Onyx Cocoa Sifted Yellow Cake


There are flourless chocolate cakes; I’m aware of that. However, I wanted to see if a gluten-free cake mix would produce something with a more structured crumb. Aldi’s gluten-free products have been getting good reviews from folks in my area, so I thought I would try a box for myself. Our diet does not demand that we avoid gluten, but a few of our friends are sensititve to wheat. There were three options at the grocery store: baking mix, brownie mix, and yellow cake mix.  Pancake or waffle batter wasn’t what I had in mind, and although I was looking for chocolate, I bought the mix for cakes rather than brownies. Some quick research confirmed that you could add a four tablespoons of cocoa powder to transform a yellow cake into devil’s food. There was just enough black onyx cocoa powder left in my kitchen (I’d splurged over the Christmas holiday when we went to Peddler’s village with some friends. I don’t frequent quaint spice shops.). At first, I tried to beat the eggs enough to give them some volume, but I don’t have an electric mixer, and my husband’s patience with the noise of a hand whisk beating against the side of a metal bowl is not great. So I just combined the ingredients, spooned the batter into the prepared pan, and slid it into the preheated oven. 40 minutes later the cake was baked through. The cake slid out of the pan very easily. I didn’t wait very long before slicing it into two disks. Although it was still warm, the cake held together. Apricot jam was the chosen filling this time around. There were two scoops of ice cream left in the freezer, so I didn’t bother trying to make frosting.   It worked. The texture was a bit grainy, and there was probably a hint of different grain flavors that you are used to, but it still worked. Maybe we need to have another slice when it has cooled to room temperature…just to make sure ( ;

Categories: Dessert, Desserts, Food and drink, Health and wellness | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cream Cheese Spinach Alfredo



That’s the name of one of the local grocery store’s monthly magazine. It really is mostly advertising: coupons and recipes using ingredients that you can find on their shelves. Since it is free, I flip through the pages just in case one or two photos might inspire me.

Of course, the January issue contains recipes that promise to help you with your New Year’s resolutions. Since all of the ingredients in the Lightened-Up Pasta Alfredo happened to already be in my kichen, I decided to tear that page out. It stuck to my refrigerator door as a reminder for me to prepare it sometime this week.

The catch is that I didn’t have the “light” cream cheese or the “low-sodium” chicken broth, so I can’t tell you if their diet-version actually tastes good or has a good texture.

The other substitution I made was lime zest for the lemon, and I don’t recommend it. Otherwise, the no-heavy-cream alfredo was quite tasty.

Ingredients (for about 4 servings):

9 oz spaghetti/fettuccine/linguine (your choice), prepared according to package directions

Zest of one lemon

6 oz fresh spinach leaves, cut into shreds then chopped

1 T butter

2 tsp minced garlic

5 T cream cheese

1 c chicken broth

1/8 t nutmeg

½ c grated Parmesan cheese



Cook the spinach in about 1/2 cup of water until the leaves just begin to wilt. Drain the water off and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Fluff the spinach apart with a fork, and set it aside.

Saute the garlic in the butter for about one minute. Add the cream cheese and chicken broth, whisking to smooth out the liquid. Season with nutmeg, salt & pepper (You can add the lemon zest if you are interested.). Let this mixture simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the Parmesan.

Combine the spinach and cooked pasta. Pour the alfredo sauce over the pasta, and stir the combination so that everything is coated evenly.

Enjoy! We had some leftover cold ham on the side.





Categories: Cheese, Food and drink, pasta, sauces & condiments | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Four Cups of Coffee


Anna and Joel volunteered to host the first tasting of 2017 in their home. The cold and the falling snow outside was perfect weather for a late-morning coffee tasting.

My husband had to drive to Ambler to purchase some locally-roasted beans. Our newest supplier is only open Thursday and Saturday mornings. It is worth following their schedule, because the “farmer’s market” that also sells their beans adds $6/lb to the price they charge.

While he was purchasing a pound of Aged Sumtra, I caught a ride with our neighbors. When we all arrived, our hosts had the table set and our Coffee Tasting Charts ready.


Our newest guest got to figure out what the proper ratio of grounds to hot water should be.


We tried her Guatamalan bean brew first.

Aroma: earthy, nutty

Acidity: low (some said tart)

Body: tea-like

Flavor: sour, cocoa (most said bitter)


Next, we used a fancy hand grinder for our Aged Sumatra.


We were a bit hasty on the brew. So the characteristics weren’t as pronounced as they could have been.

Aroma: cardboard, earthy (nutty)

Acidity: pointed

Body: velvety

Flavor: sour (some also added “bitter”)


Our neighbors’ beans were also from Parry Coffee Roasters. The Kenya AA+ brew was prefered by all.

Aroma: floral, cocoa (earthy)

Acidity: low

Body: medium, round

Flavor: complex, cocoa, fruit


Our host and hostess brewed Fresh Market’s Blend. Perhaps some of its downfall was it’s place in the tasting. After 3 other samples, your sensory faculties can get worn out.

Aroma: old, dirty, stale (several people described it as “Industrial”)

Acidity: low

Body: heavy / medium

Flavor: cocoa, stale


Anna’s breakfast casserole, some cheese bread, and a bowl of fruit were a welcome finish to our Saturday morning get-together.


Categories: Beverages, Breakfast, Food and drink, Tasting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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