Saturday, February 4, 2012

I Like to Bake for The Birthday of the Trees

I like to bake.

Never a huge fan of chocolate cake, I bake the tastiest recipe for chocolate cake.  I have made it for numerous potluck luches.  It is a crowd pleaser.  The recipe is from the back of the Hershey's can of cocoa, but I use Nestle's. It has a better flavor.  I also keep it dairy-free, changing the cow's milk to either almond or coconut.

Rachel's Potluck Chocolate Cake
inspired by Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake

2 Cups sugar
1 3/4 C flour
3/4 C cocoa (preferably Nestle's)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 C almond or coconut milk
1 tsp salt
 1/2 C canola oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 C boiling water

preheat oven 350
spray two  9-inch pans with canola cooking spray
place 1st 6 dry ingredients into a mixing bowl; mix
add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.
mix at medium 2 minutes
gently stir in boiling water  (batter will be thin...not to worry!)

pour into prepared pans
bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean

As mentioned, I use Nestle's.  I have swallowed my pride despite that I have issues with that company since they are a huge lobby group for formula in Washington, and I am a breastfeeding supporter.  Still, they are better tasting than Hershey's.  For supermarket cocoa, that is.  I guess Droste is available some places, and it has a good taste but it is simply too expensive for me.  I always loved the Nestle's cocoa tin.  It was shaped like a Toll House.  Then they switched it to plastic, which I saved.  And now they are getting rid of their traditional design and are using a more generic container.

Old Nestle's cocoa on the right, new container on left.

The Jewish New year of the trees, Tu B'Shvat, is coming up.
To be festive, we made a tree-shaped Chocolate cake.
Frosting recipe is from the side of the confectioner's sugar box.
I used coconut oil and non-hydrogenated Palm oil as the shortening.

Yes, those are mixed lettuce greens on the bottom.

We later replaced them with sour straws.

The Wolfman wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ayelet Galena zichron l'vracha

The passing of 2 year old Ayelet Galena z'l is so sad. May her parents, Hindy and Seth Galena, find great comfort among the mourners of Zion.

 Here is a link to a beautiful reflection on Ayelet.

 Here is the link to her funeral audio recording.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kombucha, The Mother Of All Beverages

I Am A Mother, Too, And Haven't Yet Gotten To Making You!

So many people around me don't like the taste and smell of kombucha.  Let me correct that statement:  so many people in my sphere have never even heard of kombucha.  I brought a bottle of it recently to a community dinner and the husbands all drew a blank, although they were interested to learn about my unusual drink.  Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage from certain yeasts and bacteria known commonly as "the mother."  It tastes like a very mild version of beer.  It is not alcoholic like beer, though, despite that it was taken off the shelves a couple of years ago for fear that it actually was high in alcohol content.  I like the taste, and it has taken me all too long to start brewing it on my own.

I buy the popular brand by G.T. Dave, who started brewing it in his parents' home in Beverly Hills.

I imagine if I lived in Berkeley or Portland, I would be a huge dinosaur, since everyone and their mothers there are brewing the stuff.

I buy this at Whole Foods, or when I am in the New York area, Fairway

photo from

Here is one instructional video about how to make it:

Maybe I should go to Kombucha Kamp.  That site looks like a good place for me.

Barbra Streisand by Duck Sauce Went Viral Last Fall...Where Was I???

(Disclaimer, my daughter Concealed Light peeked her head in just now as I am watching the video below and said, "Inappropriate.")

Certainly not at spin class, otherwise I would have been enlightened much earlier...

For my Mah Jongg ladies (that would be you, mom)...

For my gay friends (that would be you, Tim, my coworker at HBO who was from the South and wore silver spandex glitter pants to our annual party at Tavern on the Green...actually I am sorry for being so stereotypical, I only partially recall that you loved Barbra.)...

For guys named Elliot  (as in her first husband)...

For anyone who appreciates the date April 24th (meaning, you are a true Barbra Streisand fan.  That would be my mother, not me.)...

Click this caption below this photo to get to the video of the Barbra Streisand song, by Duck Sauce (DJs Armand Van Helden and A-Trak, Alain Macklovitch a Jewish guy from Montreal), that went viral last fall  (yea, currently over 60 MM views on YouTube... that would be millions for those of you who are unaware of Wall Street abbreviations):

no, I do not own this image.  I copied it from some web site.  Not worth suing me.  Would rather just embed the YouTube video, but Spinnin' Records doesn't want to allow that, which I think is utterly ridiculous.  Come on, my Dutch friends, you will be doing the world a complete service if you allow embedding on folks' websites.  Oh well, I still love Holland.  You do bikes, mass transit, congeniality, tulips, world peace and coffee shops very well.  Apparantly food, too.  Did you see the recent NY Times article about the improvement of Dutch food'?  No hard feelings, 'kay?   click that link   will get you there, too.

Did you see Philadelphian DJ ?uestlove in there?
Kanye West, also
Ezra Koenig
and more current musicians whose work I really don't know!

Thank you Katie, my most awesome spin instructor for the most excellent new tunes!  As a full-time mom who doesn't get to a single dance club these days (did I ever?), I rely so much on Spin Class for the good new tunes!

And here is Why I Know The Significance of the Date April 24th.  Again, Thank You Mother!
(start at around 3:00, and then Barbra gets to the punchline, which she CHANGED in the TV version of "I'm Five" to April 29th!  Oh, Barbra, you are too much!)

Finally, here is NPR's coverage by Guy Raz, a star reporter at NPR and a few years younger than me at Brandeis, about "Why Club DJs Love Barbra Streisand."

Here is some Vampire Weekend, with Ezra Koenig, in case you had no clue who that was...