BEST BAKING HACK EVER.

Trust me.

This is SO easy. And SO awesome.

For realsies. This could be the BEST tip I’ve ever shared.

Did I conjure this up myself? I’m not 100% sure…but it’s too good to keep secret.

OK, say you’ve made a batch of Brownies (recipe below) or a One-Bowl Chocolate Cake or even an Hot Milk Sponge Cake (super light and fluffy).

Would you LOVE to drench your creation in a dreamy, creamy, fudge ganache?

Don’t have the time to make frosting from scratch? Or you’re out of powdered sugar? Don’t want to resort to that chemically-laden and overly processed frosting in a can?

No worries.

Here’s the ONLY ingredient you’ll need.

You probably have a package of semi-sweet chocolate morsels around, right? I mean, ‘cos who doesn’t, ya know what I’m sayin’?

SO AMAZING.

In one easy step, you’ll create a  to-die-for topping.

Ready? This is all there is to it…

bakinghack1

Photo by Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife

Take a handful of chocolate chips; I think this is about 1/2 cup.

Sprinkle the chips evenly over just-out-of-the-oven brownies (or cake).

Ya gotta do it while it’s hot enough to melt the chocolate. (See my special seashell table?I can make one for you, too!)

Simply take a butter knife or offset spatula and spread the melted chocolate chips gently over the top.

Look how glossy and shiny and YUMMY chocolaty good that looks.

bakinghack2

Photo by Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife

DELICIOUS-ness. Guaranteed.

A no-brainer, it’s a success EVERY time.

bakinghack3

Photo by Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife

It starts out soft and if you’re like me and store any leftovers in the refrigerator, the topping develops into a firm but not too hard coating that serves to protect and preserve each and every moist mouthful.

  • Works great on cookies, too.
  • I’ve never tried milk chocolate/mint chocolate/peanut butter chips, but I assume they’d be good; if you try them, let me know!

Here’s Princess Rosebud’s Brownie recipe. One bowl, super easy!

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cold coffee (I always use a bit of coffee with chocolate)
1/3 – 1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup flour
pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Option: 1/2 cup chopped nuts

Mix thoroughly oil, sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee. Incorporate cocoa and mix well.
Add flour, salt, baking powder, and nuts, if desired. Stir together, but not too vigorously. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes just until the edges pull away from the pan. No one likes dry brownies!

 

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Happy New Year! 2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 48,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 18 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Because of a COMMENT by Cowboys and Crossbones

I feel a potentially infectious bout of truthiness coming on and before it dissipates, I need to revise yesterday’s post, A normal life…for now.

Disclaimer: The picture of of my captain and myself IS accurate, we do sit by the fire and read or read before going to sleep–HOWEVER– Cowboys and Crossbones commentary shamed me into a fuller version of the story:

Cowboys and Crossbones says:
How do you keep from talking to one another while you’re reading?! I think it’s a sweet routine.

(ES-She’s just setting me up here, acting all so “sweet” with her and her party lifestyle and wild ways and her BFF cat, Teddy. She knows how to yank the real scoop out of me and I fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. Watch out for her, people, she’s a sly one.)

Enchanted Seashells reply:
Well…you are a smart one, I annoy him constantly with commentary, questions:

“whatcha reading now, what page are you on, why aren’t you paying attention to me,  you look funny in your reading glasses,  can you feel me pulling your arm hair,  does it hurt,  am i annoying you yet…”

…those kinds of things which are prolly more interesting than the vision of us sitting quietly reading. hee hee.

To which C&C wrote back:

I thought I had you figured out!!!!! And yes, your questions would be MUCH more interesting than words on a page.

(ES-Darn that C&C! She wasn’t happy just getting the dirt on what goes on at Casa de Enchanted Seashells, NOW she’s saying that’d be more interesting than my original  story, which obvs was BORING!)

Because I strive to be a truth seeker and I rise to any challenge, I have to set the record straight. It’s NOT always uninterrupted evenings of tranquility around here–well, sometimes it is–but more often or not, out of the corner of my eye I’ll see his foot or leg twitch and that upsets my concentration so I need to RETALIATE and TORTURE him in some way.

As a reminder, my theory of a successful marriage: if he’s annoying, be twice as annoying.

In addition to the incessant questions of a two-year-old, I’ll say stuff like, “Do you want me to read you a paragraph from my book?” and he’ll invariably say, “Does it have sex in it?” and I’ll say, “Geez, you are such a baby.” And then he’ll say, “Let me see it. If it has any sex scenes, I can find them like magic.” {insert a finger snap here} …as he fans the pages and then stops, points to a passage and says, “See, I told you I could find it!” So proud of himself as he’s leering at the page. That’s when I say, “You are SUCH a dumb tugboat captain.” (Since I have to have the last word. Always. Always. Always.)

I feel ever so much better having gotten this off my chest. Let’s just say that if C&C hadn’t forced me to come clean, you might have walked away with an inaccurate picture of our serene life. This is, after all, CONFESSIONS of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife.

Are you happy NOW, Cowboys and Crossbones?

The Boy Who Is My Heart. So Much Depends On A Yellow Steamroller

An homage to William Carlos Williams

The Yellow Steamroller

So much depends
upon

a yellow
steamroller

buried
in the dirt
 
behind the shed
On a bitterly cold afternoon, my tugboat man and I embarked on our annual yard cleanup project. I raked all the pine needles shaken loose during the fury of Alaska-borne winds that roared down the coast to Southern California while he trimmed the eucalyptus and mulberry trees.
Metal rake clanged against metal.
I saw bright yellow igniting the dirt and pine needles suffused it with a gleaming radiance through the brown. steamroller1
I threw down the rake, crouched on all fours, and with bare fingers dug through the wet fecund soil to uncover an abandoned yellow Matchbox toy from the spot where there once was a sandbox that my son’s dad  built for him when we first moved to this house in 1985.
I discover in situ a three-inch wide artifact imbued with all the wonder of my perfect child. 
I gently brushed away twenty-five years of encrusted soil and sand.steamroller2
sandboxI was engulfed in a wave of memory. I was there. I saw him–my four-year-old son in this beautiful huge sandbox filled with fresh, clean sand.  I saw him as I often watched him from the bay window in the kitchen overlooking the backyard where I would wash dishes and keep an eye on him, keeping him safe–always keeping him safe–as he played in the sand with his dump trucks and cherry pickers and this steam roller and his buckets and plastic cups and forks and sticks with his cats and dog always near, and the loveliness of the memory set me on my heels and I cried.
Happy tears for the exquisite soft rosy glow of healthy well-fed cheeks, the deep Imperial jade green eyes, the curls that were my curls, my boy, my angel love.
The boy whose every breath contains a whisper of the intangible all encompassing LOVE I possess for this being who was a part of me before he was a part of the earth and sun and sky and sand.
The boy who is my heart.
I shut my eyes tight to keep the pictures from disappearing, but the ephemeral/evanescent impressions floated away with the tears that spilled out for the remembering of the beauty of a luminous child playing in a sandbox, singing to himself and constructing sand sculptures of the future, or, in his case, building words and spinning thoughts and erratica.
Those grains of sand that between his fingers mashed and smashed into forts and tunnels were the detritus of the granite from whence his brain reformed them grain by grain into skyscrapers of words and sentences that flow like a path from the back door to the sandbox.looking down from the hill
The Red Wheelbarrow
William Carlos Williams
so much depends
upon
a red wheel
barrow
glazed with rain
water
beside the white
chickens.

Princess Rosebud’s Mermaid Bench

Image

I’ve made a few upgrades to the original by replacing the starfish with huge white scallop shells and the addition of a hot pink polka dot bow.

Now I’m happy.

Picture me sitting in my seashell encrusted bathroom answering your comments and Tweeting!

This is my fantasy world.

Thank you for allowing me to share it with you.

XOXO

 

A recipe and a request…from a tugboat captain

The wonderful FurFiles (meow!) is back from her Jamaican vacation, and it’s about time!  I’ve missed her astute blogging and pithy commentary, like the many ways I can exact revenge on my tugboat man should the need arise.

ex=lax signNo, I’m not going to put ex-lax in his food. Not this time, anyway.

Ms Fur has furrily requested the recipe for another version of carrot bread I made last night, loosely based on a recipe from my 1970s Laurel’s Kitchen cookbook.

I’m not the magnificent artist of decor and whimsy like Judy at Petit4Chocolatier  nor do I possess the versatility of (bakery owner in another life) Tonette of tonettejoycefoodfriendsfamily but I have my most consistent success with everyday, homey, mom-like healthy breads, apple pies, lentil cookies, and black bean brownies.pastry bag and tips

Confession: I’ve been known to wield a mean pastry bag to build roses with tip #12 and #104 on flower nail #7 (as well as shells and garland)  but I save that skill set for special occasions only.

A Schwarzwälder kirsch kuchen similar to one I made to celebrate my son’s graduation.

Black Forest Cherry Cake

Black Forest Cherry Cake dripping in kirschwasser

 

First the request...I’m conducting an interview of my resident mariner for a future post. In the wake of today’s ferry accident in New York and other recent vessel related incidents, it seems timely.  

Anything you’d like to know?

I’ve tortured used my not inconsiderable powers of persuasion to convince my tugboat man to put up his surfboard for a moment and consent to an interview. The convincing involved all sorts of things like I need to wear nothing but a pair of six-inch heels and red lipstick and must refer to him as Most Exalted Master Seaman, but that is my cross to bear, not yours.

It was his idea to take requests from my readers in the wonderful world of blogging and Twitter and FB and I agree that’s a great idea–which should prove to doubters (and children) that hubs does have an independent thought once in a great while.

He’ll entertain queries about maritime-related stuff, what it’s like being married to me(!), technical stuff about boat handling/boat restoration, marlinspike seamanship,– ask away!

Certain things can’t be revealed of course, but he’ll do his best to answer all questions. He’s a USCG certified instructor, so you know he’s got the cred and he’s not just another pretty face.

You’ll discover the funny side to life as a seaman–they have a weird sense of humor–creating witty rhymes such as, “It’s not gay when you’re underway…” [urban dictionary]

I’ll credit the question with a link or you can remain anonymous–your choice.

And now for the recipe….carrotraisinbread2 carrot raisin bread

Carrot Raisin Bread
It’s moist and delicious with a rich texture! The difference is in the process. Try it and let me know what you think about it. Hubs loves it!

Ingredients
One cup grated carrots
One cup raisins
3/4 cup honey (I didn’t have a lot of honey so I used 1/4 honey, 1/4 agave, 1/4 brown sugar) Maple syrup would be yummy, too.
One teaspoon each: cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
Two tablespoons vegetable oil
One egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups water
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, not sure how to do the conversions.
In a medium saucepan, cook carrots, raisins, honey/sugar, oil, and spices in the water for about ten minutes. Let cool. When cool, add beaten egg and mix well. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and add to wet ingredients. Pour into one or two loaf pans depending on size. I made mine in one large loaf pan. Bake for about 45 minutes but check carefully so it doesn’t over bake. Let cool before slicing.

 

A Grateful Monday

As part of my 2013 resolution to release my inner beeyotch, Helen Reddy‘s inspiredI am Woman helps me stay on track!

I would like to thank three awesome women for their creativity and imagination, especially since it’s all about ME!

1. Rarasaur’s delightful interpretation of ME! Check out her incredible blog and just try to figure out how her mind works! She’s another SoCal girl and she loves cats! And she’s only 60 inches tall just like me! I love her a lot and you will too. Rarasaur doodle enchanted seashells

2. IB DesignsUSA banner in nautical flags, because sometimes the best answer is “Meow”.  Kathy loves all things nautical and is a lovely lady with a great business. International maritime navy signal flags are a colorful way to spell names, messages, or to decorate your home. Give a personalized signal flag banner or wall hanging as a nautical wedding decoration, an unusual boating Christmas gift, or just for the plain fun of it!

Meow banner

3. In response to a tweet of mine bemoaning my lack of mail–no packages, no invitations to a ball, no requests to attend a movie premiere with Tina Fey–wonderful, awesome Red Dirt Kelly sent me a t-shirt!! I was so excited to return home (from my all day torture of my tugboat man as I dragged him from store to store at South Coast Plaza in the OC until he was so exhausted that he was at my mercy and he begged me to buy something, anything from Chanel so he could go home) and find a package to open and it was this t-shirt! Everyone needs to read the Red Dirt Chronicles!

reddirtkelly

Don’t miss Tuesday’s exciting blog! I’ll share an in-depth reportage of our day at South Coast Plaza, a day of torture and retaliation, culminating in a new Chanel acquisition!
Beeyotches RULE!

What would I tell my twenty-year-old self?

I’ve been inspired by all the interesting, poignant, witty, and funny entries so I decided to add my own two cents. I discovered #genfab on Twitter and would join the FB group, but I can’t figure out where it is!  This week they’re doing a blog hop on the topic “writing a letter to your 20-year-old self”. Here’s what I have to say. I’ve also included links to some other posts at the bottom of this page for your reading pleasure.

1. Hey girl! Be a mouthy bitch sooner rather than later. Stop letting everyone push you around. Develop your Napoleon complex right now; don’t wait!

2. Stay out of the sun. You don’t need to lay out at the beach and tan for six hours a day, seven days a week–from June to September. Cocoa butter and baby oil are a lethal combo. Thank goodness there’s Botox and fillers, but you can’t imagine the rest of the damage too much tanning can do. A little spot of basel cell carcinoma will be in your future along with some Moh’s surgery and a few sutures. You could have avoided that. Stop refusing the straw hat mommy gave you.  She’s a nurse. She knows.

3. Be nicer to mommy. (Yes, you and I called her mommy ’til the end.) Don’t roll your eyes at me; really. Be nice. As soon as you have your own baby, you’ll understand 99% of everything she said that you pretended not to hear. You will really miss her when she’s gone, trust me.

4. For one second and one second only, peer inside this crystal ball and see all the things you’re NOT gonna do: become a famous ballet dancer like Anna Pavlova, go to Val D’Isere to study French and ski, spend the summer in Minnesota studying the wolf population while actually living among them, move to LA to pursue a real acting career, study harder and go to med school, study harder and go to law school, marry the guy with the massive trust fund, get that boob job–and then STOP thinking about what you DON’T have and what you DIDN’T do and focus on what you DO have. That will end up being your most favorite thing to say to people–whether it’s regrets about the past or food they shouldn’t eat.

5. You are going to be the luckiest girl in the world. You are going to give birth to the most wonderful angel child that ever existed in the universe. He will be a planned for, wanted, loved, and adored boy– even before the very first moment you realized you were actually pregnant. As you will tell him on his twenty-first birthday, every breath he has taken has given you joy. You will be lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom and never miss one smile, one milestone, one MEAL. You will be the one to nurture his every interest, teach him to read and watch his world open up through books. You’ll teach him to love animals, to be kind and gentle, to care about the environment, to have a voice, to stand up for what is right no matter what. You are going to be a great mom except for those couple of times that you weren’t. We won’t discuss that. No one’s perfect.

6. When you’re a mother-in-law, you can take all some none of the credit for his choice of a brilliant, outspoken, funny, gorgeous DIL (who also happens to have very curly hair that she diligently straightens.) Now’s the time to give DIL a major shout out for kick starting my foray into blogging and social media. Thank you, S! Now go make J his dinner. Ha ha.

7. Sit down for this one. It’s painful. All My Children will end. I know, right?

8. You’re gonna marry two guys; one will become BioDad and the other will be the best stepdad in the world. Your past and present husbands will become friends and spend time together. (A really, really long future blog, maybe even a book.)

9. Now that I think of it, I’ll allow a moment of sadness to recall how you didn’t get that major role in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard at the Old Globe in San Diego. You are really, really going to want that, and you were really, really awesome at the audition, and not getting it will be a huge disappointment.

10. And finally, when you’re in your late, late late forties, and by that I mean fifties, you’ll still act like you’re 20, OK, I mean 16–oh all right then, 13! You’re gonna love Katy Perry, Christina Perri, Adele, Gossip Girl, Hello Kitty (don’t ask, just know that it’s in your future), anything sparkly (especially diamonds), animal print, Chanel, and have a very healthy obsession with seashells that will bring you fame and fortune as Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife, and you’ll meet a few like-minded witty chickas– whilst writing something called a blog–

More articles in the blog hop…

The Fur Files Looking backward: What we’d tell our 20-year-old selves (After The Kids Leave) Dear 20-Year Old Me (Chloe of the Mountain) To Marci, On Your 20th Birthday (The Midlife 2nd Wife) Having a talk with my 20-year-old self (Midlife Crisis Queen) A Heart-to-Heart with 20 Year Old Me (Books is Wonderful) What Would You Tell your Twenty-Year-Old Self? (Empty House, Full Mind) Dear 20 Year Old Me (Kids Are Grown) Back to the Future (Employee to EmployMe) Callow, Clueless, and Cruising Paris (Daily Plate of Crazy) Happy Birthday, Twenty-Year-Old Me (Not a Supermom)

  • Twenty. (stephyness.wordpress.com)