Alice Advice

“I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.”
Alice, “Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll

What I try to do when I am sad and feeling low.

  1. Don’t look at blogs and websites that are better than yours.  You will just get more depressed about how much you want to do with yours that you don’t have the time to do.  And for heaven’s sake, don’t look at the “Home Decor” or “DIY & Crafts” sections on Pinterest.  Stick to “Humour” and “Geek”.
  2. Pick one small task.  Do it. This could be as little as clearing off one spot in your kitchen.  Then you can look at that clean spot and think: “I did that” And you did!
  3. Eat a butter tart square.  Just one.  You will feel better.
  4. Pick one more small task.  Do that.
  5. Take a couple of deep breaths.  Look out the window.  Hopefully it is sunny.  Smile, even if it isn’t.

You will be okay.

Most Beautiful Thing: Literature and Imagination

A few days ago Jason Borkowski, the principal of Benno’s school, wrote about upcoming changes to our school library on his blog, CatholicPrincipal.  For those of you who may not have time to read the post, the gist is that because our school is offering two classes of kindergarten next year instead of the regular single class, space is at a premium in our small school.  As a result, the library will be temporarily displaced.  Mr. Borkowski asked for parent feedback and, in a fit of inspiration, I replied to his post with the following behemoth. Coincidentally, my reply happens to fit in nicely with my Monday posting about “The Most Beautiful Thing”.  Ah, serendipity…

I think downsizing the library is a good opportunity to “refine” the book selection available to make sure that our kids are reading beautiful, uplifting, interesting, and creative material that will feed their imaginations and their intellect.

If the universe was mine to control, or the CCS library selection at least, I would keep all the books that are original works and temporarily archive all the books that are spin-offs of other media. For example, keep “Asterix and Oblix” but pack away all the Star Wars books (my son loves both, by the way, so I am not making these comments based on my child’s preference, but my own). If the book came first, keep it. If the book is a merchandising spin off, box it up for a year.

From their first poop in a “Winnie the Pooh” newborn diaper to their first “Thomas the Train” swimsuit, from their first pair of “Dora” runners to their first “Transformers” school backpack, our kids are bombarded with profit-driven merchandise that demands their allegiance to a particular product. Maybe instead of reinforcing these patterns in our school library, we should give their brains a rest from all this profit-driven advertising and, just for a single year, give precedence to original creative works.

Original works of fiction have the ability to open up our imagination in surprising and delightful ways. I first read “The Lion. The Witch, and The Wardrobe” when I was in grade two. I was a voracious reader, I was home with a cold, and I was bored to death of everything else in the house. I remember looking at my parents’ bookshelf at the end of our hallway, picking up Lewis’ work, and going to the living room to curl up on the couch to read and feel wretched. (I may have asked my Mom’s permission to read the book first – I can’t remember that part). As I began to read about the Pevensies and their adventures I was transported away from my home on Fairfield Island in Chilliwack to wartime England and then to Narnia, that most magical of worlds. When my Mom called me in to dinner that night my body may have been at the dinner table with the rest of my family, but my mind and my heart were with Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy as they struggled to defeat the White Witch.

To this day, I love being utterly captivated by a good work of fiction (just ask my husband and my kids!). A good book has the capacity to change us, to transform us into better people, to turn our hearts towards the good, the beautiful, and the true so deftly and silently that we hardly realize the transformation until we finish the last paragraph, close the cover, put down the book, and give a sigh of contentment. When I’m reading to my kids, it isn’t Strawberry Shortcake or the retelling of Disney’s “Cinderella” that holds my interest. For the most part I suffer through the stilted storylines and mundane illustrations. It’s “Green Eggs and Ham” and “Pinkalicious” and “The Hobbit” and “The Hungry Caterpillar” and “This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald Hall” and “The Boy Who Ate Books” and all the other myriad of original works that sparks my imagination and makes reading to my children a joy rather than a chore.

Why not use this opportunity to encourage our children to explore creative and original works of fiction, rather than reinforce media-driven literature? Now that would be truly counter cultural and would, I suspect, substantially help the school to live out its mandate* of teaching our children about truth, goodness, and beauty.

*(“Statement of School Philosophy”, page 4, CCS Parent Handbook)

One Hundred

one hundred

My blog is now just over a year old and this is my hundredth post.  A lot has happened in the past year, and I can’t tell you what a joy it has been to have this outlet for my creative energy.  I’ve been eyeing this milestone for a while now, and I’ve actually been doing a fair amount of procrastinating now that the time has come to write Post #100.  What should I say?  Should I try to be funny or wise or nonchalant?  Does one hundred posts and a year of blogging matter?  Is it worth celebrating or should I wait for a bigger milestone before I really try to make a big deal out of this?

Well, the answer to the last few questions is “of course I should make a big deal out of it” because it is a big deal to me.  Like I said, this blog has been a fantastic outlet for my creativity and has inspired a lot of positive changes in my life.  It has allowed me to start dreaming again after a time where I felt that dreaming was something for people other than myself.  The internet is a big place and there is a spot for everyone who wants some real estate.  And this humble little place is mine, all mine.

So, to celebrate this Happy Hundred I will compose a small list of things I have learned since I began this blog.

1. I love to write.  When I was little I loved to read and write poetry.  I continued to ply my angsty pen throughout my teenage years – some of that output makes me cringe and some of it is actually not half bad.  In university I chose to do an Honours thesis for my undergraduate degree and I wrote a 190 page thesis for my Masters degree.  It was an incredible amount of hard work, but seeing the final result was extremely gratifying.  This blog has rekindled my authorial ambitions and encouraged me to use lovely polysyllabic words like “authorial.”

2. I have learned that blogging has its seasons. There will be slow times, there will be times when the words rush from my fingers like grasshoppers scattering before me on a hot summer afternoon in the prairies, and there will be times when I am so busy that I can scarcely string together a coherent sentence, let along prep it for publication.

In a perfect world I would be posting two to three times a week, but the tyranny of the immediate does have a tendency to … tyrannize… over my artistic endeavours. For example, you may have noticed that I haven’t posted in about a month or so.  This is because I have been up to my eyeballs in planning a fundraiser for my son’s school.  This year I was in charge of public relations for the event and overseeing the silent auction portion of the evening.  Lots of time and effort, but worth it.  The event is over, so hopefully I’ll be able to post a little more frequently.

3. Learning how to manage my online presence is both fun and challenging.  I must admit, watching my stats go up whenever I post does quite a lot for the ego, and I thank each and every person who has taken the time to read this blog. It is great to write and it is lovely to know that someone is actually reading what I have written!

Having this digital space also means that my life is fodder for the blog.  It is very easy to go to an event, spend a lot of time taking what I hope will be cool photos, and plan out how I will write about what is going on. And in the middle of all that, I find that I haven’t really been present and I have missed actually being with my family.  I become a journalist rather than a wife and mother.  Furthermore, getting caught up in the digital world can sometimes do more harm than good.

All in all it has been an interesting exercise in personal branding – how “plugged in” should I be? I dabble in Twitter and Instagram and there is always Facebook, but promoting yourself and your ideas can be a little overwhelming.  I guess, like all things, I am still learning to find the balance between living my life and writing about it.

4. Over these hundred posts I have learned that, with grace, I have the ability to be myself, regardless of whatever I encounter.  If you have ever read Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (the book, mind you, not the appalling adaptation that they tried to pass off as a movie), you will know that Bridget encounters the Rudyard Kipling’s poem, If, at a critical time in her life.  I re-read that book before Christmas and I found that Kipling’s poem really resonated with me.  I was going to give you an excerpt, but here’s the whole thing:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a man, my son!

Keep your head, hold on to your virtue, don’t lose the common touch.  Be a good leader, don’t stoop to lies and hate, seek the good, the true, and the beautiful. It’s that difficult, and that easy.

And that concludes my not-so-short list of things learned.  Thank you, again, for reading what I write!  I always love to hear your thoughts and comments, so keep them coming.  Here’s to another hundred posts!

Butter Tart Squares

Butter Tarts (Canadian Living, photography by Edward Pond)

So the request from Zoe was followed by a suggestion from my Mom to post the Butter Tart Squares recipe that was featured in the same Canadian Living magazine as the Lemon Squares recipe. Although I feel a little like I am giving away all of my secrets, here it is.  I suppose I can’t claim exclusive rights to something that was published in a national magazine over twenty years ago… (I actually found the original recipe here and discovered that my Mom, genius that she is, has actually doubled the recipe so that you bake it in a 9×13 pan instead of a 9×9 pan.  Good move, Mom, good move.)

Butter Tart Squares

This recipe follows the same pattern as the Lemon Squares recipe – shortbread base with a topping.  So here goes. Blend the following ingredients using either a mixer or a dough blender.

2 cups flour
1 cup margarine
1/2 cup sugar

Press the crumbs into a 9×13 ungreased pan (glass is best) and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  While that is baking, mix together the following ingredients.  Just use the same bowl you used for the shortbread base – don’t worry about cleaning it out.

2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
4 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 pinches salt
2 cups raisins
1 cup chopped nuts (I use walnuts, but pecans would be good too)

When the shortbread is done pull it out of the oven and pour the topping on the shortbread.  Bake at 350 degrees (same temperature as the shortbread, so it is nice and simple) for 25 minutes or until it is nearly set.  Just like for the lemon squares, the way that I test the doneness (not even a word, but whatever) is gently life up one end of the pan.  If the middle barely moves, it is done.  If the middle shifts significantly, put it in for another few minutes.

The best part of this recipe is that you get all the deliciousness of butter tarts without having to bother with individual tart cups.  I’m all about efficient baking, and squares certainly fit that description!

Lemon Squares

English: Shortbread lemon squares. Italiano: S...

This post is for my friend, Zoe, who requested my lemon square recipe.  I got this from my Mom who got it from Canadian Living or something (Mom, feel free to clarify the origins of the recipe).  They are extremely good.

Lemon Shortbread Squares

Blend the following ingredients using either a mixer or a dough blender.

2 cups flour
1 cup margarine
1/2 cup sugar

Press the crumbs into a 9×13 ungreased pan (glass is best) and bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.  While that is baking, mix together the following ingredients.  Just use the same bowl you used for the shortbread base – don’t worry about cleaning it out.

2 cups sugar
4 eggs
4 teaspoons grated lemon peel (approx 2 lemons worth)
6 Tablespoons lemon juice (just squeeze out the lemons and supplement with bottled lemon juice)
4 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (NOT soda, I made that mistake once)
1/2 teaspoon salt

When the shortbread is done pull it out of the oven and pour the topping on the shortbread.  Bake at 325 degrees (same temperature as the shortbread, so it is nice and simple) for 25 minutes or until it is nearly set.  The way that I test the doneness (not even a word, but whatever) is gently life up one end of the pan.  If the middle barely moves, it is done.  If the middle shifts significantly, put it in for another few minutes.  Although I will say that underdone lemon squares are better than overdone lemon squares.  I also know this from experience.

Happy lemon-squaring!

Killing the Candida

First of all, did you know that Candida has its own theme song? Oh yes it does!

I was going to post the live version, but there is some extraordinarily annoying clapping during Tony Orlando’s live performance.

Subjecting you to Tony Orlando is my way of announcing that my candida levels have dropped from a “10” in November to a “0” in February! Ha ha!! Which means that my “no-go” food list has shrunk to this:

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I went to the a Valentines Pro-Life Dinner and Dance and I was able to have about three-quarters of the food in the buffet line. For the first time in three months I tried pickles (and more pickles), Cesar salad, and parmesan (ok, I cheated a little bit with the dairy). For the most part, I felt great, and when I could feel my head starting to get a little fuzzy, I just stopped ingesting the culprit, namely the Thai vegetable salad. But I had chocolate for dessert, and it was divine!!!

I thought I would write about this today because I have been spending the afternoon meal planning. Now that I can eat a wider variety of food, I thought I would take the time to crack open our cookbook collection to see whether I could vary our diet a little bit.

When cooking for my small family, I need recipes that are healthy, quick, and easy. No big deal, right? I can adjust recipes to use wheat and dairy alternatives (or just add the dairy after at the table), but I have discovered that a disproportionate amount of healthy, quick, easy dinner recipes contain tomatoes. They are everywhere. I know that you can substitute zucchini for tomatoes, but I think that only works for small amounts. I can’t imagine making the zucchini switch for a 28 oz can of tomatoes with juice. It just doesn’t translate. After looking through two cookbooks (one vegetarian and the other was just soups and stews) I was left with a total of four recipes that my children would eat and did not contain tomatoes. But hey, that’s four recipes that I couldn’t eat two weeks ago, so things are still looking up. And I’m sure my family will appreciate the variation in our dinners.

Nevertheless, if you have any healthy, quick, and easy recipes that are free from dairy, wheat, beef, pork, and tomatoes, would you mind passing them my way?

Update: I’m still having issues with onions and celery. I think the celery may be the main culprit, at least I’m hoping it is the celery… So the Dutch Farmer’s Soup I made for dinner two nights ago knocked me out. Oh well, at least the kids liked it. We have used it as a veggie side dish and that has been quite successful.

Most beautiful thing: Creativity

This Sunday was beautiful, and so is today, and it is a relief to sit outside in the fresh air and not get rained on. But the “most beautiful” title this week goes to my children and all the nifty things they create.

Benno and his “Lava Minion” – check out the blaster.

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Cate’s portraits of our family. Notice that I am holding John.

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John and his colouring. He generally can put the caps back on the felts by himself!

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Frost, Nixon, and the corruption of power.

Frost/Nixon (film)

Frost/Nixon (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This past weekend Darren and I watched Frost/Nixon, Ron Howard‘s 2008 historical drama based on the stage play by Peter Morgan. Frost/Nixon reexamines the characters and circumstances leading up to the historic 1977 interviews between the British television personality and the former US president. It looks at the frustration of Frost’s research team with Richard Nixon’s avoidance of legal prosecution, David Frost’s difficulty in raising money for the program, Nixon’s desire to reemerge as a political player, and the interviews themselves.  If you haven’t seen it, it is worth a watch, as are the special features and the director’s commentary, which shed a little light on some of Howard’s directorial choices. Here’s the trailer.

For me, the element that stood out the most was Frost/Nixon as a fascinating exploration of power: the pursuit of power, the loss of power, the misuse of power, and the effect of power on an individual. One of the storylines is obvious – Nixon is the leader who has fallen from grace through his own folly and Frost represents the ascendency of youth. Nixon seeks political power, Frost desires the power of public opinion. As I said, obvious to the point of boredom and beating dead horses. Luckily, Howard has given us something more to work with, something new to explore.

In the beginning we see David Frost talking about the fleeting nature of fame, and of how he longs to re-experience the adulation of the American public. It is clear that his desire to interview Nixon is partially motivated by his desire to reenter the North American limelight. You get a picture of man who isn’t entirely comfortable in his own skin, an entrepreneur and a performer who sees the interviews as an opportunity for self promotion rather than investigative journalism. As the interview begins it is clear that Frost is outmanoeuvred by Nixon who is able to take any topic and bend it to his own benefit. Frost flounders, and it is not until a pivotal encounter with Nixon that he buckles down, does his homework, and emerges as a “worthy opponent” to the exiled politician.

The movie shows the sheer power of the office of the Presidency, even when it takes the form of a disgraced president. We see the fallen Nixon relating a series of banal antidotes for the Orthodontic Society of Huston, trying to make a buck and restore his reputation. Although it’s clear he is no longer a political player, his desire for power is clear as he threatens to wiretap his enemies (this suggestion is quickly quenched by an astute political aide). Frustrating indeed, for an ex-president to be reduced to making a buck telling banal anecdotes.

We get a taste of what Nixon is missing when the ex-President is introduced to David Frost’s prep team.  As Nixon arrives at the interview James Reston Jr (played by Sam Rockwell) vows not to shake the hand of the man he blames for the downfall of American democracy. And yet when the virulently anti-Nixon Reston meets the President, he can do nothing but quietly shake his hand.  That’s the power of power, even the residual power of a disgraced president.

Close to the end of the interview President Nixon says, “No one will ever know what it is like to resign the Presidency.” Although this line was not in the actual interviews themselves, I think this comment reveals a lot about the character of Nixon.  The line conveys the lonely truth that backdrops Nixon’s life and legacy – he is the only person in history who has had to voluntarily give up the most powerful position in the world.  And for a man who long desired that position of power, that is a deep loss.

Nixon damaged many people, he broke the law, he used his office to fulfill personal political vendettas. But his downfall was entirely his own fault. When you are in a leadership position, the buck stops with you. And if a leader chooses to abuse that power, that person is fully responsible. Nixon was the leader of the world’s most powerful democracy, he had the world in the palm of his hand, and he lost it because he authorized illegal actions against his political enemies. His downfall was spectacular, and it was entirely his own fault.

While Nixon is certainly a complex character and certainly not a wholly evil individual, history has condemned Watergate, and justly so. But it is worth looking at the situation from the perspective of the perpetrator.

All the little “Nixons” of the world, all those people who wield power for personal gain, those who run roughshod over others in their pursuit of their own goals, all those people will have to live with the consequences of their choices. While they may deny it, deep down they know that they are responsible for causing pain. Imagine carrying that on your conscience. It is a sobering thought and Nixon’s downfall should serve as a cautionary tale for all of us to follow the old maxim: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Conversely, we should also be careful when pursuing truth and justice lest we lose compassion and become what we are pursuing. As the interview ends, Nixon retreats amidst the celebrations of Frost’s prep team.  Frost himself does not immediately join in the celebrations, but watches Nixon as he leaves, perhaps wondering if they went too far.  Perhaps something intangible was damaged in their pursuit of justice and truth.

And yet, wrongdoing should be exposed. It’s a fine line between exposure and exploitation and Frost/Nixon is a fascinating exploration of truth, power, and compassion and finding the balance between the three.

Tale of Two Cakes

I miss chocolate. After I finish this post I plan on ignoring the dietary recommendations from my naturopath and eating a chocolate brownie before bed. In the meantime I have two stories for you that involve chocolate. We will begin with the sad story.

During my last visit to the naturopath I finally got the go-ahead to try carob. My cravings for sweets have been manageable (once you identify what is making you feel like a zombie it is actually pretty easy to avoid it), but I was longing for a little variety in the dessert department.

After careful consideration, I decided that I would try a carob cake made with almond flour. Darren has been making fresh almond milk for me (SOOOOOO much better than the store-bought stuff, and usually cheaper) which means that every week we have a bunch of almond meal that just gets chucked. I figured that if I could salvage the almond meal and use the carob I would be killing two birds with one stone. Sweet treat for me and using all the buffalo…almond. I found a recipe to adapt and got to work.

I’m not going to walk you through the carob almond cake because it was ultimately a failure, and in more ways than one. It had a very promising start. Carob tastes like a close cousin of coffee and chocolate, different but not unpleasant. The batter was good, but things took a turn for the worse when the cake fell apart as I removed it from the cake pan, despite having lined the pan with parchment paper. Then I tried a piece and within half an hour I had staggered upstairs and conked out on the bed. It tasted alright, but not good enough to become a voluntary narcoleptic.

So that was rather sad. I haven’t tried carob again, although I probably should because I have a sneaking suspicion that it may have been the stevia rather than the carob that knocked me out.

And now the happy story. In some ways, this story is the inverse of the carob tale. As you may know, I really enjoy making from-scratch birthday cakes for my kids (or other relatives). Ben’s birthday was in the beginning of December, and I knew that I wanted to do something special. He is really into Lego, specifically StarWars Lego, and so after learning that he wanted a chocolate cake with vanilla icing, I decided to try a Death Star Cake.

The Death Star in A New Hope

This required a round cake, so I decided to go for a chocolate layer cake. My “go-to” chocolate cake recipe is from Betty Crocker – a real cake, not a cake mix. I like it because it uses cocoa instead of melted chocolate squares (WAY less work) and it comes together very quickly. In fact, it looks an awful lot like a boxed cake mix when you put it together, but you use all fresh ingredients and there are no preservatives. I can’t find the recipe online right now, so let me know if you want me to add it here and I will. (I’ve had a couple of requests for the recipe, so I’ve added it at the bottom of the post).

Now, in the carob cake story I made reference to lining the pans with parchment paper. When I was prepping the pans for Ben’s cake I thought, “These are non-stick pans, they should be fine. Not a problem. I’ll just skip the parchment paper.” This was a mistake. The cake batter came together nicely, the cake baked just fine, but when it came to getting the cake out of the pans, I was in big trouble. I think one of the cakes may have just about split in half, and there was definitely a coating of chocolate cake left on the bottom of the pan after I finally pried the cake out.

Incidentally, when everything is going wrong did you ever get the feeling that you were destined to make this horrific mistake and all you could do was to continue doing whatever you are doing as quickly as possible just to get it over with? That is how I felt when I was removing the cakes from the pan. Doomed to crappy cake.

Once the cake crumbs had settled, I realized that this cake would require some heavy-duty help if it was going to make it to the birthday party in one piece. Enter Chocolate Fudge Superglue. The whole recipe is probably pretty good, but it is the “whipped fudge filling” that you want to focus on. Just three ingredients: chocolate, whipping cream, and corn syrup. To say it is delicious is an understatement, but the most important element for me was that it provided a solid, stable centre for my sad almost-disintegrated chocolate cake.

I was glad that Ben wanted vanilla icing because with all that rich chocolate, chocolate icing would probably be overkill. I find that chocolate works well when it has something to bring out its flavour, something for contrast. (I also love chocolate just on its own, but always dark chocolate. Milk chocolate is too sticky and you get a sugar kick instead of a serotonin kick. But I digress.)

I checked my recipe box and surfed the web and decided to try a new buttercream recipe. This icing has a higher proportion of butter than I am used to. My regular icing recipe has more sugar, and I was always a bit disappointed when I lost the delicate butter flavour in order to maintain the proper consistency. This buttercream does not disappoint – light, sweet, and buttery, I think I have been converted!

I cemented the cake bits together with the fudge filling, put on a crumb coat and let it set up in the fridge for a bit, then iced the cake. The buttercream had a lovely texture and I was able to smooth it to perfection.

Then came the decorations. I was going to use the same sprinkle/shading technique that I used for the Mario Cake. Unfortunately, as the day grew closer, I realized that I really was running out of time, and the mental gymnastics were just a bit much for me. I swallowed my pride and went with the classic: chocolate chips and Lego figures.

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Here is the cake, alight for the birthday boy.

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And how did it taste? Unbelievably delicious. Vanilla buttercream, rich, moist chocolate cake, fudgey filling, almost like a truffle. This stuff was worth the subsequent narcolepsy, which actually wasn’t nearly so bad as I had expected.

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Will I be making this again? You bet. But Benno’s not getting the next one. I am.

 

Betty Crocker Chocolate Cake

2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup baking cocoa
1 1/4 cups water
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, one 13×9, two 9″ rounds, three 8″ rounds, grease and flour pans AND USE PARCHMENT PAPER!!!!!

2. Beat all ingredients with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly.  Beat on high speed for 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.  Pour into pan(s).

3. Bake rectangle 40-45 min, rounds 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool rectangle in pan on wire rack. Cool rounds 10 minutes, remove from pans to wire rack, cool completely, about one hour.  (Okay, obviously I am not the best at removing cakes, so either choose to follow these directions or just do the best that you can.  Remember, icing can cover a multitude of sins.)

4. Frost.