20 August, 2014  |   3 Comments

Wine Wednesday: Make This Wine Cake Recipe

Today, today I need some wine cake.
I think you might too.

Nora Lea wants the wine cake, but she can't have the wine cake

This buttery, dense yellow cake is a Napa Valley bake sale staple. It uses a yellow cake mix, but tastes so much more complex.

You don’t need fancy white wine for this — Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc is my go to wine for this recipe (it was $3.99).  I’d recommend staying away from something with any oakiness — or anything too floral.

Ingredients
Cake ingredients
1 box yellow cake mix
1 three and a half ounce box instant vanilla pudding
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs

Glaze Ingredients
1 stick butter, cut into chunks
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup white wine

Directions
Assemble your ingredients.

Preheat oven to 350° F.
Grease and flour a 10″ Bundt pan.

Combine the yellow cake mix,
box of instant vanilla pudding,
white wine,
vegetable oil and
all four eggs in a large bowl and
beat with a well-muscled arm or an electric mixer.

Pour the batter into your choice of pan.

There is wine cake batter in the bundt pan.

Put the cake pan in the 350 oven for 45-50 minutes.

Check out the side of this wine cake.

About 15 minutes before the cake is done (at the 30 minute mark), make the glaze.
Stir the butter with the water, sugar and white wine over medium heat and let simmer for roughly 10 minutes. Stir frequently.
Pour a buttery, burney glaze over the cake.

Be careful, for it is sugar and it will hurt you badly if it gets on your skin.
Remove from heat. Set aside.

Remove the cake or cupcakes from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

After the cake’s cool, poke holes in the bottom (top) of the cake.

Pour 1/2 of the glaze into and around the holes. Give the cake a little time to fully absorb the glaze.

Invert the cake onto a serving dish and drizzle the rest of the glaze on the top of the cake.

We used unsweetened whipped cream for the topping – because the cake is pretty sweet with that glaze, but we wanted a pretty white top.

Then you can bring it to bocce. Or bowling. Or church. Or to a community center where people might appreciate your expertise. Or that next city council meeting. Or that peaceful protest against the militarization of our police departments. Bring this cake to that.


It’s also handsome husband approved.

19 August, 2014  |   2 Comments

Make a Lego bean bag toss game!

Oh right! I was going to share how we made this Lego bean bag toss game that we made for Nora Lea’s sixth birthday party.

Let’s get on that!

I got my handsome manfriend to help first. That was pretty awesome, but I know you can do this yourself.

We found an old 7/16 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft piece of plywood. We spray painted it orange.

Then we used flat metal thumbtacks to stick plastic disposable plates to the plywood board. It was so easy, Nora Lea could help.

Then, we painted the plates to match the board.

I cut numbers out of sticky-backed foam – these represented the different points you’d get for tossing your bean bag on the right plate.

In my fantasies, I sewed a thematically appropriate bean bag for tossing.

In reality, I found a few unmatched, relatively clean socks. Then I filled them with rice and tied them off. They worked like a charm.

We played a few rounds and the prizewinner received a notebook with some washable markers. I believe the child was originally grumpy about their prize, but I was like, YO THAT’S A MOLESKINE and it had no bearing on the child’s disappointment.

Go make your own Lego bean bag toss!

13 August, 2014  |   2 Comments

Wine Wednesday: White Wine Spritzer

Get you a spritzerLately, I’ve embraced my inner Mom.
I’m co-opting Dadcore, and embracing Momcore.

I’d fought it for a while, but it’s true. I now truly celebrate the following:
Zumba
Sporty Flats
Gladware
The Spritzer

Give me some summer-ready white wine and some ice cubes. Find a smallish jelly jar, and add seltzer or club soda. Bon Appetit tells us that we should add 3 parts wine to 1 part club soda, but I often add more of the bubbles.

I have no more shame of the spritzer, unless it’s some late harvest dessert wine from a storied producer. Don’t spritz the expensive stuff!

Embracing the spritzer during these late summer weeks lets me sip twice as much for the calories. It pairs beautifully with all these fruits and vegetables that are getting ripe and I can keep the buzz at bay.

Grape Tasting

Since frozen grapes are also a family snack staple this time of year, I add them to my spritzer for a little sweet and a lot of novelty.

My favorite spritzer wines (which in no way reflects on their quality — they just pair well with the club soda):
Pine Ridge Vigonier and Chenin Blanc blend
Cowgirl Sisterhood White
Sutter Home Gewurtztraminer

Add frozen grapes! Add ice! Add club soda!
Spritz away!

 

 

11 August, 2014  |   1 Comment

Conquering our inner hobbits

Nora Lea kept climbing out on some rocks,
further than our comfort,
over seaweed slick boulders,
up steep hillsides.

Discovering new lands.

From the beach, we hollered
parental inanities like,
“WE HAVE TO SEE YOU WITH OUR EYES!”
as she continued to sneak away.

Come with me to the grotto.

This disappearing made me grumpy.
Grump trumped discomfort,
so I climbed out on those boulders,
braving nature’s oogy glory.

Can you believe it?

There, an alcove,
three feet wide and 7 feet deep,
tiny waterfalls,
the perfect water princess lair,
Ariel’s grotto.

Ariel's Grotto.

The older we get, the deeper those ruts of our routine become.
The tighter I cling to perceived safety.

All of it’s safe, none of it is.

The last few months have shown our family a little turmoil.
Employment, health, life, family,
it’s all shaking up, changing in a way that feels unsafe.

Profoundly uncomfortable.

But that discomfort is the way to growth, right?
It’s that stretching that gets us where we need to go.
Right?

If it were up to James and me,
we would wake in our hobbit hole
to do the same thing, every day,
the way we did it before.

They tell me that we need to mix it up.
They tell me I need an efficient routine.
An ironclad routine.

6 August, 2014  |   1 Comment

Wine Wednesday: Barnacle Bubbles

Govino gls

We were encouraged to share our knowledge at Y&YY. We were encouraged to teach that magic only we know how to make.

Uncovering what I might know enough about to share was tough. I mean, there are all these experts in the world about everything. They all know better than me.

Wait. Wine.

I know wine.
Better than that, I know people who know more than me about wine.

My newlywed friend Erin from Acme Fine Wines and I put together a little tasting in the spirit of Y&YY.  She found wines where the producers reworked, retooled and reinvented their corner of the modern wine world.

And that brings us to: Barnacle Bubbles.

More accurately, the wine is named Bisson Abissi, Spumante Metodo Classico. It’s from Liguria, Italy and was bottled in 2011. $101.

Piero Lugano is a winemaker from Italy who wanted to make a Methode Champenoise styled wine. He just didn’t have the space to age sparkling wine the way sparkling wine needs to be aged.

So Lugano put it in the ocean. As Acme Fine Wines says, “The temperature is perfect, there’s no light, and the rocking of the waves acts like a riddling rack, gently moving the lees through the wine.”

He got approval from the Agricultural Ministry in Rome (no small feat). They determined that there would be no environmental impact, so Lugano put his wine made of Vermentino and Bianchetta grapes in a big cage that he then dropped into the Mediterranean Sea.

“Thirteen months later, the bottles were still intact; however, the sea certainly made an impact. The bottles were covered with algae, seaweed, and barnacles, all of which were carefully cleaned, dried, and preserved onto the bottles. The result? A pale yellow wine with tiny, soft bubbles, the palate reveals sweet ripe stone fruits, swiftly followed by bracing acidity and an almost salty minerality.”

What a story, right? A delicious wine with the sea on the bottle, cleverly created, with a good story to boot.

Sneaky, Y&YY, you’ve found a great way to get me sharing.

No one paid me to write this. I like Acme Fine Wines, I like this wine and I thought it a cool story to share.

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