Post #100: No, I did not make this cake and another confession


You can probably tell from the bakery box.

Leo’s birthday follows right on the heels of Martin’s, but there was too much stuff going on and I couldn’t deal with the cake part. Did I say “my kids can invent whatever cake they want, anything, and I will try to make it” in my last post? I’m going to have to take that back.  Here’s what happened:

Leo said: I want a volcano cake, with real hot lava. Here, like this picture Ali and I drew:

So I explained to him how I had this great idea of baking a banana bundt cake, and how I would drizzle yellow and orange glaze over the top to mimic hot lava. (plus it would use up some bananas that were quickly turning black on my counter) I should have known this was an unfavorable inception for a birthday cake. Especially a volcano cake with real lava for a 5 year old with a vision.

“What’s a bundt?” he looked suspicious. I showed him a bundt cake image I found on the Martha Stewart website and I will never forget his look of deep disdain and disgust. What he said was: “Mom that will be so stupid. That doesn’t look like my picture AT ALL.” True.

So I called a bakery. In just 24 hours my problem was solved. My dad picked up a sparkler at a toy store in the shape of a “5” to go on the top, and we covered the cake with candles and, because of excessive sparkiness from the sparklers, went outside in the very cold air to sing Happy Birthday.

For dinner Leo asked for Roast Chicken with Spaetzle and Green Stuff (by which he meant parsley) and Arugula Salad with Oranges, Candied Walnuts and Goat Cheese. That’s my boy! It’s a lovely menu.

So now I’m going to have to write about spaetzle. I should have posted about spaetzle a long time ago because they are so easy and incredibly popular at my house. The spaetzle maker helps the process a lot, costs $9.58 (quite a bargain!) and takes up so little room in a drawer that I don’t feel bad writing about an esoteric kitchen tool. Some people use a colander. I have tried this and I don’t recommend it.

Spaetzle Maker

Spaetzle – serves 4

  • 1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (I really recommend not skipping this!)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. water
  1. Set a large wide pot of water to boil. When the water is boiling, add a couple of tablespoons of salt. The water should taste salty.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.
  3. Measure the water in a liquid measuring cup. Add the eggs and beat until smooth with a fork. Pour over the dry ingredients.
  4. With a wooden spoon, beat the batter until smooth.
  5. Scrape the batter into the spaetzle maker and scrape the batter into the boiling water, pushing the spaetzle down under the water as you go, to make sure they cook properly. This takes about a minute.
  6. Drain in a colander and serve with melted butter and grated parmesan OR if you have roasted a chicken according to my method, with the pan drippings and a handful of finely chopped Italian parsley.

Spaetzle with Roast Chicken and Parsley

My children would walk over hot coals for this, or maybe even eat a brussels sprout.

Incidentally, this is my 100th post and I need to come clean about something: most nights I dread making dinner.  You’d think because I blog about making dinner that I have an endless supply of ideas and that I always have a vision about what we’ll be eating. Usually, I have no idea what to make. It’s true.

Often, this is how it works. I wake up in the morning and sometimes, even before he’s really awake, I nudge Martin. I say – What should we have for dinner? He rolls his half open eyes and mutters – Let me go check your blog…

Then I think: Argh! and flip over and look at the clock. 6:25 is WAY too early to call my cousin or my neighbor…I could send an email though: What are you making for dinner? Then I flip through magazines, peruse cookbooks, stop by Food 52 until its not so ungodly early that I can finally call. Somebody who, lots of times is not me, usually has a really good idea.

So, I would love to know. Really. What will you make for dinner tonight? What is your back pocket meal that saves everything at the last minute when you are too tired to think or make anything fun? (For me? Peas Pasta Ham and Cream. I’m so sick of it. That’s why I’m asking.) I could totally use a good idea.

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