Sunday, May 20, 2007

Queen of the Kitchen (or how I lost my crown)

I love to cook and bake. In fact, there was a time (not so long ago) when I was Queen of the Kitchen. Not exactly a title worthy of pomp and circumstance (although a tiara wouldn't have been too much to ask for) but a title I took seriously nonetheless. There were always cookies in the cookie jar -- cookies which I made (along with various cakes and brownies) from scratch. I also baked fresh bread and rolls and made my own pizza dough and pasta (yum!). Heck, for a while there, I even made ice cream and my family was treated to a homecooked meal at least five nights a week.

Those days are long gone.

Now that I'm writing full time, my family's lucky they get fed period. Gone are the days of planned meals and tasty, homemade treats. I no longer take the time to slowly peruse the grocery store for the best ingredients. Instead, I rush through my local Wal-Mart as if my hair's on fire, using my cart (filled with convenience and frozen foods) as a battering ram and trying not to make eye contact with the other customers.

Fortunately, my family has adjusted to this new lifestyle quite well. They know how important my writing is to me and how hard I'm working to turn this into a successful career. And I've also let (forced) them take over the kitchen once a week to cook dinner. So far those dinners consist of chicken quesadillas (my son's speciality) grilled cheese with tomato soup, and hot dogs with homemade mac and cheese, but at least I won't have to worry about them (or me!) starving while I'm working on my latest story *g*

Still, I sometimes miss those times in the kitchen, especially those times cooking up something delicious with my children. Which is why today I'm going to set aside the time to make Joan's chocolate chip cookies (reference Joan's nanny nanny poo poo post) with my daughters. Because time with my children is precious. Because my kids are growing up way too fast.

And because I'm craving some chocolate :-)

Just in case I'm not alone in my chocolate craving, I'm including one of my favorite, simple dessert recipes. This is a combination of cake and pudding so use a spoon when serving.


Chocolate Pudding Cake

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup baking cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and ginger in medium bowl. Stir in milk, vegetable oil and vanilla to form a thick batter. Spread into a greased 9" round or 5 1/2 qt. oval baking dish.

Combine remaining sugar and cocoa with the brown sugar and sprinkle over batter. Pour boiling water over top of all. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 min. (cake will be gooey underneath -- like pudding) Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.


Joan said...


Wow, I'd like to come to your house and eat! Homemade bread? Yum!

Hope you like the cookies. They really are so easy to make. Oh, and one other thing I like best is when someone else makes them and MAILS them to me! Just mark them "Joan, Louisville, KY" LOL

jo lewis-robertson said...

Jo's thoughts:

Ah, Beth, what memories you conjure up! I, too, made homemade whole wheat bread from scratch, grinding the wheat in my grinder and kneading the dough by hand. I baked daily and the kids always met the smell of freshly baked cookies or cake when they returned home from school.

We live in the middle of the most fertile agricultural area in the world and always picked fresh fruits and vegetables which I canned or froze. I made home-made tomato sauce and jam, even my own pickles.

My goodness, where has all that energy gone? Writing is one of those "jobs" that is like being a parent; it's 24-7. We never stop thinking about it, garnering ideas from the slimmest snipets, jotting down random thoughts and gearing up for the sit-down writing spell.

Caren Crane said...

Oh, I thought I was alone! I have writer friends who still slave away in the kitchen. I don't know where they find the time. My husband and I have almost always both worked full time. We used to take turns cooking on alternate nights.

These days, he works two jobs and I work full time, do volunteer work and write. Trader Joe's has become my best friend! I can get great convenience foods that are good (or at least not too bad) for you. It still feels like cheating and I wish I had the time to still bake bread and cookies and pies (my favorite!).

But, given the size of my children's feet, they don't seem malnourished. ;-)

Kara Lennox said...

I am going in the opposite direction. I was more like the Queen of Frozen Dinners. Unfortunately, I can no longer tolerate the high salt content in most prepared foods, so I've had to learn to cook homemade. I'm enjoying it but it is time consuming.

Keira Soleore said...

What a delicious pudding cake! I've never had the privilege of trying one of these, so I must give it a try.

Caren, I wasn't aware you measure malnourishment by the size of their feet. :) I should revise my assessment then. I was going by the cheeks. But by your measure, we're all very healthy and very happy. :)

Anna Sugden said...

You're not alone, Beth. Even without kids and a full-time job, I rarely have time these days to do that kind of cooking. Hubby and I share the cooking and we do try to cook dinner most nights. Then again, we have so many good restaurants around us ... *grin*

Will have to give the pudding cake a try - sounds yummy.

Caren Crane said...

Keira, I dare not measure their nourishment any other way, as skinny as my older two kids are! But they are both taller than me and have enormous feet, so obviously some part of them is flourishing. :-)

The youngest is a bit shorter and healthier-looking, but she has feet almost as big as the others. The only common thread seems to be the feet at this point and they seem to be quite healthy. I'll take it!

Deb Marlowe said...


Clearly you and I were close in some past life! I have the exact same recipe and have used it many times! I also used to cook and bake and spend hours on scones and muffins and homemade meals. I could peruse the Baker's Catalogue happily all evening.

No longer! Suddenly the deadline looms larger than chicken alfredo! I do try to make sure we all eat healthy, but it's just not the same.

Christine Wells said...

Good on you, Beth! OMG, between you and Joan, I'm going to be as fat as a house. Love chocolate pudding!!

Beth said...

LOL, Joan! We still haven't had time to make them yet but when we do, don't be surprised to get a care package *g*

Jo, I also made jam and canned fruits, vegetables and salsa. Now I limit it to making applesauce as two of my kids can't get enough of it :-)

Caren, your kids sound very healthy indeed *g* Mine also are thin and have big feet and HUGE appetites! Wish I could bottle their metabolisms!

Keira Soleore said...

Christine, according to Caren, you only have to look at the size of your feet. If you have tiny ones, no amount of chocolate is going to make you look largish. :)

Keira Soleore said...

Beth, I'd love to have your children's metabolisms, too. If you could bottle it, you'd be a trillionaire.

Aunty Cindy said...

I am ROFLOL at the image of our sweet, demure Beth ramming through Wal-Mart with a cart full of frozen dinners!

Aunty C
who gave up cooking long ago...about the time the DH retired.

Tawny said...

LOL -really, AC? Me, I can totally imagine sweet Beth battering her way through WalMart. She's tiny but tough! Now to get her to move to California and cook for me. I can almost SMELL those yeast rolls. YUM.

I go through cooking phases, but for the most part, its a "feed yourself" household. Not so much because of time (although that factors in) but because we're such a diverse house of eaters. One daughter won't eat hardly anything, three of us are vegetarians, one is gone at dinner time most days, and hubby, bless him, will eat whatever he can, but he's just as happy to BBQ and let us all grab and go.

Caren Crane said...

Christine, Keira is right - after a fashion. Small feet = bad nutrition. So if you have small feet, you clearly need more chocolate cake!

When you see me next, please observe the generous size of my feet. Very well-nourished! We will not speak of derrieres, however.

Beth said...

Kara, although cooking is time consuming, the end results are usually worth it *g* Although I've had times when a dish has earned thumbs down from my family :-)

LOL, Keira! If I could bottle my kids' metabolisms I might be able to afford my grocery bill!

You're lucky to have so many choices when it comes to dining out, Anna. I say you explore them all and not worry about cooking ;-)

Beth said...

Deb, my soul sister *g* Yes, I still try to make sure we eat healthy meals but when time's short I often find myself tossing a frozen pizza in the oven. And though I don't cook as much I still love collecting recipes and watching Food Network :-)

Christine, all Bandita recipes are calorie and fat free! Okay, that's just a dream of mine but honestly, we all deserve a treat now and then, right? *g*

AC, I'm so glad I have you fooled...uh, I mean how nice to be thought of as sweet and demure *g* no matter what Tawny tries to tell you!

Still working on getting the dh to move to California, Tawny. I'll make the yeast rolls and you can whip up a batch of your famous margaritas ;-)

Deb Marlowe said...


Oh, I resort to the frozen pizza sometimes too, I just make them eat a big salad with it and tell myself its okay! :-)

Anonymous said...

Caren, love the foot size idea. My kids are HUGE--no worries about malnutrition in our house. My six year old boy is roughly the size of most eight year olds, and sometimes I swear he gets bigger between the time I drop him off at school in the morning and the time I get home at night.

Jo, I can't believe you really ground your own wheat! Holy smokes--is that even legal these days? My insecurity complex is growing by the second!

Deb, at least you're making the salad. I swear, some days chopping vegetables is too much for me!

We eat fairly healthy in our house, but it's no thanks to me. Dh is a teacher and always picks the kids up from day care. He's usually got dinner on the table and ready when I get home around 6. The kids must usually be forced to consume their veggies, but we try.

Before you go thinking I've got it made, though, I should note that my annoyingly healthy dh subsides primarily on whole grains, beans, lentils, and vegetables. So the dinner he's got on the table isn't usually something I'm DYING to dive into. Give me a plate of pasta with a side order of white bread any day. :-)


Caren Crane said...

Ooh, Inara, I love annoyingly healthy food! Your dh can come live at my house.*g* My dh used to work from home and he cooked marvelously healthy dinners for us almost every night. Since he started working outside the home again, he stopped cooking almost completely. But those kids keep demanding to be fed!

This is why I now rely on Trader Joe's for sushi and pork carnitas and chicken-stuffed ravioli with pine nuts and pesto, etc. I love Trader Joe's! (Oh, and I don't work for them, either. *g*)

Suzanne Welsh said...

Now that my kids are all grown, dh and I tend to eat grilled burgers and steaks in the summer, and the occasional shish-ka-bob. Since I work 3 nights a week, those are nights he fends for himself.

Usually one night a week I cook a big meal for any of the family who call ahead to say they're coming. Pastas, stuffed peppers, pork roasts, uh...more pastas. It's also the only night of the week I try to have homemade desert around. that's when I have to cook a huge meal and bake like a crazy woman.

Work meals? Weight Watchers frozen meals or salads, that is if no one runs to Steak and Shake at 1 am!