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Sugar Bowl Mix: September 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

And then the police banged on my door

The chaos all started around seven twenty-five in the morning as I was scooping the goopy, organic all-chicken cat food out of the can, trying to avoid getting it on my fingers. I love my cats and want them to eat healthy food, but something about that food seriously grosses me out. So I was concentrating on exactly where the cat food was going- into the cat dish- when Katherine came racing into the kitchen.
"Mommy, I'm bleeding!"

She was bleeding. A lot.

I pulled her over to the sink and held her bleeding finger under the running water but had to turn the water off almost immediately because she started screaming, "it hurts!"

A straight slit ran vertically down the tip of her middle finger. I looked back and saw a trail of blood coming from the family room.
"What happened?"
"I was crawling around pretending to be a kitty and then I felt something and then it just slitted my finger."

I applied a band-aid and it immediately bled through, leaving a red line running down her hand that she was holding up. I removed the bloody band-aid and applied another and that one soaked through, too. The third band-aid seemed to stay.

At that point we had exactly fourteen minutes before we had to pick up Max, the carpool boy, and we still had to eat breakfast, pack snack and water, apply sunscreen, pick books for the carpool ride, change the cat water and use the bathroom. So I got Katherine sitting down, holding her finger in the air, eating a yogurt, thanked Caroline for cleaning up the blood on the kitchen floor and went into the family room thinking I would find glass on the floor but instead I found sharp scissors at the craft table.

The scissor conversation didn't go well.
"NO! I TOLD you. I was crawling and then it just got slitted."

And then Cooper, our one-year-old cat, pounced through the air, landing on a big fat-bellied lizard.
"A lizard!" the girls screamed in unison.

Caroline corralled Cooper into her bedroom, Katherine opened the patio door, still holding her bloody finger in the air and I reached for the dust pan and broom. Charles, our seventeen-year old Siamese, came over to see what the commotion was all about and stepped right onto the lizard without even noticing it. The lizard froze, making it tricky to get it onto the dustpan. Eventually, I shoved its front end on and lifted the dustpan. The lizard clung on, its fat body dangling to and fro.

I deposited the lizard outside. Mission accomplished. This past summer Cooper snagged another lizard in the house and that lizard dropped its tail. There's something very creepy about a lizard tail flip flopping around on the floor not attached to a lizard body. I was glad I saved this lizard's tail.

We managed to get everything done, although not in fourteen minutes. Finally in the car we flew down the hill and around the corner and two older ladies out walking waved their arms at me crazily. They thought I was going to hit them. I wasn't. They didn't know we were late to pick up Max and had a slit finger in the back seat that had bled through three band-aids.

We collected Max and zipped onto the first of four freeways and Katherine said, "Mommy, what if all the blood in my whole body comes out through my slitted finger?"

In the afternoon I returned to school for the pick up. Normally I only do the afternoon run but Max's mom is in New York so this week I'm doing both drop-off and pick-up. The kids piled into the back and the girls immediately started shouting in high-pitched voices.
"Give me water. MOMMY! I'm going to die if I don't get water like in the next second!"
"Give me water! Open it! Where's my gum?"

I pulled over and we had a conversation about patience and manners and got everyone buckled in and the waters were opened and distributed.

We were almost at Max's house and had managed to avoid potty talk for most of the ride when the phone rang. I have a bluetooth but don't use it. I can never figure out how to synch the sound to the bluetooth so it always comes through on the phone when I want it in my ear and when I want it on the phone it comes through the bluetooth which is never anywhere near my ear. A gut feeling told me I should answer the phone and after reading Malcolm Gladwell's Blink I try to always trust my gut so I asked Katherine to answer the phone because there's a law in Los Angeles that you're not allowed to touch a phone while driving. It was Max's dad. After a lot of giggling and "whats?" Max's dad came through on the speaker phone. Did I have Max? Yes, I did. I wasn't supposed to have him. Right then his nanny was at the school in a panic because no one could find Max. Apparently Max's dad had left two voicemails for me. Oops.

So Max came home with us. As the kids were getting out of the car the girls started yelling.
"Eewww! It smells like pee back here! Do you smell pee? Did someone pee their pants?"

In the house they disappeared into Caroline's room. Caroline reappeared shortly thereafter to tell me that Max had peed his pants. He had a big wet stain on his pants and she didn't want him sitting on her bed or rug. I told her to be careful not to embarrass him and suggested she entice him outside to play. After Max's nanny came to collect him Caroline wanted to know what we could do about her car seat cover because that's where Max was sitting and she didn't want to sit on a car seat that smelled like pee. She got the car seat from the car and I washed the cover.

For dinner we had chicken salad and Katherine shouted out that she was "dead with chicken salad, that's how much I love it!" That reminded me that the girls love the chicken salad sandwiches at school which then reminded me that I had forgotten to place their lunch orders for the week which had to be done by six o'clock and it was five minutes before six. We all ran to the computer and the girls made their choices and we were done with a minute to spare.

Part way through dinner thunder crashed. Loudly. Very Loudly. And very suddenly. We all jumped. It rumbled again. Katherine said she was scared. We almost never get thunder in Los Angeles. The sky was covered with dark clouds and there was an eery calm before the storm feeling in the air. Katherine wanted to know what would happen if the thunder crashed right through the house. What if the thunder crashed the trees into the house?

So we put down our forks and went outside and looked up at the clouds and talked about clouds banging together and how thunder happens and as we were talking a plane flew overhead and Katherine said, "what if the thunder crashes the airplane right out of the sky and it lands right over here and deads the tree and the squirrel that lives in the tree?"

Several hours later, the girls were in bed, Tim was still at work and I was reading a book with CNN on TV. Cooper jumped straight up in the air from his perch on the sofa arm. I got up, thinking he was after another lizard. Two lizards in one day seemed like a lot. But I didn't see another lizard. Cooper's tail got all poofy. Charles is deaf and didn't stir from his prostrate position on the sofa.

Suddenly I heard a fierce knock on the back door. I called Tim.
"Someone's banging on the door."
 They banged again.
"Don't answer it," Tim told me.

More banging on the door. A flashlight beam danced around in the garage.

"Oh my gosh, they're shining a flashlight in here!"
Cooper was in hiding at this point. I made a note that I'd really like to get a dog.
"Call the neighbor," Tim told me. More loud banging.

But then rational thinking kicked in. I thought I heard a police radio. I turned off the TV and listened again. I heard two voices. I calmly walked to the back door and swung it open.

Two policeman with shiny shoes and shiny hair were standing on my driveway in front of their cruiser.

They had the wrong address for an alarm.
"Don't you guys say you're the police when you knock?" I asked.
"Never!" One of them said. "What if you were a bad guy!"

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All the camp's horses

I've been going through our house, purging ruthlessly, creating huge piles of items to be sold at the upcoming garage sale and creating piles of items to be donated to charity. We've gone through books, clothes, toys, games, ride-ons and boxes that have not been opened in fifteen years. An exhausting process. But a few very special items have turned up in this process.

Yesterday I found my Camp Longacres T-shirt, my name tag still sewn inside.

When I showed it to Caroline she immediately put it on and wanted to sleep in it.

Camp Longacres is a sleepover horseback riding camp outside Buffalo, NY. I spent eight summers at Longacres and probably rode most of the horses listed on the T-shirt. As Caroline read through all the names from Abe to Zippy I  could picture each horse vividly: Blue Mist, the gray pony; China Heart the dun quarter horse jumper; Chips, the  round bay pony who was my favorite pony, Pepper's, girlfriend - I think we actually held a wedding for them one summer; Deamyn, the pony my family took home for the winter for years; Fudge Ripple, a big pinto and my favorite horse my first summer at camp; Jenny, a lazy appaloosa; Major, a big handsome bay with a long loping stride; Prometheus, a palomino pony; Red Majesty a chestnut with a choppy gate and Striad, black and very fast.

Longacres was a place of extraordinary freedom for its campers. I spent hours exploring the creek, catching minnows and picking wild blackberries with friends, unsupervised. Other than showing up for  riding lessons twice a day, campers got to choose what they did, whether they visited the arts and crafts cabin, the pool, the archery field or played horseless horse show. As I got older I spent most of my time at the barn, grooming ponies, cleaning stalls and riding. Sometimes we rode five hours a day.

We sang Johnny Appleseed before every meal in the lodge and gorged on candy and junk food from the canteen after dinner. My first summer there, when I was eight, I chewed more gum than seems possible, an extraordinary treat since I wasn't allowed to chew gum at home. Often I forgot to spit my gum out at night so I would wake up with bubble gum stuck in my hair and my counselors would smear peanut butter in my hair to get it out. I only took one shower in the four week I was there, the night before my parents came to pick me up.

So yesterday as Caroline read off all the horse names I closed my eyes and relived those carefree summer days. My favorite childhood memories.

Caroline wants to go to overnight horseback riding camp next summer and I think we may just let her go.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - A grand passion

Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and, once it has done so, she will have to accept that her life will be radically changed.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Tuesday Blog Hop

Wow, I am so excited that my blog was picked to be the Twee Poppets Blog Hopper of the Week! Sugar Bowl Mix went public less than two weeks ago and I am only beginning to learn the ropes in the blogosphere. Any helpful tips in the comments are definitely appreciated, as are followers and subscribers!

Sugar Bowl Mix is a mix of thoughts and stories about life with girls in Los Angeles and my journey to get here. I'm a baker and a cook, too, and on Mondays I will write food-oriented posts, some of which will be recipes.

I'm looking forward to meeting many of you.  Thanks for stopping by. Take a breather and hang out a while!

This is how the blog hop works:

  • Create a new Tuesday Tag-Along blog post. Include the Tuesday Tag-Along button by copying and pasting the code above. (You are also welcome to copy and paste these instructions in their entirety, or any portion of this Tuesday Tag-Along blog post!)
  • Add your blog name and the URL of your TTA post to the MckLinky below.
  • Follow Twee Poppets, the hostess blog listed in the first slot. Twee Poppets will follow you back! (Note: If you want Twee Poppets to follow you back, you MUST leave her a comment saying that you are a new follower and leave a link to your blog!)
  • Follow the Blog Hopper of the Week, listed in the second slot -that's me this week! To learn how to be chosen as the Blog Hopper of the Week, read the red text below.
  • If you can, please follow the blogs in the three slots before you (e.g., if you're number 20, follow numbers 19, 18, and 17). This is not mandatory, but it will help ensure that everyone who signs up gets a few new followers!
  • Follow as many other blogs as you want. The more you follow, the more that will follow you back! Be sure to tell them that you're following from Tuesday Tag-Along! You may also want to leave a link to your blog so they can return your follow more easily.
  • When you get a new follower through Tuesday Tag-Along, be sure to follow them back! It's just common courtesy. :)
The weekly Tuesday Tag-Along MckLinky opens every Monday night at 8:59pm Pacific Standard Time (that's 11:59pm Eastern Standard Time), and the TTA blog post will be posted well in advance of that time. The MckLinky will be open to add your blog until 11:59pm Tuesday night. You then have all week long to visit blogs and return follows!

There is a new list every week. The link you enter one week will not carry over to the next week's MckLinky. Please link up again each week to join in the fun!

Tuesday Tag-Along Blog Hopper of the Week:
Note: To be eligible to be Blog Hopper of the Week, you MUST place the Tuesday Tag-Along button somewhere on the main page of your blog or website (Inside a blog post does NOT count; it must be on the actual page, e.g. in the sidebar. And since I'll be checking for it manually, I must be able to actually find it). If the randomly-drawn winner does not meet this condition, a new winner will be randomly selected. If you do not want to place the TTA button on your site, you are still more than welcome to join in the blog hop, you will just not be eligible to be the Blog Hopper of the Week.

Each week, one blog will be chosen randomly from all the links, and that lucky blog will be placed in the desirable second slot for the following week's MckLinky! 

Thanks Twee Poppets, for choosing Sugar Bowl Mix! 

I hope I entered the MckLinky correctly so that you can add to the list from here.  If not, sorry....Please visit Twee Poppets and enter your blog in the list there.

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Cooking with the London Underground

I love to cook and when I cook I always wear this London Underground apron.

Recently, Caroline asked me where I got it from. When I was twelve-years-old my best friend, Suzanne, went to London and brought it back for me. The first time I wore the apron I remember my mother pointing to Kensington High Street, the tube stop she and I my father used when they lived in London years before. 

The apron is vinyl, easily wiped and I immediately began wearing it whenever I cooked. I loved to cook bake. I made cakes, cookies, cupcakes, fudge, brownies, banana bread and salad dressing. The recipes came almost entirely from my mother's tattered Fannie Farmer cookbook from the 1940s. In high school I branched out and began cooking main courses.

At the beginning of my sophomore year in college my sister, Jane, gave me my own Fannie Farmer Cookbook as well as a little notebook filled with neatly printed family recipes and recipes from our mother's tattered Fannie Farmer that weren't included in the updated version.

(The Mocha Layer cake recipe above was my favorite cake growing up. The recipe comes from the 1940s Fannie Farmer edition.)

Sophomore year I lived with four roommates in an apartment where we took turns cooking for everyone. My dinners always included dessert. For my birthday that year my roommate, Jane, gave me Smart Cooking, a cookbook endorsed by the Canadian Heart Association that was "heart- healthy." I cooked recipes like Triple-Cheese Lasagna, Gazpacho and Cream of Broccoli soup and easily wiped the splatters off my London Underground after each dinner I prepared.

I spent my Junior year in London. My tube stop was Goodge Street, although I could get off at Tottenham Court if I didn't mind walking a little further. My classes were at Oxford Circus. Ironically, I didn't bring my London Underground apron with me. I had packed almost entirely in a backpack and the apron, well, it seemed like an extra that could be left with the rest of my college stuff, in boxes in my parents' basement. In London I was cookbook-less and made mostly veggie-filled omelettes in a dingy basement kitchen of the residence I shared with American college students also studying in London. My roommate, Suzy, and I sometimes made cakes from from- horrors- a mix. The kitchen was not sufficient for making cakes from scratch.

Back at college for my senior year, I lived with five roommates and cooked dinner once a week for everyone, wearing my London Underground apron. I cooked many batches of spaghetti sauce and made many pans of brownies. I also cooked from the companion cookbook to Smart Cooking, The Lighhearted Cookbook.

I left the apron and the cookbooks with my parents when I travelled around Australia for a year after graduation. In Australia I baked many potatoes and barbecued a lot of chicken over campfires.

In Boston for graduate school, the apron re-emerged. My roommate, Sarah, gave me The Silver Palate Cookbook, and I cooked cajun burgers and herb wrapped beef tenderloin from it and its companion, The Good Times Cookbook.

In Los Angeles, working in the film industry, I hosted many dinner parties and culled most of my recipes from the above mentioned cookbooks. I bought this chocolate desserts cookbook on sale on a whim and tested many of its recipes at my dinner parties.

And then I met Tim. Not at a dinner party but on a blind date. He loved to cook, too, and he also had quite a cookbook collection, although he didn't have a London Underground apron, or any apron at all. We cooked pesco-vegetarian dinners together and I baked him some of my old family cake recipes wearing my London Underground apron.

And then we got married and our cookbook collection merged.

Tim likes to give me cake recipe books. Southern Cakes is my most favorite. If you have only one cake recipe book, have this one.

And then the girls arrived. The delight of testing new recipes turned to the drudgery of nightly meal planning. But the girls and I bake together. A lot. And I still try out new recipes. Often the new recipes come from blogs. I still turn to my old cookbooks. I find a soul-soothing comfort in the ripped pages of my Fannie Farmer and the food-stained pages of my college cookbooks and the Silver Palate books.

Sometimes the girls wear the apron. I have to tie it in the back so it's not too long. Caroline is only four years away from the age I was when Suzanne gave it to me. Over the years I forgot where the apron came from. I simply grabbed it, tied it on and began cooking. It wasn't until Caroline asked me about it last week that I remembered.  I wonder if Suzanne remembers giving it to me. I'll make a note to ask her.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Just me and the girls

Tim recently started a job, a good job. For that we're all thankful. But his new schedule is such that we don't see much of him during the week. Which means most of the time it's just me and the girls. Which can be trying at times. Not all the time, but sometimes. Very trying. Yesterday we stopped in to visit a neighbor after one such trying moment - a long trying moment - the carpool drive home from school.

After we were all out of the car and had something to drink and the distraction of friends to remove us from our trying carpool drive, my neighbor snapped a bunch of pictures of me and the girls. I have so few pictures of me because I'm always the photographer. All my pictures seem to be Tim and the girls. So last night I downloaded the pictures and spent some time with them, appreciating them, appreciating my girls and what we have, even if we don't see Tim as much as we used to or as much as we'd like.

For a while it'll be just me and the girls, trying moments and all, and that's still pretty good.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

They weren't the Real Jonas Brothers, Daddy

This week I picked up the girls at school one day and Katherine handed me a Jonas Brothers poster calendar. The girls were very excited for their first horseback riding lesson of the new school year and chatted about which horse they were going to ride as we drove to the lesson.

Then, in passing, Caroline mentioned that they had their first assembly at the new school that day and that her teacher didn't need to spend any of her own money on buying paper and "stuff like that" because "some store" was giving it to her. "Yeah, they even gave her a chair!"
"That's nice," I said.
"Uh huh," Caroline answered and then we turned into the riding school and all attention was back on the horses.

The girls called Tim from the car after their lessons. I was driving, not really listening to the conversation, when I heard Katherine saying, "they weren't the real Jonas Brothers, Daddy. They were just dressed up to look like the Jonas Brothers."
"Mommy, they were the real Jonas Brothers," Caroline said to me.
"At school. They came to our assembly this morning."
Ah ha! I finally began to clue in. The poster calendar, the free classroom supplies. It was all coming together.

Over speaker phone Tim said the principal had just sent out an email saying the Jonas Brothers had visited the school as part of a promotion for Office Max, their biggest sponsor, who is donating a lot of free supplies to teachers all over the country. This was a big hush- hush secret event that no one knew about. Apparently, the school didn't want hordes of Jonas Brothers-crazed parents descending upon the assembly.

"Do you know who the Jonas Brothers are?" I asked Caroline.
"Yeah, some of my friends like them," she said.
"Do you now who they are, Lovey?" (I often call Katherine Lovey)
"Of course! And I'm telling you, these were not the REAL Jonas Brothers, Mommy!"
Okay, I realized at this point Katherine had no idea who they were.
"If they weren't the REAL Jonas Brothers, who were they?" Caroline asked, getting annoyed.
"They were the real Jonas Brothers. They're singers that a lot of kids like," I finally said.

A lot of kids. Yup. Except not my kids. We made a conscious decision when the girls were small to guard their childhood, to let them be little girls for as long as they were little girls. We maintain a video-game-free and Wii-free house. They didn't watch television until they were three years old. Now, at six and eight they're only allowed to watch television on the weekends. They watch PBS shows like Curious George, Caillou and Dragon Tales. No Hannah Montana or iCarly.

In pre-school the girls carried Land's End lunch boxes and wore Land's End backpacks. I love Land's End. No Dora or My Little Pony. In elementary school they still carry Land's End lunch boxes. They've only eaten at McDonalds once - when a friend took them. They go to age-appropriate movies. They watch age-appropriate movies at home and on the DVD- a lifesaver on trips! They enjoy going to plays. And they spend a lot of time writing their own books, reading, playing and making up imaginative games.

We're not total ogres. The girls each have one American Girl doll and various accessories to go with them. I like the American Girl doll phenomena. I think the dolls and their accompanying books and accessories convey an empowering message for young girls.

I recently discovered a book by Marybeth Hicks about parenting this way: Bringing up GEEKS  Genuine Enthusiastic Empowered Kids - how to protect your kid's childhood in a grow-up-too-fast world.  After I read it a few weeks ago I realized that we have protected our girls from what Hicks describes as "the culture of cool - a media saturated, consumer-driven state of pseudo adulthood." It's not that the Jonas Brothers are bad or distasteful. It's that they fall directly into that "culture of cool", that world that, as the book's forward says, exploits my girls' innocence. Living in Los Angeles we're hyper aware of this culture of cool. We're living right in the middle of it.

In her book Hicks discusses the benefits of exposing children to an assortment of music from broadway musical soundtracks to "the rock and roll bands you loved when you were younger." Last year the girls were in Annie at school and we got our fair share of Tomorrow performances sung at top volume. But generally the girls listen to what we play. In pre-school Katherine's favorite song was Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire. Caroline knows all the words to U2's I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. On  a recent flight Caroline and I listened to Joni Mitchell's The Circle Game and Big Yellow Taxi on the airplane music channel. Caroline's radio is set to an oldies station.

Okay, you get the picture. The girls don't listen to Disney music. They don't listen to Miley Cyrus. Although I recently discovered that Katherine knows two prophetic words of a Justin Bieber song: "Baby, baby." She had been singing this song, or rather, those two words, for over a month and I kept asking her what it was and where she had learned it, to which I always got: "I dunno."
A few weeks ago, up in Canada at my father's retirement home, Katherine belted out "BAYBE, BAYBE,"while we were visiting.
"You like our local talent!" A young social worker exclaimed. Katherine giggled.
"You know that song?" I asked.
"Yeah, it's Justin Bieber!" The social worker said. Duh.
"Yeah!" Katherine said, like she had known all along. "L_ taught it to me." Duh again.

So back to the car. We continued our drive homeward bound through Los Angeles and Katherine asked her sister if she wanted to play "school assembly" with their dolls after dinner. After dinner they got their dolls set up but decided not to play "School Assembly."
"Yeah, that's boring," Katherine said.
They played "Mother and Child." Caroline was the child, Katherine the mother and I was pulled in to play the neighbor.

Mother, Child and Neighbor trump The Jonas Brothers in our household. And I'm okay with that.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - a girl and her cat

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Consumed by stuff

We're contemplating a move at some point in the next year.

"Can we take all our stuff if we move?" was the first thing Katherine said when we told her and Caroline.

"Of course," I said, quickly reassuring her. But now, trying to sort through our stuff in preparation for a pre-move garage sale, I realize that no, we will not be taking all our stuff. Not even close to all our stuff.

I'm a neat freak. I like things put away. But I'm not organized. So on closer inspection of our stuff I made some frightening discoveries.

Like this drawer that is supposed to hold coloring books but now has random papers, stickers, a lone sandal and a shirt.

Or this drawer in Katherine's room. It has various baby lotions left over from the dresser's previous life as a changing table eight years ago, as well as random stuff like Ariel pictures, a headband that never fit and letters.

Or this horse barn in Caroline's room. I'm pretty sure there's not a single horse in there.

Or this catch-all bin and charging station in the kitchen. A purse, swim goggles, crayons - and that's only what's on top.

It's official. I'm consumed by disorganized stuff!

How do you organize all your random stuff? What systems do you have for controlling it and making sure things are put away where they belong?

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Black and white cake with fudge frosting

The girls asked me to make a cake for them over the weekend. Caroline's favorite cake is chocolate and Katherine's favorite is vanilla. So I satisfied them both with a black and white cake. They both agreed to chocolate fudge frosting. This cake is light and fluffy but rich. A small piece does the trick.

Black and white cake

3/4 stick (around 1/3 cup) butter
1/2 cup milk
1 cup + 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 oz unsweetened chocolate

Place butter and milk in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the butter has melted. Let cool.
Beat the eggs and sugar together at high speed until the mixture is thick and glossy yellow. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Stir the flour mixture into the eggs and sugar. Stir in the butter and milk. Add the vanilla.

Pour half the batter into an 8 X 8 square baking pan that has been greased and floured.

Melt the unsweetened chocolate (try it in the microwave for 1 - 2 minutes at power level 5). Stir the melted chocolate into the remaining cake batter and pour evenly over the vanilla cake batter.

Bake for 25 minutes at 325 F. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before turning out the cake.

Easy fudge frosting

I've always baked with fresh ingredients but after making this frosting I am an evaporated-milk-in-a-can-convert. This is hands down the best fudge frosting and it's easy to make.

2 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
6 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate (I like Trader Joe's Pound Plus 72 % Dark Chocolate)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place the sugar, butter and milk in a saucepan over low heat. Once the butter has melted, increase the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Let it boil at a rolling boil for 7 minutes.

Remove from the heat and pour into a mixing bowl with the bittersweet chocolate. Mix together. Let the mixture cool, stirring every once in a while. Once mixture is no longer hot, beat at high speed until the frosting is smooth and thick and can easily be spread. Stir in the vanilla.  Spread on the cake.

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