The Lily Cafe Digest, No. 1

I’ve been wanting to do a newsletter for the past year, but I’ve wanted to neither list my address nor rent a P.O. Box, so here I am, creating The Lily Cafe Digest for all of my lovely readers! This year, I’m doing a 6+1 blogging schedule of 6 weeks blogging followed by a one week break. This means there will be a new Digest every 7 weeks. Enjoy, and thank you so much for following!

A Look Back

The past 6 weeks have really zipped by. Sometimes I think I’d like to post more than 3 times a week, but, at the end of the day, I’m just glad I get the 3 a week done.

Mother Mondays

This year I’m focusing on what motherhood is like for me. It may be different from what so many moms say, but it’s my mom truths. For one, I sit and eat chocolate quite a bit. Daily, actually. I should go see my dentist. For another, I’m one of the “lucky” ones who bounced back after both babies. But it’s hard to feel lucky.

I read an article a few weeks ago about millennial parents singing fewer lullabies than previous generations. As a lullaby singing mom, I was shocked. Of course, their research wasn’t perfect, but still. Music is so important in my life, I have a hard time imagining other parents not singing, but everyone is entitled to their own choices.

My son is going into Kindergarten this fall and we find ourselves with several choices on our hands. We’ll have to enter him into each school’s lottery system, but we’re sincerely hoping to put him in a school that’s better than the one he’s zoned for. Unfortunately, the number of schools where we live is mind boggling, but we’ve narrowed down the elements that are most important to us.

More personally, my menstrual cycle started up again 20 months after my daughter’s birth. With it came some very unexpected feelings.

Raven

With the start of a new year, I started posting chapters from an old story. Originally written during a National Novel Writing Month, it still has a special place in my heart, so I’m sharing it. It’s also not finished even though I know the ending and only sort of edited it. Regardless, I hope you enjoy it.

Needle City runs on feuds. Almost every family has a feud with another, or two. But instead of sullying their hands and risking trouble with the law, they turn to the Thief Lords. Raven is the only female Thief Lord, and arguably the best. But when she gets caught between routine assassination attempts by her fellow Thief Lords and a routine feud that goes awry, she’ll be stuck paying the price.

Chapter 1|Chapter 2|Chapter 3|Chapter 4|Chapter 5|Chapter 6

Free For All Fridays

I hadn’t meant for Fridays to be so eclectic, but it’s times like these that I’m glad I declared The Lily Cafe a lifestyle blog. I love reading and baking and learning new things.

Over the past 6 weeks, I reviewed 3 books courtesy of NetGalley. Many of the books I’ve reviewed recently have been from there because I got a little request happy. But I’ve also read a number of self-published books. I am planning on writing and posting reviews, but my life between the pages doesn’t allow much time for reviewing. Sadly, the reviews just keep stacking up.

Reviews: St. Paul’s Labyrinth|All That Will Burn|Here and Now and Then

I’ve longed for a kitchen scale for awhile. My husband surprised me with one for Christmas, and I’ve been putting it to more or less delicious use. Ratio baking has been quite an adventure. Meaning I’ve been eating a lot of chocolate cake. Good thing I can never have too much chocolate. Or cake. Definitely need to see the dentist…

Looking Forward

After my week-long break, I have plenty of posts planned, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. Or will write them.

Mother Mondays

Continuing with the idea of sharing my mom truths, I’m really in love with my upcoming post about mom tribes. It might be a little unexpected, and may not even get many views, but I’m proud of how that experience has shaped how I parent.

I have a Master’s Degree in clinical psychology, so I’m really excited about starting an ongoing series I call Parenting with Psychology. So much of what I do is informed by my educational and professional background in psychology and with kids, so I want to share it.

Raven

Not much to say on this section, but chapters 7-12 will be posting on Wednesdays. Let’s get to know how Raven operates a little more, shall we?

Free For All Fridays

More book reviews! Of books courtesy of NetGalley. I swear I’ll get to the self-published books! There will be more Adventures in Ratio Baking because I can’t decide if I love books or baking more, and I always have something to bake. And read.

Favorite Posts From Around the Blogging Community

Mostly because I feel self-centered about writing a whole post about my own blog, but also because there are so many lovely blogs I enjoy and want to share them with you. Here are some of my favorite posts from the last 6 weeks. I do hope you check them out and give them a follow.

January Whizzed Right Past by Jennifer M. Zeiger: If you’ve been following for awhile, you may have noticed I talk about Jennifer more than any other blogger. For good reason. I’ve known her the longest. But she’s also an incredibly beautiful soul. Her middle grades book The Adventure was a huge hit with my 4 year old. She’s open about her early struggles with literacy, which led to a love of choose your own adventure stories, which led to her writing The Adventure. And now it’s taken her into the development of a literacy and creative writing workshop! Follow the link to find out more and get your own copy of The Adventure. It’s awesome for kids! My son will attest to that.

Not All Mothers Are Created Equal at The Eureka Diaries: This mom speaks to my heart. I don’t accept that struggles in motherhood exist and I just have to get used to it. Neither does this mom. She doesn’t shame moms for struggling, but she does encourage moms to use them to reflect and grow to become better.

Why Do I Have a Blog? by Quirky Quip: This wonderful lady speaks to my soul so much! She’s honest and authentic and doesn’t want to be the kind of influencer who makes you want to buy things. She shares a piece of her soul and really tries to get at what is important in life.

Are You Lost Princess? a short story by Nopoodles: I may not read as many writers as I used to, but I still enjoy them and can never pass up a story by Nopoodles. A runaway princess story with an ending that puts a smile on my face. And if you’re looking for LGBT fiction, be sure to hop on over and browse for awhile.

My absolute favorite? Thousand Sunny Queen is done from Mike at The Association of Merry Makers: A trio of writers collaborating on one blog, Mike is one of them and will have a book coming out soon. I gobbled up the teasing bits he posted last year and have been sitting on pins and needles for far too long for it to be finished. The wait is almost over.

Thank you so much for reading!

With much appreciation, kat

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My Family’s Top 5 Go-to Dinners

I’m really bad at meal planning. I hate having to think about what’s for dinner. I’d rather be playing with my kids and trying to tell my son he doesn’t have to hide in the same spot every single time.

If I’m lucky, I remember and ask my husband what he’d like to eat a couple of days before we go to the market. If I’m really lucky, he tells me exactly what he wants. Most weeks, though, I ask him about 20 minutes before we head out the door and we stand around in the produce section wondering what to make. Our son gets impatient and becomes overly theatrical about it. Our daughter is happy standing in the back and making noises while bouncing on her feet.

Fortunately, we do have some family favorites that are relatively quick and easy. We keep most of the ingredients stocked, so it’s easy to say we’ll eat this or that. Unfortunately, for me, at least, it feels repetitive, but it does solve the problem.

“What’s for dinner?”

I’m suddenly sorry I asked my mom almost daily.

  1. Pasta. This is seriously our number one go-to, unless we had it last week. It’s easy and my husband happens to absolutely love the sauce, which is also incredibly easy to make. The best part is the pasta can be cooked ahead and frozen with a bit of olive oil drizzled and mixed in. The sauce can also be cooked ahead of time and frozen. My recipe makes enough sauce for at least 2 pounds of pasta, so, the next time we decided to have it, I don’t even have to cook it if I was smart and froze it into two sections. Head over here for my sauce recipe, which also works really well for the pizza my husband likes making.
  2. Pizza. My husband already devoted a post to this. He grew up in New York City, so pizza is near and dear to his heart. I couldn’t care less, but he’s very particular. He’s spent several weekends perfecting his dough recipe and trying out different sauces, only to go to my pasta sauce and proclaim it perfect. For pizza, the sauce ingredients can just go in the blender with more sugar than salt. I hate having to stretch out the dough, but his recipe makes 2, so we just pop one in the freezer, though it usually only stays in for a day or two. I did mention he loves pizza, right? Oh, and the dough is best when left in the fridge at least over night. For his recipe, pop over hereBake and then.....PIZZA!
  3. Spanish-style beef. A few years ago, I was flipping through some recipes my mom had saved, but never made. I came across one for Spanish-style beef and rice by Rachael Ray. My husband liked it, so I added it to my recipe book. And then I experimented a bit. I’ve used beef, chicken, and a mix of beef and sausage. It really is quick to make and so easy that I usually hold my daughter almost the whole time. It’s great with rice, but we also enjoy it with tortillas. For my version and one way we enjoy it, go hereIMG_0895
  4. Lemon chicken. This is something my mom started making when I was a kid. My parents planted a lemon tree one year and it’s been extremely bountiful. We’ve had so many lemons that my dad is in the habit of asking just about everyone if they want any lemons. One or two? Nope. Try a whole bag full of them. I’m not sure where my mom got the recipe, but I got mine for lemon chicken from her. For all I know, she made it up just to use up the lemons. It’s really simple. Slice a chicken breast in half so it’s neither too thick nor too thin (pound if too thick) and salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a pan with some oil and cook chicken. Remove chicken and add 3-4 tablespoons of butter and the juice of 2 lemons. Add chicken back to the pan and coat in the sauce. As far as I know, it goes with just about everything.
  5. Chicken and tortillas. This is something my mom made for us a lot when we were growing up. It’s fast and easy. And, okay, I prefer this one way more than my husband because it’s really fast and easy. Even if we don’t have tortillas, we can still put it with rice or Asian noodles. I like to slice the chicken on the thin side so I don’t have to marinate it as long and it cooks faster. A half hour before dinner time? Yup, this will be done on time! See why I prefer it? For the recipe for the marinade and the chicken and tortillas recipe, head on over here.

Hmm. Maybe I do know what’s for dinner next week.

What are some of your go-to dinner recipes? If you have the recipe link, feel free to leave it in the comments!

Have overripe bananas? Make this simple banana bread and enjoy, perhaps with a bit of Nutella spread on top.

Banana Bread

Have overripe bananas? Make this simple banana bread and enjoy, perhaps with a bit of Nutella spread on top.

Growing up, we always had bananas on hand. I loved watching them ripen and then eagerly peel one open once it reached that beautiful yellow color with no green in sight. But, in college, the dining hall usually had bananas that weren’t quite ripe. Sometimes they were just green. But I had to have my daily banana, and came to adore not quite ripe bananas. Years later, I still prefer somewhat green bananas. Once they become too yellow, I toss them in the freezer to make banana bread later on.

Often, later on doesn’t happen and I end up with a freezer full of bananas. My husband has asked more than once why there are so many bananas in the freezer. Why? Because his wife is a nutcase and believes she will get around to making banana bread even though she hates it.

Yes. I have, for years, kept bananas in the freezer to make banana bread that I did not like. In my defense, I do what my mom did: toss overripe bananas in the freezer to make banana bread because I want to be just like my mom. My error is that I don’t eat it and my husband doesn’t take it to work like my dad would (he liked to use it to butter up his colleagues whenever he needed a favor).

Well, in all honesty, I didn’t like banana bread. When I was a kid. That dislike carried over year to year. But, recently, I decided to make it so I could take pictures to include in my old banana bread post. My daughter loves bananas and desperately tried to eat it as soon as it came out of the oven. My son hates bananas, but desperately wanted me to slice it. I am indifferent to banana bread, but really, really wanted to avoid unnecessary whining, so I sliced it up and started feeding a slice to my daughter while my son smelled it and went “ew.”

And I decided I might as well give it another try, too. After all, it has probably been at least 20 years since I last had it. Two pregnancies might have affected my taste buds and maybe now I’ll like it.

It’s quite heavy on the banana. But the bread is dense, but not too dense, and sweet, but not too sweet. It was moist and soft. I won’t say I was an immediate fan, but, with a light spread of Nutella on top, it became my breakfast for a week, especially since my daughter decided she was done with banana bread.

Note to self: try swirling in some Nutella next time. Then I can just grab a slice and go.

So, how do you make this simple bread?

Step one, if you have bananas in the freezer, take them out and defrost them. They’ll be easier to mash that way. You’ll need about 1 cup.

1 cup mashed ripe bananas

Then, in a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. If you plan on adding nuts (I never do), take a tablespoon of the flour and mix it in with the nuts. That way they won’t sink to the bottom.

mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt

In a larger bowl, mix together the sugar and oil.

mix the oil and sugar together

Now add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each eggy addition. Then add the milk.

add the eggs one at a time and then the milk

Now the flour mixture and mashed bananas get to take turns being added into the big bowl. I usually do a quarter from each at a time. Sometimes a third. Finally, add the nuts if you so choose to add them. Again, I don’t. I’m not a big nut fan.

 

 

 

Pour the mixture into a greased loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes in a 350 degree oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. If you’re afraid it might not come out, cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom and put it in. It’ll prevent the bread from sticking to the bottom of the pan and it should easily slide out.

pour the mixture into a well-greased loaf pan

We’re not done yet. Keep it in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a cooling rack. Now, if you really love bananas, you’ll have to be patient. Let the bread cool completely before slicing, unless you enjoy crumbly messes. Regardless, enjoy!

slice when completely cooled and enjoy!

Oh, and my mom notes that if the top gets too brown while baking, just put a piece of foil on top.

Recipe

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 cup ripe mashed bananas
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix sugar and oil. Add eggs one at a time. Add milk.
  4. Add flour mixture and bananas alternately.
  5. Add nuts.
  6. Pour into greased loaf pan.
  7. Bake 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  8. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Turn out onto cooking rack and cool completely before slicing.

Enjoy! From one person who previously did not enjoy banana bread, this one is worth a try.