Have you forgotten me? I suppose I can't blame anyone, because quite truthfully, this month, I think I may have forgotten myself. How can I expect other people to remember me, take note of me, read me, when I can't even remember to do that for myself? The month of June has physically and mentally been one of my harder ones, where I have been slammed with work, pushed to the edge with commitments both at Daughters' and Son's school as well as church, and personal demands to take care of Father's birthday and my family in general have pushed me well beyond what I consider my normal limits.
The thing of the matter is however, I hate for people to see my weakness. I hear it all the time, "How do you do it all?" and my response, with a smile is always, "Oh, I don't do that much." Never let them see you sweat has always been my motto, but these days, my sweat shows. I'm worn down, I'm tired, and I'm cranky.
So here is my confession. I've not had a good month. I've been exhausted and tired and overworked. And the smile that you've seen on my face has often hidden the clench of my teeth and the fatigue of my spirit. As much as I'd like to think that I CAN do everything, I know that I can't. I took on too much, tried to do too much, and didn't leave enough time for me - for me to pray, to rest, to think, to relax, and just to remember who I am. So the blog had to take a step aside, as I tried very very hard to just complete everything else I had taken on.
Thankfully July is a much smoother and easier month, filled with tons of gaps where I am usually slammed with things to do. I intend to cook slower, cook new things, and try out new things that I normally don't get to try out. I want to have time to create new dishes, explore new things (there is this char siu recipe I'm going to try), and all in all - just go back to space where I can rest a bit more. I want more time with Children, where we just all lie down in a space and read, or ride bikes or relax in the sun. I don't want to freak out about their math, their piano practice, and their table manners. I just want one month, July, of a relaxing summer.
I see a month full of cake and fun summery potluck type foods. Let me start you off with this one. This is a banana chocolate cake, baked in a pan that you can transport easily and serve tons of people. I've tried it with two different finishes - a chocolate ganache topping and a cream cheese frosting topping. Both have met with rave reviews, but I'm slightly leaning towards the chocolate ganache because it is easier, and it just tastes yummy. It's gilding the lily, but who doesn't like a little extra chocolate on their banana.
Chocolate Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 9x13 cake, serving about 15 people
Chocolate Banana Cupcake
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, taken out of the fridge same time as butter
2 ½ cups mashed ripe bananas (about 6 medium)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 9X13 pan. Set aside.
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, using paddle attachment beat butter at medium speed until creamy, about 1 minutes. Gradually beat in the sugar and beat at high until well blended, about 2 minutes. At medium speed, beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the mashed bananas and vanilla extract and mix at low speed until blended. Add the flour mixture at low speed in three additions, alternating it with the sour cream in two additions. Avoid over mixing by using a spatula to mix the batter at the end.
Pour mixture into prepared 9X13 pan. Bake for 40 minutes until toothpick or tester in the center comes out cleanly. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting or pouring ganache.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 cup of butter, softened
8 oz of cream cheese, softened
3-5 cups of confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
In a large mixing bowl, mix butter until it is softened and uniform. Add cream cheese and beat together until it is uniform. Add 3 cups of sugar to the mixture and mix. Add vanilla extract. Add more sugar if necessary. Mix again until mixture is creamy and spreadable. Add more sugar if necessary, otherwise prepare to frost cake.
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped (In a pinch you can use semi sweet chocolate chips)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Place chopped chocolate in medium bowl.
Bring cream just to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Pour over chocolate.
Let stand 1 minute, then stir until ganache is melted and smooth.
Let ganache stand at room temperature to cool about 15 minutes. Pour ganache over cooled cake. Allow chocolate to set up on cake for another 15 minutes.
Still figuring out how to do everything and still have my cake and eat it too/