Saturday, October 31, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons bourbon, apple brandy, or rum (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
- 2 medium Fuji or Gala apples (13 to 14 ounces total), peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/3-inch cubes (I use what we have at home, usually Honeycrisp)
- 1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans (about 6 ounces)
- 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 3 cups powdered sugar (measured, then sifted)
- Coarsely chopped toasted pecans (for garnish)
- Special equipment: 2 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch high sides. Line bottom of each pan with parchment paper round. (I know, that part seems like extra work, but I swear those cakes popped right out!) Whisk first 7 ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat 1 cup butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add both sugars and beat until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla, then bourbon, if desired (mixture may look curdled). Add flour mixture to egg mixture in 3 additions alternately with applesauce in 2 additions, beating until blended after each addition. Stir in apples and pecans. Divide batter between cake pans; smooth tops.
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of each comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Transfer cakes to racks and cool in pans 15 minutes. Cut around pan sides to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto racks; peel off parchment paper. Place another rack atop 1 cake and invert again so that cake is rounded side up. Repeat with second cake. Cool completely. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap each cake in plastic and store at room temperature.
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla extract and pinch of salt. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until frosting is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Using long serrated knife, trim off rounded tops of cakes to make level; brush off any loose crumbs. (You know I don't do this part) Transfer 1 cake to platter, trimmed side up. Drop half of frosting (about 11/2 cups) by spoonfuls atop cake. Spread frosting evenly to edges of cake. Top with second cake, trimmed side down. Drop remaining frosting by spoonfuls onto top of cake, leaving sides of cake plain. Spread frosting to top edges of cake, swirling and creating peaks, if desired. Sprinkle with pecans. Let cake stand at room temperature 1 hour to allow frosting to set slightly. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let cake stand at room temperature at least 2 hours before serving.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
If Found, Please Return.
I knew this day would come.
I’ve had a bullseye on my back ever since we moved away from Oregon and I started working from home. I felt it grow larger last October when my most recent boss (I’ve had 8) was hired. 3 weeks ago the bullseye moved from my back to my forehead when I got wind of a few more people being laid off from an already too-lean organization.
5 years from the day I started with the company, I got a frantic cell phone call from my boss. I knew the news would not be good. There had just been a last-minute company meeting, and as he cut to the chase I felt my shoulders go numb with tension.
He blathered on about timing, and budget, and severance, and how this had nothing to do with performance. I answered his queries with clipped syllables while my mind raced through unintelligible thoughts and I successfully subdued my desire to hang up on him. When we were done there was nothing to do but let it start to sink in.
I spent several days feeling bitter and panicked. I surfed the Internet, and spent much time staring at our bank balance. I made some calls, sent out emails, and generally wondered “what next”? I had mental conversations with God…. “You know, when I said I was having a hard time juggling the kids and maintaining my productivity, I didn’t mean that I couldn’t handle it. I was having a tough day, but I kept plugging away and I was getting it all done. I’ve never been late for a conference call – even the late night ones with Hong Kong. I didn’t want to not work, I just wanted some guidance on better time management.” This was probably the most intelligible of these many discussions, as most consisted of “Why?” and "What Now?”
It’s always hard not to second-guess yourself. Would we have made some different choices in the last 6 or 9 months if I had known this was a hard reality? Yes. But I take pride in being a productive person, and find that obsessing over the past creates no forward motion. And I am all about forward motion.
Now I am spending my time wrapping up loose ends and forming a plan. A final whirlwind business trip and many doctor/dentist/eye appointments have kept us busy. After much consideration I have lost all hesitation about participating in any – and every - program available to us. Social services is out there for this exact situation, and while I have no illusions about the fact that they are overcrowded and underfunded (fyi – Detroit’s unemployment is at 20%), it doesn’t hurt to try.
I have 4 days left, and see the crossroads looming. Even though I feel a little better about things, I can’t help but keep thinking……. What Now?
PS - Did I mention that I can't wait for 2009 to be over?