Johnny Cakes -- Early American Cornmeal Pancakes

July's destination at
My Kitchen My World was the Good Old U. S. of A. and after much deliberating I decided to make an early American cornmeal pancake recipe called Johnny Cakes. This recipe is believed to have been taught to US settlers by Native Americans.

Johnny Cakes go by many names, one of the more popular being Journey Cakes -- because they were an easy food to make on a journey and also held up well to traveling after making. Shawnee Cake is another popular name, which gives credit to the Shawnee Indians for teaching this recipe to early settlers.

Johnny Cakes
adapted from

1/2 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup hot milk
1 tablespoon melted butter -- plus more for griddle, if desired

Mix the dry ingredients, then stir in the remaining ingredients. Drop or pour on the hot, greased griddle or drop in iron skillet and fry to golden brown on both sides. Serve with butter and syrup as for pancakes, or serve as a bread with butter. Serves 4 to 6. You can also serve these as a side dish at a savory meal.

We enjoyed these with butter and maple syrup. My kids all liked them and I thought they were delicious too, but I don't think I've ever met a pancake I didn't like :) They were dense and slightly chewy with a great little crunch from the cornmeal around the edges. I will be making Johnny Cakes again for sure, and really enjoyed the little history lesson I got to share with my kids.

Day out in Napa

We all drove down to Napa valley for a fantastic lunch together at Bottega restaurant.

Journey down was peaceful (the dynamic duo took a napa of their own !). Unfortunately, we got stuck in the rush hour traffic on the way back, but managed to while away the hours with I-Spy and the contents of my iPod to distract them.

The photo is of the outside area of the restaurant.

Little O was particularly happy when he saw the price of gasoline in the US

Hanging out in the pool

Where's the frozen cocktails though ?

Happy Anniversary

Four years ago today I married my best friend! I cannot believe it has been 4 years already! We have been through so much together yet have so much to look forward to. Thank you Tony for making me so very happy. I love you!

Inside the factory....

And here is Mr Jelly Belly himself

Willy Wonka style !

There were simply not enough superlatives to describe what we found in Farefield, California. The Jelly Belly factory !!!

Little T was in her element. She would now like to work there when she grows up.

San Francisco sights


Little O tests out this year's winner of The Most Pointless Invention competition : the wheeled highchair !

More fun at Fisherman's Wharf

Little T was happy enough to find a green dragon to ride on at the carousel.

Deep Dish Mushroom Pizza

The other night my husband was working late and it was just me and the kiddos for dinner. Pizza is a favorite around here and we had some mushrooms in the fridge so mushroom pizza was our dinner of choice. Although I have an absolutely delicious, number one, all time favorite pizza crust recipe, it is for a thinner more traditional crust. I was in the mood for some deep dish, and do not have a favorite deep dish pizza crust recipe (if you have a favorite deep dish crust recipe, please let me know), off to google.

I searched for 'deep dish pizza crust recipe' and found this recipe -- adapted from the book The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American by Jeff Smith, who says he ran this recipe by a pizza chef who has worked at Pizzeria Uno in Chicago for 30 years, and got a smile and nod from the pizza chef after she overlooked his recipe. That sounds like pretty high praise to me, so I was excited to give this one a try.

We are about a half a day drive from Chicago and I went there often as a child for shopping and museum trips, so I know my Chicago style deep dish and love it. Pizzeria Uno is an okay choice, but my hands down favorite for the best Chicago deep dish is Giordano's... yummmmm. I wasn't going for the whole sauce on top stuffed with goodies Chicago deep dish, I just wanted that delicious crust this time around...

It sounded good to me, I did do my own adapting a little bit, adding some salt (one teaspoon kosher) and a little sugar (one tablespoon white) just to have something for the yeast. The recipe gives filling suggestions for a 9 or 10 inch deep dish, so I figured the dough would work for my 12 inch deep dish pan (coincidentally Pizzeria Uno brand) even though the dough ingredients seemed like they would yield much more. Long story short, I think the recipe is best suited for two 12 inch pans, so my one 12 inch was overfilled and the end result crust a little too thick, even after I set some dough aside to make a smaller deep dish in a glass pie plate. Oh-well. Now I know for next time.

For the sauce I made another misjudgement -- I made a quick san marzano sauce, just put a can of san marzano tomatoes in the food processor, add a touch of salt and some basil, and you are good to go -- usually. That sauce works best with thinner crust pizzas, I found that this deep dish needed a more marinara style sauce, thick and well seasoned, and simmered all day.

These were delicious for dinner, all of the gooey cheese and yummy mushrooms, everyone had second slices. Next time we have deep dish night, if I use this recipe again, I will plan on two 12 inch pizzas and have my tried and true marinara style pizza sauce simmering all day :)

BBQ Sunday!

We headed over for a BBQ at Kathleen and Monte's house. It was super fun, the girls played, ate a ton, and they absolutely loved playing hanging with the doggies!
Kathleen "Kaps" with Lola and Ellie

... so good she had to share with daddy!
Lola was shy with "Max" at first ...
... but soon they became best of friends!

Thanks for a fun day!

Chewy Chunky Blondies

Check out these delicious treats, they are Dorie's Chewy Chunky Blondies -- picked for us at TWD to try by Nicole of Cookies on Friday. To me they are more like bar cookies than blondies, but they are delicious whatever you call them. My only alteration to the recipe was to leave out the coconut (which I love) in hopes that picky husband would like these, and he did! The kids loved these as well, but all agreed that you need a big glass of milk to go with them :)

BEST park ever!

Last week a few friends and I took our kiddos to the BEST park ever! (the Cameron YMCA in east county) There was this huge playground in the middle of a kid pool with water shooting out in every direction. The girls absolutely loved sliding down the slide into the water-they have never smiled so big! The pool also had a beach like entrance... the loved being able to just walk right into the water with no help.
They are such Water Babies!

Lola and Ellie fueling up for more water play with some PB&J

Got crabs ?

New job on the horizon

Little O has possibly got a new career plan. He seems well qualified as a child-friendly hotel inspector.

Within 10 minutes of arrival at our hotel, he had :

1. Fallen off stool next to sink (minor head injury sustained)

2. Almost pulled luggage rack on top of him (shouting by Daddy sustained)

3. Got his hand stuck in the art-deco wire framed armchair (painful red fingers and shouting by Daddy sustained)

Only 4 weeks and 6 days left to avoid further injury !

Not so warm in SF !!

Morning happily spent watching sealions, eating crab legs and riding cable cars.

Toasted Almond Lemon Bars

It's Monday and I'm a day late for Sweet Melissa Sundays, sorry guys! Sunday's selection was Toasted Almond Lemon Bars, picked for us to try by Rebecca at Indecisive Baker. I love the name of her blog, I'm also an indecisive baker, and indecisive about many things, I'd rather have someone else pick for me and just enjoy the ride. You can find the recipe for these bars here at Rebecca's site if you do not have The Sweet Melissa Baking Book.

I love almonds and lemon bars and have never combined the two so I was excited to give this recipe a try. The bars were delicious and pretty easy to make. I skipped the second baking of the crust, only baking it for the first 25 minutes covered with foil, then letting cool for a bit and filling with the lemon mixture, then baking the final 30 minutes. I think they turned out lovely.

As for my taste testers...all three kids really enjoyed these bars, and were asking for another bar for dessert, so I'd say these were a huge hit. Picky husband had two bites -- which is pretty good considering he doesn't even want to taste a lot of my baking group picks. He does not usually care for lemon desserts but said these were okay, he'd never tried a lemon bar before and it is always tough to get him to try something new, so I'm glad he at least gave these a chance :)

Beach day with the Uncles

Uncle Shaun is moving to the east coast, so he came down to spend time with all of us before he left! We will MISS him, but we are so glad we got to have a ton of fun before he left !

All the kiddos making sand castles!

My bros: Shaun and Mark!

I helped the girls play in the sand and
Shaun helped all the kiddos find sand crabs... they caught so many!
Cousin Aiden and Uncle Mark
Lola was crazy about the water and Uncle Shaun was there keeping her from just running in!
Ellie preferred just to watch sissy play in the waves with Uncle Mark!

Poor Aiden got the attach of the sand.... we buried up to his neck!
So cute..... Shaun and Lola... we can't wait to visit you and Katie soon, we love you !

Custom Waldorf Doll for Jutta