Monthly Archives: September 2012

Guest Post: Tennessee Apple Cake

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(And this one’s good!)

I’m so thankful for guest posters! Especially right now – it’s hard enough keeping up with our 3-4 appointments weekly (and being a one-car family, this has been rather challenging!), much less cooking and posting new recipes. These guest posters are really helping me keep things going here so I can focus on my family. I’m so very thankful!

If any of you have a great recipe on your blog – or just in your mind that you’d like to submit for posting over the next several weeks, send it right on to me at kimzkitchen at gmail dot com. (obviously – you’ll use the @ sign and the . – I’m just discouraging those silly spammers!) I’d be happy to consider any and all posts!

Meanwhile – back to the apples at hand here….

My friend, a chef at one of the best restaurants in town, and a head culinary instructor at a local university offered to give me a little slice of this amazing little apple cake he made. (Which, considering he does all that and has a wife and three kids…I’m not sure how he had time to give me this recipe, let alone bake it. But, nonetheless, we are definitely benefitting here!)

He gave it to me during the Sunday School hour at my church – my husband was the teacher. This cake was gone before I could leave the church building that morning. (Although, I won’t say here if I ate it during my husband’s teaching or during the pastor’s main sermon. Or in the darkest, most hidden away corner I could find by the back bathroom so no one would try to steal a bite. I just won’t say. I’m honest. But not that honest.) :)

Whether you have a local apple orchard around – or you have to buy a few pounds at your local grocery store – you should do it. And make this. Fast. It’s really good. Then send me some. Because the one I’m making this week will be gone before yours gets to me. ‘Twould be a shame to run out.

So, thanks, Rob Hansen, for the awesome recipe. And the lovely fall inspiration.

Tennessee Apple Cake

This recipe has been a favorite of my wife for many years. Each year after we go to a nearby apple orchard and pick our apples, it is not long before we have an apple cake baking in the oven.  Normally we end up making 2 since the first one seems to disappear much too quickly.

This apple cake is perfect for breakfast, an afternoon snack, or to be served with your favorite ice cream as a dessert. I have used several varieties of apples and all work well, but I love the flavor that the Honey Crisp apple brings to the cake. It has great flavor and sweetness that blends very well with the moistness of the cake.  The texture is more like a coffee cake than a traditional high-ratio cake.

Ingredients:

Cake- 

2 cups Sugar, granulated

¾ cup Butter, Unsalted, softened

2 Eggs

2 cups All Purpose Flour

1 tsp. Baking Powder

1 tsp. Salt

2 tsp. Cinnamon, ground

1 tsp. Nutmeg, ground

1 ½ tsp. Vanilla

3 ½ cup Apples, diced small

Topping- 

1/3 cup Sugar, granulated

¼ tsp. Cinnamon, ground

Utensils-

Stand Mixer –  (Kim’s Kitchen note) obviously, there’s no other choice here besides this one.

Spatula

Measuring Spoons

Measuring Cups

Bowls

Paring Knife or Peeler/Corer/Slicer

Instructions:

     1. Cream the sugar and butter until well blended

For those that are not familiar with creaming, it is the process of combining the sugar and the fat in a mixer so that you can incorporate air into the mixture.  Margarine can be substituted, but it will slightly change the flavor and texture of the cake.

For this recipe I use unsalted butter that has been softened for several hours. The time of year will affect how long it takes to soften your butter, but it should take a couple of hours at room temperature to get it soft enough to cream easily. If you happen to forget to soften the butter, don’t worry, it is possible to soften in the microwave using the low power setting, but be very careful not to melt the butter.

     2. Stir in eggs and dry ingredients, mix thoroughly. (Mixture will be very thick.)

It is best to add the eggs and a little of the dry ingredients first and then scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  (Make sure you turn off the mixer so you don’t break the spatula or your fingers.) Once you have scraped down the sides, slowly add the remaining dry ingredients.

   3.   Add vanilla and apples, stir well.I personally like the texture of the cake with little bits of apples throughout the cake, but if you happen to have a peeler/ corer/ slicer, feel free to leave the apples in slices. The process of incorporating the apples into the batter will break the apples into smaller pieces. This is an occasion where using real vanilla is a good idea. If you have a high quality vanilla, you may want to lower the quantity slightly.

    4. Spread into a greased and floured 9” x 13” pan.

This is the part that keeps the cake from sticking to the pan when it is rising in the oven. The batter will approximately double in size while baking so it is not completely necessary to grease and flour all the way up the sides of the pan, but you do need to make sure it is at least half way up.  For a little textural variation, after coating the pan with butter, you can “dust” with sugar instead of flour. This will add a little sweetness a little more texture to your crust.

   5.  Sprinkle with topping mixture

The topping does not have to completely cover the cake. It is ok to have ridges in the cake that are not covered. While the amount of topping can be left up to personal preference, avoid adding too much cinnamon sugar. (Kim’s Kitchen note: OK, I know this guy is good and all, and has been doing this for 20 years. But can you really add too much cinnamon sugar?)

  6.  Bake at 350°F for 50 minutes.

The hardest part now is the waiting. Resist the urge to open the door to check on the cake; this will actually slow down the cooking process and it can lower the quality of your finished product. If you know that your oven heats unevenly, you can turn the cake after 30 minutes.

The finished cake needs to rest before you dig in.  Giving it about 20-30 minutes will get it to a temperature that does not scorch your taste buds and will allow you to enjoy the fresh out of the oven goodness that you have worked for.

If by chance there are leftovers, they should be covered, but not until the cake has cooled completely.

Thanks, Rob – and everyone out there – have fun with this one! :)

(Choosing) Celebrating Week 19!

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Your Great Nanny – she came all the way from Florida for her 75th birthday – and she gets to meet you today! Smile pretty.

Hey there, Little One,

Tough Week. Really tough week. But we have to keep celebrating. You are still one week growing and a week’s worth of love has come your way from some very special people. You have no reason but to be happy right now.

I’m loving every one of these special weekly visits with you. This week I learned that while you can’t move most of your fingers – which we were expecting – your second finger on your left hand does move very well. And you love playing with it. This makes me feel better. I was honestly concerned that you wouldn’t have a finger to suck on – and your sisters got so much comfort from theirs. I’m so glad you’re able to pull that one tiny one out to play around with. And your left leg! My goodness – you like stretching that one out. The other one seems pretty set on where it likes to stay – but that left one.

And I think you look like my brother.

Hmmm…. not sure what I think about that. :)

Modesty. You have something your sisters did not. So, we don’t know if we’re looking at a boy or a girl yet. But that’s ok. When I get to see you every 6 days or so, I don’t mind waiting til next time to find out.

We have so many decisions to make in the upcoming months – it’s completely overwhelming. And they’re all about you. The one thing I have to say here, though, is just a repeat of the song I’ve been singing to you for several days now – I hope – so badly – that one day I’ll have just the 3 minutes or so I’ll need to sing this to you while I can look at your pretty eyeballs…

Until next time, I love you and I always will.

XOXO (from all your Casey/Rackley family this week!),
Mom

How far along? 19 weeks, 4 days.
Total weight gain/loss: + 9 lbs
Maternity clothes? Still lovin’ those jeans (prob’ly should wash ‘em….good thing my mom is here.)
Sleep: Still good, except for the night after my last dr.’s visit. It was pretty rough. It was just a rough week all around.
Best moment this week: Introducing baby to my mom. She was in love rather instantly. :) And celebrating life and family with your grandparents, your great grandmother, your uncle and aunt and, of course, your biggest little fans, Chloe and Kami.

Nana was SO happy to meet you this week!

Movement: Yes! Especially during sermons.
Food cravings: cold watermelon and donuts. I chose not to go for those free Krispy Kremes last week. Good thing too. My weight was doing just fine without it. :)
Anything making you queasy or sick: Uhhh…some chicken I cooked in the crock pot. Those smells still don’t sit well with me.
Have you started to show yet: Yep.

Gender Predictions: still guessing a boy…maybe we’ll know this week?

Your sister and I had a fun little date watching Peter and the Wolf – puppet style!

Labor Signs: No.
Belly Button in or out? IN
Wedding rings on or off? On – all about the cooler weather. They’re still on my “big” hand too.
Happy or Moody most of the time: Rough week. Lots of tears. But a few good moments to hold on to, too.

Sometimes a day in the mountains (and cold, cold, cold water!) can lift a mama’s sad spirits. Or maybe it was the splashing from your sisters….
Either way, it was just what we needed.

Weekly Wisdom: Moms are awesome. For all sorts of things. But especially for helping you stay calm in stressful situations – like when you can’t find matching socks anywhere for your kids – because they haven’t worn ANY in the last 5 months. (“Let’s just throw them all away and start over fresh tomorrow, ok?”) and when you just need someone to do your laundry (“It’s all done now – how about I help you organize some of these closets.”).

Milestones: Baby is around as big as an avocado. And you’re supposed to double in size in the next couple of weeks. Here comes the belly.

Exercise: I did the first part of a 1 mile hike with my girls on Saturday….until we had to turn back for a bathroom break. :)

Baby meets Sisters. (*No crying alert!* This one *should* just make you laugh. A lot.)

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I don’t even know where to begin. This was such a memorable day for me.

And for the girls.

And for the Ultrasound Technician.

And for my doctor.

And for the people sharing the waiting room. (Sorry about that, very pregnant lady. They really were trying to walk on the “rainbows” on the floor – you know, those little light reflections from the pretty stained glass window on the front door. They didn’t seem to notice that the one they were wanting to walk on was also on top of your shoe.)

First, a little OB chart explanation, courtesy of the baby expert:

From Kami: “That baby is in a boat. It’s prob’ly just Moses. But don’t worry, the alligators won’t get him.”

“That baby is all tied up on the head. We just need to rescue him. And when he’s all rescued, then he won’t be tied up anymore. I wasn’t tied up when I was a baby. And then the baby sleeps in the boat like this: *snore, snore, snore*. And it’s all safe.”

Next, because we had 3 appointments in one day…

…(which is becoming normal for us these days!), we had to do a little school in the waiting rooms.

Chloe didn’t mind sitting in the doctor’s swivel chair to do her phonics. Something about that “helps me read better, Mommy.” Well, I guess so. I think it was just the red shoes. Wouldn’t they help you read better, too?

Visiting with the “baby doctor”…

The girls were filled with questions and the doctor was loaded with time. My favorites were from Chloe:

“So…if I touch Mommy’s belly button, will it make the baby laugh?”

and

“I just tickled the baby today. Is that ok? Will that keep the baby safe?”

BTW, the doctor told her both times (after swallowing as much laughter as he could muster), “Oh yes. The baby really really likes to laugh and be tickled.”

To which Chloe answered, jumping up and down with excitement, “Oh good!”

Thanks, buddy. My poor tummy is now attacked by wiggling fingers several times a day. We’ll be talking about this next week.

We then spent a few moments talking about how good the baby looked, how strong its heartbeat was (still in the 140′s!) and that it was definitely ok for me to go up to the mountains for the weekend. He also took time to ask me how I was doing. Being a believer himself, it was such an encouragement to hear him tell me that the biggest miracle I’d see would be the overwhelming amount of peace God would give me during this time of waiting. I’m so thankful for that very miracle.

As we left, the doctor said to the girls, “I really like you, girls. You made me laugh all morning. You can come visit me anytime you want – you don’t even have to bring your mommy!”

To which Chloe said, while jumping up and down again – or maybe she just hadn’t quit yet, “Oh we WILL!”

And now about that no crying alert – it’s all off limits now. Because whenever I watch the following video, I can’t help but cry tears of happiness at the amazing privilege this is for all of us. So, if you don’t want to mess up that mascara (again!) from reading my posts, do NOT click on the following play button.

Spoilers: It’s a video of the girls when they got to meet their little brother/sister for the first time.

Celebrating Week 18! (I went to the mountains!!!)

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Hey there, Little One,

Yay for a special trip to a special place in the mountains near Brevard, NC – The Wilds. I wasn’t sure a few weeks ago if I would have been able to make it up there, but I’m so glad I didn’t let fear of the unknown get in my way. It was so much fun and so encouraging – in fact, except for a few lovely conversations here and there about you, I was able to really let loose for a little while and just enjoy the peace I’d been given. What a gorgeous weekend it was too!

I love that I don’t have to go too far to find peaceful places to dwell on God’s gentleness.

Your sisters “met” you for the first time this week – that was so special for all of us! We can’t wait to go hang out with you again tomorrow! This time, we’re taking Nana with us. She’s going to love it!

It’s nice feeling your little punches here and there now. It just makes me smile every single time. And makes me super excited about the next ultrasound. Because I know you’re still here with us, still happy and pain free and still blessing many of those around you.

Take care, Little One. We love you so much more now than we did 7 short days ago! And we always will.

XOXOX,

Mom

So….yeah, this is my doctor. Voted “The Best in America” for the last 6 years. I didn’t look for him; I didn’t try to find him; I didn’t even remember his name until our 3rd visit (<—- NOT his fault!). He was chosen for me. By a special Someone who has been watching out for us from the beginning.

How far along? 18 weeks, 4 days. (although baby is measuring now at only 15 weeks – it grew a little “extra” this week. :)
Total weight gain/loss: + 6 lbs, -1 from last week. Probably not really a loss – just finally burning off the calories from those extra doughnuts I wanted so badly last week. hahaha! :)
Maternity clothes? I bought some maternity jeans! I’ve worn them 3 days in a row. I like. Lots. :) Regular shirts are still good, though.
Sleep: Still good, except for the nights before the last ultrasound. I spent that night in a pendulum swing between fear and anxiety and quoting Scripture in my dark mind.
Best moment this week: The girls seeing the baby for the first time during a live ultrasound. They were completely hooked! (More on that tomorrow!) AND I felt the baby kickin’ around a bit. This just adds a measure of peace to my already overflowing (most of the time) cup of it.
Movement: YES YES YES! It’s just definitely way different than the girls before  - no somersaults or anything – just a few small punches here and there.
Food cravings: cold watermelon and donuts. Yay for free Krispy Kremes this week. (And for my mom coming up to help me eat them!)
Anything making you queasy or sick: Only if I stay up late at night. Even my sweet Margaret Mountain Driver couldn’t make me sick this weekend! (Thanks again, Margaret for that!)
Have you started to show yet: Yep.

Gender Predictions: still guessing a boy…

Labor Signs: No.
Belly Button in or out? IN
Wedding rings on or off? ON – Switching hands constantly, though.
Happy or Moody most of the time: A good week. A really good week. :)
Weekly Wisdom: Even in the midst of something so dark, it’s ok to have a little fun. And not feel guilty about it. Because our God is good.
Milestones: Baby is around as big as an apple. Good. I’m about to make a ton of applesauce to celebrate.

Exercise: I didn’t really do it this week either. But I need to. Big time. I’m hoping to find a great deal on a treadmill on craigslist – then I don’t have to be limited by weather and when my hard working husband is home with the girls.

These college kiddos of ours really make us smile. All the time. (And yeah, these two girls really took the entire bacon pizza – since there was only one – all for themselves.) :)

A few of the kids from our group of 30 or so that came out for dinner.

I even felt up for creating something special for our college kids this week. (Recipe coming later this week!) Caramel Apple Cupcakes.

And my food lover – and worst critic ever (because she eats anything and calls it good) – enjoys the cupcakes. :)

Celebrating Week 17!

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Happy 17th, Little One!

Hey there, Little One.

What a week of ups and downs this has been! But, I’m so thankful we’ve had another week. Another ultrasound and another 7 days to love you, hold you, kiss you (sorta!), sing to you, read to you, and marvel in God’s handiwork.

You are truly the most precious thing to all 4 of us. We think about you all day and talk about you – and to you! – often. Most likely you can’t hear us at all, and you might not ever if these silly chromosomes have affected your ears. But we’re hoping you can. And we like to sing. So we’ll keep doing it.

Your sisters are gonna meet you, hopefully, this week. They are so excited! (Like, dancing around the floors in never-ending circles excited.) “Only three more mornings!” Chloe said tonight before bed.

We love you – and we always will.

xoxo,

Mom

Kami had fun taking a hay ride with you. I’m hoping she will take many more with you this fall!

How far along? 17 weeks, 4 days. (although baby’s size is measuring at only 13 wks 6 days)
Total weight gain/loss: + 7 lbs.
Maternity clothes? Not many. But maybe they can start coming out in a few weeks. I might even give in and buy a pair of maternity jeans this week. We’ll see.
Sleep: Really really good. I’m so thankful.
Best moment this week: The girls kissing baby goodnight almost every night this week. They are so in love.
Movement: not yet – but we love watching him/her move on the ultrasound!
Food cravings: cold watermelon
Anything making you queasy or sick: yes – for some reason, I’m getting nauseous again – but only at night.
Have you started to show yet: Yep.

Gender Predictions: still guessing a boy…

Labor Signs: No.
Belly Button in or out? IN
Wedding rings on or off? ON – Back on the “right” left hand though. That might change back and forth though with the weather these days.
Happy or Moody most of the time: It was a pretty good week. A few down days – but more good than bad.
Weekly Wisdom: Sometimes the hardest thing about trials is not knowing how long they’ll last. Perhaps endurance is as big of a need as peace?
Milestones: Baby is around as big as a lemon. I’m really hoping to feel it move a bit soon.

Exercise: Not yet, but I’m hoping to get the all clear this week. I really wanna get out on the road again.

Honestly, this girl is probably your biggest fan!

Counting Gifts – and fighting for Joy.

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I’m learning that peace is something God gives freely, when I follow His recipe for it.

I’m also learning that joy is something I have to fight for.

We’ve all had a lot of peace through this time in our lives – sometimes so much it doesn’t seem real.

But joy – now that’s something a bit harder to come by.

The easiest way I’ve been able to discover the small lights of joy in these dark days is through finding small flames with which to be thankful.

I’m so thankful my good friend and prayer warrior recommended this book to me – before I hit this mountain climb. Maybe it’ll be a blessing to you as well – no matter how big or tall your own mountain is?

You know you’re in miracle territory when…

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Our latest doctor visit results for our sweet little baby:

Despite 15 more days of growth since our last ultrasound, baby has only grown about 9 days’ worth. This leads him to think my dates are indeed accurate. I’m 16 weeks 4 days, but baby is only as big as a 13 week 2 day baby. This is very consistent with his diagnosis. Most Trisomy 18 babies born full term are only 3-4 pounds and around 15 inches long.

The baby’s swelling is down a lot, which leads him to think that the Multiple Organ Failure he saw two weeks ago, which led him to tell us we had only a brief amount of time left, has, in his words, “self corrected.” While this is only good news, it doesn’t mean the problem has disappeared – but rather, it means the severity level has decreased somewhat. This means, that while my risk of losing baby anytime is still high – it’s not as probable as it was. He thinks I now could go at least to 21 weeks or so. Maybe longer.

There are still several issues – including the intestinal “hernia” of sorts – called omphalocele.

And the lack of growth and movement in the baby’s arms and legs.

But despite all this – and the fact that he really couldn’t tell us anything worse than we already knew -

There were a few things that made us laugh at this visit. As hard as it is to stomach all this medical stuff, maybe you can catch a little of our joy when the following things were said and heard and seen yesterday… :)

You know you’re in miracle territory when:

* Your doctor throws his hands in the air. shakes his head, and says, “This baby might go to term?!”

* He then says, “It still looks like Trisomy 18 or perhaps Trisomy 13. You know, though…..it could just have a whole extra SET of chromosomes!” (I didn’t even know that was possible?!)

* We then all three had to spend a few seconds trying to figure out how many that would actually be. (hint: none of us are mathematicians.)

…and the best of the day. Truly one of the best gifts anyone could ever give me…so good I could hardly lay still and sleep all night…

* He says, “I can’t fix this, but I can give you something. I think ultrasounds are a way you can spend time with your baby. I want you to have every moment you can. No more charges for ultrasounds. Come as many times as you need to. Every day if you want. Bring the girls.”

For the first time in that office, I cried happy tears. I walked out crying happy tears.

I couldn’t believe it – I (basically!) GOT AN ULTRASOUND MACHINE!!!

NOTE: In case you are wondering – having an entire extra set of chromosomes is rather possible. It’s called triploidy. But just to give you an idea of how rare this really is – check out the length of the wikipedia article.