Been Baking: Blondies

Taking a break from my self-imposed break to tell you about these blondies, because I need to have them in my life and I just might forget how to make them again if I don't write about them somewhere.

My new baking strategy is use what you have and make it work. So thank God for the Internet and Google. I've been wanting to make Food for the Gods, which someone told me were blondies with mutes, but we were out of nuts, so I decided to make blondies. Then it turns out we didn't have vanilla, but—thank you, Google—it wasn't too hard to find a suitable substitute: almond extract.

So these are a take on the wonderful Simply Recipes' blondies, with the recipe doubled, the butter browned and the vanilla swapped with lovely almond extract.

Dear Macbook: A Eulogy

My 2008 MacBook Pro is circling the drain. Too soon, old friend.

Just last week, as I was working (or entertaining the delusion of productivity as it allowed me to), the thought crossed my mind that it and I could go on like this forever. A foolish thought in these days of disposable technology and yearly upgrades. A friend had just texted me that she'd replaced hers just that week (and bought a spare for good measure). Not me, I thought; I'm good, thanks. I typed away and wiped off the dust gathering on the screen for good measure.

I'd named it Rocket Man because, in my old more solitary life, I'd imagined it was all I'd need if I ever felt like taking off—a writer's fantasy that seems silly now that I have a family. But it felt true back then.

Been Baking: Red Velvet Cake

Don't let the shoddy photography or tragic icing fool you—this cake was delicious. It was supposed to be a birthday cake for W, but my cake-baking neighbor saved me for the pressure by bringing over a yummy golf-themed carrot cake the morning of the big day (Side note: When looking for a place to settle down, do look for neighbors who bake—I highly recommend it.).

I'd never made a red velvet cake before, but I've had many after I got over the fact that it was so trendy. Ella's first birthday cake had a layer of red velvet and it was amazing. This being my first, I wasn't going for amazing. I was just hoping for edible and red, food-coloring stained fingers crossed.

The Little Lady and the Tiger

A tiger at Avilon Zoo, Rizal

There are many things I don't know about tigers, but to my 21-month-old daughter, I am an encyclopedia.

I walk closer to their enclosures, carrying her. Up until today, she has called them lions ninety-five percent of the time, lions being the more common jungle cat of choice in toddler literature and playthings. “It’s like a lion, but with stripes,” I’ve said before, which is, of course, false in many regards, but toddler zoology lessons often are.

She has seen them in miniature, an afterthought in the flap of one of her books. She has seen them in fiction, but the kind that sings and bounces, with an extra ‘g’ and the wrong pronunciation, so that hardly counts. Today, she is seeing them up close.

Ella Makes a Mess Masterpiece

She didn't know the word "messy" until I used it. In that tone that meant it was a bad thing.

I realize this as we sit by the garden, making a mess. This is our second attempt at finger painting and this time I’m not as clumsy. I let her watch—strapped into her high chair a risk-free distance away—while I whisked the flour, salt and water until they reached the consistency of cake icing. I named the colors for her and asked her to point out the other colors she saw around the room, while keeping the vials of food coloring out of reach. I set up a drop cloth and prepared the space before I let her slide open the back door.

This is how I like my chaos. Controlled. Planned out. Within borders. Which is to say, I guess I don’t really like chaos at all.