Monthly Archives: April 2007

Planning My Getaway

Eunice, my college roommate, paid me a visit in January. And during that time we talked about going on a girls’ weekend with one of our other girlfriends from school. Planning a trip for three women with very different jobs and responsibilities proved to be a challenge–but was so worth it. Well, after several e-mails to each other, and talks with our respective spouses, jobs, and the like–the trip is on! I’ll be sans husband and children as I venture into the mountains of North Carolina come June 7.

I’m beyond excited about this trip (although I’ve never been away from the Man and the kiddies for that long). One of Liana’s colleagues was nice enough to let us use his cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains for our stay. I saw a few pictures of the place, and it is gorgeous. I’ve gotta say, as a Brooklyn girl, the word cabin conjures up images of a small, rustic building with four walls and raccoons hankering to get into the place so they can eat you. Not very realistic of me, I know. Good news: Liana is a doctor–so I’ve got medical care available in the event that a killer raccoon attacks me.

This cabin that we’re going to? If the pictures are any indication, it’s bigger than the house I live in now. And guess what? It’s got a hot tub, fireplace, picturesque mountain views, the whole nine yards. The girls and I will spend four days in the mountains, hiking and communing with nature; heck, I may even pick an apple or two. Of course, my husband’s idea of girls’ weekend was a days-long slumber party with pillow fights, sappy movies, and marshmallows. Well, there may be marshmallows. But beyond that, it’s going to be a non-stop gabfest for three friends that haven’t been all together–just the girls–in YEARS.

Dusting Off My Dancing Shoes

Since I was sick the end of last year and the beginning of ’07, I had to take a hiatus from Flamenco class. Well, I had to take a break from Flamenco dancing in general. I had some major respiratory issues going on, which left me out of breath even after some relatively mild exercise. Now that I’m better, I’ve been exercising more–which means the dancing shoes are coming back on baby!

I’ve been invited to perform with some of my classmates at a fundraiser for a local theater company. The event is two weeks away, which leaves me precious little time to get a few of my dances–and me–in fighting shape.The good news is that I still fit into my costumes. The bad news is that I’m hard pressed to find rehearsal time. Flamenco Dad is wrapping up his semester, which means finals, juries, and a rather lengthy research paper he needs to turn in. I’m practicing my routines wherever I can. Ayden has been getting a kick out of watching his mommy fold laundry, dust, and cook while doing the sevillanas, tangos, and rumbas. I’m rehearsing with my classmates this weekend, so I hope to be ready by then.

Orange You Glad…?

This is an orange cake recipe that I adapted from the Food Network website. The original recipe was posted by two chefs, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. Back in the Food Network’s infancy, these ladies had a wonderful cooking show called the Two Hot Tamales. The cake is a lovely olive oil cake, not too sweet and oh so moist. I know what you’re thinking. “WTF? Olive oil in a cake?” Believe me, I was skeptical the first time I made it. But I’m so glad I put my skepticism aside and baked it; now I’m a believer too.

Orange Cake

3 large eggs

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 cup soy milk

1/2 cup olive oil

1 3/4 cups gluten free flour mix

1 tsp. xanthan gum

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

Glaze, optional:

juice of 1/2 naval orange

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp. corn syrup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease bundt pan and dust with a bit of sugar and gf flour. Beat the eggs with the sugar. Beat in the milk, oil and orange zest. In a small bowl, sift the flour with the xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture 1/3 at a time until well incorporated. Pour into prepared baking pan and bake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Remove cake and cool slightly in pan, then invert and cool completely. If using the glaze, combine the orange juice, confectioner’s sugar, and corn syrup in a small bowl until thoroughly combined and there are no lumps. Drizzle onto cooled cake.

Note: The glaze really boosts the sweetness quotient of this cake. I’ve made the cake both with and without the glaze, and it tastes great either way.

Four

Today you are four years old. You entered this world kicking and screaming–and three weeks early. Your papi describes it as an “X-Files” moment. One minute I was lying on an operating table with a doctor looming over me; the next you were here, ready to take on the world.

The day you were born was one of the most joyful, yet scary, days of my life. I was thilled that the day had finally come, and that Zoe’s little brother would finally be here. But I was afraid, afraid that the trauma that your sister suffered at birth would be repeated. A first-time mom, I waited for your sister’s first cry, which did not come–not until days later. She was a baby born teetering on a precipice between life and death. And as your birth drew nearer, the hopes I had for you were simple: Please, God, let him be healthy. Let me hear that cry and know that he’s alright.

I see elements of your dad and me in you everyday. Though make no mistake about it; you have a fire and personality all your own. You are one of the funniest kids I’ve ever met. You are a flirt, always knowing when to turn on the charm (Lord help me when you get older). You and your sister are best friends, and it shows. You run up and hug me for no particular reason, and it warms my heart.

Happy Birthday, my sweet baby boy.

Getting Over My Split Pea Aversion

I spent the first 30 years of my life avoiding split pea soup. Why, you ask? Two words, people: The Exorcist. The images of Linda Blair, with the head spinning and projectile…well, you know…were enough to leave me emotionally scarred, and repulsed by the sight of split pea soup. Once I finally got over it and gave the soup a try I realized that it was delicious.

This weekend we got hit with a downpour, and the rainy days left me in the mood for soup. I had a bag of split peas in the pantry, as well as a bit of leftover Easter ham in the freezer. Put ’em together and it was a perfect tummy-warming treat. Flamenco Dad had some for lunch today, and the first words out of his mouth were “Hell yea!” Appropriate.

Split Pea Soup

1 large onion, peeled and diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

2 Tbs. garlic, minced

1 Tbs. olive oil

1 lb. dried split peas, rinsed and picked over

1 cup diced ham

10 cups water

1 Tbs. dried thyme leaves

salt, as needed

pepper, as needed

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion, carrot, and garlic, and sweat until onion appears transclucent. Add dried thyme leaves and stir for a minute. Add the ham, peas, and water. Bring ingredients to a boil, then lower heat, cover, and simmer for about an hour. Add pepper to taste, then salt as needed. Note that the ham may be omitted for vegetarian split pea soup.

Yearning for Yogurt

Question: has anyone out there tried to make their own soy yogurt? I’m wondering how hard it is to make. I found a website with instructions for preparing and culturing yogurt, but if anyone has their own experiences to share, I’d love to hear about them. Here’s the website I found: http://www.soya.be/how-to-make-soy-yogurt.php. If anybody has other recipes to share, please do so–any advice is greatly appreciated.