Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Becomes Cocktail Hour

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I had a major disaster in the kitchen. I’m still not sure what happened.

Ever since I started dabbling in mid-century recipes, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of making a pineapple upside-down cake. I’ve never had one before, but they look delicious, and my parents assure me that the ones their grandmothers made were always scrumptious.

I found a recipe that suggested I bake the upside down cake in an iron skillet. This, apparently was my first mistake. I know this because my mother mentioned it several times. “I’ve never heard of anyone baking a cake in an iron skillet.” “Maybe you should take it out of the iron skillet.” “Do you want me to ask your aunt if she ever bakes in an iron skillet?” Helpful.

So, there was the iron skillet part.

Looks delicious so far

Looks delicious so far

But I also had a difficult time with the eggs. The recipe requires that you separate the egg whites and yolks. Okay, that’s fine. But then I had to whip the egg whites, adding sugar, until stiff peaks form. I’ve done this many times before. I’ve made meringue. I’m patient enough in the kitchen. But I stood there with the mixer on full blast, willing those stiff peaks to form, to no avail. I eventually settled for soft peaks and hoped for the best.

In the end, the cake had a really stiff upper (bottom?) layer that looked like this…

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that when cracked, revealed a globby, buttery, eggy mess underneath.

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Unfortunately, I attempted this recipe while my parents were visiting so I was bombarded with suggestions. “Put it back in!” says my Dad. “Scrape the hard part off and try again!” says my Mom. Once they came over for a closer look, they both agreed that the cake was a lost cause.

So I did what any failed baker would do, when left with delicious drink ingredients. I put the leftover pineapple juice, cherries, and rum to good use.

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I’m determined to make a pineapple upside-down cake successfully someday. I’ll lick my wounds, regroup, find a new recipe, and (hopefully) be back with a photo of a beautiful cake and a tale of triumph.

And if not, I’ll have a really good drink.

Addendum:

I managed to successfully make a pineapple upside-down cake a few days later, using this recipe.

This is what it looked like upside-down

This is what it looked like upside-down

I still had some minor mishaps. The cake pan I used was too shallow, so some (a lot, actually) of the buttery topping bubbled out. I was afraid I was going to set off the fire alarm at one point. But in the end, it turned out. Finally!

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Morning Glory Muffins

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This is a recipe I got from my lovely blogging friend Meaghan over at The Ginger and the Giant. They are Morning Glory Muffins, a recipe she found in a cookbook called Spilling the Beans, and they are definitely glorious.

I don’t make them as much as I would like, because they can be somewhat labour-intensive, by muffin standards. Now that I have a toddler-helper, I do some of the prep before I get her involved. While C was out ice skating with her Dad, I grated two cups of sweet potato, boiled some red lentils and chopped up an apple for the muffins. Toddlers do not have time for that sort of thing. The baby, however, was happy to watch from his vibrating chair while giving me encouraging smiles.

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These muffins are not only super delicious, but they stay moist for ages. They’re full of fruit and nuts and coconut and have a pretty small amount of added sugar. And rather than using carrot (which Pete has an aversion to since the carrot cake incident) I grate sweet potato. They’re super yummy, and they usually don’t last long around here.

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According to C, these are the muffins “that mommy helped me make.” Hmmm.

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Baby Goals, Revisited

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I was just re-reading my September post about the things I hoped I would do differently with my second baby. Some of the goals seem completely manageable, even in retrospect. And others, well, clearly I was dreaming. I looked back on that post and just laughed and laughed. Sigh.

Let’s revisit these goals, shall we?

Here are the five objectives I set out for Baby Number Two:

1) Naps in the Crib.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. How did I think I was going to achieve this? Sure, newborn babies will sleep anywhere, but once they are past the incredibly-drowsy-will-sleep-anywhere phase, babies generally do not like to nap in cribs. There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but this generally applies.

It is possible to encourage young babies to nap in their cribs, but usually this involves nursing, rocking, soothing, and other such comfort measures that take time and quietude. Where did I think my toddler would be during these times? On vacation? Making me lunch? Playing quietly and responsibly by herself? Good one, me.*

2) Introduce a Pacifier Earlier.

Well, we certainly tried with this one. Baby Number Two hates pacifiers. We tried and tried. We bought every kind of soother available in this country. We dipped them in breastmilk. We begged and pleaded. In the end, he used me as a pacifier instead, until he outgrew the need to comfort himself this way. I’m two-for-two in the failure department so far.

3) Use a Baby Carrier.

Success! We bought an Ergo, since we hated our other baby carrier, and we’ve used it numerous times, even though it’s been ridiculously cold outside for four months. We did it!

4) Relax about Feeding.

Another success, although I don’t think I can pat myself on the back too much for this one. Baby Number Two figured out how to nurse right away, and never looked back. You don’t get to be nineteen pounds by four months by being an unenthusiastic eater.

5) Go Easier on Myself.

Yeeeah, this didn’t work out so well either. I certainly didn’t push myself to do too much with two kids, but I definitely haven’t been easy on myself. This one is a work in progress.

So, I’ve had mixed results. But all in all, it’s mostly been a success. I have a happy baby and thriving toddler. I can’t ask for much more than that.**

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*The baby has actually started napping fairly well in his crib, at just over four months. So we eventually achieved this goal.
**Except sleep. I can, and I do, ask for sleep.

I Had a Baby!

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Four months ago!

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It’s amazing how things like blogging, exercising, banjo-playing, and sleeping go right out the window when you have a new baby.

But yes, I had a beautiful baby boy and he’s a very sweet little guy. He’s an easy baby during the day, which is great because I have a rambunctious two-year-old to wrangle. He’s relaxed and happy, although he still thinks he needs to wake up every two hours to eat in the night. He also just turned four months and weighs nearly nineteen pounds. Could those two things be related? Hmmm.

Anyway, the fact that this baby has kept us so sleep-deprived has meant that I’ve had almost no time or energy to do much of anything other than baby and child care. But I’m determined to somehow reboot this blog. We’ll see how this goes.

Because I’m not doing much of what I originally set out to do in this blog (namely, things that I enjoyed pre-parenthood such as playing my banjo) I’m going to incorporate the things that I do with my little people. C and I have started baking together, so I’m going to start documenting that. Baking with a two-year-old is both stressful and hilarious, and I’m hoping I can convey all that in some new posts. We’ll see what else I can cook up (pun!) for the blog in the next few weeks.

Thanks, as always, for reading! It’s good to be back.

Blog Neglect

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I’ve been neglecting my blog lately. I’m sure no one is alarmed or particularly put out by this. It would probably seem safe to assume that I’m slacking because I’m in my third trimester of pregnancy and I chase after an almost-two-year-old all day. I am tired, but that’s definitely not why I’m slacking. No, it’s because I’ve been binge-watching. I’m not proud of myself, but I’ve become addicted to Orange is the New Black.

It’s so zeitgeisty of me to be binge-watching right now. And that’s weird, because I’m usually resistant to things that are zeitgeisty. I don’t even own a smartphone. But I was bored one night when Pete was working late and decided to give Orange is the New Black a try, and I got hooked. Mind you, I didn’t get hooked right away. I hated the first episode, and disliked the second. But I was addicted by episode three.

I don’t want to discuss much about the show, because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but suffice it to say that OITNB has such a fantastic cast of fully-realized, fleshed-out female characters, it’s a joy to watch it all unfold. Once I got through the first two episodes, which essentially introduce the viewer to the main character and the world she’s entering, I started to really love learning about all the other characters and their backstories.

So, for now, I’m going to enjoy my binge-watching while I have the time for it. I’m pretty sure newborns don’t tolerate this sort of thing.

Back to Blogging…For Now

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I’ve taken a bit of a break from the blog lately.  I didn’t plan on it, but life got interesting.

We’re expecting Baby #2.  Little C is going to be Big Sister C.  And even though I didn’t think a pregnancy would get in the way of my blog-productivity, I spent weeks (and weeks and weeks) feeling so sick that typing on a keyboard would have sent me into a nausea tailspin.

Side note: I had zero morning sickness with C.  I thought I was super tough and designed for pregnancy.  Hubris.  It gets me every time.  Well, I got my comeuppance.  I spent my first trimester feeling like I was going to throw up from the moment I woke up every morning until the moment I went to bed.  I also had food aversions that left me living on crackers, toast, and Kraft Dinner for two months.  I may have developed scurvy.

So now I’m in the wonderful second trimester and back at it.  I’ve been cooking again (unthinkable two months ago) and even biking and running.  Well, “running” is a bit of a stretch.  I’ve been jogging very slowly.  I’ve been doing some extra work for the board of directors.  And I’m hoping to get back to blogging for a while.

I say “for a while” because I’m sure when this baby arrives I’ll be far too busy and exhausted to do anything other than try to keep everyone in this house alive and fed.  But for now, the blog is back.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

A Little Explanation

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I’ve been writing some heavier posts lately.  Pete has been proofreading them for me and he thinks that I should explain where these posts have been coming from.

You see, I struggle with self-doubt and with the idea that my writing is banal.  When I was in second-year university, a professor wrote this scathing word on one of my papers and it has haunted me ever since.  Looking back, that paper was banal.  I phoned it in.  But for some reason, his critique stuck with me.  I seem to have applied the crushing label “banal” to all my writing ever since.

Photo via thehothands.org

So, when I felt I had been posting too many recipes or lists of books that I’ve read (boring!) I decided to write about politics and current events.  I am a political science grad after all, and minimal-fee-paying member of the Canadian Political Science Association (don’t tell them I’m no longer a student!)

Anyway, whenever Pete reads my heavier posts, he always says: “Well, I think it’s really interesting and well-written, but probably no one is going to read it.”  Which is likely true, with the exception of my mom and sister.  But that’s okay.  I’ll post another recipe shortly and drive traffic up.  And I’m hoping, after they’ve jotted down the ingredients, that they might stick around and read about One Billion Rising.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Happy SITS Day to Me

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If you’re visiting Bike, Banjo & Baby for the first time, welcome!  I’m Suzanne, and I’m so happy you’ve stopped by.  You can read more about why I started this blog here.  I’m a (relatively) new parent and I’m striving to maintain some balance in my life.  I blog about fitting in the time for my interests, my hobbies (blogging included) and my passions.

(If you’re a regular reader, and you’re wondering what’s up, I’m a featured blogger today.  SITS is a community of bloggers, 40,000 strong.  SITS features a different blogger every weekday, and today is my day.)

I’m a banjo player who struggles to find the time to actually play the five-string banjo.  My husband rides all manner of bicycles and manages to do a good job of hopping onto one of his seven (that is correct, seven) bikes from time to time.

As a political junkie, I try to keep up with the news and I’ve even managed to attend some political lectures since having a baby.  I was once a voracious reader but I now often struggle to finish a book.  And I’m an avid hiker and camper who managed to take a ten-month-old to Algonquin Provincial Park and survive.  I signed up for an adventure race and learned to (kind of) enjoy stroller running.

I’d love to hear from you and to find out what keeps you busy, whether you’re a parent or not.  How do you find the time to fit everything in?  What excites you?  What keeps you motivated?  What would you spend all of your time doing if you had that luxury?

Thanks again for visiting.