Chocolate Cake

Yes, chocolate cake is moist (yes, I have just used the most hated word in the English language.), and rich and delicious. And, No – cream cheese frosting does not taste like cream cheese.

Here is the recipe for the most fabulous chocolate cake. It was created for the 93rd anniversary of the Hershey Chocolate Company by world famous pastry chef Albert Kumin. The original cake had a chocolate buttercream frosting but I preferred cream cheese frosting. I cut the recipe out of a newspaper and have been making it for over 30 years.

It is insanely rich and I only ever eat one small sliver at a time. My husband on the other hand scarfs huge chunks at a time. At the very minimum I would make this once a year for my husband’s birthday but since he was diagnosed with type II diabetes it has been off the menu.

Over the years I have been invited to parties simply for this cake (and my lemon bars). Invitations were along these lines: “Hi Grace, we’re having a ______ ,fill in the blank with any occasion, and would like to invite you and George. Oh, and could you bring your chocolate cake?”

Enjoy!

Chocolate Cake

3/4 cup butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 cups cocoa (for best flavor use Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa powder)
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups water

I do this in a food processor – cake batter and frosting – easy-peasy.

Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, vanilla. Beat for 1 minute at medium speed.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

Add this alternately with water to the creamed butter and sugar mixture.

Pour batter in greased and floured 9-inch cake pans. Use cocoa powder to ‘flour’ the pans.

Bake in pre-heated 350º oven for 30 – 35 minutes. Cool cakes in the pan for 10 minutes, remove and cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened (DO NOT use any low-fat or cream cheese substitute. The real thing ONLY.)
½ cup (one stick) butter
1 pound box of confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or whatever flavored extract you crave – could be anything – almond, rum, lemon – Go crazy.

Beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla (or which ever flavoring you have chosen), blend until smooth.

You don’t know what you don’t know

And in some cases you don’t know why you DO know.

Last night I was passing through the living room and my attention was caught by a tv show (is that redundant?) my husband was watching. The people were using ASL, it was not being interpreted, and as I watched I started laughing, what they were saying was funny and I understood every word!

I’ve never studied ASL. I’ve never spent any appreciable amount of time amongst people speaking ASL. Yes, I’ve seen (heard?) people using ASL in movies and tv shows but did I absorb so much much that  I could easily follow a conversation? I guess I did. It is a beautiful language.

OTOH – Are there things I don’t have to know? And here is where I am displaying my ignorance and possibly offending someone.

An article in this morning’s Washington Post Health and Science section was about transgender kids. Not exactly a general interest story, a lot of facts and figures, a possible antidote to the laws currently being passed across the country to bar gender related medical care to minors. I find these laws abhorrent. I find any government involvement in how people deal with their own bodies abhorrent.

My question is – why do I have to know that someone is a transgender man or woman? If someone has transitioned to another status (is that a good word?) then they are who they transitioned to – end of. They are Susie or Mike. They are a person. I meet them as they are and all I have to know is that they are Susie or Mike. Should my interactions with them become more personal then I need to know only if they are a good person and a friendship will be built on a compatibility of personality and interests.

Were I in the dating game then knowing someone’s gender status or their sexual preferences might be of some interest but since I’m not, I don’t care.

My other question is – do people who have transitioned from one gender to another wish to be identified that way, transgender man/woman, who they are now in relation to who they were? They are now who they are, and I expect wish to be seen as who they now are. Maybe I’m wrong in thinking that.

I have to admit I have always been confused by how people identify themselves or relate to themselves. Years ago I was watching a tv show about hysterectomies – women who had them bemoaning that they no longer felt like women. I wondered then why anyone would think a body part would define them. I think the only body part that defines me is my brain. My uterus was removed when I was 40. It was the happiest day of my life – frankly I wish I could have had it done when I was 13. I don’t need, or want, my boobs either. They’ve always been on the larger size are just an inconvenience. And a pain. I grant you, were I someone who wanted to procreate then keeping a uterus and boobs would be necessary, the uterus most particularly (Well, duh!) but since I never wanted to procreate, I’ve never seen a need for those things. Nor have I ever doubted that I was female or a woman – my secondary sexual characteristics don’t define who I am.

My brain defines who I am. I am who I think I am. Whether that is visible to the naked eye doesn’t make any difference to ME but obviously does to others.

Or maybe I just never thought of myself as being any gender at all, just, you know, a human being.

Miscellaneous Mishegoss

~ No one in their right mind would call me a pollyanna yet I often take an upside/downside view of things. Such as: 6 days in the hospital. Upside: I got some much needed rest. Downside: I was very ill. Today’s upside/downside: Warmer weather, windows open all the time. that’s the upside. The downside? Even with the windows closed the birds wake me around 5am, with the windows open? OMG – the noise level reaches epic proportions.

~ We get home delivery of The Washington Post (my local newspaper). The paper has several sections which I sort out and then read in a particular order. The Sports section goes directly into the recycle bag. The front section (A) I glance at and put aside. The Metro section (B) is next, goes on top of A. The third section, Style (C) which includes the comics is the the first one I read. But here’s the thing – I read the first page, then I read the last page, then I go back to the first page, refresh my memory of the stories and continue reading like a normal person. Same reading method for the Metro section, scan the first page, then read the last page then on to page 2. The Metro section of the Washington Post is just a litany of all the previous day’s disasters in the DMV (which stands for District, Maryland, Virginia). I rarely, if ever, read the front section because I don’t need a whole lot of bad news first thing in the morning. It stays on the bottom of the pile.

The Sunday extended Style and Entertainment section I read back to front. Always. Which means I read the “continued” part of an article first. Yeah, I know weird. It’s a habit I think I picked up from my father.

~ Obviously I am not a journey person but rather a destination person – as in “It’s not the destination but the journey” I can’t enjoy the journey if I don’t know the destination. Aimless is not one of my traits. Which is why I could never understand things like jogging, or going for a walk. Where are you running to? Where are you walking to? I used to walk miles when I lived in NYC because it was the fastest way to get anywhere and I enjoyed it – but I always had a purpose and a destination. Without a purpose or destination I don’t do it – I don’t do anything without a purpose. I am never aimless.

That doesn’t mean I am not spontaneous. I used to be. I’d get up some mornings, call off work, and head out to the airport and hop a plane to somewhere – short hop just for the day, or long weekend at a friend’s – hey, what the hell. Of course it was easier to do that that way back when.

~ Cream cheese frosting does not taste like cream cheese.

7:25pm – Friday – Shadows on the wall

Shadows and reflections are my favorite images. Friday night, 7:25pm – winds gusting to 55mph, the sun setting and throwing light…

The bedroom – this part of the apartment is in an alcove of the building with a 5-story holly tree outside, branches touching the window. The bed is already dressed in it’s Summer yellow…

room1

The middle room aka my office – same time, curtains closed – you would never know those curtains are a cream color, would you? The material is called voile – interesting I think – 

curtains1

Curtains on the left, On the right, the shadows of the curtains…took me a second to sort that out…

curtains2

(Do you have any idea how many songs are titled “Shadows on the Wall” or some variation thereof? Too many, and most were meh to dreadful. I’ll stick with the Statler Brothers, Flowers on the Wall)

We’re not afraid of color here

The only nickname I ever had was Gypsy. And the only person who ever used it was my father. It seems as soon as I could recognize different colors I loved them all. When allowed, I wore them all, at the same time. Nowadays I jokingly say my apartment is decorated Ringling Brothers style. (For those of you outside the USA, Ringling Brothers is a reference to a famous circus.)

You’ve already seen my glitter curtains. Now you’ve got to see my new side table – it’s teal. Not too blue and not too green, a perfect shade of teal. I bought it because I wanted to put an essential oil diffuser in my living room and there was no place for it. As the fates would have it when I took the the diffuser out of the closet it turned out to be the exact same shade of teal. How’s that for a crazy coincidence, that thing has been in the back of the closet for years.

Lest you think my husband is either color blind or very indulgent, since this is his home too, I consult him on all my crazy color choices and wacky home décor. He is an active participant.

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My diffuser oil of choice is lavender. I am passionate about lavender essential oil and I send lavender scented gifts to my friends, especially when I notice they are getting a little stressed. I’m all about the purple – any shade but pinky-purple – don’t like that one.  I have a diffuser in the bedroom and over the last few years I’ve gone through a lot of different brands of lavender essential oil. I was not well pleased with any of them.

I wear Lavandre cologne from L’Occitane and they do sell lavender essential oil but for some reason I’ve never bought it from them.  I found a new source of lavender oil and as luck would have it (again with the luck!) my new table and the lavender oil came on the same day and I was able to set up the table and the diffuser in short order. (If you look closely you might see the mist). I’ve got to say it smells divine. It was packaged well, so no spills and the price is quite reasonable.

Oh, the table. It is SOLID wood, no assembly required, it was made in the USA, and I bought it from Target of all places, on sale no less. Talk about luck and fate and stars aligning!

So, just in case you want to do some shopping I’m going to put links to all these products/companies. No, I am NOT any kind of “associate” and I do NOT get compensated for sharing this information. I’m just a nice person who likes to share good stuff when I find it.

Happy clicking! (These are US based links. And they should open in a new window/tab – just sayin’)

L’Occitane

Revive Essential Oils

Target – Powell company side table, the Powell company does not sell directly to the public, a list of retailers who carry their furniture is HERE.