Tea Cakes for Everybody

Lemon coconut tea cakeThere was  some coconut in my fridge inching its way to its expiration date and  I have a lemon tree spitting old lemons at the backyard cats, so staying true to my credo bake it before it goes bad I made a Lemon Coconut Tea Cake.

I know lots of people don’t like coconut ( I don’t understand it, but I respect it) and while I would never force cake upon someone against their will, I must say that the coconut flavor is a whisper and it is  the lemon flavor that wins the flavor battle.


2 cups all-purpose flour ( I didn’t have enough, so I used cake flour. Here’s a trick I just learned you can substitue cake flour for all-purpose flour, but you have to put in 2 tablespoons per cup of extra flour) or 2 cups and 4 tablespoons cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup lite coconut milk

1/4 cup of butter

Zest of 1 lemon

juice of 1 lemon ( I upped this from the juice of 1/2 of a lemon because I knew that half a lemon without its peel was just going to go bad)

4 large eggs at room temperature

2 cups of sugar ( I used 1 3/4 cups natural sugar substitue and because I ran out of that, I used 1/4 of regular sugar)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons dark rum ( I skipped this. I didn’t have any and didn’t want to purchase a whole bottle for just a couple of teaspoons.)

3/4 cup shredded coconut



Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease a 10-12 cup Bundt pan

Shift flour, baking powder and salt together

Put coconut milk and butter in a small saucepan and heat, stirring occasionally. When the milk is hot and the butter is melted remove from heat. I let it cool a tiny bit (5 minutes) then I added in the lemon zest and lemon juice.

Beat eggs and sugar/sugar substitute at a medium high speed until pale, thick and almost doubled in volume. I beat mine for about 6 minutes and it had a lovely creamy texture.

Beat in vanilla and rum(if you’re using it)

Fold in flour at a low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add coconut and mix.  Add the hot milk and butter in a steady stream into the batter. When mixture is smooth , stop  mixing and stir to make sure everything is well blended.

Bake for 60-65 minutes or until cake is golden brown and knife comes out clean.

I normally try to avoid cakes with lots of eggs in them, but I couldn’t resist with this one.  It’s really yummy and  perfect with tea.

I used up

sugar substitute

coconut milk

and made a good dent in the shredded coconut

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Give us our daily Banana Bread Cookies

It’s a holiday weekend and  we’re not barbecuing or having any kind of party, so I decided to make Andy a special Memorial Day Weekend treat.

I found a recipe by Marianne Gleason on Just a Pinch recipes for Banana Bread Chocolate Chip Cookies.  If you know anything about me, you know two things: one my boyfriend Andy just loves Banana Bread, and two we usually have some bananas going bad.

This recipe is 100 % bad and 100% delicious. I will try to be strong and have just one cookie. Hopefully I can get Kurt to take some to his girlfriend. I’m considering taking some to the show I have tonight, but it’s seems like  bad form to bring edibles to a pub. I wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of the management.



2 1/2 cup flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup mashed bananas

1/2 cup sour cream

1 stick butter ( see what I mean)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 brown sugar

1 egg

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 mini chocolate chips ( I only had regular sized)

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1) Heat butter in a pan until it turns brown and smells nutty. Remove from the heat and add the 2 sugars. Let sit for about 5 minutes to cool.

2) Pour into a large mixing bowl and add the egg and the vanilla.

3) Mix in banana and sour cream.

4) In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Fold into banana mixture. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts.( you can also use raisins, walnuts, toffee bits etc. You can be baking creative.)

5) Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes ( I say at least an hour.) 

6) Drop a one inch ball of dough onto cookie sheets 2 inches apart.

7) Bake at 350 degrees for 10-13 minutes or until edges are brown.

Items that were used up before they went bad

Only bananas

They’re really good. By browning the butter and putting the sugars in, it adds a caramel element to the cookies.

Yep these cookies are memorable.



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Herman’s Hermits Bars

Did you know that “Hermits” or Hermit bars/cookies are a thing? I didn’t.

Apparently these are a traditional cookie/bar that  started a long time ago in New England. They are known to wear well with age (if you count three days as age.)  Sailors would take these bars along with them when they went out on the clipper ships.

I found a recipe the other day for “Grandma’s Hermits.” At first glance the recipe looked good with molasses, raisins and nuts, but upon closer inspection I saw that the recipe called for 1 1/4 cup of butter and a cup of sugar. Crikey (I know I’m channeling Shaggy from Scooby Doo but I don’t know any New Englandese for an exclamation of surprise or amazement.) Then I saw that the recipe called for an egg wash, and it was over for me.

Yes, I know lots of breads and stuff have an egg wash, but not the ones I make. I guess I could have done the chock full of butter and sugar recipe and then used the egg wash which would have guaranteed that I not eat them. Perhaps I overlooked the real genius of this recipe as a sugar deterrent.

Someone’s  grandmother is a crafty one.

But part of the reason I bake (besides keeping the boyfriend happy) is so that I can have low or no sugar treats myself.

Back to the internet to find a low butter/no sugar recipe and I find something close.

1/3 cup raisins

1/3 cup chopped nuts

2 cups flour

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup sugar ( I use a natural sugar substitue like Stevia)

2 eggs

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cream of tartar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon mace ( who has mace anyway. I use pumpkin pie spice instead)

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg


1. Preheat oven 350 degrees

2. Grease 9 by 13 pan (which I don’t have. I just use another size pan.)

3. Dust raisins and nuts in 1/4 cup flour. I didn’t know if that meant take a 1/4 cup from the two cups of flour or an additional 1/4 cup flour. I used an additional 1/4. Next time I would take the 1/4 of flour out of the two cups.

4.I combined all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and mixed it together. The original recipe doesn’t call for that, but I’ll do almost anything to avoid a bite of baking soda, so I always make sure it’s well incorporated. Then I shifted the mixed dry ingredients-again not called for, but I’m a vigilant baker.

5. Cream butter and sugar. I recently read that the best thing to do to soften butter is to leave it out for 30 to 45 minutes which is what I always do. If I put it in the microwave, it melts too much. I also take the eggs out about 15 minutes before I start, so that they will come to room temp.

6. Here the original recipe says to add salt, eggs and molasses. This felt wrong to me-salt with the eggs and molasses? I had already put the salt in with the dries, so I only added the eggs and molasses.

7. Sift flour and rest of dry ingredients into creamed mixture and mix well. I already sifted so I put it directly into creamed mixture.

8.  Add nuts and raisins and stir.

9. Spread batter into pan.

10. Bake 15-20 minutes (and of course in our bizarro oven it was more like 25 minutes.)

11 Cut into squares

When I was 12 I had a slumber party in our summer house. It was called a “summer house” but it was just a bare bones room a few feet away from our house. All of my guests decided it would be cool to go down to the Mormon Church down the street and get stoned. I didn’t want to get into trouble or get stoned for that matter and didn’t go. While they were gone, I worked on the perfect note that I thought would ensure that they would feel like jerks. My favorite line in it  was “with friends like you, maybe I’ll become a hermit.”

My friends returned and we resumed the party. My note did not make my friends feel guilty, but instead provided great fodder for jokes that night and for many months to come.

Now I know it is far better to bake Hermits than to threaten to be one.


They’re delicious especially with a beverage!


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Bananator Strikes Again

I’ve mentioned before Andy’s obsession with banana bread. His favorite is a very simple one with a ton of sugar and butter in it.

I recently had kind of an emergency tea party when my friend Kevin was in town and I made a low sugar, mini chocolate chip banana bread, and while Andy enjoyed it, I could tell it wasn’t as satisfying for him as his regular banana bread. I had to whip up some “Andy approved” bread a week later.

When I noticed three bananas going bad in the fruit bowl, I knew I needed to do some baking. This time I wanted to make something a little different, so I found a basic banana muffin recipe on the Internet, and did my own thing. I tried to make the recipe as healthy as possible, so its both low-fat and low-sugar.

1 3/4 cups flour ( I used both wheat and all-purpose)

1/2 sugar ( I used a Stevia for baking knock-off)

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp.cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. salt ( I used sea salt)

2 eggs

1 cup banana ( I used 3 very ripe bananas probably about a cup and a 1/2)

1/2 cup applesause ( I used one full cup-still trying to get rid of that huge jar)

Preheat oven to 350

I used holiday muffin cups (food isn’t the only thing I like to use up)

Mixed the dry ingredients together and mixed the wet separately. Then sifted the dry ingredients into the wet. I didn’t use a mixer just a big spoon and a spatula. They always say to never over mix muffins and I find if I’m doing the mixing by hand, I don’t. I’m too lazy to overmix.

The ovendial’s numbers are wearing off, so it’s always kind of a crapshoot as far as the temperature goes. It was close to 350, I think. Maybe. In a normal oven, the muffins bake for 15-20 minutes, in mine a good 25.


I only used up the bananas. There are  more muffin cups and applesauce for another day.

Feliz Quatro de Mayo!


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I thought there was still time to save the pecans. My intention was to use them up in an applesauce bar, but by the time I went to get them they were dead. The killer-moths had gotten to them.

I obviously try very hard  to use things up before they go bad, but sometimes I’m thwarted. It reminds me of those detective shows where no matter how great the lead characters are at solving crimes, there’s a huge body count by the time they figure out that the music store owner with the nice way about him is the serial killer they’ve  been searching for.

I planned on baking the applesauce bars because we have a huge container of it in our fridge and there is nothing as saddening as the line crust of green/black mold that will appear at the top of the jar when it goes bad. I was intent on using as much of the applesauce as possible, to use the last egg, and even though the recipe called for craisins, I’d use up the last of the raisins. The ingredients also included walnuts, but pecans would do nicely.

Kurt pre-heated the oven, and I got my pan greased.  I mixed some softened butter, brown sugar and egg until smooth. I added applesauce. In another bowl, I put some whole wheat flour, some all-purpose flour together with spices and baking soda. I added the flour to the butter mixture and added in the raisins. All was going smoothly until I opened the partially opened bag of pecans and realized that they had been destroyed and that there was no saving them.

I threw some peanuts in instead. I was so discouraged by the murder of the pecans that I didn’t even chop the peanuts and just put the mixture into the pan.  I baked this far-from-the-original-recipe bars  for about 30 minutes.

When the pan cooled, I frosted them. I know, I’m not a big froster, because frankly I’m not great at it, and I usually want to avoid even more sugar. I  felt sorry for the bars, as if they had experienced a huge loss by not having the pecans and thought they needed some frosting to make them more delicious and feel better about themselves. I’m nice like that.

Surprisingly the applesauce bars turned out great!


photo (8)

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Making Do With What You’ve Got!

When you’re  on a race to use up ingredients before they go bad, you sometimes have to improvize. I had decided to make “Sour Cream Tea Cakes” for Andy for Valentine’s Day. I got the recipe from “Just a Pinch Recipes.” It started out as Marsha Gardner’s recipe but ended up as mine.

The cookie recipe included 3 cups cake flour and unsalted butter. I rarely have unsalted butter so I went online and looked up if using unsalted butter as called for was a matter of baking life or death. It’s not. One writer/baker even gave “permission” for bakers to use regular butter if that’s all they had. They said that many times people use unsalted butter so that they can control the taste. I just left out the 1/2 teaspoon of salt called for in the recipe.

The next problem was that the big box of cake flour I had sitting on my kitchen table was nearly empty. I went back on the internet, and found out how to substitute all-purpose flour for cake flour. Here’s what you do: measure out the three cups of all-purpose flour and then take out 2 tablespoons of the flour per cup, so for three cups you take out six tablespoons. Then you put six tablespoons of cornstarch back into your flour mixture and sift.

Then I wanted to finish off the sugar and not open a new bag, so I cut down the one cup sugar to 3/4 cup sugar. I knew there was plenty of sugary goodness in the frosting. 

Now I love frosting more than anything. I’m one of those people who thinks the cake part of a cupcake is merely there as a shelf for frosting, but at the same time frosting kind of scares me. Frosting doesn’t try to hide the fact that it is mostly just sugar and butter. I’m also not fantastic at applying it. But the best thing about these cookies (let’s be honest) is the frosting. I couldn’t just sprinkle some powered sugar on the cookies and call it a day. I went ahead and frosted those little so and sos! 

Luckily everything turned out great and I was able to get rid of lots of stuff.

Final use-up tally

box of cake flour

end of the bag of regular flour

end of bag of sugar

all the butter

Added bonus I learned two new things about baking and I’ve shared them with you!

The cookies are amazing-perhaps the best I’ve ever made. The good thing is because they are so loaded with sugar, one is enough– actually half of one is plenty.

Kurt’s going to take some to his girlfriend because they are her favorites. I’m encouraging anyone nearby to come over for some tea and cookie.




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Welcome Back to my House Party

Today I made some Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip, Raisin Cookies.

I have a couple of friends coming over tonight. One of the friends, I saw fairly recently, and has a birthday this month, and the other has been out of town for a bit, and is now easing back into Los Angeles society. Doesn’t that sound very Jane Austen? 

Lady Estelle has returned from her sojurn in the South and is now paying calls to a select few persons. I’m grateful, and flattered that I’m one of the people she is choosing to see, as I have missed her.

We’re going to have some treats and catch-up. I made the cookies and will probably have some other stuff too. 

This Sat. I’m having more friends come over for “Writing and Tea” which also sounds like a “Sense and Sensibility” action. I think it makes all the differences to have something freshly baked to serve to guests, don’t you?

The only thing I used up before it went bad was the brown sugar. What I didn’t use was eggs! That’s right, an actual eggless recipe, that you can encourage others to eat from the bowl or mixer blades. 


Come ona my house, I’m gonna give you treats!

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Baby, It’s Cold Inside

It’s cold here which for Glendale, California is really something as it is almost always super hot. I’m cold which is remarkable as I am almost always super hot myself.  Here’s the thing–our  house has no heat. Truly. Once upon a time we had a heater and warmth and then it broke. 

To fix the heater, the repair person would have to navigate themselves into a small crawl space under the house.

Each repair person who came to the house was larger than the one before  until finally desperate we asked the last and the largest repair man what he thought we could do to get our heater fixed? He literally suggested that we call the various heater repair companies and find out if they had any “small Chinese men” employed and then hire them.

This seemed so incredibly racist to me that I never did get the heater fixed and now our house is cold, really cold. 

What’s a good way to warm up rather than exercise? Bake!

I made Use-It Up Cookies 

Use-It Up Cookies are great for getting rid of the last bits of pumpkin puree, cranberries, nuts and chocolate chips you may have leftover from your Thanksgiving baking and festivities.

Ingredient List

1/2 cup butter 

1/2 cup (possibly slightly past it) plain Greek Yogurt

3/4 brown Sugar

1/2 cup white sugar( finished up a small box)

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract ( nearly finished bottle but not quite-dang it)

2 cups flour ( used up more as I inadvertently dumped a bunch over the table as I was measuring.)

1 cup oats ( as Andy was getting it down from the shelf it knocked over a bunch of stuff on the counter)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup nuts (I used walnuts but any kind of nut would probably do or don’t use any)

1 cup chopped cranberries ( I think dried cranberries work better if you are using chocolate chips)

1 cup chocolate chips

I used my cookie-sheet liners and as predicted they make my life much easier.

My friend Jenny came by for Writing and Tea ( which really is talk about writing and have tea treats.) Michael and his wife, Rachel, came in and said hello. And even Andy came in and had some cookies and Jenny’s delicious soda bread/cake. Well I did say treats.

The baking was so successful both in the cookies and the warmth that I even took off my sweater!!

Photo credit-Ms Jenny!!


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Take My Cake,Please!

I was searching for a pumpkin bundt cake recipe with less sugar but had no luck. Finally I just decided to use a Martha Stewart recipe. While I was making the batter, I ran out of sugar. Instead of substituting some honey or sugar substitute, I just used the sugar I had on hand.

Helpful Tip- don’t overbuy ingredients, that way they won’t go bad and you won’t be bad overdoing it with the sweet stuff.

I used up all the sugar and still have a pretty big cake on my hands. Andy will take some to work for his morning coffee and have some for dessert but Kurt is being very good these days with his diet (not counting the entire bag of chocolate chips he ate) so I have a lot of cake on my hands.

Let them eat cake? No I’m begging you to eat cake because even though its low sugar I don’t want to eat any.

It’s odd, I can resist cake but cookies I have a harder time saying no to. I think because cake has a bit of a bad reputation. If it isn’t for a celebration of some kind, people kind of look at you askance if you are having cake. Nothing says losing control better than someone in a movie eating cake by themselves.

There used to be a time when every meal ended with dessert. My grandmother made a pie or cake or apple brown  for every single dinner and get-togethers would often involve going to someone’s house for cake and coffee. Now cake is practically thought of as the devil’s food( see how I did that) and nobody wants anything to do with it.

Poor maligned cake. Don’t make that cake feel bad like it was left out in the rain. Have a piece today! 


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Picture This

I have a confession. I’ve been baking but I haven’t been sharing. Well I’ve been sharing with friends, in person but not with you. 

I know that I’ve been very post stingy.

Last week I made low sugar Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Raisin cookies. I used up the coconut oil and raisins. In fact I used up the roommate’s raisins as well ( and that’s not a euphemism.) They were delicious. Andy had some, I gave some to Kurt to give to his girlfriend and I gave some to my friend Max. Everybody seemed to enjoy them. 

Then I took the picture and they looked like mini-cow patties. Hmm hardly the image that I want representing the deliciousness of these cookies.

Okay so I’ll just get the satisfaction from the baking.

On Saturday, I went to this lovely ladies tea at my friend Amy’s house. She’s one of the people who just knows how to do everything well and her special touches on everything from her furniture to her art is beautiful. She made a completely vegan, non-diary and gluten free tea! Yes a very difficult feat to pull off and to make it delicious, even harder. And she did it, everything was delicious: brussel sprout salad, butternut squash soup and all kinds of muffins and sweets. One of the most fantastic teas ever and trust me I’ve been to a lot of teas.

Inspired by Amy I decided to make a lower fat brownie. I had apparently really wanted to make these brownies as I had two copies of the same recipe. My friend V happened to be coming by for a visit, so I had a reason to make these insanely chocolately brownies.

I used up the chocolate chips.

We had the brownies for tea with V and Me. Andy had some. I gave some to my friend Jean and her young son Seamus the next day and sent one to Kurt’s very healthy and fit girlfriend. Everyone enjoyed them very much.

I took the picture and again the photo did not do them justice, actually quite the opposite. They looked like jagged mounds of danger.

Now I’m not a gifted photographer but also it’s not that difficult to take a picture of some baked goods. But my camera is old and is now ( maybe due to the battery) almost immediately shutting itself off. I have to take the picture very fast and it’s just not working.

In conclusion I invite you to imagine(just like they did in the old days) the crispy, sweetness of the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies and the decadent, lushness of the brownies.


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