Sunday, June 29, 2008

Our Favorite Cake Right Now

Man, do we love this cake! It is similar to a carrot cake, but made with sweet potates instead of carrots, and it doesn't last longer than 2 days around here. We've had it loaf-style, as the original muffins, and as a layer cake, and it is good all ways!

I can't take credit for the recipe. It comes from The Wednesday Chef.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Pa!

Happy Anniversary, Love!

Here are some memories from over the years:












Tuesday, June 24, 2008


In the Loggia del Bigallo near the cathedral in Florence, orphans were put up for adoption in the Middle Ages.

I have a special interest in orphans because my grandmother was orphaned at the age of 9, along with her sister, aged 3, and her brother, aged 6.

The Confraternity of the Bigallo cared for orphans as the charitable work that they confraternity did for the city. In the Middle Ages, and indeed until social services came into being as Dickensian-style state institutions, private groups, often religious, shouldered the charitable and philanthropic responsibilities in their communities.

There was also a hospital for children in Florence, Ospedale degli Innocenti, in Brunelleschi's Santissima Annunziata square. I like to think that the orphans enjoyed their life in such a lovely place.

My grandmother remembered her life with the nuns as strict but always fair. She was always well-treated, and she received a good education and training so that she could support herself in life. In fact, she kept in touch with some of the nuns until they passed away.

St. Gertrude's Academy, Rio Vista

from the David Rumsey map collection

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Summer Favorite

It's been wonderful summer weather here again. I know this means that there are a bunch of you inland who are suffering from the extreme heat, but we sure love the warm weather out here at the coast.

And since it has been so warm, we needed to come up with some more warm weather recipes. An old favorite is gazpacho. Gazpacho is as varied and as personal in Spain as apple pie is in the US. Every region has a different twist on the recipe and every cook has his or her special preferences. There is gazpacho andaluz, which combines tomates and cucumbers in equal measure, and there is salmorejo cordobés, which focuses on the tomates with plenty of garlic and bread, and there is white gazpacho, made from grapes and almonds. Some gazpachos are chopped, while others are blended. Some leave out the bell peppers, and others skip the bread. Some purists peel and seed the tomatoes and seed the cucumbers.

Martha Stewart has a version with roasted red peppers. Barefoot Contessa uses tomato juice. The Whole Foods Market recipe is a good one.

I do it like this:

2 lbs of tomatoes, cut into a few large pieces
3 cloves of garlic
2 slices of day-old french or italian bread, torn into small pieces
1/4 cup of good olive oil
1/8 cup vinegar

Blend all together until the consistency is to your liking. I like it thick, like a vegetable soup puree. If you need more liquid to get the puree going, add a little more oil, or even some ice water. If you want it thicker, add another tomato, or another small piece of bread or two. Chill in the refrigerator before serving.

You can serve the gazpacho with croutons, or chopped ham, or chopped onion, or chopped hard-boiled egg. You can even serve it with a few ice cubes if you are really hot and want something really cold to eat.

I didn't take a photo last night, and the gazpacho is all gone now, so here is a picture of some italian tomatoes.

I do not recommend adding sleeping pills to the gazpacho.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Who's In There?

I need a container to store left-over soup -- I am cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. So I go to open the tupperware drawer, but it's stuck, and I can't get it open. Papa comes to help and what do we find?

Pluto and Batman in the tupperware drawer, along with several legos.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Darling Julia

This sweet little girl was born today. She's 7 hours old at the time of this posting. Imagine -- 7 hours old!

She snuggles right up to her grandpa.

She is as beautiful as her mommy.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tortilla Española

Spanish tortilla, a potato omelet, is a delicious mixture of fried potatoes and fried onions with eggs.

Martha Stewart actually has a very good traditional-style recipe on her site:

My mother-in-law makes it just the way Martha describes, but that requires flipping the tortilla out of the skillet onto a plate, and turning it over to cook the other side. I can't do this. I ALWAYS drop it. So I do it like a frittata in the oven. We made one last night and here are the pictures.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Spray a pyrex pie dish with a little bit of cooking spray.

Chop 1 medium yellow or white onion.
Chop 2 tablespoons fresh parsley.
Peel 2 medium-large russet potatoes and slice into thin rounds.

Heat 1/4 olive oil in a skillet and fry the onions and potatoes, but don't brown them. You will be baking this in the oven for 20 minutes or so, so the potatoes don't have to be 100% ready. After a few minutes, add the chopped parsley. When the potates are soft enough to eat but not yet golden, take them out of the oil with a slotted spoon and place them in the pie dish. Let them cool down for 7-10 minutes or so, so that the eggs don't cook unevenly when you add them to the dish.

Beat 8 eggs together very well, and add a tablespoon or so of cold water. I was very fortunate that Spiderman stopped by at the right time and helped me beat the eggs.

When the eggs are well-beaten and the potatoes and onions are cooled a little, pour the eggs over the top of the potatoes. Now it looks like a frittata.

Bake it in the oven for 20 minutes or so or until the eggs are set. I usually check at about 18 minutes, and sometimes it goes as long as 22. You don't want the eggs to brown too much, but you don't want them runny either. Sometimes there will be olive oil rising to the surface from the potatoes, and that looks like the eggs are runny, but it's just the extra oil, which you can blot with a paper towel.

Enjoy hot, or at room temperature, which is what we like best!

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Week of Firsts

Another important first happened today. My, but we're growing up fast!

Don't miss the dizzying array of toys on the kitchen table. The kitchen was clean last night when I went to bed, I swear.

Next up, Spanish Potato Omelet for all those fabulous chefs at Evil Chef Mom who know a good idea when they see one!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Albert's Cocktail

Anna Schaeffer lived with her brother, Albert, but nobody remembers exactly why.

Anna was a widow who collected hummel figurines, and Albert was a bachelor who made very fine cocktails.

This is Albert's famous recipe. Follow the instructions to the letter. And don't dare drive anywhere - this stuff is potent.

Albert's Cocktail -- 18 servings
4 oz lemon juice
14 oz vodka
10 oz orange juice
6 oz grenadine

Shake well in shaker and serve very cold. Albert's note: DO NOT ICE.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

St. Cecilia's

A lot of people who are very important in my life have gotten married at St. Cecilia's.

Auntie Pat and Uncle Dudley in 1963

Grandma and Grandpa in 1936

Sean and Michelle in 2000

When my grandparents got married, they gave this book to my grandmother. It is filled with tips on being a charming and delicate wife and housekeeper. No kidding.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Walk Like a Man

Click here for music.

Then come back and click here to watch the video.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Baby, Baby, Sweet Baby

I met this sweet little baby last week.

All sweetness and softness and milk and peach fuzz, he looks like his daddy until he smiles, and then he looks just like his mommy!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Rafa's Pictures

Rafa wants to add a couple of his pictures, so here they are.

BEN 10

10 BEN

If you don't kow who Ben 10 is, go here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008



1. A brotherhood; an association of men united for some purpose or in some common profession; a guild; esp. a brotherhood devoted to some particular service religious or charitable.

c1475 Partenay Prol. 39 He was of hys confraternite. 1601 HOLLAND Pliny II. 553 Numa ordained at Rome a seuenth confraternitie of potters. 1654 H. L'ESTRANGE Chas. I (1655) 110 The Lord Maior with his confraternity of Aldermen. 1688 H. WHARTON Enthus. Ch. Rome 87 We may hope to see erected an holy Confraternity of Catholick Chimney-sweepers. 1854 CARD. WISEMAN Fabiola II. i. 132 Diogenes was the head and director of that confraternity. 1882 B. D. W. RAMSAY Recoll. Mil. Serv. II. xix. 196 First came military; then various confraternities of monks and friars, with lighted tapers, chanting. (OED, 1989)

Papa, and el abuelo, and Rafa and Louis, and el tito are all members of the confraternity El Silencio, founded in 1340 in Seville.

Mama is studying the Misericordia confraternity, founded in 1244 in Florence.