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Countertop Review

This time last year I was packing up our house to prepare for our down-to-the-studs renovation in our kitchen, family room, and master bath as well as the addition of a screened porch. The family room wasn't originally part of the plan, but that's a post for another time. The kitchen was where I really had to plan and scheme, and, yes even fret, to stay in our footprint and budget and to get the function and look I wanted. I love a challenge like this, though, so despite some occasional frustration with my client (aka me! ), I enjoyed the process. A key "want" of mine was honed marble countertops. There are dozens--maybe hundreds--of blog posts, articles, and showroom sites that compare various types of countertop materials and their pros and cons. I read most of them and took notes from a lot of them in the months leading up to our start date. One of the most helpful things was visiting a sweet friend's kitchen, where I was able to ask questions about cleaning, a

A Cake Walk

Cake was served in my honor today.  And it's not even my birthday.  I'm leaving a part-time job, only I'm not completely leaving for a few more months.  It's kind of confusing and an explanation would be boring, but, really a cupcake would've sufficed.  Instead there was a big sheet cake with--and as Dave Barry would say, "I'm not making this up,"--We love you, Town and Country Mom! (only it was really my first name; no one there knows I blog).  Seriously, the cake did not say Good Luck or Best Wishes, but We Love You!  I have to say it was kind of touching for me, a part-timer.  I just think everyone likes an excuse to eat a little cake.

My laptop is in the hospital, which I hope explains my lack of posts this past week.  Honestly, I haven't had too much to write about; but I have managed to read a few books.  One I enjoyed is Confections of a Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado.  When I picked this up at the library, I had no idea that Mrs. Bullock-Prado was actress Sandra Bullock's sister.  Mrs. Bullock-Prado recounts her story of leaving Hollywood and opening a small bakery in Vermont, where she and her husband endure many of the same business ups and downs common to all small service-oriented establishments.  More interesting to me were her memories of her childhood in Europe and her German mother and their relationships with food,  particularly sweets. And, yes, there are recipes.

I'm not exactly sure why (serious lack of telephone orders, perhaps?), but Mrs. Bullock-Prado's memoir will be published in paperback and sold under the title My Life From Scratch, which is, admittedly, a lot less embarrassing to say aloud.

In the meantime, my favorite quick, not too sweet cake:

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup evaporated skimmed milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Combine 1/2 cup sugar, flour, 2 Tbsp cocoa, 1 Tbsp espresso powder, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl; stir well.  Combine milk, oil, and vanilla; add to flour mixture and stir well.  Spoon batter into an 8-inch square baking pan.

Combine remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, 3 Tbsp cocoa, and 1/2 Tbsp espresso powder; stir well.  Sprinkle over batter.

Pour boiling water over batter (do not stir!).  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

What is your favorite cake?

Images: Diana's Bakery, Amazon, Cooking Club of America


  1. I'm sure even at part time you were a stellar employee who deserved a BIG cake. And yours sounds delicious - you had me at espresso powder!!

  2. I'm sure they just really wanted an excuse to tell you they love you :-). I do love a big piece of Red Velvet Cake!! xoxo

  3. WOW!!! I hope you had a wonderful day!!

  4. How wonderful... yes, everyone wants an excuse to eat cake!

    I love love love food memoirs and will certainly look for this one! I am so LOL at your comment re saying the title aloud!

  5. Nothing says love better than a big ol' sheetcake! What a lovely surprise and thank you for explaining your absence...I confess to mild withdrawal symptoms : ) Is the cake recipe from the cookbook?

  6. I love dark chocolate fudge cake :O)

    I have Downton Abbey on my computer so I need to catch up and watch it!

  7. Sorry I neglected to mention that the Chocolate Espresso Cake recipe is from a 1994 issue of Cooking Light. I have made it many times, and it always turns out great.

  8. That just means they will really miss you!!

    My current favorite is carrot cake!! The book sounds really good.

    Do come and enter my Giveaway (something French Inspired) from the Zhush!!You will love it!

    Art by Karena

  9. OMW! I JUST got the title, but only after I said it aloud! I am a little slow.

    I am not surprised at all that you got a going away cake. Yes, maybe they just wanted cake, but they'll miss you more!


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