Kitchen Creations

Kladdkaka – Chocolate Cake At Its Best

As a devout lover of chocolate, I have a dirty little secret… I don’t actually enjoy chocolate cake. In my experience, most chocolate cakes are dry with icing that is too sweet. The box mix stuff is pretty good (I do like the kind with the added pudding) and my own homemade cake is tasty, but it still isn’t my favorite. If I am really craving chocolate baked goods, 9 times out of 10 I will whip up a pan of brownies. That remaining time I generally make chocolate chip cookies… Chocolate cake is reserved for birthdays and other celebrations, not for simple enjoyment.

Moving to Sweden changed my relationship with chocolate cake. Seriously, did I just write that? How many of you (who aren’t Swedish) knew about Swedes’ obsession with kladdkaka (aka mud cake)? Kladdkaka is like a brownie/cake combo that is just undercooked enough to be gooey and amazing. It is also a staple for easy entertaining. Why? Because it is EASY and it is DELICIOUS!

Image from

Sharing this recipe with you is my way of adding a little joy to your lives. You’re welcome.



2 eggs
3 dl sugar (approximately 1.5 cups)
4 Tbsp cocoa
1.5 dl flour (approximately 3/4 cups)
1 dl melted butter (approximately 1/2 cup)


Preheat oven to 375 (180 C)

Whisk together eggs and sugar.
Mix together cocoa and flour.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Stir gently.
Add melted butter to mixture and stir until combined.

Grease a 9 inch cake pan or spring form pan and then line it with baking paper.
Transfer batter to your prepared pan and cook for up to 30 minutes (maximum).

My friend recommends checking the cake after 20 minutes to see if it is ready. I cooked mine for 30 minutes exactly and the edges were a bit too cooked but the center was perfect.

Crust should form on the top, but the cake should still be wobbly when removed from the oven. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream (I added a dash of my homemade vanilla to the whipped cream—yum!).

Special thanks to my lovely friend who shared this recipe. My relationship with chocolate cake has never been better 😉

Until next time…

Kitchen Creations, Travel Adventures

The Way to Someone’s Heart…

This blog is a little different from the others. It’s not about a specific place or event; instead, it’s about relationships and food.

Traveling to the UK in 2013 with an 11 month old baby was a daunting prospect. In my heart of hearts I knew it was the right thing for our family, but starting over, without a network is always a leap of faith. Starting over on an entirely new continent is doubly so.

After arriving in the UK, I found myself isolated and lonely. In Washington, I had an amazing network of friends who helped me keep sane after leaving my career and giving birth. I knew that at any hour of the day or night, someone would be awake to chat, visit, or help me keep sane. Initially when we moved to the UK, we lived in Greenwich; home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). In fact, we lived across the street from the park where the clock measuring GMT was situated. It was an awesome house and an awesome park. Unfortunately, it was not in our budget. Corporate housing was appreciated, but with my husband’s commute surpassing two hours each way, we knew it just wasn’t an option to stay in that area.

After about a month, we moved to Surrey; specifically, Horsell, Surrey. The house wasn’t exactly what we wanted and the location wasn’t great, but it was only a 45 minute commute and they accepted pets. You take what you can get. What I had not expected, but discovered, was that socializing in England is a lot different from Washington. People don’t just walk up and strike up a conversation. If they do, that conversation rarely develops into a second conversation or a lasting friendship. It took me one month in Horsell to make a friend. To this day, my closest friend since leaving my home country. We met at the local playground and thankfully lived just a block apart on High Street. That’s right, we lived on the High Street. This was not nearly as glamorous as it sounds. Each town and village has a High Street; ours had a few small takeaways, one or two sit down restaurants, a couple charity shops, and a bakery. Oh, there were a couple more businesses, but this should give you the idea that it wasn’t overly grand.

Nancy is the amazing woman who befriended me. She has a son, Sameer, who is only one month younger than my son and full of life. All those wonderful gifts that friends share, she shared with me. Long chats, hot tea, tasty biscuits, good hugs; all of them. Another wonderful gift she gave me were some of the most delicious meals I had during my time in the UK. After discovering my allergies at a late age, I had to give up some of my favorite foods. One such category of food was Indian. Generally, Indian food is heavy on tomato and dairy; at least the Indian food I always ate. I still remember our first dinner at Nancy’s. The food was entirely vegetarian; fluffy rice, savory daal, delicious vegetable medley…I didn’t miss the meat at all. Even better? It was made with my food sensitivities in mind.

After we moved to Sweden, I had a big problem. No more of Nancy’s cooking!! My rice was gummy; I was miserable; my son was miserable… He flat out refused to eat most of my cooking; demanding that I bring Nancy to Sweden and have her make the last dish she had made him. Thanks to WhatsApp, Nancy was able to broadcast that recipe to me post haste. Sadly, apparently my cooking isn’t as good as Nancy’s 😛 My son actually refused to eat my first attempt and only nibbled on the second. Finally, on my third attempt, victory!!! He ate every bite.

You may be wondering by now if Nancy is a trained chef or worked in restaurants. She’s not and she didn’t. Actually, she trained in fashion design and when we met, had recently left her career to focus entirely on caring for her young son. Before moving to the UK, Nancy grew up in a small town called Fatehabad in India. Luckily for me, her mum and grandma ensured cooking was part of her early home life. Her lessons in the kitchen didn’t emphasize exact recipes. Instead, they emphasized that good tasting food could be ensured by preparing it with love. My initial attempts failed because I was missing this key point. I was so focused on proper proportions and ingredients that it became mechanical. My son could tell it wasn’t made with that love. The final time, I was focused on making something he would find nurturing and delicious. I channeled that love into the dish, and it was finally a success. This is my take on Nancy’s take of her mum’s dish. She didn’t give me a proper name or even exact proportions; so I’ve taken a few artistic liberties, including the name 😃 I strongly encourage you to add it to your rotating menu. It is delicious, nutritious, inexpensive, and all around wonderful.

Nancy’s Veg Yum (Serves 2-3)

As you can see, I am taking liberties with the title 😃

You don’t need a lot of ingredients for this. Feel free to be flexible with the ones you do use. My version is very mild. Nancy toned it down for me, but tends to make things even more flavorful for her own family. Feel free to tailor it to your own preferences.


  • Basmati Rice — 1 cup
  • Vegetable Oil — 2-3 Tbsp
  • Mustard Seeds — 1/4 to 1/2 tsp
  • Potatoes — 3-4 smallish
  • Frozen Mixed Veg — 1 bag
  • Tumeric — 1/2 to 1 tsp
  • Curry Leaves (about 6, optional)
  • Full fat coconut milk or regular milk and/or evaporated milk… — 1 can or 12 oz (approximately)

Component 1: Rice

Anyone who has enjoyed Indian food in restaurants will remember the signature basmati rice. It is fluffy and light, not at all clumpy or sticky. Never in my life have I been successful with basmati…until now.

  • Rinse 1 cup basmati rice in cold water until it runs clear (at least mostly clear), then drain out the cold water.
  • Add very hot tap water to the rice and allow it to soak for 20 minutes. Drain.
  • Place the rice in a pan with 2 cups tap water and bring to a light boil. I use a sauté pan for this because it is how Nancy prepared it when I visited.
  • Reduce heat to low and cover the pan.
  • Simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Remove rice from heat and leave covered for 10 additional minutes.


Component 2: Veg topping

  • Heat 2-3 Tbsp oil in a pan.
  • Add mustard seeds according to preference. I use about 1/4 tsp because I like my food mildly spiced. You can definitely use more. They will start to pop. This is okay.
  • When the popping of the mustard seeds slows down, add diced potatoes to the pan. I use 3 to 4 yellow potatoes, the equivalent of about 1 large Idaho spud.
  • After sautéing to soften the potato a bit, add a bag of frozen mixed veg.
  • To that, add about 1/2 to 1 tsp tumeric, and about 2 tsp salt.
  • Add 1 can coconut milk and/or 1.5 cups regular milk to make a sauce.
  • Reduce for a few minutes to thicken sauce to your preference.


Spoon over rice. Dinner is served.

Some notes:

This is a very versatile recipe. I find 4 small potatoes and one bag veg works well for a light dinner for our family of 3. You will want more for hearty appetites. My son’s favorite part are the potatoes, so it is always good to add extra. This recipe would also be a great way to use up old veggies in the fridge too, you will just need to cut them to bite size and sauté them with the potatoes to ensure they are fully cooked. My best version of this recipe incorporated 1 can of full fat coconut milk and a generous splash (1/8 cup) of evaporated milk that was leftover in the kitchen. It took away some of the sweetness from the coconut milk. I also made the choice to add curry leaves to my dish, as I frequently watched Nancy use them. I add them with the potatoes and use about 6-10 leaves. In the States, I never had occasion to use this ingredient, so I do not know where you can buy it. I do think it adds a lot of dimension to dishes and is worth having in the kitchen.

I hope you try out this recipe and that when you make it you get to experience a bit of the joy it brings me. My early time in the UK was very lonely, but once I found Nancy, my life became brighter. While she is not close, cooking her recipes makes the distance feel not so far.


Until next time…

Kitchen Creations, Travel Adventures

My First Friendly Lunch

If you are like me, you probably think Swedish food consists of meatballs, gummy fish, and desserts with lots of marzipan. Today my eyes were opened to the inaccuracy of that assumption.  I’ve just been introduced to something delicious!  Of course, that means I need to share it with you.

While at a friend’s house, I was offered soup and bread for lunch.  Simple and perfect for the type of weather we’ve been having.  Split pea soup…in log form and bread that has to be frozen as soon as it is baked.  Also, apparently the full meal for 3 people only cost about $1.50.  Hmmm…at this point, one would think I would be a bit nervous.  Was I?  Heck no!  The only thing better than a bargain like that is a tasty bargain; which I was told to expect.

So, here’s the skinny.  Apparently this type of soup, called Ärtsoppa, is a staple of the Swedish diet.  Unlike the pea soup I’ve had in America; this pea soup is yellow.  Perhaps due to the variety of pea, I like it a lot more than the pea soup I’ve had in the States.  I had a similar soup in the UK and liked that better than the green pea version as well. According to the website, this soup was traditionally served on Thursdays to prepare for Friday fasting.  As is customary, cubes of ham were added and mustard was provided at the table.  I did not try the mustard this time; but next time I will definitely give it a go.  Apparently this meal is usually followed by pancakes.  To be honest, I ate so much soup that there is no way a pancake would have fit in my belly.  It is that good!

My friends tell me this soup is available at every store.  To prepare, they just cut open the tube, plopped it into the pan, and added a touch of water and a smudge of ham.


Providing crisp bread with the soup is also customary.  In this case, we had a thin, not so crisp bread called rag kaka made by a company called Polarbröd.  It is delicious!  Light and fluffy, with just a hint of sweetness; it is the perfect complement to the salty soup.  As far as I can tell (thank you Google Translate), rag kaka means rye cake.  That said, this is definitely not a rye bread.  The cake portion of the name refers to the bread’s round shape.

Not in Sweden?  That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this delicious meal too.  This recipe I found for Ärtsoppa looks delicious and is a good place to start.  Wait!  We can’t forget the bread!  Instead of popping to the local store for pita, which is not the same; I found this recipe for a similar bread from that looks promising.  Alternatively, the same website hints that you may be able to track down a bag at IKEA.  Worthwhile to check it out. 😉

I leave you with a picture of Ärtsoppa and rag kaka in all their splendor.  Hopefully you too will be warmed by this delicious meal in the near future.


Until next time…

Kitchen Creations

The treat I love and hate…

Oh ice cream, how I adore you, and hate you at the same time…to the point that I haven’t had an ice cream cone in over a year.

Is it the inches you add to my butt and thighs?  Pah!  I could care less if it means indulging in a tasty treat.

If not calories and fat, why avoid such an amazingly delicious thing as ice cream?  Well world, one day, several years ago, my doctor was kind enough to point out a dairy allergy. No, I am not lactose intolerant. No, I do not have IBS. No, I am not one of those hipsters who only likes soy. Yes, I am indeed ALLERGIC to milk. Those of you who know my family know this to be a travesty. My mother believes milk and bananas will cure all ills. She presses at least one large glass of milk into your hand at every meal and more so on spaghetti night. How then can I be allergic to milk???  I LOVE milk!

Apparently this love is unrequited. As my K-dramas would say, it is one sided.

When I finally gave up dairy, several things happened — my dry eyes were suddenly damp, my headaches disappeared, and sadly, I broke a rib. Damn you dairy allergy!  I can’t prove that giving up milk was the primary cause of that break. I’m sure tripping over a running beagle while running myself and flipping tush over tea kettle probably contributed as well…but I’m also sure giving up milk didn’t help the situation.

Since that unfortunate time, I have indulged time to time, I even let myself have butter and deal with the headache and dry eyes.

Now that we are in England, I indulge in scones with clotted cream (and several headache and allergy remedies). The one thing I refuse to do is have a large quantity of dairy. In my book that means no ice cream (really, who can stop at a tablespoon????).

This wasn’t really a problem in the US    Non dairy ice cream options abound. We even had shops that sold coconut milk ice cream to the masses!  On cones!  Totally legit.

Not so much here…

After a year of searching for ice cream in stores and bemoaning the cost and space needed for an ice cream maker, today I decided this strike had to end. Today I would have an ice cream cone.

As any self respecting 30 something would do, I promptly catalogued my supplies and checked the internet to make sure they were sufficient.

Coconut milk–check
Cocoa powder–check
Large freezer bag–check
Small freezer bag–check
Ice–surprisingly, check
Rock salt–WTH?!? Rock salt???  Who has that in the kitchen?  Oh internet gurus, will Epsom Salt work? Maybe…hmm…worth a try anyway.

After assembling my ingredients in the small bag and the salt and ice in the large bag, I set about kneading the bag for 7-10 minutes. Or I would have, except after 2 minutes my husband took pity on me and took over.

This is where it all goes awry…

“Umm..we may have a problem,” says my nerdy software guy. This is not what I wanted to hear. I really didn’t want to see that the zipper had come undone on the inner bag and my glorious ice cream was rapidly mixing with the ice and Epsom salt 🙁

Did I give up?  Heck no!  I wanted ice cream. It’s been over a year!  So close!  At this point I looked desperately about the kitchen for two coffee cans of different sizes.  Tragically, I don’t drink coffee and the hubby mainly uses those little pods. Thwarted again!  Ready to give up?  I say nay!

Months ago, Thug Kitchen posted an ice cream recipe and did the most amazing thing. They put it in a bowl and froze it. What a novel idea!  Freeze stuff in the freezer. Why didn’t I think of that?

To ensure my ice cream wouldn’t just be a block of ice, I pulled it out ever 20 minutes and gave it a vigorous whisking. 1 hour later I indulged in a delicious scoop of chocolate cinnamon heaven.

For those of you experiencing a similar dilemma, and for others who may just want to try something new, I present to you my take on coconut milk ice cream aka chocolate cinnamon heaven.

1 can full fat coconut milk (hey, it’s good fat, deal with it)
1 heaping Tbsp cocoa powder
1.5 Tbsp sugar (I used Demerara but granulated or coconut sugar would be good. Honey would probably be awesome)
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla (mine is straight vodka with 10 vanilla beans aged several months, but no need to be fancy. When you go through so many bottles, it’s best to make it in bulk. Cheaper too thanks to duty free shopping).

Whisk all ingredients together until well incorporated. Place in glass bowl in freezer for 1 hour, removing and whisking vigorously every 20 minutes.

Once set to your preference, enjoy!  Store leftovers in a tightly sealed plastic freezer bag.

If you have any awesome coconut milk concoctions, let me know, it’s my milk of choice in the kitchen 🙂

Here are pictures of my attempts pre and post spillage and then final product. Yummy!


Ice cream Ice cream  Ice cream

Kitchen Creations


Learning to sew is something I never anticipated in my life. Work left very little room for creative pursuits and for the many years I did work outside of the home, I was a type A workaholic.

Since the birth of my son, I’ve felt my brain deteriorating–literally melting within my skull. Something about those many months of vomiting and not being able to take the prenatal vitamins…basically, he ate my brain.

I’ve decided now that he is two, it’s time for me to reopen some synapse pathways. This blog is one way I’m doing that, cooking odd desserts another, exercising twice a week and taking vitamins–because, why not?– and finally, for two months now I’ve been  trying to learn to sew.

I say “trying to learn to sew” because my attempts have been both hilarious and cringe inducing.

Today’s blog will introduce you to my latest victim:  Franken-sweats.

These sweats were actually intended for my brother in law as a Christmas gift, but after two full months of planning and working on them in my “free” time, I’ve conceded defeat. They are done, but absolutely cannot be given as a gift. Instead, my husband has graciously accepted them into his pajama drawer.

What went wrong?  EVERYTHING.

One important issue that I learned about thanks to these sweats is thread. All thread is NOT created equal. That thread I bought at the charity shop for 50 pence?  There is a reason it was 50 pence. That thread I bought at an alleyway sidewalk vendor for 79 pence?  There is a reason it was 79 pence. That one glorious thread that I bought online for $2.99 in the US and had my husband pick up from a friend while he was on a business trip?  Worth it’s weight in gold!!!

There are several different thread spools in these sweatpants. In fact, there are four. Two are glorious and two made me tear at my hair and bemoan the fates for allowing me to cheap out not once, but twice. Lesson learned.

Another lesson learned? Measure twice, cut once. This is a valuable lesson and I wish I would absorb it for once…and I thought I did…apparently I need to measure thrice.

The last lesson, and valuable above all the rest, is how to thread a bobbin. How many hours have I spent attempting this feat?  You don’t need to know. Suffice to say, I’m still working on it. Subject closed.

Wait, did I say that was the last lesson?  I was clearly confused. The most valuable lesson came a week after completion of Franken-sweats. I needed some pants and grabbed them from hubby’s dresser. What a shock!  These are literally the most comfortable sweats I’ve ever worn!  Sure, the tie is on the hip and one le is two inches shorter than the other, still so comfy!  Much like my cooking, while my sewing projects may be ugly, using superior ingredients (in this case materials) leads to a cozy final product.

I plan to share more of my sewing tragedies and hopefully one day triumphs as this blog continues. What do you think of Sewing Sunday?  That can be a thing, right?  Keep me honest people, keep me honest.

Enjoy these glamorous shots of Franken-sweats in action.

Franken-sweats Franken-sweats Franken-sweats

Kitchen Creations

Hidden Banana


Well, I’ve neglected this blog for much too long. Now that Drake is sleeping slightly (emphasis on slightly) longer, it’s time to get writing. I’ve decided no topic is too small or too big to disqualify and as such, my next post will be about Hidden Bananas.

What are hidden bananas? Well, it’s Drake’s new name for a dessert I created this week. Like so many people, I have a solid sweet tooth, and also a solid guilt complex. Now that I have a child, it’s just not practical for me to be eating so much sugar, because then he wants it. Also, as a woman who lives with endometriosis and fibromyalgia, my addiction to baked goods often leads to painful cramping and inflammation. Add in the milk allergy that I ignore and hello headaches. How to get around this?

Hidden bananas was the answer this week.

Hidden bananas was an exploration in tapioca or sago as some call it. As a child, I only knew tapioca as that gross pudding my mom was always eating when we had chocolate or vanilla. I still don’t like traditional tapioca pudding…

After exploring the internet, I saw a common theme in asian cooking, using coconut milk as a base instead of cow’s milk. Score! We always have that in the house.

I soaked my small beads of tapioca for one hour, as the internet wisdom waffled between 15 minutes and overnight. After that, I rinsed them, drained, and added them to a pot of coconut milk and water that was brought to a swift boil. The internet was vague on this too. Most recipes called for 30 minutes on the stove. Mine was ready within 10 minutes. Just keep a close eye on it to make sure and keep stirring!! I checked by pulling up a spoonful and making sure the white center was gone.

In that coconut milk mix I added some muscavado sugar (dark brown sugar for us yanks), some of my homemade vanilla, and a pinch of salt.

After the tapioca looked cooked, I removed it from the stove and put it into an 8×8 pan to set up. Two hours later I tried it and it was…BLAND. Blech! No desire to put those fish eggs in my mouth.

What’s a girl to do? Big pot of bland tapioca, sweet tooth, kitchen full of options? Only one thing came to mind–CHOCOLATE 😀

So, I spooned out a serving, stirred in some Dutch processed cocoa powder and a dollop of runny honey. At this point I could have stopped, but I needed to make this a bit more toothsome to satisfy my craving. Hello banana.

This recipe actually ends up looking a bit nasty. Brownish muck with fish eggs and lumps of white goo. Drake took one look and told me he wanted a spoonful with the “hidden banana”. We’ve made it a game. He hunts out the banana slice he wants and that’s the spoonful he gets. In between, I shovel spoonfuls indiscriminately into my mouth. This stuff is ugly but it is delicious!

Next time I will add a bit of honey to the coconut milk instead of the muscavado sugar, which did nothing for me, and maybe add the cocoa powder at that stage too. We’ll see. For now I’m enjoying personalizing each portion.

For those of you adventurous types who would like to give this a try, here is a recipe to start with:

Hidden Bananas

1 cup small tapioca pearls (sago)
1 can full fat coconut milk
2 cans water ( I used coconut milk can)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 cup honey or more to taste

Extra honey
Cocoa powder

Soak tapioca pearls in 3 cups water for 1 hour. Rinse thoroughly and drain.

Whisk together coconut milk, water, vanilla, salt, and honey in a heavy bottomed pot over medium to medium high heat (depending on your stove/cooker). Add tapioca pearls and stir to combine.

Bring tapioca mixture to a rolling boil, whisking throughout. It’s ok to walk away for 30 seconds, but don’t push it, this is particularly important once the ingredients are boiling.

Once tapioca pearls are see-through and the white center is pretty much gone, remove from heat and pour the mixture into a heat proof dish. Allow to cool. I recommend storing this in the fridge as the flavor and texture are better the next day after chilling.

To serve, mix in cocoa powder, honey, and banana to taste. I use about 1/2 -1 tsp cocoa powder and 1 -2 tsp honey along with 1 banana for a 1 cup portion of tapioca mix. I’m not a calorie counter. If you are more of a small portion person, you will want to account for that in your mix ins.

I hope you enjoy this tasty vegetarian (not vegan) treat! Feel free to leave me suggestions for how you choose to revise this recipe as I’m always looking for variations on treats.