Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book Review- Lunch Wars

Gloppy hot mystery food. Canned peaches or fruit cocktail. Warm cartons of milk. Multi-colored plastic trays. This is what I remember of school lunches when I was in elementary school. Waiting in line with my little blue ticket for food and brown ticket for milk, kind of embarrassed that my mom made me get hot lunch that day. Granted, I didn’t get school lunch that often; my working mom was nice enough to send lunch with me most days. But on those days she (understandably) didn’t want to make it, I got “hot lunch.”
In Lunch Wars: How to Start a School Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Children’s Health, author Amy Kalafa outlines her game plan for changing school food in your community. Kalafa has produced films, television shows and articles about health and nutrition. Her latest documentary, “Two Angry Moms” is about exposing school food, and this book is a follow-up to that documentary.
The first third of the book is a fascinating look into what schools are serving and the nutritional (or unnutritional- I know that’s not a word) consequences they have. I’ll have to admit that reading through all her research makes it seem like the only acceptable things to feed your kids are certified organic fruits, vegetables and meats. It’s a little exhausting.
The rest of the book is a (VERY) in-depth plan on how to start a “school food revolution” in your school and community- a step-by-step guide with everything from how to approach your school’s food director, to USDA guidelines and current legislation on school lunches.
My oldest child just started kindergarten this fall and I don’t have plans to purchase school lunches when she’s older, so I’ll admit that this topic is not high on my list. As such, I found the abundance of information tedious, but I can understand how this information could be very valuable to those parents who are concerned about this. After watching Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution,” in what is basically my backyard of Los Angeles, it is frightening the lack of nutritional value and the effects that school food has. This book is a great guide for those willing to take on school food, and all the politics that are apparently behind it.
Join the discussion on BlogHer and find out more about the book!
This was a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sentimental Circus Cake

One of my best clients asked me to make her 14 year old's birthday cake (3rd year in a row!). She requested a Sentimental Circus theme, which I'd never heard of. The main character is a little bunny, a little reminiscent of Hello Kitty. Cake was orange dreamsicle.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tangled Cake #5

Yet another Tangled cake. Tower made from rice krispy treats and a cupcake. Cake was pink lemonade with vanilla filling.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Baby Shower Cake

This cake was for a baby shower for a baby girl. The mom-to-be made all the nursery decor, and the cake was designed to match the fabric. Cake was chocolate with vanilla filling.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tinkerbell/Little Mermaid Cake

This cake was for my daughter's friend, who turned 4. The cake was strawberry with strawberry filling and lemon with lemon filling.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hello Kitty Cake II

This cake was made to match the same party decorations as this cake. To make it look a little different, I used the Hello Kitty that was on the decorations, and made it 2D instead of a figure. Cake was chocolate with oreo and vanilla with strawberry.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Smurfette Cake

For my girl, who turned 4, a Smurfette cake:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

VW Beetle Cake

I haven't done too many carved cakes, but when our friend asked for a classic VW Beetle cake for her husband, I was so excited. Carving cakes is time consuming and takes a LOT of cake. This car cake was difficult because there are so many angles and lines. After looking on the internet for other Beetle cakes, I found out that professionals make these TO SCALE. What?
Mine's not to scale, but it was fun to make and a great experience. The cake was red velvet with cream cheese filling.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

40th birthday cake

This cake was for my friend's husband, who turned 40. He's a fan of the Raiders and LA Kings, and apparently, a bunch of metal bands from the 80's. Rather than make all the logos by hand, I used edible images. Cake was lemon with strawberry filling.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tangled Cake 4

Another Tangled cake with a tower. The tower is made from Rice Krispy treats. Cake was chocolate with strawberry filling.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Almond Cake with Homemade Almond Paste

My husband's birthday was last month and for a cake, he wanted an almond cake. I've always wanted to make a traditional almond cake using almond paste. I looked for a recipe for almond paste and found that it's relatively easy to make. There were cautions, however, that a food processor would not be able to ground almonds as finely as found in store-bought almond paste. I decided to go for it anyway.
I used this easy recipe from Taste of Home. You ground almonds in a food processor until very fine- mine took about 3-4 minutes. Be careful not to process too much or it will turn to mush. Then you add powdered sugar, an egg white, and almond extract.
Once the almond paste is made, you're ready to make almond cake. I used David Lebovitz's recipe for a traditional almond cake. The recipe is straight forward and comes together fairly quickly. The recipe recommends making the batter in a food processor, but mine wasn't big enough so I used a stand mixer.
The cake bakes in a 9" spring form, and is dusted with powdered sugar.
I served this with my husband's favorite chocolate almond ice cream (he likes almond flavor, in case you didn't catch it). The cake is dense and moist, but didn't have the almond flavor I was expecting. It tasted quite eggy, and more like a breakfast dish than dessert. The almond paste was yummy, though, and I used the rest of it to make Abby Dodge's Chewy Almond cookies- recipe to come!

from Taste of Home
  • 1-1/2 cups blanched almonds
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Place almonds in a food processor; cover and process until smooth.
  • Add the confectioners' sugar, egg white, extract and salt; cover and
  • process until smooth.
  • Divide almond paste into 1/2-cup portions; place in airtight
  • containers. Refrigerate for up to 1 month or freeze for up to 3
  • months. Yield: 1-1/2 cups.