Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Busy Happy Times

Here I am, at the tail end of April. This post is just to chat and say hello- I don't have a recipe to share but do have some food related tidbits.

Two mini vacations: We went on two trips, baby in tow. Five plane rides in all, and I was worried that Lila would be stressed out by the traveling. Not so. She made friends with the flight attendants and gave a wide gummy grin to fellow passengers. We were asking for a lot from a 7 month old- dining in busy restaurants, living in unfamiliar hotel rooms, being shuttled about all day without a break, but she was a trouper all the way. The first trip was to Georgia and the foodie highlight was my first taste of cheesy grits (with a dash of hot sauce) at Mama's Boy. Our second trip was to Texas and we enjoyed a very fancy meal at Indika- progressive Indian cuisine.

Moving Soon!! Guess what? We're moving to Georgia, y'all! V has an amazing job opportunity there and I'm thrilled for our family to move so he can take the job. The plan is to move in October, so we have 6 months left to enjoy St. Louis and all our friends here. It will be very very hard to leave...

Breakfast with a blogger:  Here's another really fun thing that happened just this weekend. Shilpa of Aayi's Recipes fame dropped in to visit us, along with her family. It was our second meeting. It was fun to have breakfast together and chat away. Yet another instance of how this food blog has led to a valuable "real life" friendship for me.

You must make this! I haven't been trying many new recipes these days- but this weekend I baked a date cake and I have to tell you about it. When I was growing up, my mother entertained often; one of her favorite party desserts was a slice of homemade date and walnut cake served with thick vanilla custard. I'd forgotten all about this cake until I saw eggless date cake posted on two of my favorite blogs- Aayi's Recipes (there she is again) and Bong Mom's Cookbook. Both posts are worth reading- Shilpa talks about the "cake fever" triggered by this cake, and Bong Mom talks about her disbelief at how a cake without eggs or butter can be so light and airy. Both bloggers got the recipe from friends who seem to have gotten it from the same source.

And yes, this cake/quick bread is wonderful. Full of the sweet (and fiber-rich) goodness of dates, I have been lopping off thick slices to take to work every day this week, to enjoy with my 3 PM cup of tea. I reduced the sugar dramatically and increased the amount of nuts (I used pecans), baking the quick bread in a loaf pan. If you are new to baking, this easy and fool proof cake recipe is perfect for you.

Bake Sale! This Saturday, April 28,  is the 2012 Food Blogger Bake Sale. Bake sales will be happening all over the US so check this list to see if there's one in your area. All proceeds will go towards fighting childhood hunger in the US.

If you are in St. Louis, the bake sale is from 10 AM to 2 PM at the Sappington Farmers' Market. If you regularly drool over bakes goods posted on food blogs, here's your chance to taste them for yourself. Many food bloggers and home bakers will be donating goodies to be sold there.

I am baking my two biggest hits from recent months: samosa puffs and jammy thumbprint cookies. Both recipes have been tasted and given two thumbs up by my friends. Head on over this Saturday to critique them for yourself (and support a good cause at the same time).
Savory Samosa Puffs: Crisp flaky pastry enclosing a tasty vegetable filling
"I can't believe these are vegan" Jammy Thumbprint Cookies

Dale's Tales
It has been so long since Dale made an appearance on these pages. Our sweet dog is getting older. He has mostly good days with long walks in the morning and afternoons spent napping in the sun room.  He occasionally has bad days when his old bones seem to creak more than usual and the walk takes three times as long.

In the past 4 months, V has gone on about 8 work-related trips, 3-4 days at a time. It was difficult for me to walk dog and baby together in winter, so Dale was taken to a dog boarding place (they call it a canine enrichment center- no really, you can't make this stuff up) while V was out of town. He likes it there and they are very good to him- they don't crate him at night because he does not like to be confined, he gets to play outside all day, and they let him nap in the office areas. The staff seems to be very fond of him- most people who meet Dale become very fond of him in a particular "poor Dale, such a sweet guy" kind of way.

For our part, we really try not to change Dale's routine except for when V travels. I remember even the morning Lila was born at 4 AM, V left the hospital at 8 AM and went home for a few hours so Dale could get his morning walk on time. Even with a new baby, Dale got his walks, treats, dinners like clockwork.

Baby Lila loves her Dalu dada. She has started calling out to him ("hai hai hai") and reaches out to touch him. Dalu ignores the poor kid completely. When she starts eating regular meals and dropping food on the floor for him to scavenge, they might become friends.

I'll see you in a few days. It looks like life will only get busier in the next few months but I promise to post whenever I get a chance, and whenever I have some "you must cook/bake this" recipe to share with you.