THE DAILY TABLE::The Crumble Factor

When I saw the words "below expected level" on an email from my first grader's teacher, it took me back three years when I saw the words "failure to thrive" on my 6-month old son's medical records. He was 6 months old and weighed a mere 11 pounds. He'd been sick and we had him checked out by the pediatrician before our 5-week long winter trip to Berlin. He needed more nutrition than he'd been getting which is why we had to supplement the breast milk with formula (something I had hoped not to have to do). Despite that setback, it's apparent that he's now thriving.

Back to "below expected level"...that was what we were told that Saffron would see on her report card next week in relation to her reading comprehension. That's not taking into account that she can read all of the required words for first grade through the end of the year. It's merely the fact that she is shy and cannot express herself fully when she's not comfortable with others.

She also has an "issue" with the last few letters of a word. Reading "looks" instead of "looked", as an example. I loved my husband's response to the email: "I noticed that she skips endings while reading. It is a matter of her interest to care to that level in my opinion." Yeah, it's not much of an issue with her as she gets the point. At home, she's able to recall full details of a story. Apparently at school she seems frozen. 

I'm not worried. Sure, she's the youngest in her class. But how many of those children can say they can speak three languages? All three of mine...

Back in the kitchen, I decided to rewrite another of my Berlin cake recipes. One of the three chocolate cakes. The one I made with cocoa, cinnamon, and those small German plums. I had no plums today so I decided to go with the cocoa and cinnamon. Plus, I remember the cinnamon overpowering the taste of the plums.

The notes in my journal from the summer reminded me that the cake was moist - not crumbly. I judge all of my cakes on what I call "the crumble factor". If there are an abundance of crumbs on the plate, table, chairs, and floor where the children are sitting, the cake is too dry. Today was that case. The crumble factor was a bit higher than I'd anticipated, given that the batter was not too fluid, although the cake was truly not what I'd call dry at all. The recipe needs a little more tweaking, but not too much.

The first thing I'd change is omitting the Black Onyx Cocoa Powder. That's the really dark powder you see in the above photo. It's a super alkalized cocoa powder and I want a more mellow taste to the cake. The next thing I'd do is add the rest of the third egg. I added only the yolk. In addition, I'd add more buttermilk. Since I didn't have the moisture from the plums, the recipe needed more liquid.

Dinner was next. I had a craving for potatoes and cabbage, so I made Potato and Cabbage Gratin. Perfect for the Autumn season - despite the fact that it's still too warm here in Texas. I'm anxiously awaiting cooler weather so I can make more soups. Somehow, eating soups in 87F degree weather simply seems wrong.

The kids, no surprise, didn't eat the gratin. I knew that and made extra mashed potatoes for the Cinnamon and Sage. Sage refused and decided to eat a tortilla instead. Yes, a plain flour tortilla. And cake, of course. Saffron ate the leftover rice dish from yesterday with Greek feta. And cake. They all wanted more cake. I had to refuse the kids another slice. "Tomorrow", I promised.


P.S. This early morning's Depeche Mode announcement and new song was welcoming...Love that black and white video that was shot in New York!