Pasta Salad

Pasta is at the top of my most favorite foods. I like it prepared in most any way, but a pasta salad is great for when it is hot and you want to eat something cool and fresh. Today I will show you how I prepare a pasta salad. It is simple and easy to do, and can be made in advance.

You’ll notice that I haven’t put many quantities. That is because I do it by eye; if the amount looks right, then I use it. That being said, there are always leftovers.

Begin by putting the pasta on to cook. Here I’ve used macaroni but you can use any small pasta that you have on hand. Shapes like shells, bows, spirals, and tubes are fun for kids and look good. I used 150 gr. of pasta, and for 5 of us, it is more than enough.

To save time and water, I first put into the water the veggies that need to cook. I use frozen peas and corn, so I put the peas first and let them cook ’till nearly done. At that point I add the pasta and corn. Depending on the type of pasta you are using, you may or may not want to add the corn yet as it cooks quickly.

Next, choose the veggies you want to use. I tend to use whatever I have on hand, so my salad changes each time. For this particular salad (the one in the photos) I used:

  • spring onion
  • cucumber
  • peas
  • corn
  • carrot
  • bell pepper (capsicum)
  • coriander leaves
  • moong dhal sprouts (sprouts made from green lentils, found in most veggie shops here)

Other veggies that I have used before include spinach, green beans, onion, lettuce, and more.

Wash the veggies well and chop small. You want them smaller than bite size, both to make eating easier and to make it look nicer. Throw them in a large serving bowl as you go.

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Once the pasta and veggies are done, drain and rinse with cold water. You will want to cool them down so you can add them to the raw veggies.

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Choose your protein items. I like to use paneer, chickpeas, chunks of cheddar cheese, peanuts and beans. The sprouts mentioned above are also protein. You could also opt for boiled eggs, shredded chicken, canned tuna (or other cooked fish), etc., whatever your personal favorite is.

I often mix 2 or 3 protein items into the salad, depending on what I have on hand. Paneer gets used the most, as do chickpeas. I love adding a handful of peanuts as they add crunch and texture. My salad is generally vegetarian since we eat lots of chicken for dinners.

Shown below is 200 gr. of paneer, and I don’t cook it. It is cheese so you don’t have to cook it (but you could lightly fry it if you prefer). Just give it a wash when you take it out of the packet. The dressing will give it lots of flavor.

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Toss in the pasta. The order in which you add stuff to the bowl really doesn’t matter. As you can see, I put the pasta in already but the carrots are still waiting to be chopped.

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Once everything is in the bowl, it is time for the dressing. You could make the dressing in a separate bowl, but I prefer to make it right on top of the salad since the salad itself is still waiting to be properly mixed.

Below you can see all the ingredients (except for the garlic paste) that I use in my dressing – yogurt (that is my very large container of homemade yogurt), olive oil mayonnaise (regular works fine too), salt, pepper, and chili powder.

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For the dressing I use roughly 1 part mayonnaise to 3 parts yogurt. That serving spoon is what I used to measure so it was one spoon of mayonnaise to 3 of yogurt. Add a small amount of garlic paste, about a 1/2 tsp., and the spices. You will have to judge according to your taste, so if it makes it easier to do so, prepare it in a small bowl so that you can add more salt, pepper or chili powder if needed.

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Now slowly mix the dressing into the salad. If your bowl is overflowing like mine, take your time. Slowly turn the bowl as you mix the dressing in and combine all the ingredients. Everything should be covered with dressing. Make sure to get down to the bottom of the bowl so nothing is missed.

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If you didn’t pre-mix and taste your dressing, now is the time to do a taste test, just to be sure there is enough salt and spices. You can always add a little more if needed.

This salad can be served right away, or you can chill it in the fridge until needed. I find it actually tastes better the next day, as the flavors in the dressing have had time to blend together.

So there you have my pasta salad. If you try it, let me know how it comes out. I hope you like it.

What My Kids Have Been Up to Lately

School is now out for the summer. Lila’s last day was the 10th and Logan’s was today, the 12th. With summer comes setting up the pool and water play, making popsicles, summer camps and more. Lila’s birthday is also around the corner.

I figure now is a good time to write up some backlog of what the kids have been up to recently.

February 17th: Logan and Lila began roller skating lessons. They have made a lot of progress in this short time. Logan doesn’t fall as much as he did at first and Lila is getting fast. Her role model is a girl probably no more than a year older than her who skates like a pro already. Lila watches this girl zip around the rink, rarely falling, and tries to imitate her.

February 21st: Lila had her first sports day. Unlike Logan last year, she did a great job and ran when she was supposed to. I missed seeing her dance since I had to drop Logan at his school first, but saw it later on video.

The children march around the stadium. Lila is the last one in the red shirt.

The children march around the stadium. Lila is the last one in the red shirt.

Preparing for their dance. Lila is second to last in the red row on the right.

Preparing for their dance. Lila is second to last in the red row on the right. You can also see Glad back there directing things.

Doing her part in the relay race.

Doing her part in the relay race.

Lila's class after the races. Lila is on the left next to the teacher.

Lila’s class after the races. Lila is on the left next to the teacher.

March 30th: Lila’s preschool graduation. I still don’t get why they do it two weeks before school actually lets out. But Lila was super excited about it. For about a month before it happened she asked me daily, “Is tomorrow my graduation?” We took a family photo together like we did last year, and we should get it soon.

They were running around the stage and I finally got them to hold still for 10 seconds. Love seeing them all so smiley.

They were running around the stage and I finally got them to hold still for 10 seconds. Love seeing them all so smiley.

April 4th: Logan had a dress rehearsal for his school’s annual day. Scarlett and I accompanied him for the long bus ride to the place an hour away from his school where the children from all the branches of his school were practicing their shows. Last year at his annual day performance, daddy had to stand with him to get him to even stay in place to perform. This time it was great to see him stand in place and dance with his class.

On the bus.

On the bus.

April 6th: Logan’s annual day performance. It was being presented in a large theater and there must have been over a thousand people there – parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, etc. All the children did so well. For some of them it was their very first time on stage.

Logan danced really well with no prompting needed from the teachers. We didn’t stay for the full performance as it was 1 1/2 hours and Scarlett was fussy from the beginning, though she did pay attention during a few of the dances when they were songs she knew.  We saw the full performance from one school and half of the one from Logan’s school, as his dance was in the first song his school presented.

Afterwards we went out for ice cream, partly to celebrate and partly to cool off as the day was a sweltering 36C. We went to a place that sells the ice cream by weight, so they give you huge scoops. The kids each got two, and surprisingly, both Logan and Lila said it was too much and couldn’t finish. 🙂 How often do you hear kids say they have too much ice cream? Ha.

Logan’s school didn’t have a graduation ceremony like Lila’s did, but they took a class photo (print only, I don’t have a soft copy), and had a party with the kids on the last day.

And those are the updates to date. I will include more photos as they come. Monday summer camps start for Logan and Lila; they are excited to go again, and I’m happy because it will give me some time without them daily – for the next two weeks. I really need my sanity so it is good when they go places.

Moist Carrot Cake

Here is a new recipe for you, adapted from one I found I know not where. The original called for a full cup of oil and 2 cups of sugar, and while is was good, it was also oily and too sweet. I wanted something healthier since in our house we are striving to eat as clean and healthy as possible, so I experimented and changed the recipe around a bit. I reduced the sugar to one cup, and the oil to 1/3 of a cup. The remaining liquid comes from yogurt. I also use brown sugar (when I can get it) and whole wheat flour.

Because it is so healthy, I often serve it for breakfast or lunch once a week. It goes great with coffee, or served with yogurt and fresh fruit. My kids love it like that.

I’ve learned from cooking shows that one of the secrets to light moist cakes is to not over-beat the eggs or the batter, to sift the flour to add air, and to gently stir in the dry ingredients until just mixed. Try this and you will find your cakes will be lighter. This particular one comes out very light and airy when these tips are followed.

So here is the recipe.

Just out of the oven.

Just out of the oven.

Begin by finely grating 3 cups of carrots. Do a little extra so you can pack the cups, about 4 medium-sized carrots. Set aside.

Then mix together:

4 eggs

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup plain yogurt

1 cup brown sugar

Mix together (don’t beat) until all ingredients are just combined. Add the carrots and stir.

(Optional: You could substitute half the carrots for grated zucchini. Raisins make a nice addition too.)

Next, sift together on top of the wet ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

Mix gently with the wet ingredients until the flour is just mixed.

Pour into a pre-greased and floured 8×8″ pan and bake in a 350F oven for 40 – 45 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

This recipe also makes great muffins. Just reduce the baking time to about 10 – 15 minutes.

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Yummy! Especially with my morning coffee.

 

This post is being linked with Spatulas on Parade‘s Foodie Friends Friday linkup.

SpatulasOnParade

Then and Now

Do you ever take photos of your kids somewhere and then take them again in the same place a year later, just to see how much time has flown?

 

Pic #1: Logan was 4 years, 3 months; Lila was 2 years, 10 months; and Scarlett was 1 year, 3 months.

Taken February 14, 2012

Taken February 14, 2012

 

Pic #2: One year and one month later: Logan is 5 years, 4 months; Lila is 3 years, 11 months; Scarlett is 2 years, 3 months.

Taken March 16, 2013

Taken March 16, 2013

What a difference a year makes!

Weight Loss, part 2: How I am Getting Rid of the Weight

In case you missed part one, you can find it here.

After seeing that photo (see previous post) and how much weight I had gained, I had the motivation I needed to begin losing weight. It started with the exciting high that comes with a new plan and I went all out. I exercised every day, for an hour or more first thing in the morning. I pushed myself hard, but at the end of January 2012, all I had to show for my hard work were some inches down. The scale hadn’t moved at all.

I'm always the one behind the camera so I don't have many of myself. This one is from Feb. 2012.

I’m always the one behind the camera so I don’t have many of myself. This one is from Feb. 2012.

Despite that I pushed on, each month striving to actually make the scale move, but it never moved more than a kilo, and that was either one up or down. While I did trim down a bit according to the measuring tape, the fat weight was still there. I fluctuated between 78 and 79 kgs. for the rest of the year.

By April discouragement set in and I began to wonder if I could ever lose the weight. One thing Glad kept telling me was that I was eating too much and needed to cut down, but I couldn’t see how. I was sure I’d be hungry all the time if I did that. Also, Scarlett was still nursing so I used that as an excuse to eat so much, even though I now see it wasn’t needed. (She was 17 months at the time.)

At Lila's third birthday - April 2012

At Lila’s third birthday – April 2012

I spent the rest of the year going up and down. Sometimes I’d work out, other times I’d skip it for a long time ’cause I was so tired in the mornings. The children’s sleep schedule was all over the place, so that made it hard for me to get enough sleep. At one point I got very sick and lost several kilos in a matter of days, but as soon as I was well again, I gained it all back.

I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but sometime around the end of October I saw a post on Facebook from the page Fit Moms for Life. I visited their page and the more I read, the more inspired I got. Everything they post is about how you CAN do it, the “it” being lose weight and get into shape.

I began looking forward to their daily photos and quotes, and those are what inspired me to get back into daily exercise. Those quotes gave me the motivation to just get out there and do what I could. So beginning on the 1st of November 2012, I recommitted to daily exercise. I didn’t yet have a plan of how to lose the weight; I just got out there and got back into the habit of getting the exercise.

I began with brisk walking and slowly got into jogging. I built it up slowly, literally by adding on 15 – 20 more seconds with each lap when I felt I could do more. It was a slow start, but it got me going, and I kept this up throughout November and December.  I usually gain extra weight in December due to all the yummy treats, but this time I didn’t because I was exercising. I also spent this time reading the Fit Mom’s for Life website, and I learned more about interval training and strength training.

Christmas Eve outing - 2012. How I looked after 2 months of consistent exercise but no diet change.

Christmas Eve outing – 2012.
How I looked after 2 months of consistent exercise but no diet change. (I know, bad sweater choice. I shouldn’t wear stripes – but they look great on Lila.)

January 1, 2013 - zoo outing in Mangalore with Glad's mom.

January 1, 2013 – zoo outing in Mangalore with Glad’s mom.

By January I began running instead of jogging, doing interval training 3 days a week and toning exercises on the other 3 days, with one day for rest. To make sure I was getting enough sleep (also important for weight loss) I took a daily nap when the kids did, since I was often only getting 6 hours of sleep at night, and that not solid. I recently made some changes to my and the kids’ schedules, and I am now getting closer to 7 hours of sleep at night and I only take a short (10 – 15 minute) nap on most days.

In February I changed my diet. I realized that I needed to make a solid change in my eating habits in order to really lose weight. So, hard as it was, I began reducing my plate size. I learned to tell when I felt full rather than eating until stuffed. I made my lunches salad and protein meals, and I cut out the excess starch I had been eating. I stopped buying “healthy” carbohydrate-loaded snacks (that only I ate) and replaced them with fruit. Over the past month I’ve been quite strict on myself with the amount of food I allow myself to have, and the results are showing.

I now can only eat smaller amounts at a time. If I overeat, I feel it. I’m uncomfortable once I pass the full stage, so now I don’t go there. I’ve also lost the intense desire for sweets that I used to have. I permit myself a weekly treat and find my body is satisfied with that instead of demanding it daily. I’ve also balanced out my meals/snacks and I make sure to not skip a snack if I feel the need for one. I used to skip snacks, thinking I’d lose more weight if I didn’t eat, but I’ve found out that the opposite is true – eating  small amounts regularly is better for your metabolism and will help you lose weight in the long run, so long as the food is healthy and not junk.

The payoff came when I went for my monthly weigh-in. At the beginning of Feb. I weighed 79.3 kgs. Now at the beginning of March I weigh 77.3 kgs. ! I did a happy dance inside when I saw that. Two whole kilos off in one month of changing my diet! That was the key for  me.

So now I am excited and I want to keep this up. I need support, so along with this post, I am posting a new page called My Fitness Journey where I will track my exercise and weight loss for as long as I need to. I’d love it if you could back me up, so encouraging comments are welcome! 🙂 I’ll also post photos ’cause I want to actually “see” the change as it happens. I don’t have any recent ones of myself so there isn’t anything current to show you, but I’ll get some just as soon as I can.

I just want to add a note here to Dustin and his team from Fit Moms for Life: If any of you are reading this, thank you. Your website and Facebook quotes are helping me in this weight loss journey. Having that kind of support has made all the difference for me. You guys are doing a great job! Readers, if you haven’t yet visited the Fit Moms for Life website, please go now. And don’t think that it isn’t for you just because you aren’t a mom. While Dustin’s focus is mothers, he is helping many others to get fit as well. So check it out if you need some inspiration, motivation, and support.

Weight Loss, part 1: How I Put on the Weight

Do you know what it is like to go from being a normal weight, to suddenly gaining a shocking amount, to spending years dealing with your weight going up and down, to being tired of it but not being able to lose it, to not knowing what to do, to finally getting a solution?

Up until puberty, I never had weight problems. I was an average-sized child of normal weight for my age and height. With the onset of puberty began my weight challenges. I suddenly started gaining weight overnight. My mom got concerned and forced me to do workout videos, and I’m sure they helped me stay healthy, since in my teens I sort of had an aversion to exercise. I much would have preferred sitting with books for hours.

As I got older and more concerned for my health (and wanting to be attractive), I made daily exercise a priority. While I wasn’t overweight, I did love food more than was good. I would often eat because I could, not because I needed to. In my early 20’s, I made a trip through the southern US with my family, living in a trailer for several months. We drove a lot, stayed in campgrounds, and often ate in truck stops. I was shocked when my clothes started getting tight.

Once we were home I went on a personal exercise binge and forced myself to work out for 1 1/2 hours a day, doing both cardio and toning exercises daily. I didn’t diet, but because we were no longer traveling, our meals became normal and thus I did eat less. It wasn’t long before I had lost the excess weight.

I was nanny to these adorable munchkins for almost 3 years

I was nanny to these adorable munchkins for almost 3 years.

Back when I still had a flat tummy...

Back when I still had a flat tummy…

After that I kept an eye on my weight and exercises religiously, up until I got pregnant with Logan. I had no idea what kind of exercise was safe for pregnancy, nor did I look into it, so pretty much overnight I went from daily exercise to no exercise. Once the morning sickness wore off and I was able to eat normally, I ate a lot, so much so that I put on too much weight too fast. At one point I gained 6 kilos in a month and even my doctor couldn’t believe it. Somewhere I had read that I needed to eat every 2 hours and also eat for 2, so you can imagine how much food I was packing away.

Six months pregnant with Logan.

Six months pregnant with Logan.

When Logan was born at 33 weeks, I weighed 90 kilos. My pre-pregnancy weight was somewhere around 70 kilos, so that was a gain of 20 kilos between conception and the 7th month of pregnancy. I even developed a problem with my left wrist due to the weight gain. (Thankfully it went away as my weight went down.)

Four days after Logan was born.

Four days after Logan was born.

Thus began my struggle to get back to a normal weight.

With two more pregnancies following Logan’s in rapid succession, my weight was all over the place. I’d go up and down, back and forth. With the girls, I gained weight more slowly, so while I gained the same amount as I did with Logan, I gained it over 9 months instead of 7. Also, I was able to get exercise during those pregnancies, mainly in the form of walks while pushing the stroller. But while I got more exercise, my problem was my diet.

About 6 months along with Scarlett. (Don't Logan and Lila look adorable?)

About 6 months along with Scarlett. (Don’t Logan and Lila look adorable?)

I enjoy food. I always have. Especially pasta. And chocolate. And all that time, I kept eating more than I should, simply because I was either pregnant or breastfeeding and I felt that my body needed it. I was never able to cut down, though Glad did point out that that was the problem.

When Scarlett was a year old, we went with some friends to a resort for a day, just to relax and swim. I fought with myself to get into a swimsuit that had fit and I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get it on. Once I saw the photos from that day, I was horrified with how I looked, and that is when I recommitted to exercise.

I'm embarrassed to show this, but this is the photo that did it for me, and gave me the kick to begin weight loss.

I’m embarrassed to show this, but this is the photo that did it for me, and gave me the kick to begin weight loss. (And I think I did eat that whole plate myself. Now I would eat maybe a third of that.)

To be continued…

It’s Almost Here!!

Wow, Christmas Day is almost upon us and I have yet to write anything about how we have been enjoying the Christmas season so far.

I like to decorate from the beginning of December, so around the first I pulled out our new tree. For the past 2 years we had a tiny tabletop tree, but I was ok with it as it was easy to keep the kids away from it and I didn’t have to worry about it being pulled down. This year someone gave us a bigger tree, about twice the size of the old one, that rotates and has fiber optic lights on the ends of each branch.

I set it up one morning while Logan and Lila were at school. Setting up the tree is my job and the only way to get it done undisturbed is when they are out or sleeping. First I had to figure out where to put it, since there is only one electrical outlet in the living room and the t.v. was planted squarely in front of it. Then I had to rearrange some furniture since I planned to put this cute electric train around the bottom, if I could find a spike buster that could handle different types of plugs together so that the tree, train, t.v. and set-top box could all be connected to the same outlet.

This train was given to us 2 years ago but I never used it because we only had the small tree and I also didn’t have a proper spike buster for it. It is not Indian-made so the plug doesn’t fit into the outlets here. I knew the kids would love it though, so once I was sure I could plug it in, I set it up around the kids’ plastic table. Then I added a white bed spread to resemble snowy mountains and put the tree on top of it.

                                                         The finished results.

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When they got in from school that morning their faces just lit up; they were so happy. They have named it the Polar Express, after the movie, of course. Lila especially was so happy to see it, as when I asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she requested a train. She saw some in some of the Christmas cartoons they have been watching and it was all she wanted. So she thinks it is hers. Ha. At least I don’t have to buy an expensive train set that they would break in a week. They aren’t really ready to care for a toy like that, so I’m happy this fulfilled her request.  

I hung out our stockings in the same place as last year. To keep them clean all year I wrapped each one separately in a plastic bag, and they looked great when I pulled them out.

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Something new I did was make a wreath for the front door out of old cards. I simply cut a cardstock ring, arranged the cards around it, then taped them in place. In the middle is a paper wreath Logan made at school last year that I had saved in the decoration box. The card on the bottom lights up when you push the button, so Logan spends lots of time pushing it.

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The kids have been enjoying some of their favorite Christmas movies again this year, eating my fruitcake, and going for outings to our local malls to see the decorations. Since only a small percentage of the population in India actually celebrate Christmas, the challenge is to find places that look Christmasy. Malls and 5 star hotels are the best places to go. Next week we will again go to the large modern mall that had a huge Christmas display. I’ve seen what they are setting up for this year and I think the kids will love it.

Memories Captured Linkup – December Edition

Scarlett is my youngest, and such a doll. She is almost always happy and cheerful; only when she is tired or not well does she fuss and cry. She loves helping daddy polish off his meals. She follows the other two around, trying to get into their games. She is happy when included and complains to me when they push her away.

Nov 013    Nov 059

She talks all the time now and has an amazing vocabulary for a 2 year old. The words I most love to hear her say right now are “tookie” (cookie), “nabit” (rabbit), “nap” (lap) and “tode” (cold). She tells Logan and Lila off if they bother her, wagging her little finger in their faces and shouting her reprimand. Twice recently she had a firm retort for some strangers who asked her for what she had in her hands. In one case it was a book she wanted and she said, “No, it mine!” In the other, she was holding a jute shopping bag for me, and when one of the shopkeepers tried to take it from her she shouted, “No, dat mommys!” Ha.

Nov 022     Nov 090

She loves having her picture taken. And drawing with my pen. And going for walks. And watching “Minnie Dactous” (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse). She is the one who will snuggle and say “I love you” with such gentleness, and then lick my cheek because she thinks it’s funny that Logan does it. She climbs into my bed at least once a night, then tries to sprawl, kicking Glad and I in the stomach (or worse) until I wake up enough to move her back to her bed so we can be comfortable.

 Nov 010            Nov 042

Scarlett is a cuddlebug, always wanting to be carried or sit on my lap. “I sit you nap,” she says each evening at storytime. Then if Logan or Lila try to get in she says “No, I sit mommys nap.” She loves the color pink. She points it out everywhere and wants to wear it all the time. She loves to announce whenever she burps or farts (courtesy of Logan’s training), and is the only one who has stepped on daddy’s sensitive parts more times than he can count.

She recently celebrated her second birthday. I don’t want her to grow up because I don’t want this cuteness to go away.                                                                                                                                                                                                      Nov 063

  

Today I am linking up with These Little Waves for the monthly Memories Captured meme.

Beach Outing and Nana’s Birthday

Ok, time to update you all on our doings. Time has not been on my side as far as being able to sit and write. My morning priority has been exercise, but in order to get it, I have to get up at 6 every morning. By the time the kids are off to school, house is clean, and any other stuff is taken care of, it is time to make lunch, feed and nap the kids, and I’m ready for a nap myself.

Afternoons are full of playground outings, cooking, cleaning new messes, disciplining (by far the most stressful part), baths and homework. By the time the kids are in bed I’m ready for bed myself. I think it’s time to evaluate my schedule and see how to work in some writing time every day so it doesn’t pile up on me. I’m looking into what I need to do to make the switch from writing as a hobby to making it my profession, ie. get paid for it.

Until then, whenever “then” may be, here is today’s post.

Ok, so Glad’s mom was with us from the 10th to the 26th. Because of our move, and knowing that once we go it will be a long time before she sees us again, Glad arranged for her to be here during the kids’ and her birthdays. We also plan to visit her for Christmas, and we will most likely stay with her a while before we make our final move.

Anyway, the 21st was her birthday and my kids were excited. They knew it would equal more cake (which they can never turn down) and they hoped for other fun. They have yet to figure out that adults aren’t as into birthday parties as kids are. Logan and Lila had decided that Nana was turning 3 years old and that she needed a number 3 candle on her cake. Ha.

I made our favorite chocolate cake (if you haven’t tried this recipe, you have to) but I only made a third of it since I wanted a small cake. Fewer leftovers mean less temptation and a smaller waistline for me, if you catch my drift.

That afternoon we went to the famous Marina Beach. Despite its popularity, we have never gone there before, mainly because it is normally qute crowded and swimming is not allowed due to dangerous undercurrents. Drownings are reported in the local paper almost weekly. Being a weekday afternoon, the part we went to was rather empty.

While Logan kept badgering us to let him in the water, Lila was freaking out from the strong wind and the sand hitting her legs and she wanted to leave right away. Scarlett seemed to enjoy it, and she had her first horse ride.

We didn’t stay long, less than an hour, but at least some of us enjoyed it. I convinced Lila to collect some shells that littered the sand, and we plan to make something with them.

Click here to get more photos of the afternoon and Nana’s birthday.

The last 2 days Nana was here, Scarlett warmed up to her and started talking to her all day long, wearas in the beginning she was scared and wouldn’t go near her. I think Scarlett will enjoy visiting her at Christmas, though I am not looking forward to the train trip. More on that another time.

Fruitcake Recipe Miscalculation Adventure

This year I had a near-disaster with my Christmas fruitcakes: I ended up with too much batter due to a mental lapse and miscalculation. The story itself is quite funny.
 
I had finally put together my perfect fruitcake recipe. I tested it and everyone liked it so I prepared to make a larger batch to cover all my cakes at once. I only have a small oven, so of course, the pans are small (7″). My recipe makes enough for two of these pans or one larger pan – but that is what I forgot about when I began to calculate the ingredients I would need for 6 cakes – the amount I meant to make.
 
So instead of multiplying the recipe by 3, I did it by 6, meaning I would get 12 cakes out of it with the size pans I was using. Even when buying the ingredients, it didn’t register that 3 kgs. each of fruit and flour and 24 eggs was more than I meant to use.
 
I dug out my biggest pots to mix it all in. One was already full of the fruit I had presoaked in rum, and by the time I had mixed in enough flour to coat it all, the pot was overflowing.
 

I mixed the dry ingredents in another pot and the wet ones in a third pot.

 

As you can see, each of the pots were full up and it wasn’t going to be possible to mix everything together in one pot. I think it was around there that I realised my mistake, but there was no going back now that I had begun.

I began to think hard about how I could put it all together. The only item in the house large enough to mix everything in was the shower bucket. Before you freak out and think “gross”, I scrubbed it with Lysol and then washed it with dishsoap, so it was very clean (on the inside) when I used it. And yes, I had to mix it with my hand as it was a thick batter, just the way a fruitcake batter should be, but in the largest quantity I had ever seen. I hadn’t planned on mass producing cakes.

 
As I stood there elbow-deep in fruitcake batter, all I could do was laugh and make sure I got pictures of the whole thing. Once it was mixed, I was able to transfer it into the pots again and get the bucket back to its rightful place in the bathroom.
 
 

It took me two days to bake all 12 cakes and I’ve ended up with more than I planned on, but maybe I will end up needing them. At least half will be given away to friends and taken to school by the kids but the rest are for us. Maybe I should save some of them for next year.

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