Wow, 400 posts. I have been watching the number of posts add up to this closely. On Chinese New Year, January 24, 2012, I started my game of trying to make a different meal each week night for one year. About 2 3/4 years later I am still working on this.
I took two big breaks during this time. One to get married and eleven weeks later pack our house of 15 years and move our family half-way across the country. The second time was to buy a house and move again from a rental house to a new house in our new town, I still cannot call it a city.
So, life has definitely changed since that first meal. Other than our location the biggest changes have been in how we eat. All of us are more willing to try new foods. Even me, who would not eat anything “funny” such as mushrooms, peas, grape leaves, or exotic spices is now willing to experiment more with food and more ethnic cooking. My son and daughter who would have said they liked pizza and chicken nuggets best before now list the German Skillet Dinner and Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken among their favorite dishes.
We sit down as a family most days of the week for dinner. It may not always be at the table but we may be sitting in the car together while I drive to their lessons or events but we take our “To-Go” dishes with us. We have almost completely cut out fast food meals except for maybe once a month as a treat for the kids.
Has it been easy? No. It takes quite a bit of planning ahead and making sure I have a well stocked pantry with staples on hand. There are nights where I just don’t want to cook. Those nights I hopefully have something already cooking in the slow cooker or will draft my children to help me get it done. They are more willing now to help me cook and sometimes even take over the cooking if I guide them through it. I figure they are learning a life skill that will serve them well when they go out on their own. Plus, our dining out bill has dropped considerably. I can spend $30 at drive-thrus or I can spend $30 on groceries for 2 or 3 dinners. Economically, for us, eating home is far cheaper.
Will I keep doing this? Yes! I am trying to venture out more into side dishes and sweets. But, I am honestly not much of a baker. I love pouring and mixing with some measuring but the exactness needed to bake is just not fun for me. It seems so fussy and tedious. Maybe, I need to explore baking for the non-bakers. Hmmm….
So, for my 400th post I went out of my comfort zone and baked a cake. I found this recipe for Paula Deen’s Uncle Bob’s Fresh Apple Cake on Foodnetwork.com. It sounded delicious and easy to make. Apples are $.64 a pound in our area right now so I have an abundance of apples to use. Once the apples were peeled and diced making the cake itself was fairly easy.
Both children loved that this cake was not overly sweet and reminded them more of an apple coffee cake than an applesauce cake which was what they were expecting. I loved the bit of crust around the outside that reminded me of coffee cakes my Mom used to make when I was little. Delicious!
I served this warm with French Vanilla Ice Cream.
- 3 cups diced apples, I used 4 medium MacIntosh
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a bundt pan well.
- In a skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped walnuts and allow to cook until they become lightly toasted and fragrant.
In a bowl, mix together the apples, walnuts, vanilla, and cinnamon.
Beat the sugar, oil, and eggs in a large bowl. Add in the dry ingredients and beat until completely combined. Mixture will be extremely thick.
Add in the apple mixture and stir until well combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour – 1 hour 25 minutes or until a tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Check every 5-10 minutes after one hour mark to see if it has cooked through. Do not over bake or edges will become tough.
Allow the cake to fully cool in the pan, about 1 hour, and then turn it out onto a plate. Cut and serve.