans, or two 8-inch square pans; set aside. Resift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until very light. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Lower the speed to slow and beat in the flour mixture, alternately with the buttermilk or yogurt mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat in the vanilla. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, dividing gently.

3. Bake until the cakes are lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean, 30-35 minutes.

4. Cool completely in the pans on wire racks. Run the tip of a knife around the sides of the cakes to loosen them from the pans; invert the cake layers and use as desired.

Number Of Servings: Makes three 8-inch round layers or two 9-inch round layers or two 8-inch square cakes

Preparation Time: A little less than an hour to prepare, with 30-35 minutes in the oven, about 2 hrs to cool completely


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