Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Board Games for a 3-year old!

We have been working lately to reduce our TV consumption. So I discovered the wonderful world of preschool board games! They don't require reading.
We started out with Hi Ho Cherry-O which is a great counting game that DV got as a gift. He loves it SO much we can play multiple times a day. The main point of the game is to spin and get all of your cherries from the tree into the basket- and it requires counting up to 4. Perfect!
Since we were so successful with one game I decided to branch out and we added Candy Land to our selection of board games. This game is a color matching game with some counting to 2- and DV loves it even more than Hi Ho Cherry-O I think because of all the candy!
Another great thing about these games is they are inexpensive (in fact Toys R Us is having a sale this week and they are only $5 a piece) so they are great for any occasion!
Board games work for me! If you need other tips please visit Works-for-me Wednesday at Rocks in My Dryer.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Chemistry and Monty Python

I had to share this really funny video- it's advertising a new separation system- using thin layer chromatography- but the video is really great. And you can see how chemistry can be funny!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Saving Basil: Works for Me

We have been growing basil this summer- but the season for good growing conditions has finally ended.

We needed to pull up the basil plant- about 3'x3'- to prepare our garden for fall planting.

I needed to save all that basil! So what to do? Pick all the leaves off the plant and wash them. I then put them out to dry overnight on my cooling racks on top of paper towels (see photo.)

The next morning the leaves were dry and I measured one cup of basil and placed it into a quart size labeled freezer bag (see photo), so that the leaves are laying flat. Then the bags go into the freezer and when we need the taste of fresh basil we can just pull some out! Frozen basil works perfectly in any cooked recipe.

It works for me. To see more works for me Wednesday posts go to Rocks In My Dryer.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Easy chocolate cake

This recipe is actually called "Six-Minute" chocolate cake in the Moosewood cookbook. I have modified it a little (I think it works better) but it now takes closer to 10 minutes to get it into the oven. This is the chocolate cake I ALWAYS make now. It makes one thick 9" cake layer or 12 cupcakes, but the recipe can be doubled.
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cold water or brewed coffee
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a 9" cake pan or line a cupcake pan with 12 papers.

In a bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and sugar. Add the vegetable oil, water (or coffee), and vanilla and mix until smooth. Add the vinegar to the batter and stir until just mixed (you will see pale streaks in the batter where the vinegar and baking soda are reacting.) Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

There is also a delicious and easy glaze that goes with the cake.

  • 8 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 3/4 cup hot water, milk or half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

I make the glaze in the microwave, so first I heat the milk (or water or half-and half) for about 1.5 minutes until it's almost boiling. Then I melt the chocolate in the microwave (it takes about 1.5 minutes.) Then whisk the chocolate and milk together and add vanilla. Pour the glaze over the cake and refrigerate!!!

I make the cake a lot for DV and IV to enjoy and use buttercream icing, but if I am going to bring something to a group of women this cake with the glaze is perfect. Total chocolate heaven!!!

PS- This cake is also a pretty cool example of a common acid and base reaction (the vinegar and baking soda) that is used to leaven the cake. So I also like it as a chemist!

Monday, September 1, 2008


We live on the Gulf coast- so we are feeling the effects of hurricane Gustav.

Luckily, we didn't have to evacuate because we are on the edge of the storm bands- only feeling the tropical storm force winds and rain.

Obviously, we haven't lost power yet!

The main difficulty had been entertaining DV during the rain and wind- he has been acting like a hurricane in the living room. There are toys where I never thought toys could be.

Today I just feel thankful. Thank God the storm spared us and we are praying for those it didn't.