Birthday Cake

ImageSo I had the privilege last week of making my youngest daughters birthday cake. My wife came up with the idea for it and I got to make it. It brought back memories of the cakes my mom used to make for me for my birthdays. She would always make them from scratch when I was younger, and I remember two designs in particular, a football player and a ninja turtle. Looking back at them now, I don’t know if I appreciated them then as much as I should have, I know I enjoyed eating them, that’s for sure, but hopefully I told her how nice they were, because I still remember them to this day, and I hope that says a lot.

Now that I got to make my daughter’s 5th birthday cake for her, I really tried hard to make it look nice, and I know she liked because she told me she did. Even if she hadn’t told me anything though, I am still happy that I made it for her. For me, it’s sort of like a extra present, but with more heart put in than anything I could buy at the store for her. I made it all from scratch, and though it was a bit drier than what I had hoped for ( baked it about 3 minutes to long ) it still tasted and looked great.

Now I realize not everyone is a top notch cook, and that big fancy cakes and cupcakes are very popular right now, but I will say this, everyone can follow a recipe, and even if it is a box mix, you can still say to your child, I made this for you. And who knows, maybe years from now, she will remember it and say, thanks dad.


Family Picnics

When I was younger (boy I keep saying that a lot lately it seems) I was not always the biggest fan of going to family picnics and reunions. Lately though, I have grown to appreciate them more and more, in part because of the variety of food I get to eat.

I just attended one this past weekend for one side of my wife’s family and I must say, I married into a family of good cooks. It was way better than a Chinese buffet. The usual hotdogs were available, but so was pulled pork ( cooked very well ), bbq chicken, a couple different kinds of tasty salads, and my wife’s grandmothers AWESOME blueberry pie ( I must say I behaved myself and only had one piece ). Now I realize that not all families get along as well as mine, I am very lucky for that, but from time to time put differences aside, even if it is just to sit down and have a nice meal together, you would be amazed at what it can do.


Strange Voodoo

So as I have said before, I am not the worlds most adventurous eaters, but lately, there have been some unique combinations going on in my house.

Growing up I used to put Ketchup on everything, steak, chicken, pork, potatoes and probably a few other things, although never eggs, that’s just wrong in my book. When I married my wife, I learned that she likes to put peanut butter on her rice, I thought she might have been pregnant, but no, just a normal thing for her. My kids have taken to liking it as well, but I am holding out on trying it, I am afraid if I give in I can’t go back.

Now, there is something that might be just as strange. My youngest recently won a giant bag of Swedish Fish at day care for winning their go fish tournament ( Way To Go Mia! ) So that night she decided to put them on her ice cream, Moose Tracks to be specific. She swore she loved it. The next night, my oldest decides she wants Swedish Fish with caramel syrup on it, nothing else, just a bowl of Swedish Fish with caramel syrup. Of course she ended up liking it, so what did my youngest have the next night, yep, you guessed it. I am flat out refusing to even think of trying it ( well, it is a tempting thought to be honest ) but I won’t let them see me doing it.

What is this world coming to? What’s next, pizza with fish on it? Oh, wait, they have that already and it’s awful.

I Ate What?

So my wife loves to tell this story time and again (mostly to embarrass me when possible) and recently I was reminded of it when we found a old recipe. Back in my younger days I did not like zucchini, well, I still really don’t like it unless it is baked in something I don’t know about.

A few years ago when my wife and I were first married, when we had more time in our lives to do things, she used to make what I would call sweet breads. So one day I came home from work, and saw she had made a loaf of bread, so naturally I ate it. After she watched me eat it, she asked my opinion of it, to which I naturally said it was delicious (she does make really good sweet breads) and she said good, I’m glad you like zucchini bread.

It took me a minute or two to get over the initial shock of her statement, and what I had just done, I mean I had years and years under my belt of telling my parents I wouldn’t touch the stuff, and here I was not only eating it, but enjoying it. Of course she had to tell my parents, who obviously laughed at me. It’s all in good fun though, and of course I get the last laugh because I am the one who gets to enjoy it now on a semi regular basis and my parents don’t.

So a couple words of wisdom for everyone out there, just because you don’t like a food cooked one way, doesn’t mean you won’t another way, just add enough sugar and other ingredients to it, and who knows what could happen.


So my brother in law, like any good uncle will do, bought my kids a Slurpee machine for Christmas. Not that they really needed it, but it’s fun to have, and hey, with this weather we have been having lately, why not.

So I opened up for the first time last night and knew instantly that I was in trouble. It had a lot of pieces to put together (well, maybe not a lot, but at least a dozen) and that’s never a good sign of something simple. So it did go together fairly well to be honest, but when it came to making the actual Slurpee, that was a whole different story. Granted, I should have read the directions the whole way through before starting to make it, but who really does that ? So after the first one leaked out all over the table, I read what I did wrong, or at least what I thought I did wrong, and tried again. This one at least had some slushy like texture to it, but still was mostly liquid, but after a second attempt, I was not about to do a third.

We gave the kids what we did get out of it, and they enjoyed it a lot, slush or no slush. Lets face it, it was hot out, and the drink was cold, what’s not to like. So I then looked at the directions again, and it told me again what I did wrong. Well at least I have the rest of the summer to get it right, or I can just wait for my engineer brother in law to come for a visit and show me how it’s done.

My Bad, well, sort of

I brought my lunch to work today, just like most days, as I am trying to save my pennies. Only problem was that today was the company picnic for the 4th of July, and I obviously forgot, which meant I didn’t bring anything, let alone cook anything. I did however run over to the store to pick up some sweet tea for people to drink, which is at any good picnic, well, at least in the south it is. The problem is though that I write the food blog, and I didn’t bring anything, I mean, that’s like me going out on assignment and not bringing my camera. I honestly felt kinda bad, not bad enough to not eat any of the tasty food, but still, a bit of guild as it was going down.

With that said, the food was delicious, thanks everyone for bringing it in, especially Laura’s baked beans with a ridiculous amount of brown sugar put in, but boy they were tasty. Normally I like to bring dishes I make to events like that, it gives you a chance to talk with people about the food, and show off a little bit to, but mostly, a sense of community.

Picnics around the holidays are great for that. Sitting down with family, sharing a meal in a relaxed environment has been going on since the beginning of man, and ultimately has become a dying event in our fast paced society. As I get older, and yes, I am getting older, I realize the importance of events like this, so parents, make sure you take your kids to family picnics. It gives them a chance, and the rest of their family a chance to get to know them, share stories, even if they are embarrassing, and generally just have fun as a family.

So Happy Fourth of July, whip up your best dish to share, light some sparklers with your kids, be safe, and enjoy.

Exercise and Diet….?

I have taken back up running over the past couple of months, and I am up to about 4 miles a crack depending on my schedule and routine. The main reason for this is that to be honest, my pants were getting tight on me and I didn’t like that feeling. Thankfully my pants are now fitting comfortably around my waist now.

So what does this have to do with a food column? Well, without a bit of exercise in your life, you can’t expect to eat what you want and not put on weight. I’m not saying you have to hit the gym everyday or take up running or max out on the bench press every other day. Just simple things like they say, like my wife for example, she likes to exercise while watching Jeopardy a couple nights a week, not only does she get some exercise for her body, but also her brain.

As for dieting, well, I’m not so good at that, hence the exercise. Like last night for example, I went for a 4 mile run, and then rewarded myself with a tasty bowl of ice cream, and it was well deserved I tell you. Dieting is a tricky thing to do, and not easy, but I have been making a conscious effort to only eat one desert a day, maybe two on a bad day.

So start with little things, that’s the best advice I can give you, and celebrate small victories, just not in excess otherwise you’ll have to start all over again.