Category Archives: Eating

Friday Yummy: Chocolate Cake

I haven’t posted a recipe in a while and since my mom was asking for the chocolate cake recipe I made for Eli’s birthday, you guys get a new recipe.

I cut it out of the local paper several years ago and the writer claims it’s from the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa box. I don’t use Hershey’s. I use Penzey’s Dutch Process Cocoa and I’m pretty sure that if heaven doesn’t contain copious amounts of this cocoa, I don’t want in.

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups AP flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350°. Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans or one 13×9-inch baking pan.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be very thin!). Pour batter into prepared pan(s).

Bake for 30-35 minutes for round pans, 35-40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before icing.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
6 TBS butter
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/3 cup milk (I always need a bit more than 1/3 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat butter in mixing bowl. Add powdered sugar and cocoa alternately with milk, beating to spreading consistency. Stir in vanilla. Makes enough to cover the round cakes generously.

As always with this much chocolate and vanilla, the cake will be super strong and sweet on the first day and perfectly mellow the next. So if you need to really impress someone with your baking skills, make it the day before.

Weekend with LanaBob

Alana has been visiting us this weekend and we’ve had some big fun. Friday we went to Build-a-Bear to celebrate 50 years of Sanrio.


From left to right: Alana’s new Yorkie, Rooney, My Hello Kitty, Eli’s Keroppi, Liza’s Tropical Kitty, Liza and Eli. Notice Eli’s band-aid on his forehead, that’s where the stitches are.

Having LanaBob here when Eli smashed his head was invaluable. She cleaned up dinner (since we had just finished eating when it happened) and stayed with Liza while Stephen and I took him to the Urgent Care on the corner. Thanks, LanaBob!


This is dip night. When Alana visits, we always make at least one dip. This time we decided to have a whole dinner of dips. Clockwise from top left: pizza dip, spinach dip, salmon spread, cheese dip and spinach artichoke dip. It is all awesome and I’m going back to eat some now!

Me and My Healthy Lifestyle

The honeymoon is definitely over between me and my new “healthy lifestyle.” During the first six months and 30 pounds and four pants sizes we got along great but now the bickering has started.

This past week, I sorta gave it a rest. I didn’t exercise much. I ate a bunch of crap and guess what? I gained three pounds.

It was depressing to really realize that this is something that has to be different for the rest of my life. I’ve hated my metabolism this week with a passion I usually reserve for the love of my favorite crafts and sports team. I’ve hated the fact that I can’t totally give up food. The thought has crossed my mind that maybe an eating disorder for 6-8 months would solve all my problems.

But the truth is I think I kinda already have an eating disorder at the other end of the spectrum. I’m an emotional eater.

I eat when I’m happy. I eat when I’m sad. I eat for entertainment. I eat to celebrate with friends. I eat when I need something to do with my hands. I eat because it tastes good. I eat because I like food. I eat. I eat. I eat…I eat too much.

Add that to a spectacularly slow metabolism, a lifestyle that doesn’t provide much exercise and here I am: massively overweight.

This is something I started to realize back in January. It was in the mix of what got me started with getting into shape. The first couple of months I was really good about questioning myself every time I went for something to eat:

    • Am I physically hungry?
    • Is this food I am choosing something that will nourish my body?
    • Am I willing to spend the calories on this food right now and not eat something else later in the day?
    • Is there something I could do with my time that would satisfy me just as well as this food?

Asking all those questions before every trip to the kitchen is exhausting. Especially since I live in the kitchen with two kids needing meals and snacks and more snacks and oh, wait it’s supper time already? So over the past few months I’ve lost that question and answer session before sitting down to eat. I was still doing pretty well because of the amount of exercise I was putting in but this past week I decided I just didn’t care any more. And it showed in how I felt about exercise, how I felt about eating, and how I felt about my body. And so I gained weight.

I have hesitated to call this a problem for more than 10 years. While we lived in North Carolina I had a good friend who was a binge eater. She attended Overeaters Anonymous and often urged me to go. I declined on the grounds that I “just liked food,” not that I had a problem. I know, classic denial. Just because I studied psychology, doesn’t mean I can’t still miss the giant cheesecake sitting on my plate.

All of this has been swirling around me in the past six months. Several friends have also come out to me about their struggles with weight issues recently as well. So I wanted to get this all down here. To rededicate myself to my relationship with my health lifestyle. To remind myself that it’s a continual process and that there are other ways to cope. To let others know that talking about it always helps and that it’s always a good day to walk a few miles.

Some resources:
Emotional Eating
Binge Eating
Overeaters Anonymous
Are you a food addict? Yeah, some of these questions made me cringe a little bit.

Smaller Pants

I got a wake up call right after the first of the year.

I went to the doctor for a sinus infection and my blood pressure was high. So high in fact, that my nurse practitioner was afraid I would have a stroke. She ripped open a sample box of BP meds and stood and watched while I took the first one. That doctor visit was the first day of my current life.

I had been toying with giving something up for Lent. I had never done a Lenten practice before, so I decided to combine that with something my body needed very badly. I gave up dessert sugar, sugared drinks and fast food.

The first week was bad. Withdrawal craving kind of bad. Several times I would wake up and crave sugar so badly I thought I’d cave and get something. But I didn’t. I made it through that first week and moved on to the second. Each week was easier until at this point, I don’t even think about sugar much. I do have it now but it’s a once or twice a week thing, instead of everyday, twice a day.

I started exercising. Every day. Not when I wanted to or felt like it. I did it everyday.

I lost 20 pounds so quickly if felt like magic.

I bought some new clothes to take on our trip to England.

Shortly before we left on our trip, I hurt my knee. I don’t know what I did to it but it was so very painful. I took a bit of rest the few days before we left and missed my trip goal weight by 1 pound. I was a bit sad but I consoled myself with the fact that I would still be getting plenty of exercise on the trip.

My knee was the singular down note on our whole trip. I had to baby it pretty much every day and the day we were in Edinburgh I didn’t climb Holyrood to see Authur’s Seat because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to walk at all the next day.

When we got home I had my chiropractor adjust it and since then it has steadily gotten better but I haven’t been exercising everyday. After the trip, I took the whole week off from working out. I’ve slowly been adding the daily workouts back to my schedule but I’ve been really careful about it.

Yesterday I went to the store nab a pair of shorts because I gave away all the ones that were too big. I picked up a pair that were the size I bought just before our trip. They were too big. I thought maybe it was a mis-size, so I got another pair. They were too big as well. I tried on the smaller size and they fit! Sometime in the past month, even though I haven’t lost any more weight, I lost a pants size.

I am not too proud to admit that I did a little dance of glee in the dressing room while wearing smaller pants.

In a lifetime of always, ALWAYS, buying the next size up, I bought the size smaller yesterday.

I wanted to come home and start my marathon training. Seriously, it crossed my mind to take up running.

So how’s my blood pressure? It’s better. I’m still taking meds but it is lower than when I started at the first of the year. The second half is that even though I’ve massively overhauled my diet and I’ve taken up exercise, I still had to start taking cholesterol meds. I’m not sure that this is a function of my weight at this point. I think I might be fighting age and genetics. And I’m getting to the point of being ok with that.

It’s hard to be mad at taking my medicine while I’m wearing smaller pants.

Children’s Antipasto

Occasionally I’ll let the kids pull up the step stool to the cart/island in the middle of our kitchen and we will eat a meal there. That meal is sometimes breakfast: homemade donuts where they get to dip or roll the donuts in their choice of toppings. When it’s lunch or dinner I put out a variety of meats, cheeses, fruit and crackers for them to munch on and in my head I call it antipasto. (I know, I know, antipasto is really an appetizer but sometimes you just have to eat only appetizers and desert.) Eli and Liza love to eat off of the cutting board and assemble their own food. We have a lot of fun and the kids talk and we all laugh. Since my kids rarely eat the same things, it’s a chance for us to gather and truly share a meal. Here’s a list of the items I pull from but it can be changed around to suit your kids.

Antipasto for Kids
pepperoni
cut up chicken nuggets (we always have leftover nuggets in our fridge)
ham
cheddar cheese
mozzarella cheese
swiss cheese
raisins
blueberries (we always have dried but fresh would certainly work)
strawberries
pears
carrot sticks
cut up grape tomatoes
Ritz crackers
Triscuits (Quattro Formaggio are my favorite)
cheese crackers
french bread (when we have it)

Dips
pizza sauce
ketchup (it is Eli we’re talking about here, so of course, there’s ketchup)
mustard
ranch dressing
Everybody gets their own dip bowl(s) so I get to use my tiny dishes!

Saturday Breakfast

Ever wonder what we do around here on Saturday morning? I know, how have you gotten on this long without having this knowledge?

Here’s the answer to your burning question: Donuts.

Donut Bar

I’ve always meant to fry some biscuits to make donuts and haven’t ever done it. (Is there anything more Southern than this? Maybe frying pickles, that’s the best I can think of.) This morning I got brave and tried it. The results: powdered sugar everywhere. The kids like to dunk their own.

Eli shows how he can eat a donut.

Liza especially loved licking the outer coating of sugar off of the donuts. She was unsure how to proceed after she got all of the sugar off though.

LIza chows down.

She finally figured it out and ate her fair share.

Liza likes donuts.

Lunch Deceased

When I was in high school, I wanted to be a pretentious art school student but I was hampered by attending a regular high school with my good and very nerdy friends. In order to gain my pretentious art school street cred, I made all my friends participate in my daily creation of Lunch Deceased.

Lunch Deceased was half found-treasure sculpture and half performance art. I gathered up everyone’s left over lunch trash (McDonald’s packaging, cafeteria Styrofoam, and brown bag effluvium) and stacked it as high as I could. My lunch companions were allowed to add to the sculpture but I held divine right to nix the addition if it didn’t fit my ever changing vision of the day’s work. Each day the title for the work was “Lunch Deceased” and then a number. I seem to recall a very complex numbering system involving the date and the number of items divided by how many days until the weekend. I don’t remember the exact calculations but it added up to a suitably pretentious title for each work of “art”.

It was silly and made us all laugh and I recall my friends humoring my ridiculousness with much grace.

I’ve thought about Lunch Deceased quite a lot recently as Liza has taken to creating Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Deceased on a daily basis. This usually involves shredding the food she didn’t eat into crumb sized pieces. She smashes those pieces with her cup and examines the bottom of the cup. She then scrapes the bottom off and starts over. Repeat until I am so disgusted I make her get down and clean up the squishy mess.

Part of me is glad to see the tradition live on and part of me just wishes she’d move on to the next developmental milestone. Regardless, watching her create it everyday has brought back many fond memories for me.

Outside, Today with a Cutesicle

This afternoon we headed outside for popsicles and swinging.


Eli had to show Kat some Jedi moves. Jedi moves involve him jumping from the step while swinging his lightsaber wildly.


Here’s Liza producing some Spielberg brand looking or maybe it’s Bono serious gazing, hard to tell.


He was in heaven this afternoon since Kat and I could take turns pushing him in the swing.


Good thing they make that red die so it washes out these days, otherwise we’d never see this outfit again. Check her “buh-fie” hat that Kat brought her.


It’s hard to resist this much cute. Except when Liza’s awake at 3 a.m. and Eli gets out of bed six times before he falls asleep. Then? Then it is so easy to resist the cute.