Sunday, May 25, 2014

Batch of links

- The Engineer and I are preparing to spend the summer in Montreal again. The dating profiles of every Montreal man, however, took me home while I was still sitting in Texas. I also enjoyed 20 things you never knew about Montreal.

- Here are 9 French expressions that have no good English equivalent.

- I loved this article called The Overprotected Kid, about the evolution of parenting attitudes since the 1970s. Playgrounds in particular are much safer, but this denies children the opportunity to take risks and develop independence. I’m on the fence about this, because while I wouldn’t send my kid to the playground by himself, I would want him playing in a yard like The Land, described in the article…

- Here are two articles about how we don’t teach children to clean house anymore. It’s true that I don’t actually know anyone who still washes their walls and floors every spring. Young adults today sometimes never learned things like the importance of cleaning from top to bottom or soaking dishes, but they also place cleaning lower on the priority totem pole than surfing the web or catching up on their TV shows. Thank God for visitors, which always make us clean at least the part of the house they’ll see!

- What it’s like to be a billionaire’s butler, strangely fascinating.

- A look at the story behind #YesAllWomen.

- I meant to link to this sooner and never got around to it… Here’s an article titled Children should be seen, not heard, where the author basically argues that children shouldn’t be so present in museums (as visitors). While I can agree that children should be taught to behave properly in such spaces (using their indoor voice, being mindful of other visitors, etc.), and while I also resent the “dumbing down” of certain exhibits to the point where visitors are not given enough information about the pieces (as was the case the last time I visited the Insectarium in Montreal), I have to say I overall disagree with the author. Children belong in museums because they deserve to learn, to see various cultural artefacts firsthand. I enjoyed this rebuttal by Alana Cole-Faber. An excerpt: “Yes, children are often noisy in museums. Yes, sometimes they run when they should walk. Yes, sometimes they touch when they should not. However, children are brought to museums for their education, and this education includes more than simply who made what and when. Bringing children to museums teaches them that these institutions have value, that what is inside them has value, and that the people who work there have value.”

- Toronto’s mayor has been in the news entirely too much lately, but I have to say I’m really liking Clagary’s mayor.

- The science of why we don’t believe science – this is a long read, but very enjoyable. Of course, when the Engineer shared it with his friends, it devolved into an argument not about the premise of the article itself, but about the extent of climate change specifically. Sigh.

- I talked about the subject of “alternative” medicine with my husband recently, after reading a Time article about the inclusion of herbal therapy at the Cleveland Clinic. (I thought this was fantastic, mostly since I think herbal supplements should be regulated like prescription medication, just because of all the ways the two can interact and because patients are often unaware of this and therefore don’t mention herbal supplements to their doctors or pharmacists. I love the idea of integrating it all into one system, also weeding out ineffective meds/herbs.) But anyway, here’s an article titled How Big Pharma Holds Back the War on Cancer. It isn’t a conspiracy theory, just an explanation as to why it is not always economically feasible to sink a lot of money in clinical trials if there isn’t likely to be a financial payoff even if the drug DOES work.

- There are also many things that doctors don’t know about the drugs they prescribe because of all the studies that are never published.

- And while we’re at it, a very informative article titled Cannabis, cannabinoids and cancer – the evidence so far.

- The drug valproate, used to treat epilepsy and mood disorders, has an interesting side effect: it helps adults acquire perfect pitch or learn a new language with fluency, just like children do naturally.

- A musician has assigned a numerical value to musical notes and plays the number pi.

- Which hip-hop artist has the largest vocabulary? Aesop Rock, apparently. And Axl Rose has the greatest range.

- The Lonely Subtitle: Here’s Why U.S. Audiences Are Abandoning Foreign-Language Films. Sadly, I’m all too familiar with this.

- A man went in search of a set of keys his grandfather left in a POW camp during WW2.

- We often don’t notice the homeless. Or at least, we don’t look at them. We don’t even notice if they are family (and I admit I probably wouldn’t have fared better in that experiment).

- And to end on a high note: 22 before and after pictures of animals, along with two kids who have taken a picture with Santa for the past 34 years. You’re welcome.

Beehive hat, and a variation on a theme

I recently made two hats for a friend of mine (both his daughters, who are about my age, are expecting). I wanted to knit hats for those babies, and I settled on the Beehive Beanie from TwoAndSix. Although joining in the round can be frustrating with such a small circumference, it’s an easy pattern to make, and I do like hats knit in the round! I made a white one with Madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK Yarn in Antler, and a slightly smaller one (skipping 8 rows at the base) with leftover green yarn.

I like that this hat is stretchy, and can be worn all hipster-chic with bangs sticking out in front, or pulled all the way down to the eyebrows for colder days. (Also, can we take a moment to appreciate the awesome onesie?)

I’ve also discovered I’m pretty clueless when it comes to knitting patterns, still. I know that I can use different yarn than suggested (I usually do), but it amazes me how many times lately I’ve failed to recognize a garment made from a pattern I know just because the colors are different! I seem to have a better eye for sewing patterns, even though I’ve made way fewer… Anyway, enter this beautiful piece that I really wanted to make. It’s based on this lovely garter yoke baby cardi that I knit once already, but for some reason I was really surprised when I realized that. Colors really do make a difference! I started by making it with similar colors, a variegated turquoise and a white, but I was unhappy with the effect. So I started over with the same yarns as the model: Canadian company Tanis Fiber Arts’ Yellow Label DK Weight in Deep Sea and Frost. I used the Yellow Label for both colors, as there was no handspun yarn with which to make the garter stitch, but I love the result! The Engineer agrees that it’s one of the nicest cardigans I’ve made. I didn’t bother crocheting a line of Frost at the edges. I found the blue buttons on Etsy. I also threw in a stretchy rib-stitch hat with leftover yarn. This is for the Legal Chef’s and E.’s baby, due in two months.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Batch of links - Relatively current events

- I’ve talked before about algae being used to make biofuel. But did you know it can now be used to make crude oil – in less than 1 hour?

- Snapchat had to settle charges because its photos don’t actually disappear, which makes you wonder what the point of the app is.

- Well sh*t, it turns our swearing is good for you.

- Baby boomers are redefining grandparenting. And on that topic, am I the only one who’s offended that Hillary Clinton’s capacity to be President someday was questioned because she would be a grandmother? I mean, we’ve had Presidents with grandkids before, and this has never been an issue. No one ever asked a male head of state about his grandkids! Juggling kids and a career isn’t enough, now we have to worry about grandkids, too?

- Eight things every white person should know about white privilege. (And on a somewhat related note: Disney princesses reimagined as different ethnicities.)

- I talk about abortion often, because as a French Canadian, it’s not even fathomable to me to have what I consider a basic right threatened or revoked. But in the States, it seems that if we’re not careful, that’s the direction in which we’re headed. Of course, there are many safety nets that should be set up to help prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place – perhaps the universal health care system in Canada plays into that. I just read an article with the staggering statistic that nearly 1 in 3 pregnancies in Detroit ends in abortion these days (triple the rate in the rest of Michigan), mostly because of poverty. I believe that people should be better educated about sex, of course, but they should also have access to inexpensive contraceptives, because the alternative can only make the abortion rate increase. So it seems obvious to me that the way to reduce the number of abortions is not by creating anti-abortion laws.

In fact, the GOP’s anti-abortion laws are backfiring and actually causing more abortions after 20 weeks (which is another thing the GOP opposes). Texas is often in the news because of this, but the problem is also present in the northern part of the country, where there is now a 1,200-mile abortion-free zone! And just like Texas, Louisiana is forcing some clinics to close by requiring doctors to have admitting privileges in nearby hospitals. South Carolina even tried to expand stand-your-ground laws to fetuses, for God’s sake! Luckily, the North Dakota law banning abortion as early as 6 weeks (or, really, 4 weeks since ovulation) has been overturned.

- And again, to end on a high note: San Antonio’s mayor, Julián Castro, has been nominated as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development by the Obama administration today. I very much like him as mayor, as I feel he’s done a lot of good for the city (involving the community in deciding San Antonio’s future, helping youth access higher education, revitalizing downtown, remaining accessible to his constituents, etc.). So we’ll miss him, but I think he will do a lot of good in Washington, and would probably be an awesome vice-presidential nominee in 2016.

Blueberry Coconut Baked Oatmeal

I made this recipe to finish my steel-cut oatmeal, and it turned out to be one of my favorite oatmeal recipes ever! I did change a few things, mainly using brown sugar instead of Stevia (which I dislike). I also didn’t have enough blueberries to make blueberry sauce or to top the dish, but I don’t think it’s essential – as long as you have enough blueberries baked in. The dish is vegan, too, but the coconut milk makes it very creamy, and it smells just heavenly.

For the oatmeal
1 ½ cups steel-cut oats
¼ cup brown sugar (a bit more would be fine if you don’t really have a topping)
¼ cup unsweetened dried blueberries
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes or grated coconut
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. fine sea salt
1 dash vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)
4 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or your non-dairy milk of choice)
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 ½ cups fresh blueberries (frozen are OK too; no need to thaw them)

For the blueberry sauce
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

For the oatmeal
Preheat oven to 350 °F with the rack in the center. Lightly coat a 13x9x2" baking dish with cooking spray.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. (I confess that I used 1 can of coconut milk, then topped it up with almond milk to make 2 cups, in addition to the 4 cups of almond milk. No sense in opening a fresh can of coconut milk to use only a little of it, right?)

Bake for 60 minutes. The oatmeal will appear not done when you take it out of the oven. Remove from the oven and let it cool to room temperature. Then put it in your refrigerator overnight for best results. It will thicken nicely in there. You may prefer to reheat it before serving it.

For the blueberry sauce
Heat the blueberries with a splash of water over medium high heat. When you hear them sizzle, reduce heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes until saucy. Mash the blueberries against the side of the pan with a spatula.

Serve oatmeal with some blueberry sauce. You can also top it with coconut flakes, extra blueberries, or vegan whipped cream

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Batch of links - The food version

- I can’t believe I haven’t posted this already. Here’s an article where the author basically says that she doesn’t want to cater to other children’s food allergies when bringing treats to the classroom for her child’s birthday. I can agree on two of the points she makes: 1) it sucks to have to take into consideration theoretical food restrictions (for example, “No one in my son’s class has celiac disease, but I still have to bring gluten-free treats”), and 2) it isn’t always desirable or feasible to buy allergen-free treats (as most schools won’t let you make them in your own kitchen, for fear of cross-contamination). However, I completely disagree with giving allergic kids allergen-laden treats and just hoping they don’t touch anything! A rebuttal article can be found here. To me, though, the real problem is that schools these days basically make the treats mandatory. As in, if it’s your kid’s birthday, you HAVE to bring something for all his classmates. THAT’s the insanity! Whatever happened to learning things in school, and having a birthday party on your own time on the weekends? The Bloggess remedied that situation by bringing books instead of cupcakes for her daughter’s birthday. (And while we’re at it, watch out for hidden allergens in everyday products.)

- What is the difference between natural and artificial flavors? Very informative.

- Also, stop describing your diet as “clean eating”. I see this more on Pinterest than anywhere else, and it really bugs me!

- You know how sometimes you have something going in the oven, and maybe other things on two different burners, but only one kitchen timer? Enter Thyme, an app that lets you set separate timers for various things simultaneously. (It’s $0.99 on iTunes, but seems to be free on Android.)

- This describes my friend the Legal Chef to a T.

- What ridiculous food day is your birthday?

- Here’s a very interesting article about a new food substitute called – what else? – Soylent. This isn’t a meal replacement, it’s really something that is meant to replace food. My initial reaction was, What a great way to take the fun out of eating! And out of life, while we’re at it. Upon reflecting further, though, I do see that this really inexpensive solution could be very useful in certain situations like refugee camps, famine-stricken regions, military rations, and it could even be beneficial to people who can’t afford to eat properly or who are too busy to do so. (As the creator says, this isn’t meant to replace your Sunday dinner, just your frozen quesadillas.) But if implemented on a large scale, it might eventually give way to an uncomfortable situation where only the wealthy truly eat…

- 10 foods that might be in short supply this year, and what you can use instead of lime (the ingredient people talk about most in this context).

- Research has found that the reason chocolate is good for our health may be because of flavonols that are indigestible.

- The 10 worst online reviews of the 10 best restaurants in the world. Because they can’t all be good all the time.

- Did you know there’s a small restaurant in Chicago that produces no trash?

- How your ancestors’ farms influenced your thinking - it turns out there is some truth to the stereotype that rice farming encourages collective thinking, while wheat farming encourages individualism.

- Vermont could become the first state to label GMOs.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Batch of links - The gluten-free version

- 8 things I’ve learned about cooking without gluten, dairy, nuts and sugar, by The Kitchn’s Emily Ho.

- The best gluten-free pastas, according to Bon Appétit.

- If you have access to America’s Test Kitchen’s online cooking school, there’s a great course on how gluten-free baking works.

- The gluten-free flour replacement tool, which you can use to figure out what flour mix to use to replace wheat flour in your favorite recipe, depending on the results you are expecting.

- They’re making gluten-free flour from coffee, now! It’s made from the pulp of the coffee cherry, not from roasted coffee beans, so it tastes more neutral than you would think.

- I’m sure by now you’ve seen the video of Jimmy Kimmel making fun of people who say they avoid gluten but don’t actually know what gluten is. And, you know, it is somewhat funny when we’re talking about people who do it for no good reason. This isn’t news. The problem is that videos like this do a great disservice to people who have actual, diagnosable, medical conditions that can only be managed by avoiding gluten. (Jimmy Kimmel does acknowledge them briefly, but only to say that those people annoy him.) So I wanted to share Gluten-Free Girl’s thoughts on this, because celiac disease is no laughing matter. (Plus, when restaurateurs don’t take gluten intolerance seriously, they can really make people sick.)

- And while we’re at it, I probably can’t blame the general population for being this uninformed when the Wheat Council tells nutritionists that gluten intolerance is just a fad – at the annual conference of the California Dietetic Association, which was catered by McDonald’s (incidentally, one of the least celiac-friendly fast-food joints there is, as opposed to In-and-Out, for example). Do I need to explain how many levels of wrong that is?

- I mentioned before that non-celiac gluten sensitivity may in fact be a disease caused by exposure to various wheat proteins. There’s now more evidence, and it turns out that what we call non-celiac gluten sensitivity may actually be a reaction to FODMAPs, which are short-chain carbohydrates found in wheat as well as lactose, fructose and beans, among others.

- And an interesting article about professional bakers who must cope with gluten intolerance or wheat allergies.

Liens de la semaine

- L’Ingénieur et moi préparons notre été à Montréal, et quelle n’a pas été ma joie que de voir que les brunchs au Pied de Cochon sont de retour! Je me promets bien d’y aller une fois cet été.

- Puis bon, maintenant que le PQ n’est plus au pouvoir, on ne peut qu’espérer que la Charte de la laïcité subisse le même sort que celle de la langue française… À ce sujet, j’avais beaucoup aimé les textes de Louise Arbour et de Boucar Diouf, ainsi que celui sur le blogue Montée de lait.

- Je suis heureuse de voir de plus en plus d’épiceries et commerces spécialisés sans allergènes au Québec. Il y a la boutique Solutions, à Québec, qui offre des produits sans gluten et sans allergène, avec possibilité de commander en ligne.
À Montréal, il y a la nouvelle pâtisserie Petit Lapin, également sans gluten et sans allergènes, qui offre des petits gâteaux, des macarons, des choux à la crème, etc. Ça me donne le goût d’aller y faire un tour!
Également à Montréal, il y a un projet de financement pour Antidote Superalimentation, une épicerie végétalienne avec bar à jus et à smoothies.

- Avez-vous entendu parler de No Shows Montreal, le fil Twitter dénonçant les clients qui ne se donnent pas la peine d’annuler leurs réservations de restaurant? Le problème ne date pas d’hier, et bien que je sois d’accord pour dire que les gens devraient avoir plus de savoir-vivre, j’ignore à quel point cela va être efficace…

- Un bon article de Véronique Grenier, que j’aime beaucoup pour son blogue.

- J’ai une chanson de Passe-Partout dans la tête, ce qui me fait penser : savez-vous ce qui arrive quand on mélange Passe-Partout, les Beatles et les Chemical Brothers? Ça.

- J’ai parlé des mères au foyer récemment, mais je voulais ajouter un article en français : Un nouveau combat pour les femmes. Et aussi Plein la tête, Le bonheur d’être six fois maman et La vie de parent, c’est aussi plate et ordinaire.

- Il paraît que les gens au Québec parlent beaucoup de Joël Legendre et de son conjoint, qui vont avoir des jumelles grâce à une mère porteuse. J’ai été étonnée d’apprendre dans l’entrevue à Tout le monde en parle que seulement 6 couples homosexuels se sont prévalus de cette option depuis que la RAMQ paie les traitements de fertilité… Je suis également bouche-bée qu’on vive encore dans une société où il se trouve des gens avec l’esprit assez fermé pour critiquer le fait qu’un couple gai veuille un enfant (c’est pourquoi je ne donnerai aucun lien vers ces articles). Les seules critiques qui me semblent valables sont celles exposées par Alain Dubuc. Bon, c’est vrai qu’avec un système de santé déjà dans le rouge, ajouter des services n’est pas nécessairement une bonne idée. Mais ça a fait chuter les prix (pour un cycle de FIV, on parle maintenant de 4 000 $, couverts par la RAMQ, alors qu’avant c’était 15 000 $ au privé), ça permet à davantage couples d’avoir accès à ces traitements et ça donne une option notamment aux couples pour qui l’adoption n’est pas possible. J’ai moi-même eu des problèmes de fertilité, alors on ne me verra sûrement pas critiquer l’État-providence, même si je n’y habite plus!

- Voici un article très intéressant, Des médecins dépassés par l’enfance, au sujet de l’augmentation importante du taux de troubles (autisme, TDAH, etc.) diagnostiqués aux enfants, sans pourtant que les enfants soient plus malades qu’avant…

- La Fabrique éthique propose Porter le changement, une nouvelle publication sur la mode éthique au Québec (où figure d’ailleurs Rien ne se perd, tout se crée…).

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Coriander Roasted Chicken with Chickpea and Avocado Salad

I promised you a savory meal, and here it is. The recipe is from Real Simple. To tell you the truth, it’s similar to things I’ve already made (probably from that magazine, even), but it was really good, so I think it’s worth sharing. I suggest doubling the amount of chickpea salad, as we found it wasn’t enough for 4 servings. Note that I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts and did not weigh them. Doesn’t that golden chicken look delicious?

¼ cup olive oil, divided
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (about 4 lbs. total)
1 tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. ground coriander
kosher salt and black pepper
1 15.5-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed
1 avocado, chopped
1 shallot, thinly sliced
½ English cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar

Heat oven to 450 °F.

Heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with the turmeric, coriander, ½ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper. Cook, skin-side down, until the skin is golden brown and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes.

Turn the chicken skin-side up and transfer the pan to oven. Cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the thickest breast (avoiding the bone) registers 165 °F, 22 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the chickpeas, avocado, shallot, cucumber, mint, vinegar, the remaining 2 Tbsp. of oil, ½ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper in a medium bowl.

Serve the salad alongside the chicken.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Lemon Buttermilk Pie with Saffron

And here’s another dessert – I swear I’ll throw in a savory dish soon! I got the recipe in Bon Appétit. I knew the Engineer would like the saffron in here, and I was looking forward to a pie that was more custardy than lemony. About the buttermilk: real buttermilk isn’t lactose-free, so I used reduced-fat lactose-free milk instead, reasoning that the pie has enough lemon juice to compensate for the substitution. It’s not as tangy as the real thing, but what you have to keep in mind is this: the buttermilk that you’d find in most grocery stores isn’t the real thing either! Grocery stores usually sell milk that has been mixed with an acidic agent to have the pH of buttermilk (and this is what I do at home to substitute). Real buttermilk could probably be found at some natural food stores or farmers’ markets, though again, it isn’t lactose-free. I loved my version of the pie, though! It wowed me with its pillowy, custardy, lemony filling with undertones of saffron. It was a hit with the Engineer as well!

For the buttermilk pie dough
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
¼ cup buttermilk (or lactose-free milk with a splash of lemon juice)

For the filling and assembly
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour, plus more
6 large egg yolks
3 large eggs
1¼ cups buttermilk (or just lactose-free milk, see above)
1¼ cups sugar
1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp. kosher salt
pinch of saffron threads
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine, melted, cooled slightly
whipped Kineret (optional, for serving)

For the buttermilk pie dough
Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.

Transfer to a large bowl (I confess I kept using the food processor here) and add buttermilk. Mix with a fork, adding more buttermilk by the tablespoon if needed, just until a shaggy dough comes together; knead very lightly until no dry spots remain. Pat into a disk and wrap in plastic. Chill at least 4 hours.

For the filling and assembly
Preheat oven to 325 °F. Roll out pie dough on a lightly floured surface to a 14” round. Transfer to a 9” pie dish, allowing dough to slump down into dish. Trim dough, leaving about 1” overhang. Fold overhang under and crimp edge. Prick bottom all over with a fork. Freeze 15 minutes.

Line crust with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Place pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is dry around the edge, 20–25 minutes. Remove parchment and weights; bake until surface looks dry, 10–12 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, blend egg yolks, eggs, buttermilk, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and saffron in a blender until smooth. With motor running, add 2 Tbsp. flour, then butter. Tap blender jar against countertop to burst any air bubbles in filling and pour into warm crust.

Bake pie, rotating halfway through and covering edges with foil if they brown too much before filling is done, until filling is set around edge but center jiggles slightly, 55–65 minutes. (Mine baked for 60 minutes, with protection on the edges the whole time.) Transfer pie dish to a wire rack and let pie cool. Serve pie with whipped Kineret, if desired.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Strawberries and "Cream" Chia Pudding

My first experience with a chia pudding really wasn’t that great. It was a chocolate chia pudding that I tried twice (the first time following the recipe, the second time trying to improve it), and neither made it to my blog or my recipe folder. This recipe from The Kitchn, however, is a keeper. I made it vegan by using maple syrup instead of honey, and it worked out perfectly. I could have sworn it had dairy, probably thanks to the tang of the lime zest mixed with the coconut milk. I thought it was almost halfway between yogurt and soft ice cream, while the Engineer said that something about it reminded him of orange juleps… In any case, it’s an exceedingly easy dessert to make and is delicious to boot, so I’ll definitely be making it again!

1 lb. fresh strawberries, hulled
1 ½ cups (or one 13½-oz. can) coconut milk
6 Tbsp. maple syrup (or ¼ cup honey, or to taste)
1 vanilla bean, scraped (I used vanilla bean paste, because I’m lazy)
¾ teaspoon finely grated lime zest
½ cup chia seeds

Place the strawberries, coconut milk, syrup, vanilla, and lime zest in a blender and blend until smooth. Taste and add more honey if desired.

Place the chia seeds in a large bowl, pour the strawberry mixture on top, and whisk thoroughly. Let stand for 10 minutes and whisk again.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days (the pudding thickens as time goes by). I let it set directly into individual bowls, but you can put it in a big bowl and stir it again before spooning it into individual bowls for serving. If you find it too thick, you can whisk it with a little water (or coconut water), though that didn’t even cross my mind. You can serve it plain or garnish it with a vegan whipped topping, extra strawberries or lime zest, or mint leaves.

Bringing Up Bébé

This post has been on my computer for a while and I just now realize I never got around to hitting “publish”… Oops! Better late than never, though, and Mother’s Day seems like as good a time as any.

I’ve been interested in how different cultures approach child-rearing. I’m keenly aware that Americans, in particular, seem to value “cognitive development” above all else – you can read this article for more on the subject. Which leads me to how the French raise their children.

The latest parenting book I’ve read is Bringing Up Bébé, by Pamela Druckerman (the link goes to my Amazon store). It’s a book written by an American who is raising her children in France and who couldn’t help but notice cultural differences in the attitudes towards parenting on either side of the Atlantic. In a nutshell, and to generalize, French children are better behaved, sleep through the night earlier, and are less picky eaters, while French parents are more relaxed than American parents. The author goes on to give numerous examples and to explain how the French raise their kids.

It’s not all generalizations, though. There are many citations by experts like Françoise Dolto (whose works I have to admit I’m surprised haven’t been translated into English) and even scientific studies, such as one I would have liked to be aware of before the birth of the Little Prince: Teresa Pinella and Leann L. Birch, “Help Me Make It Through the night: Behavioral Entrainment of Breast-Fed Infants’ Sleep Patterns”, Pediatrics 91, 2 (1993):436-43. Scientists running this study basically had a method thanks to which 100% of the infants in the treatment group slept through the night at 8 weeks (versus 23% of infants in the control group). While French parents don’t deliberately do things the scientific way, it seems that this approach is the one that is most matter-of-fact in France. It basically involves making sure the baby is fully awake before intervening, and gently teaching him to sleep through the night instead of responding by feeding him at the first noise he makes. (You can read more about it at the link, or in Druckerman’s book.)

That being said, French parents are also much less likely than Americans to research parenting. In America, there are parenting books everywhere you look, and every family seems to have its own way of doing things. Parents study these books almost like they’re going to be evaluated on how much preparation they’ve done before having kids. In France, there isn’t even a word for “parenting” (one simply raises/educates one’s children), and most of the country seems to agree on how things should be done. For example, children are usually taught to wait (like waiting for their mother to finish a conversation on the phone before interrupting), they are given a wide variety of foods (as opposed to rice cereal, or chicken nuggets while the adults eat real food), and they are treated more like small adults (they are included in conversations at the dinner table and are taught to say hello and goodbye with the same insistence as are taught to say please and thank you). French parents also don’t devote as many hours of one-on-one care to their children as American parents do, they don’t rearrange their lives around their children, and they feel less guilt about it, too. Overall, French parents are more relaxed about raising children.

Much of this rang true to me. I don’t think it’s really because of Quebec’s position, both geographically and culturally, between France and America. I think it’s mostly because I was educated in the French system myself (I went to the lycée and many of my friends were French). Plus, up until a few years ago, every young child in my social circle had a French parent. So this book was, in many ways, common sense, a reminder of things I already knew to be true, but felt like I had lost among all the parenting theories. Not that it’s not compatible with concepts such as positive parenting or attachment parenting, but to me, OF COURSE you’re supposed to speak to your baby as if he understands and treat him with the same respect you show any other person, OF COURSE you’re supposed to let him experience the world and help him interact with people, OF COURSE you have to teach him patience. There were also some surprises for me in the American way of doing things: Druckerman was practically bowled over see that French mothers allow sweets every day, including dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate “even” for the kids (as in pain au chocolat, for example), and that baking a cake in the afternoon doesn’t necessarily mean eating the cake that same afternoon, but rather saving it for dessert later. Um, you mean that isn’t what everyone does?

Overall, though, I really enjoyed reading this book. Even if a lot of it was things I already knew, it was good to have a reminder and to have a contrast with the American way(s) of doing things.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Muffins à la farine de châtaigne et aux pépites de chocolat

Je sais, vous allez me dire que ça fait longtemps que je ne publie que des recettes de dessert et de déjeuner. Ce n’est pas que je ne mange que ça, mais c’est que mes recettes de souper récemment étaient peu remarquables. Il y a eu une tourte au lapin et aux légumes, que j’ai adaptée avec du poulet à la place du lapin. Bon, le premier problème, c’est que la garniture était beaucoup, beaucoup trop liquide – c’était quasiment une tourte à la soupe, mon affaire, alors que j’avais moins de bouillon que demandé! J’ai drainé la garniture dans une passoire pour refaire une deuxième tourte. D’où l’autre problème, en fait : il y avait assez de garniture pour au moins deux tourtes, mais la recette n’en disait rien. Bon, on en a eu pour quelques jours, et j’ai fait de la purée pour le Petit Prince avec une partie de la garniture – il a adoré.

La semaine suivante, j’ai fait un plat de tofu et légumes au cari (et ça aussi, le Petit Prince a aimé!), mais c’était correct, sans plus. En fait, je pense avoir découvert que l’Ingénieur n’aime pas le tofu cuit au four, seulement le tofu cuit à la poêle, et encore là, ça dépend. Alors bon, pas de billet pour ça. Même chose pour le filet de porc avec relish aux dates et à la coriandre avec ses patates rôties à l’ail et au parmesan.

Ensuite, j’ai voulu utiliser mon reste de farine de châtaigne. J’ai commencé par un clafoutis aux cerises. Je l’ai trouvé moyen, mais puisqu’il différait des autres non seulement par la farine, mais aussi par le fait que les œufs sont séparés et qu’il contient du yogourt, j’ai essayé ma recette habituelle avec la farine de châtaigne. Ça fait un clafoutis sans gluten, mais je suis sûre qu’il y a de meilleures options! Me voici donc arrivée à la recette de muffins châtaigne et chocolat de Christelle is Flabbergasting. Et celle-là, elle vaut la peine! J’adore les muffins maison pour déjeuner, et ceux-là ne m’ont pas déçue. Allez, à vos fourneaux!

1 tasse (115 g.) de farine de châtaigne
2 tasses (230 g.) de farine tout-usage (j’ai pris de la farine de blé blond)
1 tasse (200 g.) de sucre
4 c. à thé de poudre à pâte (ou 1 sachet de levure)
1 pincée de sel
2 tasses (1 paquet) de pépites de chocolat
2 œufs
2 tasses de lait sans lactose
2/3 tasse de beurre fondu (j’ai pris moitié margarine et moitié beurre; de l’huile végétale ferait aussi)

Préchauffer le four à 375 °F. Graisser un moule à muffins (la recette était censée donner 12 muffins, mais j’en ai eu 17).

Dans un grand bol, mélanger la farine de châtaigne, la farine tout-usage, le sucre, la poudre à pâte et le sel. Ajouter les pépites de chocolat. Réserver.

Dans un autre bol, battre les œufs au fouet. Ajouter le lait et le beurre fondu et bien mélanger.

Incorporer le mélange liquide aux ingrédients secs et mélanger jusqu’à ce que la préparation soit homogène.

Verser dans le moule à muffins et cuire 20 minutes ou jusqu’à ce qu’un cure-dent inséré au centre d’un muffin ressorte propre et sec. Laisser refroidir avant de démouler.

Rose Water Shortbread Cookies

I got this recipe from Bon Appétit and adapted it by using vegan margarine instead of butter. In something like this, it affects the consistency and taste more than in the average recipe, but these cookies are still really good! I just love rose water in anything. These cookies are delicate and would be a great accompaniment to tea (especially mint tea). Plus, they happen to be gluten-free. Enjoy!

½ tsp. ground cardamom
1 ½ cups white rice flour, plus more for rolling
¾ cup powdered sugar
½ cup (1 stick) cold vegan margarine (or unsalted butter at room temperature)
1 large egg
1 tsp. rose water
1 tsp. poppy seeds

Whisk cardamom and 1 ½ cups flour in a medium bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar and margarine in a medium bowl until smooth. Add egg and rose water and beat to blend.

Reduce mixer to low speed; gradually mix in dry ingredients (dough will be stiff). Cover and chill at least 6 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 300 °F. Scoop level tablespoonfuls of dough and, using lightly floured hands, roll into balls. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 1 ½-inch apart. Using a fork or another utensil that can make a decorative pattern in dough, flatten balls to a ¼-inch thickness. (Alternatively, flatten balls and make an indentation in the centers with your thumb.) Sprinkle cookies with poppy seeds.

Bake cookies until firm but still pale, 20–25 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Maple Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know, I know. Bacon in desserts is *so* five years ago, you say. Well, you’re right. This recipe is, in fact, from 2009, and I think it’s been in my bookmarks that long. Yeah. But hey, good things come to those who wait, because these cookies are the. best. thing. ever. Seriously, they’re like crack!

[On a side note, these cookies call for maple extract, which is more concentrated in flavor than maple syrup. But it’s mapley in the same way that artificially flavored items would be mapley. This actually works in the cookie, though, because the bacon and chocolate chips give it enough depth to compensate. The biggest surprise for me, however, was reading online that some people claim to make their own “maple syrup” (the quotation marks are mine) by adding maple extract to simple syrup. Maybe it’s because I’m from Quebec, but I have to disagree: any syrup made like that is not, never has been and never will be maple syrup. Maple syrup is made from boiling down maple sap, which is available at some IGAs in Quebec if anyone wanted to give it a try at home. But I digress.]

The recipe yields maybe 20 to 24 cookies, depending on how much you can restrain yourself from eating raw cookie dough, but next time I’ll just double the batch. And maybe I’ll throw in the bacon grease, too. Make these, you’ll thank me!

5 strips maple-smoked bacon
1 cup plus 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¾ stick butter unsalted butter at room temperature (or cold vegan margarine)
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
¾ tsp. maple extract
2/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a large skillet over medium heat, add bacon. Cook, turning several times, until browned and cooked through, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Chop finely.

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. (I admit I baked one batch at a time, to have fresher cookies; I kept leftover dough in the fridge. That being said, these cookies won’t last long!)

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars. Add egg and maple extract and beat until just blended. Add the dry ingredients; beat until just incorporated and the flour is dissolved. Stir in the chocolate chips and bacon.

Drop one large tablespoon of cookie dough 2-3 inches apart. (I put 12 cookies per sheet.) Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until firm and golden brown around the edges and still slightly soft in the center. Transfer to a rack and cool for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Vegan Banana Matzah Brei with Chocolate

I’m a little late posting this, but that just seems to be a fact of life now… During Passover, I finally got to make matzah brei. I’d had this recipe torn out of Bon Appétit for a year, I think, so I was looking forward to being able to find matzo in stores to make it. It turns out that the Engineer was gifted matzo by a rabbi who paid him a surprise visit at work (I can’t make this up), so we didn’t even have to buy any. Matzah brei was a new experience for both of us, since the Engineer hadn’t heard of it – I hadn’t either, but my excuse is I’m a shiksa. According to Claudia Roden’s Book of Jewish Food, matzah brei is eaten for breakfast or as a snack. The plain version from Bon Appétit, which I tried first, is basically matzo crackers soaked in hot water, drained, mixed with beaten eggs and cooked in a pan. It is often served sweet, with jam or syrup. We had ours with maple syrup, for breakfast, and my impression is that it’s like a matzo cracker decided he wanted to be a pancake when he grew up, and the result is matzah brei.

But then, my friend Jen posted a link to this recipe from What Jew Wanna Eat (again, I can’t make this up), which she adapted by using apple juice instead of wine (genius!). It is vegan and uses mashed banana instead of egg. Plus, it is drizzled with chocolate sauce! It was SO good that this is the way I’ll make it from now on.

2 slices matzo, broken into pieces
apple juice (or water) for soaking
2 ripe bananas, mashed, plus sliced bananas for garnish
⅓ cup coconut oil, melted, plus 1 Tbsp. more for cooking
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt
½ cup dark chocolate

First, soak matzo in apple juice for about 5 minutes. Then drain in a colander.

Meanwhile, mash bananas and mix with melted coconut oil, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Carefully mix in drained matzo.

Heat up a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp. coconut oil and melt. Then add in matzah brei and press down a little and cook until golden brown on one side. Then flip and cook until other side is golden brown, about 7 minutes total.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler and drizzle over matzah brei. Garnish with sliced bananas (or coconut) if you wish!

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Granola and Applesauce Muffins

I got this recipe at Whole Foods and ended up using it when I had too much granola on my hands. As with most muffins, these are highly adaptable, especially since you can use pretty much whatever kind of granola you want! I’d use more sugar next time, as these were a bit bland (though they’re fine for breakfast, really, since muffins shouldn’t be sugar bombs). They were very good, though, and had a great crumb. Note that I used 1 2/3 cups of white whole wheat flour instead of the mix of white and whole wheat called for in the recipe.

1 ½ cup granola
1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. golden flax seed (ground if desired)
2 tsp. non-aluminum baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ cups unsweetened applesauce
½ cup lactose-free milk or non-dairy milk substitute
¼ cup brown sugar (or more if you wish)
5 Tbsp. canola or other vegetable oil
2 eggs
granola or rolled oats for topping

Preheat oven to 400°F. Oil a standard 12-cup muffin tin or line it with paper muffin cups (I ended up with 15 muffins, and some people online say they got 18, so plan ahead).

Combine granola, flour, whole wheat flour, flax seed, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl.

In another bowl, whisk together applesauce, milk, sugar, oil and eggs. Add applesauce mixture to dry ingredients and mix just until combined.

Pour batter into muffin tins and fill them ¾ full. Sprinkle extra granola or rolled oats on top and bake 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool slightly in pan before removing muffins to a cooling rack.

Chocolate Pots de Crème with Nut Butter

I’ve been trying a few chocolate puddings lately. In Gluten-Free Girl Everyday (which just won a James Beard Award, by the way!), there’s a recipe for chocolate-cashew pudding that looked really good. It had a mild taste of cashews, but it was good. It thickened very quickly, in less than 5 minutes, even though the recipe said it would be an act of faith that would take 20 minutes (and I even had the pudding on the low burner). I also thought the amount of chocolate was oddly presented, because I don’t measure chocolate in cups – according to my research, 1 cup of chopped chocolate is 4 oz., but that wasn’t chocolaty enough to me. So I made the pudding a second time with double the amount of chocolate, and I had it thicken less. It still wasn’t great, sadly.

Then I tried a variation on Aran Goyoaga’s chocolate, hazelnut and fleur de sel pots de crème: I didn’t want the toasted hazelnuts on top, so I omitted those, and when I realized I didn’t have any nut butters on hand other than peanut butter, that’s what I used instead of hazelnut butter. I also used 4 oz. of semisweet chocolate instead of a mix of milk and bittersweet chocolates. You could make them without nut butter, too, but it gives them a little je-ne-sais-quoi that I liked. Perhaps it could even be replaced with caramel? In any case, these dairy-free pots de crème were absolutely delicious at room temperature (when they’d been given enough time to set properly) as well as cold.

2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeded (vanilla bean paste will do)
1 egg
2 egg yolks
¼ cup coconut palm sugar or light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. hazelnut butter (or other nut butter of your choice)
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ tsp. fleur de sel (I used Murray River salt)

Preheat the oven to 300 °F.

In a medium saucepan, heat the coconut milk, the vanilla bean, and its seeds over medium heat. Bring to a low simmer.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, sugar, and hazelnut butter until almost lump-free.

When the coconut milk has come to a simmer, remove the pan from the heat. Remove the vanilla pod and add the milk and bittersweet chocolates. Stir to melt the chocolates into the milk.

Pour a little bit of the hot coconut milk mixture over the eggs while whisking to keep the eggs from coagulating. Add the rest of the mixture and whisk. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Add the fleur de sel and stir.

Pour the custard into 6 (4-oz.) oven-safe ramekins or jars. Place the ramekins in a deep baking pan and place the pan on the oven rack. Add enough hot water to the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins, creating a water bath.

Bake the custard for 30 to 40 minutes or until the center is set (mine took 50 minutes). Let the ramekins cool to room temperature. They can be served at room temperature or chilled. I like to top them with extra fleur de sel.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Carrés aux fraises

Voici une recette simple de carrés aux fraises adaptée de Coup de Pouce (j’ai changé la grandeur du moule). J’ai beaucoup aimé ce dessert, d’autant plus qu’il m’a permis de manger des fraises de saison (avril, au Texas) tout en finissant un pot de confiture qui traînait au frigo. Veuillez noter que j’ai pris du beurre pour la croûte, sans effet secondaire, mais on pourrait sans doute utiliser de la margarine végétalienne à la place.

Pour la croûte au beurre
1 ¼ tasse de farine
1 c. à soupe de sucre
1 pincée de sel
1/3 tasse de beurre froid, coupé en dés
1/3 tasse d'eau glacée (environ)

Garniture croustillante aux amandes
¼ tasse de farine
¼ tasse de sucre
2 c. à soupe de beurre froid, coupé en dés
¼ tasse d'amandes coupées en tranches

Garniture aux fraises
1 lb. (500 g) de fraises fraîches, équeutées et coupées en deux
1/3 tasse de confiture de fraises
2 c. à soupe de sucre
2 c. à soupe de fécule de maïs
2 c. à soupe d'amandes moulues

Pour la croûte
(Veuillez noter que je fais toujours ma pâte dans le robot culinaire, c’est bien plus simple.) Dans un bol, mélanger la farine, le sucre et le sel. Ajouter le beurre et, à l'aide d'un coupe-pâte ou de deux couteaux, travailler la préparation jusqu'à ce qu'elle ait la texture d'une chapelure grossière. Arroser de l'eau et mélanger à l'aide d'une fourchette jusqu'à ce que la pâte commence à se tenir (ajouter jusqu'à 2 c. à soupe d'eau au besoin). Façonner la pâte en un bloc carré et l'aplatir légèrement. Envelopper le bloc de pâte d'une pellicule de plastique et réfrigérer pendant 1 heure.

Abaisser la pâte en un carré de 11 po x 11 po. Plier l'abaisse en deux, puis la déposer, la déplier et la presser dans un plat de 8 po x 8 po graissé (replier la bordure sous l'abaisse). Réserver.

Pour les garnitures
Préchauffer le four è 375 °F.

Dans un bol, mélanger la farine et le sucre. Ajouter le beurre et travailler le mélange avec les doigts jusqu'à ce qu'il soit grumeleux. Ajouter les amandes et mélanger. Réserver.

Dans un autre bol, mélanger les fraises, la confiture de fraises, le sucre et la fécule de maïs. Parsemer la croûte réservée des amandes moulues et y verser la garniture aux fraises. Parsemer de la garniture croustillante réservée.

Cuire dans le tiers inférieur du four de 50 à 60 minutes ou jusqu'à ce que la croûte soit dorée. Déposer le moule sur une grille et laisser refroidir. Couper en carrés. (Vous pouvez préparer les carrés à l'avance et les mettre dans un contenant hermétique en séparant chaque étage de papier ciré. Ils se conserveront jusqu'à 2 jours à la température ambiante et jusqu'à 1 mois au congélateur.)

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Pesto Yogurt Chicken

The original recipe called for drumsticks, which is the way I made it the first time (with homemade pesto). The Engineer ate his drumsticks with his hands, while I was struggling with my knife and fork – he said that I wasn’t eating with enough zest. While the chicken was really good, we really both prefer breasts (or at least we would like a version of the cartoon drumstick that is just a chunk of meat impaled on a bone!). So I made it again with chicken breasts, and this recipe is really a keeper!

4 chicken breasts
¾ cup pesto (homemade or store-bought)
1 ½ cups plain Greek yogurt (the lactose-free kind)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp. coarse sea salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper

In a bowl, combine the pesto, yogurt, minced garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Put the chicken drumsticks into a gallon sized Ziploc bag (or you can just throw the chicken in the same bowl as the pesto-yogurt mixture, but make sure it’s a large bowl). Add in the pesto-yogurt mixture, and zip up the bag. Make sure to shake or turn the bag a bit so that all of the pesto-yogurt mixture gets on and seeps into all of the chicken drumsticks. If you’re using a bowl to marinate the chicken in, make sure to cover the bowl tightly with either plastic wrap or a tight fitting lid.

Refrigerate the chicken and let it marinate for an hour or up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 °F. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with tin foil (this step really helps with the cleanup). Lay the chicken pieces in a single layer on top of the foil, making sure to space them well.

Bake until the skin is crisp (if your breasts had skin) and the chicken is cooked through, or until the internal temp reaches 165 °F on an instant read thermometer, 25-35 minutes. Make sure to turn the chicken after 15 minutes, so that both sides get browned. If you want to crisp up the skins a bit more, throw them under the broiler for a few minutes.

Roasted Squash Cake

I had been putting off making this cake, by Shauna Ahern, because the original recipe called for psyllium husk. I’m all for buying new ingredients, but this is sold in big bags and recipes always call for tiny amounts, so I was reluctant to buy it. However, after reading the comments in the recipe, I realized (as the author pointed out later) that it isn’t actually necessary to the recipe and can just be replaced with an equivalent amount of flour. So I charged ahead and made this cake. I used my own flour mix – the original recipe calls for equal parts (by weight) of almond flour, buckwheat flour and potato starch, but I had my own flours I wanted to use up, so I consulted Shauna Ahern’s Guide to working with gluten-free flours, which details the properties of various kinds of flours, in order to substitute adequately. Basically, you want a roughly 60/40 ratio of whole grains to starches. I used equal parts of white rice flour, corn flour and quinoa flour, with wonderful results. I also used cane sugar instead of coconut sugar, because I wanted something a little sweeter; brown sugar would work, too. And I used my faithful butternut squash.

The use of squash in a cake may seem odd at first, but think of it this way: it’s like a cake version of a pumpkin pie. This cake is *very* good. It’s delicious, actually, with a moist crumb that I seriously couldn’t tell was gluten-free. The Engineer really likes it as well, adding that “this cake has a humble appearance and then whams you with a cool taste.”

185 g. gluten-free flour mix (see note above; I’m pretty sure wheat flour would work, too)
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. 5-spice powder (I actually used ½ tsp. nutmeg instead)
½ tsp. salt
115 g. coconut oil, melted
140 g. sugar (see note above)
2 large eggs
240 g. roasted kuri squash purée (butternut and kabocha also work well)
120 g. lactose-free milk

Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, sprinkle the flesh with a bit of oil, and roast in a 375 °F oven until the flesh is tender (this could take an hour). When the squash has cooled to room temperature, peel away the skin. (This works with pumpkins, kuri squash, kabocha squash, butternut squash, and hubbard squash as well.) Throw the squash in the food processor and whirl it up until it's a silky purée.

Heat the oven to 350 °F. Grease a 9-inch cake pan.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, 5-spice powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

Pour the melted coconut oil into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk it. Add the sugar. When the oil and sugar are combined and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time. Add the squash purée and mix.

With the mixer running on low, add a third of the dry ingredients. When all visible traces of flours have disappeared, pour in half the milk. Repeat until the batter is finished.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake until the edge of the cake has started to pull away from the pan and the top of the cake has an athletic jiggle, about 45 to 55 minutes. (I used the toothpick test on mine, because I don’t trust jiggly cakes.) Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a cooling rack. Serve at room temperature.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Batch of links - On the SAHM

- I enjoyed this video which went viral last week, about the reactions of 24 candidates applying for the world’s toughest job.

- According to last year’s survey on, a stay-at-home mom works an average of 94 hours a week (whereas a mom working full-time outside the home spends about 58 hours a week on household chores and childcare, in addition to her 40-hour workweek). If they were paid according to the skills they use (CEO, psychologist, janitor, laundry operator, cook, van driver, day care teacher, etc.), this would give them an annual salary of $113,568! (You can see the hourly breakdown on this infographic.) I also recommend reading the comments on this post on Apartment Therapy. It’s interesting to note that women often still spend more time than men taking care of the house and children even if they also work more hours outside the home than their partner!

- What does a SAHM do all day? Well, our society idolizes being busy, but we’ve confused it with being important. Read this. And then, this is a fairly accurate portrayal of what I do all day.

- Most people assume that stay-at-home moms stay home because they can afford to do so. While this is true for the SAHMs I know personally (myself included), it turns out it is not true for the majority. Most moms who stay home do so because they could not afford to go back to work (their paycheck could not cover childcare costs, for example). The more educated a mother is and the better her job prospects are, the more likely she is to go back to work after her kids are born. (Which should cheer up this chick.) According to that NBC article, ideally, roughly 30% of moms would like to work full time, 50% would like to work part time, and 20% would prefer not to work, if money were not an issue. This doesn’t even take into consideration how the IRS hurts working mothers!

- Some people even recommend that stay-at-home moms get post-nuptial agreements, based on how much they have to sacrifice career-wise to stay at home. It’s not just about a few years’ worth of lost income, it’s the loss of momentum and the difficulty of reintegrating the workforce later on.

- Speaking of which, I really enjoyed the Canadian documentary The Motherload. It’s about how today’s mothers have higher expectations about both motherhood and careers, but they can’t have it all at the same time, so they feel overwhelmed trying to balance it all. (Did you know that mothers who work full time outside the home actually spend MORE time with their kids than stay-at-home moms did in the 1970s?) This echoes Anne-Marie Slaughter’s Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. Perhaps part of the problem is that we raise our children by teaching them that they can do anything, instead of talking to them about the realities of downscaling, working from home, compromising and making choices for their family.

[UPDATED: - Finally, I want to share this excellent article, Why Mom’s time is different from Dad’s time. For whatever reasons, mothers and fathers (or perhaps I should say primary caregivers and others?) experience time differently, with mothers multitasking more often, which leads to a greater sense of urgency and more stress. Meanwhile, fathers sometimes assume that the mother is creating work for herself or mismanaging her time. Just to be clear, this article (and my sharing it) isn’t an assignation of blame, just an observation of facts. That, and I found it really interesting. UPDATED]