Wednesday, June 24, 2009

getting organized

We're getting down to the wire for our big summer trip, and the tasks keep piling up. I blogged over at the Mama PhD blog at Inside Higher Ed about trying to stay on top of them.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


My post over at the other blog today is mostly links, but there's also a picture of Nick over there that my readers here might not see otherwise. So click the link below and you can see him in all his last-day-of-school glory.

Lessons from the Tortoise

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Finished Objects

I was away over the weekend for a fabulous conference in Charlotte, NC. Like many of my fellow conference-goers, I'd never actually left the airport in Charlotte before--many flights from here seem to be routed through there, though, so the airport itself is pretty familiar. (I'd visited Charlotte some years before by car, but that was different.)

It was nice to get out of the airport. The conference was great--full of smart people saying interesting things about wonderful books. As always, I came back energized and excited to keep up with the work that I presented--though, as always, I'm also swamped with all kinds of other things and so will probably not get back to it right away. So that's not the finished thing.

But traveling gave me the opportunity to get a good bit of knitting done (knitting! remember that?), and I finished a good-sized project, a lace shawl. Here it is, knit out of gorgeous silk-cashmere that Mariah gave me for Christmas. I ran out of yarn before I ran out of pattern, so if you see other shawls that claim to be the same pattern (Swallowtail shawl) they will look different, but I'm still delighted with it.

Another thing came to an end this weekend and that was my column for Literary Mama. I'm in a little bit of denial about this one. I've been writing for LM since 2003, when it launched. At first I wrote a column called Midlife Mama (hmm, sound familiar?) but after a year I began writing Children's Lit Book Group, and I continued to write that column either bimonthly or (briefly) monthly for five years. I'm sorry to see it go. I'm still working on children's literature, and I still have a lot to say about it, but right now my time and therefore my energies are directed elsewhere. Still, I will miss it.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

chocolate cake

I tried out a new recipe for chocolate cake yesterday. Now, there are plenty of great chocolate cakes out there. There even a good vegan chocolate cake--good enough that folks don't really know it's vegan. But there's always room for a new cake, right? And my favorite vegan chocolate cake doesn't actually turn out of a pan and make a nice presentation--which, face it, is part of cake baking.

So last night I tried a new (to me) vegan chocolate cake, and it was a big hit. It requires no weird ingredients, it turns out of a pan for a nice presentation (though you'll have to trust me on that, as I didn't take pictures), and my dinner guests didn't guess it was vegan. So there. (Oh, it's low fat, too, in case you care...) I got it from Veganomicon, though I borrowed the chocolate drizzle from a different Veganomicon recipe (for a peanut butter chocolate caramel pie that I'm going to have to try next). Here it is:

Vegan Chocolate Bundt Cake

for the cake:
1-3/4 cups fresh-brewed coffee (I used decaf)
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (the darker the better)
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
2 cups flour (they use whole wheat pastry flour; I only had unbleached all-purpose, which was fine)
1 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

for the drizzle:
1/4 to 1/3 cups each vegan (or not) chocolate chips and soy milk

Preheat oven to 325F; spray or otherwise grease an 8-10 inch bundt pan

Heat the coffee in a saucepan. Once it is simmering, whisk in the cocoa and continue to whisk over the heat until the cocoa is dissolved. Put aside to cool.

Whisk together in a mixing bowl the sugar, applesauce, oil, and cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved. Whisk in the extracts. Once the coffee mixture has cooled whisk that in.

Sift the flour, baking soda and powder, and salt into the wet ingredients, and mix together thoroughly (I whisked it for another couple of minutes). Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 - 55 minutes (longer for the smaller pan). The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for twenty minutes, then turn out onto a plate. While the cake cools, make the drizzle:

Heat the soymilk to boiling in a small pan, then stir in the chocolate chips until they are thoroughly melted and mixed into the milk. Allow to cool to room temperature, then drizzle over the cooling cake. (It's a little thick for actual drizzling, but it will taste good anyway.)

You can also skip the drizzle and sift a little confectioner's sugar over the top instead, but I have a couple of anti-confectioner's-sugar activists to feed, so I made the drizzle instead.