Aunties M & Em

Thoughts on Faith, Family, Food, & Fun!


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Happy Birthday to Me

You know that saying, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”?

Well, yesterday was my birthday.

The big 6-0.

I spent it baking my own birthday cake.

And helping my wonderful hubby in the building of our new deck out the back door of our house.

And totally enjoying all the nice birthday greetings from my friends on Facebook.

I like it that I didn’t hear from every “friend” I have on Facebook.

I mostly only heard from the people there that I actually consider my friends in real life.

That was cool.  🙂

We ended the day having dinner with friends that we don’t get to see very often.

Yes, they are both friends on Facebook and they are friends in real life too.  🙂

It was a very enjoyable evening!

When we got home we had a piece of my birthday cake. A Salted Caramel Drenched Coffee-Double Chocolate Cake. *sigh*

I got the recipe from Slim Palate. Click here to see what hers looks like. It’s beautiful!

Coffee Salted Caramel-drenched Double Chocolate Cake - croppedThis is what mine looks like. Not too bad for a first time recipe!

It was delicious too!  A keeper recipe for sure!

Today I woke up and realized that my 60th birthday has come and gone and I wondered, “now what?”

Now I’m 60 and it’s the first day of the rest of my life!

So I got busy and washed the dishes in the sink because we’re out of dishwasher soap.

It felt pretty good!

Remember that home is where the heart is, and there’s no place like home.  🙂
Auntie M

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Crazy…Wacky…Tomato…Tomahto…

I’ve been on and off a diet to lose weight since I was 11 years old.  Back then my Mother counted calories for me, as well as for my Dad and herself.  She made it easy for us and we always had tasty meals.  In the 40+ years since then I’ve been on countless diet plans or programs.

A few years ago though a new wrinkle emerged in my dietary needs.  I became lactose intolerant.  It has been a challenge to navigate the world of American food where cow’s milk is a staple ingredient.

In the whole scheme of life though, being lactose intolerant is small potatoes compared to what other folks I know have to deal with.  Gluten intolerance, diabetes, nut allergies, and on and on…these dietary needs make life much more of a challenge and I must give credit to families for all they go through to provide healthy and tasty meals for themselves and their children.

My daughter-in-law, Jessi, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in the spring of 2011. She had two surgeries, had to go on a low-iodine diet, and then endure a radioactive iodine treatment (complete with days of isolation) to get rid of the cancer. When she was pronounced cancer-free, it was a high-five-supercalifragilisticexpialidocious kind of day!!  Now just over a year later, she is back on the low-iodine diet again to prepare for a low-dose radioactive iodine scan to confirm her cancer-free-ness.  We are confident for a good report, but once again we are exploring the world of low-iodine cooking. 

It’s pretty obvious that on a low-iodine diet she can’t have iodized salt.  But I’ll bet you didn’t know that all sea salt and sea food from the ocean, as well as all dairy products and most soy products are also not permitted on this diet.  She can have the insides of a potato, but not the skin; an egg white, but not the yolk.  It’s very interesting and challenging to say the least.  The use of salt in pre-packaged foods is universal and since we don’t know if the manufacturer uses iodized salt or not, none of them are permitted. 

So Jessi and Greg are making everything from peanut butter to tomato sauce to chicken stock from scratch.  They are making some wonderful recipes, but it’s a lot of work.  I give them lots and lots of credit for all that work!  They are good cooks, but like most of us, they’re not used to making everything from scratch.  Yet, here they are doing it and doing it well.

We were happily surprised when, in the Low-Iodine Cookbook from ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, what should we find but our family’s absolute favorite made from scratch cake recipe!!!  It’s the very first recipe my Mother taught me to make and I taught it to Emily and Greg when they were kids learning to bake.  We call it Crazy Cake.  The Low-Iodine Cookbook calls it Wacky Cake.  Either way, it’s so delicious and so easy to make.  And it’s low-iodine!!!  Woo-hoo!!!  Here’s the recipe:

Crazy Cake

3 cups flour                 2 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups sugar               2 tsp vanilla
6 tablespoons cocoa   3/4 cup oil
1 tsp salt                      2 cups water*
2 tsp baking soda

Sift the cocoa to get rid of any lumps.  Combine all ingredients by hand using a large whisk. Don’t over mix.  Spray 9 x 13 pan with non-stick spray or grease & flour pan.  Bake at 350º for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out almost clean.  Don’t over-bake.

*To enhance the chocolate flavor, I use one cup water and one cup strong brewed coffee. This is a recently added option.

If you want to turn this cake out of the pan, be sure to use parchment paper on the pan bottom in addition to the non-stick spray.

This cake is delicious dusted with powdered sugar.  Almond flavored buttercream icing is also really good!

If you or a family member struggles with dietary issues, I wish you well.  If the Crazy Cake above is something you can eat, give it a try!  It’s really, really good and will put a smile on your face!


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Family Reunion 2012

Last weekend we went to a family reunion. This particular branch of our family tree begins with my maternal grandparents and continues with their seven children and their children’s children! If everyone was able to be present there would be about 100 of us.

On this day, 30  of us – four of the original brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, and lots of cousins – were able to attend. We discovered again how we look alike, have the same hair, get emotional so easily, and on and on. Four generations of beautiful people smiling, laughing, crying, hugging, remembering the past, and celebrating the future.  It was over way too soon.

I must give credit to my cousins, Kathy, Carol and Judy, for putting this wonderful event together. One of the highlights of the day was that every so often they would draw one of our names from a hat and the winner would get to choose a prize from the prize table. These weren’t your ordinary prizes either. They were original works of art by our Grandma that had recently been found in an attic. Oh my! Each one of us was so excited to hear if our own name had been drawn! I ended up being drawn last and brought home a pen and ink drawing of a scene Grandma and Grandpa probably saw daily during their winter months in Arizona. I never got to visit them in Arizona but now, with this piece of art, I feel a little closer to them once again.

Our family events always end with a yummy homemade dessert, so I offered to bring cake! Emily helped with the final decorating and we were happy with how it turned out. Neither of us is a professional but we enjoy doing it for family!

The overall family tree design was inspired by a photo I found online here. The quote is by an unknown author.

I made a White Almond Sour Cream Cake recipe from Edna De La Cruz at Design Me a Cake. It is so delicious and crazy easy to make. You just combine the dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients, mix for two minutes, and bake! My kind of recipe!!

If you are able, attend your family reunions. If you aren’t, bake a cake!