Sunday, March 30, 2008

Easter Sunday and The Perfect Party Cake

Matthew 28:5-7 

 The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, Who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him.' Now I have told you."

This year Easter plans got off to a slow start. My youngest daughter was to be going to Central Oregon with her husband to visit his family, and our good friends the Yeatons, who often get together with us on Easter, were going somewhere else, and I was having a hard time pinning down the other daughters. Then on a day early in the week before Easter my mother calls and says that she wanted to have a family Easter get-together at the retirement home where she lives on the week after Easter. Somehow that just didn't seem like a good idea to me so I found myself saying why don't we have the event at my house on Easter. She thought that was a great idea. Perhaps that is what she was fishing for all along. Now the group I'm talking about is the same that came on Thanksgiving, and that was over 40 people. But this was late notice, and I was figuring we wouldn't have that many people. I suggested to Mom that she do the inviting, and that it would be pot-luck. We decided that she would bring the greens for a salad, and how much she brought depended on how many came. She had wanted to bring a Chinese chicken salad made with lettuce, but I knew I would be serving ham and scalloped potatoes and that did not seem like a good combination. And besides, at my house we make Chinese Chicken Salad with cabbage.

Mom called back a couple days later and said that the only family member available to come was cousin Jennifer and her fiancé Haig, as well as my Mom and Dad. That is interesting, because they weren't there at Thanksgiving. She also said that she couldn't get an answer out of my brother George - no surprise there. I just figured he wouldn't show. That made a perfect number for dinner - 10 at the table plus Emily at the corner in her highchair. I felt good about how things were working out. And also, that meant that the Daring Baker cake would be just the right size for dessert. If 40 people were coming I would be in trouble.

Easter Sunday Menu

green salad with orange salad dressing
French bread
fruit salad (brought by Jennifer) with yogurt dressing

baked glazed ham
scalloped potatoes
steamed asparagus with butter and garlic

the perfect party cake

I had much earlier purchased the m&m candies for the Easter hunt, but I decided that I didn't have the energy this year, and Christian hasn't really seemed to have gotten into the spirit of the whole thing anyway. When I was a kid we all loved the hunt, but there was eventually 8 of us in on the hunt, and that makes for a lot more excitement. But at the last minute I came up with a terrific solution. I got a lovely large basket from the basement (there's amazing amount a things in my basement) and I put some tissue paper in the bottom, topped with a linen napkin, and then poured in all the candy, putting some of the candy into about a dozen little plastic eggs. Then I topped it off with a very cute little bunny I found on the third floor and a great big bow on the top of the handle, punctuated with some silk violets, also just found laying about. Then I put the basket on the "lion" in the front hall. People could just take what they wanted and it turned out to be a very well received idea.

The entry from the front hall to the living room is about 11 feet wide and on either side, jutting into the space, are two 30 inch high things we call "the lions" because they remind us of majestic entries in Hong Kong, where we once lived. There used to be a pillar on each "lion", but they were removed way before our time. I have a tendency to give everything a name of some kind. That way people know what I'm talking about. One of them can be seen here in this picture of my grandson Christian.

On Easter morning the first cooking I did was to get the bread started before we went to church, and Riley made blueberry muffins. Afterwards family members gathered at our house to get the dinner and the house ready. Emily and I started right in on the cake as the bread was not quite ready for its second rising. I wasn't going to make the butter cream until after dinner, but the layers needed to be made. Emily thought that the lemon was delightful, and she was quite pleased to able to help get the pans ready. We actually did two sets of pans because I missed the part in the directions that called for 2 inch pans, which luckily I did have down in the basement.

Mid making the cake the bread was ready to be punched down and ready for its second rise. Again Emily was a very willing helper. I absolutely love people with enthusiasm and Emily gets an A+ for enthusiasm.I'm so glad that she likes to cook. Between the two of us we got the bread dough all punched down, rested a bit, and the smushed for the second rise. Emily was so delighted with the dough that she put her face right to the dough and took a bite.

Right about this time daughter number two started in on her scalloped potatoes. This is Annie, and she also loves to cook. I think daughter number three helped her somewhat. This is Corey, and she's not quite as fond of cooking, but she's good at it when she decides to cook. And also at about this same time the Yeatons arrived unexpectedly. They brought us a cute little bag filled with Easter goodies. Right away they began to help. Ken set the table and Marilyn did the washing up. It's so nice to have good friends. While we were all working we all had tea. After about an hour Ken and Marilyn left, as they were having dinner out of town.

Shortly after the Yeatons left my parents arrived, and then Jennifer and Haige arrived and it really began to feel like a party. More tea was made, but Riley gave a Scotch to my dad. I've never seen my Dad drink tea. The girls all enjoyed getting to know Haise, who is talkative but pleasant and enthusiastic about things. By 2:30 the bread was done and we all sat down for the first course of salads and bread. The bread was a huge success, and most of it was gone before the main course.

Just as we were finishing the salad and Emily was being taken upstairs for a nap my brother George showed up with his two boys, Taku and Tatsu. We quickly made room for them at the end of the table. More salad was made and the bread was passed around again. I was glad they came, and I think they had a nice time. George later helped me with the photographs of the cake. We were still all sitting at the table talking by 5 o'clock. I still hadn't put the cake together, but Jennifer and Haige had to leave, as they were having guests at their house.

But as soon as they left I started in on the butter-cream. First I got a cake plate out, put a doily on it, and cut the layers in half. I chose rhubarb-cherry jam for the filling, as daughter number three did not like the idea of raspberry. Then I put on a pan of water, put the egg whites and sugar in my mixing bowl and set it over the pan of steaming water and stir until the mixture was warm to the touch and the sugar looked disolved. This is always the scary part. Then I wupped up the egg whites until they were cool, and tossed in the very soft butter, one cube at a time, and mixed very well. The butter-cream went together very nicely, and in no time I had the cake ready for the coconut. I'd never coconut all over a cake before. It's a bit of a pain, or should I say it takes a pains taking effort. I should have decorated the cake more, but it was definitely time for dessert, so I went with a cake that looked as much like the picture in Dorie's book as I could manage.

The cake was very well received by everyone, and when all was done there was less than a quarter of the cake still left.

Well I'm just leaving for Seattle for the Opening Day of Mariner's Baseball, and I will finish this blog later.

Now I'm back. We had a great time in Seattle, but it sure is colder up there than it is down here! The Mariners won the opening game of the season, but it took J J Putz longer than usual to close the top of the ninth, and the next day they lost when a Ranger got a home-run off of him. This is VERY unusual. Turns out he has an injury, and now he's on the DL for fifteen days. I sure hope he gets all better. He's my favorite player, though I'm fond of most of the Mariners.

My Critique of the Perfect Party Cake

Well like I said, the cake was very well received. I suspect that I might have been the only one who wasn't so fond of it. But for me the problem was that I put the coconut on it at my husband's request and it made the cake too sweet for me. I think that coconut would be better on a seven minute frosting, or white mountain frosting, but not butter cream. But this was not the cake's problem, but mine.

The cake was very easy to make. The only hitch was when I didn't think it was cooked enough because it was soooo pale. But it's a white cake, and white is pale.  I didn't think the layers rose enough and I would like to try this cake with whipping up the whites separately and folding them in.  I'm a really big fan of cakes that use no artificial leavening.  

The butter cream came together very easily. Maybe the reason it seemed easy was because I have already made butter cream for the December Daring Baker event. Nothing like having a little experience.

But I had to serve the cake immediately after assembling it, and I think it would have greatly benefitted from being chilled a couple of hours. I like my butter cream to be hard.

I didn't use the lemon essence because I didn't have any and I don't like a phony lemon taste. But I think I would have liked the cake to taste more lemony.

I'm not a fancy cake decorator and when I began to look at what other Daring Bakers did to decorate their cakes I was absolutely blown away. They got so creative, while I just followed the recipe. My husband thought that my chocolate ganache would have been a great filling. How about it one used the chocolate filling with the flavoring as orange, and maybe some brandy added somewhere. And I liked the idea of topping the cake with toasted almonds. And what if one used candied toasted almonds.

Great cake really. I must try it again sometime, with variations of course.

The Perfect Party Cake

for the cake

2 ½ cups cake flour
 ( or 10 ounces all-purpose flour, sifted)
1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (you can add some lemon juice)

4 large egg whites

1 ½ cups sugar

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

for the butter-cream

1 cup sugar

4 large egg whites

3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

for finishing

anything you like to put between the layers of the cake, like jam or curd or berries

Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease two 9 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or wax paper and lightly grease the parchment.

To Make the Cake

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.

Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. 
Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.

Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. 

Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. 

Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. 

Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. 

Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean

Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners.

Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).

To Make the Butter-cream

Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. 
The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.

Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.

Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.

During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again.

On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. 
You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.

To Assemble the Cake

Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half.

Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.
Spread it with one third of the preserves. Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the butter-cream.

Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover).

Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top. 
Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.


The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but I think it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the refrigerator. [I (Molly) think it is better if it is in the refrigerator for a couple hours]

Whether you wait or slice and enjoy it immediately, the cake should be served at room temperature; it loses all its subtlety when it’s cold. Depending on your audience you can serve the cake with just about anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.


The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If you want to freeze the cake, slide it into the freezer to set, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator.

Playing Around

Since lemon is such a friendly flavour, feel free to make changes in the preserves: other red preserves – cherry or strawberry – look especially nice, but you can even use plum or blueberry jam.

Fresh Berry Cake
If you will be serving the cake the day it is made, cover each layer of buttercream with fresh berries – use whole raspberries, sliced or halved strawberries or whole blackberries, and match the preserves to the fruit. You can replace the coconut on top of the cake with a crown of berries, or use both coconut and berries. You can also replace the buttercream between the layers with fairly firmly whipped sweetened cream and then either frost the cake with buttercream (the contrast between the lighter whipped cream and the firmer buttercream is nice) or finish it with more whipped cream. If you use whipped cream, you’ll have to store the cake the in the refrigerator – let it sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge." 
Albert Einstein

Monday, March 24, 2008

Opening Day of Baseball - a mini-vacation

Matthew 11:28-30
 "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, 
and I will give you rest. 
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, 
for I am gentle and humble in heart, 
and you will find rest for your souls. 
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

So Heidi finally got a week off, thus I finally got a week off.   Well most of a week, as I told Heidi I'd take Emily one day, so she could really have a day off.  And when Riley realized that I got a week off, he got a week off.  So right a way we got tickets to the opening day of baseball in Seattle, which was Monday March 31st.  And then we knew that we'd need someplace to stay, but it's always so hard as I hate hotels.  But on Friday our friends Chuck and Lynn Goodwin from Seattle were coming to Portland for the weekend and we knew we would see them a bunch.  This made it awkward seeing if we might be able to stay at their house on Monday evening, but they were very forthcoming at inviting us.  They themselves were staying at the Benson Hotel in Portland, though we would have gladly let them stay at our house.  Trouble is our daughters keep taking the double bed.  I need to find out where that bed is now.

We had originally planned to go out to dinner with them on Friday night, but I had had a rather rough week and by Friday I had no clothes to wear that didn't need to go into the wash.  In the morning I managed to get them into the wash, but by early evening they were still all in the wash.  My biggest problem was that the tranquilizer and sleeping pill that the doctor had me taking, for two weeks because of how stressed I've been feeling because of our oldest daughter's divorce situation, had finally got to a permanent state of sleepiness.  All day Friday all I could think about was that I wanted to take a nap - desperately.  I had e-mailed Riley saying that I really needed a nap, and then I called him, but because he was taking the next week off he had too much work to finish to come home.  

In desperation I took Emily to the Lloyd Center and let her do whatever she wanted.  She watched the ice skaters, then twirled all the racks she could in the jewelry department of Macy's.  Then looked at purses and back to the jewelery.  Then we head town the concourse to the pet store and looked at the puppies and rabbits and fish and kitties, etc.  Emily then headed on down the concourse and wanted to go into the men's suit store and when I said no she fell on the floor crying.  Now this is not her usual style and we were at the far end of the mall so I knew I was in trouble.  It was a bit of a struggle getting her back on track and heading back to the car, especially when we hit Barnes and Noble.  She knew right where the children's book department was an had every intention of checking out everything.  I found Marie Claire Idees and wanted to buy it and I knew that having to stand in line with Emily would be quite a feet.  Amazingly when we did I found a little book about puppies and told her to sit down and look at it, she did.  And when she was done she put it back on the shelf where it came from.  I finally made my purchase and picked Emily up.  Now she had been standing for quite some time, over an hour, and her diaper had efficiently collected everything.  But when I picked her up it began to squeeze out on I got all wet.  So now I really had no clothes to wear and I was really tired and I still was desperately in need of a nap. So when Riley got home he suggested that we call off our get-together with our friends until Saturday.  I usually don't like to back out on something but I did remember that our friends had called just before I went out with Emily and they said that the drive was very difficult because of the weather.  So when Riley called them at their hotel they were fine about the change of plans.  We all went out to dinner the next evening and had a wonderful time. We don't see Chuck and Lynn all that often but we always enjoy being with them. And we went to lunch with them at Kenny and Zuke's, a really good Jewish delicatessen with terrific corned beef and pastrami, the next day and all got so much to eat that we all took home leftovers. The Goodwins ate their leftovers on their way back home to Seattle and Riley and I ate ours the next day on our way up to Seattle.

As usual I didn't get ready ahead of time for our trip to Seattle.  When will I ever learn?!  I need to pack my bag the night before and get the extra things I like to take on a trip all ready to go.  I did start my bread the night before.  But the next day I did not hit the ground running, but started out rather slowly. At some point I realized that I need to get going, especially since I needed the bread.

We knew that after the baseball game we would need to eat, and we always find it hard finding a place to eat in Seattle - I don't know why. So after thinking a bit on the problem I decided that I would bring a picnic lunch. After I got the bread going on the second raising on Monday morning I knew I was falling behind schedule. I didn't want to be late for the game, which was to start at 3:40. I had decided to make tuna fish filling and eggs and ham filling.

Tuna Fish Filling

2 cans of albacore tuna, drained
sweet pickle relish
finely diced red onion
mayonaise, thinned with buttermilk

These are the basic ingredients and I think that how much of everything you put into the mixture is up to your taste. I love lots of pickle relish and diced onion, and I make the mayonaise about the consistancy of cream. The ingredients other than the tuna are your basic elements of tartar sauce or
remoulade.. I should try mixing them up sometime without the tuna and see what I get. If nothing else it could be a mix ready for the tuna, thus less fuss.

Eggs and Ham Filling

hard boiled eggs, peeled and diced using an egg slicer
ham, very finely diced
some red onion, very finely diced
salt and pepper

mayonnaise, thinned with buttermilk to the consistency of cream
mustard of your choice, I like Dijon

To dice up the eggs I place an egg in the egg slicer and slice it. Then, carefully lifting up the egg and opening the slicer, I carefully turn the sliced egg 90 degrees and then reslice the egg. When you've got you eggs diced up add the ham and onions and stir with a fork. Thin the mayonnaise with the buttermilk and then stir in the mustard. Add to the egg mixture and stir up gently. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed.

By the time I got the fillings made the bread was just about ready to be put into the pan to rise. I know that Julia Child says to let them be free on the table, but I like the pan.  Then I dashed to the basement to find a picnic basket.  I love picnic baskets and I have found some real gems at Goodwill.  I think that my love of picnic baskets started with "Mickey Mouse's Picnic". The one I came up with is in the shape of a partial circle and has really good dishes in it and was never used before when I bought it.  I added to it a tablecloth, a couple tea towels, bread board, and a straw mat for sitting on.  And as to food items I put in a baggie of sugar and a few Wittards tea bagsLater Riley brought up the small cooler, added ice in baggies to it, and I put the sandwich fillings, the Pellegrino and a can of ginger ale into it. .  This ready I dashed up stairs to pack, telling Riley to remember that we were fast running out of time.  He was doing I don't know what, but he was in a very good mood.

Eventually everything was ready and we headed out of town (after getting a cup of coffee) at noon.  It wasn't long before I noticed Riley was driving really fast, but after I pointed it out he slowed down.  However, it was about Chehalis that he had me drive.  That's maybe half way, and I think in the end this was good, as it was me driving into Seattle to park and I took a very different approach to this than Riley would have.  I found an absolutely terrific place to park right off of Pioneer Square that leads directly to Safeco Field.   The temperature was 53 degrees and the sky was sunny, so I put on my sweater and neck scarf and left my red hooded wool coat. We hadn't walked too far when I noticed that a lot of people were dressed in decidedly winter clothing. I figured that they knew something I didn't know. In hind sight I should have gone right back and got my winter coat out of the car, but what did I know. Instead, we spotted a Mariner's gear shop with a 50% off sign. Riley was wanting a Mariner hoody, so in we went. Nothing in his size was on sale, but I found a hoody in my size for 50% off. We also found an absolutely adorable pink Mariner baseball hat for Emily. She's always putting on people's baseball hats and I had decided I must find one in her size. I put on the hoody right away and I was very glad that I had it, as Seattle can and did get very cold. I also put on a second pair of socks and my ankle-warmers. In my bag I also had with me a plaid shawl from Scotland which I wrapped around myself as the evening progressed.

In no time we were in our seats and the game was just about to start. It was already quite obvious that the evening was going to be cold. As I mentioned above I had to bundle up with everything I had. I had a great seat and I really enjoyed the game so I was sufficiently distracted from being miserable in the cold. They won, which was the first time they had won when we were in the stadium. We had been starting to feel like a curse or something. The pitcher was a new guy who came from the Baltimore Orioles . They trade five men for him. Bedard started off really well, but soon it was looking a bit iffy. He pitched over a hundred pitches by the middle of the game. But it seems that he's a pitcher with stick-to-itiveness. Once outside with the crowd heading back to the car it seemed reasonable to stop and have dinner in one of the many restaurants along the route, but in actuality all I wanted was to get warm by sitting on my heated seat in my car that would eventually heat up. We headed straight for the Goodwins house, where we took our picnic inside and ate our dinner while chatting with Chuck and Lynn. We tried not to keep them up too late because Lynn has to leave for work at 7:30 in the morning.

Lynn was long gone by the time I woke up. I got up and got dress and headed down stairs, where Chuck and Riley were having coffee. They got a cup of coffee for me and we sat down and ate a bran blueberry muffin. Afterwards we went and looked a Chuck's pictures of Paris. They have been twice taken to Paris for a Thanksgiving holiday with Chuck's mother. Quelle chance!! He had some very nice pictures, but they weren't organized. I told him that he needed to organize, though there is an irony there, as the Goodwins are excessively organized and tidy people. Unfortunately the Goodwins keep their house very cold, and after being so cold at the game, all I could think about was sitting somewhere in the sun. We tidied up our stuff and the room we slept in, loaded the car and headed out - after taking a look at Chucks 26 ft sail boat that sleeps four.

We headed to Woodinville and found the Starbuks and a a seat in the sun. Yes! We had coffee and a breakfast sandwich. We sat in the sun and did a crossword puzzle. I finally got warm, and it was lovely. Then we left and went to the Lacanche store to see what was up and say hi. They gave us a bottle of wine, and Riley bought a bottle of wine. After chatting for for a while with Stan we headed for the Mukeleto Ferry. It was a pleasant country drive. As we got close the terrain headed steeply down towards the water. We zipped up to the pay station, got our ticket and headed straight to the ferry, where they were just closing the bar. Seeing us the stopped closing the bar, leaving just enought room for us to drive under the bar and get onto the ferry, which immediately left the dock, heading for Whidbey Island.

Whidbey Island was to be the next leg of our trip. Our ferry came is somewhere around Clinton. The ride was hardly 20 minutes. We then headed on down the road. I was clueless as to where we were going, but Riley seemed confident. At some point along the road we spotted a sign to Langley and decided to go there. It's a charming little down, very trendy in its own way, but it was Tuesday and the majority of the shops were closed. But that meant that the streets weren't crowded with tourists, though it was Washington's spring break. We eventually decided that we should stop and have some of our picnic lunch. There was a tiny park in the middle of town, but I felt like I would be on display eating lunch there, and we headed out of town. But at the edge of town we spotted a very cute little park where we ate lunch. It was very pleasant.

After lunch we headed out for our main destination. I had absolutely no idea where we were going or how to get there, but Riley seemed fairly confident about it all. I suppose I should explain how it is we were going there. Riley's assistant at work had told him that she had an aunt who lived on Whidbey Island who loved to have visitors and that we should go stay with her a night while on our mini-vacation. Riley told me about this, but only as an amusement, as he could not imagine our visiting a complete stranger. But I thought it sounded like a terrific opportunity to me, and I told him I thought we should do it. He did not think I really meant it at first, but eventually I convinced him. I'm guessing that eventually Riley contacted via email the woman we would be visiting - Tammy Tasker. So here we were, finding our way to Aunt Tammy's place.

"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly." 
Robert Kennedy

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Riley's Birthdays

Psalm 37:37
Consider the blameless, observe the upright; 

there is a future for the man of peace.

This year Riley managed to get two days of birthday celebration. That's good because he turned 60 and that needs to be a big deal. For days I tried to figure out how to have a birthday celebration on his birthday proper, which was a Tuesday, but I never came up with a solution for that dilemma. I finally came up with the idea of just the two of us going out to dinner at whatever restaurant Riley chose. He thought that was a great idea, and after a few days of thinking about what restaurant he'd like to go to he realized that he really didn't want to go to any restaurant where anyone is wearing a suit. That pretty much excluded almost all steakhouses except the mediocre ones. He selected Ken's Artisan Pizza - an excellent choice in my opinion. We always have a good time there.

Riley took his birthday and the day before off, so that gave him a four day weekend. He took time to work on straightening up the third floor. Now I could put pictures of the mess on my web, but that would be embarrassing. It will be better if I put it on after it's all cleaned up, should that happen. Riley loves accomplishing things, so that made for a very good birthday weekend for him. He really did make progress. Of course everyone keeps telling me that I must throw more things out. Now that is true, but I have to take this task on slowly. You have to think about it.

Emily was with us on his birthday, so the three of us went out to breakfast at Fat City Cafe, a cafe in Multnomah village that is very funky and has been there at least since the fifties. The walls are completely covered with old license plates and road signs and there's booths and tables and a counter and it isn't that big of a place. Emily and I had hash-browns and a fried egg and a grapefruit half, and Riley had a ham and cheese omelet with toast. And of course we had the coffee, which isn't that good, but it's part of the experience. If I were to change anything at Fat City it would be to bring my own silverware. Theirs is really bad. Afterwards we went down the street to the candy store, but it wasn't open yet. Later in the day, after Christian got home from school, the four of us went to Mio Gelatto, because Christian is always asking to go there and a birthday seemed like a good excuse.

Now I still needed to settle on what to do about the family and a party for Riley. It was decided that we would have a dinner on the following weekend, but I was continually confused on which day was the best. I decided I would make the daring baker cake for this months project, and Riley wanted to have my meatballs in spicy sauce for dinner. I was having trouble getting totally behind all of this, because I was tired and confused. In the end it turned out that some thought the party was Saturday and some thought it was Sunday, and some couldn't come on Saturday couldn't come on Sunday. Then at some point I decided that what we should do is have a great big English breakfast on Sunday. This idea was well received by all. At last! I had a hard time sleeping the night before (worrying about my children) so I decided to get up, get the kitchen all cleaned up, and set the table for the birthday breakfast. Corey was still up, but she didn't help. At 2:00 we both went to bed. Even though I didn't get enough sleep I was very glad to be more ready.

After church we started in on getting the breakfast ready.

Menu for an English Breakfast

flakey scones
blueberry muffins
scrambled eggs
fried mushrooms
fried tomatoes
orange juice
grapefruit juice
tea and coffee

I turned the Lacanche electric oven to 350, lined a small rectangular baking dish with foil, put the sausages into the dish and into the oven, to be ignored until time for breakfast. Next, Riley started in on his famous blueberry muffins, to be put into the Miele oven. And Emily and I started making the flakey scones. She caught on right away. The sight of Emily making scones pleased everyone. When Marilyn arrived she took over the bacon for me. I still haven't really figured out how to make bacon for a crowd. Annie and Sarah did the mushrooms and tomatoes, and finally it was all ready.

We finally sat down to breakfast at 11:34. I know this because I took a picture and then it has time on it. The breakfast was greatly enjoyed by all, and not a bit of food was left. that's always so nice. Of course then I was worried that they didn't get enough eat. But I was assured that they did. Then when we were done, Riley opened his presents. Sarah and Zac gave him a dvd of a football movie. Annie, Corey, and Heidi gave him a great big basket filled with terrific Italian food items, and he really enjoyed that.

"We make a living by what we get, 
but we make a life by what we give." Winston Churchill