I have been blessed with four of the most gorgeous, stunning daughters on the planet. This is not news, I’ve mentioned my girls before, but am always happy to marvel at God’s and my handiwork. Gorgeous they may be, good-hearted most assuredly, and skinny? My girls are skinny!
There are a few levels of man plans, God laughs here:
1) I used to be skinny. My mother used to say that I was hovering around ghetto weight (Warsaw, not Harlem). I was a picky eater as a child, but totally scarfed down the calories as a teen. A regular high school lunch would include two slices of pizza, half a felafel, both washed down with a large Tab (remember Tab?), a brownie from Heisler’s bakery and a cone from Baskin Robbin’s to eat on the way back to school. I never gained an ounce. My metabolism was freakishly fast until the age of 32, when I turned into an inflated lifeboat overnight. It’s as if God pulled the string and pffffffft!
2) I love to cook. Even more than that, I love to feed! What’s the use of cooking something if you can’t shtup it to your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and strangers you meet at the bus stop? I must have been a French fois gras farmer in a previous life. God had a good giggle when he introduced me to the X. The man grew up on Jewish/Polish/English cuisine, meaning his mother’s overboiled, under-seasoned chicken, potatoes and wilted green stuff (the vegetables in that house were usually unidentifiable by the time they hit the plate, and actually, they weren’t very green by then as well). I would serve him a meal lightly seasoned with a few spices, he would take one bite and reach for the water glass, gasping, “Are you trying to kill me?”
3) The X passed his food genes on to my babies. I love to feed, they love to say “Don’t like!” Sassy, my oldest, can eat one lettuce leaf, push back her plate and say, “Thanks, I’m full.” Nomush is the vegetarian who hates vegetables. Tinky is my best eater, she will actually finish a whole plate of food (a small plate), but that will satisfy her for the rest of the week. Didi will come into the kitchen after Ju-Boy and I have filled the fridge and the larder with the weekly shopping, look at it all in disdain and say, “There’s nothing to eat in this house!”
I like to play in the kitchen, experimenting with different techniques, interesting foods, freaky recipes. One of the ways I get my picky progeny to eat a balanced diet is to sneak certain ingredients into their favorite dishes while they’re not looking. Kidney beans and brown rice can be cleverly disguised in a zhuzzed soup, especially if you bling up the bowl with croutons and grated cheese. Whizz up a few carrots in the food processor with the steel knife, hide them in the pasta sauce and the kids just might believe it’s bolognese. My lastest sneaky coup has been to hide (are you ready for this?) beets into chocolate cake. Strange but true! I found the recipe on a food blog called Yummy! byYemi (any blog with the word yummy in is has to be good).
Don’t overdo it with the beets. You want to enrich the cake, but too much pureed beet adds an earthy flavor to the chocolate, and you don’t want your cover blown.
I first tried this dessert on Rosh Hashana, as beets are one of the simanim. We don’t do the simanim thingy per se, but I try to incorporate them into the meal itself. I made the recipe into chocolate/beet cupcakes, and received the Hillalee Seal of Approval. Hilalee is Didi’s friend, and she’s the antithesis of Mickey from the Life Cereal commercial from the 70s. Hilalee doesn’t like or eat anything (she could be one of my kids). But she did like my mini beet chocolate cupcakes. And if Hilalee likes them, you might love them.
Pick Me Up Cake
Yemi calls this Pick Me Up Cake, which is a much more attractive name than Chocolate Beet Cake. We emailed back and forth a bit when I asked for the recipe, and she told me that she made it up herself! In her own words:
- 2 cups steamed beets
- 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons rice flour (or regular flour)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 9 or 10 inch cake pan with vegetable cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a blender puree the beets, and vanilla extract until smooth. Set aside.
- In a small bowl combine the cocoa powder, rice flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar for one minute with an electric mixer. Beat in the eggs for about 5 minutes. Beat in the beets, until the mixture is nice and smooth.
- Stir in the contents of the small bowl containing the cocoa powder into the batter carefully until it is completely mixed in.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!