A New Year to Reflect

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Happy New Year, folks! I hope 2016 will bring you all hope, love, and well-being for you and all of your loved ones.

For several years now, I have given each “new year” a word that I think will be the guiding theme of the next 365 days (366 this year!). 2015 was the year of “discovery,” and it truly was a year when I discovered so much–about myself, about my city, about life. There were heartbreaks: my beloved dog Cosmo died suddenly in June, and Sam’s grandmother died in November. There were triumphs: I got a job that I really love and enjoy that lets me spend time with my family and work with animals on a daily basis. I made amazing friends who enrich my life and make living in Chicago more fun than I ever thought it could be! Several family and friends visited Sam and I and got to experience first-hand why we love Chicago so much.

I will admit that at the beginning of 2015, I was scared. Sam and I had just moved to Chicago three months prior, and the future seemed very uncertain. This year, I am excited and hopeful for the future. I owe this feeling mostly to two key factors: 1.) Rambling Readers Book Club and 2.) Windy City Paws.

Our book club made us feel welcome from the very first time we attended in December 2014, and as someone who has never really felt like I have fit in anywhere, I can honestly say that my fellow Rambling Readers make me feel more accepted than I ever have. To my book club: I love you all and am so grateful for each and every one of you. Thank you for being you!

My work at Windy City Paws has also made my life so much fuller this past year, and I can honestly say that I am so fulfilled and challenged with the work that I do. My supportive colleagues make me want to do more and learn more every day, and I am so thankful for their guidance and their friendship.

I guess you could say that things really “clicked” in 2015. So many things I was worried about this time last year fell into place and created a wonderful new life for Sam and I here in Chicago. Not everything was happy this year, but it really was a year of “discovery” in many ways–most of which were amazing.

Sam and I have determined that 2016 will be the year of “reflection.” We’ve been in a cycle of massive change for the past several years, and we are now at a point where we feel we can take a moment to enjoy our lives the way they are.

I am excited about spending the upcoming 366 days with Sam, Missy, and our new kitty Mister, reflecting on how very fortunate we all are as well as embracing the next adventures the future will bring. Welcome, 2016–I look forward to experiencing all that you have to offer.

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Historic Everyday Eats – Sunshine Cake

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Greetings to all of my fellow food and history lovers! I am sorry that it has been so long since I last posted a historic recipe, but life has gotten in the way of my food experimenting time. ๐Ÿ˜‰ To make it up to you, I have found a recipe that very well may be the best one yet. It came from an 1896 cookbook for a girls’ cooking school (titled, of course The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book), and I can’t tell you how much I loved looking through this book and finding this cake recipe.

Boston Cooking School Cookbook

Plus, the author’s name is Fannie Farmer. That makes anything she writes pure gold. From what I could tell by her introduction in the book, she had a very scientific mind and had an eye to the future of proper dietary planning and its effects on personal health. Hats off to Fannie, a natural leader and a woman ahead of her time.

Since this is my birthday week, I wanted to make a cake if I could find a suitable recipe. I found one for which I already had all of the ingredients and supplies needed, so it was the winner! The recipe for “Sunshine Cake” reads as follows:

Sunshine Cake

“Whites 10 eggs.

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar.

Yolks 6 eggs.

1 teaspoon lemon extract.

1 cup flour.

1 teaspoon cream of tartar.

Beat whites of eggs until stiff and dry, add sugar gradually, and continue beating; then add yolks of eggs beaten until thick and lemon colored, and extract. Cut and fold in flour mixed and sifted with cream of tartar. Bake fifty minutes in a moderate oven in an angel cake pan.”

Taking a shot at making egg whites stiff and fluffy is always daunting, but you know what? If our foremothers could do it without a stand mixer, I can certainly try with all of my modern amenities! Let’s see how my sunshine cake turned out.

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The ingredients: powdered sugar, eggs, flour, lemon (or in my case, orange–because it was what I had around) extract, and cream of tartar (not photographed–totally slipped my mind)! That’s right, just five ingredients.

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First, the hard part: separating 10 eggs and beating the whites until they turned from this yellow goop…

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…into this fluffy white mountain! This was all thanks to a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. I beat the whites on high for about 8-10 minutes.

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I then turned the mixer on low and gradually added the 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar.

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After the sugar was incorporated, I added the yolks of 6 eggs, beaten until they were thick and “lemon colored.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

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I then added in my orange extract (no, it’s not lemon, but it’s still a citrus and goes along with the “sunshine” theme). The resulting mixture was light and creamy.

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I then folded in the flour and cream of tartar by hand. You don’t want to overmix at this point–the batter needs to be airy.

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The batter went into my “angel cake pan” and into a 350 degree oven.

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50 minutes later, I had a perfectly golden brown sunshine cake. ๐Ÿ™‚

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I turned the cake upside down and cooled it on a cooling rack for an hour before taking it out of the pan. (I buttered just the bottom of the angel food cake pan to help it slide out easier.)

While my cake was cooling, I contemplated a frosting. After attempting one recipe and failing (I will try it again and make it work in the future–promise!), I decided to go with a super simple recipe I found in the same cookbook called “Confectioners’ Frosting:”

confectioners frosting

“2 tablespoons boiling water.

Confectioners’ sugar.

Flavoring.

To water add enough sifted sugar to make of right consistency to spread; then add flavoring.ย Fresh fruit juice may be used in place of boiling water. This is a most satisfactory frosting, and is both easily and quickly made.”

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In fact, this frosting was very simple. I heated two tablespoons of water to boiling in the microwave, added about 2/3 of a cup of sugar, and about a teaspoon of orange extract. Voila! Easy and delicious frosting!

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I poured the frosting on the cake and let it drip down the sides. The finished Sunshine Cake with Confectioners’ Frosting looked great!

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It tasted even better–light and fluffy but oh so flavorful!

Sunshine Cake was one of my favorite recipes to make so far. But really, I have loved all of the recipes with which I’ve experimented over these months, whether they turned out great or were duds. That’s just part of the process. This book said it best with this quote in its front pages:

Cookery means...

Cookery means all of that and so much more to me. How I love it so.

Mondays with Missy – Changes

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Monday, July 20, 2015

I’ve gone through a lot of changes in my nearly twelve years. When my mom and dad adopted me eleven years ago in Tennessee, I had only been in the shelter for three days, but I knew I didn’t like it there. I was glad to go to a new home that day all those years ago–that was such a good change! After that, I moved a few times, and that wasn’t a big deal because my family was always there. I don’t mind living in a new place as long as I have familiar faces around me!

Over the years, I’ve had two sisters and a brother. Sometimes it took me a while to get used to them when they first came into my life, but I did love all of them. My sister Jessica died when she was very old and sick while we still lived in Tennessee. That was hard for everyone, especially my mom and dad. Still, I had my other sister and brother. I loved bossing them around and making sure they fell in line! As long as they were around, I knew everything was just fine.

Last year came the biggest change I’ve ever experienced–my whole family moved from Tennessee to Chicago, Illinois! I got a little freaked out on the long car ride up here, but once we were settled, I grew to love my new city. I still do. It’s different from anything I’ve ever experienced, and while some of the noises (like trains) are still scary, I enjoy my life here. Shortly after we moved here, my little sister Ruby died from a heart condition that we never knew she had. I was really sad to lose her because I had helped raise her from the time she was a puppy. Ruby was really my baby, even though I let my mom think she was hers. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Still, I had my brother Cosmo and my mom and dad. I knew I could get through it.

Last month, Cosmo began to feel bad. He would throw up every once in a while, and he just wasn’t acting like himself. He died on June 21, and I became the only dog in my family for the first time since July 2007! What a crazy change that has been over the last month. I miss Cosmo a lot, even though he really got on my nerves. I may have barked at him every day when I was jealous over him getting attention or when I thought he had taken some of my food, but he was my buddy. I miss having him around. Shortly after he died, my mom and dad went out of town for a couple days. This made me really upset even though I had a dogsitter staying in my house 24/7 and taking care of me. (Who knows? They could have been leaving me forever!) I guess it was all too much because my stomach was messed up for about a week. The vet said I had acid reflux from stress, so I’ve been on antacids for a few days for that.

I feel a lot better now, and I guess I shouldn’t worry about my mom and dad leaving me after they’ve kept me around for eleven years. In fact, I’m getting more attention than ever now. My parents hardly ever leave me alone, which can sometimes be annoying–I enjoy my alone time–but I know they mean well! They let me boss them around all time time now too, so that makes up for them being annoying sometimes. They took me to PetSmart and bought me all sorts of new stuff and have been giving me so many treats–my favorite ones have been from a dog treat food truck here in Chicago! People may say I’m spoiled, but I say every dog should live like this. ๐Ÿ™‚

The most recent changes in my life have been difficult for me, but I still have my mom and dad. I know they love me and will take care of me forever. Plus, I’m tough. I know how to adapt–I’ve done it my whole life. If there is anything I know how to do, it is to push through. When life gets hard, I just bark in its face.IMAG0669

Until next time,

Missy “Misdemeanor” Baud

Cosmo Baud: The Dog, the Friend, the Legend

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For the second time in less than a year, the Baud Squad has had to say goodbye to a key member. Cosmo Kramer Baud (yes, named after Kramer on Seinfeld) left this world at about 8:10pm on June 21, 2015. Another huge hunk of my heart has been ripped out, and once again, our family won’t ever be quite the same.

For the past week, Cosmo had been acting uncomfortable, drinking more, urinating more, and not eating food like usual. On Sunday, he didn’t want to go on his evening walk, so we knew something was very wrong at that point. Off he went to the emergency vet, where we found out that Cosmo had a cancerous mass in his stomach that had caused a rupture and thus, internal bleeding. With surgery, his prognosis was three months to live (if he survived said surgery). This came as such a shock to both Sam and I. Cosmo has always been our healthiest dog. He’s never been overweight, he’s hardly ever been injured, and he always got the “healthy and strong” diagnosis from the veterinarian every year. In fact, he went to the vet less than nine months ago and received a clean bill of health. This really came out of nowhere, and it was and still is a huge smack in the face. After weighing all of our options, we knew that we didn’t want to put Cosmo through a dangerous and painful surgery just for him to only be with us for a few more months. We had to let him go, and it was so, so hard.

Ever since I first laid eyes on Cosmo in the Maury County Animal Control facility in Tennessee on a late February day in 2008, I knew he had to be a part of my family. We brought him home, and he fit right in with our crew. Over the years, he has proven to be loyal, kind, understanding, patient, goofy, curious, and full of love–so much more love than pretty much any other dog I have ever met. He went from being a stray to being a beloved family member. He was the perfect example of what it means to be a shelter dog success story. He died too soon, and I’ll always have a part of me missing because of that. However, he died after living the life of a spoiled house dog who was loved unconditionally, not life in a cage or worse.

The life of a pet parent is full of heartache, but more so, it is full of love and smiles. Dogs will always leave us too soon, no matter how long they live. I’m heartbroken, but I would do it all over again. Every day with Cosmo was that much better just because he was there. And no matter how much Missy may claim he got on her nerves, she’s going to miss her big little brother so much.

Rest easy, and I’ll see you again, my little Cosmo boy, 2005(?)-2015.

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Historic Everyday Eats – Jumbles

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Hello, friends! It is time once again to delve into the world of historic recipes. This week, I was lucky enough to come across a tasty recipe for some little treats in a cookbook published in 1832 titledย Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeatsย (a book I have used before in my historic eats endeavors). This recipe was for baked goods called jumbles, which don’t exactly sound too appealing but are indeed delicious!

The recipe for “Jumbles” reads as follows:

Jumbles

“Three eggs.
Half a pound of flour, sifted.
Half a pound of butter.
Half a pound of powdered loaf-sugar.
A table-spoonful of rose-water.
A nutmeg grated.
A tea-spoonful of mixed mace and cinnamon.

Stir the sugar and butter to cream. Beat the eggs very light. Throw them, all at once, into the pan of flour. Put in, at once, the butter and sugar, and then add the spice and rose-water. If you have no rose-water, substitute six or seven drops of strong essence of lemon, or more if the essence is weak. Stir the whole very hard, with a knife.

Spread some flour on your paste-board, and flour your hands well. Take up with your knife, a portion of the dough, and lay it on the board. Roll it lightly with your hands, into long thin rolls, which must be cut into equal lengths, curled up into rings, and laid gently into an iron or tin pan, buttered, not too close to each other, as they spread in baking. Bake them in a quick oven about five minutes, and grate loaf-sugar over them when cool.”

Most of the ingredients listed are typical in our kitchens today with the exception of rosewater and mace, which as I have explained in previous posts, can be found in places like Whole Foods or specialty shops. Both of these ingredients pack very powerful punches, so small amounts are all you need to make a difference in a recipe! Let’s see how they made a dessert like jumbles taste:

(For the purposes of this recipe, the ingredient measurements were roughly cut in half to control the portions.) The ingredients are: 2 eggs, 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 stick butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 tablespoon rosewater, 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon mace, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.

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I first creamed the (softened) stick of butter and cup of powdered sugar in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed.

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I then added the two eggs to the butter and sugar mixture. This is a little out of order from what the recipe states, but it makes it a lot easier for the batter to come together!

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I then added the flour, spices, and rosewater to the mixture and mixed it on medium speed for about 4 to 5 minutes.

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I then rolled out portions of the dough on a floured surface and shaped them into circles. I realized later that perhaps they were supposed to be tight circles and not large like I made them, but they still turned out great!

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I placed my jumbles on a buttered baking sheet and baked them in a 450 degree oven for 8 minutes–just a tiny bit longer than what the recipe stated.

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Once the jumbles came out of the oven, I sprinkled them with more powdered sugar.

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Even though these are probably much larger than they were meant to be, my jumbles turned out to be very delicious and pretty!

While I have no idea what “jumbles” were originally intended to look like, I thoroughly enjoyed my large, sugary circles. ๐Ÿ™‚ The rosewater and mace add very distinct flavors to the dough, and this is actually a very simple recipe to follow that does not take a very long time to make. For their ease and tastiness, jumbles would be great for any parties (or lazy Sundays) you have planned in the near future!