This move was different than all my previous moves. My family was not in the area, and the military was not sponsoring free help. I admit, I was nervous thinking about moving day. What if I ended up alone? Grimly I looked at the prices of movers. They were not good.
I was surprised when not one, but three friends came out to truck my stuff from one end of downtown to the other. I had a lot of stuff, most of the furniture heavy, large, and made of wood, and my old apartment was on the second floor. Did I mention parking downtown is a pain? Did I mention I didn’t pack my stuff in boxes, but in trash bags? Dana’s father (Dana is my new roommate) gamely came along to help, thinking a 205 square foot apartment would surely be easy. By the end, he was huffing and puffing and moping his brow. We were all sweaty, and increasingly hungry.
Now this, I had planned for. If there is one thing I have learned with moving, it is that knick knacks come and go. Sure there are plenty of things I value and hold close, but sometimes they…. run away. Moving is like doing laundry. What you end up with is never what you start with. There is some alternate dimension out there somewhere, full of salt and pepper shakers, your favorite fork, and piles of lonely socks. But I digress…. knick knacks come and go, but a good meal is always appreciated. When I heard that I had friends (actual friends! Wow!) who would willingly drive downtown just to help me out, I started to plan a meal. It was simple. After all, who knew what pots, pans and utensils I would end up with. However, it was homemade, and I put a lot of thought into it. It was also one of said friend’s birthday. There would be a cake. And candles.
The menu was as follows:
Homemade mozzarella basil pizza (homemade dough, homemade mozzarella, and store bought sauce/fresh basil)
Yellow cake with chocolate ganache
The pizza dough came out fabulous. The mozzarella, being only a second attempt, ran away with me and Sally had to buy some to augment my reduced size finished batch. The baguette was store bought (resulting in lots of leftovers to make strata with) but organic and tasty. The yellow cake was my favorite. I have never been of fan of the typical yellow cake. To me, it is so basic and flavorless. Um, this cake? WOW. I mean, WOW. What a difference to have organic pastry flour and real vanilla. The taste was powerful, pungent, and yet simple. It went well with the sweet and very easy to make chocolate ganache.
We finished moving irritated and hungry. We finished our meal laughing and singing happy birthday. (It is a sign of true happiness that Sally didn’t mind us singing to her!) Friends are good. Food is good. There really isn’t anything better than kneading pizza dough with your hands, and then watching your friends smile as they eat it. You can make smiles… WITH YOUR HANDS! Hand made smiles!
This is what food, and friends, were made for.
This week in updates:
Well, I kind of said it all, except that I can’t really include a food budget receipt for the week. It is too all over the place! I have crazy leftovers too, so nothing is really what it seems around here. I can say that having a full kitchen is amazing. Having a freezer is amazing. My freezer already has chili in it (a housewarming gift from a friend), leftover pizza, and homemade pasta in it. My fridge is full of the strata, and I’ll probably freeze that too. A full fridge and a full heart. What more could you ask for?
Maybe Monday off. That would be nice.
The recipe: Sally’s Birthday Cake (Yellow cake with chocolate ganache)
Use good flour and good vanilla for this simple cake, and you will not be disappointed. The chocolate ganache is truly easy, and delicious. Simple ingredients means this cake is not only good for your taste buds, but good for your wallet too! This cake recipe was adapted for the book The Homemade Pantry, by Alana Chernila. I added more fat, and I don’t do that separating the eggs and sifting flour thing. Some things are just too much work!
For the Cake:
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
3 cups organic whole wheat pastry flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (the good kind)
1 cup cream
For the Ganache:
2 cups dark chocolate chips
1 cup cream
1 tablespoon butter
To make the cake, mix all the ingredients but the flour in a bowl. Use a whisk to make it fluffy. Add in the flour, and add to a greased standard size pan (like a 9 by 9 or two standard sized cake pans if you are going thinner and circular). Cook for about 40 minutes at 350. Let cool before popping the cake out of the pan, and cutting in half. For the bottom layer, cut off the raised portion on the top, so that the other half will sit flat on top of it.
To make the ganache, heat cream to a simmer over the oven. Put this hot cream in a bowl, with your chocolate chips and the butter. Mix until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Let it sit for about 10 minutes until it takes on the consistency of frosting.
Put one layer of cake down, and spread chocolate ganache over it. Place the other layer of cake on top of that, and top it with more ganache. Add some candles, and you are done! Enjoy.