Baby Steps: 31 Days Later

MixerPic 682x1024 Baby Steps: 31 Days Later

When I started this project on the last day of May, I told myself I would update my blog every day for a month.  And here on the last day of June, I can somewhat proudly say I met this goal.  What I did not tell you about starting a blog on May 31 was that I had told myself on May 1 that I would start a blog by the end of the month.  I hemmed and hawed, and after an extremely unproductive Memorial Day weekend, I told myself I should work on some ideas in June and start a blog in July.  But then I heard Nell Greenfield Boyce’s comment about celebrating with cake as I turned on NPR for the drive to work,  and I knew I could not ignore such a cosmic kick in the pants.

Speaking of pants, I’ve spent most of this month flying by the seat of mine.  There is so much I don’t know about baking and blogging, but there is also so much I now know simply for the sake of committing to and then doing it.  If I had waited until my ideas were near perfect, I never would have started.  I’d be sitting here right now thinking about starting a blog in August.

So now that I’ve figured out what it takes to bake and write and take pictures and upload it all on the Internet while also dealing with dirty dishes that seem to reproduce like  rabbits, I plan to slow it down a bit.  I will still bake and write most days, just not every day.  The extra time will give me the leeway I need to cook up new ideas and correct mistakes so you can read about recipes that work along with the failures that led to the successes.

At no point did I want to quit, but at times an unexpected and kind comment always gave me a little extra boost.  Thank you all for reading.  I will be back up and running soon.

Back to Basics: Chocolate Chip Cookies

SAM 1140 Back to Basics: Chocolate Chip Cookies

It finally happened. I succumbed to baker’s block. When I have writer’s block, it’s no big deal because I just bake and then write about the experience. But baker’s block? How was I supposed to get over that?

To get through the slump, I turned to an old standby: chocolate chip cookies. My grandma gave me the recipe I use most often because I like its special ingredient, pudding mix. It is not necessary to make the pudding.  Simply add the dry mix to the batter, and prepare to enjoy a delightfully tender cookie. Seriously, this chocolate chip cookie is like a regular chocolate chip cookie that went on vacation and came back in a much better mood.

I used vanilla pudding mix tonight and added in both semi-sweet chocolate chips and white chocolate chips. In the past, I used chocolate pudding mix with equally satisfying results. I have always wanted, but have yet to try, butterscotch pudding mix.

All day long I wondered about what new and interesting thing to bake tonight, and for the first time since I began this project I was not looking forward to baking. So I went back to basics. And you know what?  It was really nice.

SAM 1134 Back to Basics: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 – 3.4 ounce package instant pudding mix, chocolate or vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • optional: 1 cup walnuts
  1. Whisk together the flour and baking soda and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugars together.
  3. Add the instant pudding mix and vanilla extract and beat until well blended.
  4. Add the eggs, one a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips, and if desired, the walnuts.
  6. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until light golden brown.


Life’s a Beach: Sand Cake

June 28 027 Edited 0001 Lifes a Beach: Sand Cake

Not all of us can get away to the beach this summer, but all of us can bring some sand to our kitchen.  I first saw a recipe for Sand Cake in “Cookies, Muffins, and Cakes,” another no-author book by a publisher (Bay Books). Sand Cakes can take the form of a tart shell or a glorified pound cake.  The tart shells have Scandinavian roots, while the pound cakes have German roots.  Although I really like all-things Scandinavia, my family has German roots, so I made the pound cake.

I used a combination of recipes and baked my cake in a 9-inch springform pan. The top looked lovely, but I burnt the heck out of the bottom. Fortunately, the bottom was very easily cut off, and the cake tasted lovely once the burnt crust was removed. I brushed the lemon syrup I had left over from last week’s candied lemon slices over the top of the cake, then sprinkled it with powdered sugar.  I gave it a dollop of homemade whip cream and ended up with a nice piece of cake.

June 28 039 Edited Lifes a Beach: Sand Cake

A fun, summer twist on a different type of sand cake, especially for those of you responsible for little people, is to combine some other sweet ingredients in a sand pail.  This type of sand cake is a spin-off of the dirt cake, which typically includes chocolate sandwich cookies and chocolate pudding layered in a clay pot garnished with gummy worms.  The fun sand cake can be made with vanilla wafer cookies, sugar cookies, pound cake or a combination of the three.  Add vanilla pudding and chocolate sea shells, and you are set for a day at the beach no matter where you are.

Sand Cake
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • ¼ cup cake flour
  1. Cream the butter and sugar.
  2. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Add the vanilla and continue to mix.
  4. Slowly incorporate the flours and mix until well combined.
  5. Pour the batter into a greased and parchment-lined, 9 inch baking pan.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 20 minutes until golden brown.