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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!


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    Daida L'Orange - JOURNAL - THE DAILY TABLE::The Crumble Factor

Reader Comments (6)

It's amazing that they speak 3 languages. Hopefully this is just a bump in the road and she'll overcome it soon. Everything looks delicious. I can't believe Depeche Mode is back!

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEl

German, Croatian, and English. Also a bit of Spanish in school. I'm not too worried. I was shy. I guess you get a bit less shy with age.

Yes! DM is back! My very first concert ever (not that I went to many at all) was the 101 Tour at Rose Bowl in 1988. I hope to see them in concert next year - even if I have to travel. Take a listen to the "Angel" song.

October 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterNatalija Brunner

Your kids are adorable and it's so impressive they can speak 3 languages! I wish I had that skill. Everything else will come in time - you're right to not be worried. I was super shy in elementary school and had similar comments on my report card (look at me now! - lol). I like your crumble factor test - I'm not a fan of dry, crumbly cakes either. Can't wait to see the perfected recipe on your blog one of these days.

October 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNancy @ gottagetbaked

Thank you Nancy! I was super shy almost always. I guess at a certain age - late 30s for me - you worry less about what others might think or say. I remember those exercises where classmates would write down one word about you on a piece of paper. Kind of a secret thing. Almost every one of mine was "shy". We finished the cake tonight which means I can make another tomorrow. :)

October 24, 2012 | Registered CommenterNatalija Brunner

I was very reticent when I was little, which led to a few unnecessary "concerned" phone calls and letters to my parents. But quiet children make intelligent adults. Silence is just a way of taking in the ever-expanding world (with the occasional daydream of flying around the moon on a luck dragon named Falkor.) :)

Despite it's high score on "the crumble factor," this cake is beautiful. Basic, simple, perfect.

And thank you for the Depeche Mode information! :D

October 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterValerie

Thank you Valerie. The cake was gone the following day and I have banana cake version #4 in the oven now.

I can relate to that as well - the phone calls and letters from teachers and especially the dread parent-teacher conferences. As if being quiet is a disease that needs to be treated with medication. Just today at Cinnamon's play date, a lady commented on my daughter's state of being quiet. I'm thinking "...and? You know the sky is blue and the sun is out. She also has blue eyes and cinnamon-colored hair. What's your point?" She got that reticence from me and it's ok.

Glad to see another admirer of Depeche Mode. ;)

P.S. My oldest loves dragons!

October 25, 2012 | Registered CommenterNatalija Brunner

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