Monday, January 26, 2009

A good day for a walk

Saturday we had beautiful blue skies, and the weather was almost warm (read: not below freezing). I bundled Jonah into the sling, zipped two sweatshirts over us both, and we all went out for a walk.

Some of my fav. shots:

Throwing bread to the ducks

Andrew's and Rachel's feet

For more pictures of our walk, click on over to Rachel's most recent post.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Random snapshots

Jonah's got a new sweater! I started this just after he was born, but because of various interruption (can't imagine why?), I just finished it last week:

He got impatient with the photo shoot after a little while.

So we pacified him.

And then finally Grandma took pity on him.

He took a bath with the Big Guys for the first time last week!

I love how tender the boys (usually) are with Jonah. Here they are getting ready for bed.

Lavella and Andrew especially love to look through a book as I'm putting them to bed. Here's Lavella with last week's favorite little board book:

And then a shot of her beautiful curls -- they'd just taken a bath, which is always when her hair is at it's best.

In lieu of the Blue Face Incident, Lavella has been relegated only to crayons, which is (mostly) safer for her skin and the rest of the house.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Chocolate Gâteau

This cake is almost like fudge -- rich and dense, with an impossibly chocolaty depth. The ingredient list is short and simple, and the only leavening used here is whipped egg whites. The glaze is supposedly optional, but the slight contrast between the cake and the glaze is what really "makes it" for me, so I would not recommend skipping it.

This cake is delicious on it's own, but to push it to truly decadent heights, try it with some raspberries and softly whipped cream, or just simply a small curl of good quality vanilla ice cream (I like Edy's "Dreamery" or Hagendas).

For cake:
5 large eggs
9 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsly chopped (I used dark chocolate with 50% cacao)
1 cup sugar
5 Tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
2 Tablespoons coffee or water (cold leftover coffee = OK)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
pinch salt

For (optional) glaze:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsly chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup

To make cake:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a mixer bowl or other large bowl and the yolks in a small bowl.

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add the chocolate, sugar, butter and coffee. Stir occasionally until the chocolate and buter are melted; the sugar may still be grainy and that's OK. Transfer the bowl to the counter and let the mixgture sit for 3 minutes.

Using a rubber spatula, stir in the yolks one by one, then fold in the flour.

Working with a whisk attachment of the mixer or a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they hold firm but glossy peaks. Using the spatula, stir about one quarter of the beaten whites into the batter to lighten it, then gently fold in the rest. Scrape the batter into the pan and jiggle the pan from side to side a couple of times to even the batter.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the cake has risin evenly (it might rise around the edges and you'll think it's done, but give it a few minutes more, and the center will puff too) and the top has firmed (it will probably be cracked) and doesn't shimmy when tapped; a thin knife inserted into the center should come out just slightly streaked with chocolate. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the cake rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Run a blunt knife gently around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Carefully turn the cake over onto a rack and remove the pan bottom and the parchment paper. Invert the cake onto another rack and cool to room temperature right side up. As the cake cools, it may sink.

To make optional glaze:
First, turn the cooled cake over onto another rack so you'll be glazing the flat bottom, and place the rack over a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper to catch any drips.

Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.

Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water or in a microwave oven -- the chocolate should be just melted and only warm, not hot. Meanwhile, bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir very gently with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Stir in the corn syrup.

Pour the glaze over the cake and smooth the top with a long metal icing spatula. Don't worry if the glaze drips unevenly down the sides of the cake -- it will just add to it's charms. Allow the glaze to set at room temperature or, if you're impatient, slip the cake into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. If the glaze dulls in the fridge, just give it a little gentle heat from a hairdryer.

This recipe is from "Baking: From my home to yours" by Dori Greenspan.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Village making

This past weekend, Jonathan helped us take down the Christmas tree.

Lavella and my mom set the soundtrack for the event:

Rachel and the boys put their new train set (Christmas gift from my parents) together with their old one, and were very proud of this set-up:

The boys are now officially out of Pull-Ups! They were wearing them only at night, and have been waking up dry for about two months now, so I finally made the decision to let them go to bed like "big guys". To celebrate, I made a Chocolate Gâteau (from Dori Greenspan's "Baking from my home to yours").

Elijah turned the heat up from 350 to 400 without my knowledge at some point in the baking (dangerous, naughty, I know.), but somehow it came out wonderful anyway.

Jonah has started to really smile; his dimples are so charming.

Rachel and my three little guys have been decorating a gingerbread (graham cracker) village for the past few days.

We used Martha Stewart's directions for cutting out the graham crackers, as we did last year.

I'm pretty sure that just as much candy was eaten as was used for embellishment, but that's to be expected (we only do this once a year, after all).

Jonah oversaw the efforts:

I hear he's quite the taskmaster.

Here's the finished product:

And our trusty work-crew:

I'm so proud of them!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pastry and renegade coloring

Since my mom's been here, it has been a great relief to have an extra set of arms to hold the baby, fill a sippy cup, or put together a meal. One of the benefits, besides relieving me of some of my duties, is that I've actually been able to accomplish a little bit of my favorite activities.

Jonathan is here for the weekend, so my mom, Rachel and Jonathan drove to Luxembourg for the day yesterday. Rachel took my camera to photograph the trip (she'll post picture on her blog later, but for now, you can see the Flickr set here if you're interested). My little guys and I already had plans to go to Stitch 'n Bitch (I've already been to Luxembourg, and probably will go again sometime, but traveling with small children and esp. a tiny nursing baby is a little rough), so my only reuqest was that they bring us back something interesting and tasty.

They found this regional specialty pastry:

It's some sort of sweetened chestnut paste piped over a pastry cream layer which sits atop a brown-butter cake round. Delicious, and incredibly filling. One of them literally topped me off for a few hours (well, ok, maybe just a half-hour -- I am feeding a hungry little baby!)

If anyone can tell me what these are called, that would be lovely. :)

They also brought back these cookies:

Sort of like a linzer cookie; from what I could tell, it had browned butter and almond meal in the cookie part, jam sandwiched in the middle (which created an almost melting texture between the two cookies), and then a crackling white icing on top. The texture of the slightly grainy, not over-sweet cookie contrasted nicely with the crisp little crunch of biting through the icing. Lovely, but once again, I would only eat these one at a time, as it is rich, sweet and filing.

Unrelated, but I just have to show you:

Elijah ran into the room a little while ago. With a sing-song, slightly put-upon voice, told me that Lavella had colored on him.

I don't know about you, but he looks a little sheepish here to me.

Then my mom located Lavella and brought her in.

I have no words.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Look who's here!

On Sunday the children and I cleaned the house, and after I put them in bed I packed bags with library books, snacks, re-stocked the diaper bag (with a small pull-out essentials bag), and set my alarm to 7AM.

There was also some Cereal Box Hat Dancing going on.

Monday morning, we left the house at 8:15AM and headed for Frankfurt airport to pick up my mom and Rachel from the airport. Thanks to my trusty GPS, we made it there without incident, and then on the way back home, stopped at my favorite Indian food restaurant for a fantastic lunch.

We're so glad to have them here!

Jonah has started smiling! Here, he's grinning in his sleep, but he's actually been looking straight into my eyes (or my mom's, or whoever's holding him), and then breaking out in a huge, toothless grin. It's so precious.

Oh, and here are some pirates.

Although they're very cute, they look just a little bit mean.

You've got to be careful with pirates.

Sunday, January 04, 2009


Today, I was going to write a post about how we drove Greg to the airport yesterday.  About how we completed the trip in near total silence because there was simply nothing to say, or we couldn't trust our voices to say it.  I was going to try to explain what it felt like to kiss his lips that one last time as we stood on the cold curb of the airport, and the void that opened up in my heart as we drove away.  But in 4-6 months, we'll be together again, and today is a day for looking forward.  No matter how much I would like to curl up in bed and sleep until he returns, life must be lived, children must be cared for.  Putting one foot in front of the other, I will not waste precious time with my children, even though my husband is not here to share it with me.  The fact that I have a husband who loves me, and who misses being here as much as we miss him, is something to be thankful for, and I don't take that for granted in the least.

Tempers have been a bit shorter, and the need for hugs greater, but today day has also been filled with paper airplanes, hot chocolate, cuddling on the couch with books, naptimes, knitting, and baby kisses.

Cardigan for Jonah


A belated "surprise" Christmas gift from Jonathan (selected from my Amazon wish list).

Where there is love, there will also always, at some point, be pain.  And I am glad that I have a love worth hurting for.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Jonah, 2 weeks

Babies grow so quickly.  Right between 2 and 3 weeks is the point where a baby suddenly become an "infant" as opposed to "newborn". 

With each of my children, I've had plans to photograph the newborn stage, but have always been too tired, busy, and the days slip away into infanthood faster than I could have expected.  Today, I managed to capture the last glimpses of Jonah's newborn-ness.

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