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Sugar Bowl Mix: July 2010

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mean mom

The other day I heard Katherine's friend telling her: "Your Mom is Mean."

Two friends were over and Katherine and Caroline were playing with them at a neighbor's treehouse. The treehouse has a bucket on a pully that can be filled with various fun finds like rotten walnuts, plastic squishy frogs and soggy crayons and then raised up into the house. The owner does not like the bucket to be dropped hard. So after the bucket was dropped unceremoniously three times, landing with a loud bang, the girls were given a final warning: one more hard bucket drop and no more bucket.

The bucket came slamming down. I untied it. A moment later one of the friends appeared and began tying the rope back on the bucket. I asked her what she was doing and she said she was tying the bucket back on, she wanted to play with it. No. No more bucket. She disappeared into the tree house whereupon I heard her uttering the fateful M word.

An hour later I called all the girls to come back to the house for lunch and failed to get a response after fivecalls. I was frustrated. Yes, I raised my voice slightly and my tone indicated that Mean mom was back. All the girls exited the treehouse promptly at which point the same girl asked why I was yelling at her. I'm not yelling, I'm frustrated and speaking in a different tone, I said. When I ask you to come I expect you to come. I had to call for all of you five or six times! She looked perplexed. At what exactly I'm not sure. Me raising my voice? Me being frustrated that she hadn't come when I asked? Life in general?

Playdate politics. Parenting politics. Mean mom signing out....

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Red velvet cupcakes - recipe to print

Red Velvet Cake
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 stick)
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 one ounce container red food dye
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Line the cupcake pans with cupcake liners.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa together in a bowl.

Cream butter with the sugar until light and fluffy.

Add in the eggs and beat well.

Add the food dye and mix until well blended.

Combine the buttermilk and the baking soda and mix well. Add to the sugar and butter mixture alternately with the dry ingredients.

Add the vinegar and the vanilla. Mix well.

Spoon into cupcake liners. This batter filled 20 cupcake liners. (You can also make two 9" layers)

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8 ounce package cream cheese
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound confectioner's sugar
red sprinkles

Combine the cream cheese with the butter and the vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Gradually add the sugar while beating.  

Ice the cupcakes and decorate with red sprinkles.


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Saturday, July 24, 2010

No Bees Allowed - Conquering night fears one sign at a time

Bad bees coming into my room and stinging me. Owls hooting and tickling me. Cows going poop on me. Spiders. Monsters. These were all big night time fears Katherine had when she was four. All fears that had her getting out of bed multiple times before finally falling asleep, exhausted, several hours later and then waking up in the morning sleep deprived and cranky. Cranky and sleep deprived Katherine was quickly turning us into Cranky Parents. Very Cranky Parents.

A friend told me about "the worry bag." And so we started the worry bag ritual every night. We wrote down three of her fears and then Katherine dropped them, one by one, into the bag with a big "bye bye bad bees" or "bye bye cows going poop on me." It seemed to help ease her fears. But she was still getting out of bed.

We talked about what we could do. Katherine came up with the idea to post a sign on her door letting the bees and owls know they weren't welcome. We made the signs, put them on her door. She stood back, looking at the signs. "Good. Now they know they're not allowed in my room," she said, satisfied. We agreed that one of us would stay upstairs with her, although not in her room. The night time fears were conquered. For the most part. We still stay upstairs, in another room, until she falls asleep. The signs are still there. A few months ago she decided that spiders needed to be told to stay out. "No Spiders Allowed" was added to the door.

One morning last week she climbed into bed with me.
"When I was four bees used to come into my room and try to sting me. Then you made a sign for the door so they knew they weren't allowed in my room. And guess what?  Now they know. No bees come in my room. No Bees Allowed. That's a pretty good sign, I'd say."

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Aunt Neanie's chocolate cake - recipe to print

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cup milk

Melt the chocolate in the double boiler or in the microwave (3 minutes at 50% power). Let cool slightly.

Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Slowly add in the cooled chocolate. Add the sifted flour and baking powder alternately with the milk.

Pour into three greased and floured 8 inch round pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes (times vary depending on your oven) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the cakes cool for 5 minutes in the pan before turning them out.

Vanilla Buttercream frosting
2 lbs confectioner's sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1/3 milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream the butter. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until smooth. Frost the cake.

Chocolate drips
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
2 teaspoons butter

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler or in the microwave. While hot pour over the frosted cake.


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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tales from the Trail

View from my morning hike

There's a beautiful trail near me that follows the curves of a canyon. It's quiet but not too quiet. I meet other hikers and dog walkers and the occasional dog that pounces on me. I like dogs but not when they pounce on me. Especially when they weigh one hundred fifty pounds. That happened to me once up on the trail. The owner quickly shouted out, "he's friendly!" Then he told me his dog had never done that to anyone before and would I mind feeding him a treat to let him know I was friendly? I declined. 

Another day a large buck deer with a huge set of antlers that could have hung a good many coats came charging frantically down a hill in front of me and galloped straight at me. I stupidly began waving my arms crazily in the air, trying to divert the beast. At the last moment he veered down the hill, crashing through the brush and popped back up on the trail behind me. That was the last I saw him. 

A bobcat appeared one morning over the crest of the hill and trotted across the road in front of me. He wasn't scary. 

And then there are the coyotes. I often hear them howling in the hills around the trail. Dog owners have told me they like to entice the female dogs off the trail and then the coyote pack attacks the dog but I haven't seen that happen and I'm not even sure it does happen. But it makes a good story.

A neighbor recently told me that some ten years ago he was chased down the trail by a mountain lion. He was on his bike and in his panic got going so fast that he wiped out. He broke his arm so badly that he had to have surgery as well as various other injuries. I haven't seen any mountain lions up on the trail but maybe they're up there watching me.

This morning's hike was adventure-free. Just cool, overcast and gray. Perfect for a hike.

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More Dishes

Caroline washed the dishes last night - well, most of them. She even reminded me before dinner NOT to wash the dishes because it's so much fun to wash the dishes and she wanted to wash them.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dirty Dishes

Life with a family is full of dirty dishes. Like most families we load the dishwasher, turn it on and then unload it the next day. Unless the dishwasher is broken. Like it is right now.

When the repairman came yesterday he told me our Maytag Quiet Series is a terrible dishwasher and that every day he gets a call for a broken control panel for this model. This particular dishwasher was one of only two machines that fit into the available space. The other was out of our price range. We were stuck. Go without or buy this one.

Growing up we had a dishwasher until I was about eight. Then my mother decided the dishwasher was broken more often than it worked and she could do without one. We washed all the dishes by hand. I thought this was crazy, insane. Everyone had a dishwasher! We were living in the 19th century! I couldn't wait to be a grown up and have a dishwasher like everyone else. I waited a long time. My first rental with a dishwasher came when I was thirty-three.  It wasn't very exciting.

Last night as I was finishing washing the dishes Caroline exclaimed: "Ooh! I love washing dishes! Can I wash some?" When did I ever say that to my mother? Dirty dishes were never a draw for me.

The power of the modern day dishwasher: inspiring a love of hands-on dish washing.

The dishwasher won't be fixed for another two weeks. It needs two new parts. For the next few weeks I'll sit back and relax while Caroline has fun washing the dishes.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

The Checklist

This summer getting out the door in the morning has been trying. More than trying, actually. Frustrating, unpleasant, downright awful. From spraying the sunscreen on, to packing the lunch and the separate snack to making sure the swimsuits, the towels and the backpack sunscreen are packed and the of course the water has to be cold - "I can't BELIEVE you forgot to put my water in the fridge last night, Mommy! Now I have to drink hot water!"  - it's seems amazing we make it out the door at all.

Last week we hit the wall. Half way to camp and Caroline begins shrieking from the back seat: "Where's my water!  I don't see my water!" The water was on the kitchen counter. After I was blamed for being the worst Mommy ever I realized we had to make a change. All of us. I couldn't keep cajoling, reminding, nagging and shouting to be heard in the morning.  Caroline had to take responsibility for herself.

Maybe it's selective memory but I don't remember terrible mornings growing up. Sure, there were a few times when I overslept or forgot my skates on skating day or ran out of time for breakfast. But those were the exception. What was so different? I was responsible for myself. From the time I was seven I was taking the subway to school by myself. My mother packed my lunch and that was it. I had to remember everything else and I had to make sure I was out the door in time to walk to the subway, ride the subway and then take the bus. If I left late I was the one who reaped the consequences. Granted, this was Toronto in the 1970s not Los Angeles but still, it gave me an idea.

The checklist was born. Caroline made it up, she wrote it and she checks it off every morning. If she forgets her water, it's all on her. If she forgets her swimsuit, it's all on her. And the amazing thing?  It works! And what's more she seems to take pride in it and enjoy it. An empowering tool.

Now Katherine wants her own checklist. Maybe I should make my own checklist!

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Six Weeks

This afternoon Katherine pushed off from the edge of the pool and swam through the water. Six weeks ago she was terrified to put her head under the water. She was so proud of herself.


How Katie became Katherine or The Most Stupid Stinkyhead Preschool

 My biggest of all mother mistakes was putting my girls at the The Most Stupid Stinkyhead Preschool (MSSP). What a DISASTER. It was a preschool that called itself progressive, that prided itself on advocating for young children. What the two women who ran it failed to tell me when I enrolled Caroline was that it was actually only progressive and would only advocate for your child if your child fit their mold. And to be fair, some children did fit their mold and some children did thrive there. I found out later, after we'd left, that many people in the community called it the "Nazi preschool." Ouch....

The MSSP had developed its own language that every parent was expected to adopt. Parents had to talk about "the plan" and how "that's not our plan." You couldn't say, "we're not doing that" because, according to the MSSP that wasn't something a three-year old could understand.

You were supposed to acknowledge every emotion your child was feeling which sounds sort of admirable in the abstract but is completely unrealistic in practice. When your child was screaming at the top of their lungs and beating their fists and feet into the ground and couldn't hear anything, you were supposed to say in a very calm voice (with a condescending tone): "Oh boy, you are so mad right now. You're kicking your feet and your hands. And boy, you are just so mad." I hear some of you laughing but I'm totally serious. For some parents and some children this worked. It didn't work for me or my children. My children were both the type who seemed to spend a lot of time beating their fists and feet into the ground. What I realized later, of course, was that it was the MSSP atmosphere - the atmosphere where every feeling and emotion was expected to be felt and processed all the time - that my highly sensitive children couldn't handle. What they needed was for someone to pick them up and help them move them on from that mad moment, not walllow in it. They didn't need to be told they were mad because they knew they were mad and that was why they were on the ground tantruming in the first place.

There were some bright moments along the way. Like the spring sing where Caroline belted out "This Pretty Planet" at the top of her lungs off key and had a group of parents in hysterics. Or the three times our old cat Jasper visited the classroom for share time. There were some pearls of wisdom, too, like talking about problems out of the moment. Although what I discovered once the girls were out of preschool was that these helpful tips would have been learned at any decent preschool.

It wasn't the preschool's fault that it wasn't the right fit for my children. No, that was entirely my fault. But other things were the preschool's fault like letting my four year old lie on the dirty office floor crying hysterically for an hour and a half banging her hands on the little chair she was supposed to be sitting on while she waited for Mommy who had been ordered to come pick her up because there was no way that the MSSP could have such an emotionally and socially disturbed child disrupting a classroom at their very progressive school that always advocates for young children.

I had a beautiful moment with Katherine when I picked her up that traumatic day. I sat outside on the front step holding her sobbing, tear stained little body and told her I loved her, that I wasn't mad at her and that no matter what had happened that morning she hadn't done anything wrong. She stopped crying. That was a real moment. We didn't talk about any plan and I didn't talk in that annoyingly condescending tone that went along with all the prescribed parent lingo. And then we got in the car and  and I gave her two pieces of chewing gum.

The next week when I told her she wouldn't be returning to THAT preschool she said: "I hate that school. That's the most stupid stinkyhead school ever."

The first day at the new school she introduced herself as Katherine and told her teacher she wanted to be Katherine from now on. She was no longer the MSSP Katie who threw tantrums and wouldn't clean up toys and stood up at circle time making loud noises. Now she was Katherine who thrived at school. At four years old she created a new identity for herself.

On her Kindergarten report card the teacher's comments read: "Katherine has a positive attitude and is a model of honesty, fairness and integrity. A pleasure to have in class."

The three-year old in me wanted to send a copy of that to the MSSP.  But I didn't. I folded up the report card and put it in Katherine's file. After all, someone has to be a grown up.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Coopie McCoops Problem

Coopie McCoops. Pooper McPoops. Nippy McNips. Stinky McStinks.

Cooper is a rescue cat from the Bakersfield shelter via a Siamese rescue group. He's a Lynx Point which is a fancy way of saying he's got some Tabby and some Siamese in him - a tabby face, a raccoon tail, subtle stripes on his creamy body and blue eyes.

"He's absolutely adorable," Katherine says. Yes, he is adorable looking, except I suspect Katherine means everything about him is adorable; the nipping and swatting aren't so adorable to me. Neither is his habit of passing stinky gas, something that's usually followed by a loud cry of "EWW! Cooper just had a big Stinker!" from Katherine.

Caroline picked him out of a group of fourteen kittens and Cooper somehow senses this because she is his favorite; she is the only one he licks.

He's a pretty good cat. But here's the problem with Cooper: he's not a super cat. This wouldn't be a problem except he came on the heels of a super cat: Jasper (see post about him) and he lives with a super cat: Charles.

Is this fair to Cooper? No. I like him. I could probably say I like him a lot. But he's not making it into the pantheon of awesome cat characters anytime soon.

But don't tell the girls. They adore him. And maybe that's what's most important.  He's their cat, not mine and if I can remember that maybe I'll give him an extra pat later today and hope I don't get swatted in the process.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chocolate zucchini cake - recipe to print

4 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (I use 72% cocoa)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 1/4 cup sifted cake flour
1/4 cup natural unsweetend cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium zucchinis)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave for 3 minutes on 50% power. Set aside to cool slightly.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.

Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating each one well. Add the vanilla.

Add the flour and cocoa mixture.

Add the buttermilk, beating until well combined.

Beat in the chocolate, then the zucchini and finally the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into 12 cupcake liners (or one 9" cake pan).

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let cool before frosting. 

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8 ounce package cream cheese
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound confectioner's sugar
green sprinkles

Combine the cream cheese with the butter and the vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Gradually add the sugar while beating.  

Frost the cupcakes and decorate with green sprinkles.


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Monday, July 12, 2010

Flourless chocolate cake| Recipe to print

 8 ounces dark chocolate (I use 72% cocoa)
1 cup butter
3 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder, sifted
¼ cup strong brewed coffee
2 whole eggs
6 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon cream of tartar

Cut the chocolate and the butter into pieces and place in a bowl. Melt in the microwave on medium power for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cocoa until it is smooth.

Beat 2 whole eggs, 6 egg yolks and the sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and thick. This will take 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the chocolate mixture and the coffee. Mix together slowly.

In a separate bowl beat the 6 egg whites with the cream of tartar until they hold their shape but are still moist. This will take 2 to 3 minutes.

Gently fold in ¼ of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the rest of the egg whites. Don’t worry about a few streaks of egg white in the batter.

Gently pour the batter into a 10-inch springform pan lined with buttered parchment paper.

Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes (some ovens may take longer). The cake is done when it is puffed, slightly cracked and no longer jiggling in the middle.

Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before removing it.

I like to serve mine with a dusting of powdered sugar, hand-whipped cream and raspberries. 


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Homemade peanut butter cups -recipe to print

9 oz dark chocolate (I use 72% dark cocoa)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons graham crackers
2 pinches of salt

Melt the chocolate in the microwave (I melt it for 3 minutes at 50% power) or, you can melt it in the double boiler. Add the 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, a pinch of salt and mix it well.

Line muffin tins with 12 cupcake paper liners. Spoon 2 teaspoons of the melted chocolate mixture into each liner, pressing the chocolate up against the sides as you go. Place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make your own graham cracker crumbs by crushing graham crackers in the blender or by hand with a spoon.

Mix the graham cracker crumbs with the peanut butter, brown sugar and pinch of salt. Mix it well.

When the chocolate is hard, spoon 1 tablespoon of peanut butter mixture into each paper liner, pressing it flat as you go.

Add an additional 2 teaspoons of chocolate to each cup, spreading the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter.

Place in the refrigerator for an hour before indulging!


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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Uninsured driver and parking lot rage.

A few weeks ago I was in two car accidents on the same day. Yes. Two. It wasn't a Friday 13th - it wasn't even Friday. It was a Sunday. I was on the freeway, taking Katherine to Toys R Us to use a gift certificate she'd gotten for her birthday. It was a short distance on the freeway and the traffic was flowing smoothly, until a silver Mercedes flew by, cutting me off, making me veer slightly. Next thing I knew there was a commotion in the lane to my left, brakes squealing, cars swerving and a black Passat spun out and stopped sideways in front of me.

I had already started braking. My old car didn't skid, or spin out - the ABS brakes work well. But apparently not fast enough because I slammed into the Passat, hard enough to give myself the nervous shakes but not hard enough to deploy the airbags. I saw Katherine in the rear view mirror, staring straight ahead. I asked if she was okay.
"That was scary," she said. Later, she told her sister that it was really important to always wear your seat belt in case you were in a car crash. "My seat belt stuck to me like glue," she said.  So something positive came from this: Maybe we'll never have another argument about doing up seat belts.

The eighteen-year old driving the Passat jumped out and immediately informed me that my car had no damage. She didn't have insurance. Well, actually she did have insurance but she had just bought the car the previous week and her insurance information was at home, couldn't she call me with it later? Yeah, right. Her car didn't have plates, but it did have two other young girls who promptly exited the car and seemed to think it was okay to wander around the shoulder with cars flying by at seventy mph. I called 911 and reported I had been in an accident. It seemed like the thing to do. The young girl told me she had somewhere to be. From the clothes she and her cohorts were wearing I'm assuming "somewhere" was the beach. They all got back in the Passat and she drove off.

We continued on our mission to Toys R Us. In the parking lot, I saw that my car actually was damaged. One of the lights was hanging out, the bumper was slightly dented and the whole bumper had been pushed back and there was a small crack. Bummer. I just spent a bucketload six months ago repairing ten years of dents and scratches.

We spent an hour and a half at Toys R Us. I think we picked up every single toy in that store - at least every stuffed animal and every Zsu Zsu pet. Katherine finally settled on an arts and craft project.

We arrived at our next destination: the grocery store around 3:15.  A quick run-in to get some last minute groceries for dinner.
"You can help me pick out lunch items for camp this week," I said as we pulled into a parking spot.  Even as I said it I knew it wasn't a particularly enticing offer given that we had just come from Toys R Us.  I opened the back door. The seat belt was caught on the car seat. I noticed someone was waiting to get into the parking spot next to us.
"Hurry up, sweetie. Someone's waiting." It probably took her all of one minute to untangle the seatbelt. Maybe a minute and a half. Maybe.

Suddenly, a very angry SUV drove into the parking spot and banged into the open car door!
"Excuse me!" I shouted. In retrospect, this seems like a stupid response.

The very angry driver of the the very angry SUV shouted out : "You think you're so important you can just stand there and make me wait???"
"My six-year-old was having trouble with her seat belt!"
"I didn't see the baby!"

"I'm not a baby," Katherine said as I hurried her away and into the store, the woman still shouting behind me.
I could hear her yelling: "Is your car damaged?" I hadn't thought to look. Another stupid move. But I had been brilliantly quick-thinking in pulling out my iPhone and taking not one, but two pictures of her license plate.

I called Tim. He said to call the police. I didn't. I ran into the woman and informed her my husband had told me to call the police. She started in on her beligerant rant. We walked away.

I told a young manager at Ralphs. He told me take satisfaction knowing I wasn't as crazy as the other woman. Gee, thanks.

Almost a thousand dollars in damage to the door.  My brilliant license plate picture will help track down the crazy driver. I hope. I should have taken a picture of the woman herself. Next time I will.

Turns out I would be found forty percent at fault for the freeway accident. I would be found to have "lost control." So the bumper will have to stay as is.

Uninsured driver, bad freeway driving, impatient grocery store customer in huge sunglasses with parking lot rage and my observant six-year-old in the back seat. We live in Los Angeles.

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup water
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 lb butter (2 sticks)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cut the butter into chunks and melt over low heat in a saucepan.

Place the oats in a small bowl and sprinkle with water.

Combine the flour and the baking soda in a medium bowl.

Remove the butter from the heat and stir in both the sugars, the vanilla and the salt.

Combine the butter-sugar mixture with the flour.

Stir in the oats and then the chocolate chips.

Let the dough stand for one or two hours or cover and refrigerate overnight. I let mine stand for 1 hour. Who has patience for more than that?

Scoop by heaping tablespoon onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets. I fit 12 per sheet and the recipe made 36 cookies in total.

Bake for 5 minutes at 350 degrees on the middle rack. Turn the cookie sheet and bake for an additional 4 to 6 minutes(depending on your oven) on the lower rack. The cookies are done when they are golden brown on top. If you like them gooey they should be slightly soft in the middle.


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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Chocolate coconut island cookies|Recipe to print


4 squares unsweetened chocolate
¼ cup strong coffee
½ cup butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon soda
½ salt
½ cup sour cream
½ cup shredded sweetened coconut

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave for 3 minutes at 50% power. Set aside to cool.
Cream the sugar with the butter. Add the egg and mix in well.
Add the cooled chocolate and the coffee to the sugar mixture and beat well.
Sift the flour, salt and baking soda and add to the batter alternately with the sour cream.
Stir in the coconut.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto parchment paper on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Do not overbake!
This recipe makes 36 cookies.

1 ½ cups confectioner sugar
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla

Mix all the ingredients together in a saucepan. Heat over low heat until frosting is ready to spread. Spread on the cooled cookies while the frosting is warm. Decorate immediately.


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Crack Pie - recipe to print

This recipe is for two pies. Email me at sugarbowlmix at gmail dot com if you want to know why. (Or, cut the recipe in half to make only one.)

Cookie for crust
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
Scant 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
Scant 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
1/3 cup  light brown sugar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
Scant 1 cup rolled oats

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Beat the butter, brown sugar and sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk the egg into the butter mixture until fully incorporated.

With the mixer running, beat in the flour mixture, a little at a time, until fully combined. Stir in the oats until incorporated.

Spread the mixture onto a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking sheet and bake until golden brown and set, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to the touch on a rack. Crumble the cooled cookie to use in the crust.

Crumbled cookie
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine the crumbled cookie, butter, brown sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until evenly combined and blended (a little of the mixture clumped between your fingers should hold together). Divide the crust between 2 (10-inch) pie tins. Press the crust into each shell to form a thin, even layer along the bottom and sides of the tins. Set the prepared crusts aside while you prepare the filling.

1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus a scant 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon milk powder
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
3/4 cup plus a scant 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 egg yolks
2 prepared crusts
Powdered sugar

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, salt and milk powder. Whisk in the melted butter, then whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla.

Gently whisk in the egg yolks, being careful not to add too much air.
Divide the filling evenly between the 2 greased pie shells.

Bake the pies, one at a time, for 15 minutes at 350 degrees, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees and bake until the filling is slightly jiggly and golden brown (similar to a pecan pie), about 10 minutes. Remove the pies and cool on a rack.

Refrigerate the cooled pies until well chilled. The pies are meant to be served cold, and the filling will be gooey. Dust with powdered sugar before serving

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Why Sugar Bowl Mix?

When Katie was two weeks old my mother came to visit for a week. She spent much of her time reciting this little ditty:

Katie did, Katie didn't,
Katie broke the sugar bowl,
Said she didn't.

My mother learned the ditty from my grandmother who chanted it when the katydids sang in the summer. My grandmother probably made it up. She loved sweets and sugar. I have one my grandmother's sugar bowls. It's missing the top.

It's been six years now since my mother stayed with us for a week and repeated this ditty over and over and Tim and I still say it. A lot. Sometimes we say "Katie stole the sugar bowl" instead of broke the sugar bowl. Maybe she stole the top.

Here's a picture of a katydid:

I like the sugar bowl better.

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I'm a former Hollywood executive, a writer, a baker, and a chocoholic. I have two daughters. Katie is 6. Caroline is 8.

We live in Los Angeles with my husband, Tim, and our cat, Cooper.

I write about my attempts to parent with grace, humor and a lot of chocolate here on Sugar Bowl Mix.

For me, being a mother isn't all joy and bliss, but sometimes, when I'm lucky, it can be sweetly rewarding. (No, that's not where the sugar bowl reference comes from. Read here to find out about that.)

I believe there are many right ways to parent and that every parent must choose the parenting path that fits their life and their child and support others who may have chosen a different path. Because we're all on this parenting journey together.

I feel fortunate to have lived in a lot of cities in my life: Toronto, Kingston, London, Boston, Sydney, Perth, San Francisco and Los Angeles. I've lived in 20 different residences, apartments and homes. That's a lot of moving! But I've lived in Los Angeles for a long time now and I like to write about the insanity of this wonderfully eclectic city.

We bake all the time in our house. Baking is an opportunity to create something and enjoy the sweet results together. I post recipes every Monday. They usually involve chocolate.

I'm so glad you're here and look forward to getting to know you and your mix.

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Double dark chocolate cookies - recipe to print


8 ounces dark chocolate (I use Trader Joe's Pound Plus 72% cocoa)
4 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
12 ounces dark chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli 60% cocoa chips)


Melt the chocolate in the microwave. I melt it for two minutes at half power. Add the butter and zap again for another minute at half power. Mix together and set aside to cool slightly.

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl.

Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together until light and fluffy. This will take two or three minutes.

Pour the chocolate into the egg mixture and beat it slowly.

Beat in the flour mixture slowly.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by the tablespoon onto a cookie sheet. I like to drop the batter directly onto parchment paper.

Bake at 350 degrees for seven to eight minutes until the cookies are shiny and crackly but still soft in the middle.

Cool on the sheet for three or four minutes before setting on a cooling rack.

This will make 48 cookies.


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Mocha birthday cake - recipe to print

Coffee butter cake

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup very strongly brewed coffee
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
2 cups sugar


Combine the butter, milk and coffee in a saucepan over low heat. 

Once the butter melts, stir, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt into a bowl and set aside.

Beat the eggs and sugar on high speed for three to four minutes until the mixture is thick and light yellow.

Stir the flour mixture into the eggs. Add the milk and butter mixture.

Pour the batter into three greased and floured 9 inch round cake pans.

Bake for 25 minutes at 325 degrees or until a knife inserted comes away clean and the cakes are nicely browned.

Cool the cakes in their pans for 6 to 8 minutes before removing them onto cake racks.

Mocha fudge frosting

2 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/2 stick butter
6 ounces chopped dark chocolate (I use 72% cocoa)
2 tablespoons very strong brewed coffee


Place the sugar, evaporated milk and butter in a saucepan over low heat. Cook slowly until the butter has melted. Stir the ingredients together. 

Increase the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Allow the mixture to boil at a rolling boil for 7 minutes.

Remove from the heat and pour the mixture into a mixing bowl with the chocolate. 

Stir the mixture until the chocolate is all melted. 

Add the coffee. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes or put in the refrigerator to cool for 10 minutes. 

Beat until smooth.

Frost the cake.


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